My son, generous soul that he is, bought my wife and me a theatre package for Christmas, comprising of a pre-theatre meal at Tiger Tiger; followed by tickets for the show The Thirty-Nine Steps at the Criterion Theatre in London's West End.
On the occasions that we do travel up to London for whatever reason we typically make a day-out of it. From Leighton Buzzard where we live its approximately 45 minutes before we rumble into London's Euston station.
Mid-Saturday morning we walked the 10 minutes from our house to the train station and hopped aboard. Funny how slowly time passes when you occupy a train carriage with about 25 fractious 8 year-old cub scouts. Scouts who in their defense had already been on the train 3 hours before we embarked - it's a good job, I'm not a grumpy old man then! So after a 6 hour journey we arrived in London maybe 50 minutes later.
My son does this journey maybe 5 times a week.Several weekdays he travels up to attend a music college where he is studying and at weekends he works in retail on London's Oxford Street. We strolled around the shops for a couple of hours being blown inside out, along Oxford Street, Regent Street, New Bond Street, Carnaby Street before meeting up with him for coffee and a snack on his lunch break. We don't see that much of him at weekends with his work commitments, so its always a pleasure catching some time with him when we can.
Lunch over and the afternoon to ourselves we decided to pay a visit to St. Paul's Cathedral which is somewhere I have never been before. I'm unsure if my Catholic upbringing and education meant that a visit to a Protestant Cathedral was never going to figure on my school curriculum back in the 70's. My wife can vaguely recall a school trip there when she was a young girl.
Both externally and internally it's a most impressive structure. I know next to nothing about great architecture but I do recognise a thing of beauty when I see it and St. Paul's is magnificent....... elegant pilllars and columns, with fantastic decoration and art-work internally. It does boggle my mind, how someone could conceive such a thing in their head and then have it transformed into reality. I think the actual construction and execution from start to finish bewilders me. We climbed the 330-odd steps up to the gallery at the base of the cathedral's dome......hard work when you're a bit out of shape and you've had a couple of hip operations, but some minutes later, albeit a wee bit red-faced I completed the first part of the climb. There are 2 viewing points over London's skyline from St. Paul's - a further climb of 190-odd, narrow, spiral steps takes you to the first and a similar climb of about 120 more takes you to the summit and a superb vantage point which allows you to see out over all of London. I'm not a great one for heights but it's worth undertaking the climb for the rewarding view it offers. On a windy day at ground level, it was a tad more blowy so much higher up. (Note to any female or cross-dressing transgender types who may be considering a trip here - it's probably best if you don't wear a skirt or dress. Ascendees below you may get treated to some sights not included in the brochure otherwise!)
A short tube ride back to Oxford Street and we strolled down to Piccadilly and London's West End theatre district. Our meal was at Tiger Tiger at 6pm which gave us a couple of hours before the show.
Having rushed to read the book before seeing the show, I wasn't expecting a totally faithful adaptation, particularly as the show is advertised as a comedy. A comedy it was with 4 actors in the cast in total. Two of whom played multiple roles...............spies, policemen, innkeepers, inkeeper's wives, detectives and a theatre act comprising of a Mr Memory. Fast paced, superbly acted and laugh out loud funny in a hell of a lot of places. I was unfamiliar with any of the cast and hadn't researched any of them previously, but the lack of a big name star in no way detracted from our enjoyment. I think the show was maybe an hour and a half long with a fifteen minute interval and it absolutely flew by. There are differences between the plot of the book and the show, but the basic premise is the same. The inventive but basic portrayal of some of the facets of the tale are extremely entertaining and amusing, particularly when Hannay is pursued by aeroplane. If you are up and around London and at a loose end, I would recommend catching this one if you can.
A short underground ride back to Euston to catch the 10.34pm back to Leighton Buzzard.
Home at 11.30pm, cup of tea in hand at 11.35pm, chatting to oldest daughter for a few minutes - bed by 12. Tired feet, exhausted and exhilarated after a fantastic day! Cheers, Son.
* We're not big on photos and selfies in our house, so all the photos used are generic images plucked from the internet.