London Mini-Break โ€“ Day 3 (of 3): Suits you Sir!

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Our final day in London today!

Ahh, that’s better! I feel a walk down Oxford Street coming on (before midday!)

On our list today…

The Samsung Shop in Oxford Street
St. Paul’s Cathedral
A trip to the Theatre

…and knowing us, maybe more! ๐Ÿ˜Š

9.20am: We were out earlier than yesterday, but confident we’d miss the rush on the Tube. How wrong we were! It was nose-to-armpit for the whole of our journey in, and reminded us both of how travelling around the capital used to be when we were based. A sensory experience I thought I’d never have to endure again!!! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

The Samsung Shop

9.45am: Our first stop of the day was the Samsung Shop in Oxford Street – aka The Samsung Experience. It’s (apparently) the ‘Mecca’ for Samsung fan-boys and girls, and it looked very upmarket inside. I’m not a fanboy myself – far from it – I simply choose the brand that offers the best techy-spec! However, in theory at least, you can’t do better than this official shop for all your ‘bits and bobs’ for their phones. In my particular case, I’m on the hunt for some very special (and very new) wired chargers. They’ve only been around for about a fortnight, but I felt optimistic!

I already knew these two ‘species’ – Chargus Wattus Maximus Major (and Minor) were like ‘hen’s teeth’, but the official shop was bound to stock them, weren’t they?

Weren’t they???? ๐Ÿค”

Well, it turned out to be a completely wasted journey! (apart from helping me to increase my step-count for today!) As I enquired if they stocked the new ’15W super-charger’ and maybe even the ’45W hyper-charger’, the Assistant looked mighty embarrassed as he whispered “No sir, we don’t have either, and we’ve no idea when they’ll be here”.

A bit disappointing considering it’s their flagship store! ๐Ÿ˜’๐Ÿ˜’
So, what’s all the fuss about these chargers? Well, they’re both able to charge the new generation of Samsung phones from completely empty to completely full in… wait for it… just over an hour! Amazing technology, and a real life-saver if you’ve ever need to charge your phone in record time!

To add insult to injury, I was advised by the Samsung Shop to try Currys opposite or Carphone Warehouse down the road. Of course, I did, but of course, they’d not got them either! ๐Ÿ‘ฟ

On our way to our next stop – St Paul’s Cathedral – we couldn’t help admire how much better Tottenham Court Road station now looked. Very shiny and very spacious too!

St Paul’s Cathedral

10.25am: Time to forget tech for a while and concentrate on something much older. We exited the Tube at St Paul’s and headed for the Cathedral. Neither of us had been here for a good many years, and so we were looking forward to admiring this famous landmark inside and out. Once again our 2-for-1 tickets saved us a packet – Total admission price? ยฃ20 instead of ยฃ40!! ๐Ÿค‘

It didn’t disappoint..!

Superb architecture that looked like it was decorated yesterday. Beautiful!

The Crypt was just as interesting and included the resting place of two military heavyweights – Nelson and Wellington.

A quick pit-stop next to the Crypt, before heading off to our next stop…

The Bank of England Museum

11.35am: We were a little early for Lunch, so we decided to track-down the location of the Bank of England Museum – especially as it had now started raining. A short walk later (after being re-directed when we mistakenly entered the Bank itself!) we arrived at the Museum, literally just round the corner. No queues and so we were inside in the dry very quickly.

What a find this was! Five separate galleries explaining the history of this famous institution, as well as plenty of interactive exhibits to attract the young (and me too!) ๐Ÿ˜

Entry is free, and there’s plenty on show to enjoy. It’s a light and airy space with plenty of emphasis on interactivity. Want to control inflation? Check. Seen a ten-bob note? Check. Wonder how they actually create money? Check.

There is so much to see here, and it’s all presented in a clear and well-constructed fashion.

If you’ve an hour-or-two to kill and you’re in the area, then this is a no-brainer (especially if it’s raining – and it WAS.. still!).

How to combat forgery (old school!)

This had been a most delightful of discoveries – and for once, we’re so glad it started raining, otherwise we may never looked for it! ๐Ÿ˜

12.35pm: We decided to walk back towards St Paul’s where there was a Cafรฉ Rouge. There was method in our madness, as I could use the gift voucher that Sally B had bought me for my Birthday! – Thanks Sal!! ๐Ÿ˜Š

1.05pm: I think we arrived just in time! It was already 80% full when we arrived, and after we were seated, they kept on arriving! They’re obviously doing something very right here!

We were soon seated and served (a good start!) and when our food arrived, it was piping hot.

Mushroom Rissotto
Blackcurrant Crumble

We both chose from the fixed-price two-course menu. Risotto and then Crumble for me, whilst Ann opted for the Chicken and Chips followed by Chocolate Fondant Pudding with ice-cream.

It was all delicious and in spite of how busy they were, our two waiting-staff were a ‘well-oiled machine’. We left, just as the restaurant approached 100% capacity – yep, perfect timing! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

2.10pm: We took the short walk back to St Paul’s Tube dodging the showers.

3.05pm: Arrivaing back at the ibis, there was time for a couple of hours to recharge batteries (phones AND humans) before we’re out again on our way to (for me) highlight of the day – the Theatre.

Not a bad step-count for today! (Thanks Samsung!)

5.30pm: Fully recharged, we took the now well-trodden path back to Stratford Station – this time heading for Leicester Square Tube. The Theatre is right next door, so that made things easier! ๐Ÿ˜Š

The Theatre

We’re seeing tonight’s performance of The Man in the White Suit at its new home of Wyndham’s Theatre.

Those of you of a certain age will remember the 1951 satirical comedy film of the same name made by Ealing Studios. It starred Alec Guinness, Joan Greenwood and Cecil Parker and was directed by Alexander Mackendrick. I love any film out of Ealing and this new Play, was going to be a real treat!

Starring Stephen Mangan, Kara Tointon and Sue Johnston Ujust until December 6th) it originally opened at the Theatre Royal, Bath in September 2019 before transferring to Wyndham’s Theatre. It’s only been running a few weeks in London, and I was eager to see how it translated to the stage. In fact, I learned later, that the original 1951 film itself was based on a Play so that makes this latest adaptation: ‘the-Play-of-the-film-of-the-Play!’

7.35pm: A slightly delyaed ‘curtain up’, but it was worth the wait. I think we were both unsure of how the film version would translate to the stage, but it worked really well. The leads all acted their socks off and although it was possible to recognise certain scenes from the film, it all felt very different – in a good way! In fact, I’d say we both enjoyed it more than the film (and I really like the film!). It was longer too at around two-and-a-bit hours. Comedically, it was much more slapstick than its on-screen equivalent – with the occasional musical break – and it all came together very nicely! The very clever set-design allowed for some extremely sophisticated configurations, and the set-changes were as entertaining to watch as the production! Superb entertainment all-round!

9.45pm: As the actors took their bows, the audience showed their appreciation with very enthusiastic (and well-deserved) applause. Being a small theatre, we were able to exit without any fuss and were soon on the Tube back to the hotel (for the final time).

“Fire in the Hold!”

10.15pm: Luckily, the Tube was much less busy than on our journey in, but a problem at West Ham station meant that we all had to evacuate the carriage whilst the driver investigated ‘an incident’. Someone had helpfully (not!) set fire to a pile of newspapers in another carriage – and then left in a hurry! Luckily, the plucky driver poked the pile with a stick and manouevered it onto the platform where it burned out. We were soon back on-board and heading for our next – and final – stop, Stratford.

10.25pm: After leaving the Station, we weren’t sure whether our shortcut through the Stratford Centre would still be open – but it was! As we we walked though, we could see why…
There were quite a few homeless people settling down inside for the night in their makeshift beds – a sad and sorry sign of this modern age!! ๐Ÿ™„

As we exited at the other end, the only thing outnumbering the tube passengers at the start of our day, was a gathering of the Met’s finest! We’ve never seen so many boys (and girls) in blue just standing around. I think there was more here than the whole of Northamptonshire’s force put together!

We quickened our pace! ๐Ÿค”

10.40pm: Back in the room! It’s been a long day for us, but it’s all been very worthwhile. We’ve packed a lot in (as we always do!) and even squeezed in some extra stuff too! Another very memorable ‘Birthday break’ – I wonder where we’ll be this time next year? ๐Ÿค”

Home by lunchtime tomorrow!

If you like to view JUST the photographs from our three-day break
they’re all HERE

London Mini-Break – Day 2 (of 3): Birthday Boy (2019)

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Here we are then, in the capital for my Birthday celebrations!

After yesterday’s retail therapy, today, it’s all about sight-seeing, and we’re off to visit Westminster Abbey and The Banqueting House …and maybe more!
That means there’s at least THREE relics on show in London today then! ๐Ÿ˜‰

7.20am: Another lie-in – that’s the second one this year! Instead of ploughing through emails, it was a really nice change to wake up to a record-breaking number of text messages and social-media posts wishing me well. A great start to my day.

As we’re away, we only brought the first few cards with us – the rest will be opened when we get back. Thanks in advance… and for the various gifts too! I’ve heard there’s quite a few to open on our return!

Wot! No candles???

8.45am: My ‘Birthday’ Breakfast in the Hotel was impressive in terms of its range. You’ll be pleased to hear that I did precede the above with a bowl of fresh fruit (hurrah!) but then go on to spoil the healthy intention with a couple of pastries (boo!)

Westminster Abbey

9.45am: My birthday celebration began with a spring in my step (early days yet!) as we took the short walk to Stratford Station, heading for our first sight-seeing opportunity – Westminster Abbey. It was a good day to travel underground (and stay inside) as the weather for London was already damp with more rain forecast. We were prepared for it and although I was pleased to see Ann, it WAS an umbrella in my pocket! ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚

10.30am: By the time we arrived, the weather had deteriorated and it was now pouring! Luckily, the queue wasn’t too long and we were soon inside. The 2-for-1 offer had saved us a hefty ยฃ23.

Unfortunately, no photography was allowed inside, but the excellent – and free – multimedia guide (portable video player and headphones) made up for it with Jeremy Iron’s soothing tones telling us all we needed to know. Simply, put, the interior was stunning with lots to see. Today’s Top Tip? With so much to take in, in addition to everything that’s in your normal eye-line, it helps to look down as well as up on a regular basis.

Westminster Abbey

The Supreme Court

11.45am: In a change to the advertised programme ๐Ÿ˜ we stumbled across The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom – just up the road in the direction of Whitehall. We already knew of it, just not exactly where it was.

Architectually, it was a fascinating building with a mix of old (it used to be council offices) and the new (it had been extended and was very light and airy). Free admission too! ๐Ÿ˜

Click on the pic for a larger version
Just an excuse for me to show off the lens on my new phone that blurs the background

It had a very ‘open’ feel to it and was scrupulously clean. Inside there are just four Courts where supreme justice is served, so it’s kept very busy. Deserted today though!! A lovely piece of London! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

Even the staircase was beautiful

A very interesting place and well-worth a visit if you’re also planning to see the Abbey, Parliament, Big-Ben etc etc. best of all, given its function, we were left completely free to wander around without any restrictions. ๐Ÿ˜Š

The Banqueting House

The Banqueting House

12.30pm: Next stop (and back on schedule) we arrived at The Banqueting House, home of the famous Charles I’s execution and Ruben’s ceiling – how’s that for contrast!!??

Where’s the Anadin?

Beheading aside, the jaw-dropping moment was easily the Ruben’s ceiling on the first floor…

Err… WOW!

This was a real treat for me and the vibrancy of the colours, let alone the feat of actually creating it in the first place, was mind-blowing! If you’re interested in visiting, the location is easy to miss unless you’re speciafically looking for it. Located between Downing Street and Trafalgar Square, opposite Horse Guards. Price of a (London) pint to get in!

Birthday Lunch

1.15pm: Birthday lunch was at the nearby The Clarence Pub – and perfecly timed as my feet were reminding me how much walking we’d done so far!

Still no candle!

When it comes to food (birthday or not) I’m easily pleased, whilst Ann is far more discerning. The Hake from the specials board found a home with Mrs P, whilst I chose the Chicken Pie and Smashed New Potatoes. One thing we did agree on was the cider – it had to be Aspall on draught!

Cheers!

The National Portrait Gallery

2.05pm: Next stop – and our last for the day – was The National Portrait Gallery. Last time I was here was back in May 2016 with my old prog rocker mate, Ian. We were on our way to see supergroup Yes in concert at the Royal Albert Hall. Just like my previous visit, there was lots to see. Some familiar, others less so, but it made for a very enjoyable experience. For us, the amazing thing was that it was sometimes hard to tell whether it was a painting or a photograph! What a talent!!

Thoughtfully laid out by age, the displays showed-off a wide range of subjects and styles…

It felt like it was perfectly possible stay here ALL DAY and not see the same portait twice!

How many faces do you recognise?

Nice to see very modern interpretations too!

3.45pm: Tomorrow, we’re off to see a Play just up the road (more about that tomorrow), so we thought we’d beat the queues and pick-up our tickets today. It seemed like a good idea, but no such luck, as the Box Office politely informed us that our tickets won’t be ready until 30 minutes before the performance tomorrow. So, it was back on the Tube, as we headed back to the Hotel.

4.35pm: Phew! What a day! I may only feel 19 on the inside, but my feet definitely are all 63 years of me! We hobbled back from Stratford station, picking up some sandwiches along the way – all set for my Birthday Tea (where I’m not expecting candles! ๐Ÿ˜Š)

5.30pm: It’s certainly been an actioned-packed Birthday (just the way I like it) and if I didn’t get round to replying to all your best wishes on social-media, I’m working through them next. For those who sent me cards, as I mentioned earlier, we travelled light and I’m opening those when get home on Saturday – that goes for my presents too! ๐Ÿ˜

Now for a lie-down in a darkened room! ๐Ÿ˜ด

Previous Birthday Celebrations…

2018
2017
2016
2015
2014
2013
2012
2011
2010
2009
2008
2007
2006
2005
2004