Greetings to all. If you hadn’t noticed, I am back from our anniversary trip to London, which was absolutely fantastic. I’m about to tell you what we did but it may be a brief account as I have just written a long one which my wonderful version of Word froze twice, recovering the first time and deleting it all the second time. Don’t remind me to save as I go along. Believe me, I know!
Anyway, before I get into all that, I offer my sympathies to you, Sherry and Sharon, for your internship experiences, which, it seems to me, could have been avoided or at least ameliorated by a little careful thought and planning on the part of your organisers. Hope you get it all worked out, Sharon – it sounds truly infuriating.
Sooo, London. I have literally walked my feet off this week. Soreness, blisters and bleeding despite carefully timed rest sessions and frequent shoe changes. Of course, it has been a muggy, at times boiling, few days and that is hard on the ankles and soles even when not spending long periods standing on airless Tube trains and negotiating hot pavements. We have also spent a huge amount of dosh! Although one expects higher prices in the capital, I do think charging for toilets in all the main stations and demanding NINE POUNDS PER ITEM at Paddington left luggage office is a bit excessive.
However, all this is peripheral. We kept busy the whole time and enjoyed every moment. Apart from the shows we went to see, we got round to the Museum of London (fascinating and brilliantly restructured since my last visit), the South Bank and the Thames (all the theatres), Piccadilly and Trafalgar Square, the West End for shopping (3 new sundresses and new shoes), Southwark Cathedral and Changing of the Guard (lots of walking and waiting around outside Buckingham Palace, but well worth it, especially for hubby, who loves military history, music and spectacle).
I have to say that the Prom, where we heard Elgar’s Falstaff and Tchaikovsky 4 among others, was terrific. The Albert Hall is an impressive venue at all times and the music is always of superb standard, but of course at Prom time you have a really intimate atmosphere, with Prommers standing in the arena soaking up the ambiance and dedicated to the music. We were in the seats, but the feel of musical appreciation without snobbery was all-pervading. There were exceptions, of course – the couple on my right kept chatting intermittently and the woman was on her phone much of the time (texting and browsing, not talking, thank goodness, or I would have hit her, as I really feel this is the rudest attitude possible towards other concertgoers and performers) – but generally there was great respect and we all enjoyed ourselves thoroughly.
The following day we ‘did’ ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ at the new Shakespeare’s Globe. This is a stunning experience, as the new building is a faithful copy of Shakespeare’s original theatre, with a similar apron-type stage, open roof and standing arena, traditional performances of Shakespeare plays, authentic music and full engagement with the audience. I adored it, never having been before. The actors are first class and the audience is refreshingly mixed, with lots of young kids obviously revelling in the informal experience. I think that the play was the best part of a really wonderful break, and I think it felt all the more authentic for being a matinée. Google the Globe!
That evening we went along to a very different show – a French-Canadian family troupe performing a spectacle based on the theme of lumberjacking (the show is called ‘Timber’). It wasn’t a traditional circus, but it was traditional family entertainment, featuring as it did singing, dancing and clowning as well as impressive acrobatics. Because of its lumberjack focus there was much throwing around of real logs and juggling with real saws and axes, which was scary but fun!
Our final evening outing of the trip was different again, when we went to a studio theatre laid out as an intimate cabaret, with tables and wine, to see Barb Jungr, one of the most talented and versatile singers I have heard, whose concerts we always attend when we can and whose jazzy, imaginative style can be applied to most musical genres. On this occasion she was doing a Bob Dylan set, which was excellent. I have never been a Dylan fan, but Barb is able to put a new spin on it all and make you see the poetry behind the composer’s whining interpretations of his own material. A superb ending to our London sojourn.
But there was more to come! Next we travelled down to a quiet little village in the countryside to attend our university friends’ silver wedding celebrations! Not only were we accommodated in the most gorgeous little hotel, but it was a fabulous night, with excellent food and band (though I did feel sorry for the caterers, who, despite being under a gazebo outside with the hog roast, were not fully sheltered from the pouring rain into which the blazing sun had deteriorated); the real thrill, however, was seeing so many friends, a very few of whom we haven’t seen for 20 years or more. To exchange news and mingle with not only our university gang, but also the whole next generation they have produced and who are now finding niches for themselves, was wonderful.
I really do feel as if I have had a proper holiday and am ready to tackle the various jobs and obligations which are incumbent on me now. And I wish everyone else here at least a few days like this over the summer!
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"We make our lives out of chaos and hope. And love." - Angela Montenegro