Monday, February 2, 2015

London 8/17/14 - Part II

Read Part I of my Kew Gardens adventure here!

So where were we... ah yes!  I had survived drowning in a freak summer storm deluge, found my way to the gift shop, and snuck around a closed glass house.  No stones were thrown.

I thought I was strolling back towards the main gate but kept getting distracted by things like King William's Temple, which was built for Queen Victoria and commemorates British victories.

Nonetheless, my legs were tired and I was cold.  My usual plan to "forget" a jacket so I would haaaaave to buy a touristy sweatshirt in the giftshop had backfired disastrously.  It had only been t-shirts for as far as the eye could see!  Never mind that it had been 95-degrees and humid every day for the past month except for this one day I decide to go be "outdoorsy."  Still, one truth about travel is that when you look back on your memories, you forget what the weather was like.  So, I decided to just push on and gather as many memories as I could to drown out the cold.  

There was a beautiful lake with swans-a-swimming...

And more vistas that the aristocracy created for the views, arboretums of different kinds of trees.

 I found a Japanese house and an azalea garden, and ended up on the backside of the palm tree glass house.  Hidden back there was a glorious rose garden.  I wish I had come a few weeks earlier when they were all in bloom!  But you know... Shakespeare...

I'm a fan of the topiary hedge and when I make a bajillion dollars and marry that lord with a manor house that needs a little upkeep, I'm going to devote myself to a garden shaped hedges.  Perhaps references to literary characters?  An ax for the Woodcutter?  A little hedge shaped like Pipistrelle?  Any takers?  Anyone?  Anyone?

 I figured since I had missed something this wonderful, there HAD to be something even more wonderful on the OTHER other side of the glass house.

And indeed there was.  I discovered a wee little glass house, the smallest glass house on the property...

And it was all devoted to water lilies and other aquatic plants.

My pictures just don't do them justice.  They were SO COOL.  Some of the coolest plants I have ever seen in my entire life.  And I would have missed them all if I had decided to give in to cold and exhaustion!  The scale of these things was enormous!  A small child could lie down on one comfortably.  Just... cool.

I finally made it around the front side again and decided that THIS time, it was really time to go...  But man... what a difference just a few short hours make in the weather.

The reason I needed to skeedaddle is that I had tickets for a show at the London Wonderground called Limbo.  Now, it just so happened that the oooone Tube station I needed to take was closed, so instead, I hopped off at one next to Parliment and got to walk across the Thames to the South Bank.

"Look, kids!  Big Ben!  Parliament!"

Tucked behind the London Eye...

Was this outdoor carnival, kind of aimed at grownups.  It was gritty and kind of steampunky and just... cool.  This is a bar built into a carousel and your table is on the back of the horses.

But what I was there for was closing night of Limbo.  I found out about the show because some lady was reading the program on the Tube and the cover made me go, "That looks cool!"  And then I went back to my dorm and looked it up and went, "Oh.  I need to see this."

It was located inside this red and white striped tent with a single stage in the middle.  There were strings of white lights hanging from the ceiling and the action took place around us and through the audience.  I did end up sternly asking the Americans beside me to turn off their cellphones as the lights from their screens blinded everyone around us in the dark.  I mean, seriously, people.  Aside from it being dangerous (go into a dark bathroom and flash your camera phone in your face.  Now image trying to fly on a trapeze and having that happen), there were humans hanging from the rafters by their toes ten feet in front of your face and you're checking Facebook?  It is a LIVE SHOW!  The performers are standing right next to you!  They SEE YOU being a jerk!

ANYWAYS.  Limbo was this gritty, intimate circus with contortionists and fire eaters and sword swallowers (who swallowed a lit neon tube!) live music and just... wow.  It was kind of indescribable, so just watch this video instead.  It is so fast paced, you might need to watch it once or twice until you realize exactly what it is you're seeing.

I left there feeling like I could fly, and isn't that the experience you really want?  I ended up buying the program and the CD and just... yeah.  It was a show I wish never had to end.

I had a lovely walk along the banks of the Thames to think about everything I had seen.

"Look, kids!  Big Ben!  Parliament!"

There is something about night in a big city, that experience of walking around in the dark completely safe.  The way the night blots out all the dirt and replaces it with... I don't know... romance?  A dream like state?  Something otherworldly?  There is, for me, such a deep peace, as sense of belonging.  You're alone, but you're not.  You watch all these lives happening in these little puddles of light.  It's like the city gives you these little vignettes, these little stories in every restaurant, in each couple holding hands.  The pace relaxes.  It's just... lovely.

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