What I Did in Three Days in London (Part Two!)

So where did I last leave you…London…Ah! We were getting lost in a little cul de sac near Euston Road. There are actually a few cute little higgledy piggledy streets with nice looking pubs and things tucked away, much more interesting than the big Euston Road if you are in the area and stuck for something to do.

But we had the theatahh to get to (American Buffalo, I may have mentioned once or twice ;-), so we decided on just grabbing something around Leicester Square.We ended up at a chain steakhouse called Angus something or other – it had a faux New York steakhouse interior with red leather seats and dark wood and low lighting. The steaks were moderately expensive but not too outrageous by London standards (though of course they charge extra for chips!), but nicely cooked and BIG. I also went for the sweet potato chips as you rarely see them here, and they were delicious!

Rather than stuff ourselves with pudding (um yeah we're not saints, totally had ice cream at intermission!), we opted for a stroll around the area. There are some genuinely neat old bookstores on the lane behind the Wyndham's Theatre – super chi chi I imagine but still fun to peer in the windows (most of them were closed/closing).

Eventually we started hovering outside the theatre – it was packed, with people piling inside like sardines before they’d opened the doors, which didn’t appeal to me as the lobby was quite small really.

The doors were opened and we joined the slow herd – everyone files in via a small staircase in the center, it’s pretty quaint and old time-y (that is to say it's Victorian, I am such a cultural clod!). I grabbed a program on the way up and showed my ticket to the usher – his eyes perked up a bit, as we were getting to go in the special secret corridor for the “Royal” boxes. A tiny door led to an even tinier staircase, it all felt a bit Alice in Wonderland, We looped up and around and he showed us the sliding door to our box, which contained two padded chairs which you could move around if need be for views. There was a velvet curtained small walled balcony and the box had room for only two. He then showed us to our very own toilet! (OK we had to share it with the other box of two, but still! No queues at intermission, I rejoiced!).

From now on, I am all about the royal box (sadly I don’t think they uses these seats at the theatre in Aberdeen). It had the prettiest wallpaper and a bird’s eye view, and you just feel so deliciously cordoned off from the throng of the theatre. And the view of the stage, while ever so slightly catty-corner, was actually really great for this particular play, as the set was very small, a diagonally squared off area meant to be a junk shop (with one of the four corners projecting out over the stage), there were only one or two moments where the o.h. had to crane his neck a little bit. But when the curtain came up, instantly we became too drawn into the play to pay any mind to the novelty of our seats.  

Damian Lewis, as smooth talking drifter Teach, was just super charismatic and entertaining, channeling Al Pacino and Jack Lemmon all at once I think. His character was definitely the comedic foil of the piece, and the audience laughed throughout at his every utterance. Brody* is funny, who knew?! He was just mesmerizing in particular with his physicality in the role. I think American Buffalo is such a great play, it’s about men and their inability to communicate with each other basically, revolving around a planned burglary after one of the characters (Don) feels he has been swindled after selling a rare coin (the American Buffalo nickel of the title) for far less than its value. None of these characters are winners in life, and it treats them both mercilessly and oddly gently at once. 

I won’t lie, I often find David Mamet too bleak and hard going, but this play has a real sweetness at its core, at least this production did. It helps that all three characters are handled so deftly by the actors. John Goodman has possibly the hardest role, playing the straight man of the piece, Don, but his innate comic timing always keeps him at pace with the more jazzy character played by Damian Lewis. When the second act picks up in a freeze frame with Goodman holding his pose for ever so slightly longer than is necessary for comedic effect, you remember you are in the presence of a man who has a lifetime of comedy experience. And Tom Sturridge as Bob puts in the sort of sneakily scene stealing performance that only a certain type of young actor can – all tics and mannerisms and vulnerable fiery dimness, he really is remarkable in this and I’d be amazed if he didn’t get several award nominations. He and John Goodman have great chemistry; the push pull of their slightly paternal/slightly perhaps more relationship is tense and seat gripping.

At any rate, it was excellent, and if you happen to be in London before it finishes in the next two weeks or so do try your luck at the theatre as we did, it’s well worth seeing this electric triple hander – it felt like a play that has found its rhythm, something early reviews indicated it may not have, so I hope it is remembered as the great production it became.

So moving swiftly along…day 3 (well day two and a half). It was the day of The Replacements gig, the reason for our visit, so my mind was just all abuzz. Since we did a “me” thing the previous day, we were going to do a David thing (yes, he’s called David, I’m tired of referring to him as husband/o.h., etc., he’s not that mysterious!). And that meant The British Museum, aka mummies and Romans and other (*cough* boring) history stuff. I jest, I don’t mind looking at mummies and their lovely jewels and nick knacks, truly. The British Museum is HUGE, you could probably spend a week there and still not see all of it.

British Museum

We went on a Tuesday, which, I don’t know if it’s any different from any other day, was probably a big mistake on our part, but on this particular Tuesday, ALL OF THE SCHOOLCHILDREN IN THE WORLD were there. I’m not exaggerating. Now, I appreciate little tykes need field trips, I remember them fondly myself. But these little darlings were RUNNING RIOT! I’m sorry to yell, but it was ridiculous. The museum staff were shouting at them in every room we went in, they just didn’t have any apparent supervision – pretty sure the teachers  had skived off to a quiet room somewhere (I kid…there clearly just weren’t enough adults on the trip, like they needed approximately a hundred more). We kept looking for “boring” rooms the kids wouldn’t be in, without much joy.

Anyway, the museum itself is amazing, really impressive Roman artifacts, an Easter Island statue, the Rosetta Stone, basically a history buff’s heaven, if you can bear the ambiance! I didn’t take any pics inside the museum – I wasn’t raised being allowed to do that so it still feels really weird to me, am I alone here?

We scooted out around lunchtime, with the intention of grabbing a quick ride on the tour bus’s “Museum Route” as we still had a day left on our tickets. David hadn’t gotten to see Kensington/Hyde Park so I wanted him to at least see a glimpse of it. So...that was a big mistake. HUGE as Julia Roberts sayeth in Pretty Woman. We hopped on just outside the museum, thinking we’d have all the time in the world. A half hour later and we had crawled in traffic, basically done a loop around where we had started, without seeing anything of note. We were treated to the very loud commentary of the Americans beside us, who shouted at each other over the commentary/music(!).

Random pic of domed roof I took while bored out of my mind sitting in traffic near museum!

When you find yourself in that situation, thinking you should maybe get off the bus – get off the bus. But we were through the worst of it, we thought. We drove/crawled  through Soho and Piccadilly Circus

Piccadilly Circus

...and soon were on our way to leafy Kensington. Past the Royal Albert Concert Hall, all we had to do was loop around (I thought the bus looped around the park when it in fact is supposed to sort of go up and turn around and go back the way it came), and we’d catch the tube home from Piccadilly. Maybe a spot of lunch…and then the bus came to a stop towards the top of the park. And stayed stopped. Maybe it was a short break? D. went down, was told by the driver that he was off, the other driver had yet to arrive, with no estimated time of arrival on hand. 

We were parked just down a ways from the Albert Memorial

There was another tour bus parked in front of us, also sans driver. We figured we’d hop on the next bus that came along – but after ten minutes or so we began to (mildly) panic a bit.What if the traffic going back was just as bad? What if we were stuck there forever?! We decided to hoof it back to Harrod’s/the tube. It was around a twenty minute walk. (We really should have walked through the park but one of us *cough* was in mission mode). One of us then subjected the other to a pointless meander around H&M to look at shoes because one of us had insisted the other not bring her sandals and one of us was sick of wearing ugly trainers and wanted cute shoes to wear with a dress the next day, of which she had none! ;-).

Ahem(!)...At any rate we had to get to Camden for an early dinner reservation at the Roundhouse, the same venue the gig was at. 

The restaurant has posh pub grub, but I felt too nervous to eat. I was so excited about the gig so just had a kale salad with chicken. It was fine, as far as kale salads go! D. had a fish dish which was nice if slightly over-curry sauced. They do their own brewed beer there which D. sampled and I tasted and it was o.k. - it needed more bubbles but I think that of most craft beers. It was quite expensive for drinks, unsurprisingly. The venue itself is very nice, a converted former railway shed, it’s literally round inside the concert space, with high ceilings that made even a sold out gig feel decently spacious.

I wrote a bit more about the concert here for anyone interested, I’m trying to keep this review from going well and truly Shakespearean in length though, so I will just say it was fabulous and well worth the trip alone!

We slept well that last night at the Premier Inn, I would recommend the Euston branch pretty unreservedly. It was a bit cramped space wise, but that’s London hotels I think unless you are spending lots of pennies. There was not much room to put your clothes away, just a couple of shelves and a small hanging area, so I would maybe hesitate to stay there again for longer than a few days. It was clean and comfy though, the beds were super comfortable and it is ridiculously well located for King’s Cross, St.Pancras, or Euston Stations. Also I would recommend requesting a room at the back as we did, I’ve heard the rooms facing Euston Road can be noisy.

Our last day we faced the eternal tourist dilemma of what to do with our bags – the hotel does offer bag storage but that would mean we would have to stick to the area, which we didn’t really have anything else particularly we wanted to see there. So onto Victoria Station, where we paid to leave the big bag for a couple of hours. It was actually pretty reasonable, cheaper than Scottish rail stations I’ve been to anyway!

I had a plan, and it was slightly insane. We were going to watch the Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace! Now, I did not have a pressing urge to see this, I admit, but it was nearby and do-able in the amount of time we had before we had to get the train to Gatwick.

So we followed the nearest obvious tourists (we did have a vague idea which way we were going but it seemed like a safe bet – actually they were headed to tea at a fancy hotel - I think The Dorchester). But by that point there were swarms of people moving en mass towards the gates of HRH. I thought we’d pop along and have a casual look see – hmm not so much. It’s craziness, the whole thing. The police very impressively herd everyone into formation, with good humour in most cases which I thought was just so nice and British.

Buckingham Palace Changing of the Guard

Anyway, you should really ideally be standing by the gates, to see the courtyard where the Changing of the Guard happens. But then you don’t see them marching up the road, which is also fun. It’s tricky! We just kind of meandered around as much as was allowed, with admittedly less than ideal views. It all felt very touristy and chaotic and weirdly enjoyable to me even though I didn’t have the slightest clue what was happening most of the time!

I just enjoyed the international crowd’s united desire to look at men in red uniforms marching around the big house where the Queen stays when she can be bothered,  for reasons I imagine not many of us knew what for. I waved my camera around overhead and took random shots, hoping to catch something in amongst the other cameras and wretched/view destroying selfie sticks (DOWN WITH SELFIE STICKS at the palace I say! Can’t Her Majesty pass a law? So tacky!). I can’t honestly say it’s for everyone, but I’m glad I can tick it off the bucket list! 

Um hello, the world does not want a picture of your selfish, I mean selfie stick!

The sun was shining, and when the sun shines in London it does feel like one of the most pleasant places in the world. It's a great city, in that it always leaves you feeling like you've barely scratched the surface, and I can't wait to return!

Hands up, this photo is from my last London trip - there were NO decent shots of me from this one! I am making this face because as most NON-TOURISTS know, the red phone boxes smell horrifically of wee! Yeurch!

(Part one of this post is here for anyone interested!)

*Brody off Homeland I mean...if that needs explaining!


  1. Oh my gosh, I totally want to book seats in a box now - it sounds amazing! There's a stunning old theatre where I grew up which has 6 boxes and they're often as cheap or cheaper than the main seats, provided you book all the seats (I think they seat 4 so as long as there's 4 of you, it works out well, but for 2 it would be a lot).

    1. I imagine it depends on the set/theatre, like maybe a musical it wouldn't be ideal for as they use more of the stage, but honestly we had amazing views for such a bargain! :-) His Majesty's in Aberdeen definitely has them but I don't think I've ever seen anyone in them.

  2. They charged extra for chips? Very un-English way to do business!

    1. It's more of a London thing I think! ;-)

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.