Saturday, September 18, 2010

London and the Lakes

I have now left England and to keep up the L’s am spending the night in Luxembourg.
My main purpose for visiting London was to attend the Proms particularly the last night so  I attended 2 programs in the Royal Albert Hall and the last Night in Hyde Park across the road. The Thursday night was excellent as I had a very good seat. It was the BBC Philharmonic and they played  Schubert’s Symphony No 8 and Mozart’s No 40 . There was a piano piece by Schumann and the soprano Dorothea Röschmann sang the premier of a piece by Robin Holloway. On Friday night I was sitting up behind the choir so while I had a good view of the Hall, it was not the best for listening. Monteverdi    Vespers of 1610 would not have been a choice of mine but the singing was beautiful with some voices coming from high up and original instruments being used. It was a very good experience. Despite having a ticket, I queued for 2 hours to get into the park on Saturday afternoon and was able to sit not too far from the grandstand. Perhaps that was not wise as the loudspeakers were very loud and the lead up music was not too my taste. Serpentine Fire and Nell Bryden are for a younger crowd but I may have enjoyed
the cast of “Jersey Boys” and “Bjorn Again” if the bass had not been ringing in my ears. As my sister says “I have to face it, I am getting old”
The actual program was better although Kerry Ellis and Brian May would have been better a little softer but I did enjoy Neil Sedaka and, of course , Kiri Te Kanawa and Jose Carreras. Crossing to the hall for the traditional final was great but I would have loved to be actually there. However unless I somehow find a way to spend a month in London and attend enough concerts to be eligible, this will never be. I waved both  the NZ and Aussie flags.

I had no particular plans for the day. I did spend over a month in London way back in 1974 and visited again in 76 and 80 so while the city has changed greatly I am sure the Tower, the Abbey etc. are still the same.  I decided to spend time on the South bank of the Thames so on Friday after a haircut and using a laundromat I headed for London Bridge and walked along the Thames and across the Millennium Bridge which was not there in 74. The Globe Theatre was not there but is only open for tours in the morning, The Tate Modern is also new but was evacuated by a fire alarm soon after my entry. I am glad London Bridge did not fall down to make a 3rd.

I travelled upstairs in a bus through the city and Westminster to Victoria and decided to try and find the hotel where I stayed so long those many years ago. i think I found the building but it is no longer a hotel. A decision to walk past Buckingham Palace was inspired as i discovered the State Apartments are currently open for just 8 weeks. It was put into my plan for Sunday.

Saturday I went back earlier and had a tour of the Globe theatre which was very enjoyable and informative. I have included a photo and would like to attend a performance if I return to London.  Sunday, after ridding myself of the headache created by those loud speakers I  went back to the South Bank and Southwark Cathedral for Choral Eucharist. The Dean preached at St James, King Street last year but was not there that Sunday. Then I headed for Buckingham palace and queued for tickets to the State Apartments. Any future visit to London is not likely to be at this time of year so it was a great and unexpected opportunity. I had a very late Salmon and cream cheese bagel lunch in the grounds of the palace. I believe Her Majesty is holidaying at Balmoral so did not meet her. although the news is full of her meeting the Pope today. I am glad to have left London before the confusion that visit is causing to the city.

On Monday I travelled by train and bus to Ambleside in the Lake District. My impression of rail transport in England is not very good to say the least not helped by pouring rain.
It was raining at breakfast time on both Tuesday and Wednesday but luckily I made the right decision to take a lake cruise on Tuesday and walk on Wednesday. The skies cleared as i boarded the ferry and I had a beautiful day for a cruise first to Bowness   then on to the end of the lake where I transferred to a steam train to Haverthwaite. Lake Windermere is one of the 2 lakes used by Arthur Ransome in his “Swallows and Amazons” series and it was great to recognise some sites. The second photo is one of many I took that day.
Wednesday I walked with intermittent showers first up the valley to some falls above Ambleside and across farmlands, then after a coffee right around Rydal Water and Grasmere with lunch in Grasmere. I passed both Rydal Mount and Dove Cottage where Wordsworth lived but did not go in. According to the guide book I walked over 10 miles (they still use miles??? in the UK). Views of the lakes, I have included one of Rydal Water,  would have been nice in sunshine which only appeared for a brief period although there was no rain after lunch.

On Thursday I returned to London, a late bus required sharing an expensive taxi. I stayed overnight in London and attended Evensong at St Paul’s Cathedral . Then it was onto the Eurostar through the chunnel to Paris where I spent an all too short, less than 2 hours mainly walking between the Gare du Nord and the Gare de L’Est and buying a pannini while I waited for the train to Luxembourg. These two train journeys were much more pleasant than the ones in England. I now have less than a week left in Europe.


Anonymous said...

Sorry you found English Trains horrible. But the lovely pictures make up for them!

Leonard said...

How I would like to be on a horrible English train again. I never disliked them. Try traveling the length of Taiwan by train, over and over on those years ago business trips...pretty grim even in first clase! The Mexican passenger trains once were really fun too (with old Pullman car sleepers and lots of parties)...they don´t have them running anymore...make hay while the sun shines (or sing in the rain) you go now! Stay healthy and wise!

Brian R said...

I guess there are much worse trains in the world but expect they would be much cheaper. I just found them unreliable, crowded, lacking in luggage space compared to Continental trains. Germany spoils you. yesterday there were apologies for running 5 mins late from Koblenz to Mainz and the scenery along the Rhine was to die for. With my limited German I first thought it was 15 mins late.
Also I found my companions in the seats unwilling to speak even though we shared the same language. Had more conversations with people in other countries using limited language abilities. perhaps I was unlucky.