Saturday, August 1st
We went into Nottingham to do some shopping. Paul wanted a few things that aren't available in the US, and we hadn't found them elsewhere. The market square was new since the last time we were here, and they had transformed it into a beach paradise for the summer. Very cool! We had a great dinner with Maria and Rob tonight while Ken and Margaret watched Ryan.
Sunday, August 2nd
Packing! And, dinner at a carvery for a traditional Sunday Lunch (i.e., roast meat for dinner). At this carvery, you could have your choice of one or all of the meats. I had turkey and beef - it was great! Yorkshire pudding (sort of like a popover) is another traditional item to have.
Monday, August 3rd
We drive to London and return the rental car. Our hotel room is ready, but we don't stay long before heading downtown! Our plan was to head to the nearest ticket booker and get whatever discount tickets we could for whatever show we could. We decided to not plan ahead, but to spend whatever money we had left at the end of the vacation on whatever we could find. Our top choices (Mamma Mia! and Hairspray) weren't available today, but tickets for Avenue Q were. Avenue Q won a Tony Award for best musical when it opened in New York on Broadway. We absolutely loved it. It's non-traditional musical, meaning that you aren't going to find huge choruses or groups of dancers. What you will find is a sort-of Sesame Street for grown-ups. You'll see muppet-style puppets along with their puppeteers singing and dancing. If the song titles offend you (It sucks to be me, Everyone's a little bit racist), this show is not for you. Paul and I thought it was great, and would recommend it to anyone with an adult and open sense of humor.
I also managed to force march Paul to some scrapbooking/bookmaking stores in London. Our first stop was Blade Rubber Stamps, where I found a few books, and a new edition of my favorite magazine. We then went to a bookbinding store, Shepherd's, which was just around the corner. They have every tool a bookbinder would need. Dinner was indian food. Absolutely delicious.
Tuesday, August 4th
Today, we visit the Queen! Unfortunately, she's not home, but she lets us tour the public rooms of Buckingham Palace. The rooms are only open about two months per year, when there is no business and the Queen isn't in residence. The palace is breathtaking. I'd visited Kensington Palace and the Tower of London on other trips, but wasn't overly impressed. Kensington Palace is a nice building, but the rooms are mostly empty since they're unused. The Tower is great, but it's an older building, so you don't see grandeur (unless you count the royal jewels on display). She has a lovely tea shop set up on the back of the palace, complete with loos and a gift shop! She only uses the finest paper cups for her visitors, and all of the gift shop items were actually made in the UK!
Tonight, we score tickets for Hairspray. We are very excited! We're both a bit tired (we didn't get back to the room until midnight last night), so we walk around a bit, but find a Starbucks to settle down in and read books for a while. We roam around to find a restaurant in the area. We have a hard time deciding if we're going to eat the same food as yesterday (Indian) or something new. In the end, we go with Indian food. It's harder to get in the US, and we have yet to find a bad Indian restaurant. We go to Masala tonight, which is a bit of a chain, since they have a few locations. They specialize in Thali plates, which contain a curry of your choice, and a selection of other side dishes and snacks. The food is marvelous.
Hairspray the musical was fabulous. Our seats were a bit further back than for Avenue Q, but still great. The music is great, the actors are fabulous, and it's filled with great dancing. The musical even has a tap dancing number which was cut from the movie. I am excited, and imagine that I'm on stage with them. If only the casting agent had seen me in my most recent show....
Wednesday, August 5th and beyond
The trip home was great, and we spend Thursday doing laundry and getting essential things done at home. Friday, it's back to work.
We'll have more adventures, but that's it for now. Thanks to everyone for their comments and e-mails. This has been fun!