insights, outtakes and observations from our sabbatical year in England
Monday, August 1, 2011
A Little Night's Music (and fish and chips)...
Steve's first night back from Kansas, and I arranged for a family outing (dinner and musical theatre!) Yes... I believe in suffering for him!
washed oyster, anyone?
We arranged to meet up somewhere downtown after work. The boys and I headed off a bit early to get a few other action items complete. One of them was the question of Duncan's new oyster card: did it still work? Well... of course we knew that it HAD worked, but we also knew that the washer/drier worked pretty well, and that Duncan's Oyster card had still been in his pants pocket when the load of laundry went in for the 4.5 hour complete wash/dry cycle. What you can't really see in the photo is the lovely 'permanent wave' that the dry/spin cycle left in the plastic part of Duncan's card. So... first order of business was to see if the electronic/magnetic parts of the card still worked. We hopped on a bus, and he scanned in his card. Yippee! Still works!... it has a certain 'character', but continues to function, so who cares!
Happily on top of the double decker, we prepared to settle in for a long bus ride to a key-cutting shop i had located on-line. We currently only have one set of keys (having forgotten the other set in Paris). While family togetherness is of course lovely, it is good to have the liberty to send people off in different directions without having to leave a sentinel in the house to let everyone back in! So... prepared for a long bus stop, we looked to the left, and saw a keycutting shop right beside us. So... off we hopped again! Minutes later, we each had our own housekey.
That having been such exhausting work, the boys convinced me that we should stop at the small sandwich and juice shop next door that had a sign outside advertizing "smoothies". It being a brutally hot day, I asceeded to their demands. In we went. The owner/manager told us that their smoothies were exceptional: all natural, just fruits and ice and no artificial colours, sugars or additives (not such a great sales pitch for me, since those are items from my favourite food groups, but that is another story). We had simply to choose. They various combinations on the list had descriptions under of the health benefits you could get from each choice. He did say that the #1 was a big seller, but that maybe it wasn't for Duncan. Since that particular brew was for male 'vitality', saying it was the all-natural equivalent of Viagra, I agreed.... Duncan ended up choosing something a little less 'vital'. :-) While we were waiting for him to make the smoothies, he suggested we try sitting in their garden. Garden? Yep.... a door on the left led to a little enclosed garden seating area. Perhaps seating for 12, but shaded by a huge umbrella, and the walls covered with flowering vines, and even one paliated apple tree loaded down with fruit. Sweet! I shoulda taken a photo, but didn't remember until we headed back outside, so all you get is a photo of Duncan out front... it looks banal, and complete fails to disclose the lovely treasure inside. I think we will go back another day for lunch!
Tasks done, we headed to Charing Cross, to take a wander through Trafalgar Square on our way to meet up with Steve. We stopped long enough for Duncan to hop up by one of the lion's (too hot to touch because of the burning sun, but he still managed to get is hand on its butt!) The fountains were running, and people had their socks and shoes off to paddle in them. Every gust of breeze tossed spray high in the air and the direction of the throngs of sweaty folk happily turning their faces into the cool mist. Lovely!
And then we headed off to watch one of the buskers up at the top of the square. My kids could, I think, spend the full day in the square watching the buskers. This time, we saw an amazing contortionist guy, a great entertainer, with an incredibly flexible and strong physique, who eventually managed to get his whole body into a little box. Street theatre! There is just nothing like it! So worth the money in the hat!
After that, we wandered over to covent garden, and found the pub (Crown and Anchor) we had arranged to meet Steve at. We discovered, at to my dismay, that they served only drinks and no food. However, to my delight, they did not exclude kids from being in the space, and had an upstairs level that was gloriously air conditioned. They boys nursed their pop while waiting (though they are still in shock at the 'no free refills' thing here) for Steve to join us.
My first Steak and Kidney Pie...
Duncan with fried sausages?!
When he arrived, we wandered the streets looking for food. We finally choice to eat on the street at (the world famous, so they say) "The Rock and Sole Plaice", a fish and chips restaurant and takeaway established in 1871." This did not please Duncan, who does not like Fish! Still.... the chips were a hit, and they did have a few other options. Duncan went for a sausage fried in butter, and I took my first shot at steak and kidney pie. ... (I think i will go for the fish next time).
And then, it was off to see "Betty Blue Eyes" ... a musical about a pig. You can see the trailer for it here. Basically, a musical version of the play "A Private Function". it is very 1947 England, during the time of austerity and rations and the royal wedding.... people conspiring to keep (and eat) an 'illegal pig' at a private dinner party.... it has singing, dancing, stinky pig poo jokes, etc.... everything you could want in a musical. We all came home singing "Nobody Calls Me Nobody" from the play. You can see Sarah Lancaster (who we saw) singing it here! There is one part where the 84 year old mother (who plays a great comic part) overhears the two main characters planning how to kill the pig, and thinks they are talking about her. At the place where she refused to die... "Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin", Alex laughed so hard that he swallowed the icecube he was sucking on, and I was worried I would have to heimlich him. That is always the sign of a good show! :-) And thus ended the day...