Like no other city in the world, London draws me back again and again. Easily rationalised at the moment as needing to visit Rob, our son abroad – a common enough situation for Kiwis of his (and our) generations; though somehow I suspect his is not just your average OE. But even when he moves on, or unimaginably, comes “home”, I suspect we will continue to find reasons to visit London, for as long as we are able.
This was a short trip – just one week – with no specific plan or itinerary. A culinary fix of Dishoom lamb (and the discovery that the recipe is now available to make at home!); the discovery of a new restaurant (Jones Family Project) so good we went back twice; a brief connection with the proprietress of a pop up wine bar who recognised us as “regulars” on just our second visit; a mum-cooked roast lamb dinner for Rob and his flatties, complete with feijoa crumble for dessert; and plenty (though never enough) catch up time on Rob’s couch. A week of pleasures, new and old.
And of course, a visual fix of the ever changing street art of Shoreditch and surrounds. This one my personal favourite…
…and a few more that caught my eye
Somehow in between that all, we managed to fit in three big things.
An excuse to visit Oxford – to see Jess and Richard – saw us wandering the ancient streets,mans taking in some of the history of that “other” university town. Comparisons, I know, are odious; but given how readily they each declare superiority over the other, I feel no compunction in declaring my favour is with Cambridge, an altogether less stuffy, more practical cradle of learning. Seeing the actual Oxford Union (the site of Lange’s nuclear free New Zealand speech), marvelling at the students dress in funny robes on their way to and from the great examination hall, wandering the grounds of Magdelan (pronounced “maudlin”) College – definitely the finest of the colleges) and taking a walking tour, at cracking pace, with the charming Tom, his historic patter delivered flawlessly round the plum in his mouth… This was two days in Oxford.
As is often the case, the best bits are the most mundane – time with nieces Catherine, who travelled up with us from London, and Jess; and time to get to know Richard a little better. Nice.
And couldn’t help including this best bit of bus advertising I saw all trip!
June is, of course, summer in London, bringing with it the height of the season at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. Watching Shakespeare as it was mean to be watched, and performed, with the peasants (£5 ticket holders) gathered standing around the open area in front of the stage, the rest of us arrayed around in three stories of “stalls”, each with 4 rows of wooden benches. Front rows baking in the afternoon sun (for we had chosen a matinee performance), we sat transfixed for three hours of superb theatre – As You Like It – apart from the poor standing peasant who literally fainted away down below us. This was Shakespeare at its finest – big and loud and bawdy – filling all the senses as it has done for centuries.
And finally, in a display of another kind, no less entertaining or uplifting, a day at The Oval (what a tatty ground!) enjoying a Black Caps win over England – though to be fair, and to quote the NZ captain “it was a game that neither side deserved to lose”.
Loved the opening act of the whole crowd singing Jerusalem… Sure beats those dour National anthems!
Scintillating cricket, the short boundaries (a bit like Eden Park at home) given plenty of opportunity for those heaving sixes lofted up into the stands, the weather briefly disrupting a game that NZ was going to win anyway, but giving the English media an opportunity to blame Duckworth & Lewis for their loss. And best of all, two gracious captains at the end, talking of an exceptional game of cricket – and that it certainly was. (Thanks Rob for the tickets – best “birthday” present ever!)
And great to see the beige brigade alive and well and living in London!
History, theatre and cricket – a truly English week. We didn’t do the sights, we didn’t even join the throngs for the Queen’s Birthday Trooping of the Colours, for these days, we are no longer tourists in London, we are “regulars”, and hopefully we will be “regulars” for many visits to come.