My last day in London (I leave tomorrow morning) was special. Pat and I saw a matinee of Othello at the Globe Theater, starring Mark Rylance as Iago. The open air theater made it a bit difficult to hear the actors, especially the Othello who spoke with a southern (american) drawl. But I enjoyed every minute of the 2.5 hour production, even sitting on hard benches in the “Gods.” I had taken the precaution of ordering cushions for our seats, which made it bearable.
We had lunch first at Oxo Tower where I had gone with my mother and Cathy 20 years ago. I had soft shell crab (!) which I haven’t seen for over a year. They had clearly been frozen but what a treat.
View of St. Paul’s from Oxo Tower
Thanks for your feedback. Michael asked about the food. Not awful. I’ve been trying local specialties (had venison pie twice, quite good). Today I tried something called an Eton mess. And it was. Strawberries, meringue and clotted cream, all kind of tossed together. It tasted better than it looked but won’t be ordering it again.
This was at lunch at the national portrait gallery. Lovely space, good veal chop. Pat had partridge and was told to look out for the buckshot! (Abby will sympathize).
Also visited the National gallery to see Leonardo’s Virgin of the Rocks and some Turners. All British museums are free. Is this a great country or what?
A Turner sky at Trafalgar square
Three guesses where we went on Thursday. I hadn’t been to the British museum since 1971 and found it, happily, still as fusty as ever. And the cakes were still overpriced and oversweet, so there will always be an England.
The Elgin marbles are no longer called as such and there is now a brochure explaining why the museum has the right to keep them. And they are as amazing as ever.
From there Pat and I took a bus across London bridge where we had plans for dinner and theater. We passed Southwark cathedral, where I saw a poster and remembered Abby’s advice. Abby will be disappointed to hear that there are now girls in the boys choir, but it was charming. Happily, there was no need to stay for the whole service.
The cathedral is magnificent and I loved the modern Shakespeare stained glass window.
From there a short-ish walk to the Menier chocolate factory for dinner (venison pie) and a play called “Pack of Lies.” It is a revival of a play from the 1980s about a famity who discover their friends and neighbors are soviet spies. It started out as a teleplay and had a strong whiff of tv about it. The original production starred Judy Dench and this one starred her daughter, Finty Williams. The acting was good but we left at the interval. No surprise to my friends who know of my proclivity to “Evelyn” (leave a performance early). Anyway Pat and I were both exhausted.
Not a lot of photos for various reasons. Arrived in London on Tuesday, where Pat picked me up from Victoria station following the train from Gatwick. Pat lives in Islington, a part of London previously unfamiliar to me. She has a beautiful house with a garden and we stayed in the neighborhood on Tuesday.
Wednesday was a highly scheduled day. In the morning we met a friend for coffee, then to the theater:an adaptation of Camus’ The Plague. Very well done and thought-provoking. Another play is on our schedule for tonight (Thursday) and Saturday, so I will be seeing 3 plays in my 4 full days here.
In the evening, a rare treat for a tourist: dinner in a private club. Pat’s friend Fanny is a member of the Chelsea Arts Club, established by James Whistler in the 1890s and located in Chelsea (naturally) in a cozy townhouse with garden. I wish I could show you photos–it looks like something out of Masterpiece Theater–but phones are strictly forbidden. Here is a photo of Pat, Fanny, another friend, Lizzie and I at Fanny’s home in Kensington. We certainly look quite arty, don’t you think?
Getting around London is a bit stressful as there is a strike on the picadilly line. I don’t quite understand how one line can be on strike, but it causes chaos in the rest of the underground. It took half an hour just to change trains because of the crowds. But the Londoners just shuffled in neat queues, not pushing as New Yorkers would. I would have taken a photo but I didn’t want to take my phone out of my handbag in the crush. Here is a snapshot from the relatively uncrowded Central Line.
Pat had arranged with another friend to go out to Henley for lunch today, but given the transport problems, we’ve decided to stay in town. Considering that we got back from dinner after midnight, I was happy to have a free morning. I will try to take more pictures today as we go to the National gallery and the Menier Chocolate Factory theater.