Saturday, December 3, 2016

A busy 24 hours here in London

Yesterday I had a bit of a lazy morning and didn't leave the house until around 1.  I took the train to Balham (5 minutes away) and then hopped the tube to central London.   First stop - Trafalgar Square.  I had to see that tree!!!  It is the 70th anniversary of this particular kind of tree being in Trafalgar Square.  As thanks for Britain's assistance during the war Norway has gifted London with a tree every Christmas since 1947.  This tree is usually 50 to 60 years old and the cutting is attended by the British ambassador to Norway, the Mayor of Oslo and the Lord Mayor of London.  Yes it is a big deal.  While it may not be everyone's fantasy of a Christmas tree I personally love it.  It is decorated with white lights which is the Norwegian tradition.  The official lighting ceremony took place on Thursday evening which I had wanted to attend but canceled flights got into the way.  I was here but I was too exhausted to go.

I dropped into St Martins in the Fields church which is across from Trafalgar Square to pick up my ticket for the concert that evening.  Then onto Leicester Square where I walked through the small Christmas market there which is new this year. (other years they have had rides such as a Merry Go Round)  

I then walked through the rest of Leicester Square heading over to Covent Garden.   A woman bumped into me saying "sorry".  At the time I thought "hmmm" but I was clutching my purse close to me so wasn't worried.  

First stop was Stanfords Travel Book shop - my mecca!  I went to pull out my kindle and noticed the zip was totally undone...on my bag there is a zipper at the bottom of a side pocket that you can open so you can put the bag over a handle. Luckily the purse was tight enough (ahem...full enough) that the kindle and my journal were still there.  So she did try to get into my purse because there is no way that zipper opened by itself!  In 27 visits to London that is the first time I have ever had anything like that happen. Claudia told me her mom has had her wallet stolen three times in Leicester Square without even being aware of it. They are professionals.  Then on to Covent Garden which was heaving with shoppers and tourists.  

They finally changed the decorations!  For years they had huge red balls.

Santa's Workshop; built with 700,000 Lego bricks that took three months to build! 

I just cruised quickly around the market as it was just too darn crowded and head over to the Seven Dials area where I always get lost!!!  And I did...  

A shop full of tea and tea things - what's not to love.  Lots of these around London but I loved their display so had to go in and have a snoop.  At this stage of the shopping game I am just checking things out but no doubt I will be swooping in for the kill before February.

Need I add that I loved these animal themed decorations...

The Seven Dials...meaning seven streets meet.  In a much quieter non Piccadilly Circus way.

Then it was on to Woodlands Indian restaurant which is a vegetarian restaurant.  Not that I'm a veggie but I do love my vegetable korma and it was close by and is never crowded.  So I had that along with some butter naan and a mango lassi.  Yum!  

Time to head over to Trafalgar Square to see the Christmas tree lit up in all its glory.

I will try to get back with my better camera before I leave for Spain. When I come back to London all the Christmas decorations will be gone. 

The concert was lovely and attended by the Norwegian Ambassador to the UK, the Mayor of Oslo and the Deputy Mayor of London.  Two young Norwegian men playing the viola and the piano played the first half and it was good although I felt myself getting a bit sleepy.  The second half was much more enjoyable with a "Boys choir" which consisted of a mix of men and young boys.  The boys were definitely the majority.  I am thinking there could even have been two girls in there or else boys with long hair - it was hard to tell as all the "boys" wore sailor suits.  Of course everything was sung in Norwegian. 

Back here on the tube and train and another good long sleep.  Much quieter here than at home - my room overlooks the back garden.  Quiet as the grave!  

Today just after 10 I headed off to see "Mary Poppins" at the "Back Garden Cinema".  I got off at the Elephant and Castle tube station and the fun began.  When I stayed in Brockley last year I used to have to transfer from the tube to the train here and always got misplaced. It's basically a huge traffic circle with streets going off in different directions with a sad shopping mall in the centre.  I kept asking people where Newington Causeway was until a kind local directed me - I didn't think I would ever find it!   

On the bright side I did see this girl - "Tess" is her name and she belongs to a homeless fellow.  Of course I had to give him money and take her picture!  She reminded me so much of my own dear departed doggie. 

Of course once I took out the camera she wouldn't look at me!!! 

Finally after a ten minute walk  I came across the cinema.  It was in a very interesting market with mostly Italian and Spanish food.  

The cinema itself was in an unheated area and you walked through a narrow path in a "forest" of trees with fairy lights on to get to the seating area. Magical!!! Seating was in (low) bean bag chairs - I just kind of flopped in and hoped to hell I could get out again while preserving my dignity. There were cozy blankets on each chair and believe me I think we all used ours! I was in the second row.   Instead of previews of movies they played excerpts from Christmas movies such as "White Christmas". At the end of "White Christmas" white flakes came raining down on us!  Bang on time "Mary Poppins" started and what a great time - it has always been one of my favourite movies.  It was super to see it on the big movie screen again.   We all clapped at the end. (woke up the girl in the row opposite me who had fallen asleep in her blanket) Great fun! Oh and the young girl next to me hauled me up! :) 

Empty now - when I got out of the movie it was packed!!!

We entered through the wardrobe - how cool is that?

I then took the bus to Brixton as I was hankering for a look around Marks and Spencers Food Hall  After half an hour through an area I had never been to before we got there.  It was heaving!  I scurried into the Food Hall and got my three for ten pound ready meals, some soup, a Prawn and Mayonnaise sandwich and a few other things.  Tonight I had the sandwich (I actually made it 48 hours without having my favourite sandwich!) and the soup. (Cream of Parsnip)  Another great advantage of airbnb is that I can cook or in my case "heat up" meals.  When you travel for two months at a time there is no way I can eat out every day - even if I could afford it (which I can't) I would get sick of it. To me, eating out should be a treat. 

Tomorrow I am planning a quieter day...oh I'm still going out but planning to avoid the crowds and hang around "quiet" people.  Stay tuned!!! 

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