A Sunday Afternoon in the ByWard Market (Ottawa)

A Sunday Afternoon in the ByWard Market (Ottawa)

Category Archives: United Kingdom

I simply do not have the right words to describe the amazing adaptation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream… I can try with: Magnificent… Phenomenal… Fabulous acting… Most entertaining… Splendid set… Outstanding artistic creation… but I believe these words wouldn’t do this play justice; especially the part played by Puck (Katy Owen), which was truly superb… from the actor’s voice, to her endless energy, right down to her mannerisms.

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The Globe (pre) Performance

I have read many reviews, both good (entertaining as hell) and bad (the Globe should produce plays in as authentic an atmosphere as possible). Many even describe what they think William himself would have thought of such adaptations. Who’s to know really? I don’t believe this is the point.

What we are doing as a western civilization, in my opinion, is keeping the Shakespearean spirit alive. We rerun old plays, create new ones, adapt some to our changing society, and in so doing, we do not let our fervent artistic spirit perish. Another question could be, what’s considered authentic? It seems that Shakespeare’s plays were very modern for the times, pushing the boundaries of acceptability and lewdness. So adapting his plays to the modern era, could it not be considered authentic to the essence of what was William Shakespeare?

Moving on to other English sights… Yesterday, we visited Windsor Castle. I could say it was beautiful, very well preserved, a nice historical walk through time, a cozy city, and so much more. IMG_0267

And well, it would all be true, but to be honest, it was on the blah side for me. We walked around, went through the self-guided walk and stopped in St. George’s Chapel, where Henry the VIII is buried (ok, I have to admit, I liked this part… being an avid fan of the Tudors… no spoiling please, I’m only in season 3!). We walked briefly through the town, stopped at a pub, then for ice cream and came back to our Russell Square apartment.

It was another beautiful sunny day spent walking outside, but we wanted to cap it with something a little more amusing, so we went to a cinema!

It’s always so much fun going to see a movie in a different city. This time, it was at the Curzon, a chain which features foreign films in a living room-esque atmosphere. Have a look at this pic below. We were seated in reclining armchairs, 6 chair-wide, six rows deep. And, of course, we could purchase any type of liquor or snacks. Here we are with beer and a ‘large’ sweet and salty popcorn. Great way to cap off the day!

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Always happy to see a movie!

 

Well within the city limits of London is Greenwich (GREN-ich and NOT Green-witch :). As this was our second visit to this outer borough, we forwent visiting the Cutty Sark (the last of the great China tea clippers) as well as the Royal Observatory. Instead we walked around enjoying the small shops lining the streets of the town centre, and strolled through the magnificent Greenwich Park. It was such a beautiful day, we actually laid down, right on the grass, and read our books looking up now and then at the calm cloudless blue sky through the hanging branches of the large English plane tree under which we were huddled. It was a truly wonderful moment.

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On the cruise ship on our way to Greenwich

Coming back on the DLR (Docklands Light Rail), we stopped at South Quay in order to walk through the old Docklands. The Docklands used to be the world’s largest-of-its-kind harbour organizing the shipping of English goods throughout the empire. Bombed in WWII, it was completely destroyed and remained useless marshlands for decades. As is always the case, some investors saw the potential this site had to offer and transformed it into a vibrant urban economic hub surrounded by elegant condominium living and rows of hip restaurants. We quite enjoyed our walkabout and fervently wish we could afford a small pied-à-terre in this part of the city.

Coming back to yesterday, which already seems so far away, we found another little gem in the city: the British Library. I can’t believe we had not visited it the first time we were in England. Here is my TripAdvisor review:

The King George IV 65,000-book collection behind glass is quite impressing as you walk inside the building. The actual room open to the public (The Sir John Ritblat Gallery) is quite small but contains many treasures. From the Magna Carta to early editions of the Bible, from Mozart’s music sheets to the Beatles lyrics, from a letter written by Anne Boleyn to a tale written by Chaucer, and early designs by Leonardo Da Vinci, there is something to everyone to admire. Well worth the trip to King’s Cross Station when in London!

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I’m sitting in the Library Café looking up at King George’s collection

From what I have read in Rick Steves’ London 2016 guide book, King George IV in 1823 gifted this collection of 65,000 books to the people with the express condition that it be on display for all to see. Well, the condition in itself has certainly been met in that the collection is certainly on display. However, it sits behind glass in a 50-foot-tall wall (as you can see from the picture on the left) and not accessible to commoners. You probably need special permission from a university or a research facility of some sort. I was dying to have access to it and peruse through some pretty extraordinary books.

But talking about extraordinary, the folios on display in the Ritblat Gallery were certainly magnificent, and did their part to appease my strong desire to infiltrate the secret vault.

Stay tuned for more adventures from London.