Outdoors London: going to the ball and a huge flower show!

It’s mid July and outdoors London is in full swing even if the weather is not keeping up but I’m hopeful it will improve very soon. I was at 2 major outdoors event last week – a live screening in Trafalgar Square from the Royal Opera House and Hampton Court Flower Show – both good fun and luckily we escaped without getting rained on at all!

A really big screen was put up overnight in Trafalgar Square for a live screening of Massenet’s Cendrillon (or Cinderella as we know her) from the Royal Opera House. This was in panto style with great costumes, sung in French with subtitles. Although it would be wonderful to be in the Opera House, the outdoor version does have 2 great advantages: it’s free as the Opera House can be very pricey; and, as it’s televised you get some great close ups. They followed the story pretty closely and in the tradition of panto the principal male role was played by a woman which was rather strange as it resulted in soprano wooing soprano, where the spoken voice is less obvious, this was unexpected especially as the Prince looked like a young KD Lang!
The Square was completely packed with a lively crowd all sitting on the hard floor but eased by free blow up cushions courtesy of the sponsor BP. We enjoyed the show and look forward to next year already.
Photos take us through the first half of the event as we saw them on the screen (with Nelson’s Column in the background): the intro from Deborah Bull with crowd in the Square behind her; the ugly sisters before and after they are dressed up for the royal ball; our first view of miserable Cinders who has to stay home; Cinders and the Fairy Godmother after she has waved her wand; the wonderful carriage with horses (Carosse in French); Cinders arrives at the ball in her dazzling white dress while everyone else is in red; and, finally, the first kiss.


Hampton Court Flower Show is a major annual event in the gardening calendar and also for those who like a good day out! We were kindly invited by friends who had a stall in the massive Country Life tent where you could buy a huge range of lovely things – none more so than on their stall of course – Floreat was best! This show is absolutely enormous and you could spend all day walking round without going back on yourself and some of the tents were the size of the centre court at Wimbledon! We saw show gardens, amazing flower displays, everything you could ever need in your garden, and everything you will never need in your garden! As we were there on the last day, there were great bargains to be had as they began to close up and they pulled the show gardens and sold the plants off for a few pounds. As a result people were struggling out with huge plants and it’s a long way to the car or train station so goodness knows what state the plants and their owners would be in by the time they got home!
Photos show: Hampton Court’s Long Walk with tents all around; flower displays; a garlic garden(!) ; fabulous colours x2; blue and white agapanthus; and, a cactus garden, looking a bit like a cake stall!

Bye for now, Sue

http://itsyourlondon.co.uk/ @itsyourlondon

Heatwave in London!

The last 2 weeks of June saw a couple of unusual events – a British player doing well at Wimbledon and temperatures hitting the 30s (90s)! To make the most of both I headed off to Wimbledon on Monday to see Andy Murray play on the centre court with the roof closed for the first time and play went on to a very untraditional 10.39 pm. Nails were bitten, eyes were hidden behind hands, Mexicans were waved and in end Andy prevailed and we breathed again. This being England, the fans are planning to queue for 2 days to catch his next encounter!

And still the heat goes on….

It’s Henry V111 year as it’s 500 years since he came to the throne and there are all kinds of events and exhibitions to visit to learn about this monarch who changed the course of our history. We visited Hampton Court and as well as getting lost in the famous maze (but finally found the centre to claim our sticker!) we joined Henry and his courtiers for pre-wedding drinks and a lively chat about his life and thoughts about wives! Henry was married, well one of his 6 weddings, at Hampton Court and there are re-enactments of the preparations and the wedding for visitors to join in and even Tudor dress to wear as you go round. It’s great fun and part of a very entertaining day out in this grand palace.

I was very happy to see Michael Palin in a one off charity show at the O2 arena entitled ’20 years of jokes and 20 years of comedy’, a treat for travellers and Monty Python fans alike. What a lovely man. The O2 is an amazing building designed as a huge tent and features in Casino Royale for those who know their James Bond films.

One of my visitors staying in Notting Hill wanted to try an English pub so we went to The Cow, known for its sea food. The menu offered ‘whelks and winkles’ so we decided to boldly go. I retreated to the Pimms as this went down much easier but, for the brave, this dish is really something to remember! Pimms is the classic English summer drink, refreshing but a little bit stronger than it seems.

One more unusual London experience worth telling you all about are the 30 pianos out on the streets all across London, for anyone to sit at and play, as part of Luke Jerram’s Play Me I’m Yours artwork. I found one in Notting Hill being played rather well by students whose days mission was to give a short rendition on each of the 30 pianos for Cancer Research, a huge effort on such a hot day.

Yes, it’s still hot…