The rain had cleared overnight so after breakfast yesterday we walked up to the shops in High Street, Kensington. They are much they same as I remember. We passed a construction site where a new block of luxury apartments has been under construction for a few years now. On our first visit to London, this site was a hotel and the one where we experienced a very amusing time over breakfast as we watched the staff bicker and quarrel with each other over the way they did their work. See here.
Marks and Spencer had their usual stock of good quality clothing at reasonable prices (even at our exchange rate). So menswear and things for the grandchildren were the purchases of the day.
We passed all the places that we knew from previous stays in this area – the pizza restaurant where Princess Diana used to take her boys, the pub where we have had a number of meals and the little cafe named Giraffe where we first met Barbara and David whom we will catch up on Saturday.
Jill has damaged a tendon in her foot and finds walking is painful and she can only walk slowly. We decided to catch the tube back to our hotel (just one station) but because of engineering works the train did not stop at our station so we had to go on to Earls Court and then backtrack on another line. Two of the lines through the station will be closed for engineering works over the weekend so we will have to find our way around to some of the places that we intend to visit via a more circuitous route.
Last evening, we had tickets to see the evening performance of ‘Once’ so we caught a cab around to the theatre in Charing Cross Road to pick up our tickets. It is a pleasure to catch a taxi in London where you can have a conversation with the driver who knows just where to take you from memory. I was very happy to leave the driving to him in the frenetic evening traffic.
We had dinner at a rather cavernous pub named the Montague Pyke which was once a theatre. It was built as a theatre in 1911 and in the 1960s was famous as a music venue. The Rolling Stones,. Led Zepelin and the Who have all performed here. No one of such stature was there while we ate, just hundreds of people having a pure-theatre meal.
The show at the Phoenix Theatre was excellent; a musical set in an Irish pub. Members of the audience mixed with the musicians on the stage in the’pub’ before the show started and then the show began with the musicians singing and playing various instruments that would fit an Irish band. The story was a straight forward one – boy meets girl after pining for a lost love about whom he had written a number of love songs, falls in love with her and then tries to deal with the complications of emotions in a relationship in which both parties already have some one else in their lives. Excellent acting, music and singing!
This morning, we had a late start and intended to visit the Natural History Museum which is just a little way down Cromwell Road. It’s mid term holidays here and the queue was incredibly long with families and kids visiting to see something that was obviously attractive to primary age children. We decided that the wait was too long so we headed along to the Victoria and Albert Museum of fashion and design (and also free) and spent some time looking at some old fashions of the English gentry.
Lunch today was with a third cousin, Nigel Butterfield and his wife Sarah, whom I had never met before today. Nigel is related through the Pitt family (my father’s maternal side of the family). It seems that his great grandmother returned to England for some reason in the late 1800’s and continued his branch of the family. One of the family myths was that we were all somehow descended from William Pitt, the early Prime Minister of England, but we cannot find any link to support this.
I found Nigel on Ancestory.com while working on my family tree after wanting to find out some more about my Grandfather and his experience in WW1. Nigel was kind enough to help me with some connections that I couldn’t make. I am happy to only have 400 people, or so, in my family tree, but Nigel has done a lot more research into his extended family and has over 15,000 names in his. I’m just one of them. We had a very pleasant time talking about family connections in a delightful Italian restaurant not far from our hotel.
On my father’s side of the family (Wilson), I now have a relatively complete set of family links that extend for six generations- back to around 1800. On my mother’s side of the family (Davey), I have a family tree that goes back to a relative who was born in 1606.
We spent the last couple of hours today at Knightsbridge visiting the Harrods store to buy just one more ornament for our Christmas tree.