Thames Festival 2009

September 21, 2009 at 7:59 pm | Posted in General, London, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | Leave a comment
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If you were visiting the Southbank of the River Thames over 12 – 13 September you may have been struck by the massive crowds that were wandering around for the annual Lord Mayor’s Thames Festival. Perfect blue skies and warm weather no doubt bolstered the numbers when I visited on Saturday. Sadly, I’d forgotten my camera so I’ll have to rely on my writing skills to paint a vivid picture.

Mmm that could pose a problem.

From Tower Bridge to Westminster Bridge there were numerous stalls with food, drink and random knick knacks etc for the discerning buyer, I mean tourist, to purchase. For the most part the food was quite diverse with Ethopian dishes alongside German sausage and strawberries and cream. Most stalls or variants thereof, were duplicated along the stretch of the walk.

Other than eating and more eating what was there to do? Not a lot during the day and even the eating wasn’t much of a draw.

On the Tower Bridge side there were some exhibits covering the environment, health and well-being of the river as well as a Korean display (cooking when we went past). Southwark bridge offered a unique eating experience – if you could push your way through the crowds – with the opportunity to eat on communal tables lining the bridge.

One particularly interesting event was the Flood Tide musical act, where sensors in the river were translated into notations for the assembled musicians and singers to perform. Quite chill and relaxing.

Night time may have offered a wider range of events with fire gardens, fireworks and parades but throughout the day it was a nice enough walk. That is as long as you’re ok with crowds and don’t suffer pedestrian rage. Just be prepared to take a few hours to get from A to B.

Will I go next year? Probably not but I may try and watch some of the evening events.

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Cuming Museum

May 11, 2009 at 9:56 pm | Posted in General, London, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | Leave a comment
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In South London you’ll find the Cuming Museum. It wasn’t until it appeared in a list of London’s most underrated museums that I became aware of the Cuming. Frankly, it should have stayed off.

That’s not to say it’s bad. It has some interesting things like a sample of the Cuming Family collection of artefacts from around the world. The family didn’t buy them overseas rather purchased them all at auction in London between 1780-1902. The collection was subsequently donated to the local government. The items are in their own way interesting but similar items (in larger number) can be found at other museums throughout London.

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Besides the Cuming collection you’ll find a room filled with a history of Southwark, its people and it modern developments. The curators have tried to make the most of the small space, utilising drawers and what not but felt rather unsatisfied with the content and display.

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The last section is a temporary gallery space with a changing rotation of exhibits.

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The museum is beneficial to local people (appropriate given it is a local government museum) but if you’re not South London/ Elephant and Castle based it can be missed without a second thought.

Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre

January 23, 2008 at 10:34 am | Posted in General, London, Out and About, photos, Tourism, Travel, UK | Leave a comment
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It may be a replica but that doesn’t detract too much from Shakespeare’s Globe at Southwark near the Tate Modern and over the river from Saint Paul’s.

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Unless you’re going to a show you should pay the £9 allowing you access to the museum and the 45mins tour. Otherwise it’s about £4 for each part.

I arrived about 20 minutes before the tour and this was just enough time to do a quick whip around the museum. The museum discusses the history of the Globe (and its reconstruction), theatre in Shakespeare’s day and surprisingly the theories of whether Shakespeare wrote the plays were delved into.

There were also sections on clothing, artisians and music in the theatre but I only glanced through them so you may want to devote a little more time if you’re interested in these topics.

Touch screens as well as a few video screens are also available for more information.

Lastly, on the ground floor before going on the tour you may be able to take a few minutes and watch some stage combat and chat to the actors.

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At the beginning of the tour I was a bit concerned that the guide was only going to reiterate items from the museum but this wasn’t the case. Although my lack of intensive reading could mean this isn’t entirely accurate.

Although there were quite a few of us on the tour the guide projected his voice well and was friendly and engaging. He gave us a brief overview before taking us into the ground floor of the theatre with progressively more information as we moved higher into the Globe.

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Apart from the sprinkler system, concrete floor and fire escapes (oh health and safety you are so irritating) the building is largely the same as the original and was constructed using methods and materials available to Elizabetheans. Quite the task.

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While the theatre predominantly runs Shakespeare’s work they also develop their own original perfomances which they use to explore the theatre’s unique open space and natural lighting.

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For the actor or English major the Globe will be particularly interesting but for everyone else it is only an average exhibit. Despite the history of theatre and the excellent efforts of the staff it is difficult to significantly upsell the fact that at the end of the day it is only a building.

A lack of extensive historical information about the Globe means that there are only limited contemporary anecdotes and these could have brought the theatre even more to life.

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