Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The "Texans Tour of London" commences

London Marathon Training: Week 16 of 19
Tuesday target run: 16 x 30 seconds


Although the Texans are long gone, the sightseeing did not allow for the blog posting to keep pace...so a little homage over the next few days to the week's festivities.

Day one saw the arrival of J and JB in London; after a full English breakfast and a nap, our little foursome headed to central London for afternoon tea at Fortnum and Mason's. That's the thing about house guests...they get you out to see and do alot of the things you been meaning to see and do as London city dwellers.

Entrance to Fortnum and Mason's department store.

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Don't let those little cakes and finger sandwiches fool you...they can be quite filling.

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We even did a little pre and post b-day celebrating for the boys.

After afternoon tea, we wandered a bit in F&M's department store...quite lovely, especially the perfume counter.

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Next stop: show #1 of the week: Billy Elliott. What a show...those little guys can sure dance!

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And so, feeling quite energized by the day's events, we all concluded that the week was off to a rip-roaring start. Next day, we were headed to Hampton Court!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Theater review updates

London Marathon Training: Week 15 of 19
Saturday target run: 1 hour 30 minutes

After living in a country for 15 months, the Budman and I would have now been well into exploring the countryside of our new adopted country, checking out the villages and scenery, and getting the feel of life outside of London. Not so this far; it is not because we are not interested (we definitely are!) and not because we have been too busy at work (which we have but that is beside the point). We have had plenty of time to play all things considered.

Here is the thing. There is way to many things to do in the London area every weekend and it seems we are constantly checking something new out in the city. I know…that will have to subside at some point, but for now, we are simply having too much fun in London.

One of the things we have majorly embraced is the theater scene…merciful heavens, we see 2-3 shows a month! Several of them having fantastic actors in them…BIG names! And the good news is that we have 6-8 more already in the queue…

So, in no particular order, a brief synopsis of our theatrical amusements of late…

(1) Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie with Brenda Blethyn
Review: Not my favourite Williams play but a popular one for most audiences. Clearly any actress worth her salt has to have played and included in her acting repertoire the role of Amanda Wingfield. Brenda’s performance was solid and not over the top but previous productions with other actresses in the role, such as Jessica Lange, left this one lacking for me. Sorry.
Verdict: 2 out of 4 thumbs up.

Blethyn

(2) William’s Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night with Derek Jacoby
Review: A Donmar production with a modern updated feel to an old favourite. A good strong cast, with Derek Jacoby being quite funny and perfect for the role of Malvolio. A bit long but heck…it’s on Bill’s comedies so hang in there till the end.
Verdict: 3 out of 4 thumbs up.

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(3) Hairspray
Review: Charming, a real foot-tapper, and entirely entertaining. Great costumes!!!!!!!! No way you can go wrong with a ticket to this one.
Verdict: 4 out of 4 thumbs up.

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(4) Complicit with Richard Dreyfuss, Elizabeth McGovern, and David Suchet
Review: Interesting premise of how the media under the mantel of freedom of the press can actually hinder/escalate/further incite national issues, such as the case of this play, terrorism. A candid look from both sides of the fence. I was actually looking forward to seeing Dreyfuss perform under Kevin Spacey’s direction at the Old Vic. Hear later that his lines were being fed through an earpiece. In either case, thought provoking but I walked away feeling like unsatisified.
Verdict: 2.5 out of 4 thumbs up.

Complicit

(5) Lloyd George Knew My Father
Review: OK, a traditional and very popular William Douglas Home play from the 1960’s with some old school UK theatre alums. The main reason I wanted to see the play was because Claire Bloom, an Old Hollywood and English acting legend, was set to take on the lead role. Sadly, she bailed on the part due to personal reasons. The actors in the play were quite charming and it was a nice Sunday afternoon’s entertainment. The missing Bloom was a disappointment for me, though; hence the ...
Verdict of 2.5 out of 4 thumbs up.

Lloyd George Knew My Father

(6) Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
Review: I admit it…this is my FAVORITE musical of the “oldies but goodies”. Even with this production being a local Richmond production, I found I could not stay away from it…especially being it was on Valentine’s Day! Sadly, too many memories of Howard Keel made it tough for me to find the actor who played the lead role of Adam Pontipee as credible. I mean, no backwoodsman from 1870’s Oregon would pronounce the word “territory” (TERH-rih-tor-ree) as “TERH-rih-tree”. Plus, he was really a little physically frail to play the burly guy and was a true tenor singing a strong bass role. OK, so I did not like his rendition. The gal who played Maggie, though, was quite charming. Even so, old favorites can hide a multitude of sins.

Verdict: 2.75 out of 4 thumbs up. The little extra rating was only b/c the dancing was really good, and I liked the song Those Women Were Sabine. Even now, I can hear Howard singing in my ear.

7 brides for 7 brothers

(7) Billy Elliott – The Musical
Review: One of the best musicals showing in the West End right now. Wow! The dancing, especially the tap portion, was simply amazing. My favorite dance sequences were: (a) the frustrated Billy taps against the backdrop of the mineworkers’ union riots and (b) the ballet dream sequence between a young and older Billy. I’d see it again, if for no other reason to see how the other “3 “Billys” would perform the same role.
Verdict: A very strong 4 out of 4 thumbs up.

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(8) Richard Greenberg’s Three Days of Rain with James McAvoy

Review: Compelling drama full of the human frailty and foibles in us all. I very much liked it, although the play was in no way a reflection of why I dozed during the early portions…it was simply that a week of full-on sightseeing was starting to take its toll. McAvoy was quite good, especially in the dual role of the stuttering Ned. In my view, the best performance was Lyndsey Marshal’s Lina with her dead-on Southern accent. For that matter, this three person cast got all the US accents perfectly…given they were all UK actors.
Verdict: 3.5 out of 4 thumbs up.

3 days of rain

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

it's not often you can...

London Marathon Training: Week 14 of 19
Tuesday target run: rest day

Celebrate St. Patrick's Day in Ireland. But that is just what we did! A 4 AM wake-up call had us hitting the road for a 7:00 flight to Dublin. Parade, sightseeing, a nice evening meal....and then it was back out on a 9:55 PM return flight to London. It was a long day but well worth it...so to all those in the US....



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Monday, March 16, 2009

reading is believing

London Marathon Training: Week 14 of 19
Monday target run: 3 hours

Since a fellow blogger already beat me to the punch, no need to reinvent the wheel. Please see the March 14th posting of http://dancetotherhythm.blogspot.com/.

And we thought we had crazy airport stories...our visiting friends have us beat hands down.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Texans are coming!

London Marathon Training: Week 13 of 19
Friday target run: 45 minutes

Yes, Joe and JoBeth are arriving tomorrow at 7 AM...Four fun Texans exploring London for 8 days. Yes!

Friday, March 06, 2009

Round 3

London Marathon Training: Week 12 of 19
Friday target run: 45 minutes


Well, I passed the driver's theory test. Thanks for the warm wishes and words of encouragement. That final bit of cramming definitely paid off when I breezed through the 50 multiple choice questions in 8 minutes. Score 100%.

The hazard perception test turned out to be a bit more tricky, as I had issues with the computer mouse on one of the video clips, resulting in my answers for one uestion being disqualifed. So, my score on this part: 73% but well over the 58% that was required.

OK, so I am now all systems "go" for the final hurdle, the practical test. After waiting one day for my scores to be posted, I am now sitting at my PC arranging for my test. UGH! I know find out that I the first test date in my area is April 27th...what gives???? That is 8 weeks from now..and the day after the marathon!

No use complaining...it is what it is. The last challenge is to figure out how I get my car to the testing site since I am not able to legally drive it...nor is anyone on my insurance allowed to drive my car....and the Budman has no driver's license yet either.

Is it supposed to be this hard?

Thursday, March 05, 2009

D-Day

London Marathon Training: Week 12 of 19
Thursday target run: rest day


It's late...now officially morning and am closing in on the final chapters of Driver's Ed UK 101. By that I mean...today is technically D-Day. Theory test day.

* I have read the UK Highway Driving code book till I can almost recite it in my sleep.
* I have done the practice questions till I can pratice no more.
* I have even practiced my hazard perception test in simulation mode (sounds impressive, really isn't. Just clicking a mouse).

I have done all I know to do. Time for a few hours sleep, a last minute cramming session on the "2 tubes and a bus to work", and then off to the testing center at lunch. testing paperwork is in hand, ID is packed in the briefcase, taxi is booked to the testing center.... What could go wrong?

Should I even tempt fate by asking that question? After all, I am the poster child for "if it can go wrong, it will go wrong". You'll know as soon as I know...wow...such suspense!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

20000 hits

London Marathon Training: Week 12 of 19
Wednesdsay target run: 45 minutes


It is hard to believe but the blog has celebrated over 20,000 hits! Actuall, there have been more hits than the 20K because I missed the milestone event. Thanks to all of you who care to read and comment.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Dun-dun

London Marathon Training: Week 12 of 19
Sunday target run: 2 hours 45 minutes
Monday target run: off
Tuesday: speedwork - 6 x 3:00 minutes

Flicking through TV listings this week, and what to my wondrous eyes did I see? The quintessential show for the Law & Order fan....Law & Order UK.

Same show format. 2 cops and 2 lawyers. Same black background and white lettering leading into the scene changes, and the same "dun-dun" music. If you are a L&O junkie like me...and going on 19 years I might add...you know what I mean.

Only slight change (and for those fans lie me out there, I know you know these words by heart) -" In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the police who investigate crime and the CROWN PROSECUTORS who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories."

Some days, TV viewing does not get any better than this.