Monday, July 2nd (my bithday), 2017

An easy morning; where I've been on previous birthdays; reading my travel notes and looking at the slide shows of pictures I took on earlier trips; an OK breakfast at Richoux across the street and a stop at the Boots; Golden Tours hop on hop off London bus tour; by Tube over to the Globe Theatre for "Romeo & Juliet" with a quick dinner at Pizza Express before the show; a long walk along the Thames back to the Westminster Tube station and back to Gloucester Road; a late night snack run

Best Western the Cromwell (Cromwell Road)



It's now just short of 11 PM. I only returned here to my room about half an hour ago after a rather nice day with lovely, warmish weather.

I slept quite well last night until a bit after 9 this morning. After yesterday I wasn't in a hurry to get started for the day and took things easy this morning.

I like to travel this time of year and to be, if possible, not at home for my birthday or for the 4th of July. I don't mind being at home on my own for my birthday but I do enjoy spending it on my own somewhere else, and in most of the places I've lived since leaving my family's house on Buena Vista back in Portland OR many years ago there are usually quite a few jerks with fireworks that are illegal in Portland and Seattle and technically illegal here in Florida although they are for sale on pretty much every Native American reservation throughout the state.

At this time of year in 2006 I was in Ireland on the CIE tour Mom sent me on for my 50th birthday. Five years later I was in Scotland on the trip I won at the Highland Games back in Portland the previous summer, supplemented by Michael & Tim & Mom which allowed me to stay an additional nine days. In 2013 at the end of June and the beginning of July I went up to Savannah GA & Beaufort SC. The following year I went up to Charleston SC where I had dinner on my birthday with Dad's sister Peggy's family, down to St Augustine FL for a couple of days on the way home, then over to Florida's West Coast for a couple of days in Naples and Fort Myers. Last year, for my 60th birthday, I left home for Ireland on June 15th, flew over to Sclotland on August 1st, drove up to Fort William in the Highlands and further up to Mallaig on the coast, drove back to Glasgow for a week for the World Pipe Band Championships, next driving across Scotland to Edinburgh for a week for the Festival and Royal Military Tattoo, then flying over here to London on August 22nd before taking the Eurostar across to Paris on September 8th and finally flying home on September 26th.

I've been reading my travel diary entries on the anniversary of each day's trips (except for the trips to Savannah/Beaufort and Charleston/St Augustine/Naples/Fort Myers) and also watching the slide shows I made with the pictures I took each day as well, which can take an hour or so each morning.

Anyway, about noon I stopped off at the reception desk to ask if I could possibly have another desk lamp here in my room for the small table in the dark corner by the window before I headed across the street for breakfast. I decided I'd try Richoux's breakfast menu and had some kedgeree, which is a British breakfast dish via India and has curry, rice, smoked haddock, and a poached egg. It was pretty good but quite filling and I couldn't finish all of it. I stopped off at the Boots next door to pick up some Slimfasts and had one of them when I came back to my room to drop them off (I knew it would be a long time until I had dinner or a snack).

Golden Tours is the company whose hop on hop off tours of London are included in the London Pass. To get my free ticket I had to walk a couple of blocks down Cromwell Road towards Sainsbury's to their local office and then back to the corner of Cromwell Road and Gloucester Road to actually catch the bus. It took about three hours to make the circuit all the way around, probably in reality longer than that due to occasional traffic and our being delayed for almost ten minutes when the bus needed to turn off onto an intersection where there was a central divider and some jerk had parked their car into the intersection itself. We were stuck there until the driver could get someone to stop oncoming traffic long enough for him to back out and readjust his turn and someone else to guide him inches from the other car.

Even though I've been on several other hop on, hop off tours here in London I'd swear we went past places I didn't recognize from earlier trips. It was rather interesting because when we were going along past Hyde Park there was obviously something fairly major going on, and when we went past Trafalgar Square there were all kinds of small tents & booths and wonderful smells coming from a large celebration for Eid al-Fitr, the end of Ramadan, which occurred earlier this week. It wasn't until later, I think while I was taking the Tube over to the Globe, that I learned that today's event was Justin Bieber performing as part of Barclaycard's British Summer Time concert series.

I got off around the corner from the hotel here where I'd started the tour. I decided I'd have time to take the Tube over for tonight's play, even though it was almost 5 PM and the play started at 6:30. I hoped I'd be able to get something quick for dinner or a snack on the way to or near the Globe. I took the Piccadilly line over to the Green Park station, where I transferred to the Jubilee line over to the London Bridge station, the closest to the Globe which is about a fifteen minute walk away. I got to the Globe just about 5:45 and was actually able to have a quick dinner at the Pizza Express right across the street–a pretty good if slightly over baked or broiled bowl of rigatoni with seafood in a sauce.

My seat tonight was about halfway up just right over stage right, at 3 on the clock with 12 being straight ahead of the stage. The leg room was as bad as usual but I survived.

I have very mixed feelings about tonight's performance. Let me be very clear–I thought all the actors' performances were excellent. I liked Romeo, fell in love with Juliet, and oddly enough thought the most attractive female character was actually Juliet's nurse who had a wonderful, lovely Scottish accent. On the other hand, I really didn't like quite a few of the directorial decisions: 1) they only used the stage with very bare bones sets and props; 2) there was this huge, distracting canopy over the stage; 3) all the characters wore mime/clown makeup; 4) for almost all of the play there was an open, coffin sized trap door at the front of the stage; 5) the director often had separate, different scenes taking place at the same time–for instance, the fight where Tybalt kills Mercutio and Romeo & Juliet's wedding went on at the same time, and the fight where Romeo kills Tybalt takes place at the same time as Juliet wondering why Romeo is late coming to her after their wedding, the scenes where Juliet finds out from the nurse that Romeo's killed Tybalt and the one where Friar Lawrence tells Romeo he's been banished were staged simultaneously; 6) several scenes were left out including a major change at the end–in the play, Count Paris goes to Juliet's tomb to mourn her where he meets Romeo who semi-accidentally kills him, Romeo kills himself, Friar Lawrence comes to rescue Juliet, she wakes up and finds Romeo dead, Friar Lawrence leaves by himself when he can't get Juliet to go with him, Juliet kills herself, Friar Lawrence, Romeo's servant and Paris's servant are brought back to the tomb after they ran into the Night Watch, who summons the Prince who summons the Montagues and Capulets, and they all discover the dead Romeo & Juliet; 7) in addition to that, when Romeo and Juliet are killing themselves there was music that was so loud you could barely hear what they were saying; and 8) Romeo's father is almost always accompanied by a guy playing a dog. In other words I felt that all the actors did very well with what the director told them to do, which I often didn't like.

I hadn't had a lot of exercise today, just walking from the London Bridge Tube station down to the theater, so I decided to make the longer walk back down and across the Thames to the Westminster Tube Station. It was a lovely evening for a walk along the river, although when I got down to the London Eye I discovered that the short stretch of the way from the Eye to the Bridge was closed and I had to go all the way around the County Hall to get to the Westminster Bridge and across to the station.

The District & Circle lines go directly from Westminster to Gloucester Road, which is why I decided to take the long walk from the Globe instead of back up to the closer London Bridge station where I'd have to transfer to get back here. I stopped off at the Tesco Express again to pick up another snack, some cherry yogurt which I had while I was typing these notes, another of their fruit cups, and a couple of bottles of sparkling water. That reminds me–the Heston fruit cup is drinkable but kind of strong on its own, but will probably be quite good with sparkling water. (It was.)

It's now just shortly past midnight and I'm just about done for today. I'll have a drink and the fruit cup while I watch something streaming before going to bed.

I have my second and last play at the Globe tomorrow, "12th Night", which is at 7:30 PM. I think I'll walk down the street to the Victoria & Albert in the late morning or early afternoon before heading on over to the London Bridge station again but early enough to wander around the Borough Market, although apparently not all the shops are open then, and to stop by the lovely Southwark Cathedral before finding somewhere to have dinner on the way over to the Globe.

Return to journal