London Adventure - Part Five

January 24, 2008 (Thurs)

We started out early this day, casually strolling in the parks. There it was, Peter Pan’s statue, which brought back memory of the movie “Finding Neverland”. (Oh that would be where Johnny Depp sat writing in the movie!) Hyde Park’s more serene than the Central Park, and less claustrophobic, as it’s not surrounded by skyscrapers or the hustle and bustle. An ideal exercise ground for dogs, and a paradise for dog-lover like me.

After what seemed like a never-ending walk (over-exercise), we finally saw the exit to Buckingham Palace and four horses. The guards in red robe and golden helmet rode past us on handsome horses. We walked on to a crowded plaza. I tried to squeeze in the crowd to catch a glimpse to no avail. People in front of me were just too tall. After 15 minutes or so, finally some movements came. I didn’t stay through the whole guard-changing ceremony. It was windy. The marching band was awesome though, giving their pomp and circumstance music. What I liked most was the horses.

We took the C1 bus to Knightsbridge, getting off one or two stops before as the roads were congested. Didn’t have time to admire the exterior of Harrod’s. We made our way through to the bargain sale section. The ₤1 zone had: diary, coin bags and child PVC bags!

Feeling hungry and curious at the French cake shop Laduree, we went there for lunch. (I’m sorry for forcing N to have dessert for lunch with me) I had: tarte citron, macaron pommes caramel (sweetened apple and macaron), a mini raspberry macaron and hot chocolate with cream aside. The chocolate was good, macaron a tiny disappointment, citron tart too sugary but I liked the apple. Bought crème brulee from the food hall. It cost just ₤1 something but it’s a real treat.

Around 3 or 4pm we rushed to Westminster Abbey. With the rare blessing from the sun, we took beautiful pictures of the Big Ben. Westminster Abbey! How many times have I read about it? Elizabeth I lay there, with her half-sister, in a tomb. Intriguingly, her arch-rival Mary Queen of Scotland lay just a few meters from her, in a delicately embroidered tomb. What stories lie beneath? Two rivals share the same graveyard.

At the Poets’ Corner I came across some familiar names: Byron, Dickens, Handel, Purcell, Robert Browning (I didn’t really know him), Shakespeare, Jane Austen, etc. The epitaph on Anthony Trollope’s burial stone read something like he bade adieu to those who cared to read what he had written. Well I’ve swallowed one out of his many novels. Oscar Wilde’s name was there in the windows, but I wasn’t aware.

Because of The Da Vinci Code, we began to look for Newton’s tomb at the Nave. There he was, on the left of the altar, seated on marble with a globe above his head. Who else were there? Winston Churchill, FD Roosevelt and an unknown British soldier killed in the Great War.

The sun has already set when we departed. We then moved to Charing Cross Station and ate at Pizza Express before The Importance of Being Earnest at 7:30. We were upgraded to the last row of the dress circle (we were supposed to sit in the front row of the upper circle) as there were fewer audience than expected.

The actors spoke fast! Had to stay focused to catch what they were saying. I had the advantage of having read the script once (but have forgotten most). I was a bit slow at laughing. Ha ha. The perfect British accent is the best friend to Wilde’s drama for the English upper class. Lady Brecknell and Jack Worthing’s conversation in the first act was just as I envisioned. Now looking at Wilde’s play in live motion, I find the plot lacking – one can easily guess what the ending will be. He just filled the lines with his ingenious wit. The audience was mostly senior citizens. They enjoyed the hilarious lines immensely, bursting into laughter from time to time. During the two intermissions, for it was a three-act play, the audience rushed to get Haagen Dazs ice-cream, selling at ₤3 each and some beverages at the bar.