Tuesday, July 4th, 2017

Not sleeping too well again; lovely shower; by Tube over to the Embankment station for Independence Day at the Benjamin Franklin House; lunch at a small Vietnamese place nearby first; walking over to Trafalgar Square to hang out and have a snack at the Café in the Crypt in St Martin in the Fields; walking over to St John's Smith Square for a classical concert; getting slightly turned around walking over to the Westminster Tube station for the trip back to Gloucester Road; a late night snack run

Best Western the Cromwell (Cromwell Road)

Slideshow

8/29/2017

I fell asleep shortly after 1 AM and the closed drapes didn't seem to make much difference since I woke up sometime before 6 AM. Since the only two items I'd planned for today was the 2 PM tour of the Benjamin Franklin House and a concert at 7 PM and I felt a bit mediocre from not having slept well or long enough last night I wasn't in a hurry to get moving. I decided that if I left here around noon that should give me plenty of time to find the BFH and still have time for lunch. I read the entries for this date in my travel journals for my trip to Ireland, my trip to Scotland, and long trip last year, then looked at the slide shows of the pictures from each date. I then just kind of hung out until 10:30 AM or so.

I was delighted to find that someone had fixed the overhead shower head as I'd asked at reception yesterday morning. All the nozzles were working and all were spraying straight down. It was lovely.

I took the District line over to the Embankment station and had no trouble finding the BFH although one turn was into an unmarked alley way which I went past the first time. I got there just about 1 PM which gave me plenty of time to find somewhere for lunch. I had walked past several small restaurants in the neighborhood along the way, and had a very nice lunch at a small Vietnamese place.

It didn't take long to tour the BFH. There is no almost no furniture there. Apparently furniture and other items owned by Franklin are even rarer than places where he lived. On certain days of the week your guide is a woman dressed as Polly, the daughter of Franklin's landlady and sort of adopted daughter after her mother's death, along with music and projected images. Today was just the architectural tour, where our delighful and attractive guide who was from Toronto told us about the history of the building itself (it at one point was turned into a hotel in the Victorian era) and how the few rooms in the building were used. Franklin basically lived in three rooms on a single floor, the rest being reserved for his landlady and her family with the servants on the top floor.

The BFH is very near Trafalgar Square. I got there about 3 PM and decided I'd just hang out there until 5 PM or so, when I'd make my way over to the location of tonight's concert, St John's Smith Square, which was supposed to be only a half an hour walk away. That would give me time to have dinner somewhere along the way. I just sat on a bench along the Square listening to one of my podcasts on my iPhone until apparently the battery in my Bluetooth headset died–this would be a bit of a problem when I used the phone for directions to get to the concert. After the headset died I went downstairs and had a lovely apple tart and soft drink in the Café in the Crypt at St Martin in the Fields until 5:15 or so, when I used the restroom there before walking over to the concert hall.

While I was at the Square I saw there is a huge screen set up, apparently for broadcasts of Royal Opera House performances.

I should have had plenty of time to get there and find somewhere to eat dinner along the way. I know I missed at least one turn and had to recalculate my route a couple of times but it was a lovely walk, going through St James's Park and along Pall Mall. Smith Square is about a five minute walk from Parliament and the Westminster Tube station.

I should have looked a little closer at the seating chart when I booked my ticket. Like most churches St James has a long rectangular central area so you could wind up sitting quite a ways back with little view of the performers. I had booked a ticket for the unreserved seats upstairs in the gallery, which run along the sides of the church with seats facing directly across and not a whole lot of leg room anywhere. I was there early enough to snag a seat pretty much over stage right, in the second row with no seats in front of mine so I had lovely leg room. I could only see half the stage but I have to admit that as usual the main reason I like watching the performers is for girl watching and there were several I could see from where I was sitting.

Tonight's ensemble was the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, whom I'd never seen live before but have of course heard pieces of theirs on the various classical music radio stations I listen to. The Orchestra has always had a bit of an idiosyncratic reputation. Not only were they one of the first groups to use replicas of instruments appropriate to the period when the music they're playing was composed, they have always been a democratic group with a rotating group of resident concert masters and guest conductors.

It was a lovely concert, with music most of which I don't think I've heard before and didn't recognize the names of several of the composers either. The theme was "Bach goes to Paris"–although he never personally actually did so, his music was a huge influence on various French composers. The pieces were: Andre Campra–Suite from "Les fetes Venitiennes"; Johann Caspar Ferdinand Fischer–Suite No 7 from "Le journal du printemps"; J S Bach–Orchestral suite #4; and after the break, Jean-Philippe Rameau–Suite from "Les Indes Galantes"; and J S Bach–Orchestral suite #3, which had the only piece I recognized, the Air most often known as "Air on a G string". All in all a lovely concert in a delighful setting, even though the seats could have used more padding.

It was a short walk up to Westminster, although I at first went the wrong way around the building and went all the way around it before I figured out which street led the couple of blocks towards the Thames. The Tube train was pleasantly uncrowded and I got back to Gloucester Road not much after 10 PM.

I made my usual snack food run to the Tesco Express, and bought a small thing of chicken soup which was quite good cold, a cheese and onion sandwich which was also very good, and something to drink all of which I had before starting to type these notes.

It's now 11:45 PM and I'm going to stretch out for just a bit to give my butt and knees a bit of a break before having the fruit cup I bought earlier and then get to bed.


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