Last year my Mum asked if I would take her down to London to see The Bodyguard. Now, she had never been to a West End musical and had never seen the sights of London. We duly booked the tickets and went down in October and had a wonderful afternoon (read my post here)
Whilst sat waiting for the show to start Mum stated that she would really love to see Phantom of the Opera too. Well, as it was a show that I have always wanted to see, I thought it would make a perfect Christmas present for her. The look on her face when she opened the tickets on Christmas Day was priceless.
Now, I had already booked a specific date, the 4th of February. This was due to the fact that it was the second anniversary of my Father’s death. As it was a day shrouded in sadness, I wanted to bring some happy memories too.
I got up nice and early as I wanted to try and do my hair in a poodle again, which takes some considerable time. I had already decided to wear my Pin Up Girl Hawaiian Hideaway dress and bolero, and I had a perfect lily hair accessory to go with it.
The poodle took me longer to do than I anticipated (it is only the second time I have attempted it on my own) but I was relatively pleased with the results. Make-up, clothing and a handbag all topped off my look and I was ready to go.
Getting to the train station took no time at all and soon we were Euston bound. We sat next to a lovely elderly couple who were going for afternoon tea at The Ritz and our whole journey was spend sharing stories with them. It really was a lovely ride.
Hitting London we decided to head to VQ, a lovely restaurant in Great Russell Street that is open 24 hours a day and serves great food at fabulous prices.
Having been there before I ordered my favourite, the Rib-Eye steak, chips and peppercorn sauce. Mum had breaded Kind prawns with a chilli sauce and garlic bread and cheese. It came in about 10 minutes and was Deeeeelicious!
We hustled back onto the tube as the show was due to start in 30 minutes and we still had to get there. Playing at Her Majesty’s Theatre, Haymarket, it only took around 15 minutes for us to get there and settled into our seats.
Well, I say settled….
The seats were some of the narrowest I have ever sat in and didn’t like my considerable bottom. They were also made of velvet so you couldn’t slide back into them. It literally was like being stuck to velcro. However, I eventually got myself into a relatively comfortable position and we waited for the show to start.
And what a show!!!
I was transfixed from start to finish. I have seen the big screen production, which I loved but the stage show is simply spectacular.
The vibrancy of the costumes, the performers talents (there was a very fit six-packed male ballet dancer that caught my eye!) and the soaring music all blew me away.
Now I have to say, when I saw the film I saw it from a different perspective. I was firmly backing the romance between Raoul and Christine and felt that the Phantom was an evil prescence that was taking advantage of her.
However, in the musical my heart and sympathies lay totally with the Phantom, played by the amazing Ben Forster.
The sheer despair and longing for acceptance and love ripped me apart and I found myself crying for him. Not even during one of the emotional songs either, just from the amazing portrayal of a tortured soul.
By the time the performance ended I was wrung out! It really was such an emotive show and I was glad to get some fresh air.
We took a very slow walk along Piccadilly towards Fortnum and Mason. Now as long time readers may know, I love me some Fortnums. Mainly for their tea as I am a bit of a tea snob. Mum had only been there once, as a schoolgirl some sixty odd years ago so I thought we could pop in, have a mooch around and then a glass of bubbles.
First of all though, we walked past Fortnums and walked into Burlington Arcade, another favourite of mine. I wanted to show Mum all the fabulous vintage boutiques selling everything from handmade shoes to fountain pens. Being magpies our eyes were drawn to all the beautiful antique jewellery, especially the diamonds.
We then went back across to Fortnums and Mum was transfixed. She loved looking at all the different counters, and when we found ourselves in front of the one with marshmallows and Turkish delight, she decided that she had to get some for my handicapped Uncle Albert, as they are his favourites. Eight different flavours of marshmallow later, including chocolate orange, raspberry and even coconut and she moved onto the Turkish delight. A little box later and she was happy.
Walking around she added Prosecco Gummies and a smart tin of biscuits for my Cousin and other Uncle and we were all set. A box of Earl Grey loose leaf tea and we headed for the tills.
On the Lower Ground floor is a beautiful little Wine Bar so we headed there for a break before going to catch our train. A small food menu with everything from Devilled Kidneys on toast, Oysters, Scotch Eggs and even freshly sliced Iberico Ham was all on offer, and pretty reasonable prices.
The Wine however was a different kettle of fish! Champagne started at £75 a bottle, right up to £350. White and Red were from £22 up to £88. We opted for a glass of Cava each at £8.50 and sat people watching for awhile.
The waiter then brought around three little ramekins. One with smoked almonds in, another with large Castelvetrano olives and the last was empty except for some cocktails sticks.
Now I have to say I am not a massive fan of almonds. However these almonds were terrific. I even asked the waiter if they were available to buy in the shop and was gutted when he told me that they were brought in specially and could not be purchased!
Eventually we had to make our way back to Euston for the 2034 train home. Tired but very happy after a spectacular day out.
The only question now is…. Which show to go and see next!