Tuesday, December 20, 2011

UK Christmas-Day 5 & 6-week before Xmas

 It is RAINING...a constant drizzle..and off to the Apple Market at Covent Garden.  Its mostly under cover, and one gigantic flea market.  In one spot, a woman with a lovely soprano voice was singing her operatic arias and trying to sell her CDs.  We listened to her for a while..and searched for a cup of coffee with a place to sit down, but to no avail...and by that time,  I was getting discouraged about Covent Garden...and THERE THEY WERE!  Two mimes.  And they were just as good as five years ago..we loved watching them with innocent passers-by, who didn't realize they were not statues..especially a group of teenage girls!  So the visit was a total success after that.

Back on the underground and off to Knightsbridge to tour Harrods...I think I liked the Alice in Wonderland windows from five years ago better, but these were elegant...all based on Svaworski jewels/crystals..and very elegant--sort of like the wicked Queen in the Narnia series.

There were thousands and thousands of shoppers/visitors everywhere - lines and lines waiting to be served in every cafe or tea room at Harrods...so we ventured across the street to Cafe Rouge.  As we ate, we were joined at the next table by 3 young men from Iran, and had a delightful conversation with them.

After Harrods, we headed home, alighting from our underground at Stratford.  This is going to be the site of the Summer Olympics next summer.  The mall there is unbelievable - biggest thing I ever saw...largest mall in Europe...most people I ever saw...brightest lights I ever saw...we were amazed. We stopped at a grocery store in the mall (similar to a Central Market in their choices) and picked up a few things...then I had to get out of there--I was getting claustrophobic with all the people around!

Its only 3 stops away from our stop at Wanstead, so we headed back, and stopped off at The George for a pint - a delightful way to end our day. 

Tuesday morning and its drizzling!  No wonder what grass and bushes there are in our neighborhood are so green!  Its not like Wimberley, thats for sure!  But, in actuality, we have had more sunshine this trip already than five years ago, so we are grateful.

We are heading for the Kensington area...the area of museums, Royal Albert Hall, Hyde Park, and Bertie's monument--what a sight!  But our first stop is at the Museum of Natural History...five years ago there was a Christmas market going on around the museum, but now it is an ice rink, and full of happy people either skating or trying to skate.  Best of all are the little penguin "helpers" to give more stability to the skaters--now even I could get out and skate with one of those, but I fear it is much too short for me!  We drank coffee outside above the rink and enjoyed watching everyone.

The museums in London are such a blessing - most of them are free, supported by donations, so available to everyone.  We wandered through many exhibits--looking at skeletons,-- one animal in particular that was uncovered by a 13 year old girl another century ago--her older brother found the skull and she unearthed the backbone...she must have been amazed!  We thought of our grandson, Garrett Worley and his interest in marine biology and wished he were here with us to see this!

Wandering through museums is exhausting--its hard standing all that time, and you long for a bench - and there are some around - so you can rest a bit.  Now its off to Victoria & Albert Museum - amazing, enormous...room after room of furniture/ pictures, tables, etc, all beautifully displayed..you just wander and wander.  But joy of joys--in our wanderings, we heard beautiful Xmas carols being sung--is it recorded or human?  Keep moving towards the sound...and there they are - six beautiful young adults standing in the rotunda of the entrance entertaining us with fabulous voices.  We just leaned on the railing and soaked it all in.  Eventually we went downstairs to the lobby to join them in some sing-along music.  They were singing for a most appreciative crowd (of course, they have their buckets there for contributions--I hope they got lots!)  Their music was such a gift for us.

Now its off to Royal Albert Hall.  We are attending a concert by King's College this evening.  We have more than one old CDs of Xmas music by this choir....so I really wanted to hear them.  It was not what I expected at all (music-wise) because only a small part was seasonal.  It was the King's College choir, plus they must have a prep school for we had a small group of young boys...and a full orchestra..plus about 100 singers that were definitely NOT in college!  (Our clue was the number of white-heads.)  Needless to say the music was heavenly, and we were delighted to be there.  We sat in the exact same seats we had booked five years ago when we attended a Christmas concert at RAH with the family.  (We are going back to RAH on Friday for the same concert as five years ago!)

These have been grand days - and we are overjoyed to be here at this tie and this place!

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