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London During The Summer Solstice Part 1

// Author: Audrey // 0 Comments

avenue q

So, I guess it’s now time for my next blog (albeit a month late, sorry to those who are eagerly awaiting blogs!). For those who have been following the blogs you’ll know I was again in London last month this time for the whole weekend, the first time in a long while I’ve done this long a visit to the capital.

The seventh London journey of the year began on the Friday afternoon when heading down to London with a friend enjoying the wonders of first class train travel, including complimentary Afternoon Tea and Wine (no champagne I’m afraid, but I did bring Pimm’s along!). What a start to the weekend!!!

The weekend was a mix of firsts and revisiting some old favourites, starting with a first that evening taking part in one of the many Jack the Ripper Tours the capital has to offer. The tour we did started right in the heart of Spitalfields and Whitechapel were those infamous murders occured in 1888, our guide for the evening was a trained professional who has spent many years researching this subject and even works at the Black Museum inside Scotland Yard itself. Due to it being summer, it didn’t have the same feel that one later in the year would do as was still light while we were on the tour, not a bad thing but would have added to the atmosphere. We got to see all the sites of the murders, even the location of the Ten Bells Public House which is still standing to this day, and used in many movies on the subject. The tour overall was great, and really insightful adding some extra information to it that you don’t find in all the many, many books written on the topic.

ten bells

Ten Bells Pub, Commercial Road London

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Christ Church Spitalfields

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The Gherkin and end point of the tour

After a spot to eat at Diner inside Old Spitalfields Market itself it was back to the hotel, to get ready for the next day’s musical and historical madness :). Saturday turned out to be the hottest day of that weekend, resulting in some very strange tan marks on my overally fair complexion even though I had layers of sunscreen on! This was a day for me revisiting old places, but with a friend who had never been to one of them before.

We started off with breakfast in a cafe at the top of Haymarket in the heart of the West End, before going to buy tickets for Phantom of the Opera that evening. This was the first show I ever watched in the West End, so it was a chnace to revisit an old favourite of mine. To this day I still love the show, and the sets and costumes are so amazingly spectacular that it’s hard not to lose yourself in “The Music of the Night”. Although I’m now 28 I still really want one of the Monkey music boxes they have on sale at the merchandise stand! The show itself as always was superb, and well worth seeing on stage for the chandelier drop, costumes and music alone.

The early part of the day before this show was spent in the middle of Trafalgar Square watching West End Live, which is an annual celebration of the shows of the West End both as Plays and my obsession of Musicals. We’d missed the start by a few minutes, not a big deal as what we wanted to see didn’t start until close to Midday, so we explored the stands a little and then found a great spot by the fountains to watch the performances. That day we say sections from Wicked, Phantom, Les Miserables, Miss Saigon (My new West End favourite), Jersey Boys, Mamma Mia and much more. These though were the stand outs for me, as they really got the crowd singing along, and really engaged with what was going on on the stage.

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KITT from Knightrider and Lightning McQueen

priscilla

Priscilla

 

We ended up back here on the Sunday for a special section called 10 from 10, so called as West End Live was celebrating it’s tenth anniversary this year. This was a cabaret section so included selections of songs from such muscials as Hairspray, Joseph, Wizard of Oz, Oliver, Sound of Music, Chicago, Mary Poppins plus three more. Being a northerner I love the work of Willy Russell and to see one of his most famous songs (Tell me it’s not true), from Blood Brothers performed in Trafalgar Square was amazing, along with that my two stand outs were Avenue Q and Priscilla Queen of the Dessert which really got the crowd singing and even dancing along. Highlights of this also included an a cappella version of We Will Rock You, a sing along to Do Re Mi, Any Dream Will Do and Close Every Door from the Sound of Music and Joseph respectivally.

The first day was capped off with a visit to the Churchill War Rooms, this being the old Cabinet War Rooms under Whitehall which was the underground bunker for Churchill & his war cabinet were a number of famous speeches were made. This is a place I haven’t visited since I was around 11 years old, so going back was like a step back in time for me and a new experience for my friend who loved the place. Since I’d last been it’s had a bit of an update, so now includes a small museum dedicated to the life of Churchill with many artifacts from his life in here, which was amazing to see. A must visit for anyone!

Sunday started off a little cloudier than the day before, but still warm and begin with a trip to the V&A Museum again! This time for a different exhibition, on Wedding Dresses of the last three hundred years which included designs from Charles James, Norman Hartnell, Christian Lacroix, John Galliano, Vivienne Westwood and the undisputed modern day queen of the Wedding Dress Vera Wang. It was interesting to see how designs had changed over the years, and some of the celebrity wedding gowns including Gwen Stefani’s, Dita Von Teese and my favourite of these Kate Moss. The gown was spectacular and so amazing to see up close, with all the craftsman ship which went into making it. Worth a visit, it’s on until mid March 2015, I may be back again for this. After that there was a visit around the Theatre Gallery, pictures of my favourite pieces from this and Fashion Gallery below.

titania

Vivienne Leigh’s Headdress from A Midsummer Night’s Dream

norma shearer

Telegram from Norma Shearer to the Oliviers

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Margot Fonteyn Tutu from Sleeping Beauty

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Dior suit in background, Balenciaga hat in foreground

 

All in all London was great, and even included a brief visit into the Natural History Museum, mainly for the dinosaur in the central hall of the building. More from me soon, if you’d liek to suggest what I write about next email me at audrey@handlewithcake.co.uk

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