Nothing Falls Like London Rain (London, Day 4)

“I’ll close my eyes and sleep, sleep to the sound of London rain”– “London Rain,” Heather Nova

Random quotes from the day:

“Your Cockfosters account is overdrawn.” — KW, after I giggled one too many times on the Piccadilly line

“BTOpenZone, you suck. Not once have you let me in your open zone.”–KW, after trying in vain to access the supposedly free internet using her iPod Touch

“That’s what she said.”–me

We had our usual coffee (Kristen) and juice (me) and muffins (both) at Caffe Nero, then took the tube to South Kensington for the Victoria and Albert museum.

Chihuly at Victoria and Albert Museum 2

We looked at some ancient furnishings and decorations, then wandered through the crypt section. We had a brief rest among the sculptures, although I got up and looked at the fashion exhibit briefly.

Sculptures at Victoria and Albert Museum

Shoes at Victoria and Albert Museum

We went into the rather isolated modern exhibit (there was no clear path to any other parts of the museum, so we spent a good 10 minutes trying to figure out where to go next). We discovered that we’re officially old: things from our childhood (tape recorders, Swatches, Nike Air) are in a museum.

The jewelry exhibit was the best part. They had giant spiral of all the different gemstones, and they had different cases with jewelry from different time periods. It was fascinating to see all the different pieces– hair ornaments, tiaras, rings, necklaces, earrings, bracelets. Many things came in a set and had pictures of people wearing everything at once, and the overall effect was quite stunning.

I’m really glad we picked that museum. It had a little bit of everything.

Victoria and Albert Museum

We left the museum in search of food on our way to Harrod’s. It began to rain lightly. We walked down a side street that looked promising, but didn’t have much in the way of food, only shops. We ended up at Cafe Rouge across from the back entrance of Harrod’s. I had pasta with goat cheese, chicken, spinach, and tomato, while Kristen had a pizza topped with onions, bacon, and creme fraiche. We each had a large glass of wine to accompany our meal.


However, when we walked across the street and saw the Harrod’s food stalls, we wished we had waited. The options were amazing– food from all around the world, and fresh. We both zoned in on a BLT sandwich that neither of us had room for. We comforted ourselves with chocolates (Carbonel violet cremes, which were lovely).

We walked through the perfume department and got some samples. Kristen tried Angel by Theirry Mugler, which smelled fantastic and had a hint of honey in it.

As we were wandering around trying to figure out what to explore next, we met a guy named Leslie who said we shouldn’t miss the fossils on the third floor or the Pet Exhibition on the fourth floor.  He said that if we were tired, we should touch the blue crystal in the fossil area and it would wake us right up.

The fossils were interesting, but there was no blue crystal in sight. The stones were for sale, if you happened to have a few thousand extra pounds on you.

The Pet Emporium was slightly underwhelming. It was a row of displays of guinea pigs and rabbits, with two kittens playing on the end. (The kittens were 900 pounds each, and looked like ordinary orange tabby shorthairs.) The puppies were resting elsewhere, apparently. The displays gave the animals plenty of room to run around, and they seemed to be well cared for, according to the sign that explained their daily routine, and they seemed to get them from responsible places. Still, the money would go much farther at an animal shelter and they would appreciate it more.

We decided to stop into the Harrod’s Cafe for tea. 9 pounds per person gets you tea with two scones, our beloved clotted cream, and jam.

On the way out, we saw the memorial to Dodi and Diana. It was a sculpture of two figures dancing together, with the words “innocent victims” on the base. I understand the father’s grief, but the sculpture was tack-o-rama, as Nathan would describe it later.

We went out the back door, and saw a cream-colored Rolls Royce (or rather, Kristen saw it and exclaimed for me to look). The license plate had Arabic writing on it, and we wondered if it belonged to the owner of Harrod’s.

We stopped in H&M on our way to Harvey Nichols, and I kept re-learning the same lesson: tacky ’80s stuff, and stuff I could get back home. In Harvey Nichols, we admired the Jimmy Choo and Christian Louboutin displays, but quickly realized that we couldn’t afford to be in there.

Harvey Nichols

We took the tube to Victoria so we’d be closer to the Apollo Victoria Theatre for Wicked. We debated getting a pint, but didn’t want to be sleepy for the show. Kristen read one of the free daily tabloids at a coffee shop while I checked e-mail at a nearby internet cafe, and I was able to chat with Tim for a few minutes.

We had dress circle seats, D17 and D18 (fourth row in the balcony). I managed to sneak a picture of the set, before the ushers told the women down the row that they shouldn’t be taking photos. Then I quietly stowed the camera.

Set for Wicked at Apollo Victoria

The show was outstanding. Three hours flew by (no pun intended). I had read a little bit about the show beforehand, and I knew that it was about the “wicked” witch being treated badly because she was different, but that was about it. The set was amazing, the vocals and the songs were powerful, the storyline was engaging and sweet and surprising. Everything was spectacular. I even got a little weepy at the end.

I think I even liked it better as a musical in London’s West End. The character of Glinda/Galinda could be taken to Valley Girl levels in American productions, and it could be grating. I liked her much better with a British accent.

We took the tube back to home sweet Hammersmith, and realized we were famished. Most restaurants and pubs were about to close, but we found a Tesco Express in the tube station. We got wine, a baguette, cream cheese, salmon, a coveted BLT sandwich, water, and some Cadbury mini-eggs. We’d been pretty lucky with the weather so far, but we walked from the Hammersmith station to our hotel in a drizzle. Our goods were in plastic bags, but we only had one umbrella between us, and we didn’t want any stray drops getting to our food. About halfway, we gave up balancing the umbrella over both of us and Kristen walked through the rain while I covered the food with the umbrella.

It was all worth it once we were warm and dry in the room. Our little picnic was sublime.


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