European Delights 2009 travel blog

Saturday August 8th

Portabello Market - much fun was had here on a road that stretches farther than the eye can see or legs can walk!

Portobello Market is in West London and is one of the most famous street markets in the world. It is a popular destination for Londoners and tourists alike.

Portobello Road goes straight through the heart of Notting Hill, the trendy area of London made famous by the film.

The Pubs, Antique Arcades and Streets around and about the area have exotic sounding names - they are mostly historic, the area of Portobello was originally a farm, which was named after Puerto Bello in the Caribbean in memory of Admiral Vernon who captured the town in 1739.

Since then the area has become built up with houses, shopfronts and the street market, however pub names such as the Portobello Gold and the Portobello Star (navigation) are references to those heady seafaring days off the Spanish Main. One of the Antiques Arcades is known as the Admiral Vernon. I had an ABSOLUTE BALL here, lovely antique shops I could get lost in, vintage shops with curiosities to add to my collection and cute little local designer clothes.

Hamlet Performance

It is heartening to find Wyndham's teeming with young people, drawn by the star power of Jude Law, as normally when I frequent these thins you can smell the moth balls from a mile away. Must be only the Aussie culture, where young people don't enjoy culture! Jude Law I feel brought a sense of moody solitude and moral disgust to his role. Pre-empting Shakespeare, the director began with a silent image of Law, in rumpled black shirt and wide-bottomed trousers, alone on a bare stage. And, even before he has seen the Ghost, Law's Hamlet is filled with gut-wrenching despair at Elsinore's pervasive corruption.This is a Hamlet in whom the urge to action and revenge is constantly undermined by a built-in death wish: he seems incensed by the divine injunction against self-slaughter and, in the course of baiting Polonius, eagerly points a dagger at his own breast.

Psychologically, the production was astute. What I missed, especially in the first half, was any social or political context. Elsinore starts as a court on a war footing, filled with hasty diplomatic activity, but here there is only a surrounding vacancy. After the unusually early interval, the production acquired a more textured atmosphere. Grandage stages the closet scene brilliantly by placing Polonius downstage, before a billowing gauze curtain, so that we too become eavesdroppers. The set, dominated by gaunt, arched stone walls, also acquired a distinct character: as light, filters through high, narrow grilles we share Hamlet's perception that "Denmark's a prison".

Sunday August 9th

Today I'm off to Shakespere's Globe. In 1949, a man named Sam Wanamaker came to London for the first time looking for the site of the original Globe and was disappointed not to find a more lasting memorial to Shakespeare and his theatre. After much difficulty, in 1970 Sam founded what was to become the Shakespeare Globe Trust, and in 1987 building work began on site when the six-metre deep foundations were laid. In 1993, the construction of the Globe Theatre itself began. Sadly, Sam Wanamaker died on 18 December 1993. At that time, twelve of the fifteen bays had been erected. The plasterwork and thatching began the following year and were completed in 1997.

Euripedes 'Helen' at Shakesspheres Globe

...Seven years have passed since the end of the Trojan War and Menelaus, King of Sparta and husband to Helen, is making his slow and painful way home. When his ship is wrecked on the coast of Egypt he stumbles upon what seems to be his wife lingering outside the royal palace. But if this is the real Helen, who was the beautiful woman stolen by Paris, for whom all Greece took up arms? This performance was a funny and sparkling treatment of Euripides’ strange, comic, fairy tale-like romance – especially as it was the Globe’s first excursion into full-scale Greek drama.

Turkish Baths for a massage

Ironmonger Row Baths was originally constructed in 1931 and contained a public laundry and slipper baths, which were extended in 1938 to include the main swimming pool, children’s pool and Turkish baths. It is now one of the most popular leisure facilities in London.

Angel to eat at Afghan Kitchen

The excitement to dine here stems from my visit the other night that left me hanging for a repeat experience.

& Jack the Ripper night walk

... He came silently out of the midnight shadows of August 31, 1888. Watching. Stalking. Butchering raddled, drink-sodden East End prostitutes. Leaving a trail of blood and gore that led...nowhere. Yes, something wicked this way walked, for this was the Ripper's slashing grounds. Repeating that autumn of gaslight and fog - of menacing shadows and stealthy footsteps - we walked the murder sites, sifted through the evidence - in all its gory detail - and came to grips, so to speak, with the main suspects. We stopped for a bevvy at The Ten Bells, the pub where the victims - perhaps under the steely gaze of the Ripper himself - tried to forget the waking nightmare.

Going on this walk is as close as you're going to get to nailing the Ripper. Guided by Donald Rumbelow, who is "internationally recognised as the leading authority on Jack the Ripper". Britain's most distinguished crime historian, Donald is the author of the definitive book on the Ripper, the best-selling The Complete Jack the Ripper - I was lucky to have been given a signed copy of this!!!. He's been the chief consultant for every major film and television treatment of the Ripper for the last 25 years. The former Curator of the City of London Police Crime Museum.

Long busy day!

Monday August 10th

Freeday, farwell to my dear friend and welcoming partner/flatmate

Today I Skyped with my mum, it was nice to chat, although doing so for an hour may leave us with no gossip upon my return. I jam packed my bags, and met my friend at the local pub for dinner and a last catch up before I headed off. I am now at the airport, 3 hours early in anticipation of a road blockage, trying to windle down the hours.

Tuesday August 11th

Flight D72009 departing London at 0125hrs and arriving at Kuala Lumpur at 2125hrs.

Wednesday August 12th

I'm home 11.30pm!

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