This May-in-review blog post is brought to us all by Sue Hillman of It’s Your London touring company. Providing custom tours of London tailored to your personal interests, they will help you make the most of your time in this phenonemonal city. (For more information, see our previous blog post on It’s Your London as well visit www.itsyourlondon.co.uk)
Your London Relocation review of May 2010 covers a range of goings on but the elephant parade is my favourite as it is so colourful and sweet. Each month is so busy that I can only pick out a few highlights as London is an amazingly busy place with something for everyone.
For a couple of months, there are over 250 life sized baby Indian elephants all around town, each decorated differently which colours and designs and Londoners now go elephant tracking at the weekends! They are everywhere so you see crowds of photographers on many street corners taking photos and some of them ticking that elephant off on their map. It is our biggest ever public art display and is to raise awareness of the plight of the Indian elephant. You can even buy your own at the end of the parade but I think they may be pricey so a mini replica may have to be what most of us get! I’ve posted in quite a few as it’s so hard to choose but one is very unusual as you can see inside the elephant where a mini elephant scene is sculptured.
Sports-wise this month saw the Moonwalk where over 10,000 people gathered in Hyde Park to set off on an overnight marathon or half marathon walk through the streets of London. It’s in aid of Breast Cancer charities so the brave walkers often strip down to their decorated bras for the walk – it was a very cold night so well done them! I was volunteering in the baggage hall and at one point we had several thousands of bags to sort out so that each weary walker could get their bag back without having to wait around and I think we made it. Have a look at the mass of bags!
Trafalgar Square has 4 plinths, huge stone platforms, which are filled with statues of long dead military men, except for number 4 which is empty and used for public art. In the last few years it’s seen a sculpture of a disabled woman, by the artist herself, a 2nd World War hero’s statue and most famously ‘One and Another’ where the public got an hour to perform/stand/sit do whatever they wanted on the plinth and this went on 24 hours a day! The latest is a ship in a bottle – the Victory in fact which was Nelson’s ship in the battle of Trafalgar where he died in 1805. The huge ship has sails in a range of beautiful African batiks to remind us of the complex relationship between Britain and that wonderful continent. It’s a striking sight in the square and here’s a photo so you can see just how large and wonderful it is.
British people go mad when the sun comes out because we just don’t ever know how long it will last and when it’ll come back again. The 23rd May was one of those perfectly clear warm days and we were wandering along the bank of the Thames in the centre of London and came across some good examples of what people get up to and here are a couple of photos to illustrate this. One is of a man who builds elaborate sand castles at low tide in the Thames and you can see just how clean the sand is these days as the river is much improved. The other photo is of a temporary fountain installation – normally for looking at but on this day for running through and getting absolutely soaked!
London is brilliant for theatre and not just the long running shows and musicals that get all the publicity but for shorter runs of amazing plays with great writing and acting. This month I was lucky enough to see Posh and Enron both on at the West End but transfers from the smaller innovative theatre which champions new writing, the Royal Court. Posh felt very of the moment as it is ‘loosely’ based on an infamous drinking club at Oxford which our new Prime Minister David Cameron belonged to. It was an expose of a fictional group who one drunken night plan to retake their rightful place, that is running the country! Enron is based on the corporate demise of this company but done in such as way that you both care, understand and are appalled by the story. Gritty theatre at its best and there’s always something good on if you just dig underneath the big shows (not that there’s anything wrong with the big shows of course!)
Just space to squeeze in one more interesting visit. I was running a themed It’s Your London day out for ex colleagues and the theme was The Library so between lunch at former library now a fabulous Chinese restaurant called Shanghai Blues and cocktails at the sumptuous Library Bar at the Lanesborough Hotel, we went to the library at Lambeth Palace. For a short time they are exhibiting some of their finest and oldest pieces including the first printed book to reach this country (a 1455 Guttenberg Bible), the enormous and richly decorated Lambeth Bible (1150) and the signed warrant to execute Mary Queen of Scots, signed by Elizabeth 1st, and a book dated 945 – amazing!
Phew – so that was just a glimpse of May!