Thursday, 2 June 2005

Leaving Old Blighty

I've finished my stint in England, and have just come off a long series of flights which ended up in New York.

I met up with Janine, Ted, and Vince Pheloung, plus Stuart Walker (all Operatic peoples) in London (Victoria) on Friday, to see a few shows and do a bit of sightseeing.

We all went to the new Mary Poppins on Saturday afternoon, meeting up with DrWeeSean at the theatre. WeeSean used to live in Dunedin, and I also used to board with when I lived in Luton. The rest of the gang went to The Producers in the evening (I'd seen it in New York previously), while Sean and I went to see the movie The Kingdom of Heaven in Leicester Square, which wasn't flash - started off pretty slow and was kinda confusing for a long while.

On Sunday, Stuart went with me to do the London Eye (massive slow-mo ferris wheel type thing)... It went up for the Millennium, and altho I did the Millennium Dome while I was living over there, I'd never actually done the Eye.

Also checked out an IMAX 3D film, Aliens of the Deep... great screen, as big as 5 double decker buses!

In the evening I caught up with some rellies in London - Uncle Paul and Rebecca, and my only two cousins on Mum's side, William and Max. It was good to catch up - the annual exchange of news from both sides of the family, as the rest of the kiwi bunch will never make it to London ;-)

On Monday, Vince and I headed down to Buckingham Palace to see Liz and the Lads, and to see the Changing of the Guards.

Got a fairly good spot, altho it started to rain heavily just as they came by us, so everyone taking photos had to contend with the moron tourists in the front row who stuck their huge brolleys up in the air.

After that, the boys all went to an English pub for a traditional meal of bangers and mash before seeing Guys and Dolls in the evening, starring Ewan McGregor and Jane Krakowski (Elaine from Ally McBeal apparently).

The UK leg finished with a tour of the the Royal Albert Hall on Tuesday, and seeing Andrew Lloyd Webber's newest show, the Woman in White in the evening. I was seeing it for the second time, after catching it in previews last year. I enjoyed it, altho the guy playing Count Fosco (Michael Crawford's old character) was absolutely shite. Very cool projection video-motion sets, and not a bad score from Sir Andrew.

The rest of the crew are now in Las Vegas, but I wanted to nip up to NYC instead. Had a strange and long-winded series of flights, which included a bit of backtracking. The leg from London to the States had a plane load of Indians on their way to Delhi, who seemed to be taking the entire contents of their homes with them, by the amount of big cases they were trying to squeeze into the bins as "carry on luggage"... However, for the internal flight from LA to NYC I had a seat with extra legroom, and noone beside me :-)

Unfortunately, I also had an envelope of american cash disappear from my suitcase, while it was in transit, somewhere between LA. I got some cash out in LA, but in the US they make you leave your baggage unlocked, so I had to take the padlock off before I checked it in. When I picked it up at the other end, the whole case was in a shambles, and my money bag had been opened, with only random coins scattered throughout the case.

Unfortunately, it seems my travel insurance doesn't cover it, and the Transportation Security Administration claim procedure (they do all the security bag searches) seems pretty complicated and unlikely to produce a result for the small value. Oh well, lesson learnt... I've now bought myself a brand new "TSA-approved" padlock, which means you can lock your luggage, but they can open it if they need to check inside with a special release key. At least it would stop any baggage handlers along the way being able to get into it?...

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