Thursday, September 22, 2011

Classical & Cultural

Over the summer I have been distracted going to so many amazing events that it took me ages to realise a fantastic opportunity to do something awesome was right in front of me - The Proms at Royal Albert Hall.

Sponsored by BBC The Proms are held at Royal Albert Hall every year over the summer period and it is a collection of classic music, famous musical artists and comedians that come together. You can buy full price seating tickets from £8 to £80 or you can prom on the day for a fiver. I had seen posters around the tube stations for it and sort of always glased over them until I was reading my trusty little Top 100 book (#30)and found out it what exactly it was.

As a self confessed band geek (yes I was in the high school band, yes I did go to band camp and no I didn’t play the flute) I was really keen to see some classical music played live while also checking out a famous building that I had only seen from afar. Shea who is my Top 100 partner and crime went one sunny Friday afternoon after work to check it out.

We made our way down to South Kensington armed with some snacks from a supermarket (we were determined to keep this a cheap night out!) and managed to find our way around the building, down several side streets to find the end of the queue. Now English people are famous for their queuing and this event was no different. Everyone just politely waited and chatted while we slowly inched forward. No complaining and no loud obnoxious people making a sheep noise! We only lined up for about half an hour before getting inside what I have to say is one of the most gorgeous buildings I’ve seen.

For a fiver you could either stand on the first floor or make your way up into the gallery and shea and I indadvertedly scored the best tickets - the gallery. I say they are the best even though they aren’t the closest because you can climb up the 4 or 5 flights of stairs to the top where you can look down over the whole building. Up in the gallery you can also sit or lay down and close your eyes as you listen to the music. Its so peaceful and quiet and nothing like a usual friday night in a noisy crowded pub. The pro's had come prepared with picnics of cheese and wine and cushions and blankets. We didn't know anything so we just sat down on the floor and laid with our handbags as pillows. We stayed for two symphony’s played by an orchestra before we both decided if we stayed any longer we would fall asleep.

It was such a cheap fun night out and a great chance to do something cultural for a change. I was actually surprised about how much I enjoyed it and would definitely go again next year. Next year I might try and get tickets to a comedy act or a jazz show instead of a symphony. Or even camp out in Hyde Park for the final night of The Proms in September. It was definitely one of my favourite things I’ve done in the book so far. We are slowly working our way through the Top 100 and I can only hope the rest of them are this much fun!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Jack The Ripper

I have been wanting to do the Jack The Ripper walking tour for a long time now as I had heard through friends how good it was. I wanted to see another side to the city in an area I don't really get to explore much. So when I saw a Living Social voucher for a £5 ticket to Golden Tours I snapped at the chance and dragged Shea (who if you haven't noticed is pretty much my Partner In Crime for all things) along for the ride.

We met our guide at Tower Hill Station which is only a short walk from where the first murder took place. As we wandered down there we were given more information about the history of London back when Jack The Ripper was in his element. For those of you who don't know the story - Jack The Ripper was a mass murder who murdered five women who were prostitutes in the streets of East London by slitting their throats and disemboweling their organs.

We wandered for about an hour learning seeing each spot where each women was killed as we learnt the history, timeline and quite graphic details of each murder. It was interesting to hear about a different London to what I have seen especially as we tred some of the streets that are still the same. Many of the murder spots were quite changed for example the spot of the final murder is now a multi story car park. Sadly I forgot my camera so I have no photos to show you (though I'm sure you can imagine what a multi story car park looks like.

Our guide was pretty informative and our group was made up of people of all ages and from all parts of the world. It was an interesting thing to do after work one night but not something that I would rave about. I'm not sure if I had been expecting something extraordinary because of all the good reviews I had heard but I was slightly disappointed. I had been expecting a bit of a scary and spooky night out - not a casual stroll through the streets. Even so I would say give it a go - it is a really interesting part of London's history and a good cheap night out - especially as the tour ends in Brick Lane so you can grab a curry!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Open House London

Once a year London ppens its doors for Open House London allowing members of the public to visit buildings that are usually only staff only or only open when there is an event on. Shea and I took this oppourtunity to check out a few buildings and tick a few more things off our Top 100 list.

First stop was Lloyds of London which isn't in the book but I really wanted to check out because of its famous glass elevators (like Charlie and The Chocolate Factory!). We headed over to London Bridge and wandered across to Lloyds and waiting in line for about half an hour while we waited to get in. As we waited we got given a bit of an info sheet that gave us some information on the building which was handy because apart from knowing about the glass elevators I didn't really know much about it - apparently Lloyds of London sponsored the Titanic!

We got inside and got to see the trading floor with the bell which was rung when a ship had sunk. It was salvaged from a sunken ship and has been in the trading floor for hundreds of years. There was also a book that keeps a track of every sunken ship from when it was open. There was even one from this year with a sunken ship a few days old. I was so surprised! I sort of thought that didn't happen much anymore?!

We then got to go up to the top floor and check out the view across London. We got to ride up there in the glass elevator before we walk around and checked out the view. We then got to ride down on the other side in the glass elevators. It was freaky! I'm not usually scared of heights but that was just too weird!

After Lloyds we made our way over to Wigmore Hall (#10) which is a concert hall often used for symphony's and classical music concerts. We were lucky enough to arrive just as a performance was beginning so we got a chance to experience Wigmore Hall for what it is. After the performance we got to go and check out the green room and have a backstage look at the hall. It is a really pretty building and it would be great to see a longer concert there for sure but also glad that its ticked off the list!

Wigmore Hall is located just behind Oxford Street so of course we popped off there for a bit of a quick look around and a shop before heading over to Kings Cross. We were heading over there to check out Kings Place (#16) loacted on the Canals and is home to the Guardian Newspaper, concert hall, art gallery and a few cafe's and bars. As we were wandering through from the tube station we stopped off at the Kings Cross marketing suite and learnt a little bit about all the construction and redevelopment that is going on up there. It is going to be amazing once it is finished! It will be finished around 2016 which is a little way off for me to think about seeing but by the looks of it - it should be amazing!

We finally made it to Kings Palace just as it started to drizzle so it was perfect timing for a quick look at the canals and then a wander around the art gallery. There was a photography exhibition which was absolutely breath taking. It was called Frontlines and was photos of areas of dispute. It was quite eye opening! On our way out we were treated to a bagpipe player playing to the guests of a wedding.

After traipsing around London all day we retired back to Shea's place for a rainy lazy movie night in. Open house London was a great way to see some buildings that I wouldn't usually see and a good reason to get out and about. I was a little disappointed we got to the bandwagon a little late and missed out on tickets to the Barbican and this year the Gherkin wasn't open. Hopefully next year I get to go to those places!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Much Ado About Nothing

One of the things I have wanted to do MOST in London was go to Shakespears Globe and see a Shakespearean play. Last year I had only just settled in London and didn't really get around to looking into it before the season ended so this year I made sure I booked our tickets with plenty of time in advance (two months!!). This year there was a couple of Shakespears works being played and some other plays from around that era. We decided to opt out of the Tradegy (Hamlet) and go and see Much Ado About Nothing.

The Globe is located along the Thames which provides a pretty perfect backdrop for a good night out. So we grabbed dinner at a place near by for a quick catch up before the show. We were lucky with the weather as it was clear and not too chilly and even thought we had 'restricted viewing' seats we had a pretty good view of the whole stage.

Apart from the two plays I had studied at high school (Romeo and Juliet & Hamlet) I hadn't had much experience with Shakespeare so I was pretty lucky that Shea had a quick look on Wikipedia and gave me a brief run down about what the play was about. The play itself was performed really well and I could follow it easily. They portrayed it perfectly and we actually spent most of the time laughing. I was even happily surprised that there was a famous actor in the players. Well famous if your a fan of Fresh Prince of Bel Air - Do you remember the butler Geoffery? He played Hero's father! I spent the first half thinking 'is it? or isn't it?... wait? ...really?... is it?!!'.

It was the second outdoor theater I have been to this year and I've got to say it may be a new addiction. Both have been awesome nights out and while I was never a particular theatre buff or massively into seeing plays it has been something that I've really come to enjoy. I hope that next summer I get to go again!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Rolling On The River

As you guys know, I compete in a try tag rugby team every week and this week it was the competition's second birthday! The Managing director has always wanted to go on a party boat on the Thames so he figured what better reason to get all the players together to have a few drinks and check it out.

For £15 we got a four hour boat ride along the thames which was a bit of a bargain even though it didn’t include drinks. We left around 7pm and the boat took us from Westiminster all the way down the river past all the sights up to the Battersea Power Station and then after a quick turn around we headed back down the other side of the river past Westminster again and down to Tower Bridge and back again. London can rival Paris as the city of lights and it was an awesome way to see the city at night especially from the point of view of the river.

Don’t worry all the sightseeing didn’t get in the way of all the drinking, chatting, dancing and other shenaniagans. It was a great night out and an awesome chance to hang with people with the same interest but play oin different areas. It was also a good reason to drink with past and current team mates as well as a few members of the opposing teams! Later in the night the dancefloor started and we boogied along to 'I'm on a boat' (a must have on the playlist) as well as a few classic as well as the usual stuff. Before we knew it the four hours was up and we were off the boat an onto a club where the night continued into the wee hours. It was such a great night out and the Tag players are always keen to go

Sunday, September 4, 2011

One Day In The Park

Even though summer has come to an end there are still lots of cool outdoorsy things that are on to try and soak up what is left of the ‘good’ weather and one of these was the open air cinema. As a customer of Natwest Shea was able to pick up £8 tickets to see One Day at marble hill house. As a massive massive fan of the book I was so keen to see it - especially in such a cool way. N.B - if you haven't read the book you're missing out!

The day started off a bit rainy so we were feeling pretty dodgy about the whole thing but by about 4pm the skies cleared just in time for us to head over there. When we arrived we were given a bum box which was a piece of cardboard that folded into a little seat that you could lean on to keep your bum dry. We also got given water and popcorn and could even have had wine (but we were all a little seedy from the Denim party the night before). We had also stocked up on picnic food so once we found our spot, put down our mats and snuggled under our blankets we were all set to go.

A few previews later the movie started and the atmosphere was amazing. The sun had only just gone down and the night was clear, everyone was silent except for the wind in the trees and we were all just engrossed in the movie. The movie itself was a little disappointing but it was always going to be when compared to the book. Admittedly there was a quiet tear shed towards the end and I could hear lots of sniffles and sighs around me. The rest of the night however was great! There are lots of open air cinemas on in london during the summer (there is even a floating cinema!) and while the season is over for now I am hoping I can check out another one next summer!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Denim On Denim On Denim

It had been awhile since there had been a proper no holds barred party at Pulborough Road. After our epic Halloween party followed by our Mexican (a.k.a Mexi-carnage cuz it go so out of control) we had decided to go into party retirement. Let our neighbours ear drums recover... Our house finally stop smelling like a brewery...and basically stop having nightmares of finding bottle caps under the couch six months later.

By the time May came around it was decided Pulborough would launch a comeback on the party scene. Since we were all away at various times or we had guests over the summer we finally settled on a date - in september! The theme was settled pretty easily - denim on denim on denim. Now denim on denim has been a bit of a trend around London lately with lots people layering the denim - you know teaming black jeans with a denim shirt kind of style. So we encouraged our guests to go one further and get amongst as much denim as we could.

And that they did. The slideshow below is testament enough to that!

The amount of denim in our house that night was preposterous! I didn't even know they made some things in denim! I managed to get up to five lots of denim with a whole denim onesie (good if I ever need to go to a ghetto party!), denim shoes, denim shirt, denim hairband and denim bracelet. If you think five pieces of denim is good - it didn't come close to my mate Shea's seven layers of denim. Denim jeggings, denim shoes, denim shirt, denim shorts, denim denim jacket, denim hairband and denim bracelet! It literally looked like a denim warehouse threw up on us.

Most of our guests did really well with the denim and I swear most of the op shops around our area would be stripped of its denim! The party itself was a good one! Starting with a BBQ at around 4pm we slowly drank, chatted and ate our way through the day and slowly drank chatted and danced our way through into the wee hours. Thankfully there wasn't any complaints from the neighbours or too much mess and Pulborough was left standing. Not sure when the next one will be.... Altho there are a few birthdays coming up so you never know!