Our weather luck gave out today, with wet pavement greeting us when we opened the curtains this morning, and with drizzle as we headed for the tube. Even though the gardens are extensive, even with a hedge maze, the majority of the impressive stuff at Hampton Court is inside (I'd been in 1996 and again in 1999), so we decided to go anyway. I wasn't feeling fully recovered from my cold yet, but I was better than the day before, and the half-hour train ride out to Hampton Court and back was a nice chance for some rest for both feet and eyes.
Hampton Court Palace
It was a break in the drizzle when we got to the palace, so even with the gray sky we got some outside snaps. Of course they don't allow photography in the State Apartments, then by the time we finished seeing those, it was raining harder as we made it into the interesting Tudor Kitchens exhibit, so no photos of the gardens at all this trip. We made it back to the 1:24 train back to Waterloo Station, so we grabbed a bite at Waterloo, then headed across the various tube junctions over to Tower Hill.
Britta with a member of the Queen's Guard, the Yeoman Warders, aka "Beefeaters"
We got in right at 3pm, saw the Bloody Tower, nagged a Yeoman Warder for photos (see above), saw the Crown Jewels, and the Royal Armoury in the White Tower. I had seen all those before, but I don't think since my very first trip 9 years ago, so worth seeing again. By 5ish when we planned to leave, we were even seeing blue sky peek through the clouds in parts! At least with the ever-changing British weather, there's always a chance it could get better, right? ;)
Look quick! Blue sky again over the Tower of London!
We were racing to get back to our hotel to wipe off the grunge from the drizzle and so many train stations, into prettier clothes, then back to the West End for dinner and the show...however, our first tube trials hit. We were hoping to make it easy on ourselves & just get on the Circle Line right back to the hotel - one of the few times we haven't needed to change trains to get somewhere! However, as we were waiting, the announcements kept getting worse from, "delays on the Circle Line" to "Circle Line is now closed, Oxford Circus station is closed, please find alternate routes"...*sigh*...Ben found us an alternate route, so we started for that, but then I said if the closures were serious or started getting worse, since we were really only at the beginning of rush hour, we could just go straight to dinner then the show. After getting to the next stop through crowded herds of people, Ben agreed that was a better idea, whcih left us plenty of time to find the theatre, pick up our tickets in advance, find dinner at Cafe Emm, a British-Greek place that was fine, then to the theatre for the show.
My only complaints about the show were too many tourists who don't know how to behave in a theatre. The people behind us were complaining so badly about the lack of leg room that they left at intermission. Their perfume was so strong that was welcome anyway. However, the middle-aged man who sat next to me spread his legs so wide he took up half of my leg room, which was already limited in the first place! Not only that, but he had an overdose of cologne himself, started unwrapping & passing candy along to his wife & daughter (I assume), and kept shoving his elbow well past the armrest into my side the whole show. *sigh*
Anyway, ignoring all that, the show was great! ;) The music is excellent, and Ben already bought the soundtrack album, even though the cast tonight was different. I'm still not entirely sure about the set design. It was very novel & extremely clever, since it was made up of sets of curved projection screens that rotated and had doors, so the projections would change what the doors were, but the images themselves looked a bit too video-game 3-D CGI to me. Perhaps if the show makes enough money to tour, they might improve the CGI to more film quality, then it would be really impressive. The music was identifiable as ALW, but in a good way in my opinion. I'm more a fan of Phantom of the Opera than Cats, Evita, Jesus Christ Superstar or Joseph & the Technicolor Dreamcoat, so I really liked how this was more light opera style with very little plain spoken dialogue and mostly music. The plot is good as well, based on a Victorian suspense thriller...looks like I've finally found another musical suitable for Halloween! haha...
Ben & Britta at The Woman in White, the new musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Since it was only 10:30pm when we got on the Central Line back from the theatre, I half-jokingly said, "Maybe we could barely make it to the Windsor Castle for some Addlestones?" I didn't think Ben would agree, but as we came up on our stop, he said "Last call is really at 11? Okay, let's try..." Hooray! We ordered a half-pint each at 10:52, promising to leave by 11:10 at the latest. After a quick scare they might be out of Addlestones, with only half a half-pint glass full coming out at first with the rest as foam, we got our half-pint glasses, and I asked for the first glass too, since the foam had settled and I knew they'd just throw it out anyway...woohoo! haha...
On our list still to do before we leave are Kensington Palace right by our hotel, St Paul's Cathedral, and perhaps catch the special Friday-only Emirates Thames Nelson Flotilla re-enactment of Nelson's funeral barge procession down the river...it all might depend on the weather, but at least we won't melt... :)