Tuesday, January 3rd, London

Not a lot of sleep; laundry, really; breakfast; taking the morning off; lunch at the Hereford Arms; going to closed churches again; getting in contact with my podcaster friend who lives in London; a lovely walk through Chelsea back to my hotel; by Tube to the Oxford Circus station; the the London Palladium; dinner at Five Guys only because I could find a free table; my last Christmas panto; the Tube back to Gloucester Road and a snack run to Tesco Express

Best Western the Cromwell



I can finally say I've been to a London West End musical.

Except for my evening plans, today I didn't do most of the things I thought I'd do last night.

I finally fell asleep sometime after 2 AM and woke up at 7 AM to shower, dress, and take my laundry downstairs before 8 AM only because I had set my alarm clock. When I got to the main, front elevator which is closest to my room and the reception desk downstairs I noticed that it wasn't working. It's probably not a coincidence that there was a problem with the same elevator for about a week when I stayed here last July. Fortunately the other elevator, which you have to go through some corridors to get to and then have to go through some more downstairs to get to the reception desk, was working. After I dropped my laundry off, I took the old, worn and a bit uneven stairs to go down to the breakfast room. After breakfast I went through the corridors to get to the stairs closest to the only working elevator back up to my floor, which doesn't go down to that level.

I wasn't feeling very well, or at least not very well rested, and it was still before 9 AM when I got here to my room. None of the places I had thought of going to today opened before 10 AM so I decided I'd just hang out here for a while and stuck the "Do not disturb" sign on my door in case I dozed off, and it was a very good thing I did because about 10:30 I started having some stomach problems, which I haven't had for a week or so. They were fairly unpleasant while they lasted, which was until about 12 PM.

I had decided that since I was getting off to a late start, I'd save going to the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery then the London Transport Museum, make my way over to Laird's and check out their hats and caps, and James Smith & Sons for another day. Today, being Tuesday and Chelsea Old Church supposedly being open from 2-4 this afternoon, I decided I'd walk back down there, then follow a different route back here to the hotel. I had noticed that there is another church, St Mary the Boltons on a different street a few blocks away and thought I'd come home that way and check it out.

It was grey and cloudy all day, and was as cold for me as it was yesterday. Before I had left my room I had checked the weather and temperature online and had headed out wearing a sweatshirt and my heaviest vest. When I got outside I immediately came back inside and up to my room to exchange the vest for my heavy winter coat, and surprised a different cleaning lady when I came back into my room.

On my way to Chelsea Old Church yesterday, I had gone past what looked like a very nice pub, the Hereford Arms really only a couple of blocks past the Gloucester Road Tube station and thought I'd check it out and maybe have lunch there. I'm glad I did, because it is my new favorite pub here in the immediate area. I'm pretty sure I'd never been in it before, because it was such a nice place I'm sure I'd have remembered it and have no idea how I never saw it before unless I had always diverted off Gloucester Road before I got to that corner. I had a very nice cup of creamed carrot soup followed by wild mushroom and spinach gnocchi, which was excellent. I also rather liked the guy and gal who were working the bar counter then.

Yesterday I had also passed what looked like another interesting church, St Yeghiche Armenian which is a former Anglican church building. It was closed both times I went past yesterday and today.

I had checked Chelsea Old Church's web page again before I left and it did indeed say it was open for visiting from Tuesday through Thursday from 2 to 4 PM, and it was well after 2 PM when I got there but the church was still locked even though the notice on the front door also said it was open to visitors from 2-4 PM Tuesday-Thursday. I hate it when places, churches or otherwise, don't bother making sure they have their correct current hours of opening on their publicity and especially on their front door.

I did walk up the couple of blocks to the street that would take me past St Mary the Boltons (basically the church of St Mary in the Boltons, which is the area around a small oval shaped park), which looks on their web page like another pretty church I'd enjoy visiting. I found the church OK but probably should have checked their web page as well because although the exterior door was open the inner, glass door was closed but I could take a couple of pictures through it.

I'd been trying to get hold of Alan, my podcaster friend who does the Copperplate Irish music podcast and who lives here in London. I had met him my last night here the July before last but didn't get a chance to see him on my last trip because of my laptop breaking down and my having to wait on the repair service that was fixing it for me. I was hoping we'd be able to get together sometime on this trip, somewhere and sometime at his convenience. I was walking along and was wondering why Google Maps on my smart phone with the local SIM card had started playing music. By the time I could put down my walking stick, unzip the pocket the phone was in and take it out of my coat pocket, the call had gone to voice mail. I saw it was Alan and immediately called him back. He's going to call me again sometime Thursday morning, and I hope we can get together Thursday, Friday or Saturday which is my last day here.

I got back here about 3:30 PM, after a very pleasant if rather chilly walk through some other very nice parts of Chelsea I hadn't seen before. I read for a bit before heading back out to take the Tube on over to the Oxford Circus Tube station which is only a short block away from the London Palladium which is where I had a ticket for tonight's performance, the Cinderella Christmas panto.

Oxford Circus is in the middle of London's most famous & glamorous shopping areas, and is always extremely busy. I picked up my ticket at the Palladium's box office and tried to find somewhere I could find an empty table to have dinner. When I travel, even back home in the US, I try to eat in local places and not local outlets of chains I can eat in back home. Pretty much all the places in the immediate vicinity of the theater were very busy when I checked, but I was able to find a table that had just been vacated (the previous occupants had left all their garbage on it when they left) at the outlet of Five Guys (which I think is a US based burger chain) right next door to the theater. I've eaten at the one not far from my house many times, but usually try to eat somewhere else more local when I travel.

The Palladium is an amazing older theater, very lovely and stately and elaborate with state of the art lighting and sound systems. Since I didn't book my ticket until after I actually got here to London last week, unless I wanted to pay for the very most expensive tickets I had two choices–I could sit up on the balcony or I could sit on the main level under the balcony, back in row V, which I did and which turned out to be a pretty good seat with lots of lovely leg room. I wish I could have been closer to the stage, but that's basically just because it would have it easier to get a good look at the cast and chorus.

The show was a lot of fun and everyone was very good. The wicked stepmother was of course a pantomime dame (a guy), and I think the two mean stepsisters were so too. Buttons, Cinderella's best friend who's in love with her, was a ventriloquist. Dandini, Prince Charming's right hand man, was played as his aide de very camp. Apparently the guy playing Prince Charming had fairly recently done Joseph in "Joseph & the amazing technicolor dream coat" because he did "Any dream will do". Some of the stage effects were pretty amazing, too. The fairy godmother flew through the air as did Dandini on a motorcycle and Cinderella's coach on the way to the ball. All in all it was excellently done and a lot of fun.

I took the Tube from Oxford Circus one stop to Piccadilly Circus to transfer to the Piccadilly line back to Gloucester Road and stopped off at the Tesco Express to pick up some sparkling water for the whiskey and soda I had while typing these notes, some milk to have with a couple of cookies, and another mixed berries bowl.

It's now 12:30 AM. I'm going to close this up, have my snack, get to bed, and hope I get more sleep than I did last night.

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