Thursday, July 17, 2014

A walk on the Wilde side

TA-DA! Got to walk on the Wilde side today at Westend :) I'm a little scared - My bucket list is getting an awful number of ticks an awful lot too soon!

As a dabbling writer, I've always admired Oscar Wilde and it was an immense honour and pleasure to lose my West End Theater virginity to this particular play, and in this particular way. (next on the list is some big fat musical. suggestions anyone?)

The set was very elegantly lit, and the actors, most charming. And it was awesome to see so many of the lines I've read and chuckled over before delivered so well. I've pulled out some of my favourites for you:

The theatre we watched the play at - The Harold Pinter Theater - has been around since 1881, just about 14 years older than this play itself. A quaint little place that retains all the charm of the past, with tiny binoculars you can rent for a pound, no air-conditioning (warning!), a bar with sparkling wine (a far cry from the popcorn and sprite that are the intermission accompaniments I'm used to), and no photography allowed :D

Then it was bucket list ticking time again - the victim? Korean Food. {Read cherry wine and RAW beef}

(Well basically the beef is raw until you mush it about and it cooks in the heat of the other ingredients. So don't squirm too much!)

We walked back to the car via the heart of touristy London. The junction of Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Street, Regent Street, Savile dee da ;)

Here are some quick pics

And then, my favourite:

Savile Row presented one rather interesting sight: Look at line two of the pic. Spot something familiar?

On that note, I'll leave you with a few more Wilde quotes to mull over: "No man is rich enough to buy back his past", "The world was my oyster,  but I used the wrong fork",  "We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars."

Night night!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Night Sights

Last night, we went out for a drive. Top down, wind in our hair, we zipped through the more expensive half of the Monopoly Board past 10 Downing Street only to go back to Westminster Palace and Abbey for a few night pics.

As I've already mentioned before, Westminster Palace is where the government functions from. I think what impressed me most tonight, was the security you feel outside this superstructure simply brought on by the lack of security here! Unlike anywhere else I've been, you can walk right up to the gates, pose with the Bobbies manning the posts, have a chat, and not be shooed away, while the government functions within. I was also impressed to learn that anybody, native or foreign, can go an watch the parliamentary debates! I've got my eyes on the calendar to see if I can make it inside for one. While tickets to the palace are an 18 Pounds that I don't really feel like spending, I (and you) can walk into the House of  Commons for free! So let's see how that goes.

Here's Westminster Abbey where the likes of Charles Darwin, Isaac Newtown, Robert Browning, Rudyard Kipling, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, Samuel Johnson find eternal rest.
That done, here are a few night colours courtesy the Thames.

And since this blogpost started with the subject of the British parliament, i thought it might be nice to pay honour to a much used and frighteningly abused cultural icon of Britain with parliamentary roots:

This was a poster created by the British Government in preparation for World War II. The poster was intended to raise the morale of the British Public in the aftermath of widely predicted mass attacks on major cities. Hoewver, the Blitz came and went but the poster never saw a wall until it was rediscovered in 2000. And the story, as you know it, goes on.... 

On that note fellow, the day is young, keep calm and carry on :)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

I confess, I prayed for you!

If I had to choose words to describe today, they would be Peaceful and Fortuitous. 6 splendid hours spent in the company of music, meditation and magnificence.

St. Pauls Cathedral is the Mother Church of the diocese of London and one of the city's most exquisitely crafted buildings. This entire post, I shall strive, but most certainly fail, to put into words what I felt and saw today.

When the original church burnt down during the great fire of London in 1666, the task of designing a replacement structure was officially assigned to Sir Christopher Wren. He's a name you chance upon a lot in Engalnd as he's been responsible for the design of over 50 churches. The construction of the Christian Baroque church took about 32 years to reach its present state. One look inside will tell you that this was with good reason. 6 million glass mosaic tiles, it's highest point at 365 ft (one for every day of the year), built at the current cost of 50 million pounds. 

While it's tempting to delve into a lesson in architecture at this point, I shall instead choose to write about the things that wikipedia won't tell you : my personal experiences here :D

Why did I say that today was fortuitous? Well that's because the London Symphonic Orchestra was practicing here, right in the centre of the church. Beethoven's 9th. :) 

And just when I thought that my luck couldn't possibly get any better, the orchestra was joined by a choir who came up and performed Ode To Joy! It is said that when a song is sung in this church, the statues vibrate. Well I could't really tell because the resonance was within me too! All my Church Park buddies, only you can truly understand the significance of me hearing this song, and performed so well. Missed you loads! What caught my attention most about the performance, was that not only the conductor, but all the lead signers were of Asian origin.

However, this unexpected performance did eat into my sightseeing time and I missed seeing the church crypt where people like Horatio Nelson and Alexander Flemming now call home, but I did make the journey up to the steeple top for a lovely panoramic view of London.

First, a snapshot from the whispering gallery. See the small circle with the railing in the centre? That's the first stop on the way up to the top. That's where i stood and took the picture below it.

And up at the top of a total of 530 steps, meet London: 

That done,  I came down to do what people usually do in churches :) 
If you're on this mailing list, this candle was lit with with a prayer for you on my lips! I then sat in for Evensong in the Quire (not choir) of the church and listen to little angelic voices for a good 45 minutes. The Angelican prayer service was most simple and apt. No fuss, no complications and a soothing woman's voice reading the daily lessons. My only confession for the day? PHOTOS ARE NOT ALLOWED INSIDE THE CHURCH! But I sneaked all of these because I don't believe that beholding beauty must be made available only to those who are lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time. And I hope for that I am forgiven :) 
And thus the first half of the day ended. But not without a Hot Chocolate from Paul :D

Next up... sights by night! See you in a bit.