The Grasso’s In London

Yesterday we enjoyed a nice long sleep in, then headed into the city to meet up with the Grasso’s and Dennis from Adrian’s work. We got to Paddington about lunch time and couldn’t get in touch with Dennis so wound up having lunch with Andrew, the Ephox CEO who is stuck in England for an extra week because his passport was stolen. He’s staying in Paddington so we headed to the nearby Notting Hill Gate and Portobello Rd for lunch.

Portobello Rd runs a big market on weekends with jewellery, antiques and a whole lot of trinkets and junk. Apparently the tourist season has started and combined with another fine day and a long weekend, the street was packed with people. Found a very busy little cafè for lunch and were lucky to grab a seat outside as there was a long queue of people lining up to get a seat inside and after we sat down a bunch of them acting as vultures outside too waiting for people to leave.

From there we headed into Leicester Square to see if we could get some cheap tickets for the night. The Grasso’s had tickets to The Lion King so it seemed like a good opportunity to see something ourselves. We managed to get half price tickets to see Stomp – 5th row from the front too.

While we waited for the Grasso’s we walked down to Trafalga Square since in all the times we’ve been there before, we’d never remembered to bring the camera. There’s always some kind of busker in front of the national museum, but we lucked out and got this guy:

His act was dancing to Michael Jackson but apparently he couldn’t afford a real stereo so the music was just playing through his own headphones – to everyone else he was dancing in silence.

Definitely not the best entertainment. Janet thought it was cruel to take pictures of the weird guy – I thought it was cruel to call him weird. We did get some decent shots though:

We wandered down The Strand towards the Lyceum theatre where The Lion King was on and where we’d arranged to meet the Grasso’s and along the way ran into Sherlock Holmes.

He was standing just near the Sherlock Holmes pub but didn’t seem to be doing too well at actually getting people to go inside – though plenty wanted a photo. Amusingly, it turns out that Sherlock Holmes has an Australian accent.

Getting to see the Grasso’s was a wonderful – so nice to see a couple of familiar faces. They’d caught a cab from their hotel and the cabby had apparently done a pretty good job of whizzing them by a lot of the big tourist destinations in London along the way. They’re only in the UK for the one day and should have headed off on their tour around continental Europe by now so that was probably the best way to see the sights. Sarina was fascinated by the traditional red phone booths so we got a photo of her in one.

I think I deserve extra credit for catching a double decker bus in the background as well.

We found a traditional English pub for dinner where Steak and Ale pies were the order of the day and Sam splashed out and had a “London Pride” ale.

We walked the Grasso’s back to their theatre and headed off to find ours. It turned out to be quite a small, old theatre with that quaint, very English rustic charm and absolutely no space to spare anywhere. The pre-show entertainment was watching the ushers try and stop people from taking photos of the set. Not sure why they were so obsessed with it, but I’m pretty sure their frustrated efforts just encouraged more people to take photos just to watch them run around the theatre madly looking for the camera again. I’m pretty sure Janet started it when she took a photo with her phone. The show itself was very good – basically summed up as a bunch of tap dancers banging everyday objects like brooms, pots and pans, garbage bins etc to make some pretty amazing rhythms. While it doesn’t have a story line, there was just enough character to each of the dancers to add some humour and they got the crowd involved at various points too. It’s amazing how many people can’t clap in time…

The St Martin’s theatre next door was running Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap” which has been running continuously for 56 years now and is the worlds longest running show. We’ll have to go check it out some time.

We made it home about midnight with sore feet from all the walking, but it was a good day – we need to head into the city more often I think.

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