Mar 4, 2012

Celebrity Journalism. Shakespeare. South Bank.

It's taken 2 whole days but I've finally done it.

The planets aligned for me today and I bought this meal from Pret A Manger.  Prets are all over the city but for some reason, I'm never near one when I need one.  Or more precisely, the ones I've been around were never open early enough when I needed them. To celebrate, I splashed out on a lobster and rocket sarnie.

Tesco Metro is The Source for all you gossip mag needs.  The self pay checkouts are EXACTLY the same as the ones in Australia.  It's just identifying the coins that slows me down here.
It must be the weather but yoghurt isn't as big for breakfast as it is in Australia.  People seem to eat it as a healthy dessert later in the day, sticking to porridge first thing in the day.  Which is all very interesting but what I really love about daily life in the UK is the dedication to detail and high journalistic standards in the world of celebrity gossip.  

Any country where it takes 3 journalists to get the full scoop on a single celebrity gossip story is a country I need to visit more often.  Alexa Chung (she of the Mulberry bag I brought with me) appears to be embroiled in a 'situation' with a young man called Harry.  Another lady who looks very similar to Alexa but whose name is Caroline appears to have some 'history' with Harry as well.  Dates, hypotheses, cross references to previous magazine articles - it was all in this 3 page article.  I was overwhelmed.  Clearly one doesn't just flick through the magazines here like we do in Australia.  British readers clearly require a more analytical review of current affairs.

Along the South Bank Riverside walkway.
Now that you're up to speed with the goings on of my down time from my down time here in London, are you ready for another instalment of the more 'conventionally' cultural things I've been up to?  Today I'm taking up from where I left off yesterday.  The South Bank of London is jam packed with history, art and amazing views.  Most activities are joined together by a walk way that follows the River Thames.  When the weather is good, it's very pleasant to be out in the fresh air between activities.

In addition to the arts theme the government planned for this area of London, South Bank has plenty of history of its own.  On top of this, interspersed between the attractions are offices, shops and hotels - signs of normal everyday life.  London is one of those places where the past, present and the future coexist successfully in a way that is relevant to tourists and locals alike.

A replica of the Golden Hinde which circumnavigated the globe with Sir Francis Drake as its Captain.

The ruins of Winchester Palace, next to the Golden Hinde.
The HMS Belfast, a museum ship and London Bridge - just a short walk on from the Golden Hinde.
Ironically, the one place I had trouble finding was The Globe Theatre.  It looked so easy to find on all my maps and there were sign posts everywhere, but I managed to go up and down that stretch of South Bank several times before I had any success.

The original Globe Theatre was a street behind the current riverside location.  The theatre we visit now was built in 1997 using techniques and materials identical to how the original was built.  This Olympic year is a fascinating one for Shakespeare fans because the Globe will be hosting all 37 of Shakespeare's plays in the one year.  To reflect the global spirit of the games, each play will be translated to a foreign language.  The North American contribution is a version of Othello in hip hop.  It's apparently sold out its season.

I was fortunate to be just in time for a guided tour of the theatre.  It was thoroughly entertaining and we got to see some of the actors prepare for the evening's performance.

The roof of the theatre is painted with the moon and the stars.  It also features a hole in its centre.  This allows actors to descend from 'the heavens'.

The theatre can seat 900 and another 700 in the standing area. 
Each pillar of the thrust stage is made from a single oak tree and the pillars are painted to look like marble.  The entire theatre is made from the wood of 1000 oaks.  The thatching of the roof is real and has fire sprinklers arranged through it for safety.  The 'attic' of the roof traditionally housed canons (which set the original theatre alight) and other dramatic bits of machinery.

The actors do not use microphones. In the photo above, you can see a few of them doing voice exercises as well as limbering up for their performance of A Midsummer's Nights Dream.  Traditionally, each performance ends with a jig set to the same drum music.  It was Shakespeare's way of sending the audience home in good spirits despite the tragedies they may have witnessed in his plays.

Etched into the pavement of the theatre are the names of actors and members of the public who have made a significant contribution to the Globe.

The Bard's brews.
 Separate to the theatre is an education centre, gift shop and cafe.

Take home your own Yorrick for 50 pounds....
After my time in Shakespeare's world, I took a walk down South Bank to the London Eye.   Along the way, art could be found everywhere I looked.

A bubble shimmering over a child's head and frustratingly out of his reach.

The contrast of shapes and time periods in the skyline.

Twiggy immortalized on a pillar in an area the local skate boarding community have made their own.

Sand sculptures on the beach down below.

A ride on the London Eye takes about half an hour.  Each pod contains Samsung tablets which contain useful information about the landmarks visible during the ride.

The weather probably wasn't ideal for viewing London's skyline from The Eye on the day I went but sipping champagne along the way made up for this.

I've gone through the photos that I took on my ride and unfortunately they're all hazy - in a non arty way.  On the plus side, I did get to see 10 Downing Street and County Hall from the air.

A view of County Hall on the downward ride on the London Eye.
My final stop for the day was the Tait Modern.  It's not everyday that I get the chance to unwind after a busy day by walking through rooms of thought provoking art.  I could get used to it.


  1. I LOVE Pret A Manger - their chicken and crispy bacon sambo is TO DIE FOR I tell you!  

  2. Omg, that sandwich is the bomb and was my total fave when I lived in London back in the day.  I can just imagine all that delicious mayo oozing out right now *drool*.

    Keep the updates coming.  I miss London - so much so that I keep dreaming about it...


  3. so jealous that you go to go inside the shakespeare's globe - I missed out last time. 

  4. Green with envy! Hope you're enjoying youself :)

  5. Sounds like you're having a great trip!!  So jealous =)

  6. Thank you do much for the updates I am vicariously travelling the world through your blog and am absolutely loving it!

  7. Ooo, I'm so glad you tried Pret.  Looks like you had great fun Leemin! 


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