Friday, September 2nd–London

Still cold; the British Museum; over to the Museum of London; lunch at Pret a Manger; back home for a bit; back to St Martin in the Fields; dinner at Prezzo; the Brandenburg Sinfonia performing Monteverdi, Scarlatti, Cavalli & Vivaldi; by Tube back home; late night snack from Tesco's

Best Western Cromwell



It's almost 12:30 AM and although I've been back here in my room since not much after 10 PM I'm only just now getting around to typing my notes up for today. I had some other things I wanted to do when I got home first.

I only did one of the things I had planned on today, although I did go to two of the places I'd wanted to.

I'm still feeling just a bit unwell from the cold I've had for the last week. Sometimes I'm not sure which is worse–having the cold or when it's breaking up. I'm still occasionally coughing or having to blow my nose–in fact I went through most of a pocket pack of kleenex within a couple of hours this afternoon–but the symptoms are much less severe than they have been. I'm still getting surprisingly tired in a couple of senses–I'm surprised at how tired I can get even when I think I slept pretty well the previous night, and I'll also feel tired at surprising times such as riding on the Tube when all of a sudden I felt like I could really use a nap.

I slept in a bit this morning and didn't get moving until around 11 AM. I took the Tube over and walked from the station to the British Museum, and was very pleasantly surprised at how much less busy it was today than the last time I had popped in right before the bank holiday this past Monday. You could actually see most of the exhibits without having to wait too long for someone in front of you to move out of the way.

I love the British Museum, although I find it as confusing as any other museum I've been to that's built around a central courtyard–or courtyards, as with the Louvre. As usual I'm sure I didn't see everything and go everywhere. I admit that mostly what I do in museums is wander around, trying to find a path around and through each section of a floor stopping to get a better view of something only if it really catches my eye or interest. I did pay the slight admission fee to see the special exhibit, "Sunken cities–Egypt's lost worlds" which was very good and very interesting.

The longest walk today would have been from the British Museum over to the Museum of London but I took a cab on over instead. I was getting hungry by then so I stopped in for an OK sandwich and some fruit salad at the Pret a Manger across the street. I couldn't visit the museum, though, because when I got to the admissions door they were checking people's bags and having them go through a metal detector and I had my small pocket knife, so I'll have to go back some other time.

It was now about 3 PM and I decided I just wanted to come back here for a bit before going back into town around 5 to find somewhere to have dinner before my concert at St Martin in the Fields at 7:30. I walked from the Museum of London back down to the St Paul's Tube station, took the Central over to Holborn, and then the Piccadilly line back here to Gloucester Road and my hotel.

I headed back over to Gloucester Road and was back at Leicester Square Station not much later than 5:30. I thought I'd try and have dinner at the old Chandos tavern on the corner, but the place was too busy to find a single, small table that was free and the place was very loud then as well. I had a very nice dinner at the branch of the Prezzo Italian restaurant chain on the same corner and had a very nice dinner and dessert.

I was waiting at the door to St M in the F when it opened at 7 PM. My seat tonight was right across the aisle in the same front row where I was last time.

Tonight's concert was wonderful, mostly Antonio Vivaldi with some Claudio Monteverdi, Domenico Scarlatti, and Francesco Cavalli. The instrumental ensemble for tonight was the Brandenburg Sinfonia although there were only nine musicians at the most (chamber organ, first violin, second violin, viola, cello, bass, trumpet and oboe). The vocal ensemble was the St Martin's Voices–four guys and five women. Part of the fun tonight was relearning that physical body type often seems to have little to do with vocal range. One of the guys was of medium height, slim almost to the point of being skinny, and he had a great bass voice. There was a short duet for a soprano and an alto, and the shorter, slighter woman was the alto.

The concert was brilliantly done, arranged, played, and sung. I don't think I'd ever heard most of the pieces except for possibly the last one, parts of which were more familiar than the rest.

The pieces were: Monteverdi: Beatus Vir Scarlatti: Iste Confessor, with a soprano soloist; Cavalli: Magnificat (a short version); Vivaldi: Sinfonia No 3 in G major (for the orchestra only); Vivaldi: Magnificat; and after the intermission Vivaldi: Introduzione al Gloria "Ostro picta", with soprano solo; and the wonderful "Gloria" by Vivaldi to close out the lovely evening.

I got back here to Gloucester Road after taking the Piccadilly line from Leicester Square. Tonight there were much less people getting out of shows at the theaters in the area, so that was a nice change. I stopped off at the Tesco Express to pick up an OK sandwich and a small container of fresh berries for a late night snack since I had eaten dinner so early this morning.

I had started watching one of my programs streaming on a smart phone over the hotel's very good wifi while having my snack and finished it while sorting out my pills for the next seven days. When my program finished, I went back over my lists of what I want to see here in London before I leave for Paris next Thursday. I have five more days here–tomorrow, Saturday; Sunday; Monday; Tuesday; and Wednesday.

I have my last concert at St M in the F tomorrow night at 7:30 PM, including Vivaldi's "Four seasons".

The first thing I want to do in the morning, before leaving the area, is to walk down the street to the nearest Car Phone Warehouse and see if they can help me out. I still haven't heard from Vodafone with the code to unlock my Irish Android smart phone. Since I hadn't received the already unlocked smart phone I had ordered a couple of days ago or even heard from the vendor I sent an email query yesterday and sometime today I got back a reply that my order had been cancelled and my payment will be refunded–I apparently had failed some kind of security check. I hope that if I go in with my US passport and Florida driver's license I might be able to buy an unlocked phone and SIM there, or maybe they can do what Vodafone can't do and unlock my Phillips Irish Android phone for me so I can buy a SIM here and one when I get to Paris next week. If I do get a new phone I'll bring it back here first.

I then plan on going to most of the places I'd been planning on going to yesterday and today with a couple of additions. I'll start off at the Museum of London again, without my pocket knife, then go on over to the London Transport Museum.

For some reason I've been having "And a nightingale sang in Berkeley Square" (here's a version by the Manhattan Transfer) running through my head lately, and Berkeley Square isn't too far from the London Transport Museum so I'll go take a look and some pictures. The Jesuit Church of the Immaculate Conception, also known as the Farm Street Church and the Grosvenor Chapel are also nearby so I think I'll go by them and take pictures, although if I get to the Chapel after 2 PM and before 4 I'll only be able to take pictures from the outside since I think there's a wedding then from what the church's web site says.

It's apparently a 20 minute walk from Berkeley Square back to Leicester Square and the National Portrait Gallery and the National Gallery.

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