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Published: July 14th 2018
Plaque on the wall at The Oval
Our second day in London was very enjoyable. We left the hotel about 9am and walked east along the embankment and found a local cafe to have a croissant and coffee for breakfast, We were heading to the iconic The Oval which is in walking distance from our hotel. I had booked a tour yesterday online and we were very excited about seeing this ground after which our own Adelaide Oval was named. It ws already warm and sunny and while having breakfast we watched on TV the huge crowds of protesters with their Trump baby balloon getting ready to march against his visit.
We walked along Hartleyford Road aand arrrived at the John Edrich gate an hour early. Easy to underestimate distances!! So we went on and explored Kennington Park which is where the original Oval was situated. There were plenty of people enjoying the sunshine but the park looked very dry. They haven't had proper rain here for ages. We arrived back at the Oval at 10-30am and were directed to the main reception area where we were greeted and led to the Committee Room. Here we were offered tea or coffee and allowed to sit out on
the balcony on their plush upholstered seats.There was a father and daughter also waiting. They were originally from South Africa but now lived in the UK. Our tour guide, Bob, arrived and by 11am there was a family of four from India and a local member all ready for the tour.
Our first stop wasback in the committee room where Bob told us the early history of the Surrey County Cricket Club which actually was set up by the Duchy of Cornwall and thence their symbol is the Prince of Wales feathers. We then went downstairs to the Long Room which was adorned by many portraits of famous players from the club such as Jack Hobbes and the Bedser twins. Thence it was to their museum which contained the oldest bat in existence, dated 1790. Many artefacts to look at. We were then given the honour of leading the group through the Bradman Doors out into the members' pavilion . Bradman is honoured here because it was here he got out for 0 in his last innings to just miss having an average of 100.as well as honouring him for his whole career. We then walked onto the edge
of the ground. As this is a dedicated cricket ground there are 19 pitches across the centre and the groundsmen were repairing the grass after a 20/20 which had occurred last night.
We then went back through the main building and walked around the outside. There were many plaques commemorating the various milestones which have been made at the ground. We reached the largest grandstand and were taken up to the top floor there. Here we had a great view back over London and then went out onto the terrace where the most expensive packages of food and drink and seating occur. The view was excellent and Bob continued to enlighten us about the history of the ground including the birth of the Ashes which occured here. The next stop was the media centre and we saw the very small studio from which Sky Sport broadcasts and then the BBC radio studio. Then we got to do something I have never been allowed to do at Adelaide Oval and this was to walk right out to the middle of the ground. The last stop was in the visitors changerooms and we saw the signatures of many international cricketers which
Fletcher in the Committee Room
adorn the walls there.
A 90 minute tour had become 2 hours and as we walked to the small shop we thanked Bob for his interesting commentary. We had chatted along the way and had had a fantastic experience. Unlike Adelaide Oval , Bob is paid for his guiding and he does other duties here too.
After this very enjoyable visit we walked across to The Oval Tube station and caught the train into central London. By this time it was nearly 2pm so we walked to one of our favourite eating spots, All Bar One in Leicester Square. Here we had a great lunch while relaxing and recovering from the morning's efforts. After this we went to the half price ticket box and bought tickets for the night's performance of Imperium, the Royal Shakespeare Company's adaptation of Robert Harris' trilogy based on the life of Cicero.
We still had a couple of books to buy so we walked back to Waterstones. Our progress, though, was impeded by the huge parade of protestors streaming along Haymarket, with various signs against Trump's visit. We enjoyed watching the very ordinary mixture of people, incensed enough to walk in peaceful
protest. We finally skirted around them and found the books we wanted at the store. Then it was back to the hotel for a short rest before we set out again to Picadilly and the Gielgud Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue. We had good seats in the Dress Circle and the performance was most enjpyable. However, it was 3 and a half hours long and both of us nodded off a couple of times as jet lag set in. Then it was back with the crowds onto the Tube and we returned to our hotel after a very active and enjoyable day.
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