Im going to try and write as much as I can about my trip but also bear in mind I have 300 gazillion bajillion mcsquillion things to do before I head to the tv studio on Tuesday afternoon.
You can look for typos and you will find them....enjoy them whilst they are un-spell checked and in-your-face! So here goes, my trip to London, innit............
Mark bought me a lovely birthday gift at the beginning of Feb but we couldn't "spend" it until 26th Feb. I didn't mind waiting, it added to the excitement. Ive been wanting to see Les Mis since I heard Susan Boyle singing I dreamed a dream. Clearly up until that point I was uncultured and unknowing about west end theatre. I knew Les Mis existed as much as I knew Miss Shanghai had finished production. I just didn't care to go up until SuBo belted her heart out on that stage. But who cares, she introduced me to the entire album which I downloaded after her performance at Britains Got Talent last year. Ive been singing that album almost everyday for a year now, not knowing who sung what parts or even how the story unfolded. But on Friday, as we travelled down on the train, my heart was leaping hither and dither anyway.
We booked our train tickets in advance which meant we could afford to travel first class (its cheaper than standard class sometimes - really, check it out!). This meant wider seatage and a table and a cutesy lamp and complimentary scoff. It was a real treat with tea and coffee on tap and loo's that actually smelled of cleaning fluids instead of the obvious. You know the type I mean (you don't have to almost break your neck as you hover. If you are a girl, I know you can identify with that). Its only took just over 2 hours to get there which, from Wigan, is lightening quick. No sooner had we alighted the train did we get ourselves checked into the Cumberland Hotel. Now that was a bargain. Mark had booked a ticket and hotel combo which faired to be a brilliant deal. The room was really nice and clean (most import and again, no hovering).
We didn't want to waste anytime so we head straight out into Landan. Now, I have said this before, but the thing about London is that whenever I visit I always feel important. Its like I am a dutiful citizen visiting our nations capital for some diplomatic business. I dress my best and hope that I shall bump into someone of notoriety and that they may comment how wonderful a lowly northerner has graced the city to pay their respects to their wealth.
As our hotel was literally on top of Marble Arch that meant meandering through Mayfair and Park lane. Oh how the other half live. Seriously, every other parked car was either beamer or Mercedes if not the odd Ferrari and Lotus. I purposely looked into every house I passed. Well, if it didn't have blinds I thought it was an open invite to have a good old nose. Wow, I really was in my element whilst Mark geocached, doing his manly, butch hobby and me being the common northerner with my head pressed up against posh peoples windows and drooling at their fine interiors.
We were making our way to convent garden which felt like 40 miles walking and ambling whereever we felt like taking a turn but I was getting the feeling we were lost so we detoured to the nearest stinky tube to get their for lunch. I fancied playing with my camera as we waited for a stinky tube and I love how these turned out.
We got out at some random tube station and came across this secret looking little outdoor market (picadilly market to be precise). It was in the garden of an old churchyard and the first stall had all the delights I could ever want and need. Bronze stamps in designs only myself and Dyan could slurp over. I was in love and wanted to buy the whole stall.
My buys - sigh........
Outside the garden, near Fortnum and Mason (YUM!) I thoroughly recommend going to have a look, beautiful ornaments as well as being able to serve a purpose. Mark left me to ooooh and aaaaaahh whilst he......yes, you guessed it - geocached! Then we made tracks to go to our appointed venue for lunch. You see, walking around London is knackering but you miss gems like this if you go on the tube; traditional pubs in British racing green decor and gold lettering. So classic.
We got to covent garden eventually but my secret point of going was to go to one of Cath Kidston whopping shops. Mark of course had 75 radillion mcsquillion geocaches in his gps, stored for the off chance of building his geocache finds up (yawn). We had lunch at a gorgeous little bistro which was reasonably priced. I don't know why people complain about London being expensive. It is only expensive as the shops you choose to visit. If you go two side streets from the main, you are talking proper grub and modest prices to suit the tightest of northern purses. After lunch, we hung a right out of the bistro and 3 shops down we happened upon Primrose bakery. Oh yes we bloody well did. Its just gorgeous but I wonder how on earth a shop only selling cupcakes manages to survive with rent and rates of an inner London rating. The yellow decor outside the shop was so inviting but the cakes inside called to me in a language only my heart can understand. Mark, the butch and manly hunter gatherer, waited outside. Can you imagine the nerve of a male entering such a shop? So I bought a lemon iced cup cake and devoured its £1.85-ness in 3 seconds flat. And so on to Cath Kidston via the wonders of Covent garden market
I was left "to it" whilst Mark, yes you guessed it, did the manly and butch thing and geocached. That was a stupid thing for him to do as I had his debit card and it was going to be damaged. I bought this ensemble of spottiness for my hearts delight and my personal greed. After all, it was my birthday (8th feb, ages ago....but still) plus I had walked so far to retrieve them. Her shop is such a haven for me but with all of my recent purchases from there recently, there really isn't one more thing I could need (and believe me, I only own 1/150th of what she sells).
Happy and skippy, we walked some more before retiring back to the hotel for me to have a nap prior to the show (I really didn't want to fall asleep during the performance). On the way back up from Marble tube station, I thought Id be a healthy bean and walk up the stairs instead of using the escalators. OMG, bad, bad idea. Whilst 3 mcsquillion steps looks easy, they were not. I was gasping half way up and you could see pitiful looks from thousands of people as they scanned my posture and my beet red cheeks. Some of them tossed me coins thinking I was part of the entertainment. Others giggled behind their smog protection scarves. Hmmmph! I swore to myself that If I lived to tell the tale, I would only eat carrots and go back to the gym this monday. And indeed I got to the top and did a "Rocky" style salute before finally getting into my room, flinging off my boots (and bra, the stupid bloody thing) and diving into bed whilst mark, yes - you guessed - geocached (yawn).
Mark woke me up an hour before we had to leave for Les Mis. I was having the best sleep but soon I was singing all the songs from the musical in the shower - I was so excited. You know that kind of excitement where you think you will just burst and where you have to pinch yourself to even believe it was true. That was me. We dressed in our nicest clothes and head out to Shaftesbury Avenue. My god, London was heaving on Friday night. We passed China town which was still bedecked in the most amazing skyline form their new year celebrations. Lanterns upon lanterns upon lanterns filled the sky - I truly wished that Ellie was with us, she would have loved it. I couldn't get the best picture because it was night time, I only wished I had seen it in the day. But still. WE nipped into a pub next to the queens theatre before the performance and I had a beer. I know! We just don't drink anymore but this was such a thrill to be sitting in the pub next door, only minutes before the show of all shows.Then it was time.
Oh god, I was so nervy from excitement and we entered a really nice lobby met with these lovely chandeliers before going up into the frigging gods to get a fairly good (but not brilliant) seat. It was boiling in there. The rows were so narrow that you had to stand up to let people pass. That annoyed the hell out of me. I really wanted them to levitate past me instead of ruffling me up and getting me more hot. But what surprised me more than anything was the size of the theatre. I honestly thought It was going to be enormous and it just wasn't. It was very small, with a relatively small stage. I honestly thought we had been sold tickets to a different show and that coco the clown was going to come on and do a strip tease.
Then the lights dimmed and my little heart fluttered like crazy and soon all the smallness was forgotten when voices and music just enveloped the whole auditorium. Songs so familiar to me were now being told in a story with people and names I could relate to. The stage became massive and the acoustics were fantastic. The stage rotated to make the whole performance even more spectacular than first anticipated. I was just stunned. Tears welled in my eyes through each event and come the intermission, I was desperate for a break from the tension. Up and down I got from my seat to let the non levitaters by. I was sat next to a fairly young couple (must have been early twenties) and we shared small talk. I could hear him throughout the performance as he made gasps and emotional sighs as events unfolded. He was just as into it as I was. But Mark was really niggled by the lack of leg room and displayed the heart of a swinging brick as he didn't get why people were "feeling" the performance. I mean, I don't think people do it for kicks and giggles, do they? You either have a heart or you don't. And like I say, Mark has a swinging brick tied to a grumpy old mans bit of rope! By the way, he knows what I am talking about. Oh we do laugh about it.
So after the intermission and an expensive ice cream the rest of the story unfolded and songs were belted out by the most polished voices until the end. OMG, I have never snotted and cried so much in my life over a stage performance. You could hear literally scores of people crying and sniffing (the guy next to me was bawling and a woman two rows in front was inconsolable). Mark dug into his pocket to hand me his clean handkerchief which I promptly snotted my entire nasal passages onto and my mascara soaked eye juice. The one thing I can rely on in an emotional situation is that my husband has always got a neatly pressed handkerchief in his pocket everywhere we go. Always and everywhere. And that is a reliable comfort for me and my snot ridden nose, salty tears and mucky marks on clothing now and again.
And here I am, outside after the performance with a hooter like Rudolph and eyes that look like they have gone ten rounds with Mike Tyson.And that was day one. Well done if you stayed awake. Tomorrow I ply you with more photies through my crazy boggle eyes and super duper rudolph nose to boot!
By the way, the winner of the russian dolly stamps is:
Hannah - congrats chick a lick a loo x
Thanks to everyone that entered, I wish I could give you all a stamp.