Tuesday 30 June 2020

And I'm back in business ... I've been sitting here with the biggest grin all afternoon! Yes, the National Gallery is re-opening and I've booked my slot for the very first day to see this (admission free) and this and maybe visit a few old favourites, too. (I'll have four hours. Is that enough? Well, my rusty knees won't hold out any longer!) Plenty of slots available if you're tempted.
Oh, I will never take our wonderful galleries and museums for granted again. I ❤️London!

Meanwhile, there's the exquisite Alessandra Ferri in Woolf Works from the ROH; I've watched the Mrs Dalloway section twice and it would break your heart. Further afield, I thoroughly enjoyed this Broadway production of Sondheim's Company. In fact, that's been the best thing about lockdown - I've been at the theatre several times a week! It's hard to keep up: I was enjoying the Bridge Theatre's lively Midsummer Night's Dream - but can't see myself managing to watch the second half before it vanishes tomorrow. Because I'll have to be quick if I want to catch Bernstein's Candide! I'll miss all these wonderful free productions that have been my new-normal! 

Sunday 21 June 2020

I'm not quite antsy enough for a day out to queue for a rummage in Primark and even the local Waterstones doesn't hold much appeal. (Despite the nice man on the door coaxing me in with the promise that I could touch as many books as I like, it seems a bit unfair on staff to go in just for an idle browse). No, I'm pinning all my hopes on cinemas re-opening soon - especially when I read that they'd be testing the waters with arthouse films and oldies that are unlikely to attract a crowd - hurrah!
Meanwhile this week's grand excursion was to Osterley Park - with the added novelty of a first, albeit very short journey by Tube ... ladies, I appear to have survived! And somehow, despite many visits to Osterley in the past, I had never ventured into the pretty gardens that were a riot of poppies and overblown roses and sweet peas, and the scent of lilies was wafting out of this garden house. So I settled on a bench with my packed lunch and everybody who walked past stopped for a friendly chat and said how glad they were to be out, too ...

And I was thrilled to see that the quirky little bookshop in the old railway station was open - for books/cards/pumpkin plants ... business as normal!

I have resigned myself to the fact that I am watching FAR too much TV - so square-eyed now, I think I need a new lens prescription! But I am greatly enjoying The Great, billed as the 'occasionally true' story of Catherine the Great of Russia, from the same writer as The Favourite. Nicholas Hoult is brilliant as Emperor Peter, it's great fun - and miles more enjoyable than that stodgy effort by Helen Mirren last year.

Friday 12 June 2020

Watching The Madness of George III - this week's excellent offering from the National Theatre - it suddenly struck me that Mark Gatiss's King must have been inspired by Hogarth's Bedlam scene from the Rake's Progress. (Suddenly struck me? More of a niggling 'why does that look so familiar?' until eventually this image surfaced through the layers of lockdown-rust in my brain!)
It's a terrific performance ... though I think Nigel Hawthorne will always be my favourite George (and Helen Mirren, in the film version as his Queen). I wasn't sure about the female doctors but they grew on me - just about! - by the end.

Another shout-out for the Finborough Theatre who have revived this 1913 melodrama about an independent-minded wife and her feckless husband.  I saw it last summer - the last time I visited the Finborough in person! If I'd ever thought a time would come when I hadn't had a night out for three months ...

Tuesday 9 June 2020

Such a thrill to wake up this morning with tickets booked and lunch packed for an outing somewhere where the loos would be open! (Priorities! And it's amazing how you don't actually need to go as long as the opportunity's there!)
And how wonderful to have a change of scene ... with bees buzzing and the new lavender in the cherry garden looking simply stunning and apricots ripening against the wall of the Orangery. The gardeners here have done a terrific job with a very small team. Only 150 tickets are being released each day, so it felt almost like our own private garden. I last walked down here a few weeks ago and peeped through locked gates, thinking that this house - built in 1610 - has survived 400 years of plague and epidemics and it did feel kind of reassuring that it's still standing
So three cheers to the National Trust for restoring the much missed, perfectly-normal summer day out. Even if we did have to wait until we got home for a cup of tea.

Monday 8 June 2020

This is how I planned to spend lockdown, except I'm still finding it difficult to settle into a book.

This is more the reality as I'm having no problem at all settling down to eat.

The clever cards are from the Fitzwilliam Museum, where I'm hoping against hope there might still be a chance to see this exhibition when it reopens. (I dashed to Cambridge on the last day before lockdown but too late!) Don't laugh at me ... you never know, maybe they've furloughed the staff who could dismantle it and if the peacock pie hasn't gone mouldy ... ?

Tuesday 2 June 2020

There are some theatrical gems online at present - including this excellent play about the long forgotten WW1 poet Charles Hamilton Sorley from the tiny Finborough Theatre.  It's just a room over a pub - if you're in the front row you need to tuck your feet in so you don't trip up the cast! I can't imagine that social distancing could ever be feasible in theatres like this; the seating capacity is only 50 and they need full houses to survive. I can honestly say that I've never, ever seen a play here that I haven't enjoyed!