This is the Corbeidge lanx (=tray), a fine example of Roman religious beliefs found in a field by a nine-year-old girl.
Afterwards I paid a ritual visit to the ram in the thicket
("The story of Mesopotamia is the story of mud," a long-ago guide trilled as she led us through this gallery), the Alexander room, which had been closed last time I visited, and my favorite Assyrian, this winged human-headed bull:
I was thrilled to see they were exhibiting a few artifacts from the recently uncovered Staffordshire Hoard.
The objects were still mud-covered, making it seem that they had just that day been deposited in the museum. It's unknown who will get them in the end - after the hoard is valued, museums will vie to purchase it.
Then lunch at the Museum Tavern - spinach soup and sandwiches of cheddar and chutney - and we parted ways.
Alison tubed to Harrods whilst I continued on to the Natural History Museum and the much-touted new Darwin Centre. What it really is, is much-improved storage space for their millions of plant and animal specimens, but the visitor can now peer into the scientists' working spaces and occasionally interact with them. The exhibits were interactive, too, my favorite being one on how to pack for an expedition. I scored points for the long-sleeved shirts but lost them for choosing alcohol and gloves over old-fashioned pins for impaling my specimens.
The original building is very reminiscent of Oxford's museum
(it even has a couple dodos),
and Mr. Darwin has pride of place at the top of the staircase.
My feet were worn to nubs by the time I hobbled home to Earls Court. Alison had found a great restaurant for our last night's dinner. Whit's was run by the most friendly and charming woman - we felt as though she had invited us to dinner herself - and featured delicious food. Rabbit with chestnuts and prunes! Souffle for dessert! How will we ever return home to our mud huts?