Friday, July 7th, 2017

Sleeping OK; attempting to contact the contractors back home by email; warm weather; taking the Tube; cane shopping at James Smith & Sons; looking for a bowler at Christy's hats; lunch at a creperie in St Christopher's Place; back by cab to drop the bowler off; back into town by Tube for dinner at the Café in the Crypt and another concert at St Martin in the Fields; by Tube back to Gloucester Road and another late night snack run

Best Western the Cromwell (Cromwell Road)



Today was a very good, nice and pleasant day, with lovely warm weather, warm enough for shorts. I also got a fair amount of exercise in, over an hour's worth, wandering around the West End and to and from my concert tonight.

I soon fell asleep last night about 1 AM. I woke up again before 4 AM, though, and thought "Crap, another night without enough sleep". I came over to my laptop and read my travel journals and looked at the slide shows for July 7th in my 2006 trip to Ireland, my 2011 trip to Scotland, and my grand adventures last year.

After an hour or so I went back to bed and actually went back to sleep until after 9 AM which was very pleasant.

I decided that since my only plan for today was the concert at St Martin in the Fields at 7:30 PM I'd do some hat and walking stick or cane shopping and come back here by taxi to drop any purchases off before going back downtown to have dinner before the concert.

Christy's, the hat shop that had the wool felt bowler I wanted to check out, has two branches here in London. I called one branch to see if they had any in stock, and they did, and I wrote down the address of the place I thought I'd called.

For some reason over the last few days I'd thought that the email folder with all my messages about my mold and water damage claim and the work being done on my townhouse wasn't available on my laptop and was quite worried about having to try and call my insurance adjuster and contractor for an update and take the five hour time difference into account but while I was using the laptop before I left this morning I discovered that email folder and all my other ones were there, and I sent messages to my adjuster and one of the contractors asking for an update and especially if I'd be able to move back home when I return on the 17th. I also reminded the contractor I needed an estimate for the separate work removing the flooring upstairs, spraying for mold, and replacing the flooring since that's from an earlier incident the insurance won't cover.

My first stop was James Smith & Sons, the umbrella and cane/walking stick place I've been to a couple of times on my earlier trips here to London. No, I don't need another hat, cap, or cane but need doesn't really have anything to do with it. If I can find a new hat, cap, or cane that has something cool or well done about it, and looks good, and is a good or decent price, it would be something I will use over and over again.

I took the Tube over and walked from the nearest station and found the shop quite easily. I was able to find three nice sticks, one was more expensive than the other two but not that much nicer or more distinctive than the others so I set that one aside. One stick had a decoratively carved handle and was about 30 GBP and the other one I bought had a reduced price due to a bit of a ding on the very nice & distinctive handle, not much worse than some of my other sticks have incurred when I've dropped them, so I got that one as well. I'm having both of them shipped back home as usual, since I already have Mom's folding metal cane which will go in one of my suitcases and Chris's cane which I'll carry on the plane.

I then walked from J S & Sons to the branch of Christy's I had written down the address of, which was the one I thought I'd called and which had their wool bowlers. I found the right small area, St Christopher's Place, quite easily and hadn't found the hat place yet when I decided to have lunch at a small creperie in the plaza. I had some lovely hard cider and a very good gallette with ham, cheese and a poached egg.

I had to wander around the plaza for a few minutes before I found the small hat shop and learned I'd written down the address of the shop that didn't have the bowler. It was another half an hour's walk over to the shop tht did, and when I got there there was a sign on the door that said "Back in 5 minutes" but the only person who was working was gone a lot longer than five minutes before she eventually showed up from a late lunch break. I had got there after 3 PM and was going to leave at 4 even if the shop didn't open by then. The only person running the shop this afternoon said she'd only worked there for two weeks and didn't know their inventory well yet, which was apparent. I eventually found only two black wool felt bowlers they had on display. One was too small and the other was too large but she did put in several of the adjusting strips to get it to fit. She was then going to charge me the much more expensive price for the fur felt bowler instead of the wool one until I pointed that out.

I took a cab back here to the hotel to drop my new bowler off, got back to my room about 4:15 PM and then left again about 5 PM to have dinner somewhere before the concert at 7:30. I took the Tube (Piccadilly) back down to the Leicester Square station and was at Trafalgar Square shortly after 5:30. I picked up my tickets for the concerts I'd already ordered (my next concert at St M in the F is tomorrow) and noticed that the small elevator from street level down to the ticket office and the Café in the Crypt was out of service so I had to take the stairs. I went back upstairs to the Square for about 15 minutes while I decided where to have dinner.

I'd had Italian food last night, so I chose to skip Prezzo for another night. I didn't want anything heavy so I skipped dinner at the Chandos, the nearest pub. There wasn't a small table open at the Pret a Manger, so I went back downstairs to the Café in the Crypt. I've had mixed luck with their food but had a decent egg & spinach premade sandwich, a bowl of carrot soup, and one of their fruit cups for dinner. I was back upstairs and outside waiting for the doors to open again at 7 PM.

My seat was right in the front row, about four in from the middle aisle. I was quite glad I was wearing shorts since it was even warmer in the church.

Tonight's concert was part of their "The sound of St Martin's" series featuring their resident ensembles and was "American choral classics" featuring the St Martin's Chorus lfor most of the pieces and the Children's Voices of St Martin's for two pieces in the second half. All the pieces were lovely and were very well done, and I hadn't heard most of them before.

The pieces performed tonight were: two pieces from Eric Whitacre's "Three songs of faith"; Aaron Copland's arrangements of "Zion's walls" and "At the river", featuring a soprano soloist; Leonard Bernstein's "Adonai, adonai" from "Chichester psalms"; Aaron Copland's "In the beginning", again featuring the soprano soloist. After the break were: Samuel Barber's "Sure on this shining night"; two American spirituals & hymns, "How can I keep from singing?" and "Poor wayfaring stranger", both performed very well and nicely by the kids; Tippett's arrangement of "Steal away" from "Five negro spirutuals"; two traditional pieces "By the rivers of Babylon" and "Didn't my Lord deliver Daniel?"; George Gershwin's "Summertime" from "Porgy & Bess"; and lastly a choral medley from "West Side story".

All in all it was a very nice, very well done concert.

The Tube on the way back was of course much less crowded. I stopped in at the Tesco Express for my usual snack, including one of their fruit cups. I had my snacks when I got back to my room, and then stretched out from 10:30 to 11 to give my butt and knees a bit of a rest.

It's now almost midnight.

I have another concert at St M in the F tomorrow at 7:30 PM tomorrow. What am I going to do the rest of the day? After I'd finished my snacks I went back through my lists of what I want to see and where I want to go and refined the lists a bit and made some notes about possibly when I'd go there.

It turns out that this Sunday, the 9th, is a great day to stay out of the downtown area since there are two huge events taking place there then, the big rally/parade/event finishing off London Pride 2017 and the Virgin 10K races. So Sunday I'll probably head on down to Greenwich or over to the Dulwich picture gallery which I've heard is wonderful but is also apparently about the only thing really worth seeing in that area.

Tomorrow maybe I'll head on over to Southwark, and go to the Cathedral, the Borough Market, have a pint at the old George coaching inn, mosey on over to Tate Modern, and make my way on over to Trafalgar Square in time to have dinner at the Chandos or at Prezzo before the concert.

And that's it for tonight.

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