Tuesday, July 11th, 2017

Grey, drizzly and sometimes heavy rain; Natural History Museum & the special exhibits; back to Richoux for lunch; having to change to dry slacks & shoes; actually getting in contact with my podcaster friend and one of the contractors back home; by Tube back downtown to Trafalgar Square, dinner at Prezzo and another great concert at St Martin in the Fields; back to Gloucester Road by Tube and another late night snack run; where else do I want to go in London over my last few days?

Best Western the Cromwell (Cromwell Road)



It's now just about 11 PM and I'm beginning to type up my notes from today right now. I have been home for a while, probably since shortly before 10 PM, but took the time to have my late night snack, go over my lists of what I still want to see here in London before I leave on Monday, and fix myself a glass of brandy & soda.

Today was a pretty good day. I went to two places and actually got in touch with my project manager at United Construction.

This morning I checked to see if I'd received any emails from my insurance adjuster or either of the United companies and hadn't. I am rather displeased about the crappy job all three of the companies have done keeping in touch with me since the entire project began, the month and a half I was still in Florida and the week and a half that I've been here in London. Since no one had bothered to contact me I needed to be somewhere I could call Florida between 3 and 9 PM London time, or 10 AM and 4 PM Florida time. I figured the best place to be to most conveniently make a couple of phone calls was back here in my room so I decided to just stick to somewhere in the local area, come back here sometime after lunch, make my phone calls, and then head back into town about 5 PM to have dinner somewhere before this evening's concert at St Martin in the Fields. That's pretty much what I did.

The weather today during much of the day and into the evening was grey and drizzly at the best of times with very heavy rain for parts of the day. It rained so hard there were basically only two options to help get through the day–swear about it ("It is raining so damn f'ing hard") or laugh about it ("I can't believe it's raining this hard!").

I left about 11 AM to go down the street to the Natural History Museum. For some reason they've closed off the lovely front entrance from Gloucester Road and opened a new one on the side. When I got to the nearest entrance one of the staff directing traffic outside saw I had one of my canes with me and told me not to wait in the line but to just go on in.

The NHM is probably the only museum I'll go to a second time before I leave for two reasons. Although I got there before noon, the place was jammed with families and kids and tours from schools and camps so it wasn't as enjoyable as I like so I didn't spend as much time as I usually would have. The other reason is that the entire museum is closed this Thursday, July 13th, for a major overhaul of one of their largest exhibition areas and will open that area on Friday.

The place was so damn crowded I gave up on the idea of trying to eat lunch in any of the cafes there on site. I did, however, pay the extra fees to see each of the special exhibits which were cool and one was awesome.

The awesome exhibit were the entrants for this year's "Wildlife photographer of the year" competion which has some amazing pictures. I can only admire the patience and dedication and hard work it took to get some of these pictures, many of which were taken places I could never physically get to or took dozens or hundreds of hours over weeks or months to capture.

The other cool special exhibit is the butterfly house, Sensational Butterflies.

When I left the museum about 2 PM to get something for lunch on the way back here to my room at the hotel it was pouring so hard that in the few blocks I walked my jeans and shoes became soaked completely through.

I had lunch at Richoux because I wanted to try their tuna melt, probably because it sounded good on such a crappy day. I also had their prawn & avocado salad as an appetizer which was pretty good as well and a nice cup of hot cocoa before I left. The tuna melt is served open faced and the bread was a bit too soggy to pick up so I had to eat it with a knife and fork.

I got back here about 3 PM and knew I had to leave again about 5 to have time to get back downtown to Trafalgar Square and find somewhere to eat before the 7:30 concert but that gave me plenty of time to take my soaked jeans and shoes off and just relax under a warm blanket until a bit after 4.

When I checked Facebook I was pleased to see that Alan, my Irish podcaster friend who lives here in London, was back in town after his own trip last week. We're still going to try and get together before I leave. His message said he was playing Irish music with some other folks tonight but I of course had my concert at St M in the F. I'll probably try calling him tomorrow.

I was again rather displeased when I checked my email that I still hadn't heard from my insurance adjuster or either of the two contractors. When I turned Airplane mode off on my Sprint home iPhone to call back home I saw a voice message from Jorge, the project manager from United Construction who had been on vacation all last week. Apparently his office had told him to contact me but had not told him I was out of town and should be contacted by email instead of by phone.

I called Jorge right back and was able to get hold of him. I have no idea exactly what his office had told him but I had to: remind him that I'm out of town in London which is a 5 hour time difference from Florida time so I should be contacted by email; remind him that Heritage Insurance is paying for all the work downstairs; that I needed an estimate for removing the affected flooring upstairs between the vanity and closets, spraying for mold, and replacing the flooring since they need to bill me for that; ask him to contact my insurance adjuster; and remind him that he needs to contact David, my project manager for United Water who has the remote fob for my alarm system, to arrange access.

Before I left home for this trip I had very little confidence that the necessary work would happen as needed for me to be able to move back home when I return next Monday, and that was before I knew that Jorge had been on vacation all last week. I accordingly already made a reservation at Extended Stay America, around the corner from the La Quinta where I had been staying before I left for London (they have kitchens and La Quinta only has small refrigerators and microwaves so I can at least save money by making sandwiches and heating things up for dinner even if I don't really cook anything while I'm there) but I accidentally did it from Tuesday the 18th to the 25th. Because it was about $15 cheaper per day, I did it prepaid so I was kind of already planning on heading on over there when I get home--I might as well stay there since I can't get a refund if I cancel. I went online and added another reservation just for next Monday the 17th. When I check in I'll have to mention I have another reservation for the following week starting the next day, ask them to be made for the same room and ask for one on the ground floor.

It was still drizzling when I left about 5 PM. This time I put my fleece vest on under my rain jacket; I am no longer used to high temperatures in the low 60s especially when it's grey and rainy. It wasn't too bad with my hat, vest and rain jacket so I took the Tube over to Leicester Square for the short walk down to Trafalgar Square.

Although I was able to get a seat on the train from Gloucester Road to Leicester Square it got very busy & crowded a couple of stops later and stayed that way at least until I got off.

I had a very nice mushroom risotto and dessert at Prezzo, the Italian restaurant there I've been to several times before on earlier trips.

My seat tonight was right on the aisle of Row G, six rows back. What made it even better was that the guy next to me had to leave at the intermission so that was even more comfortable.

Tonight's concert was wonderful although it wasn't as well attended as some of the other ones I've been to. Tonight's ensembles were a choir, the Epiphoni Consort which had over forty singers at their largest tonight, and a small orchestra, the Zeitgeist Chamber Orchestra which had 18 musicians at their strongest.

I have to admit that both ensembles had some rather lovely, attractive women in them. The female singers all wore either long red or black dresses of what seemed to be several different patterns and styles.

On tonight's program were: Handel's "Zadok the priest"; Purcell's "O Dive Custos Auricanae Domus", which I'd never heard before; Elgar's "Lux aeterna", otherwise known as "Nimrod" from the "Enigma variations" which was also new to me; Samuel Barber's "Agnus Dei"; Goacomo Carissimi's "Plorate filii Israel", and I'd never even heard of the composer before; and to round out the first half, Handel's "The many rend the skies" from "Alexander's feast". The second half was two pieces by Purcell, ‘I was glad" and a piece for just the orchestra, "Rondeau" from "Abdelazer" which was the piece I was most familiar with; and in conclusion the wonderful "Dixit Dominus" by Handel.

This last piece was a good summation of the whole concert, consisting of parts for the chorus and soloists and sometimes just the orchestra. One section is listed as "Soloists & chorus" and was wonderful.

Even though the concert ended just about the same time that a musical up the street and right next to the Leicester Square Tube station also did, so it was a little crowded just getting into the station, once we got in and down to the train platforms and onto the train things were comfortably uncrowded.

Once I got back to Gloucester Road I made my usual late night snack stop at the Tesco Express. I got a small thing of yogurt and tonight's fruit cup was melons & strawberries. I then took another look at where else I want to go here in London and sorted them out as "would really like to get to" and "not so much".

It's now midnight. I'm going to stretch out for a bit just to give my knees and butt a rest–the biggest complaint I have about this hotel, the Best Western Cromwell, is that the desk chairs at least here in my room are incredibly uncomfortable even with extra pillows & cushions. Then I'll figure out at least where I want to go tomorrow, when I don't currently have any plans in the evening, before I go to bed.

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