Sunday, September 4, 2011

Mom in London

[Kept a few notes from our weekend in London with Mom.]

September 3, 2011

On the train to Paddington this morning for a weekend in London with Mom. Got the tube to Victoria Station and checked in at Topham's. After lunch at the Victoria, it was off to the London Eye, tops on Mom's To Do list. (Passed Buckingham Palace on the way, moseyed through St. James's Park.) The line for the Eye was out of sight, so we opted for Fast Track tickets. They let us use them straight away, despite their being for a few hours' time, meaning that the wait to get on wasn't much longer than the ten minutes it took to get tickets. Win!

After a stop for refreshments at St. Stephen's Tavern, we picked up our tickets for Billy Elliot at the Victoria Palace Theatre and went back to the hotel to get ready. The Palace Theatre was so ornate, with lush reds and velvets anywhere it wasn't. Before the curtain rose, the production manager was on stage telling us that tonight was a special night: it was Scott McKenzie's hundredth, and last, performance as Billy. He'd been away from his folks -- who just happened to be sat right behind us, we soon found out -- for 22 months, and performing the role for the last year.

What a send off they gave him!

I found the material was supercharged that evening: what I imagine as Scott's own experiences mirrored in this slice of Billy's life. Any scene about Billy's leaving home gave rise to fresh sniffles and clearing of throats behind us, and ended with thunderous roars and applause. (The Scots and Geordies -- for there were lots of the latter in attendance, let me tell you -- really know how to show their appreciation!)

The show ends with Billy leaving up the centre aisle, only to run back for the curtain call. They'd moved Scott's mom up to the front during the intermission, and he stopped mid run to give her a big kiss and hug -- Pretty sure the whole theatre melted.

We all really enjoyed the show. It was almost like, for those few hours, we all had a small hand in raising this talented young boy, bearing witness to this momentous time in his life... Or maybe I just got caught up in great theatre.

I think Mom was the most surprised, though: she'd hoped to see Les Misérables (which is booked up well out), and, I suspect, thought little else would measure up. Tea's (rightfully) lookin' pretty good about now: daughter in law extraordinaire!

* * *

Late last night, Tea booked us the 1230 slot to visit Buckingham Palace -- the only one still available; after a hearty hotel breakfast, we made our way to the National Gallery for the hours leading up to it. Favourites of this (short) visit were:

The Palace had changed since our last tour, flush with all things Kate: the dress, the cake, and the pictures. They'd also replaced the exhibit of the Queen's dresses with Royal Fabergé, much to Tea's disappointment.

From there, we dodged raindrops to Cask, West London's CAMRA Pub of the Year 2011. I cannot say enough about this spot; loved it to bits. They have a jaw-dropping selection of beers, good food, and genuinely friendly staff. (My only complaint is that they don't serve hot drinks; how am I supposed to sample all your wonderful delights if I can't keep Tea in the tea?)

It was an adventure of firsts for me; I was new to all these breweries, sampling:
  1. Rooster's Hot Shot
  2. Dark Star's Hophead: nice 'n' hoppy; not much to choose between these first two excellent beers
  3. Mikkeller's Beer Geek Breakfast: lovely full body, coffee roast throughout
  4. Magic Rock Brewing's Double IPA, Human Cannonball: dangerously drinkable, with a pine nose very reminiscent of the legendary Black Ops

Check out our Picasa album for more pictures from the weekend.

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