Me again folks.
Last month it was Louise’s birthday. Because she’s so special to me, I thought I’d treat her to something equally special. So I bought us tickets to see The Phantom of the Opera in London’s west end, and what a good excuse to have a few day’s sight seeing as well.
It was the first time for both of us that we had been away together, and the first I had been away with someone I love.
The journey was pretty uneventful. It was just nice to be in each other’s company. Oh and I don’t recommend going on the tube when you’re not used to it and have luggage in toe.
After we had checked in, taken our things to the room and had a brew, we had a pleasant stroll to find something to eat. On our way we passed ST Paul’s. The bells were ringing which was amazing to hear.
We went for a look in since we were there. A service was in full swing, which seemed odd as there were people like us just walking around looking at the place. I suppose if you were in there for what it was built for, you wouldn’t hear everything else that was going on as it’s so huge.
The acoustics are something else, which makes the choir and organ sound ethereal. I couldn’t tell where either of them were as everything just washed around me, also there’s speakers everywhere.
A staff member came up to us and had a quick chat. At first I thought she was going to tell me not to touch whatever it was in front of me – a nativity scene I think. But she ended up waxing lyrical about that blind guy in the US who goes around clicking. If I had a quid every time someone mentioned that guy and his incessant clicking, I’d be a millionaire or very near one.
Yes, I’ve heard of him, and no, I don’t think he’s amazing. Far from it, in fact. She claimed that a guy she met could tell her how high the ceiling was by clicking. More like clicking the home button on his iPhone and asking siri.
Anyway, this isn’t a post about me ranting about Mr. Clicky guy. She was helpful otherwise, as I wanted to know about the whispering gallery, and she told me all about it. I’d love to experience it one day.
Back out we went, and had a stroll across the bridge that the death eaters destroyed in one of the Harry Potter films. I didn’t appreciate how wide the Thames is until I walked across there. It felt like we were walking for miles.
On the way back across over another bridge, we came across a guy playing the hang, which is a unique instrument that looks like a flying saucer with dents over it which produces different notes when you tap them with your fingers. It sounds a bit like a steal pan but more mellower with more of an attack. It’s lovely and I was itching to have a go. If you YouTube hang or hang drum I believe there’s a video of the same bloke we saw playing it.
That night, we had tea (dinner if you’re posh) in the hotel. The food wasn’t much to write home about, but I was pretty hungry.
I got asked for ID by one of the waitresses, which was a lovely compliment considering at the time of writing I’ve just turned 30. But it was so annoying as I don’t carry any. I obviously don’t have a driving license and I don’t want to take my passport everywhere with me just so I can buy alcohol. I might lose it. It’s not happened for a while, and maybe it was because I had my hair straightened. 🙂
On Monday we had a lovely long walk round all the touristy bits. We passed the old bailey, which felt kind of strange as it’s mentioned so much on the news and there I was trying to take a photo of it. Probably one place I never want to see the inside of.
we reached Elizabeth Tower just before big ben struck 12. As it did so, everything around us seemed to stop. The traffic, pedestrians, everything waited for it to finish. Then London came back to life.
I think Great Abel in Manchester’s town hall sounds far more impressive, but big ben is just so iconic.
Next we stood outside Downing Street, and had a look at the Cenotaph and horse guards. I was surprised to find out that the Cenotaph is in the middle of a crossing and not in the middle of a ceremonial ground as I thought.
We then walkied over to Trafalgar square, into the national gallery. I was given an audio guide which they nearly charged me for. It’s a great idea in theory, but it’s written for someone who really understands art and not for someone who just wants the paintings described. Louise did a far better job than that thing ever could.
Some of them are so detailed they look like photos. Louise took a picture of one with her iPhone and the facial recognition software detected that there were indeed faces in the painting.
She bought a print of The Execution of Lady Jane Grey, which is apparently beautiful. I don’t get how a painting of an execution can be, but there you go.
For some reason there was a guy dressed as Yoda pretending to float outside the gallery.
After a walk down the mall , we had dinner in a pub across from the tower where big ben is. They charged an arm and a leg for what was supposed to be a chicken burger, but it was the only place we could find, we were starving and my feet were killing me. Serves me right for hiking for miles in heels.
By that time it was getting late, and we wanted to get ready for the evening as Louise had booked a table for us in a Thai restaurant as a late birthday treat for me.
It was a little out of the way place that was lovely and quiet until a work party showed up. But our meal was lovely and the staff were friendly, so it didn’t detract from the night at all.
I’ve always wanted to have a look round the science museum, so we went there on Tuesday.
I’d say it was quite similar to the one in Manchester, which is probably because they belong to the same group. They must share exhibits.
Mostly everything was behind glass, but there was a few interactive parts. There was also scale models of a couple of exhibits that you’re free to touch. These come with accompanying plaques describing them which were in Braille. I thought that was a nice touch and wish there had been more. However they were unreadable. Even though they had been embossed on metal, some clown had picked off some of the dots, probably with a knife.
The most impressive and forward thinking display in my view was one dealing with trans issues. It was only small and mainly covered people transitioning from female to male, but it was a start. It was just a display of a binder, a packer and testosterone patches with info about the guy who had donated them, but it was impressive to see something like that in the science museum. It got the kids talking that were on a school trip, even if it was just to laugh at the “willy” in the case. Little did they know that right in front of them was 2 real life trans women.
We had planned to visit the natural history museum, but we ended up spending longer in the science museum than we thought. So we went back to where we were staying and got something to eat in the gourmet burger kitchen. Their burgers are awesome, and their skinny fries are to die for.
Then it was time to get ready for what we had came for, to watch Phantom.
I bought a new dress especially, and so did Louise. We both love getting dressed up. I sent my dad a picture of me, and he said I looked lovely.
The show was in Her Majesties theatre where it has been since it opened.
I had never watched phantom before so wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew the odd song here and there, had a basic idea of the story and that it involved a chandelier being brought smashing down to the stage, but not much else. Musicals aren’t really my thing although I enjoyed the film version of Les Mis.
I went from thinking it’s alright and not being sure what to make of it to being utterly blown away by it. I think this is in part due to the wonderful cast. Gerónimo Rauch starred as the phantom, and as far as I’m concerned played the part so much better than Michael crawford.
Harriet Jones was Christine. She was amazing, and I wish I could sing like that, or even sing at all for that matter.
Louise as I had imagined was completely over the moon with my little treat for her, saying it had been the best birthday ever.
Wednesday was our last day in the smoke. We weren’t due to leave til the evening so we went out for a bit more sight seeing.
We had a lovely walk round tower of London’s grounds, disagreeing amicably with what we would do with the mote if we were queens. That’s one thing I love about Louise, we have loads of random conversations about anything.
After that, we took the tube to Piccadilly circus and had a look around there and regent street, where we bought a few tops from a designer clothes shop.
All too soon it was time to catch the train back up north, but the fun didn’t end there. We had a laugh listening to some posh kids talking about stuff to do with Harry Potter. The really did sound like a couple of excited Hogwarts first years. What would have made it even more funnier is if it was a train from king’s cross.
It was a wonderful few days with my beautiful girl and I enjoyed every minute of it.