Boxing Day! We didn't see anyone giving gifts to people with service jobs, or helping out the needy...but we DID see a massive amount of post-Christmas shoppers, all on Regent and Carnaby...and Oxford streets.
First things first...We took the Circle and then Victoria Lines up to St. Pancras to buy our Eurostar ticket...tomorrow afternoon...Paris. Once that was out of the way, hopped the Victoria Line back to Oxford Circus and walked...well shuffled up and down Regent Street for a few hours.
Before doing any actual shopping we needed to find some breakfast, so we walked up toward the Langham (the very first hotel Mark and I stayed at, on our very first trip to London, lo those many...many years ago) to get away from the crowds, but surprisingly, none of the restaurants we passed had opened their doors yet. After a bit more walking we found an All Bar One, just opening, and eagerly stepped inside to get out of the bitter...and I mean BITTER cold. It was in the high twenties...OK, I realize for some of you that's t-shirt weather, but for us California types, it's ski suit time...and we didn't happen to bring ours along.
Anyway...After a warm brunch, we began our shuffle through the dense crush of shoppers. Mostly we just took in the sights, but occasionally, something in a window would catch my eye and we'd be pulled and pushed with the crowd through the door. Now, many of these shops are simply narrow corridors filled with merchandise, and on a normal day they'd be a challenge to navigate with large purse and shopping bags in hand, but today...OY!...Claustrophobia central! Had my heart set on getting Mark a nice dress shirt...something very London-y, and the window of Duchamp had exactly the shirt I was looking for. The shop girl was quite helpful and mostly we just had to stand and let the other shoppers push by us while she gathered up the right size.
That done, we continued down Regent looking for a long sleeve Arsenal shirt. You'd think with ALL the shops devoted to football in this city that would be an easy find...but NO...they were ALL, including Lillywhites in Piccadilly Circus, a HUGE sport store, sold out of the long sleeve variety, so we had to settle for the short...(sorry Dyl.)
My hands were so cold that they only emerged from the gloves long enough to snap a few pictures...Wish I'd taken more...Oh well...
By the time we got down to Piccadilly Circus the shuffling had already taken a toll and we were near exhausted again. But I was determined to see what was what on Carnaby street, so we walked back up Regent, past Hamley's to the Carnaby Street arch. Most of the really cool shops that we would have gone into, where inexplicably closed. Other than the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade feel of the Giant Snowmen balloons hovering above, there was one highlight...Irregular Choices...uniquely fanciful shoes. Rachel tried on a very cool pair of High, with a capital H, heels that had an adorable robot printed on the side. They looked to be the most UNcomfortable shoes anyone could possibly wear, but they were VERY cool. She contemplated the cool versus comfort factor for a bit, and then we walked out empty handed. If you'd like to see the kind of shoes I'm talking about...just one page on their website:
Getting toward the later part of the afternoon and already exhausted, we tubed back to the hotel to thaw, check emails and generally recover from a thorough crowd thrashing. Early evening I decided to take a stab at making it over to Marks and Spenser at Marble Arch for a looksee through their food court for last minute gifts to tote home. Not even imagining a store of their size wouldn't be open on Boxing Day, we got dressed for the theatre and took the tube. NOT open. AND all the other stores in the area were closing up for the day. Bummed...and hungry.
Decided to get over to Covent Garden to find the Novello Theatre and a cozy restaurant for a quick bite to eat before Hamlet. The trains were so crowded that we had to pass on a couple and the trip took longer than expected, so by the time we got to the theatre there was no time for a restaurant.
LUCKILY, and QUITE a surprise...when we entered the theatre, the ticket woman asked us to stand right there while she called our CONCIERGE down to get us. Our Concierge?...Huh?...What?...
It turns out the tickets were PREMIUM tickets, and while I thought that just meant, Duh...they're great seats and they cost more...NO. Premium meant they included a private sitting room, full of champagne, non-stop hors d'ourves and polite conversation with another family, before being escorted to our Dress Circle, Front Row, Dead Center seats. Dinner and drinks. Perfect. AND it was all inside a Secret room off the Dress circle bar! The bar patrons all whispering and aghast when the concierge pushed on the wall and it opened to reveal our VIP lounge. Hehehe...It was very cool. ;-)
The experience couldn't have been better!...LIE!...It would have been a WHOLE lot better...if DAVID TENNANT hadn't still been out with his back injury. :-((((( (I have to admit, nearly every time Edward spoke, I could clearly hear in my mind how David would have given the speech.)
In any case...The show was brilliant in every way. The staging...magnificent. Edward Bennett...marvelous. At the interval we were escorted back to the VIP lounge to discuss what we'd just witnessed and have dessert...delicious.
NOW COMES THE PART WHERE YOU ARE GOING TO PELT US WITH BLUNT OBJECTS . . .
We ate our dessert, and politely said our goodbyes. The exhaustion of the day mixed with glasses of champagne had done us in. We both had been struggling against the urge to nod off during the first act. As much as we would have LOVED to see the rest, it would have been painfully embarrassing, especially in those Premium, everyone can see you seats...to snore our way through the rest of the play. Alas...with full stomachs and heavy hearts we taxied back to the hotel. One more day...well, half day...left in London.