Mum and Dad came up to London last week to see what all the hullabaloo is about. Tuesday evening was my first opportunity to demonstrate my new-found cookery skills to my mother, who has been subliminally teaching me everything I know about cookery since I was old enough to peer over the kitchen counter and watch cheese being grated/tomatoes being sliced/mince pies being pressed. I made a Moroccan chicken tagine (aka a slightly curryish casserole) which seemed to go down well, although I supect that Mum was going to be nice about whatever I'd made, regardless.
Wednesday we minicabbed, trained, and taxied our way to the British Museum and observed the Terracotta Army, or at least a detachment of it. After seeing the photos of the archaeological digs with thousands of in-tact soldiers showing, it was easy to be disappointed with the two dozen or so figures on show here; but I forced myself to think about their antiquity, the level of detail on every one, and the fact that these priceless objects had been shipped from China so that there were but a train ride away for me. Then it impossible not to be impressed and even awestruck by what I was seeing.
That afternoon, we went to the Globe Theatre to see Love's Labour's Lost. It was my second visit but Mum & Dad's first. Weirdly, we were seated in exactly the same bit of the theatre that I'd been in with Stuart and Karen in June. LLL is described by a character in one of Jasper Fforde's novels as having been made up of parts left over from Shakespeare's other plays, which is a fair description. There are nobles, comical servants, and false identities aplenty, and the players really played it up until it was laugh-a-minute, which was good because you're practically outdoors at the Globe and it was absolutely freezing. Probably not as memorable a performance as Othello, but great entertainment.
Thursday we crawled along the north half M25 and went to Waddesdon Manor. I'll let you read the link for details; it's not really my bag. Not because of the property itself, which is magnificent, but because it's run by the National Trust, so the inside is dimly lit and utterly devoid of life or personality. The best bit (for me) was the Aviary, which quite apart from being an elegant cast-iron structure in itself, houses some beautiful exotic birds hopping about and squeaking. I felt like they were the first living thing I'd seen all day..
Friday was mostly spent at the Great Western Railway Sheds Shopping Oulet. Recommended. Go, if you haven't been before. It's an ever-changing multi-mall of bargain outlets, completely different from any other mall I've ever been in. I bought all sorts of goodies, and my Mum got all kinds of generous and started buying me even more things. None of it was more than 2/3rds it's RRP, and the bedsheets I got were less than 1/3rd price. And if you want to feel like you've improved your mind while you're there, there's a museum of the Great Western Railway next door, which is so engaging and lively it made Waddesdon look like a maths textbook.
I'll leave you with a snippet from the beginning of LLL. Ferdinand (King of Navarre) has just persuaded his friends to sign an oth that they'll spend three years with him studying, fasting, and having no contact with women:
LONGAVILLEI love Shakespeare.You swore to that, Biron, and to the rest.BIRONBy yea and nay, sir, then I swore in jest. What is the end of study? let me know.FERDINANDWhy, that to know, which else we should not know.BIRONThings hid and barr'd, you mean, from common sense?FERDINANDAy, that is study's godlike recompense.