Friday, August 26th–London

Late start; the Brompton Cemetery; by cab to the see the special exhibits at the Victoria & Albert Museum; looking for a London sweatshirt; lunch at the Harrod's Richoux; by Tube back home; BBC Proms Concert with the Budapest Festival Orchestra performing Mozart; late dinner at Garfunkel's

Best Western Cromwell



It's now just about midnight. Although I've been home from tonight's concert and a late light dinner across the street at Garfunkel's for about an hour, I'm just now getting around to typing up the notes from today. I wanted to figure out what I would like to do tomorrow before my concert at St Martin in the Fields in the evening. I'll probably have dinner again in the wonderful and atmospheric Café in the Crypt sometime between 6 and 6:30 PM before my 7:30 PM concert.

I got off to a late start again this morning which was OK since the only time constraint I had was tonight's BBC Proms concert at 7:30 PM. I actually slept in until around 9 AM; once again my body decided I needed more sleep than I had planned on.

After shaving & showering and dressing, and having one of my SlimFasts for breakfast, I spent some time figuring out what else I wanted to do today before the concert. I had planned on going over to the Kensington Roof Gardens but as far as I could tell from their oddly designed web page this morning they seemed to be closed today.

While I was looking at the area on Google Maps I noticed somewhere here in the area I had wanted to go after seeing it on the map last year, the Brompton Cemetery. Although new burials and housing of cremated remains are still done within the cemetery much of it is very old. It also has the seemingly odd distinction of being owned by the British crown and is administered by Royal Parks. I didn't wander around all the cemetery, but stuck to the main paved road which runs the length of the park.

Although I had walked there from here, I decided I'd take a cab to my next destination, the Victoria & Albert Museum, saving Kensington Palace for a later visit to the Gardens. I had found a phone number for cab dispatch but when I tried to call it from my Irish Android smart phone I got an invalid number message. Fortunately, I didn't have to wait too long before an available cab came by on along the not very busy street.

I plan on going back to the V&A again for a longer visit since it's free, so today I just paid the extra charge for admission to the two current special exhibits. One is billed as "The first major retrospective of" Ove Arup, whom I'd never heard of before but is supposed to be one of the most important designers & engineers of the 20th Century, which was quite interesting and very well done. The other exhibition is "Undressed–a brief history of underwear" which I think has a very clever title. I thought this exhibition was also very well done and interesting but I'm sure most of the women there at the time found it more interesting than I did. My thoughts were similar to the ones I had when I went to the special exhibition on shoes there last year–basically "Could someone even wear that?" and "How comfortable or uncomfortable would it be?". I have to confess, women's underwear by itself or on mannequins does nothing for me.

I knew there is a London souvenir shop up the street from the V&A, across the street from Harrod's, as well as several places to eat along that stretch, so I headed in that direction when I left. Since the London sweatshirt I have at home is one I didn't buy while I was here last year but ordered from Amazon much later, I wanted to find one on this trip. I was able to find a nice zip front one that fits at the souvenir place, which actually had zip front sweatshirts in several different and very nice designs.

Afterwards I had some very tasty beef stroganoff for lunch at the Richoux branch across the street from Harrod's, the same chain that has the location across the street from my hotel here.

Since I was carrying a shopping bag, I didn't want to walk all the way back here even though it's not that far. I was thinking of catching a cab but noticed I was quite near the Knightsbridge Tube stop, which is two stops from Gloucester Road on the Piccadilly line, so I took the Tube back here.

I had a couple of hours before I needed to leave to walk on over to the Royal Albert Hall for tonight's concert so I hung out here in my room. I had asked the cabby earlier if there was a phone number I could call to request a cab, and he didn't think so but he gave me the names of two apps for smart phones. I deleted some stuff from my Irish Android smart phone and was successfully able to download, install, and set them up.

I left to walk over to the RAH about 6:30 PM after having two of my pickled eggs for a snack. Tonight I took the route that winds up in front of the Royal Albert Hall and the Royal College of Music across the street, and remembered where to turn from Cromwell Road and then where to turn from that to get to the RAH. This was the first time I'd arrived on that side of the building and saw the long lines of people waiting to buy the standing room tickets.

I'd done OK with tonight's seat. This time I was in section X, which is between 2 and 3 on the clock face with 12 being in the center of the stage. I was in the third row on the third balcony in the sixth seat in. I had people on either side of me tonight which meant that I had to wait until the intermission and the end to really stretch my knees out, but they didn't hurt as much tonight as they sometimes do.

I chatted a bit with the very nice and rather lovely younger (late 20s to somewhere in her 30s?) woman seated to my right. She was very nicely dressed, but I couldn't help noticing she was wearing sneakers. I politely told her it was a look she pulled off very nicely, and she told me she wears them instead of ladies' shoes because she's a fast walker. She asked me if I thought the seats were comfortable, and I said that of course there wasn't much leg room but at least they all had backs which I really appreciated, having been at the Globe theater last night. I wound up telling her about the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, and about Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver BC. I think she said she had a relative in Spokane, and I said she should go and visit.

Tonight's concert was all Mozart. Like with Shakespeare, I think that even at his worst Mozart is still better than many others at their best.

Tonight's ensemble was the Budapest Festival Orchestra, which is a smaller, more compact orchestra and played wonderfully. The first piece was the stand alone aria "Per questa bella mano" which was quite delightful, especially since it's often a duet between a bass and a string bass.

The second piece before the intermission was the clarinet concerto in A major which was also delightful. The clarinetist was persuaded to come out for an encore and played something I didn't recognize but sounded a little jazzy and a bit like klezmer music, which was quite fun.

The only piece after the intermission was Mozart's Requiem, which I've only heard in full a few times before. This piece has been controversial from the beginning because Mozart died before completing it. It's still a wonderful piece and was very well performed. The four soloists were all excellent and so was the chorus, the Collegium Vocale Gent. The singers were placed within the orchestra, with the soloists on two platforms between rows of musicians and the chorus scattered around.

It had still been warm today, if not quite as warm as it got yesterday. I hadn't changed from my shorts to long pants before I left here, and it was noticeably cooler after the concert but not too cold yet. This time I walked along Kensington High Street back to the intersection with Gloucester Road and came along that. I didn't stop at any of the places along the way that were still open but waited until I got back here to the Garfunkel's across the street for a late dinner of fried scampi and a very decent cole slaw.

I'm not sure how many places I'm going to get to tomorrow before my evening concert at St Martin in the Fields, but these places all seem to be within fairly short walks from each other but I'll have to take the Tube over to the first one.

The Wallace Collection is supposed to be a very nice museum with an interesting and diverse collection of items.

From there it's a short walk to Madame Tussaud's. They currently have a Sherlock Holmes special exhibit, so I thought "What the hell, why not?".

It's about a half an hour's walk from Madame Tussaud's over to the British Museum which has a special exhibit on Egypt.

I think the London Transport Museum also sounds interesting and it's only a 15 minute walk from the British Museum.

And finally, the National Portrait Gallery and the National Gallery are on the same corner as St Martin in the Fields, and a ten minute walk from the Transport Museum.

And now to bed, so I can wake up early enough to have time to make it to all those places.

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