Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Adventures Elsewhere

Last week I spent a bit of time up in London, and I wanted to share some happenings.

While we did eat out at a few different places, most of the food in London were delicious sandwiches  from the eighty thousand supermarket chains, usually Tesco or Marks and Spensers. The best place that we came across was a place called Damson Café, which was a really lovely café on St Giles High St. The staff are super friendly without being annoyingly pandering and in addition to delicious coffee, tea and beer selection they serve some great unusual food. Dad and I both had an awesome larger which I've forgotten the name of, but we all had a bowl of the celeriac soup, which was awesome. My grandma tried a carrot cake which was also made with potato - I think I remember reading that potato helps to make the mixture denser and keeping it moister (hehe), and it tasted great.  We were so impressed we went back for a after-breakfast coffee the next day, and I really hope it does well since it was such a nice place, and in terms of pricing compared to Australia it seemed very reasonably priced.

On the note of cakes though, I have to say that the vanilla baked cheesecake (the greatest of all cakes in the world) at Foyles (a staple visit for our family everytime we get to London) was incredible!! It was like a mixture between cheesecake deliciousness and the texture of a chiffon cupcake, impossibly light and very moreish. I want it every minute of my life - it was the most fuck-off incredible cake ever.

Panicking camel. 
Dad and I stopped off at the British Museum to take a look at some of the new exhibits, the feature exhibit that we saw this time were the use of Chinese seals, and their significance and history throughout existence. I really enjoy Oriental artwork and the precision and craft of the works are exquisite. We also walked around and saw the usual Egyptian exhibits, which still amaze me that we're in the same room as something that's 3000 years old - and it's in such good shape. My favourite thing was an exhibit in the Asia region, where we found a perplexing statue of what looked like a distressed camel. Super talent, yo!

I didn't manage to see a lot of theatre, but there isn't much on in London that I was interested in seeing this time. I did manage to go and see In the Republic of Happiness at the Royal Court Theatre, which was really fascinating. I wrote about it at some length here, but the piece is a surreal discussion on the nature of happiness. I managed to run into David at the same performance! I insisted on trying to get a photo since I looked very spiffy and was wearing a tie, but the lighting wasn't so great and the photo turned out with no facial features, and I have no proof that I was actually there with him. The play was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed the music so much I went ahead and ordered a CD of songs from the show. I was going to try and see Uncle Vanya the next night but instead I got caught up buying some new business shirts (to go with my skinnys. Hah. Viva la revolution). When we get back to London next month we're going to see Cirque du Soleil's Kooza (a marginally better production than Ovo), and hopefully another piece (Slava's Snow Show?).

We also went to a lot of music events and concerts. We went to see the London Symphony Orchestra at The Barbican Theatre play the sixth and seventh symphonies by Sibelius, which also included his violin concerto performed with Leonidas Kavakos. The music was striking, very emotive and interesting but I was almost screaming at how tired I was and it was pretty distressing to be sitting down in a cramped position for so long. Someone came up and told me that I was sitting in their seats and all I could do was wail at them until they realised they had the wrong row. On my Dad's birthday we went to a lunchtime concert at Wigmore Hall to see Barry Douglas play some pieces by Brahms. Although he played beautifully and with a lot of feeling, I found it really difficult to enjoy any of the pieces since I was so unfamiliar with them, which was a problem that I also had with an organ recital which we went to in St. Paul's Cathedral. I was glad to go in and see it, because it meant that we got to go into St. Paul's without paying and I'd never been inside, but I found it difficult to engage with.

At the 'conclusion' of Wigmore Hall recital, the audience applauded excessively and Douglas took three bows before sitting down and playing an encore. After which, people clapped while others left, which implies at these sorts of events people pretty much expect an encore, which makes me think that the whole practise is irrelevant and a bit of an oxymoron. In my rage I vowed to myself that if I ever help create a theatre collective/group/company/whatever, I would call it 'Bow Once Theatre', and we would only ever bow once. VIVA LA REVOLUTION.

Me, looking adorable.
While it's not exactly in London, my Mum and I took a trip to Leavesden, where  is where the The Making of Harry Potter Tour at Warner Bros. Studio. Leavesden Studios was (were?) the principal shooting location for the Harry Potters films for over 10 different years, and now, after the incredibly hard task of managing to get to the studios - it took us about three hours to get there - you can now see the sets, costumes and props of the series up close and in their original arrangements. There are a few surprises to be experienced and there is a heap of information on how they manage to film and create certain scenes, including how Quidditch works, which effects are used to create spells, and explaining which scenes and scenery of the films are actually real or rendered. There's also a bunch of other fun things you can do, like walking through Privet Drive, Diagon Alley, and see a scaled down model of Hogwarts Castle. You can also try some 'authentic' Butterbeer, which was very nice but it was chilled, and on such a freezing day I would have preferred it hot (like mine). Although I fell out of love with the Harry Potter films, I used to love them like everyone I know, and I felt extremely nostlagic trotting around scenes from my childhood. Lots of things put me off the films to the extent that I didn't even bother seeing a few cinemas, like trashy hairstyles, bad acting, horrible plot cuts and generally being stupid - but regardless, I did really enjoy the tour overall. It's great value for Harry Potter fans, and you can take as long or short time to go around the studio as you like. Photo opportunities are such a novelty too!

I'm now down in Cardigan with my grandma, where we will celebrate Christmas, New Year and then her 90th birthday. It's a sleepy town, but very relaxing and the days are going surprisingly quickly.

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