Thursday, 27 April 2017

Ripley's Believe It or Not

Ah yes, another of those changes to the advertised schedule! Well, read on..

So, some time ago, when I was looking on Meetup for something to do today, I spied a treasure hunt - with Walks, Talks and Treasure Hunts. Based around the Tube as it was supposed to be, I thought it looked interesting, and also thought that Helen might enjoy it. She agreed, and I booked for us both. And over the last couple of days, we agreed to eat beforehand, and that there weren't enough reasonably priced options near the starting point, at Green Park, so we'd eat near Waterloo, since that was where her train would pull in.

I left work a bit early, and she caught an early-ish train, so that we wouldn't have to rush. (I didn't leave quite early enough to walk, mind, so was on the Tube again - but it was an unpleasantly drizzly evening anyway.) And when we met, we decided on somewhere we'd eaten before, and knew to be good - Azzurro is a short walk from the station entrance. The front door is unprepossessing, but inside, a huge, brick-lined space wends its way to the back, and at around 5pm was quite empty. We were sat near the kitchen at the back.

Starters came rapidly - and for sure, the garlic bread was delicious - but the drinks hadn't arrived by the time we'd finished our starters, and when we asked, the server looked slightly stunned! Rather as though she hadn't remembered us ordering any. She had some story about the computer not being turned on.. uh-huh. Well, they arrived shortly after that, the mains arrived promptly (again, my steak was lovely), and dessert menus were quite swiftly followed by desserts. We were quite stuffed by the time we left, and made good time to Green Park, on the Jubilee Line.

Instructions were to meet at the sandstone wall, at the top of the steps, at the park exit. Now, I passed this yesterday on the bus, and had a good look, so was fairly clear on where I thought they meant. Well, we waited there.. there were crowds of people: a lot of foreign-sounding people waiting for a London by Night bus, a fellow looking for his friend, an elderly couple, an apparently homeless person, sleeping on one of the seats. No-one that we could see with a Meetup sign, as had been promised: no-one that seemed to be looking for someone over by the low wall: no-one, in short, that looked like he might be our guide! I left several messages, including my phone number, on the event page. I messaged the group organiser. I still haven't received a response. I have now requested a refund - hopefully, that'll get a response! I don't think I'll be booking that again.

Undaunted, we thought about what else to do. Helen's suggestion was that we weren't far from Ripley's Believe It or Not - now, that's somewhere I've often passed, but never before visited! so off we went. I checked my inbox for offers, but sadly they all seemed to have expired.. and although there's a cheap online offer, it's only valid for advance bookings. So we ended up paying full whack - never mind, this was an emergency!

Going in, we got a checklist of things to see, a pencil, a list of questions to get answered.. the attraction is very well catered for kids. You start by taking the lift to the 5th floor, then work your way down. And the place is absolutely jam-packed with jaw-dropping exhibits. The highlight of the top floor has to be the animatronic T-Rex! But don't miss the more intricate wonders..



More photos here.

There's a hall of mirrors, a series of exhibits of people with unusual characteristics, historical artefacts, things from Alice in Wonderland. A most fabulous mirror maze, where you're advised to walk slowly and keep your hands out in front of you to avoid bumping into that straight corridor you see ahead of you! Some attractions have detours around them for the faint-of-heart - like the dungeon, which demonstrates instruments of torture, and leads into a horror section. Or like the truly awesome "black hole", a short tunnel you can walk through, where you're well advised to hold onto the railings as the walls rotate around you!

It might be a high entry price, but this is a truly worthwhile attraction. Several sections are dedicated to different themes, such as underwater, outer space, and so on - and even the emergency exits are decorated to match the theme! Open till midnight (last entry 10:30pm). Highly recommended - and a great idea of Helen's! (Oh, and at least under-4s are free - and one was squalling his way around near us.) At one point, one of the workers pretty much forces you to get your photo taken - the range of photos is incorporated, by the time you come out, into rather a cool travel journal! or you can just buy the photos themselves, for half the price. The best purchase there, really - the gift shop, although it has some quirky items, isn't really up to much.

And so she headed home, early enough, and I to blog. Tomorrow, I'm back to Ireland for the weekend - which I'd forgotten was a bank holiday, or I'd have stayed over an extra day! Instead, for Monday, I've booked The Ferryman, with London Dramatic Arts (LDAM), at the Royal Court. We passed it last night, in fact - the film buff from that event is headed there too, tomorrow I think.

On Tuesday, London Speaks SessionsLDN Talks @ Night, and London for a Tenner or Less have advertised a talk called Origin of Vampires: Fact or Fiction? One I'm unlikely to cancel.

On Wednesday, London Literary Walks is off around Gloucester Road.

Next Thursday, Let's Do London - for less! is off on its last scheduled trip to the opera house - the occasion is Mayerling, my favourite ballet, and is sold out by now, I see. We have tickets in both slips and amphitheatre, as usual. The clock is counting down on remaining Meetups for this most excellent group - we're already feeling the pinch of its events being scheduled less frequently. There isn't another group out there like this man's.

On 5 May, I'd bought a ticket to Nell Gwynn, at the Globe - then it turned out that LDAM is going on the same night! (Buy Your Own Ticket.) As the organiser said, it must be fate.. it'll certainly be nice to have company. Odd venue for them, though - I know the organiser doesn't like it.

And on 6 May, I'm joining the London European Club for a classical concert at the Royal Festival Hall. Oh joy, they're playing Beethoven's 9th..

Walk: Sloane Ranger

Our weekly Wednesday walk yesterday - London Literary Walks went on the Sloane Ranger. Unfortunately, rain was promised - he's scheduled a repeat of the walk next month, but a number of us said we'd risk last night anyway. And as time passed, the forecast said that the rain would clear up by evening. Sure enough, after some quite heavy bouts of rain in the afternoon - and even some thunder - the evening cleared to brilliant sunshine.

I was delayed a bit just as I was leaving the office, and might have taken the Tube - except that when I got outside, the bus was literally yards from the stop, stuck in traffic! Nah, that was too tempting - I hopped across the road, through the stationary traffic, and was at the stop and waiting when it got there. Of course, that same traffic meant we were moving a bit slowly, at least for a while: but I still got to Sloane Square in good time.

As I consulted my map app to se which way to go, I ran into another group member, who was relieved to have someone to show her the way! And we made our way unerringly to the meeting point, at the Fox & Hounds pub. Tucked away on the corner, it's a teeny tiny place - we squeezed past the hanging baskets, and in the little door, to the single, narrow room beyond, and found the group down the back. There wasn't room for us to sit, but we were ok, and there was just time for a drink, and to admire the artwork in this cosy place:



More photos here.

And soon enough, we were off on an exploration of the posh streets of Belgravia. We came across some posh shops:



..but the main focus of the walk was the various fascinating residents (past and present) of the area. F'r instance, did you know that Christopher Lee and Boris Karloff, of all people, were next-door neighbours on Cadogan Square? We also stopped at the house of John Barry, which was used as M's house in Skyfall. With all of these film connections - and more - it was handy that, as well as our knowledgeable guide, we had a film buff along, who was able to fill us in on even more details. And the details were many - Jane Austen lived here for a while, with her clergyman brother, who provided the inspiration for many of her characters. And Barry Gibb still lives here.. hope we didn't disturb him as we chatted outside his door!

Another fascinating walk - the only drawback was the encroaching cold; by the end of the evening, our exuberance had dampened down a bit, as we shivered along and wished to be indoors. Most shivered their way straight home at the end, but a few of us hardy souls repaired to The Antelope, where we warmed up, and they were unwise enough to allow me to wax lyrical about horror films and New Zealand - two of my favourite topics.



And so home, finally, in the bitter cold - I have never before been so glad of my overheated building! Tonight, Helen and I are on an Underground treasure hunt, courtesy of Walks, Talks and Treasure HuntsTFL goodies to be won, it seems.. Handily, I have no meetings scheduled for today, so we have time to eat beforehand - I'll head off a bit early, to meet her at Waterloo, where we'll eat; the event is at Green Park, but there's little that's cheap to eat nearby, and what there is, is crowded. Hopefully we'll be fairly warm and dry, underground. Then back to Ireland for the weekend - which I'd forgotten was a bank holiday, or I'd have stayed over an extra day!

Instead, for Monday, I've booked The Ferryman, with London Dramatic Arts (LDAM), at the Royal Court. We passed it last night, in fact - the film buff is headed there too, on a different day.

On Tuesday, London Speaks SessionsLDN Talks @ Night, and London for a Tenner or Less have advertised a talk called Origin of Vampires: Fact or Fiction? One I'm unlikely to cancel.

On Wednesday, London Literary Walks is off around Gloucester Road.

Next Thursday, Let's Do London - for less! is off on its last scheduled trip to the opera house - the occasion is Mayerling, my favourite ballet, and is sold out by now, I see. We have tickets in both slips and amphitheatre, as usual. The clock is counting down on remaining Meetups for this most excellent group - we're already feeling the pinch of its events being scheduled less frequently.

On 5 May, I'd bought a ticket to Nell Gwynn, at the Globe - then it turned out that LDAM is going on the same night! (Buy Your Own Ticket.) As the organiser said, it must be fate.. it'll certainly be nice to have company. Odd venue for them, though - I know the organiser doesn't like it.

And on 6 May, I'm joining the London European Club for a classical concert at the Royal Festival Hall. Oh joy, they're playing Beethoven's 9th..

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Concert: Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

Last night, back with the London European Club - long time no see! Henning was taking us to "classical music in a pub" - in Peckham. Ok then - I booked.

Even with wanting to practice for the sponsored walk I'm doing with Helen in September, this would have been a bit far to walk. With no direct route from the office, I was looking at a combination of train and Tube - or buses. I could just about manage to get there by bus in under an hour - ok then. I picked the route that started at the bus stop just down from the office - I see they've finished fixing the pavement there, and reopened the stop, finally: wow, roadworks that actually finish! Naturally, the 176 was just leaving as I arrived. And it was a cold, long wait for the next one - watching 24 after 29 after 24 pass by, but neither would do.

"At last!", as the American-sounding guy waiting with me remarked when we did see the 176. And, following heavy traffic in town, we made good time to Elephant & Castle. Where I had to shuffle up to the next stop along to catch the 63 (or 363) - my luck was in with buses for the rest of the night, and a 63 just arrived as I was pushing my way through the crowd. And the driver saw me, and waited for me. A squalling baby entertained us for the rest of the journey, until mummy fed him, and I hopped off at last at Peckham Rye.

Now, I was headed for the CLF Art Café - and my, was I glad of Google Maps at this point. Not a sign of it could I see - so I dutifully followed the line on my map, which would lead me down an alleyway to the right. Happily, when I got there, there was a big sign for the café. Great! Especially as it's quite narrow just there, and doesn't look as though it leads to anything. A sign painted on the wall gives more reassurance.



They were just opening this place when I arrived (the marquee to the side is for bikes) - no sign for the café there though, so I passed on down the alley. Found an art gallery where a showing was in progress, went right around the corner, and decided I'd come too far. Sure enough, Google Maps agreed with me, and I headed back again. Had a closer look at a doorway I'd passed, with a stairway inside - well, there was a sign for the CLF Café! Up some steep stairs. So, up I climbed, and there were some of the group, mooching around, waiting for the doors to open - they should have been open by now. People were streaming into a yoga class across the hall. Fortunately, we had one enterprising member scouting for us - and you'll never guess: the above-pictured door IS the entrance. In my humble opinion, they could do with a sign, somewhere around the door itself.. We'd ended up at the back door.



So, up some more stairs to a warehouse space, slightly sticky floor, bar to the side. They took our names at the door - but, at least at this early stage, didn't seem pushed about checking them off the list, and just gave us wristbands:




A few sofas ringed the performance space - they brought out folding chairs later. The set list was pasted to the walls and pillars around the space.



Nice, cheap drinks - only one wine (of each colour) on the menu, and only one size, but I was happy with what I got for £4. Plastic glasses. Not sure what the tray of champagne flutes at the back of the bar was for.. Anyway, a couple of us nabbed stools at the bar, and had a nice, elevated view of proceedings for the first half. There might have been seating, but not nearly enough for everyone; the place was packed.

Nice vibe here - you could chat, text, drink away merrily during the performance: although I did notice that bar service seemed to stop (I didn't test it), and the crowd generally kept quiet, breaking into clapping and cheering at the end of pieces. A sophisticated classical audience too, knowing not to clap at the end of movements within a piece. Mind you, the room was cold.. I don't think there was any heating, and to top it all, after a while they started with air conditioning. My companion left at the interval, feeling too cold to stay.

The musicians are part of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (OAE). And this was part of their Night Shift series, bringing classical music to unusual places, apparently about once a month - another of those terrific ideas. The programme was baroque - lots of British, lots of Purcell. Solo pieces for cello and for harpsichord (and they make a point, on the website, about having to bring it up in the lift!) - but of all the pieces, I think my favourite was the one they started with: Pachelbel's Canon, which is a sublime piece of music. They finished with a jolly hanging song, getting us to sing along. Truly recommended - good luck to them; they're looking for patronage, I see. Like everyone - the arts are always underfunded.

At the interval, once my companion left I went down the back to join the others, losing my seat. But I was ok for such time as was left. And afterwards, we tried the café downstairs, only to find that it was just closing - early, it was only about 10:15! Well, we followed our noses down the alleyway, and found a cosy pub on the corner, complete with dj. Drinks ever so slightly more expensive (80p or so), but served in glass. And a yummy range of Kettle crisps. And an interesting chat was had until they threw us out - and it not even yet 11! Well, we wended our way home - them to the station, me to the bus stop, which, handily enough, was even closer. The 12 would have taken me straight home - but as it happened, the 363 came right away, and it was cold enough not to make the decision to hop on it a hard one. And although I had to change, the 453 came along within a few seconds - which was much appreciated, as I felt the full blast of the Arctic conditions when I finally got off, and had to walk the last bit home.

Tonight, London Literary Walks is doing the Sloane Ranger. Rain forecast, and the organiser has offered to redo the walk next month - but consensus among those of us there last night was that we'd risk tonight. And although it did rain on me just as I got to the office, it's supposed to have cleared by evening, and we should be ok. Still freezing though - I'm back in a woolly jumper today, complete with scarf. And I have gloves.

Tomorrow, Helen and I are on an Underground treasure hunt, courtesy of Walks, Talks and Treasure HuntsTFL goodies to be won, it seems.. Handily, I have no meetings scheduled for that day, so we have time to eat beforehand - I'll head off a bit early, to meet her at Waterloo, where we'll eat; the event is at Green Park, but there's little that's cheap to eat nearby, and what there is, is crowded. Then back to Ireland for the bank holiday weekend - which I'd forgotten was a bank holiday, or I'd have stayed over an extra day!

Instead, for Monday, I've booked The Ferryman, with London Dramatic Arts (LDAM), at the Royal Court.

On Tuesday, London Speaks SessionsLDN Talks @ Night, and London for a Tenner or Less have advertised a talk called Origin of Vampires: Fact or Fiction? One I'm unlikely to cancel.

Next Wednesday, London Literary Walks is off around Gloucester Road.

On 4 May, Let's Do London - for less! is off on its last scheduled trip to the opera house - the occasion is Mayerling, my favourite ballet, and is sold out by now, I see. We have tickets in both slips and amphitheatre, as usual. The clock is counting down on remaining Meetups for this most excellent group - we're already feeling the pinch of its events being scheduled less frequently.

On 5 May, I'd bought a ticket to Nell Gwynn, at the Globe - then it turned out that LDAM is going on the same night! (Buy Your Own Ticket.) As the organiser said, it must be fate.. it'll certainly be nice to have company. Odd venue for them, though - I know the organiser doesn't like it.


And on 6 May, I'm joining the LEC for a classical concert at the Royal Festival Hall. Oh joy, they're playing Beethoven's 9th..

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

The Comedy Store Players

I considered yesterday a summery treat - the Man with the Hat took both London for Less Than a Tenner and Let's Do London - for less! to the Globe (ah, it's been too long..). For one night only, the Comedy Store Players regaled us with their unique brand of improv. As usual, London for Less than a Tenner standing in the yard, Let's Do London - for less! in lower gallery seats. Which is where I go - couldn't take standing for that long.

Now, I always associate the Globe with summer - but to describe yesterday as "summery" might have been a step too far. The day was gloomy, the afternoon rainy, and in general it was freezing. Anyway, I decided to walk - it'd just take a little longer than the bus, I'd get some exercise, and I could get cash on the way. My evening took a severe downturn when I got cash, though - after being paid on Friday, my available balance was just £30! So I took out £20 - and it was right at that moment that a nearby homeless man decided to accost me. Expecting to get the £20, doubtless, when it was literally all I had of disposable income - he wasn't at all impressed with the spare change I offered him, and when he started to insult me, I turned on my heel and kept my change to myself. It wasn't a fun walk down, though, imagining having been ripped off again (as happened in December), and to top it all off, it rained quite heavily upon me.


Hey-ho, I joined a few other early birds at the arranged meeting point - we beat the Man with the Hat to it, by a few minutes. Got our tickets, made our way into the piazza outside the Globe building - the building wasn't open just yet - and hung around chatting. For all that I'd specifically got out cash so as to be able to buy stuff from the wandering vendors, I didn't feel like it, now that I was once again impoverished.. Well, I wasn't hungry or thirsty anyway.




When the doors opened, we made our way in.


I had a comfy, back row seat, where I could lean against the wall. And get a good vantage point of everyone else! And as the rows in front of me filled - if there were spare seats, I didn't see any - I had a windbreak, too; damn, it was cold!


(Massive crack in that pillar - I can see why they have bands around it, to hold it together.)

A line of chairs on stage awaited the arrival of the Comedy Store performers - and my, this evening was worth coming out for! Various games required them to improvise on the spot, and I haven't seen better. Rapid-fire, really funny - highlights included an operation where they had to switch from horror style, to musical, to Bollywood.. They started with a game where one was sent outside, while the audience came up with outlandish suggestions he had to guess when he came back, and - given the venue - they finished off with a Shakespearian-inspired play ("Julius Caesar Salad"). Honestly though, the highlight of the night for me had to be the Tale of the Haunted Carrot, in the style of a musical. And kudos to whoever helpfully threw a couple of carrots on-stage as props for that one!

Fabulous stuff, and the Comedy Store deserves its reputation. Great, too, to be back at the Globe - even if we nearly froze in our places. One night it might have been more comfortable to be standing - I wished I'd rented a blanket. At least I had gloves. Afterwards, we repaired to The Swan, as usual - shuffling all the way back to the meeting point in the freezing cold, just to be directed back in again. Could just have gone straight in - it's just across the piazza from the Globe! Never mind, it was great to be indoors.

Toilet first - I needed to go, and figured this would give the bar time to calm down - service tends to be busy, here. Struggled with a weak flush - apologies to whoever next used that cubicle - and, sure enough, by the time I came out the bar was manageable. Ordered a large wine - they have three prices on the menu, for a medium glass, carafe, and bottle, but rest assured, large is also available. And sat, and we had a convivial chat. For once, I thought to bring my sponsorship form with me - for that sponsored walk that Helen and I are doing in September, for Cats Protection. And lo, I got a good few new sponsors! Many thanks, all.

And all that walking I did yesterday will help with that. Walked back to the office afterwards, to check my account..



And wouldn't you know it, it was all a storm in a teacup. It was past midnight by the time I logged in to my account, and my monthly salary had just been paid in. Phew! Blasted banks, and their unnecessary delays.

Tonight, London European Club (LEC) - it'll have been a while! They're off to an informal evening of classical music, in Peckham.

Tomorrow, London Literary Walks is doing the Sloane Ranger. Rain forecast, and the organiser has offered to redo the walk next month - but consensus among those of us there last night was that we'd risk tomorrow.

On Thursday, Helen and I are on an Underground treasure hunt, courtesy of Walks, Talks and Treasure HuntsTFL goodies to be won, it seems.. Handily, I have no meetings scheduled for that day, so we have time to eat beforehand. Then back to Ireland for the bank holiday weekend - which I'd forgotten was a bank holiday, or I'd have stayed over an extra day!

Instead, for Monday, I've booked The Ferryman, with London Dramatic Arts (LDAM), at the Royal Court.

Next Tuesday, London Speaks SessionsLDN Talks @ Night, and London for a Tenner or Less have advertised a talk called Origin of Vampires: Fact or Fiction? One I'm unlikely to cancel.

On 3 May, London Literary Walks is off around Gloucester Road.

On 4 May, Let's Do London - for less! is off on its last scheduled trip to the opera house - the occasion is Mayerling, my favourite ballet, and is sold out by now, I see. We have tickets in both slips and amphitheatre, as usual. The clock is counting down on remaining Meetups for this most excellent group - we're already feeling the pinch of its events being scheduled less frequently.

On 5 May, I'd bought a ticket to Nell Gwynn, at the Globe - then it turned out that LDAM is going on the same night! (Buy Your Own Ticket.) As the organiser said, it must be fate.. it'll certainly be nice to have company. Odd venue for them, though - I know the organiser doesn't like it.

And on 6 May, I'm joining the LEC for a classical concert at the Royal Festival Hall. Oh joy, they're playing Beethoven's 9th..

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Parkland Walk

Today, I booked a walk of Hampstead Village Highlights, with Walks, Talks and Treasure Hunts. Would be a lunchtime start! Be good exercise though, leading up to my own sponsored walk in September, in aid of Cats Protection.. Helen and I are going as Dick Whittington and his cat. (She's the cat.) Now, I didn't sleep great last night, and woke up quite groggy, and slightly later than intended - I'd have to rush, and likely not have time for breakfast - blast it anyway. Imagine my delight when I checked my emails and discovered it was cancelled - apparently the poor organiser had a migraine! Bad for her - but it meant I could do as I pleased.

Pickings were slim on Meetup, though - I'd already cancelled my attendance at a free comedy night in Hammersmith, and didn't really want to return to that. Otherwise, the only thing that appealed was with Ken's Events, who were walking from Finsbury Park to Muswell Hill, along an abandoned railway line. Now, Ken's Events are, not to put too fine a point on it, quite shit - each of the two events I've been on with them was something of an organisational disaster - and the only reason I'm still a member is to get ideas for stuff to do on my own. So there was no way I was joining them - but head off on my own? That I could do. I had a look at where they might be headed, and discovered there was this thing called the Parkland Walk. Fine, so - off I headed (after breakast).

I could easily have taken the Tube to Finsbury Park (I did yesterday!), but I do prefer the bus - cheaper, and you see more. And it was a beautiful, sunny day - if not that warm, yet. Pretty good for a walk. The #29 would take me straight there - but when I checked the display on the bus stop, there was no mention of it! (Despite Google Maps saying there'd be one along in a few minutes.) A sign on the bus stop warned of delays and road closures on account of the London Marathon - oh dear, said I, perhaps the 29 is affected! With no other bus heading my way, I was on the point of heading to the Tube when... along came a 29. Heh - so much for bus stop indicators.

And it was a delightfully sunny bus ride up to Finsbury Park, where I didn't really know where to go, but basically followed my nose, around the corner of the station, and when I saw some greenery I made a beeline for it. Passed along a cycle path at the edge of Finsbury Park itself - busy with sunbathers, footballers, and random youths in hoodies, doing random things together in the bushes - and after a footbridge over the road, duly came to a sign for the Parkland Walk. Yay, I'd found it!

  

A pleasant walk, among surprisingly rural scenery, skirted by housing estates - no traffic noise though, I might actually have been back in Ireland! The path is fairly even, if a bit stony - and it was fairly busy on a sunny Sunday afternoon. I had to skirt pedestrians, a lot of cute doggies being given walkies, and not a few cyclists - sporadic signs warn them that pedestrians have right of way. And one unicyclist, who had chosen this route to practice on, and was to be seen going back and forth, back and forth..

At Crouch End, you see the first real signs that you're walking along a train track:



and just after, they have a playground! Complete with treehouses, a zipwire, and a skateboard ramp.


Very pleasant, and it was about time, as I say, that I started to get in some practice for that sponsored walk. However, there's a break in the walk at Highgate, where I decided to call it quits - this was enough to be starting with, I'd probably seen the most interesting bits, and I needed the loo.

The #134 would take me stright home from there. Now, where was that bus stop? Oh yes, down there (Highgate is very hilly). The one with the 134 just passing it, yes. Never mind, there was a seat at the stop, and another 134 happened along a few minutes later - accurately predicted by the departure indicator at the stop, this time. And while I was waiting, I marvelled at the difference between the tranquility of the path I'd just left, and the roar of the traffic on Archway Road, a short distance away.
 Tomorrow, a summery treat! The Man with the Hat is taking both London for Less Than a Tenner and Let's Do London - for less! to the Globe (ah, it's been too long..). For one night only, the Comedy Store Players will regale us with Shakespeare-inspired improv. As usual, London for Less than a Tenner standing in the yard, Let's Do London - for less! in lower gallery seats. Which is where I go - couldn't take standing for that long. Better savour this trip - he only has four more events scheduled, three of which I'm going to, with no word on whether he'll continue longterm. And if he doesn't (Heaven forbid!), that'll leave a huge, hat-shaped hole in my life. Plenty of other stuff to go to, but hardly anything I'll look forward to as much as his events. This man knows how to organise a Meetup.

On Tuesday, London European Club (LEC) - it'll have been a while! They're off to an informal evening of classical music, in Peckham.

On Wednesday, London Literary Walks is doing the Sloane Ranger.

On Thursday, Helen and I are on an Underground treasure hunt, courtesy of Walk, Talks and Treasure Hunts. TFL goodies to be won, it seems.. Then back to Ireland for the bank holiday weekend - which I'd forgotten was a bank holiday, or I'd have stayed over an extra day!

Instead, for 1 May, I've booked The Ferryman, with London Dramatic Arts (LDAM), at the Royal Court.

On 2 May, London Speaks Sessions, LDN Talks @ Night, and London for a Tenner or Less have advertised a talk called Origin of Vampires: Fact or Fiction? Again, one I'm unlikely to cancel.

On 3 May, London Literary Walks is off around Gloucester Road.

On 4 May, Let's Do London - for less! is off on its last scheduled trip to the opera house - the occasion is Mayerling, my favourite ballet, and is sold out by now, I see. We have tickets in both slips and amphitheatre, as usual.

On 5 May, I'd bought a ticket to Nell Gwynn, at the Globe - then it turned out that LDAM is going on the same night! (Buy Your Own Ticket.) As the organiser said, it must be fate.. it'll certainly be nice to have company. Odd venue for them, though - I know the organiser doesn't like it.

And on 6 May, I'm joining the LEC for a classical concert at the Royal Festival Hall. Oh joy, they're playing Beethoven's 9th..