Monday, June 9, 2014

National Gallery, Charing Cross Road and Matilda

Day 5 (Fri, 6 June 2014)

After a simple breakfast in the hotel, we headed out to Trafalgar Square, home to Nelson's Column. This is a famous London area where people gather. There used to be a lot more pigeons here. I guess bird flu made them less desirable!

Nelson's Column.

A rather odd blue rooster, which seemed a little out of place in this area of historical monuments.

Trafalgar Square is surrounded by landmark buildings, like the National Gallery:

St Martin in the Field's church:

Admiralty arch:

The National Gallery is one of the main art galleries in London and like most museums in London, entry is free. We went in to take a look at the paintings. There are quite a few famous artworks here, eg. Van Gogh's Sunflowers and Seurat's The Bathers. However, if you've seen the Musee D'Orsay or Louvre collection, this is small in comparison so we didn't spend a long time here.

We decided to have lunch at Cafe in the Crypt, in the basement of St Martin-in-the-Field's church. The church is beautiful and there was a pair of musicians rehearsing in the main sanctuary for a concert, when we took a peak.

We wanted to eat at the church because there's just something a little macabre about eating in an 18th century crypt with brick-vaulted ceilings.

It's cafeteria-style and all proceeds go towards maintaining the church, which is a good cause.

After lunch, we strolled down Charing Cross Road. This is the quintessential bookshop row, so it was a must-go-to for Lesley-Anne. Have I mentioned that London is a bibliophile's haven?

There are some fascinating bookstores, including some which sold only first edition children's books. We found the Alice in Wonderland books particularly exquisite.

I imagine the speech bubble over Andre's head is: "So many books! How to read all of them!"

Here are a couple of London icons we passed along the way. The telephone box...

and the red London bus.

We had booked for another show that night so it was back to the hotel for a shower before heading out again. Dinner was a special treat at Jamie's Italian (opened by who else, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver) near Leicester Square, which is close to our musical venue. Jamie's Italian has since opened in Singapore but we thought it would be nice to eat at his London restaurant. Being kiasu Singaporeans, we even made reservations online and we're so glad we did because we arrived at 5.45pm to a packed restaurant.

Tip: join as a Gold Club member and get £10 pound off a meal within 28 days! Fantastic deal. These are the items we ordered: Honeycomb Cannelloni Trio. Lovely sauce, especially the one with pumpkin.

Jamie's Signature Porchetta (pork belly with crackling). I don't know how the Brits do their pork so that the crackling is crisp yet light and not chewy. This is one fabulous dish. Kenneth enjoyed it tremendously.

Wild Rabbit Casarecce. Pasta with a light cream sauce. This was Andre and my favourite. So utterly delicious. And our first time trying rabbit (tastes like chicken)!

Our timing was pretty perfect. Cambridge Theatre, where we booked tickets to the musical Matilda, was close by to Jamie's Italian. We booked this to watch as a family because it had great reviews and had won many awards. By the way, if you ever want to book seats online and not sure how good they are, here's a terrific site that has reviews and feedback on most theatre in UK, sometimes as detailed as which row has the best views.

There was a quaint sweet stand selling traditional British sweets just across the road. We couldn't resist - had to buy a bag of fudge for the show.

The musical was fun. It's nowhere near the standard of Les Miz, of course, but it's entertaining for the whole family. The kid actors really stole the show. I'm so amazed by how professional they are, especially the girl playing Matilda. Absolutely top class.


Rachel Tan said...

Would you have any leads on discounted tickets for Matilda? We are attempting a trip in Nov. I hope the tgeatre has booster seats for kids!

monlim said...

Rachel: I think they offer discounted seats for under 18s for Tues-Thur but you need to buy them from the box office.

Not sure about booster seats but do check out the site link I included in this post - it's a small theatre and some seats, you need to lean forward otherwise you get blocked by the bar or a pillar!