My first full day in London was probably my favourite whole day in the entire trip. I’d been to the Charles Dickens Museum that morning (my post about it) and after stepping out of there I was met with a drizzle of rain, which I expected and was prepared for because it’s London and that’s what happens in London. I was heading to the Imperial War Museum, which was about a 30 minute walk away. That 30 minute walk was turned into a roughly 45 minute walk by the torrential downpour I got caught in and which I had to take shelter from more than once. But even though the rain made it very difficult to navigate in a foreign city, it was just the best. Here are some photos I took on my walk, the mostly grey one is the view as I walked across the Thames:
The rain had eased up by the time I reached the War Museum. I won’t be doing a full post on this as I didn’t really get a lot of photos to share and I kind of had to rush through a lot of it towards the end. While there I got to see the Victoria Cross and Bar of one of my heroes, Captain Noel Chavasse (whose biography I wrote about here), as well as the Victoria Cross of the WWI airman, Edward Mannock who I first learnt about earlier this year at another exhibition, and who also makes an appearance in one of my favourite books this year, The Dust That Falls From Dreams. There was also some really cool spy stuff and stacks of other war related things. It was pretty amazing.
By the time I finished up in the museum, the sky was blue and the sun was shining and I had the best walk back towards the Thames and Shakespeare’s Globe, where I would be watching a production of Richard II. I was really glad the sun had come out as the theatre doesn’t have a roof and so I was worried that the rain would ruin my (and other theatre attendees) evening. But it turned out to be the most spectacular afternoon and evening.
The walk back across the Thames was a lot more pleasant this time, and I got to enjoy the sights. It was also really lovely walking along Bankside (the area stretching from Blackfriar’s to the London Bridge) in the sunshine. There were loads of tourists and locals, as well as street artists and musicians. I was running late to get to the theatre so I didn’t have time to stop and take photos, but trust me when I say it’s a spot that’s well worth visiting. There looked to be a few restaurants around as well, so it would be a great place to grab a meal.
By the time I got to the theatre there were already loads of people lined up to get in. I went and collected my preordered play program and paid an extra £1 to hire a seat cushion. I can highly recommend doing this if you ever go because the plays are long and the seats are only wooden benches, so that extra £1 will make all the difference in the world to your behind.
The play was so excellent and was made even better by the clear night sky – watching Shakespeare performed under the moon and stars was a completely amazing experience. The actor who played Richard II, Charles Edward, was just fantastic. This was my first proper Shakespeare experience since finishing school and he really did make it lots of fun. The entire cast put on a great performance and the play on the whole was moving, funny, and just generally entertaining. Comparing the production now to that of Hamlet I saw at The Barbican Theatre (more to come on that), I think there’s a lot to be said for simple sets. There were very little props and the stage was quite sparse throughout Richard II, and it really let the actors and the play itself shine, rather than the audience being distracted with set changes and the like. Long story short, if you’re a fan of Shakespeare and/or theatre in general, you really should take the time to go see a play at Shakespeare’s Globe.
The walk back to the hotel that night was lovely and was the perfect way to end the day. The sky was clear and I was just so excited to be walking through this city on my own after having a day of doing and seeing things that I love. If ever I needed confirmation that taking this trip on my own was the right thing to do, then this day was it, and not even a torrential downpour could have convinced me otherwise.