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Thursday, 30 December 2010

I think I am learning to like London. I seem to enjoy myself more every time I go. Perhaps because I am a bit lacking in confidence and have mildly OCD tendencies of constantly checking tickets and routes for things, so I'm at my best in places I know. I felt quite bold this time; town mouse in the big city, confidently scuttling around the tube and feeling a teensy little bit superior to all the people consulting maps (I know, it's an unpraiseworthy tendency of mine).

Even when things were a tad disappointing they ended up being quite fun. We ventured out to Persephone Books as I wanted to fritter money on their wonderful books but the shop turned out to be closed until the New Year, grrr. Bloomsbury is rather nice though, isn't it? We had a good wander round and even found a charity shop - I was muchly tempted by an Agnes B red and white shift dress but alas I'm not a size 8!

I'd really like to come back with no fixed plans and just spend a few days walking round and properly exploring. I read London: The Biography earlier in the year and found it absolutely fascinating to read about the growth and development of the city and the historical survivals but I can't help feeling I would have enjoyed it more had I actually known where half of the places were.

The main purpose of this visit was theatre. So we trotted off to Islington to see Gemma Arterton and Stephen Dillane in Ibsen's The Master Builder. Very, very good. Interesting moment in Tesco on the way home though when a rather frazzled looking man pounced on us and went "Are you two together or just friends?" Insane come-on attempt or just curious, who knows? After we replied "um, friends", he then pronounced us "HILARIOUS!" - not sure if this is because he was a mental, because I was shrieking "Herbal teabags!!" at Lee or because we are natural born comedians and our conversation about carrot cake was comedy gold. I suspect it's likely to be the first of the three options.

Then yesterday was a bit of French farce at the Old Vic - A Flea In Her Ear. We'd paid quite a lot for the tickets, mainly so we could be up close to the lovely Tom Hollander and then it turns out he wasn't well and wasn't in that performance. Not so good. The play was v. funny though and the understudy was great, so it didn't bother me too much in the end.

And today we finished things off by going to see Birdsong, starring Ben Barnes (I do muchly love him). Controversial opinion coming up here but I find Sebastian Faulks a terribly dreary writer. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of books I've started and been unable to finish but Charlotte Grey is one of them. It was so dull I almost lost the will to live. It's odd really, because I love fiction set during the wars and lots of people who share my general reading taste absolutely love his books. Perhaps I'll give Birdsong a go in novel form. The play was excellent although as you might expect given the subject matter, a little emotionally draining. Makes me glad that we had a bit of chasing-round-tables, rompy farce yesterday or I'd be going home a wreck!

As it is, I'm on a train to Newcastle for a few days. I'm breaking the habit of a lifetime and going out on New Year's Eve. I really dislike New Year and never do anything for it - last year I watched Truly, Madly, Deeply and went to bed at 12.15 - but I thought it was worth trying something new this time.

ps - My 2010 review post (seems mandatory, doesn't it?) will be up in a few days. In typical fashion I tried to be prepared and wrote a load of things down, then promptly left the notebook at home. I won't be back home till 2nd Jan so it'll just have to wait till then. In the meantime, Happy New Year everyone!


  1. Sounds like you had a great time in London, I laughed out loud at you feeling superior to people consulting maps.

    Hope you enjoy your New Year's Eve out and Happy New Year to you too.

  2. I do that awful thing where I feel superior too. Last time I was in London someone asked me something about a tube stop and I knew the answer, it was one of the proudest moments of my life!

    Good luck with your NYE plans! I don't care about it and it always seems like too much fuss so I never do anything, but my boyfriend wanted to go to a party so I agreed. It looks like it's fallen through now though, hurrah! We can get Chinese and watch a DVD before falling asleep on the settee!

  3. Dearest Alex, I'm so glad you had a good time in London.

    Bloomsbury is lovely. I live five minutes from Islington - I wish I'd known you were going there. If you ever need someone to show you around you must call me.

    I've only read Birdsong which I enjoyed but haven't read a Sebastian Faulks novel since... not sure I want to after your review.

    I'm currently lying in bed with The Actor watching Prince Caspian. Ben Barnes is gorgeous. I'e had to have a break from the constant fighting, a bit too much for me.

    I hope you have a very happy New Year, love C xx

  4. Happy New Year Alex! I've started to feel quite confident in London of late (since my best friend moved there two years ago) - at least confident getting from King's Cross to her house. Then when I went last weekend the tubes weren't running on that line and I had to get a BUS - had a major panic and jumped in a taxi!

    Enjoy Newcastle, my second home :) x

  5. Have a wonderful new year celebration :)

    I love how you described yourself in London definitely how I feel when I'm in such huge cities! I'm pretty sure there has been at least one moment when I've felt superior to people with maps ha!

  6. Please next time you are in London we must meet up. We could go for tea at Louis Patisserie! And I agree on feeling superior to map-reading people, I still do too.

    I have read Birdsong which I really enjoyed, but have heard that his others aren't up to much. So I've never been interested in trying them, but I do think Birdsong is worth a try. If nothing else, it brought home the reality of life in the trenches much more so than anything else I have seen or read.

    I despise NYE too, so we are just having some friends over for quiet drinks tonight. Hope you enjoy your night out, and best wishes for 2011 xx

    (ps we have two shelves of books about London, Mr D has a slight obsession)

  7. I'm really glad you are enjoying London.

    I also dislike NYE, we're just heading to our old man boozer new local. However, I do love Newcastle, if any city will show you a good party it would probably be that one.

    Happy new year Alex xxx

  8. You really do have the best adventures and it seems you managed to fit loads in whilst in London. I’m going at the end of January and am rather terrified at the very thought. I’ve only been twice before and both times the tube scared me to death and I had no idea where I was but here’s hoping this time I’m a little more relaxed.

    Also I am majorly upset about the show we are going to see, I found out (after) we booked the tickets the cast is changing literally a few days before we get to see, so we will see the new leading lady not the one who we wanted to see, but here’s me being too fussy.

    Have a wonderful New Year Alex x

  9. My Grandad was telling me about that book shop when we stumbled accross a charming second hand one in Dunster. What a shame it was closed.

    Have a great NYE and all the best for 2011 xxx

  10. OMG you saw Ben Barnes? I'm deeply in love with him at the moment! Sounds like a fun trip overall, happy new year! :)

  11. Alex it sounds like you've had a fab time in London, there is just something so exciting about the city ,i love it.
    Have a fantastic new year xx

  12. Soubnds like you're having a great time, Alex! I must be the only Sebastian Foukes fan in Blogland, I adore him.
    New Year's Eve is only exciting if you don't have fun the rest of the year. For me it's just another excuse to drink. Happy 2011. xxxxxxxxxx

  13. HERBAL TEA BAGS! i myself don't have the need to rehash what happened in 2010. onward and upward. i don't think it helps a wink to look back.

  14. Happy New Year honey, I attract nutters too so it's not just you! Hope you have a fab time up in my neck of the woods.
    Hugs Kandi x

  15. Sounds like you are having a fab time in London. All the shows!!!

    Confession - I too feel a little smug when I don't need a map and others do.

    Happy New Year. Hope 2011 is a great one for you.


  16. Happy New Year to you too Alex, hope you have a brilliant year and I've been meaning to read Birdsong for years now. The plays you saw sound brilliant though, you sound like you had a good time. xxx

  17. hahaha,herbal teabags?! You are divine!!
    Happy New Year,sweetheart!You give me much joy!
    I concur re Sebastian Faulks,by the way.Yawn!!
    Love to you from G and I all the way down here......XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

  18. Alex - I'm with you ref Sebastian Faulkes, I tried Birdsong and after 2 chapters I truly lost the will to live and therefore have never bothered with him again! I'm sure he is a case of much better adapted for stage and screen. As for Ben Barnes- phwoar!


  19. Aaah, I love London too. I'm just getting used to the tube, the extreme bustle and the blank faces (everyone smiles in Yorkshire!) - but I'll always be a city girl at heart, so feel quite at home!

    Happy New Year to you. x

  20. Happy new year, Alex! Wishing you loads of lovely moments in 2011. I lived in London for 5 years but now when I visit - much as I love it - I feel like a country bumpkin! xx

  21. Hey Alex, just to let you this is my new blog, my old URL address isn't available anymore, Tasha's Treasure Trove = Find The White Horse xxx

  22. I tried to read Faulks once - both parents highly recommended him - but I agree, he IS dreary!!

    I'm the same with new year, and never venture out. Hope you had a good time in Newcastle though!! xx


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