The big last day in London

The big last day in London
London, United Kingdom

London, United Kingdom

Better late then never – here;s what happened yesterday.
One good thing about holidays – some days, having a sleep in is no big deal. Today was one of those days, had a goodly sleep in, and didn’t wander outdoors until brunch. Today, for our last day in London (darn) we got out of London for the Harry Potter Studio Tour. Switching from the underground to a proper train at Euston, heading out was just like leaving Central station and travelling west. I wouldn’t be surprised if if it was built by or at least designed by the same people coz I could’ve sworn we went past Redfern station at one point.

I wasn’t too sure what to expect at the studio tour, but it was really really impressive. Seeing sets and props from he movie was good, but learning about the amount of care, skill and dare I say love that went into making those movies was just incredible. Some examples that spring to mind:

  • In Ollivanders and shop, there were 17,000 individual wand boxes, all of which were hand-labelled. Then there were all burnt when the shop was destroyed in the final film.
  • All of the hundreds of oil paintings were genuine oil paintings, created by classically train artist, then ‘aged’ to look hundreds of years older.
  • The triple-decker ‘Knight Bus’ was cobbled together out of three old London double-deckers. It was weighed down with an extra 4 tons of weight at the bottom to stop it tipping over, as it was a fully working bus that they drove around the streets of London.

So in short it really good to learn a little about how the movies were made, and of course it was great to see the sets and a massive array of props that were used in the movie. We hung around there for a good three hours before making our way back. (I posted all the photos yesterday, so don’t have any new ones to add in today from Harry Potter)

That wasn’t the end of the day though, far from it. Time for dinner and a power-nap, because tonight was the night to swap the recent entertainment for the ancient – and see a Shakespeare play at The Globe Theatre, the re-creation of the theatre that Shakespeare had built back in 1599.

We found out way to the theatre, arriving at 11:30pm – and I was pretty surprised to see that by midnight, the whole place was packed to the gills. We were in the ‘posh seats’ up above… but they were anything but posh. The seat was a wooden bench not even a foot deep, with 6 of us squished into a space probably best for 4. We splashed out on an extravagance – spending £1 each on a small cushion. Could be much worse of course – the ‘groundlings’ have to stand on the ground, in the open air, and if it rains … bad luck. But did any of it matter? Not at all. It was an incredible experience to be in the theatre, and imagining how it could have been some 400 years earlier. Suddenly I remembered some of what my high school English teacher would tell about the Globe and the plays – how they catered to all audiences. Bawdy jokes for the groundlings, and higher concepts for those ‘up above’.

I’m no Shakespeare expert, all I know of Much Ado About Nothing is that its one of the comedies, so hopefully not as dry as the histories or the tragedies. Pretty much from the get-go I was surprised and impressed, as the play opened with a beautiful musical number, performed by the cast, who all seem to be quite accomplished musicians as well as actors.

I haven’t gone back and read the play yet, but of all the Shakespeare’s Ive seen, this was certainly the most accessible. The language was easily understood – usually it takes me a goo 15-20 minutes to ‘tune in’ to the language, the iambic pentameter, all that stuff. But this one all made sense right from the start. And it was so funny – the actor playing Benedict was just hilarious, the whole cast were great, keeping the play moving along at a good pace, even though it’s a very straightforward story stretched over two and a half hours. But in short it was much more entertaining than I expected, easy to understand and easy to follow the story, and an amazing amount of angry supplied from the cast to the audience, and in return from the audience to the cast. It was easy to forget that by the end of the play it was almost 3:00 in the morning.

After the plays triumphant conclusion came the next bit … how the hell are we going to get home? The tube wasn’t running at this hour, so we just had to start walking and hope for the best that we’d find a taxi before the whole 40 minute walk home. Luckily we found one after bout 15 minutes, so made it back to the hotel with no dramas.

So just in case I haven’t gushed enough about it yet – it was awesome! Not just worthy historical activity, but a damn funny comedy to boot, in an incredible environment. Loved it!

This meant getting to bed at about 4:00AM, which was always going to make the next day interesting.

But as far as London goes, that was it, our time there has come to a close. What an incredible city – it’s stuff built on top of other stuff, a feeling which pervades almost the whole place. From the tube stations, to Camden markets, to hotels made from terraces joined together, to streets that seem to start and stop randomly for no good reason … it’s an agglomeration of centuries on top of centuries on top of centuries, and I loved every last bit of it.