ENO – The Mikado at the London Coliseum

The big event yesterday was going to a production of The Mikado. Ko Ko is the main character, of course, rather than the hero and heroine. He was played sympathetically by a singer who reminded Stephen of Eric Idle in the role. The production as a whole was slickly done, with extra stuff happening which was good to catch. Of course, it is the music that carries the silly storyline to a large extent, as with most opera.

When we were talking with Matt this morning I realised that he would have enjoyed this particular production because although a lot of the humour was/is verbal there were also visual gags, and he would, of course, like the music. We had a bit of a short session because his iPad ran out of charge. We had a bit of warning, then it went. We said we will catch up next Sunday.

Jane (Stephen’s ‘friend’ from his London days – I’m not allowed to say more) organised the tickets for us and we met at the St Martin in the Fields cafe (where we chatted and drank tap water), before going along to the theatre.

St Martin in the Fields Cafe
St Martin in the Fields Cafe

The theatre apparently dates from around the beginning of the 20th century, and has has extensive renovations over the years, including quite recently. What is particularly nice is that the stalls section is quite small, so even though we were towards the back we were still quite close to the stage. It is an interesting building from the outside and quite beautiful inside.

The London Coliseum-top

The London Coliseum
Outside of the London Coliseum

The London Coliseum-interior

The London Coliseum-interior2

The London Coliseum-interior3
Inside the London Coliseum

The photos are a bit basic because although I had my camera with me it was snugly packed into my backpack – it was much easier to just use the iPhone.

Afterwards it was dark and wet, so we abandoned a plan to go to the Chinese restaurant near the British Museum and found a nice little Greek restaurant nearby. We enjoyed a mix of dishes at 10 pounds a head (I must find the pound sign on my keyboard), plus a restina to complete the immersion experience. We talked until about 9.45 p.m. about theatre, travel and our personal lives.

Jane decided to travel back to her hotel by taxi and we went along to have the experience of travelling in a London taxi. We have been in the same sort of taxi cab in Perth when travelling with Uber, but it was our first time in England. We said goodnight outside and then caught the bus back to Victoria – getting to see Christmas lights again, and then a train to East Croydon. We had almost no waiting for either bus or train.

It has proved a little difficult to meet up with Stephen’s family here in England for various reasons, especially because of not having a car. However, Jane was prepared to travel to London to meet up, and Angela (Stephen’s cousin from his mother’s side of the family) will meet us in London on Thursday to do some family history exploration.

We, of course, are in Greater London, and can buy slightly discounted all day tickets for travelling to and from London, and then getting around the city. We are tending to choose where to go based on reasonably priced transport options: train, bus or coach.

I’ve just updated my Flickr page with a few more photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/suzii2/

https://www.flickr.com/gp/suzii2/95P748

East Croydon – almost winter

Yesterday we did a shopping expedition to restock on food. I felt pretty tired after travelling yesterday. Stephen wanted to go to a talk in the afternoon, but I didn’t feel up to it, especially as we are going out today. It wasn’t especially cold yesterday, but the wind made it seem cold when we were out.

We watched an episode of Homeland (Season 4) together, then watched BBC programs on our devices. Stephen loves having the big iMac, with a comfortable office chair in the kitchen.

It is grey and windy today. The photo is of a church nearby. We haven’t actually walked over there yet, and maybe it won’t happen. The image is at 300mm and is rather soft, but not bad for that distance handheld in the wind.

 

Leaving Bath

Yesterday morning was sunny and partly cloudy, not very cold. We had a bus to catch at 12.45 p.m. and had a leisurely morning, packing up our things, having our usual full breakfast at the YHA, and then heading out for a walk in the town. We left the case at the hostel and Stephen picked it up later.

I took photos of the hostel in sunshine, some of our walk across the bridge and alongside the river, and then the street stalls in the town centre. Some of which are included in the slideshow.

The journey by bus was quite pleasant, though the heater was on full and it was quite hot in my window seat. At Heathrow we asked the bus driver to turn the heating down, which is when we found out it was stuck. Other people were also finding it too hot, so we opened the top vent.

We had a cup of tea at Victoria Station, then home to East Croydon, picking up milk and some food at Sainsbury on the way through. It reminded us that it is quite a hard slog from the station when we are tired. Having the case means that if we use the tram we have to take it up and down steps on the estate, rather than coming via ramps. I’m not sure which is harder.

Thursday in Bath

Yesterday we spent the day sightseeing in Bath. It was the first day of the Bath Christmas Market, with traditional wooden stalls being set up all around the central area. It attracts lots of people, mainly from the surrounding areas and it got quite busy by lunchtime.

At the hostel we had an invasion of about 40 school children. We think that they may be here to sing at the Abbey along with children from other schools as I noticed place markings for lots of different schools on the pews in the Abbey. They are very noisy, but somehow it still doesn’t feel like a takeover as they eat in the dining room next to the self catering kitchen and leave the main dining room for the rest of us.

Stephen wanted to go the the American Museum, but found that it didn’t open until 12.00, so he came back to the city just after I had finished my ‘look’ inside the Abbey. We went first  to the Roman Baths, and got our fill of warm water with steam rising, and reading/hearing about the history of the baths. They were a centre of life here in Roman Britain. The buildings were far more extensive then, but there are still some aspects of the original baths.

Then we went to a pretty cafe above an opportunity shop. It is run by volunteers, and quite classy considering. However, this place would be very busy in the tourist season, so anyone running a decent cafe would make a living I expect.

We walked up to the circus again, then across to the Royal Crescent, then down the hill to find the Herschel Museum of Astronomy. The museum is in the house where Herschel and his sister lived. His original plan had been to make a career of music, and he was successful in this. His sister was also musical and began to make a career as a singer. But, he also became interested in astronomy, and built his own telescopes. Together they made many discoveries, including the planet Uranus. He became a sort of Royal astronomer, with a small yearly pension, so that he could devote himself fully to it. So, a very interesting place, and I found their obvious dedication to music and astronomy very impressive.

After that, we walked around the stall for a while, bought some food to prepare in the kitchen for dinner, then caught the bus home. We started by setting up in the kitchen dining area, but when the kids arrived, we moved over to the main dining room to eat our meal. It was noisy, but very cheerful. We were able to shut the dining room door to make it a bit easier.

I have just found how to change the timezone so that my posts always reflect when they are written, rather than being on Perth time. Hooray!

I will post a couple of photos, but I will try to set up a slideshow later for our bath visit as a whole. Photos from the Bath Christmas Market and the Roman Baths, Bath.

In the footsteps of Bill Bryson

Today we visited Avebury, site of one of the English henges. It is quite impressive. The standing stones are mostly the result of excavation and setting in place again. We were prompted to visit by what Bill Bryson wrote in The Road to Little Dribbling although we didn’t feel, as he did, that the National Trust information was unhelpful. Maybe he didn’t concentrate when he was being told where to begin the walk. Maybe the fact that we came by train, then bus, made us more observant. We could see the stones immediately as the bus was arriving at the village.

And, we were given a little map. There was a museum showing the excavation and another showing some of the artefacts that have been recovered.

Of course, they don’t really know who built the henge or why. It dates from about 4,200 years ago. The stone used for the henge is local to the area and has been used for paving and building houses in the area. Apparently many of the standing stones were broken up and destroyed by local people. What is left is still substantial.

After we had looked in the museums and had lunch, Stephen decided to really follow Bill Bryson’s lead and walk to Silbury Hill. It is also part of the mystery – an artificial hill that has apparently been built up over a long period of time.

We bought one picnic lunch at the hostel and ate it in the cafe, alone with a lovely big pot of tea, with spare hot water.

Stephen off to Silbury Hill
Stephen sets off for Silbury Hill

In fact, he gave up after awhile. It had become very rainy and wet, and was very muddy underfoot. I had experienced it myself doing a walk partway around the circle of stones. We met up at the church. I had already been in, so he had a look, then went back to the museum for a while, whilst I retreated to the cafe.

The following are some photos from my walk in an Apple Photos slideshow. It tells a story of a rainy day, with a short burst of sun and blue sky, just before we set off on our walks.

 

 

Bath

Sunday afternoon we went for a walk to the Water Tower Park (as we call it, not the proper name) and did some shopping.

On Monday morning we were on our way early and had to stand on the train as far as Clapham Junction. We made our way to the Victoria Bus Station in good time (about an hour before our bus). Most of the people there got onto the bus before ours, so we were able to have two seats each to spread out.

The bus journey took about 2.5 hours and we enjoyed views of the countryside. We found a place for tea/coffee on arrival, then caught a bus up the hill to the hostel. Our room is nice, it has 6 beds, but because we booked an extra night he wanted to put us in one room for the four nights and it was easier for it to be the family room rather than a two bed room. The whole place is very comfortable, with an attractive self catering kitchen, a couple of dining rooms and a comfortable lounge room. We have paid for breakfasts and it’s possible to have other meals here as well.

YHAadjusted, Bath
YHA Bath
Our YHA room
Our room with windows over garden and glimpses of Bath

 

We unpacked, then went back down the hill to walk around. Stephen wanted to go to the Theatre Royal for a show, and we were able to book $6.00 tickets for a show that evening. We saved on the tickets, but had our meal at the Theatre restaurant, not cheap, but the food was good, so we didn’t regret it.

We saw King Charles III, described as future history. It was supposed to be a comedy sending up the royal family, but felt more like a tragedy, especially as it was in blank verse.

Theatre Royal, Bath
Theatre Royal, Bath.

The bus to our hostel is cheap (subsidised for the University of Bath), and runs 24/7, so no problem getting back late at night.

In the morning, very sad, I was quite ill with a headache and nausea. I skipped breakfast. Stephen went down to the Tourist Information Centre and to visit a museum and I was so ill that it was nice to be on my own. However, there were staff around and other guests, so not really alone. It was hard to imagine feeling better, but this evening I have been able to eat and drink and think I may be on the mend.

They saved a plate of breakfast for me. The chef was a bit worried about giving me warmed up food, but I didn’t want a lot anyway and it seemed to be fine. Stephen had one of their other dishes and desert, which he shared with me. A bottle of lemonade between us also helped.

We have stayed in the dining room because I want to write and their didn’t appear to be much room in the lounge. When Stephen got back we sat there for a couple of hours reading before dinner.

Uploading photos is rather slow, so this will do for this post.

Beautiful

We had an enjoyable afternoon yesterday, catching the train to Victoria Station, then a bus through the city to the Aldwych Theatre to see ‘Beautiful – The Carole King Musical’.

When we went to a London theatre a few weeks ago there were no security checks. This time, there was a fairly careful check of our bags before entry, which we found most reassuring. The theatre was old and very pretty – though I did not take photos due to the press of people in the smallish foyer.

Stephen stood inside, then outside to try to sell our extra ticket. We had bought the tickets for this show thinking that Ron would come. Eventually he was able to sell it to a couple of American women. They had just flown in on the day and were looking for tickets and prepared to sit apart to save a little money. We were very pleased to get back most of the money. Ron had offered to pay for it, but we didn’t like to take money from him since he couldn’t help being ill.

The show itself was extremely well done. The music spanned the mid sixties to mid eighties and we knew all of it, though hadn’t been aware of who composed it. In fact, we didn’t remember Carole King as a singer. The storyline traced her artistic life from a 16 year old for about 15 years or so. There were a couple of groups of singer/dancers on stage as well as her mother, husband, manager and good friends. Very enjoyable both musically and emotionally – I expect because it was meaningful to people of our generation. They got a standing ovation at the end.

We walked along The Strand for a while afterwards to find somewhere to have a cup of tea. We had had our usual picnic lunch on the way to the theatre whilst sitting on the bus – and had banana and chocolate at interval. Still, we were quite hungry by the time we arrived home, in the dark as usual.

It was pretty cold, but I wore an extra jumper underneath my coat, and Stephen’s coat is made for very cold conditions, so we didn’t have any problems with the cold. It was fine and sunny in the afternoon, after snow and drizzle in the morning.

This morning is sunny as well. I took a couple of photos from the balcony for this post.

Sunny Day
View towards London
Sunny Day2
View to the South (used the Dehaze Filter in Lightroom)

I am doing lots of little loads of washing at the moment as we are going to Bath for five nights and I like to be up to date with washing.

Snow Indeed

This morning just after 9.00 a.m. we had our first snow. After yesterday’s forecast I was expecting a storm overnight, but we haven’t had much wind. Even when the snow was falling there was more of a breeze blowing the snow around. Grabbed my camera, of course, and took some video and photos. First of all from our upper deck, then from the balcony off the lounge room. The video I took at the lower level worked best because the snow as more visible against the buildings.

It did’t feel especially cold outside, I put shoes on, but otherwise just wearing winter PJs and a jumper. Although it is colder outside than it has been, the apartment still gets too warm on the lower level and stays slightly chilly at the top – because of the air based heating the warm air falls, plus the gas heating system is on the lower level and heats that area quite well. Still, we don’t really want it to be too warm upstairs and switch the heating to very low overnight.

Yesterday afternoon we walked into the city centre (Croydon) to see a movie called ‘The Lady in the Van’ – based on a true story of the author’s experience of having a homeless woman park her van in his driveway for about 15 years. Very funny and touching – especially as the author, Alan Bennet, sends himself up far more than the old lady. Highly recommended!

The cinema complex has a modest entry way, which opens up to a quite impressive 3 level foyer. The quality of the sound and screen was very good as well – I wonder if our cinemas at home are getting a bit old and tired. It just seems odd that there is so little made of it in the street, must be something that everyone in Croydon knows about, so why make a fuss! We got seniors’ discounts on the tickets, which pleased us as well.

Afterwards we walked down the mall, which is now becoming quite familiar to us. Stephen got a glasses case for 2 pounds at Supersavers. Then we went to M&S for a few things, basically knickers for both of us, socks for me and singlets for Stephen.  I bought another flannel and a vanity bag in Boots on our way out. Then we walked home again. Just that level of walking was about 9,000 steps, without really trying to reach my goal of 10,000 per day.

The video was shot in 4K and resized in Apple Photos app to 720p for uploading