A photo exhibit, a Nutcracker and a Christmas market

Well I'm  just back from the launderette.  I didn't really need to do laundry just yet but knew I would have no time this weekend.   I'm heading out later this afternoon as I will be doing a night time visit to the Sky Garden and then attending the Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London later tonight.
Tuesday was a busy day.  I left here not knowing what to expect on the trains but everything worked out well for me - for others I heard about not so much...The Southern train conductors here are on strike Tuesday to Thursday due to the fact that they are eliminating the conductors' jobs on trains and it's a safety issue.  While I acknowledge their right to strike it couldn't have come at a worse time with all the run up to Christmas (which is why they are doing it now) and next week the drivers plan to go as well which will be even more chaotic.  My friend Judi was due to come up yesterday to stay over but needless to say due to the strike she couldn't make it as trains in her area were canceled.

Anyway I digress (as usual).  My first port of call was the Natural History Museum to see the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition.  This is something I never miss if I am here when it is on - it usually runs October until March although last year it was extended until May.  First however I had to admire the skating rink - need I add Christmas music was booming out.  I love Christmas music! I had to stay until they played something I didn't like - which was a while!




The interior of the museum..spectacular!!!



One of my heroes...Charles Darwin!  Someday I hope to visit his home outside London although not this time.  It's a PITA (work that one out) to get to in the winter as public transport is not the greatest then.

The wildlife exhibition was fantastic as always...much better than last year's.  Just so you know I tried taking photos of the postcards I bought so I could post them here but they turned out awful.



And this was the scene as I left...I must admit I stood for a while just admiring this  for a long time....(and listening to music!)

The weather here in London has been great but don't worry I know that will change....

Then it was off to Trafalgar Square again because I just can't get enough of it.  I haven't made it to St James's Park yet - unbelievable but true.  I will get there soon though!!! I wandered around the Covent Garden and Seven Dials area looking in shops and trying to decide what I wanted to eat.



Someone vandalized one of the lions...or else it was a pretty big pigeon.


Tree in Covent Garden

I finally settled on Franco Manca a chain in London that makes the best sourdough crust Napoli pizza.  Yum!!


The beautiful Royal Opera House - always a thrill to attend something here.  I had cheap seats (although here that's not very cheap!) of course as I go to so many events that is all I can afford.  However I did have a bird's eye view and I loved every minute of it.  I try and see this beautiful ballet every year wherever I am in the world and I think this was the best one ever.  I have seen it here before but not for a while.


Beautiful!!!  I am so glad I went and would love to see it again but no Laurie you just can't afford it. (if you could see my schedule for December, January and February you would understand why)

 I sat beside a lovely older lady who was attending with her daughter who for lack of a better word was a bit of a whack job.  Obviously a hard core ballet fan and she was helping to conduct the orchestra as well and yelling as well as flapping her hands around.  Crazier than me at a Paul McCartney concert so were are talking bat shit crazy.  And one of those who knew everything about everything and a bit snotty.  I thought to myself if you are such an expert and a snob why aren't you down in the stalls?  Ah well.  No harm done and as one who doesn't do "normal" I can't say much! I floated back here on a cloud.

Yesterday (Wednesday the 7th) I had no plans made as was leaving it open for Judi's visit so Claudia suggested Kingston.  Good choice!  I love Kingston Upon Thames - it's by the river with all the chain stores as well as independent shops and markets.  The bus ride there was long but I got to see parts of London I hadn't seen before.  To my surprise and delight there was a Christmas market on so I loitered around there quite a bit - okay between that and the river for most of the day.  I did buy some more Christmas cards (for next year!) at the local church which had a huge selection of charity cards. And I sat by the river... a lot.  Pouting a bit I must admit...wishing I could be walking along the Thames.  Next time!  However I have actually walked past there already so there was a bit of pride there as well.  I have walked 35 miles of the 180 mile path - only 145 more to go.  Piece of cake!



A barge all ready for Christmas!!!


Notice the skeleton with the Santa hat on?  I was so busy looking at all the figures on top I didn't notice it at first!!!


Swans everywhere!!!




Yes I had a "cheesewurst" and it was delicious - and of course a mulled wine on the side.  I guess this market was my consolation prize for missing out on Birmingham.



All Saints Church where I bought the Christmas cards.









The sausage guy!

All in all it was a great day out and I hope to go back to Kingston again before going home. I missed getting a picture of the Coronation Stone - well didn't even know it existed as well as missed getting a good shot of the Clattern bridge which is the oldest bridge in England. (1293)  Lots of history there as well as some great shops.  It beats shopping on Oxford Street anyday!!!!  But next time I will take the train!

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