Monday, 30 December 2019

Pub: The Locke

Met an old friend for dinner tonight - and for a change, we went to The Locke. Where I'd been years before, but not since. My companion had chosen the perfect night for it - Monday night, right before NYE, meant that few enough people were in the mood for being out. So, parking was easy (onstreet parking is generally free from 5.30pm anyway), and there was no trouble getting a table. Having said that, he did have a wee bit of trouble spotting me when he came in, tucked into the corner by the door as I was. Sat on the side near the door, he then felt a draught - so we moved a couple of tables down. To one with a radiator underneath. Plenty of warmth, there!



Last time I was here, this was more of a restaurant - now it's a pub, with a menu to match. So, fewer choices - and since I didn't fancy the soup, I stuck to steak (it being so long since I had one), with my companion choosing the soup and fish n chips. My steak came with pepper sauce (on the side), onion rings, and potatoes in one of three varieties - I chose the gratin. And some v nice wine.

The steak, to be honest, was a little disappointing - if anything, too tender! and with a tendency to fall apart as I tried to cut it. The rest was ok, although the onion rings were a little cold - the gratin, however, was delicious. And the soup, and fish n chips, went down well. For dessert, I had a chocolate fondant (the only chocolate option on the menu) - he had coffee, which came with milk served in a cute, miniature milk bottle!

Overall, I thought it was a tad pricey, certainly for what I got - I'm used to paying a lot less for far superior steak. And that dessert was tiny! especially at that price. Service, however, was impeccable - efficient and friendly. Still, I think there are better value eateries in Limerick. But the chat was good - it was great to catch up with him, for the first time in ages!



HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!

..and I'm off again next month, flying back to London on the 5th. On the 6th, I will start as I mean to go on, with Up in the Cheap Seats at the Almeida for the Duchess of Malfi.

On the 7th, I'm off to the Opera House, for the Royal Ballet's production of Coppélia - one I've never seen.

And on the 8th, the RSC's production of Measure for Measure, at the Barbican. Set in decadent 1900s Vienna.

Saturday, 21 December 2019

Pub: The Grove

Currently back in Ireland for Christmas, delighting in having time to declutter my brain. In the midst of weird weather - storms were followed by dense fog, currently blanketing us for the day. Mind you, it wasn't that that complicated my flight back - someone had been hit by the Stansted Express on the day I flew (although at 3pm, not 3am as stated), and it was a very good job that - given that I had a bag to check in - I galloped through my work and left the office really early. And that I'd mostly packed the day before. Because, when I arrived at Liverpool Street, it was to a board full of cancellations!

Reluctant to follow the advice to head across town to another station - after all, more complications are likely to lead to more delays - and with the bus sold out, I ended up installing the Uber app.. and taking my very first Uber! Which, I have to say, worked out great, if expensive - the car arrived quickly, the driver was friendly, and we zipped (as much as possible) through heavy traffic, and arrived in 90 minutes. Just in nice time. And after all that, there was hardly any queue at the self-service bag check (they had desks open too), and I got on the flight in nice time too!

Well, not much going out has happened since, apart from grocery shopping. But yesterday, I took my mother for a check-up - and maybe it was that the doctor was happy with her, or maybe the fine weather, but unusually, afterwards, she was in the mood to eat out! So, for convenience, we headed for The Grove, which has plenty of parking and is big enough not to be too cramped.



It was a good idea. We were in time for the daily carvery, the menu wasn't extensive but was enough, and staff were unfailingly friendly. Great value, too - although my mother wasn't enthused about the dill sauce that came with her fish. I have to say, the gravy I asked for on my chicken was delicious (although it was a breaded chicken breast, rather than the advertised chicken and mushroom vol au vent). We had a table right beside the roaring fire, and staff were happy to bring bar drinks and desserts to the table - menus were widely available around the eating area. Tip - the bar was far less crowded than the actual restaurant area. And although she wasn't mad about her sticky toffee pudding (less of the toffee, more pudding),. my profiteroles were good. Overall, a good experience, and a good atmosphere, with a Christmas lunch in progress in the corner: and we ran into an old friend on the way out.

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!

..and I'm off again next month, flying back to London on the 5th. On the 6th, I will start as I mean to go on, with Up in the Cheap Seats at the Almeida for the Duchess of Malfi.

On the 7th, I'm off to the Opera House, for the Royal Ballet's production of Coppélia - one I've never seen.

And on the 8th, the RSC's production of Measure for Measure, at the Barbican. Set in decadent 1900s Vienna.

Sunday, 15 December 2019

Storytelling: The Ramayana

Today, my last visit of the year to the Crick Crack Club - Emily Hennessy was telling the Ramayana at the British Museum. Oh, and I'd completely forgotten that was on when I booked with North London Friends for a carol concert at St. James' Muswell Hill, followed by drinks at the John Baird. Sounds lovely - but I wouldn't realistically make both, and I cancelled. With such a huge group going, I doubt I'll be missed.

With an earlier night than last night, I was able to rise in good time - and just made my bus! Only had to run a little. And wouldn't you know it, hardly any queue at the museum - I had to wait, once I got in, for the doors to open. I'm not usually that early. Open they did, and I got a seat near the front - in such a large venue, I don't feel the need to sit right at the front. (Funnily enough, the museum WiFi only seemed to work once I was inside the theatre..)

Ben Haggarty introduced the main show, as usual - and Sheema Mukherjee was on sitar, with an accompanying backing track. Both ladies wore ankle bracelets, complete with bells. Emily explained to us, in advance, that we were going to hear a somewhat unusual version of the Ramayana.. and certainly, this was a new one on me. Tales abounded of flying monkeys, fantastical creatures, and love triumphant. If you listen too hard, you'll be bemused at least - instead, you should just let the story take you where it will, on the ethereal strains of the sitar. Very ASMR, and always recommended. I'm never disappointed, for all the times I go.

And afterwards - well, I couldn't miss my trip to Amarcord Museum, could I? The owner, this time, was having dinner when I arrived - it was a quiet time, and for a while I was the only customer. Yes, he recognised me. Yes, I got a free glass of prosecco, and he thanked me for my Tripadvisor reviews. Yes, I had the same food as last time - if it ain't broke, why fix it?! This was my treat before heading to the wilderness for Christmas. And yes, it was just delectable - I intend to be back. What was new this time was that I got to see the owner's range of languages - goodness, he was speaking Japanese to some people, Spanish to others.. the customer really is king, here. Oh, and guess what? A free glass of limoncello for me, just as I was finished, with my permission. Wow, it's years since I had that - and yes, I love it as much as ever!

For some reason, it decided to be raining by the time I left - wasn't supposed to do that! but the bus wasn't long. And so ended - in fine fashion - my last night in London this year. I fly back to Ireland for Christmas tomorrow.

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!

..and I'm off again next month, flying back to London on the 5th. On the 6th, I will start as I mean to go on, with Up in the Cheap Seats at the Almeida for the Duchess of Malfi.

On the 7th, I'm off to the Opera House, for the Royal Ballet's production of Coppélia - one I've never seen.

And on the 8th, the RSC's production of Measure for Measure, at the Barbican. Set in decadent 1900s Vienna.

Saturday, 14 December 2019

Christmas Lights Tour & Play: Candida

Yesterday, Ken's Walks and Social Events (and its sister group, London Art, Comedy & Walks) were on a Christmas lights tour. Now, after past experience with the walks organised by this group, I'll never darken their doors again. However, a Christmas lights walk sounded good - and I didn't get to one at all last year! So I had a browse - and came up with a pay-what-you-want walk by Free Tours by Foot London. Starts in Covent Garden. Ivan decided to come to this one.

With our office move, we were supposed to leave work by 4 - but that was because our receptionist wanted to give us our new passes, and wanted everyone to get them before she left for the day. Except they never arrived - so, change of plan: we show up to the new building with our old passes as ID on Monday! Doh. Anyway, for yesterday, this meant there wasn't such pressure to be out of the office - but when the packers arrived and started to size up the goods around me, I decided it was time to leave. Just as well - I had to take my laptop home and get cash en route, then schlep off to Covent Garden. Even without eating, I barely got there in time!




We sure got great directions - opposite the Tube station, at the junction of Long Acre & Neal Street, where there are three trees. Mind you, the best indicator of all was the top hat our guide wore, which was festooned with lit fairy lights. As was the thick, tinsel necklace he wore. (We'd also been sent a picture of these things.) And as the crowd grew and grew around us (Fridays are busy, of course), he ticked off names in his notebook. Unfortunately, Ivan got sidetracked with work, and though I said he could join at any point (it being pay-what-you-want), he said he'd just meet me for drinks at the end. With these numbers, it didn't matter - lots of +1s cancelled, we still had plenty.




Our guide - an out-of-work Irish actor, as he explained - was hilarious throughout, with a touch of Jim Carrey about him. First stop was back to Covent Garden, which I'd passed through on the way - I'd never known there was a miniature ice rink there, sponsored by Tiffany's! But we were headed for our first stop - a stall where you could buy mulled wine or cider. With the huge queue that formed, no wonder she gave him a hug and kiss! and let him steal a gingerbread man and a brownie as he went on his way, having regaled us with tales about the origins of Christmas, as illustrated on the tablet he carried with him. (Very nice mulled wine, too.)

Our passage of the piazza - where he tried to make a stop, to chat about the enormous tree - was foiled by a nearby busker (and a laugh-inducing reaction from our guide), so he took us somewhere quieter before leaving Covent Garden for nearby streets.




Some of these streets I've seen on previous tours, but Carnaby Street always does something different. And he had plenty of interesting stories for us - for instance, he made an intriguing claim that George IV's portraits were doctored, giving him larger shoulders than he had, to balance his enormous girth. Pity that made his head look so small..

Our second stop was in the Bavarian Market, which I was delighted about - he gave us nearly 15 minutes to wander around, which gave me a welcome opportunity to grab something to eat. Same organisers as Winter Wonderland, but on a much smaller scale. Caveat: if you buy alcohol on the premises, you can't take it out of the market - you must drink it there. There are bag checks.

At several points on the walk, he ran across people he knew, who greeted him with a friendly high-five - a nice touch. A useful part of the trip was a shortcut through Kingly Court - gee, I never knew this centre for restaurants was here! And naturally enough, we finished up with the spectacular decorations of Mayfair - they mightn't change, but they are gorgeous.



He passed the hat around at the end, and I was delighted to give him £20, more than I ordinarily pay for a guided walk. But then, he had an impressive number of stories I hadn't heard before, and was consistently entertaining. Mind you, the "suggested amount" in the email, where it's mentioned that others charge £35 a head, is having a laugh - nobody charges anything like that: and with the number of walks I've been on, I should know!

It started to rain just as the walk was coming to an end - Ivan had taken the precaution of standing under a canopy outside the Hard Rock Cafe. He explained to me that a couple of his friends were having drinks, and had invited him - or we could stay local, just the two of us. Well, I said, why not join them? Everywhere around there would be jammed anyway. So we ended up getting the Tube to Arsenal, and schlepping through the rain to the Bank of Friendship. Unusual name - and unusually late opening! Still, not late enough for us - we ended up round at their place, with Ivan and his musical mate jamming until the sun came up. Lovely, hospitable people - would be delighted to see them again.

Got the bus home - mercifully, it was a gentler journey than the last time I took a bus after drinking too much! So, I got to bed at about 10am today.. Slept till 5: so much for my grand plan of getting anything done today! This evening, I was headed with Up in the Cheap Seats (UITCS) to the Orange Tree, for Candida, by Shaw.

Now, the last couple of times I've been out here, I've had to take the train - which is much more expensive than Tube. So, Tube was what I determined to use today. Unfortunately, it'd have taken too long to take it all the way from Liverpool Street, which is closest to me - instead, I walked to Monument to take it from there. And wouldn't you know it - the tunnel allowing access from the street was closed! probably because of flooding. I had to walk to Bank at street level, enter the station there, and walk all the way back underground! By now, I had a sinking feeling I was going to be late - should've taken the train.

It took so long for any District Line train to come that when one did, I took it - even though it had the wrong destination. Changed at Earls Court - and contrary to what the boards originally said, the information soon changed to show a Richmond train! Hallelujah - so, if I'd just let another couple of trains pass at Monument, I'd have got the right train next. And a seat - it was jammed. But I did get a seat after a couple of stops.

Finally arriving at the theatre, I found it locked. Boo. But as I descended the stairs again, someone came to the door to ask whether he could help. I explained that I'd bought a ticket, but was late - he showed me to the upstairs room, where I could watch the first half hour on a tv screen. There are West End venues that don't do that - the Old Vic, for instance! He pulled up a chair for me and everything. And after half an hour, as promised, he came to show me to an inconspicuous upstairs seat - I could take my own at the interval. Exceptional customer service!

So, this is a comedy about a young man, down on his luck, who comes to stay with an idealistic pastor and his wife - and falls for the wife, in a big way. As he and the husband clash over who would provide a better life for her, she takes them both by surprise with her decision as to which she'll choose - mainly because of her reasoning!

I have to say, it makes a nice change to see a period piece, played in the period in which it's set, and more particularly in period costume! Nothing wrong with a modern conversion - Cyrano de Bergerac is a case in point - but it is refreshing to see something traditional, for a change. And while I didn't really feel that the humour had passed the test of time, it is an interesting study, well-played, of Shaw's interpretation of the nature of marriage at the time, and what each spouse represented to the other. Oh, and that young man is annoyingly earnest.. I couldn't have lasted very long in his company myself. Runs till the 18th of next month.

The Tube back afterwards was much simpler - and quicker to go all the way to Liverpool Street, at this late hour. But would you believe it, now I couldn't walk underground from Monument to Bank (!) and had to head over at street level. Which was now possible, if not convenient - there was a deluge as I did so. And the Central Line was packed, as usual - happily, I was only going one stop.



Tomorrow, my last visit of the year to the Crick Crack Club - Emily Hennessy is telling the Ramayana at the British Museum. Oh, and I'd completely forgotten that was on when I booked with North London Friends for a carol concert at St. James' Muswell Hill, followed by drinks at the John Baird. Sounds lovely - but I wouldn't realistically make both, and I've cancelled. With such a huge group going, I doubt I'll be missed. So that makes tonight my last Meetup of the year - I fly back to Ireland for Christmas on Monday.

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!

..and I'm off again next month, flying back to London on the 5th. On the 6th, I will start as I mean to go on, with UITCS at the Almeida for the Duchess of Malfi.

On the 7th, I'm off to the Opera House, for the Royal Ballet's production of Coppélia - one I've never seen.

And on the 8th, the RSC's production of Measure for Measure, at the Barbican. Set in decadent 1900s Vienna.

Thursday, 12 December 2019

Talk: Oscar & Friends

For today and tomorrowMeetup has given me ideas, which I'm using to do things outside of Meetup. Today, London Social Detours charged £3 to go to a talk about Oscar Wilde's London. I booked myself - for free - on Eventbrite; I don't find her group that friendly, to be honest, but the talk sounded interesting.

It was to start early, so I had to head out early, and it had to be Tube - so I delayed my departure a bit, so as not to run into her at the Tube station, where they were meeting. Quicker would have been the Central Line, but I'd want my head examining, taking it at that hour - no, I went via the Circle. Well, District first, then Circle - the Circle was slow to appear at first. I got a seat straight away, and finished my paper while waiting to change to the Circle. And once I got there, it was easy to find Kensington Central Library - mercifully, the rain that had poured down all day had finally stopped!

Not so easy to find the entrance, though! The website said that the entrance to the lecture theatre was around the back, on the other side from the main entrance - not so useful when I hadn't been there before. They also said it was on Phillimore Walk - well, I headed down there, and came across a door with an arrow pointing to the left for the entrance to the theatre. Unfortunately, the next door down indicated that this was the entrance to Holland Park Surgery! I ended up walking right around the building.. tried the first entrance, where the polling station was set up, and got some lady all excited when she thought she had a potential voter! (Sorry, I'd already voted, way on the other side of town.) Anyway, she sent me on to the next entrance - where the lady at the information desk explained to me that the entrance - is the one that says Holland Park Surgery. Grr - they could have whacked up another sign there to explain that!

Right back around the building again (looks like a nice library, though). And sure enough, this time there was no-one standing in front of the sign directing people to the talk, in the lecture theatre just to the left. Where I took a seat - making sure to sit behind the group I was trying to avoid. And I was just in time - actually, they started late anyway. As usual.

A very interesting period they were discussing - they started with the 1890s, when "decadent" writing flourished in London. Oscar Wilde was mentioned, but the talk was primarily about people (primarily men) that he would have known. I knew few of the names, with the exception of his and of W. B. Yeats'. Well, and a young Aleister Crowley made a brief appearance, eliciting gasps from the audience - very intense eyes. Most of the second half of the talk was concerned with a young man - Lionel Johnson - who apparently introduced Wilde to Bosie (Lord Alfred Douglas), who was to be his downfall. Very dreamy photos were displayed of everyone mentioned - I'm sure they would have approved.

Seems you can study decadence in Goldsmiths College! Well, fancy. They even had a couple of representatives there tonight, who would be happy to provide information to anyone who required it. And we learned how the decadence movement was characterised by a love of the aesthetic, and a leaning towards taboo subjects - a desire to shock. So yes, sex, drugs - and literature. We saw some examples of a periodical that they produced - The Yellow Book. Ironically, Wilde never published for this - he'd had a falling-out with its illustrator, Aubrey Beardsley. Yes, all very intriguing stuff - 'twould inspire you to dig deeper.


Afterwards, I nipped off nice and quickly - and buses were quick enough, by this hour, to get me home. Tomorrow, Ken's Walks and Social Events (and its sister group, London Art, Comedy & Walks) are on a Christmas lights tour. Now, after past experience with the walks organised by this group, I'll never darken their doors again. However, a Christmas lights walk sounded good - and I didn't get to one at all last year! So I had a browse - and came up with a pay-what-you-want walk by Free Tours by Foot London. Starts in Covent Garden - and the handy thing is, we're to clear our stuff out of our old office that day, and hand in our passes before the receptionist goes home. Which means we have been told to finish at 4! Excellent - that gives me loads of time. I'll probably grab a bite to eat - must remember to bring cash, too. Ivan is coming to this one - but he says it mightn't be a late night. We shall see.

On Saturday, headed with Up in the Cheap Seats (UITCS) to the Orange Tree, for Candida, by Shaw. Unless I get sidetracked.

On Sunday, my last visit of the year to the Crick Crack Club - Emily Hennessy is telling the Ramayana at the British Museum. Oh, and I'd completely forgotten that was on when I booked with North London Friends for a carol concert at St. James' Muswell Hill, followed by drinks at the John Baird. Sounds lovely - but I doubt I'll make both. We shall see - with such a huge group going, I doubt I'd be missed. Then I fly back to Ireland for Christmas on Monday.

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!

..and I'm off again next month, flying back to London on the 5th. On the 6th, I will start as I mean to go on, with UITCS at the Almeida for the Duchess of Malfi.

On the 7th, I'm off to the Opera House, for the Royal Ballet's production of Coppélia - one I've never seen.

And on the 8th, the RSC's production of Measure for Measure, at the Barbican. Set in decadent 1900s Vienna.

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Play: Cyrano de Bergerac

Arranged to have lunch with Henning today - venue TBD - and needed to remember to pick up my package from the Amazon locker in One New Change. In the event, I had time in the morning to pick up that package - great directions from Amazon, which I was glad I remembered, as I couldn't find the email again when I looked!




For lunch, we ended up going to Byron Burger - it's been a while since I was last here, and yes, it was yummy! Even if I couldn't manage to finish the chips. Quite noisy too - it's well worth coming early, as they do fill up, and by the time we left, the din made it hard to hear, and the queue stretched along the hall. Henning had to book a team lunch, so we went across to Wahaca..



..but they were full, so we ended up back at Byron, where he was more successful.

This evening, back with Up in the Cheap Seats (UITCS) for Cyrano de Bergerac, at the Playhouse. Stars James McAvoy. Popular event this, I see - and not just with the large number of people that booked with our group! A number of people got upgrades - turns out that they were upgrading everyone from the front row of the Upper Circle. The legroom is pretty bad throughout, and the front row is a case in point, squashed up against the rail. And this is a long show.

The bus dropped me at Somerset House, and Google Maps suggested that I walk from there to the theatre via Embankment! An interesting walk - I haven't gone quite that way before.





Picking up my ticket, I noted that the performance was sold out - and as I headed in, I passed a group of our people in a cluster outside! Now, it was freezing cold, but this turned out to be the best option.. when we went in, we climbed an unearthly number of stairs, then squashed into the teeny Upper Circle Bar - which we took up most of - and could hardly turn to talk to each other. As I remarked, it was like being in a Tube carriage at rush hour! Which was a shame, because it's a while since I'd seen a lot of these people, and probably shan't again this year.

Anyway, it was a relief to take my seat:



The view is just fine if you lean into the aisle. You kind of need to point your legs that way too, with the lack of legroom. A number of people - what with the empty front row n all - decided to head down there. Now, the railing (as you can slightly see from the above photo) curves slightly - outwards at the edges, inwards in the middle. Very decorative - very uncomfortable, in the middle. So all those people who scooted down there for the show ended up at the edges..

Cyrano de Bergerac. Rap version, complete with beatboxer. I hadn't read about it closely, and wasn't expecting that - and a couple of elderly guys on our level decided early that it wasn't for them, and left. Boy, they missed out. What you see on stage at the opening is about as much decoration as you get - the only stage props are a full-length mirror that's lowered periodically, and some plastic chairs. V avant-garde. Despite the sparsity of decoration, the staging is inventive - characters who aren't in a particular scene just sit, or stand, with their backs to the audience. The stage floor does clever things, like form into steps in the second half - honestly though, they could have left it flat throughout.

Because that's not what's most attractive about this show. Someone once said of me that I seemed to be keen on complex wording - he was right, and I was in heaven here. This is the best I've heard since Lose Yourself. Three solid hours of it - verbal jousts, in rhyme, adapted to the character speaking. The best lines go to Cyrano, of course, and in the simplicity of this staging, we get to concentrate on the poetry, and get to the heart of what the play is really about. I did love one of the background actions, which has someone painting on the backdrop while the action continues in the foreground, completely unrelated to what he's doing. And when you finally see what he's writing, it makes perfect, simple sense.

I preferred the original ending, which is slightly changed here. But this is a spectacular display of brilliant writing. Love words? You'll love this. Booking till the 29th of February - deserves to run and run. Booking recommended. At the end, the crowd was delighted to leap to its feet - and outside, we wished we had a playtext. Oh, and do have a wander by the stage door - even in this cold, the queue was phenomenal.. I mean, I couldn't get anything like all of them in one shot!



Delighted the #11 now stops just across from my flat.. For the next two daysMeetup has given me ideas, which I'm using to do things outside of Meetup. Tomorrow, London Social Detours is charging £3 to go to a talk about Oscar Wilde's London. I booked myself - for free - on Eventbrite; I don't find her group that friendly, to be honest, but the talk sounds interesting.

On Friday, Ken's Walks and Social Events (and its sister group, London Art, Comedy & Walks) are on a Christmas lights tour. Now, after past experience with the walks organised by this group, I'll never darken their doors again. However, a Christmas lights walk sounded good - and I didn't get to one at all last year! So I had a browse - and came up with a pay-what-you-want walk by Free Tours by Foot London. Starts in Covent Garden - and the handy thing is, we're to clear our stuff out of our old office that day, and hand in our passes before the receptionist goes home. Which means we have been told to finish at 4! Excellent - that gives me loads of time. Ivan is coming to this one - which means it'll probably be a late night.

On Saturday, headed with UITCS to the Orange Tree, for Candida, by Shaw. Unless I get sidetracked.

On Sunday, my last visit of the year to the Crick Crack Club - Emily Hennessy is telling the Ramayana at the British Museum. Oh, and I'd completely forgotten that was on when I booked with North London Friends for a carol concert at St. James' Muswell Hill, followed by drinks at the John Baird. Sounds lovely - but I doubt I'll make both. We shall see - with such a huge group going, I doubt I'd be missed. Then I fly back to Ireland for Christmas on Monday.

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!

..and I'm off again next month, flying back to London on the 5th. On the 6th, I will start as I mean to go on, with UITCS at the Almeida for the Duchess of Malfi.

On the 7th, I'm off to the Opera House, for the Royal Ballet's production of Coppélia - one I've never seen.

And on the 8th, the RSC's production of Measure for Measure, at the Barbican. Set in decadent 1900s Vienna.

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Montague Ski Lodge

Today was our office Christmas party - we were at the Montague Ski Lodge, and only had it booked till 5; I was assured that the tradition - with some - is to follow on to a pub after, and it can run quite late.



Behold, they finally erected a tree inside our building! An imposing thing it is, too. I joined the others waiting in the lobby, and when everyone had arrived that was likely to, we set off.. by Tube. Doh, Well, what can you do? It wasn't too crowded in the middle of the day, and at least we got there quickly. Well, almost there - we made a pitstop at The Ship Tavern, where we had a couple to get us going. It's a lovely pub - down back alleys, and nice and discreet, with partitions. And well-decorated for Christmas:




And so to the party - in punishing wind. These blasts were courtesy of Storm Brendan - well, related to it, even if we didn't get the full brunt. It was truly a relief to get to the "ski lodge" - which turns out to be part of a hotel. We had three rooms to the side - one a mock ski chalet, reached by a covered hallway that is kind of external: one where the main bar was, and another with more chairs, which could also be used for serving. And I have to say, it was excellent.. we started with mulled wine, which I had two mugs of, even though I don't normally care for it. And afterwards, every time we turned around, we were presented with more trays of food, and the bar was unlimited. Well now..! The food was excellent, there were vegetarian and vegan options, and the repast finished with boxes of chocolates, just left temptingly about. Which I finished for them, of course..





The activities were also well-thought out, with a tinfoil decoration competition, and a quiz about Christmas movies, represented by emojis! Gotta give credit where it's due - our office managers played a storm, also booking space in local pub The Swan for us. 


The group I was with there wasn't as entertaining, and I only stayed for one - and then had to walk past the stop that Google Maps recommended for my second bus to get home, because gee, it doesn't take passengers on there! I've pointed this out to them. Anyway, glad to get home early, in this intemperate weather. Lo, to tempt people into the office tomorrow, they're serving breakfast! And as part of the Magic Breakfast initiative, for everyone who has breakfast at the office, they're donating a breakfast to a child in need. Aww.

Having lunch with Henning tomorrow - venue TBD - and must remember to pick up my package from the Amazon locker in One New Change. Tomorrow evening, back with Up in the Cheap Seats (UITCS) for Cyrano de Bergerac, at the Playhouse. Stars James McAvoy. Popular event this, I see.

On Thursday and Friday, Meetup has given me ideas, which I'm using to do things outside of Meetup. On Thursday, London Social Detours is charging £3 to go to a talk about Oscar Wilde's London. I booked myself - for free - on Eventbrite; I don't find her group that friendly, to be honest, but the talk sounds interesting.

On Friday, Ken's Walks and Social Events (and its sister group, London Art, Comedy & Walks) are on a Christmas lights tour. Now, after past experience with the walks organised by this group, I'll never darken their doors again. However, a Christmas lights walk sounded good - and I didn't get to one at all last year! So I had a browse - and came up with a pay-what-you-want walk by Free Tours by Foot London. Starts in Covent Garden - and the handy thing is, we're to clear our stuff out of our old office that day, and hand in our passes before the receptionist goes home. Which means we have been told to finish at 4! Excellent - that gives me loads of time. Ivan is coming to this one - which means it'll probably be a late night.

On Saturday, headed with UITCS to the Orange Tree, for Candida, by Shaw. Unless I get sidetracked.

On Sunday, my last visit of the year to the Crick Crack Club - Emily Hennessy is telling the Ramayana at the British Museum. Oh, and I'd completely forgotten that was on when I booked with North London Friends for a carol concert at St. James' Muswell Hill, followed by drinks at the John Baird. Sounds lovely - but I doubt I'll make both. We shall see - with such a huge group going, I doubt I'd be missed. Then I fly back to Ireland for Christmas on Monday.

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!

..and I'm off again next month, flying back to London on the 5th. On the 6th, I shall start as I mean to go on, with UITCS at the Almeida for the Duchess of Malfi.

On the 7th, I'm off to the Opera House, for the Royal Ballet's production of Coppélia - one I've never seen.

And on the 8th, the RSC's production of Measure for Measure, at the Barbican. Set in decadent 1900s Vienna.

Monday, 9 December 2019

London Docklands Christmas Concert

I was thinking about film this week - but what was on outside of that appealed more. So, tonight, I was off to a London Docklands Christmas concert at The Space, as hosted by London European Club. Only recently advertised - they're lucky I was free!

I could get there by bus(es) in just under an hour - so I headed off early and did just that, making, I must say, excellent time. The second bus runs by Canary Wharf, where the lights are spectacular - sadly, I wasn't getting out there, and it's tricky to take a decent photo through a bus window!


It obligingly dropped me right outside the door of the venue. It's a converted church - with the main door closed, I headed around to the side, where there were lights. Sure enough, this is where they hide the Hubbub, an upstairs bar that you have to access from this side. I trotted up and ordered myself a (reasonably priced for a reasonable size) drink - and as I was doing so, I was asked by a lady at the bar whether I was singing. Turns out that the entire choir were wearing red jumpers - as was I! Having informed her that I wasn't part of the official programme, but might well join in, I sat to have my drink - and lo, was found by our group organiser, whom I hadn't noticed on the way in! So I joined him and his lovely wife, over the side, where they were having food. And we chatted until the bell rang, 10 minutes before performance time - just as well, because it was getting seriously crowded in that bar!

We should maybe have moved a bit faster - we had to collect our tickets from the box office (inside the main door), and it was filling up fast; we were in the main church, which isn't large. And it's true for the man - it's colder at the back, closer to the door! Hey-ho. Some running lists were left on the seats, with lyrics for the songs we were to join in on, and an explanation of where we could jump in. And so it proceeded, the large choir barely squeezing into the altar space. And we sang along dutifully.. the choir was quite ok, not the best I've heard, but far from the worst, and with a strong feeling of community to it. And of the programme, as promised, they had several I hadn't heard before. Free mince pies and mulled wine afterwards were a nice touch, and added to the Christmassy feel - a nice, seasonal start to the week. And good to see people again! The bus that had brought me there took me all the way home - and happily, in this cold weather, didn't take long.

Tomorrow is our office Christmas party - we're at the Montague Ski Lodge, and only have it booked till 5; I am assured that the tradition - with some - is to follow on to a pub after, and it can run quite late. We shall see. Lo, to tempt people into the office next day, they're serving breakfast! And as part of the Magic Breakfast initiative, for everyone who has breakfast at the office, they're donating a breakfast to a child in need. Aww.

On Wednesday, back with Up in the Cheap Seats (UITCS) for Cyrano de Bergerac, at the Playhouse. Stars James McAvoy. Popular event this, I see.

On Thursday and Friday, Meetup has given me ideas, which I'm using to do things outside of Meetup. On Thursday, London Social Detours is charging £3 to go to a talk about Oscar Wilde's London. I booked myself - for free - on Eventbrite; I don't find her group that friendly, to be honest, but the talk sounds interesting.

On Friday, Ken's Walks and Social Events (and its sister group, London Art, Comedy & Walks) are on a Christmas lights tour. Now, after past experience with the walks organised by this group, I'll never darken their doors again. However, a Christmas lights walk sounded good - and I didn't get to one at all last year! So I had a browse - and came up with a pay-what-you-want walk by Free Tours by Foot London. Starts in Covent Garden - and the handy thing is, we're to clear our stuff out of our old office that day, and hand in our passes before the receptionist goes home. Which means we have been told to finish at 4! Excellent - that gives me loads of time. Ivan is coming to this one - which means it'll probably be a late night.

On Saturday, headed with UITCS to the Orange Tree, for Candida, by Shaw. Unless I get sidetracked.

On Sunday, my last visit of the year to the Crick Crack Club - Emily Hennessy is telling the Ramayana at the British Museum. Oh, and I'd completely forgotten that was on when I booked with North London Friends for a carol concert at St. James' Muswell Hill, followed by drinks at the John Baird. Sounds lovely - but I doubt I'll make both. We shall see - with such a huge group going, I doubt I'd be missed. Then I fly back to Ireland for Christmas next Monday.

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!

..and I'm off again next month, flying back to London on the 5th. On the 6th, I shall start as I mean to go on, with UITCS at the Almeida for the Duchess of Malfi.

On the 7th, I'm off to the Opera House, for the Royal Ballet's production of Coppélia - one I've never seen.

And on the 8th, the RSC's production of Measure for Measure, at the Barbican. Set in decadent 1900s Vienna.