22 May 2009


Royal Albert Hall

Buckingham Palace

Around the town...

Flowers in Kensington Gardens...

We are up and out before 9:00am and head to Kensington Gardens and the Diana Princess of Wales’s playground and fountain, but first a stop at the front desk to make tour reservations for Saturday. The flowers are gorgeous and the morning is lovely. I offer to take a picture for an English couple and we fall into conversation—JL with the woman and me with her husband. They are from an area between Oxford and Cambridge and came into the City for a Jackson Browne concert last night. He is a retired postman and she worked in a shop. They are originally Londoners, but never come into the City any more so they are tourists like us.

Just as we reach the Prince Albert Memorial, JL’s camera battery expires so we return to the hotel to retrieve my camera and pick up sweaters as the day is cooler than we anticipated. I was at the Diana Memorial Fountain on the 7th of July 2004, a day after it was dedicated by Queen Elizabeth, but JL has never seen it. It is a rather low-key fountain—a place for contemplation and remembrance rather than spectacular architecture. I like it, but many are disappointed and feel she deserved better. The playground opened in her honor in 2000 is wonderful and I hope to take LG and KF there soon. Adults are not allowed inside without children.

We walk to the Victoria and Albert for lunch in the William Morris rooms. I have a chicken/avocado spicy wrap and Judy chooses a chicken with BLT on a ciabatta. We plan to spend more time in the V&A on Sunday after services at Holy Trinity Brompton, as they are predicting rain. We take the Underground from South Kensington to Leicester Square to check out the half-price theater tickets and are pleased to get seats for Saturday night’s final performance of Madame de Sade starring Dame Judith Dench. She is in my favorite—As Time Goes By—and it will be a thrill to see her perform in person. We struggle with what to see tonight and decide to walk to Covent Gardens to think about what’s available. Eventually we choose the musical SHOUT! which embraces songs of the 60s.

It is close to 5:00pm when we get back to the hotel and I go on-line to get the address for Noor Jahan, and Indian restaurant that was recommended. Apparently the editor of Food & Wine declared it to be very fine. Even with directions we miss the turn and wander through some Mews—a real treat to see all the row houses and winding lanes. But, we have limited time to waste as the show begins at 7:30pm.

Just about the time we are ready to give up we literally stumble onto Bina Gardens and the entrance to Noor Jahan. Just a very short block earlier we asked for directions to Bina Gardens and three waiter/bus boy-types were confounded. We had asked directions earlier from two different Londoners and no one knew where Bina Gardens is!

We both choose the spicy version of chicken tikka masala, and I order vegetarian samosas with salad and Naan. Excellent! And, we get to the Gloucester Road Underground just before 7:00pm and to Leicester Road and around the corner to the Arts Theatre in time for the curtain.

The brochure for Shout! encourages us to, Shimmy and shake to the infectious, soulful songs that made Petula Clark, Cilla Black, Lulu, and Dusty Springfield legendary singers… and, we do! Very fun and very talented vocalists. This show is a great value at 25£ for the Stalls (ground floor seating).

On our walk form the Gloucester Road Tube Station to The Citadines we make two stops--Boots and Burger King. While JL looks for Carmex, I spot some Ibuprofen gel in a tube. Hm-m-m-m... Not available in the U.S.

It’s good to be back in our room with our Burger King Diet Cokes WITH ICE! An early wake-up call tomorrow as we have to be at the Millennium Hotel to meet our tour group by 7:25am.

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