The sun was bright and the air was cool, with a bit of a wind as I headed out for the day. I took a bus from Swiss Cottage to Camden. Camden, situated on Regents Canal, is known for its market, and bustling nightlife. That morning vendors were cooking food for the busy day. Shops were opening for the soon to come shoppers who wanted to get special gifts for Christmas, or maybe one for themselves. I boarded the waterbus with the London Waterbus Company https://www.londonwaterbus.com for the first ride of the day. The windows in the front had to stay open because of the crosswinds, but there were blankets on the seats to keep warm. It was a private ride which made it even more special. The attendant said coming from Little Venice is more poplar for the start of the day, and sure enough there were people waiting for the ride as we arrived. The waterbus meanders through the canal, low to the water, passing a still and a peaceful life along the way. You can stop at the London Zoo and pick up the next boat, or continue on to Little Venice near Paddington after a 55 min ride. Along the way boats were in hibernation for the winter, and some had smoke coming from their stacks with small Christmas trees on the bow.
After getting off the boat I walked to Paddington Station to pick up the Tube to Notting Hill. Notting Hill is a busy place, known for a market along Portobello Road, quaint shops, and the movie with the same name. I have a fond memory of this market from a trip to London in 2016. While walking around I heard a music vendor asking the crowd to name the singer of the song he was playing; her voice was distinctive. I heard someone shout out Doris Day. As I walked by I turned around and said Dinah Washington, smiled as the vendor pointed at me with a finger on his nose, and walked away as the crowd turned to look at me.
This day was a quick visit to Notting Hill because I had a ticket to see Parliament. https://www.parliament.uk/visiting/ The Houses of Parliament, also known as the Palace of Westminster, was originally built in 1016, and was the home of the Monarchy until a fire in 1512. The gothic building is an iconic part of the landscape of London, as it sits on the River Thames. The palace is a beautiful ornate place that is rich in history. It was be rebuilt again after another fire 1834. The tower that houses Big Ben has been under various stages of renovation since 2016. A guided tour takes you throughout the massive building, and you can even visit the House of Lords, and the House of Commons. I could just imagine Churchill speaking in the House encouraging them to take on Hitler. I pictured his famous words resonating on May 13,1940,having just become Prime Minister;”I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.”
A short walk away was a pub called the Red Lion Inn. You can get the traditional fish and chips, as I did in 2013, or a good burger as I did this day. The room upstairs was warm and a Christmas tree sat near my table. Conversation around me was low. I was in excited anticipation for the show I was about to see at the National Theatre.
As you walk through the tube there is advertising for shows around London. These shows are mainly in the West End; London’s equivalent of America’s Broadway in New York. The actor playing Antony caught my eye. Was it really Ralph Fiennes?? It was!! https://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/shows/antony-and-cleopatra For over three hours I had a front row middle seat to watch Ralph Fiennes in complete star struck awe. The theatre is modern unlike the historic theatres of the West End, but it was a good place to see a show.
As I made my way back to Swiss cottage, I could not help but have a grin on my face. I have seen a many great shows, some even better than this, but the actor made it even better,with his impeccable acting. His costars were some of the best I have seen on stage. What a perfect end to another great day!