21 January 2013

circus sunday

I met Stephanie at the tube station this afternoon and we went for a little walk.  First time ever that I've used an umbrella in the snow.  Though snow doesn't tend to fall in one direction so I still kept getting flakes in my face.  Still, it's a bit of a treat.  Don't see much snow in Australia and certainly not in the cities.  It's nice when it's fresh anyway.  Not so much as it's fading and walked all over and transforming into sludge.  

We stepped into Kensington Gardens for a few quick snaps before continuing on to where our tickets were leading us....  To the Royal Albert Hall.  First time going there too.  Also a first time to see what we'd been looking forward to since we booked the tickets last month.  Kooza, a production from Cirque du Soleil.  We knew we were in for a treat.

 And it didn't disappoint.  It was fabulous.  I was entertained, amazed, made to laugh, thrilled, astonished and gasping in my seat.  I was absolutely amazed by the bendy women.  He he.  Can bodies really bend that much??  They are so strong and extremely flexible.  It's astonishing what positions they could get there bodies into.  One woman set just her chest, shoulders and arms on the floor and then had her feet run in circles around her.  There was lots of balancing involved too throughout the show.  Balancing on chairs, on tightrope, on bikes on tightrope, on shoulders...  Doing flips on stilts.  Being seasaw launched into the air on a single stilt to do flips and land.  Being seasaw flipped onto a man's shoulders who was standing on another man's shoulders.  Tricks with hulahoops.  Tricks on a trapeze swing.  Clowing about.  Magic tricks.  Have I left anything out...?  My favourite part--the part that had me gasping in my seat--was two guys on this amazing spinning gadget.  Think a long pole with a circle on each end and the whole thing spun from the centre of the pole.  Round and round.  One guy inside each of the circles walking, running, jumping to keep it spinning and them upright.  Sometimes walking on the outside, partly falling as their circle dropped from the peak arching round to the bottom and making its way up again.  Even skipping on the outside.  It was awesome.  They're all amazingly clever and talented.  What hard work!  Yet so entertaining.  It was worth it and I'm glad I made sure I got a ticket.

17 January 2013

wednesday walkabout--"to liberty and m&ms" *cheers*

Another Wednesday has come around and I was blessed with work being cancelled which meant no having to be home by a certain time to head to work.  Woohoo.  Today's walkabout was in a section of central London. I actually managed to cross a few little bits and pieces off my list today.  The main stop was....

I caught the tube to Leicester Square Underground Station where the longest escalator in the system is. It's 161ft 6ins with a vertical rise of 80ft 9ins.  Facts supplied by a recently purchased London travel game.

First location located was the Australia Shop.  Oh my, simple delights!  I haven't seen some of these products in so long.  I bought a couple of goodies to share at the Australia Day book club meeting I'm hosting next weekend.  Yum.

 Second location located--and the main stop for the afternoon--was M&Ms World.  Did you know it existed?  It's four floors of crazy m&m everything.  It's a bit ridiculous really but fun to visit.  I mean, do you really want m&m tshirts, pjs, pencils, plates, jewellery!?  They did have some fun displays though.

And the colours for the taking!!  Don't you just love it, Vi? He he.  They had a fun "Discover Your Colour" scanner.  You stood on the platform while it loudly proclaimed it would scan you and tell you what colour mood you were today.  My colour mood was "Cream: You have creative talents unknown even to you!"  I'll accept that.  Though I suspect it chooses a colour based on what you're wearing as I had on my big, off-white coat.  I also came across some recycling.  He he.  Clever, though I wouldn't pay the asking price.  Funky and funny that they are old m&ms packets.  Good on 'em.

 Third location located was Liberty.  I've been here before.  It's not somewhere I'd shop though they have some lovely stuff.  But again, to justify the expense?  But it is a magnificent building.  Even just the outside is fabulous and inspiring and inviting.  It has such an earthy, basic appeal.  Perhaps from all the wood involved in its structure.  It's more warming than plain hard, cold stone.

And I entered in through the stationary room.  Oh, I swooned!  And I was tempted but I slowly moved on.  The staircase was all wooden full of exquisite carved detail.  It was really impressive to look down the stairwell.  And then from the second floor (there's like five or so) there's an open space through the floors above.  Actually, if you go along to the next area there's another one too.  It's quite a big store and fascinating to see. I made my way up to the fabric area and dawdled through.  Most of it's not a style to my liking--a bit floral for me--but I did find some I liked.  I ended up purchasing some fabric covered buttons I'm going to attach bobbypins to and stick them in my hair.  Or something like that.

 Finally I went back underground and came out at Shepherd's Bush where I went to Westfields Shopping Centre and did a little shopping.  I did manage to come out with the things I hoped to get.  A pleasant spent afternoon and now I've posted my walkabout and I've got a parcel ready to post to my nephew for his birthday next week.  These odd coloured m&ms and some other things are coming your way, Zachary!

10 January 2013

wednesday walkabout--Kensington Palace

I've decided, with the end of my UK adventure fast approaching, that I need to make sure I do some of the London things I've been wanting to do.  Since my working hours on Wednesday are really just a bit of evening babysitting, I'm going to use my daytime hours to do some of those exploring things.  I already have to go home saying I didn't get to do the Buckingham Palace tour because I left it too late so I'm going to start ticking things off.  So today's walkabout was...

I was delighted with my visit here.  It was more fascinating and interactive than I was expecting.  Not just a museum but the actual place where royalty resided.  There's quotes all around from Queen Victoria as she did most of her growing up here.  From the pics below (top left reading-wise) is the red room where Queen Victoria strolled in confidently and sat down for her first meeting as Queen (I think) impressing all the men there.  Royal toys, the dolls house being more for educational purposes than play with a nice, dignified room upstairs and the servants work area below.  I can imagine the governess watching over her 'play' making sure she did so properly as it was mentioned she did.  The recollection of Queen Victoria of crawling on a yellow carpet.  In the Queen Victoria section they also had a lot about her dreamy love life and her many children and the loss of her husband and more.  They also had fashion and bits and pieces of what life was like back then.

I then went round the King's residence which was also more impressive than I imagined.  The middle row of pictures above has a well-worn throne where the king sat to hear basic petitions.  The rooms then lead into more private rooms and the further in you were allowed the more privileged you were.  I was trailing a bunch of school kids through this section.  They had a room of more fashion, books and other set up as it would have been in that time.  Also people dressed in costume.  When kids screamed just after I entered a room, I turned about to see one of these dressed up characters had jumped out from behind a curtain. Ha ha. This area had exquisite painted decorations.  Checkout the stairwell and the cornice/ceiling.  Painted walls.  And that ceiling is just a smooth curve but you can hardly tell.  It looks moulded.  The Queen's residence was the least interesting though still held some fascinating things.  All those chairs are for Queen Anne's 'little hopes'.  Eighteen children!!!  Now THAT's a large family.  Also found it strange that all the paintings of Queen Victoria's children that were around the walls were all in dresses.  Perhaps that was simplest with young ones. The painting here is of Prince Leopold.

I loved some of the displays.  The bonnet and umbrella strung up with hanging drops for rain.  Very clever.  The costumes as well.  The royally worn and the amazingly absurd!  I cannot comprehend nor barely imagine wearing such an incredibly wide dress.  Where would you wear it?  And that's quite a train for the king too.  A special coronation robe.  And below, this was the entrance to the queen's residence.  I thought it was just fabulous.  Shadow boxes and ships in bottles.  All the cut-outs were amazing.  Cut out of some canvas-like fabric.  I was too taken in by the decorations to actually pay attention to what it was about.  Maybe the departure of one of the royal family lines? Oh well.  He he.  It looked great.

And I got outside and discovered it was all sunlit.  Very pleasant.  I strolled around the garden, which was mostly in winter-mode, and then stepped out into Kensington Gardens and wandered home.

02 January 2013

another ticking over

The last day of another year has rolled around.  It always feels like an opportune time to consider what has been and look forward to what may be ahead.  I haven't really got to the first part of that yet.  Monday was spent looking forward to celebrating the beginning of a new year.  Stephanie and I made late plans to dress up and go out for dinner.  We found a fun sounding restaurant called Inamo.  We both dressed up fancy and got happily got our glamour on and headed into the city to make our 6:30pm booking.  It wasn't till we rocked up, right on time, that we found out there was another Inamo--Inamo St James--a ten minute walk away, which was the one we actually booked at.  So we scooted ourselves around some streets and through Piccadilly Circus to find the right Inamo.  We already knew they needed our table again by 8pm for all the set menu New Year's diners.  We weren't too late and this restaurant had a much nicer atmosphere with more space anyway.

 Inamo is a semi-futuristic dinning experience.  A bit of technological fun.  The tables have a little circle touch pad to the right of your plate and a projector overhead.  With a little bit of finger tapping we chose our food and sent our orders straight to the kitchen.  As you viewed each choice, a picture of the dish would appear on your plate.  Brilliant! We then played around with the 'tablecloth' or table atmosphere as they called it with a variety of picture and pattern selections.  We received our drinks and played games while waiting for our food to arrive.  We were in the middle of a war when our food was placed on the table but that didn't stop us.  We each won a round of Battleships, playing against each other.  After a while my small dish still hadn't arrived so with a tap of my finger I called our waiter.  I brought up my order and showed him I was still waiting for my small dish.  After a pleasant oriental meal amongst photos and chatting we added cocktails to our order as our dessert.  The food was tasty though not the quantity could have been a little more for what we paid but essentially we went there for the experience.  That aspect was certainly worth it.

Leaving the restaurant we wandered back to Piccadilly Circus and then along Regent Street looking at all the lights still up from Christmas.  Eventually when we'd had enough of walking and the cold we located a tube station and got back to my place.  We just watched tv and chatted and hung out eating popcorn and drinking milo until it was almost midnight.  At about 11:55pm we climbed the stairs, and more stairs and a few more stairs and then a ladder and climbed through the skylight in the roof.  There we witnessed 2012 ticking over into 2013.  We couldn't see the main fireworks being set off near the London Eye as well as I'd hoped.  A few too many tall building in the way but we could see the tops of most and the ones that shot up high.  The great part about being on the roof in zone 1 was the surround sound and light show.  Being that you can buy and set off your own fireworks as well as smaller organised ones, there were fireworks going off in a 360° rotation.  Some far in the distance, some quite close but all making a spectacular atmosphere for us.  And we ate chocolate truffles to celebrate the beginning of another year.

So Happy New Year to you all!  I hope it's full of blessings and excitement and fulfilling adventures for you.  I'm not too sure what this year holds for me.  I only have a few plans at this stage but the main one is that I'm heading home.  Today I booked my return flight to Australia.  In April I'll be home again and get to see my family and friends and meet a bunch of new little people.

 ☻ ☺   Welcome to 2013!   ☺ ☻