26/8/10 - 29/8/10 16 °C
Friday morning was a little slow as we had been to the Medieval Banquet near the Tower of London. All the beer and wine you could drink, a very entertaining show, some so-so food and the opportunity to meet some new friends made an excellent night. Liz as usual was up and dancing as soon as the chance arose, I on the other hands was trying to work out how to be dignified while having the soup – they don’t give you spoons. Overall a raucous night of merriment with call for our ‘wench’ for more wine and much banging on the tables and cheering to show our appreciation of the performances
Consequently a later start to the day than anticipated but still arrived at Leicester Square by 10.00am in search of half priced theatre tickets for tonight. After missing out by seconds (because of our inability to just say yes) for tickets to Wicked we went to the next agent who offered us basically the same ticket to which we quickly said YES. These tickets are half price and are those only for that night’s performance so they aren’t in any great spots (ours were on the first level about 3 rows from the very back and against the side wall). We were lucky as we contemplated and then decided against getting tickets to Sister Act featuring Whoopi Goldberg at £50 each and later found out Whoopi had gone back to America that morning as her mother was ill – lucky we didn’t splurge on those tickets as we would have been very disappointed.
We took the Tube from Leicester Square to Millennium Bridge (as seen at the beginning of the last Harry Potter movie), which we walked over on our way to the Tate Modern Gallery. The Gallery is a disused power station and really large but they are still adding another section to it. Now this Gallery contains many works for modern art including Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Jackson Pollock, and Monet. I didn’t get the traditional art stuff and I was scratching head over this modern stuff and the audio commentary was not making things any easier. Some of the stuff was interesting but the meaning of many items didn’t even come remotely near my melon.
With my head still pondering the purpose of some of the artwork we decided to walk along the Thames to Tower Bridge. This walk was really amazing as it mainly follows the river but occasionally ducks around or through building built on the edge of the river. We came across a full-sized replica of Sir Francis Drakes Tudor warship The Golden Hinde and more importantly the Borough Markets. These markets are known as the London Larder as they sell every type of food. There as fruit and veg, meat of all types, cheeses, nuts, confectionary, wines, and fish mongers. The smell wafting from these markets was wonderful as many stall sold cooked produce, aromatic paellas, gourmet burgers, cold beer and wine. Many stall had long queues with the total cross section of London in line from men in suits to workman and tourists – a really amazing place!
We eventually made it to Tower Bridge and walked across the incredible structure – there were even lights on in the windows of the rooms in the top of the pylons. Like most things in London it’s getting a paint job ready for the Olympics in 2012. We finished our day early to head back to our accommodation for a bit of a rest before leaving for the Theatre. Wicked was playing at the Apollo Victoria Theatre right next to Victoria Train Station so we thought a quick train ride and a little dinner before the curtain at 7.30pm – the peak hour Tube travel really screwed that plan with us arriving just after 7.00pm scoffing a quick sandwich from a shop close by before scrambling into our seats at 7.25pm.
Wicked was sensational! While the story was good and performance by the girl doing the role Elphaba (an Irish actress called Rachel Tucker) was the making of the show. It was a thoroughly excellent way to spend a Friday evening in London. Our Tube trip back was eventful as many of the lines were closing for maintenance over the long weekend and meant our usual circle line train didn’t finish the circle but a quick change of trains got us there eventually.
After two late nights in a row we started Saturday morning a little later with a 9.30am train to Camden for the markets. Again the smells for all of these stall cooking wonderful food was all over the place but as I’d just had breakfast it was a little early to indulge. Liz was very happy as she wove her way along the narrow aisle of the market checking out the wide variety of clothing, jewellery, and other stuff. There are actually a number of inter-connected markets that all sell very similar stuff. I think any woman could quite easily spend a day and a heap of money at these markets. Liz is talking about bring Ashlee to Camden when she meets us on Monday.
After Camden we hit the Tube again to get to Tower Hill Station (Tower of London) so we could make us of our London Passes for a free City Cruise along the Thames. We decided to go to Greenwich to visit the Observatory were the O meridian line runs. The cruise was interesting as we had a young officer on the ferry offering a commentary, Liz reckons he’d had a big night because he forgot stuff. Greenwich also had markets on which again had the food smells wafting over the area and as it was lunchtime we indulged – me a Kaarage plate (ginger chicken & rice) and Liz a vegetaian paella.
After our lunch we walked through Greenwich Park up the hill to the Observatory. There were some good views of London especially of the area where the 2012 Olympics will be held. We joined the line of people waiting to get their photo taken straddling the meridian (one food in the western hemisphere and the other in the eastern). The 40 minute wait was stressful as the queue was not managed by staff but by manners alone. Some people are incredibly rude and simply tried to jump to the front – this is the stressful bit!
After the Observatory visit we walked back to the pier to catch the ferry back to London (actually Westminster Pier near Big Ben). This was another enjoyable if cold trip with the ‘guide’ pointing out the interesting points along the way. A Westminster we caught the Tube back to Russell Square, this was not our original desire but a guy on the Tube was drinking and looking for trouble so we decided to change lines at the first convenient station. We finished the day spending a pile of time trying to book cheap accommodation in Paris over the internet. Eventually settled on a hotel that may or may not suit us and which was, in the end, a little costly. "C'est la vie"
Sunday was again a slow starting day – actually only just made breakfast which finishes at 10.00pm. We had some family history stuff to do this morning which involved walking to St Pancras Church. This in itself sounds easy, but there are two churches; New St Pancras and Old St Pancras. The New church is two blocks from our accommodation while the Old Church is about a 20 minute walk away. We visited both. The New Church had a service underway so we only saw the outside of it. We walked onto the Old church and some very nice locals gave us a tour and a chat.
We braved the Tube again and we strolled around Soho, Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square and Chinatown before calling it a day. The weather was getting cooler and the rain looked to be on the way so it was time to take the Tube for Russell Square and the short walk through Tavistock Square Gardens back to Passfield Hall.
We have a great deal of fun with the arms length photos. Liz will probably put together a powerpoint display of them all from the course of our trip!