Saturday, 26 July 2008

with Tawnya in London

It was really nice yesterday to have Tawnya visiting. We were close friends in high school; last month was our ten year high school reunion! Neither of us felt like we missed anything by not going.

She arrived early yesterday morning (flying overnight from Canada) and so to fight off the jet lag we headed straight out for a day of sightseeing. Tawnya really wanted to go on the London Eye. It is something I have never done before and was looking forward to. It is more than 400 feet tall and rotates once per half hour. We paid to take a "flight" in a capsule (along with other tourists) and see London from overhead. The views were stunning. The London Eye is on the south bank of the Thames, near Waterloo station. In this picture, Buckingham Palace is surrounded by gardens of St James's Park.

Just across Westminster Bridge the Houses of Parliament can be seen in all their grandeur. Just to the right and the back of them is Westminster Abbey.

Tawnya making a face for me. :)

In the picture below I am looking down to the capsule in front of us as we rotate downwards at the end of our "flight"; the Thames stretches upstream past the Houses of Parliament.

After the London Eye we walked over Westminster Bridge and around the cabinet war rooms. We headed through St James's Park. It a royal park and beautifully maintained.

The changing of the guard was happening at Buckingham Palace when we arrived there. Unfortunately there was a large crowd already gathered there and we found it hard to see. But we listened to the band (they were playing selections from Grease of all things!). We saw a bit of moving and marching before we headed onwards.

Our London Eye tickets got us discounted entry to Madame Tussauds wax work museums. There are so many realistic models of famous people there. You can walk right up to them and pose with them. Tawnya took loads of pictures there, which I can post when she sends them to me, including one of me kissing Shrek. For now you will have to see the one picture I took with my phone, of Nelson Mandela.

After a short nap at home, we headed back in to meet Tawnya's friend Andrea and go to a Proms concert at the Royal Albert Hall.

The concert we saw was excellent. Tawnya and I had tickets and Andrea did the actually "promming": she got a standing ticket available half an hour before the concert. Prom 11 featured Debussy's Noctures, which are musical impressionism, trying to describe a scene. The first movement is called "Nuages" (Clouds) was originally described as depicting "the unchanging aspect of the sky and the slow, melancholy passing of the clouds, ending in a grey colour softly tinged with white."

The second piece played was a world premier of a composition called Troubled Light by Simon Holt. I was glad for the programme notes again and I felt better able to appreciate the five sketches about colours. I was highly amused by the composer's comment on movement three, "Ellsworth": "I have taken as a starting point his [Ellsworth Kelly's] painting Yellow Relief with Black from 1993: a large, acid-yellow triangle surmounted by a much smaller, black triangle. The piece follows the shape almost to the letter."

The third piece was Musorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, which I have heard before and really like. All three of these pieces got their inspiration from visual or auditory sources. It was really edifying to listen to the music so well played and so thoughtful. Tawnya and I were a little envious of the prommers in some ways: we saw that they were able to sit or stand as they wanted and a few were lying very still on the floor at the back of the Arena. Now that would be a wonderful way to listen to a world-class concert in the Royal Albert Hall.

No comments: