Thursday, 22 May 2014

A recent trip to London - two good eyes again!

The Fountain Court - Hampton Court Palace
Sometimes, listening to the television news or radio presenters, one might think that London was the centre of the known universe, the way everything seems to be centred there. You know what I mean, if it’s sunny in London, it’s sunny everywhere in the UK which, of course, is patently not true. Yet, it cannot be denied that there is a certain magic, a magnetic pull, if you like, to what must be one of the greatest cities in the world. I’d forgotten that feeling, not having been for a few years, but I certainly felt it when my dear husband and I spent a long weekend there very recently.

As one does, we crammed in as much as possible. On the Friday afternoon, we visited the Museum of London, which traces the history of the city back to prehistoric times and has some terrific exhibits. From there, a short walk brought us to the breath-taking St Paul’s Cathedral, which, amazingly I’d never seen before. Sadly, we didn’t have time for more than a short walk around as the building was approaching closing time. We did manage to see the magnificent tombs of the Duke of Wellington and Horatio Nelson though. In the evening, we went on a ‘See London by Night’ bus tour from Green Park. This was excellent value for money and took in both the Cities of London and Westminster. Even though both of us had been to London many times before, we still learned much from the commentary. Incidentally, we were the only British people on the bus, all the rest were tourists!

On the Saturday, we over-indulged on the theatre, a passion of mine. For the matinee, we saw ‘The War Horse’ at the New London Theatre in Drury Lane. What a magnificent show that is! Even though I’m a writer, I cannot find enough words to describe the phenomenon of the production’s puppeteering. You know that people are manipulating the puppet because you can see the hands and legs but it is done so cleverly that somehow you manage to ignore it. The evening show was the new production of ‘Miss Saigon.’ We had seen the original production but wanted to see the new one, although this was only a preview. The show doesn’t officially start until 22nd May. I love the music from the show, especially ‘The Last Night of the World.’ The ending of this production differs slightly from the original production but this has, I think, improved it dramatically. Well done! I wish it a prolonged run.

By the time Sunday came, I was well and truly knackered with all the walking about. It’s not just the streets but the escalators and the long corridors of the Underground that are all tiring. Bearing this in mind, we opted to take the river cruise from Hampton Court Palace. When we got to Westminster Pier, it was to find it crowded with Crystal Palace supporters.  Although they were all goodnatured, they were very vociferous and couldn’t imagine being in their company for too long. When we tried to get on the boat, we discovered that it was a football special and we needed another boat. Phew! Our boat was the quaint Princess Freda dating from 1926 and much more relaxing. The cruise took three-and-a-half hours but was excellent value for money and very relaxing. I even dozed off on hubby’s shoulder for a short while!

I had long wanted to see Hampton Court Palace but, although the exterior lived up to expectations, I was disappointed by the interior. It seemed ‘bitty’ and the rooms were only barely furnished. The distance between Henry VIII’s apartments was so vast that I couldn’t help feeling sorry for the kitchen hands of 500 years ago having to dash between the kitchen and the Great Hall. The food must always have been cold. We travelled back to Central London by train in company with dozens of bikes and their owners, who’d all been on a charity bike ride in aid of the Stroke Association.

Monday morning consisted of a dash back to Chesterfield on an early train because I was booked in for my second cataract operation in the afternoon. I’m glad to report that this was carried out successfully and I now have two eyes that work in conjunction with each other. I’m even managing to read a little with the help of some cheap reading glasses though I’m careful not to do it for two long so that I don’t strain my eyes. I drove myself to church on Sunday, too, something I haven’t done since last December. All in all, a good weekend to look back on, with a satisfactory conclusion.

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