The weather is so balmy--its unbelievable - and most of our clothes sit in the suitcase...no need for long underwear since our first day here..and, in fact, no use for our knit scarves--we found out yesterday that we were much more comfortable without them, and most of the day I carried my coat over my arms! Who would have thought?
Living in a real home in a neighborhood area brings a whole new set of situations to one's
life--its so terribly damp all the time that fighting mold is a constant
battle. It wants to grow everywhere, and one is constantly wiping up
moisture from window sills, counters, etc.l Items in the kitchen look
the same but have very different names on the packages, just enough to
cause you to wonder if in fact it is what you think it is! It would
take some getting used to, I must say.
We are such pros on the tube now - what a marvelous way to travel
around a big city like this! Our brisk morning walk seems to get longer
every day--and its all slightly uphill first thing in the morning.
Thats probably good because if it were reversed we might never get home
at night! We hopped our Central line and headed for St. Paul's stop to
walk to the Museum of London.
This is one incredible place!!! I wonder why we never did it on one
of our previous trips? We decided it was because we were saving it for
this trip. Its a magnificent structure just a few blocks from St
Pauls, and actually has a spectacular view of the dome of St. Paul's as
you walk away from it back towards the tube.
The first thing we wanted to do was see the Dickens Exhibition. We
knew there was lots to see here, but Dickens was first and then - if we
had time - we could do other galleries within the Museum. We were not
one bit disappointed! They have done a spectacular job in the way they
presented their Dickens material, appealing to all the senses. Charles
Dickens is a most interesting person--its because of his writings that
so much of our Christmas celebrations come about, and his strong family
focus, like the Cratchitts, or Oliver and his uncle..and yet, he had a
very dysfunctional life, very little family life of his own. He and his
wife had ten children...and he liked the children when they were
little, but once they began to grow up, he was very distant from them
and unable to show any affection. Then enter the mistress into his
life, and the divorce from his wife, and a life that followed surrounded
by his friends on occasions but not his family. In his latter years he
never spent Christmas with any of his family - and this from the author
of "A Christmas Carol."! The Museum has many precious possessions--his
writing desk, a writing chair, original galley proofs with his
corrections, multitutudes of correspondence, and many photos and
sketches from his books. We had a fascinating time.
Following lunch in the Museum Cafe, we then had time to wander
through other galleries -- everything you ever wanted to know about
London from hundreds of thousands of years ago to today. There is a
time line you can follow along the wall, giving the highlights of each
of the years--fascinating!
As we left the Museum, Jerry realized that we were on Aldersgate
street, which is where both of the Wesley brothers were converted--and
there it was. Interesting enough, it is a Presbyterian Church now,
shared with a Japanese Christian church, and--unfortunately--is only
open on Sundays for worship. But we stood on the spot and Jerry got his
picture taken right there!
And now we are off to Wimbledon! Five years ago Carla, Jerry and I
went to our first Christmas Panto starring Henry Winkler "The Fonz" and
we had a blast...on the spur of the moment, we decided to return, this
time to see Dame Edna in "Dick Whittington", one of England's favorite
children's story. There are no words to describe a panto--sort of
similar to our meller-drammers, with lots of booing and hissing and
cheering. Its full of ad-libs and off-the-cuff remarks--not at all like
any play we would see in the USA. And Dame Edna did not
disappoint--she/he was hilarious and just like you see on TV! The
audience was in stitches, and we missed many lines, some due to
inability to understand their English, and some due to the subject
matter which was local politics! Needless to say, it was a great way to
close out our day, and we are so glad we went!
Now it is Thursday before Christmas..the sun is shining...it is quite warm...very like a spring day. We
walked to town after we finally got mobile (which took a while, let me
tell you!) and did the mile walk to the heart of our town where we
enjoyed an English breakfast at Ceasar's Palace (NOT to be confused with
the one in the USA, let me tell you!) There was an outdoor market set
up along the sidewalk with beautiful fruits and vegetables and a
multitude of olives--it was pretty as a picture!
Our matinee was Simon Cowell with his one-man show of Dickens' Christmas
Carol--absolutely stunning. He was onstage for an hour and a half with
some chairs being his only prop...he did many different characters, and
his interpretation of Fezziwig was just a delight. It was a fabulous
performance, and we are so glad we were there and made it part of our
Christmas. The folks next to us had heard him do a 2-hour performance
of readings from Dickens a year ago, and told us we were in for a
treat...and they were right. Another delightful experience leading us to Christmas!
Friday had so much walking in it, I don't think I even want to think
about it - I will be tired again! The morning was much cooler and very
misty/drizzly..but we walked to town to take care of a few things--like
ordering the food we wanted for Xmas day from a local restaurant, The
Olive Branch. It was a good walk, and we made our order - and stood
amazed at all the people in the "que" outside the local butcher shop,
complete the whole turkeys hanging in the window--a site I haven't seen
in a long time!
This time we headed for Knightsbridge, with the idea of seeing more
of the shopping hustle and bustle, and enjoy the walk to the area of
Royal Albert Hall. Looking in the stores was fascinating--wandered in a few--this is
high-end shopping and many many folks were out doing their shopping.
Now the drizzle is coming down harder, and we decided to find a cafe
with outside covered seating and people watch. We found one that suited us, and spied a table just as
another gentleman did as well, so Jerry invited him to join us. We sat
over some lunch/coffee and visited for quite some time--he was just a
fascinating conversationalist, and over an hour quickly flew by. Now it
is no longer drizzling, but raining! And we headed off in the
direction of RAH and the museums.
At last - just as I was beginning to feel wet, we came upon Victoria
& Albert Museum and entered--to find it was Friday night which was a
late night opening for them, so they would not be running us out
shortly. We browsed the shop, and then chanced to ask a gift-wrapper
for a pub nearby--her directions were marvelous and we were able to go
by underground tunnel out of the V&A, past the underground entrance
to the National History Museum, and on to the South Kensington tube
station, where we found the Hoop & Toy pub just across the
street--not even getting ourselves wet.
Fortified by pub juice and enjoying the antics of all the young
adults gathered at the bar, it was soon time to retrace our steps
under-ground and proceed to the Royal Albert Hall.
did not disappoint us! This is the same concert we attended five years
ago "Carols at Christmas" with the orchestra in period costumes
including wigs. The music was spectacular..and the audience
participated in singing many carols. The audience was most responsive
and enthusiastic, and we truly ushered in the Christmas season in a
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