20 July 2012

Travel tales: Theatre, The Dark Knight Rises premiere, Neal's Yard Dairy, doing the Macarena and some reflections.

There is always something to see and do in London, often at very little cost. I spent Wednesday in Covent Garden (which is not a garden at all, as I assumed!) browsing the shops, eating and seeing some live theatre - both on the Westend and in the street.

When I walked through Leicester Square, many construction workers were setting up for the premiere of The Dark Knight Rises. There was already a huge queue at 10.30 am - many people dressed up as Batman characters.

The news report says Prince Harry was at the premiere. I should have queued too. Totally missed my chance.

I saw this awesome street performer who rode a 15ft unicycle while juggling machetes. He was fun to watch and involved the crowd a lot. The dangerous nature of his act made it very tense at times.
I wandered through Neal's Yard which is a beautiful laneway of cafes and skin care shops.
And then I found Neal's Yard Dairy. Heaven! It was established in 1979. It is wall to wall of cheeses, and some yoghurts and butter. The cheeses are from across Britain. Javier, the cheesemonger serving me, was so passionate about cheese, selecting perfect cheeses for me to sample. Many of the cheeses are made from raw milk. I love the complexity in flavours - some are so bitey, others are mild. Considering I don't like milk, I certainly have a palate for cheese!
I picked a small selection of goat's milk washed rind, cows milk brie, and soft cheese, and some delicious juicy cherries, and ate them with some hazlenut bread. I had seriously underestimated London's food - this fresh produce was wonderful. I have not had a bad meal yet.
My afternoon in Covent Garden ended with a stage show of Matilda The Musical. Its music and lyrics have been written by Australia's Tim Minchin.
The Cambridge theatre was filled with excited school children, dressed up in their Sunday (Wednesday) best. It was a magical show - the lyrics were very clever (lots of Tim Minchin whimsy) the script really stuck to the original story by Roald Dahl and the stage and props were lovely - I think Quentin Blake assisted in the design. The stage reflected Matilda's love of reading, with letters and books as various partitions. And to top it off, the cast, particularly the children, were fantastic! I did enjoy it!

While watching it, I realised the themes of bullying and emotional child abuse were very adult, and I wondered if I picked them up when reading the book as a child? There was a scene where Matilda stood up to headmistress Miss Trunchbull, telling her that her behaviour is not right, and the children in the audience clapped and cheered. I thought it was lovely they recognised bullying and supported a child for standing up to the bully.

I returned to my hotel and spent some time with Michelle, as I joked, she is like my holiday fling but without the romance. We have become good friends here but soon I will have to leave London. We caught the tube to anywhere and got off at Fulham. We both oohed and ahhed over the dresses in a shop at the station - I need one particular dress we saw, but need to see how much money I have left before I leave - and then chose a Mexican bar and restaurant called Guaca to eat at. We each had a cocktail, two tacos, guacamole and corn chips and ribs. It was good value.

We ate our whole meal wearing sombreros, and I extinguished the candle by doing the Macarena.

I have two full days left in London and then on Sunday I need to pack up and fly to the USA! I will miss London. I can't believe I have been traveling for three weeks today. I have learnt so much, and realised the important things - time is precious, family is important, there is so much I don't know - yet so much I do know and speaking at the Appearance Matters conference and spending time at Changing Faces has proved this (best speech of the conference, according to a number of academics!), and strangers are friendly when you take the chance to talk to them.


  1. Neal's Yard looks so quaint - I didn't know it was a place, but I have seen the skin care stuff at DJs before. And mmmm. Cheese!

    Enjoy your last few days in London! Can't wait to hear what you get up to in the US. I was there (in Chicago, NY and San Francisco) in Oct/Nov last year and learn so much about myself.

  2. It looks like you are having an amazing time. I'm so glad you have enjoyed London. It's one of my favourite places to visit. All your photos have me excited for our visit at the end of September.

    I can't wait to see what the US has in store for you!

    K xx


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