Sunday, May 3, 2009

Our Trip to London!

(Above: The London Eye and the former County Hall....currently a retail complex that included our hotel, the County Hall Marriott. Click on image to enlarge.)

Spring is a busy season in the arts scene in Columbia. I've been trying to keep up...but blogging has gotten away from me a bit. This post probably should have been done two weeks ago. I knew if it didn't get posted now, I'd never catch up because Steve and I are actually headed on another adventure next weekend...going to San Francisco to research cemeteries for my Grave Rubbing Quilt and Epitaph installation artwork.

(Above: The London Eye at night. Click on image to enlarge.)

So, here's the blog post about our trip to London.

My mother went with us to see Mathias and Laura-Jane dance at the Coliseum in two performances, a triple bill and the full length ballet Sylvia. My mother's generous offer to put "reward points" toward our hotel stay meant we were living high at the County Hall a suite....right beside the famous London Eye. It was amazing. Check out the video of our accommodations here!

Intelligently, my Mom wrote down everything we I didn't. Thus, this blog entry is "in no particular order"! Let's just say: WE HAD A GREAT TIME! I'll caption the photos below...a sort of running narrative.....but maybe Mom will send me her list and I can update this!

(Above: London's architecture! Click on image to enlarge.)

One of the best things about a city like London is the mix of architectural styles from all sorts of different centuries. I found myself snapping photos of rooftops and carved friezes, domes and steeples, bridge supports and monuments...without caring about the name or function of the structure. I just liked the lines and shapes.

(Above: Barbershop sign. Below: A leaning tree. Click on images to enlarge.)

I also love the signs in England.

Fortunately the weather was very, very good during the entire week. It rained only once during the day. Flowers and trees were in full blossom and we enjoyed walking along the Thames River in the Embankment Park. Among the places we visited were: St. Martin's in the Fields for a free piano concert, Trafalgar Circle, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul's Cathedral, The Tate, and the Royal Observatory at the prime meridian, and Covent Garden. We saw the changing of the royal horse guard, walked through Chinatown, enjoyed the view of Big Ben and the Parliament buildings (this was also the view from our suite!), and found a little cemetery outside the archbishop's palace....where I got a grave rubbing and collected some epitaphs.

One of the best days was undoubtedly the river cruise boat trip to Greenwich. The guide was hilarious and pointed out all the sights we passed. The day was beautiful. Lots of locals were out having picnics and playing with their dogs. The Royal Observatory was very, very interesting and in town there was an arts and crafts market.

(Above: Mathias and Laura-Jane on the River Cruise to Greenwich. Aren't they cute?! Click on image to enlarge.)
(Above: Our cruise boat trip.....upper level exposed; lower level enclosed! Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: The view from the Royal Observatory back toward London. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: The view out the window from the Royal Observatory. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: The Royal Observatory....Prime Meridian! Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: One of the antique clocks and window reflection in the Royal Observatory. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: Laura-Jane, Mathias, and Steve at Prime Meridian! Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: Mathias and Laura-Jane on the way to the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, UK. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: One of the craft vendors in the market....recycled palettes as planters! Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: Detail of handmade scarves available at the crafts market in Greenwich, UK.)

Another highlight was the view from St. Paul's Cathedral dome. It really gave us a lasting impression of the city and its immense large that we'll just have to go back for more!

(Above: View from the dome toward the London Eye. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: St. Paul Cathedral's dome. Click on image to enlarge.)

Of course, the reason behind this trip was to SEE BALLET! Birmingham Royal Ballet, the company with which Mathias and Laura-Jane dance, was touring to London's Coliseum. It is a beautiful building with a gorgeous dome. One isn't suppose to take photos inside....but I manage the one of the's not like I was trying to illegally photograph the choreography or the dancing! I just LOVE buildings!

(Above: The Coliseum, London. Click on image to enlarge.)

(Above: The Coliseum's stained glass dome. Click on image to enlarge.)

Mathias took Steve's camera backstage and captured these casual moments in costume. They are from the ballet Sylvia. Mathias' role....well....he played the part of one of the gay guys who brings costumes to an anniversary party (Scene I). The couple "celebrating" are having serious problems in their marriage. Their servants, Sylvia and her beau, see no future in love due to their employers situation. Eros, the God of Love, is "on vacation" as the couple's gardener.

(Above: Oliver Till, Laura-Jane Gibson, and Mathias Dingman....Sylvia! Below: Laura-Jane and Mathias. Click on images to enlarge.)

The costume party serves as a device to transform an otherwise mythological ballet into a contemporary setting. Scene II has the Gods and Goddess doing their thing...with pirates, the forlorn young couple seeking one another, Eros guiding them, and grapes being stomped into wine before a happy ending that fades back to the anniversary party (Scene III) with a love potion toast to eternal happiness....and the traditional grand pas/wedding duet.

(Above and below: Kit Holder and Mathias Dingman ready for Scene I of Sylvia. Click on images to enlarge.)

As one of the gay guys who transforms into one of the barely clad peons who stomps grapes, Mathias' role is one of classic comic relief, a real crowd pleasing part, lots of complicated jumps and spins, and a curtain call that receives nearly as much applause as the lead couple. It was pure joy to watch! They obviously had fun with the photos too!

Well, below are more photos we took during the week! Enjoy!

(Above: Mom, Laura-Jane, Mathias and I waiting for the River Cruise boat. Steve is thrilled that I've included some of the photos he took while on the trip. We tease him endlessly that he's a terrible photographer! Occasionally, however, he's like the blind chicken getting a crumb....he snaps a good one or two! Click on any image to enlarge!)

(Above: Me on the boat....another good one by Steve!)

(Above: Laura-Jane and Mathias on the river cruise boat.)

(Above: Laura-Jane and Mathias in Greenwich at the Royal Observatory.)

(Above: Westminster Abbey)

(Above: The Casting Room at the V&A.)

(Above: Detail of the Tower Bridge.)

(Above: Steve and Mom on the pedestrian only Millennium Bridge.)

(Above: Steve and Mom with Big Ben and the Parliament buildings in the background.)

(Above: Interior of St. Martin's in the Fields....where we listened to an excellent piano concert.)

(Above: Mathias, Mom and Steve on the bridge with the London Eye and the County Hall building including our hotel in the background)

(Above: The London Eye.)

(Above: The Changing of the Royal Horse Guard.)

(Above: Embankment Park in full spring bloom)

(Above: Dracula paper dolls based on designs by Gorey available in the coolest vintage Toy Shop in Covent Garden.)

(Above: Pastry shop in Covent Gardens.)

(Detail of County Hall...our room was the three windows just above the facade statue in the center of the image!)

(Above: Going under London Bridge on the river cruise boat.)

(Above: Another amazing mix of architecture in the beautiful city of London