27 November 2010

Two For The Road : All That My Eyes Can See

There are so many things to see in London. Old architecture, beautiful parks, stores where humans shop and things that even Mr. B. has never seen before. We recently went to the world-renowned Harrod's. Most humans should know that Harrod's, founded in 1834, is a huge store with over 300 departments occupying more than 1 million square feet.

Anything that one can think imagine must be available in this store - clothes, toys, furniture, books, food - anything at all! Naturally, Mr. B. and I went to two most important sections of the store - the toy shop and the food hall.

The toy department, although not as huge as Hamleys, was good because it was less crowded. They have hundreds of bears but none of them as cute as me. Mr. B. wanted to buy a little stuff dog for me but I refused. Then we went to the food hall which was packed with people having tea or wine, eating or buying food products. There were entire sections for seafood, for fruits and vegetables, for chocolates and sweets, for tea and coffee. We made several rounds admiring all the wonderful sweets. Mr. B. and I couldn't probably tell the difference between "seeing" and "having" because our senses were just filled with all these wonderful aroma and color.

"I wish we can remember all these." I told Mr. B.

"What do you mean?" he asked while checking out the colorful cupcakes in the shelves.

"All that I see now. I want to remember them when I am old." I explained to him.

Indeed I hope that when Mr. B. and I are old someday, we can talk about the day we went to Harrod's and still see the colors and smell the aromas in our mind's eye.

It was a great day.

24 November 2010

Two For The Road : Easier Eat

Mr. B. and I had a relaxing day today, so relaxing in fact that we decided to just buy microwave food for dinner. At the posh Marks and Spencer Foodhall, Mr. B. decided to have Indian with Chicken Piri Piri and Rice Pilaf with some vegetables. For dessert, he bought Sticky Toffee Pudding.

Back home, we heat up everything in the microwave and had a fabulous dinner. Fine dining can't get easier than this!

22 November 2010

Two For The Road : Toys Were Us

Yesterday, we went to the largest toy shop in the world! Hamleys was established in 1760 so I suppose it should be the world's oldest as well. Just the display window alone was fantastic featuring various holiday scenes of carol singing, family dining, pudding baking and others.

The 5 levels of the store were filled with every imaginable toys - stuffed animals, dolls, board games, remote-controlled vehicles, construction toys and even a sweet shop. Understandably, the store is filled with children from age 1 to about 60. We enjoyed watching store staff performing some magic tricks, puppet shows and other demonstrations. In fact, we enjoyed the store so much we forgot to buy anything.

I think life can be like a big toy shop. There is so many things to discover. You don't have to buy anything because the best things in life can indeed be free. It was a great day.

17 November 2010

Two For The Road : Queen Of The Night

What makes an entertaining musical?

Perhaps one that features all hit songs that you can hum along with, big production numbers, outrageous costumes and make up, then end it with the audience standing up singing "I Will Survive". Well, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert The Musical is all that.

The storyline is similar with the 1994 film from which the jukebox musical was adapted from - 3 drag queens on a road trip from Sydney to Alice Springs in a bus they christened Priscilla. Of the actors who played the 3 main characters Tick, Bernadette and Adam, only Oliver Thorton who played the irritating and flamboyant Adam (or Felicia Jollygoodfellow) succeeded in making an impression for his effective acting although his voice can be quite shaky at times.

Another star of the show is Priscilla itself, the 6-tonne bus covered with LED lights and stood on a revolving stage. It rolled, rotated, opened up and was used as a significant part of the story's development.

On the whole, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert The Musical is feet-tapping good fun. Watch it with an open heart and mind. Enjoy the musical numbers, marvel at the outrageous costumes. I would actually recommend it if there is absolutely nothing else better to do.

Mr. B.

16 November 2010

Two For The Road : A Day At The Museums

Mr. B. said I have to go to the museum to learn more about humans because that is where they keep all the different items from the past that tell us the history. Today, we visited two museums: the Natural History Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum which are right next to each other.

The Natural History Museum has a huge collection of dinosaur bones, fossils from strange animals, birds, creepy insects, rocks and other items. There are indeed many strange creatures that lived in this world before became extinct or which evolved into other types of creatures. The museum also devoted large sections on its exhibit on the evolution as well as the future of planet Earth: how the planet's resources are slowly being used up and more importantly, how to conserve these resources and make the Earth a little better.

At the Victoria and Albert Museum, which is supposed to be the world's largest museum of design and decorative arts, I saw a huge collection of sculptures, paintings, furnitures, ceramic works, iron works and others from various parts of the world from different times of history. I particularly like the sculpture of Bernini and paintings of Raphael Santi.

Mr. B. and I spent a lot of time in both museums. And I did learn a lot about the Earth and about humans. I understood that the Earth is indeed a great place to be so every human has the responsibility to take good care of it. And perhaps a million years from now, I, myself, may also become a part of a museum somewhere, as the first bear to own a blog about strange humans. hat would be so cool.

10 November 2010

Two For The Road : Love Never Died Indeed

A small insert dropped from the programme I bought. It says "At tonight's performance, the role of the Phantom shall be played by Mr. Tam Mutu." Who in the world is Tam Mutu? I said to myself. Isn't it bad enough that sitting in the Dress Circle because I couldn't get a ticket for the Stall? Or maybe, this was a sign that I should see this show again on a different day.

Mr. Tam Mutu was the understudy for the role of the Phantom in Love Never Dies. I was hoping to be able to see this much-awaited musical in its original West-End cast with Canadian Ramin Karimloo in the role. Needless to say, I was a bit disappointed even before the very first note was played.

And so it started. The first scene by the boardwalk transformed into Coney Island with a combination of smokes, screens, projected images and live actors. While this was a reminiscence of the first "transformation" scene in The Phantom of the Opera, modern technology made this present day update flawless, smooth and totally amazing. I was impressed.

Singing the Phantom's first big number Till I Hear You Sing, Tam Mutu did not disappoint at all. His voice was strong, powerful and his acting good enough. Within 20 minutes, I already forgot I was watching the performance of the understudy and sitting in the Dress Circle.

Love Never Dies as a musical is patterned after its predecessor The Phantom Of The Opera. It has it's big solo number Till I Hear you Sing / The Music Of The Night; ensemble number Dear Old Friend / Prima Donna and even used some of the motifs and "samplings" of Twisted Every Way and Little Lotte from the first installment.

Christine's big number Love Never Dies was the showstopper. American Sierra Boggess was able to make the hair at the back of my neck stand on its end with her dramatic rendition of the aria.

Love Never Dies musically ended with surprisingly little fanfare. Seeing the Phantom removed his mask and knelt in front of his son with nothing more than orchestral music was so powerful it could not have ended any other way.

One has to trust Andrew Lloyd Webber in making sure Love Never Dies would be another unforgettable piece of work. As the audience exited the theater, the orchestra played some of the major themes of the musical to ensure that you can hum them on your way home.

Mr. B.

07 November 2010

Two For The Road : Food, Glorious Food

Our hosts treated us to a wonderful French dinner tonight. The place is called L'art du Fromage which with my very limited French should mean - The Art of Cheese. Indeed their speciality is cheese fondue which is totally different from any cheese fondue I have seen. Instead of a bowl, it uses a contraption that works like a toaster and actually heat and melt the cheese onto the plate - just pure cheese, no white wine, no other herbs.

But we did not have that. Mr. B. had Escargot which was quite good (but a bit too salty for his taste, he said) and the most wonderful Beef Bourguignon he ever had in his life - so far. He said the beef was so tender and the sauce was so thick and flavorful. He said he will definitely try to learn this dish and cook for D. when we go back home.

I told him not to think about going back just yet because I think I'm going to like it here.

Two For The Road : A Room With A View

After 18 hours on the plane watching movies, eating and trying to get some sleep, Mr. B. and I finally arrived London in a chilly evening. Even feeling a bit dizzy as if a bout is cold is coming, the clean air was a welcome treat.

Our host gave us a room with a window looking over others houses and flats. Of course we didn't see the view until the following morning after a good night's rest.

"Good Morning, London!" I said looking out the window the next morning. "We should go out, Mr. B.!"

"Actually you should stay home today since it is raining today," Mr. B. answered.

It was indeed drizzling which was kind of disappointing because I really wanted to see the city.

"We have plenty of time," Mr. B. consoled me. "Don't you worry!"

I look out the window with great anticipation. Beyond the cloudy sky and the century-old brick houses, I know these is something exciting in-store for Mr. B. and Me in this city. I can wait.

02 November 2010

The Three Books

Mr. B. is bringing 3 books with him in our trip. One of them The Diamond Cutter by Geshe Michael Roach and Lama Christie McNally is a gift from a friend. The other 2, Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul by Deepak Chopra and The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz were bought this afternoon.

"We can sit in the park or lay on the grass and read books. It should be fun and relaxing." he said.

"But you never do it here! What makes you think you will do it while we are on holidays?" I asked.

"There is always a first time, you know." he answered. "Besides, these books should be good for the soul. What are you busy with anyway?"

"I am making this goodbye video for my readers. Would you like to see?"

"Sure. When you're done, we need to check if we have everything prepared." Mr. B. said.


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