Saturday, July 19, 2014

if you want to view paradise

Hampton Court is was, today. The birds were singing and the clouds were rolling and London was having a quote unquote "heat wave" at 85 degrees Fahrenheit. We got on the train and headed out, not knowing that we were entirely missing this, which was a blessing as half the city shut down for it.

I really love Hampton Court and it doesn't matter how many times I go there, I look forward to it. It's a calming place, despite all the intrigue, terror and subterfuge that went on there through the centuries. Today it feels quiet, secretive, and open. You know there are hundreds of tourists there, but you never feel them. And that's a nice difference. You sort of feel like you are exploring this palace on your own. And if you are lucky you overhear private conversations like this one, where two ladies, Jane Seymour and Lady Passive Aggressive, gossiped about Anne Boleyn.

 We snuck out for an hour to get pizza in the village, and then went back into the Palace Gardens. While the students explored the maze I explored a nap. I awoke to them tickling my nose with long grasses. And then we all drifted aimlessly through the arbor tunnel and the fountain gardens and the world's largest vine until we found a big tree and everyone collapsed underneath it. We were only there for 15 minutes or so, but everyone took their catnaps in the shade of one of Henry VIII's mulberry trees, and it felt awesome. You can hear every bee buzzing in those gardens, but the rest of it is quiet and breeze.

The train ride back to London was not reflective of the day we'd had; there were hundreds of tourists trying to pack aboard the Waterloo express. And though we made it on, there was a lot of pushing and shoving and some curt words in various Asian languages. The tube was a mess, with everyone either coming or going to the Anti-Israel rally, and the physical and emotional temperature of the tube car seemed to rise or fall, depending on each station we passed through.

But we had just enough time to scrub up, change clothes, and head downtown to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. This was my second time seeing the show. I saw it last year and, though I was blown away by the technicalities of it (you've never seen anything like it) it left me a little cold. My experience this year was slightly better; I liked the story more and in a few places I actually felt something. So maybe they've retooled the show, or maybe I'm going soft. One thing is for sure, the show makes you crave chocolate. Miles had a Wonka Bar and a pint of Coke with me on the steps of the Drury Lane theatre.

We capped the day by wishing Happy Birthday to Kailey Azure Green, who is no longer a teen. We celebrated upstairs at Nando's on Gloucester Road, where there was a lot of chicken to be eaten, instagram videos to make, and some music to salsa dance to. Happy Birthday, Kailey!