Tuesday, 3 June 2008
Some interesting facts gleaned from a guided walk around London, exploring 'subterranean London', one of hundreds run by London Walks.
* The Thames used to be twice as wide as it currently is, before the Victoria and Albert Embankments were constructed in the late 1800s to enable the Underground to be built.
* Pre-sewer systems, everyone's crap used to go straight into the Thames; the stench was so bad that MPs could hardly stand to go to Parliament - insert your own joke here about the irony of that these days...
* These days, the Thames is one of the cleanest rivers in any city. Eels, fish and birds all make their homes in and around its waters and the brown colour is apparently only caused by sediment being disturbed from the bottom by the four daily tides. I'm not sure I'd want to drink it though!
* "When the lions drink, London sinks" refers to lion heads all the way along the inside of the Victoria Embankment, which mark the point at which if water comes up to it, we should all start to worry...
* Roman London existed 20 feet below today's London. More and more excavations are uncovering all kinds of hidden treasures.
* During WW2, Londoners took shelter in underground stations but this often proved to be dangerous. Balham station was flooded after an explosion; a bomb fell into Bank station, rolled onto an escalator and then blew up at the bottom, killing everyone inside; at Bethnal Green, over 170 people were killed in a stampede to take shelter.
* In the event of an H bomb, being underground in one of the secret government bunkers is pointless, because atomic bombs suck all the oxygen out of underground tunnels.
Pictures of bloke who invented drainage system, and some random green thing that I can't remember the story about now!
Posted by Emma at 14:05
Monday, 19 May 2008
Saturday afternoon was theatre time. For her 30th birthday, a group of us bought my friend Liz a ticket to see the new musical adaptation of Gone With the Wind in the West End - and of course, we went along too!
Featuring none other than Scotland's very own Darius Danesh (!), it was quite a treat! Thankfully by the time we saw it, they'd cut the running time down from 4 hrs to 3 hrs 15. We were all wondering how we'd last but it was actually fairly pacy and we were definitely helped by having excellent seats. The way the set works involves various cast members running round a circular walkway and our seats were in the row directly behind the walkway. This meant we had loads of legroom - but also meant we had to be careful not to trip the actors up as they bustled past! Sadly Darius seemed to be the only cast member not to go past - perhaps fearful of being grabbed on the way past by an over-exuberant fan!
The theatre set was very well done, the cast was mostly excellent, Darius was surprisingly good (although just a bit too young for the part) - all in all, a very pleasant way to spend a Saturday afternoon. One of my pals knows someone in the show, so we met her at the stage door afterwards - she had about half an hour before the whole thing started again for the evening performance - I felt exhausted for her!
Then it was back to ours for a curry extravaganza, courtesy of Kevin. He conjured up 5 different curries, for 7 of us and the consensus was that it was all fabulous - what a star!
Posted by Emma at 08:44
In a surreal development, I ended up in one of London's most 'notorious' private members clubs last week. I think that means it gets featured regularly in the Metro via lots of pictures of celebs falling out of it drunk!
A friend of mine is raising funds for a charity she supports through a collective of women called the Sisterhood - anyway, they managed to persuade "Boujis" to let them have access once a month. You pay a tenner to get in, and that gets you free drinks from 7.30 - 9pm before the real members turn up later on.
It was good fun to go along, if only for the comedy of being looked up and down by the bouncer as if I really wasn't a) blonde enough or b) showing enough flesh to possibly be wanting to enter his club! The free drinks were limited to whatever cocktail they had surplus of, which was fine - I'm not fussy!
Most amusing of all was being kicked off our table at 11pm when a big group of Prince William & Harry lookalikes came along and commandeered our table, which apparently was reserved for them. Sometimes it's fun to cross paths with people you wouldn't normally encounter, but it was good to leave them all to it - at £9.50 for a G & T, it wasn't that much fun!
How the other half lives...
Posted by Emma at 08:30
Sunday, 11 May 2008
It's been scorching in London for about the past week. Our flat has turned into a sauna and the windows are now wide open at every given opportunity. I'm not complaining at all - it's gorgeous. I even managed to do a bit of work sitting on the bench in the little square outside our flat this week, which was fabulous.
This week I've finally managed to get back into my running, after the Paris marathon exploits - I hadn't realised quite how much that had taken out of me physically until I started trying to run again and couldn't manage more than a couple of miles without having to stop - my feet felt like blocks of lead. But this week has been better and today I managed about 4-4.5 miles, in what must have been 28 degrees, without too much difficulty. I did wonder why I was getting strange looks from people - then I got home and saw my face, which had turned a nice shade of purple!
Still, it has to be done - although yesterday was a nicer way to soak up the sunshine as we headed out to Richmond and spent a lazy afternoon by the side of the Thames, interspersed with an amble up to Richmond Park, an ice cream and a couple of drinks. Very, very pleasant. Picture is of strange ducks/geese in Richmond Park.
Friday night was also fun although in a different way. We finished up working promptly at 5pm and went up to Islington for a pre-theatre meal (steak and chips, mmmm) followed by "The Last Days of Judas Escariot" at the Almeida Theatre. I'm not sure what I made of the play itself - it was probably an hour too long at 3hrs including an interval and there was a bit too much method-type acting for me, but it was an interesting concept - a court in Purgatory was hearing Judas's case - a plea for salvation and a move upstairs from Hell. My favourite character/actor was Satan - there's no hope for me! There was no actual decision in the end, just lots of different characters from history giving their views and perspectives on betrayal, Jesus and the rightness or wrongness of Judas' actions (Mother Theresa, Ponchus Pilot, Mary Magdalene etc).
Posted by Emma at 12:22