Today is my last day. Tomorrow morning it is back the way I came. This has been an unbelievably enriching experience. Enriching in ways I didn’t expect.
Today, I went to the Museum of London. I took some pictures but they are on my other camera so sorry, no pictures save one.
This afternoon, the class met for the last time and had tea at a beautiful restaurant. This evening, I am attending my last theatre performance, Matilda which is a musical based on the Roald Dahl children’s novel.
I have to be up early to catch the train to Heathrow. Thanks for reading and following along. Thanks for the wonderfully positive comments on this effort. I feel very blessed and am grateful.
Yesterday we went by train to see Hampton Court Palace. For me, this was another trip to Mecca. The Tudor period is one of my favorite, although not one of the easiest times, especially if you had displeased the king. I took a lot of pictures since we could photograph within most of the palace. Rather than talking, I will just let you look.
We returned to the city, took a brief rest and headed out for the evening production at The National Theatre, A Small Family Business by Alan Ayckbourn. One the way, we had to stop by the backstage of The Book of Mormon to see Gavin Creel. Christina, being an old friend, needed an autograph for someone. He was gracious enough to oblige and I snapped a quick photo for her.
The play was a farce. I have heard Ayckbourn referred to as the British Neil Simon. He certainly is an institution like Simon. The production was very good but, I must confess, I had difficulty watching. Perhaps a combination of tired and the realism of the play. This is the first uber realistic production we have seen. It took me awhile to adjust. The set was incredible – six rooms on one set, two floors with working bathroom and kitchen. If nothing else, it was worth seeing for that.
After my day of recovering, I was up and at it again. It was yet another exhausting day. However, I feel I have gotten my final wind for the last two days.
Yesterday, it was back to the Globe Theatre for another grueling stand with the groundlings performance, this time Julius Caesar.
We headed out a little early in order to go by Waterloo station and re-purchase train tickets to Hampton Court. (As I write this, we have just returned from there but, that is tomorrow’s entry.). After securing the tickets we walked up to the theatre. On the way, we came down this beautiful little street. Roupell Street. It was the row houses I have come to recognize but these had a simplicity that was charming. The doors were the only thing that set the apart individually. My favorite was a red, then orange, then purple and on. Christina loved the pale blue so that was the one I photographed.
Once we got to the river, we went into the Tate Modern Art Museum to look at some of the galleries before class met. We decided to meet on the lawn in front of the museum. I got through a couple of galleries and include a couple of my favorite paintings. The museum is another good example of how the British re purpose buildings. The building was the old oil fired power station for the city. The museum spaces are quite wonderful. Large and spacious. You never feel crowded no matter how many people are in the galleries.
After class we moved up to the Globe Theatre in order to get in line early to secure good spots in the courtyard. I, of course was not interested in being too close again. Once the line queued into the courtyard it was a short wait but, while we waited a couple of the actors came out and we were treated to a puppet show (comic-they were quite brilliant) about Caesar.
The doors opened and I secured a good spot at the back. Everyone else went to the front this time. I soon realized this might not be a good thing. I was standing in the sun and judging from its position it seemed unlikely to be obscured during the performance. I was joined by two charming ladies and we struck up a conversation. They wanted to know where I was from and how long I had been in London etc. They were friends who liked coming to theatre and they were so excited to be at the performance.
The performance, again, was excellent but, not as strong as Titus. The act break for this performance came after Caesar’s funeral and Act II becomes basically battle after battle as they try to round up the conspirators. There were some strong performances but, they were much more uneven. Mark Antony and Casca were particular standouts. The design was standard practice which means they employ Renaissance costumes (with Roman suggestion) and staging. This allowed the audience to see what it might have looked like in Shakespeare’s time. It allowed you to see the weakness in the play. He wrote this for the opening of the original Globe Theatre and the commentary in the program explains he wrote to ensure success. As a result he took no risks concentrating on long speeches with no humor to offset the tragedy.
At intermission, I was feeling the heat and my two new friends sought cooler area with no sun wjile I stuck it out. For my trouble, I got a little too much sun but, I survived until the end.
Vikki had invited us up to Walthamstow to have dinner. This was a long ride on the tube. We had just enough time to stop for frozen yogurt and change (I needed to after standing in the heat for 3 hours). We needed to by an extension for our tube passes since we would be going into zone 3. The ride up was packed tight – rush hour.
I managed to get us lost or not lost but a great deal of confusion and we arrived 20 min late. Vikki and Adam were the most gracious hosts and we enjoyed dinner very much. After some excellent wine and good conversation we made out way home in order to get ready for the next day (which is currently almost over but, you will have to wait for that til tomorrow.
Well, I guess it was bound to happen. I succumbed to fatigue and today became a day to rest.
This morning, we were supposed to journey out to Hampton Court. We had our train tickets and went down to Waterloo Station. We arrived a bit early and while waiting for our train it was announced that several trains were being delayed due to an accident at the Wimbledon station. We subsequently learned someone had been struck by a train. Eventually our train was canceled since it goes through that station. This morning when I woke I was not feeling well but, I couldn’t say what was wrong. Very tired and not able to concentrate. In fact coming down from breakfast, Christina said, ” Are you okay?”
Since we couldn’t make it to Hampton Court Christina decided we could flip today and Wednesday. So, after getting a refund on the tickets, we headed off to have class at the Victoria & Albert Museum.
The class discussed the last play we saw and then we took them on a tour of the theatre exhibition and the historic fashion exhibitions. I got a few more pictures. See below.
After that, I wanted to return briefly to Harrod’s to pick up a gift and the we returned to our rooms by 1 pm. I have spent the rest of the day in bed and feel better so, hopefully, I will be able to stand for almost three hours tomorrow to watch Julius Caesar at the Globe Theatre.
This morning we got an early start so we could make the 9 am train to Brighton which is a seaside resort almost due south of London. The train delivered us in just over an hour. We wanted to make an early start in order to get a jump on the tourist.
Christina wanted to show me the Royal Pavilion. I hadn’t a clue what that was but assumed it was some temporary structure created for a significant event in the history of the town or country much like the Great Exhibition of 1851.
The pavilion it turned out was a royal palace built by George IV during the very early years of the 19th century while he was Prince of Wales, then Regent and finally King. The palace was his main residence and eventually went to his brother William IV and finally to Queen Victoria who felt it was not suitable for her growing family. She sold the property to the city of Brighton and removed all the furnishings to other estates. The city has over time restored it and made it available for tours.
The palace is somewhat hard to describe and I can only say it is magnificent in its gaudiness and gaudy is putting it mildly. The architecture is Indian in nature and the interior is some kind of distorted Asian/Chinese aesthetic that is luxurious but a bit unsettling at times.
I couldn’t photograph the interior but took a number of pictures of the building. Judge for yourself but trust me no photograph will ever capture the splendor of this palace. Inside, for example the grand dining room which is grand (to be expected) has a shallow central dome with a 30 foot chandelier (weighing in at a ton). The center of the chandelier is fairly traditional cut glass but there are six dragon heads coming out of the glass exhaling giant lotus lamps. The chandelier is suspended from a silver winged dragon with a 12 foot tongue. The rest of the room is just as extravagant. The music room has many serpents coiling down painted columns and sculpted ones coiling down actual columns. I did take a few photos of interior items from the guide book to give you an idea.
After our visit, we headed down to the beach, toured the pier and enjoyed an hour laying on the beach. We went up to restaurant with the “best fish and chips” in the city for lunch. I got in the obligatory fish and chips meal. Done and done.
The trip back was uneventful and I have managed to relax a little this evening. Still trying to get some laundry done. Now that the facility is fixed, the lines are long. Tomorrow we go to Hampton Court.