A much needed local shopping expedition and a marvellous West End show

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October 14th 2013
Published: October 20th 2013
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We have a need for a shopping expedition with a specific purchase in mind and the store we are looking for has a shop nearby in Lewisham. So with the aid of Google map we worked out a walking route that would take us the most direct way to the shop about 2.4km away.

It all looked straightforward with about 5 or 6 turns onto different streets to take and we would be there. We didn’t even bother taking the GPS and using it as a hand held device.

The weather was dry with just the usual heavy overcast sky but we put our raincoats on just in case. There would be no point getting caught out in strange territory if any rain arrived while we were out.

We were half way into the walk and heading down a quiet street when all of a sudden ahead of us was a fox trotting across the road in front of us while a cat watched its movement from under the front of a car. We have been in the UK for several weeks and been out and about in many country locations but hadn’t seen any wildlife other than the odd bird and here we were in suburban London and there was a fox! We had heard that people do see foxes from time to time in the suburbs in cities but we really didn’t think we would be lucky enough to see one. It turned and looked at us a couple of times as we stood motionless before he trotted off past the cat and disappeared into the long grass in front of a terrace house.

We carried on our walk in a purposeful way and we soon arrived at the store we had been looking for and made our purchase plus a couple of other items we spotted on our way to the cashier desk, funny how shops do this to get more money out of you. Never mind as we are sure our purchase will be appreciated when it gets to its recipient when we get back to NZ.

We took the same route back to the apartment so we couldn’t get lost and although we kept an eye out for the fox as we walked down the street where we had seen it he had gone on his way. The cat was still there though which was a relief and we assume cats and foxes somehow get on in the suburbs.

With a West End show booked for tonight we hung back from going into the city too early and so had another hot soup lunch at home before heading off to catch a train.

With the plan to visit a few sights we hadn’t been to before we stayed on the train until Farringdon and then walked in the direction of the Smithfield Market has been in existence as a livestock market since the 10th century and is one of the last of the original London markets that hasn’t moved out of the city for cheaper land.

However, we found that you really need to be here in the morning to see trading being done and the place was quiet as it was now mid afternoon.

The buildings look like they need money spent on them but we then read that developers have their eyes on the site for redevelopment for office buildings.

Next on the list was Brick Lane, close to Whitechapel, where the infamous murderer Jack the Ripper carried out many unsolved murders during the late 1800’s.

Getting there was a little trickier than it should have been as I became disorientated and gave the tour party leader role over to Gretchen after we took a turn that took us away from our destination.

However, our straying did work out to some good as we got to see the Monument to the Great Fire of London designed by Christopher Wren in 1671 to commemorate the fire which destroyed a large area of London 5 years earlier. Interestingly the tower is 202 feet tall and was erected 202feet from where the fire started in a bakery in Pudding Lane which you can see in the distance.

We also came across another two railway stations to tick of the visited list in Liverpool Street and Fenchurch Street.

Back on track Gretchen soon had us at East Aldgate station from where we should be able to find Brick Lane which was nearby. But before we had time to decide which way to go a guy popped out of the crowd outside the underground entrance and asked if we were lost and what were we looking for. When we told him he guided us to the corner of the street and pointed us in the right direction. But not before he had his hand out wanting some money so he could get the subway to a Salvation Army overnight shelter. We have been in this situation before and we have always said thanks for your help but sorry on money and it wasn’t as if he had had to actually take us anywhere.

We passed through the Petticoat Lane area first which is home to a busy clothing market on mornings during the week and a full day market on Sundays. There were still a few stalls operating even at this late time of the afternoon but the stallholders were starting to pack up.

Just on from this was Brick Lane which also has a market on a Sunday but is also home to a large number of Bangladeshi restaurants along with other’s serving up exotic looking and smelling food.

By now we had walked a fair way east and we needed to get back to the West End of the city and Victoria Station to be close to the Victoria Palace Theatre where we have tickets for tonight’s performance of Billy Elliot.

We retraced our steps to East Aldgate and found we were on a line that would take us direct to Victoria Station underground without having to change trains making the transfer across town a breeze.

We found a small pub called ‘The Bag of Nails’ and dined on a very delicious meal of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding with all the trimmings. Gretchen shouted desert for me and a glass of wine for herself but was a bit taken aback by the cost of the large glass of wine at GBP6 or NZ$12! A bit more than we would pay at home although she did say the sav blanc was the best she had tasted for a while.

Billy Elliot has been running for 8 years in the same theatre but it is easy to understand why they can fill the theatre 6 nights a week and also for 2 matinees when you see and hear the standard of the performances given by the actors. The stand out as you would expect is the young boy who plays the lead role with some great singing and top class dancing. There are a number of others who also stand out including the parts of Billy’s Dad, Billy’s older brother, the dancing teacher who persuades Billy to get involved with the dancing class when he stays on after a boxing lesson he didn’t really want to be at and also Billy’s young friend. Although the music is by Elton John we hadn’t listened to the soundtrack before so the songs were new to us but having seen the stage show we will be looking to buy the CD or download our favourite songs before long when we get home.

We had good seats in the stalls which we managed to get for half price and were pleasantly surprised to find just how much room there was between the seat rows and didn’t feel cramped up as we have in other theatres.

For those readers who haven't seen the stage show here is snippet to get you interested if the show comes your way.


With the subway close by at Victoria Station we were quickly on a train heading for Black Friars at the end of the show only to again just miss a train home with another 30 minute wait for the next train.

Needless to say after such a long day we were ready for bed although we can’t lie in too long tomorrow as we plan to be at the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace early to get a good position to watch the proceedings.

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