17 July 2012

Travel tales: Laundromat, shopping with Maggie Alderson, We Will Rock You.

It was a bit of a rest day today. I spent part of the morning at the laundromat and overheard a man tell his wife: "we have no skills to operate the coin washing machines". Sheesh. I hope he does not drive a car!

While at the laundromat I chatted to an Australian couple, read the weekend newspaper supplement and wrote a postcard.

Feeling pretty sore (I think I've reacted to the mattress underlay which is plastic or latex) I had a mid morning lie down and read Tattler (England has good magazines if you can sift through the tabloids - Lionheart was another I read during lunch today) and then dressed up to go to the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Today has been the coldest London day I've experienced. Because of my sore skin, I am feeling it more. I even put my merino jumper under my top, and stopped at a big train station to buy a scarf and a pair of socks! I've noticed the locals clutch at whatever summer they can - wearing sleeveless tops, floaty dresses, short shorts and thongs even when it is a very cool and rainy day.

Before the museum I had lunch at a beautiful Italian deli in South Kensington, called Bella Italia. It did baguettes, quiches, lasagna and salads. I chose a plate of half paella and the other half an amazing salad of rocket, pesto, cherry tomato and grilled prosciutto wrapped soft cheese, similar to camenbert. It was all salty , creamy and peppery goodness - best when eaten as mouthfuls. I also had a hot chocolate which was thick and bitter - yum! The deli was small yet bustling, filled with Italian ladies lunching.

I met Maggie Alderson, fashion journalist and author, at the Victoria and Albert. We have become friends on Twitter - she and I both believe it's such a great way to make friends and business contacts. I've been reading Maggie's columns for years and years - in the Good Weekend and now the M Magazine in the Sunday Age, and her blog and I consider her one of my journalism idols. It was so flattering to hear it from her that she reads my blog! For all those years I've had an insight into her life through her colums and now she has an insight into mine.

We viewed the Ballgowns exhibition - filled with gowns from the 1800s until present day. Most of them were stunning, some were a little weird, but that's the beauty of fashion, isn't it?

I admired Maggie's fashion knowledge and loved it when she pointed out a dress worn by Princess Diana and told me the story of when she saw Diana at an event wearing that dress. Wow!

We went to have afternoon tea in the magnificent cafe - complete with stained glass windows, modern lighting and a harpist. It was lovely to sit and chat in person and in more than 140 characters! She is so nice, and very smart.

On our way out we went to the gift shop which was fantastic - and you know my measure of a great museum! I got a hair clip that features an orchid set in resin (I will have it made into a necklace). It's stunning - turquoise, purple and specks of pink.
We then took the bus to Selfridges. On our way through the wet streets, I couldn't help tell Maggie that I'd read her columns for so long and always dreamed of shopping with her as I know how passionate she is about fashion and shopping. And today this dream came true! Oh what fun!
We had a quick browse through Selfridges, admiring the shoes and contemporary clothes. There were some fabulous designs and perhaps I will treat myself from there before I go to New York.

And then it was time to say goodbye to Maggie, but not before a photo.

After our meet I caught the bus to somewhere and then realised it was going in the wrong direction, and so caught another bus back to Tottenham Court Road where I saw We Will Rock You (when I thought I was booked in to see Rock of Ages - the cashier's mistake).
I am glad the mistake was made - I did enjoy the musical for most parts. It has been written by Queen and Ben Elton and has been playing for 10 years - though I think it has had an update given the many current pop culture and social media references. It was set in the future - on the iPlanet, with the recurring mention of "internet gaga" where music was forbidden. It was a comment on the rise of manufactured music and the death of rock and roll. It also reflected on the clones who follow the manufactured music. Really clever stuff by the writers. There were original Queen songs as well as lyrically adapted ones to fit the theme. There were some very strong voices singing - especially Brenda Edwards who played Killer Queen - and I'd be interested to hear some of the cast members' solo work aside from the musical.

To be honest I thought it was long and did drag on a bit. I sort of lost track of the plot as it went on a tangent. While a voiceover announced the musicians before the show, and musicians were hidden in the wings, they weren't shown until toward the end, and that was on screen and on stage very briefly. I think the length of the show and the lack of visually live music was the show's downfall. It would have especially been good to see the trademark Queen guitar solos. I thought the second half of the show fell flat, especially during the plot/dialogue, but was redeemed when the better known Queen songs were featured. The plot but the music and singing was top quality. Bohemian Rhapsody was my highlight. While it wasn't the musical I'd hoped to see, it was fun.

Tomorrow I want to see Abbey Road and the British Rock Museum at the O2 but I might go to Kensington Palace which is closer to my hotel and do the musical stuff on Wednesday. So many options! By the way, my hotel room has been changed and it's gigantic compared to the previous one! I can now walk around and open my suitcase.


  1. It looks like you have enjoyed a lot there.Your pictures collection is very nice.

  2. I am so jealous. Positively green with envy. I love Maggie and was a devoted Good Weekend reader, and still turn to her first in the M Magazine. You've fulfilled one of my idol-dreams Carly!

  3. So glad you saw the Ballgown exhibition at the V and A! Jealous. Loving the recap of your meeting with Maggie xx

  4. Maggie Alderson!!! What a great time you two must've had! I am jealous!

  5. When you travel by train, you have only to purchase the ticket, enter the proper train and take a seat, leaving the rest to the engine. Why should you carry the bed and trunk on your head? So too put your trust in the Lord and carry on to the best of your ability.
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