Category: London

2010 Recap

My goals for 2010 were…

1. seattle rock ‘n roll marathon on 6.26 – done!
2. focus on healthy eating and exercise habits – close
3. increase my knowledge of religion and grammar – eh
4. improve my time management skills – eh
5. relearn spanish! – yes!

One of the biggest changes in 2010 centered on my nutritional habits. I discovered chia seeds, kale chips, green monster smoothies and decided to go “vegetarian.”

Here’s a list of all the new foods I tried in 2010 [and loved]:
– kale
– sweet potatoes
– spaghetti squash
– nutritional yeast
– quinoa
– chia seeds
– almond butter
– almond milk
– almonds
– cashews
– walnuts
– okra – sorta
– artichoke hearts
– tofurky
– green monster smoothies
– greek yogurt
– cacao nibs
– pomegranate seeds
– avocados
– guacamole
– sushi
– edamame

And now… 2010 in Photos:

January

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February – The Olympics in Whistler, CA

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March – Clearly March was boring since the best I can come up with is a picture of Charlie causing problems.

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April – Spring!

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May – Marathon training! 17 miles.

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and directing my first short scene.

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June – Completed a marathon and the family visited E’burg.

FINISHED!

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July – I turned 25 and discovered the joys of Green Monster Smoothies.

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August – Trip to Florida!

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September – A visited me in Washington and then I promptly took off for London.

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October – Trader Joe’s and the end of the farmers market.

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November – ASTR, learning the ins-and-outs of tire chains, and Friendsgiving.

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December – Christmas at home!

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The Grand Adventure Comes to a Close

Are we there yet?

It’s been a long day. I’m currently sitting at Sea-Tac waiting for the shuttle back to Ellensburg. I am really looking forward to a hot shower, followed by a date with Charlie and my bed. I don’t know how people can travel for 24+ hours and not look like crap, because I’m currently a hot mess.

The day started at 4:15am, London time. I said goodbye to my dorm room, turned in my keys, and rolled my suitcase down the road to King’s Cross station.

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The underground was pretty much deserted at 5:30am.

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I rode the tube from King’s Cross to Paddington station (more on that in a minute) and from there hopped on the Heathrow Express.

The lovely ticket lady that I spoke with yesterday advised me to turn in my Oyster card when I got to Heathrow, so I could get my three pound deposit back. It turns out I had some remaining money on my card and got 6.20 back! Since it wasn’t money I planned on getting back, it was like having breakfast for free!

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The other day my mom informed me that Paddington Bear gets his name from Paddington station. Before my parents knew whether or not H was a girl or a boy, they choose a gender neutral theme for her room — Paddington Bear. H always hated her room design and still laments to this day about how much she disliked Paddington Bear, which she suffered with until she was 10.

So Mom and H, this picture if for you. šŸ˜‰

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Once I made it through the ridiculously long security line — don’t even get me started — I settled myself in terminal three to wait for my gate to open. I became quite frustrated when my kindle decided that it did not want me to buy a new book for the flight home. Grr.

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Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.

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At Heathrow they don’t allow you to go immediately to your gate after passing security, instead you wait in this large waiting room/mall-type place. It wasn’t until I was about to board that they announced which gate I was supposed to go to.

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The flight from Heathrow to Chicago wasn’t too bad. Surprisingly, the food was actually decent. I suspect it has to do with it originating in the UK. Each seat also had it’s own mini-TV. I watched an episode of CSI, Letters to Juliet, and about half of Sex and the City 2. You could also track your flight progress. Pretty cool, if you ask me.

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On my long flight I also sat next to this nice gentleman who is a business consultant. He has his PhD from UGA and we talked about masters and PhD programs, scholarship, and the differences between business academe and humanities academe.

When I told him that I was getting my masters in theatre, he immediately told me how his daughter loves theatre and is very talented and passionate about it. He went on to explain how he supports her, but he wants her to get her undergrad degree in something practical and she can pursue theatre after college. While I understand his line of thought, I was a bit offended because I firmly believe that there are many practical jobs within the world of theatre. Pretty much anything you can do in the “real world,” you can do in the theatre world. We talked about it for a while and when I mentioned how you can do advertising, marketing, management, business, directing, technical theatre, costume design, teaching, study history, cultures, etc. all with a theatrical focus he admitted he had never thought of it that way. I sort of hope that I opened his eyes to the possibilities of theatre beyond acting.

After my flight I had to go through customs, get my luggage, drop my luggage back off, go through another hour long security line and then head to my gate. It took the entire 2 1/2 hour layover that I had in Chicago.

I did have time to grab Dunkin’ Donuts, which eased my frustrations with the security mess part two.

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And now here I am in Sea-Tac waiting on my shuttle. I’ll be back in E’burg around 10:40pm, making my travel adventure a full 27 hours long.

Please remind me, next time I decided to fly across the Atlantic, to start from the east coast.

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Keep Calm and Carry On

I realized today that I really wanted a t-shirt with the Keep Calm and Carry On slogan on it. I had seen it on some t-shirts earlier in the week, but didn’t really think much of it. Today it dawned on me how genius that slogan is and how much it will apply to my life in the next year. Unfortunately, between my archive appointment at the V&A and then making it back to the British Library, I didn’t have a chance to track one down. I think I’ll have to order one online.

Anyway, the day was spent doing research and wrapping things up here.

The archives place I went to this morning was quite the trek away from King’s Cross. On top of that, I was surprised to find out my connecting train only runs every 20 minutes, as opposed to every couple minutes like the other trains. I was in the process of trying to figure out how to walk to the archive place when the train appeared. Woot.

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I spent the next six hours taking pictures of newspaper clippings and watching video archive recordings.

I am so thankful that my dad got me a new digital camera for Christmas last year. Who knew it would come in so handy? I would have died if I couldn’t take pictures of these clippings.

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Once I’d exhausted myself and my camera battery at the archives, I trekked back up to King’s Cross to return to the British Library. I spent another couple hours listening to the audio recording of the play I’m studying then decided to call it a day.

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I grabbed dinner and some plane snacks at Marks & Spencer and here I am packing up my stuff.

So am I ready to go home? Do I want to stay here forever? Well, I’m ready to be home, but if my apartment and Charlie were in London then it would be the best of both worlds. I feel like there is still so much to see and do here. I only touched the tip of the iceberg! I know this means that I have plenty of reasons to come back and visit. Hopefully my research will also create many excuses to travel back to London.

Tomorrow presents my final challenge of this trip. I need to figure out the Heathrow Express and get myself back onto US soil. I also promised myself 24 hours of laziness and cuddle time with Charlie for Friday. I need some downtime!

My alarm will be going off at 4:15am tomorrow morning — it’s time for bed!

What the hell is wrong with expressing yourself?

Billy Elliot was a blast!

[The above title is a lyric from the show.]

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It’s been a really long time since I’ve seen a big, flashy musical and I’m so glad I sucked it up and went tonight. Not to mention watching 2 1/2 hours of ballet and tap leaves me smiling from ear to ear. I love watching people dance!

As soon as I hit publish on my last post I ran out the door, unfortunately my desire to post my entry caused me to run a bit late. I made it onto the Victoria train, only to discover that someone a few stations ahead had pulled the passenger emergency alarm and we would be stopped at the station until things were sorted out. I nearly panicked. Thankfully after about 5 minutes, we were on our way again and I made it to the theatre with 10 minutes to spare before curtain. Phew!

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Here are a few things I’ve noticed about British theatre:

  • Intermission is referred to as the interval.
  • Eating and drinking inside the theatre and during the show are permitted and encourage. I saw one couple eating those prepackage sandwiches and the theatre actually sold ICE CREAM at the interval. I LOVE IT. Theatre + ice cream = fabulous!
  • They don’t give out programs or playbills. You must purchase them if you want one.
  • People walked up and down the aisles during the interval selling programs, food, souvenirs.

Other than those minor differences, a West End show was very similar to seeing a Broadway show — overall, very enjoyable!

Tomorrow is my last day here, I can’t believe it!

I’m sad to go, but also really looking forward to the comforts of my own home — a comfy bed, not having my computer tethered to an ethernet cable, no more overhead lighting, a kitchen, my hair straightener, and CHARLIE!

I’ll be spending tomorrow researching, looking into taking the Heathrow Express home and buying final gifts. Oh, and I tried to mail postcards to people, but when I put them in the mail slot they got stuck on the chute. Who knows if they’ll make it to their destinations.

Seattle in London?

This morning I made the mistake of ordering Perfect Oatmeal from the Starbucks Barista. She blinked her eyes at me and asked if I meant the Perfect Porridge. Yes, apparently I did. Who knew Starbucks changed their product names in different countries. Also, I was impressed to see that the Starbucks here are all support fair trade and their menu items specify whether food is vegetarian friendly, as well as gluten free, etc.

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Once I consumed my porridge, I headed over to Leicester Square to see about purchasing some Billy Elliot pictures.

I found this sight, which was definitely not there yesterday.

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I asked someone among the group of people lining the sidewalks in folding chairs what was going on… Tonight is the premiere of The Other Guys. People were already waiting to watch the stars walk the red carpet at 10:30 in the morning!

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I bought my Billy Elliot tickets!

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And jumped on the tube.

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I spent the next several hours at the Victoria & Albert Museum. The museum is humongous! They have collections areas ranging from Medieval and Renaissance to Asia, India and Islamic cultures, as well as theatre and performance, jewelry and textiles. I felt like there was so much to see and I only got a taste of it.

This is a Dale Chihuly chandelier in the grand entrance hall.

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Jason from Greek mythology.

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I decided to take a guided tour, but our guide was a bit too loquacious and tended to go off on tangent. He also used a maglite flashlight to point out things as he was talking, but he referred to it as his torch. Hehe.

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Next up! Theatre and Performance. I did a guided tour of this area too, but the guide was a Polish girl doing her internship here and working on her PhD in anthropology. She knew nothing about theatre. I could have easily given a better tour. Rather sad, since I was hoping to learn something new.

Regardless, the artifacts were awesome. I took tons of pictures which I hope to use in my classroom.

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A rain maker.

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Costumes from the Lion King.

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Kylie Minogue’s dressing room. Ms. Minogue actually helped to recreate the dressing room so that it would be as true to her actual dressing room as possible.

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One of Mick Jagger’s outfits. They had to custom build the mannequin because he is so skinny.

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Elton John’s Bicycle outfit.

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One of Shakespeare’s first folios.

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From The Producers.

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Edward Gordon Craig.

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Japanese Noh masks.

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This is the outside of the V&A museum. I actually entered from an underground tube location.

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Then my camera died. I did walk through Hyde Park, but I have no pictures of it. Imagine Central Park, but in London. I’d love to go running there or have a picnic.

And that’s all for now.

Clybourne Park

This is going to be short and sweet because I am TIRED.

The day started off with a trip to the British Library, you know, the whole reason I’m here. Everything was smooth sailing since I’d done all my prep work back in Washington.

I’m still not 100% sure what it is that I’m doing… I listened to the recording a couple times, made notations and decided that I need to reread some stuff that I left back at the dorm before going any further. I’m going to do more reading/research tomorrow on my own, visit the archives on Wednesday and then return to the library to listen to the recording some more Wednesday evening. Hopefully it’ll be enough.

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After reevaluating my game plan, more exploring occurred.

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I’m going to use this picture to illustrate to my students the culture of going to the theatre. The pre-theatre dinner and post-theatre dessert concepts.

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I’ve been eating most of my meals at these places that stock prepackaged, but not gross, food. All the food is freshly made each day and is neither soggy nor stale. It’s also interesting that high fructose corn syrup is not listed anywhere on the ingredients lists of food over here — not even in the candy bars! From looking at the food labels it seems the Brits are rather health conscious.

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Then it was time for the show! Clybourne Park. It was phenomenal. I wasn’t sure how I felt about Wanderlust afterward, but I know I loved this show. It was hilarious, poignant, well crafted, and so very relevant. I love that it pulls from A Raisin in the Sun as well.

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I think the Victoria Albert Museum and Billy Elliot are in my future for tomorrow, but for now, it’s bed time.

In Search of Platform 9 3/4

Today I planned on going on a tour at the National Gallery and then heading back over to the River Thames area.

In reality, I went to the National Gallery and then spent the afternoon wandering around the Leicester Square and Covent Garden areas of London.

Since it was Sunday and things don’t open early on Sundays and after the whole ankle debacle, I slept in a bit. I was hoping that the rest would magically make my ankle all better. Sadly, that was not the case. This morning even putting weight on it hurt, but I got myself ready, took some ibuprofen and limped out the door. About 30 minutes into my day my ankle had mostly adjusted to walking and only going up and down stairs hurt. I’m wondering if a) the ibuprofen kicked in b) the exercise helped the ankle or c) my ankle went numb from all the walking. I guess tomorrow I’ll find out how much help or damage I did.

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I’m so glad that I did the guided tour at the National Gallery. I learned so much more about the art periods, what to look for in a piece of art and the conventions of the time. I’m definitely going to try and do tours at the Tate and Victoria Albert museum.

When the guided portion was over, I checked out the Close Examination: Fakes, Mistakes & Discoveries exhibit that was going on. I’ll admit that visual art isn’t really my thing — it doesn’t speak to me. But between the tour and the exhibit, which talked about the controversies surrounding different paintings, I found it all very fascinating.

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Post-tour I went in search of food and a place to check out my guide book and plan the rest of my afternoon. It was then that I discovered I had left my book at home. I decided that it would be too costly, both in time and effort, to return for the book, so I spent the afternoon checking out Leicester Square and Covent Garden.

I visited the TKTS booth and to see about Billy Elliot and it will cost about 40 pounds. I’m pretty sure I’m going to suck it up and do it on either Tuesday or Wednesday evening. I’m not big on knick-knacks and I’ve been eating as cheaply as possible, so it will be my splurge of the trip.

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In Leicester Square there was an event sponsored by Cadbury Eggs going on. They had these big slides and two teams, stripes and spots, raced down the slide and whoever shot a basketball into the hoop first won.

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Next up, Covent Gardens. It’s basically one of the big shopping areas. Not quite as upscale as Oxford, but still plenty of places to spend money. I mainly window-shopped.

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The Brits love their ice cream. There are ice cream trucks and stands everywhere!

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Perhaps this was inspiration for St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries?

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I immediately thought of C when I saw this store. I wish I had more patience to sift through the clothes, maybe I would have found something cute.

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So many weird and random street performers everywhere!

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The official Covent Garden shopping area.

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I grabbed some coffee and a granola bar in the afternoon and wrote postcards and people watched for a while.

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This rowdy group of people walked by cheering for Lithuania.

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And then I resumed shopping…

[David and Goliath]
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For H.

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I also made the terrible discovery that Lush in the UK is cheaper than Lush in the US, even after the pound to dollar conversion. I ended up buying a couple things I’ve been eyeing for a while.

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Scarves!

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Best name for a frozen yogurt shop ever.

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I got a small (except it was actually quite large!) cup of green tea fro-yo with bananas. They only had three flavors: natural, green tea and bittersweet dark chocolate. I really wanted the chocolate, but apparently the machine was broken. šŸ™ The green tea was okay, a bit strange, but not bad.

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A space cadet Domino’s delivery man?

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I took this picture to remind myself that there’s a book I want there… I wonder if I’ll be able to find the store again.

Being phoneless hasn’t been bad, except when it comes to the google maps, around me, and internet features. I could care less about making/receiving calls and texts, but I do find it annoying not having the ability to look up where the closest grocery store or pharmacy is.

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I have no idea… the store was a design store and had these in the window for some reason.

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A book store specializing in just theatre related books! Too bad they were closed.

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My final adventure of the day was finally seeking out platform 9 3/4. I use King’s Cross as my primary underground station, but I haven’t actually gone looking for platform 9 3/4 until today.

First I did the logical thing and followed the signs towards platforms 9-11, until I ran into the ticket gates. I didn’t want to swipe my tube card incase it charged me some crazy amount. Then I walked around the station for a bit, hoping I’d find it or some signs pointing me in the right direction. No such luck. Finally, I asked the information booth, feeling pretty silly asking where the fake platform was. The woman told me that it was located on platform 8. Right, because that makes logical sense.

I found it! I was kind of let down. The whole thing was very lackluster. Perhaps it’s because of the construction at King’s Cross?

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Anyway, mission accomplished.

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Other random thoughts?

  • Apparently there was a strike on the Underground on Tuesday, which caused chaos all over the city. I’m glad I missed it.
  • I love that when ordering water you have the option of still or sparkling. Sparkling being my preference.
  • As I walk around, I picture myself living here. I can see it perfectly. If it weren’t for the higher cost of living and how expensive it would be for me to go home or people to visit, I’d move here in an instant.
  • Accents aside, British boys are way cuter than American boys.
  • British theatre also trumps American theatre in both creativity and being less expensive and more accessible.
  • I love all the healthy, prepackaged food that is delicious and not gross.
  • Do I have to go back to Eburg?

Okay. Enough rambling. Tomorrow is my big day. I’ll be listening to sound archives at the British library, you know, the whole reason I’m on this trip. Wish me luck!

Exit, Pursued by a Bear

Yesterday concluded with me magically spraining my ankle, so I didn’t get around to updating the blog till now, but more on that later.

Aside from my Royal Court tickets, I also purchased advanced tickets to The Merry Wives of Windsor at the Globe. The show was at 2pm, but I planned on taking a tour of the Globe and checking out their exhibition, so that was my first stop of the day.

The Globe is located on the River Thames, where there happened to be an end-of-summer festival going on. There were all sorts of street performers and activities happening as you walked around, such as this odd fellow.

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The Globe theatre.

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Pictures from the exhibition…. Costume displays:

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Printing press display:

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While this bear is not a prop from The Winter’s Tale, the first thing I thought of when I saw it was — Exit, pursued by a bear. Instead I believe the bear was donated to the Globe and used to represent the bear baiting that also occurred in the Globe and theatres at the time.

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Here are some of the musicians from The Merry Wives of Winsor practicing before the show. Our tour guide was quite miffed that they kept interrupting his lecture. He made lots of snide comments about them.

Also, this is the closest replication of the Globe that researchers have been able to come up with thus far. The painting and decorations are guesses, since we don’t have any paintings or descriptions to use as reference.

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Three tiers of seating, with the groundlings or poor standing on the ground level for performances.

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The heavens.

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After the tour I grabbed lunch in the cafe and waiting for the performance to begin. I bought groundling tickets because they were cheap and I’ve been told it’s the best way to experience the show.

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The groundling view.

I have to say that while I agree the show was much more interactive as a groundling, my feet and back hurt tremendously after standing on concrete for three hours. Oh! I made a friend. I ended up standing with a girl, probably around my age, who was in London on business from Chicago. We talked for a while before the show and then during intermission. I didn’t get her name or any contact info though, she was meeting a client for a business dinner that evening and leaving the next day. C’est la vie.

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The Millennium Bridge and St. Paul’s.

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I had planned on going to the Tate Modern after the show, but it was nearly 5pm when it finished and I had missed the last guided tour of the day, so I wandered around the festival.

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Hula-hooping!

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I finally found a telephone booth that wasn’t on a crazy busy street to take a picture with!

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I wandered around the river area for a while, not entirely sure where I was going, but I figured I’d run into a tube station sooner or later. Once I did find a tube station I decided to go to Piccadilly Circus to pick up A’s face wash, some scarves, and dinner.

While I know that the Brit’s mean circus as a circle, Piccadilly Circus was a true circus! Ugh. So many people. It was very Times Square-ish.

Then, somehow as I was walking around I managed to sprain my ankle. I have no idea what happened. I was walking on a flat surface. I didn’t trip over anything. I was wearing the safest possible shoes — flat mary-jane’s and all of a sudden I did this wobble thing and my ankle was in serious pain.

I had intended on searching out platform 9 3/4 after my Piccadilly stop, but the ankle issue put me into a rather fowl mood. I grabbed my dinner and went back to the dorm and called it a night.

Wanderlust

Tonight I visited the Royal Court Theatre and saw a performance of Wanderlust.

I took the underground Victoria line to Victoria station, switched to the Circle line and hopped off at Sloane Square.

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I’ve recently become obsessed with the Court as a result of all the research I’ve been doing for my thesis, so I am very happy to actually see not one, but two productions there. Tonight was Wanderlust. Monday will be Clybourne Park.

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Instead of having programs or playbills the way most theatres do, the Court sells “programs” or rather, the actual playtext for 3 pounds. I love this idea. I’d much prefer to own the text than just a list of the people who worked on the show, especially if I end up falling in love with the show.

So of course I bought the two texts for the shows I’m seeing this trip, as well as a show (Spur of the Moment) that just closed but received a lot of buzz and good reviews and an in-yer-face show (Mojo) from the 1990s that I’m watching a production tape of on Wednesday.

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As for Wanderlust, I think it’s still to early to say how I felt about it. My initial reaction was favorable. I really enjoyed the show but I don’t know if I feel like it was anything noteworthy.

The dialogue was witty, the actors executed the story effectively, I felt the right emotions at the right time and didn’t feel like the play was contrived, but it didn’t seem like anything too special. Perhaps this is because it lacked shock value? Then again, I’ve been so wrapped up in the plays from the 90s, with gruesome scenes of violence, explicit sex and coarse language, so in comparison, Wanderlust seemed tame.

There was one scene where the blocking really stood out to me — a bar scene where the two couples kept walking past and bumping into each other in this open space. There were no set pieces to create the area, but the feeling of trying to walk through a crowded bar was perfectly conveyed. It also made me feel uncomfortable, since the husband and wife were each out with someone other than their spouse.

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After seeing Wanderlust, I’m really excited to see Clybourne Park, since I’ve heard nothing but good reviews on that show. [I’d heard nothing about Wanderlust.]

Tomorrow I’ll be visiting the Globe Theatre, taking a tour there and watching a production of The Merry Wives of Windsor. Also, since the Globe is on the River Thames, I’ll probably check out the end-of-summer festival that is happening down there. Other than that, I don’t have anything specifically scheduled till Monday. I’m thinking I’ll hit up the National Gallery and do a guided tour and I want to get tickets to another show via TKTS. I’m just now sure what I really want to see. I’m debating between Billy Elliot and Stomp… or both? Ahh, decisions.

Changing of the Guard

I love London.

I can totally picture myself living here. It reminds me a lot of Paris, even though I didn’t spend a lot of time there, except they speak English and not French! Also, I haven’t seen any awesome baguette stands, so Paris wins in the bread department.

Anyway, I love all the history, the traditions, the lore, the theatre that’s everywhere, and the public transportation! Yay for the Tube.

This morning I went and checked out the changing of the guards. The bus tour I went on yesterday offers free walking tours as part of the ticket price, so I met up with the group and did a walking tour of the changing of the guards. I’m so glad that I went with them because otherwise I’m pretty sure I either a) wouldn’t have seen it or b) it would have been disappointing. The tour had us walk to different points, so we could see the whole process. So basically, it was worth it.

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I have a small confession to make.

I’ve seen so many buildings and such already and I take pictures of it all, but by the time I get back here, I’ve forgotten what it was I took the picture of. :-/

I *know* these are the changing of the guard pictures, but I don’t remember which guards were relieving each other.

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Very serious police officer. He yelled at tourists who put even one toe into the street. He also blocked off the traffic for the guard change.

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The band!

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This is the other group of guards. Again, a band followed by the guards.

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Buckingham Palace.

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Random group of horses… See, I’ve forgotten who they really are!

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Random guards to go along with the random horses.

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Queen Victoria’s gate.

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Crap, I can’t remember… I’m pretty sure this gate was a gift from the current Queen to her mother.

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Big Ben.

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Trafalgar’s Square.

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After my sightseeing I finally found a drug store and bought a hair dryer! Hallelujah! I feel human again.

I ate lunch back at the dorm, talked to my parents, took a short nap and now it’s time to visit my favorite theatre in London – The Royal Court! Weee! I’m so excited.