Tuesday, August 19, 2014

To London, to London to see the Queen (and The Old Vic)!!

After a refreshing sleep (not such a late night!) we thought that we would head off to Buckingham House for the tour of the State Rooms ... we had visited Windsor Castle years ago and really enjoyed seeing a "working" palace in operation. The fact that all the rooms are maintained and looked after really adds a great dimension to some of the older, more crumbly relics. With the travellers godsend (aka the internet) we were able to book online before we left and just pick up our ticket, no worries about queues although it must be a hell of a money spinner for the British Government!!!!

Off on a 10 to Green Park (lovely sunshine!) with enough time for a stroll in the park and a look at the new, poignant Bomber Command Memorial and the Aussie War Memorial on the way. Coffee with Queen Victoria "Imperiatrix" in the sunshine outside the palace (and a brief glimpse of the Horse Guards off to do their duty somewhere) we joined the others visitors for the tour.
 They have obviously done this before!!! With very British efficiency and an Audio tour for everyone the crowd kept moving along at an even pace so the whole experience, while a bit crowded, never got too much and you were easily informed about each room and the special "Royal Childhood" exhibition which was straight ourt of our ownchildhood memories!! 

We enjoyed ourselves very much and the rooms are exquisite and so well cared for. You don't have to be a monarchist to appreciate beauty and history. We were very glad we went. Coffee in the grounds (a very swish "pop-up" pavilion - Kenny would have been extremely impressed with the portable loos, "Bluesfest" certainly has a ways to go!!!). The walk out took you for about 600 metres through the Palace grounds, with sunshine prevailing this was icing on the Royal Cake! A top experience!

Home for a change and off to The Old Vic for Arthur Miller's "The Crucible" which has been receiving rave reviews and was really hard to get into - Elaine booked it months ago! The jaunt across to the "South Side" was a pleasant change - apart from the crowds and the rain (always take the umbrella!!!). The internet had told us that there were lots of good eating places around and we enjoyed a Turkish meal before strolling back to the theatre.

Perhaps we Australians will never quite lose that cultural cringe when we visit "more established" countries with far deeper histories and traditions - or it might be just me! This show was very good but really not as stratospheric as we might have been led to believe. The play itself is undeniably powerful and the setting and "in the round" staging was innovative but there was a lot of screeching and strained voices and it was difficult to actually catch all the dialogue when the heads were turned away from one. The STC or Belvoir do certainly match this and the absence of (what Mum calls "classicaly trained Englilsh voices" was something of a disappointment. Richard Armitage is no Olivier or Burton and we didn't see Cate's shadow anywhere!! Still it was a good night and a lesson learnt!

We walked back across Waterloo Bridge on a lovely clear and pretty cool night. The views up to Parliament and down to St. Paul's were wonderful!! Sigh!!! A friendly and welcome 10 from Alwdych whisked us home via almost empty streets - God bless the buses!

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