Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Bit of Soleil on a Snowy Day

Despite what you may see on TV or in movies, it rarely snows in London; so when it does, it's a pretty big deal.  Even a couple inches of snow can cause quite a bit of excitement, not to mention major travel issues.
A snowy day in the UK
 Fortunately, the District Line was running just fine, because we had tickets to see a show at the Royal Albert Hall in Kensington:  Cirque du Soleil's Kooza.
The Royal Albert Hall
We can always use some Soleil in London...
Prince Albert and Josh brave the snow
It was an entertaining and spectacular show, but nowhere near the best of the dozen or so of their productions that we've seen.  We took advantage of the 30-minute intermission to play in the snow in Kensington Gardens/Hyde Park across the street.
Josh risks his life by throwing a snowball at me
This little robin was not at all afraid of people
Lots of snowmen under construction
The snow stopped falling by the next morning, and everything was coated in white, as if someone had sprinkled a ton of powdered sugar all over London.  From our bedroom window, it was easy to trace the movements of a fox that had made its way through my back garden and those of our neighbors -- much like Billy in the Family Circus comics.
Fox tracks
As I made my way back to the Royal Albert Hall, the sun even made an appearance.
The Albert Hall in the sun
Prince Albert looks a little warmer
I met up with a large group of my AWC friends for a private, behind-the scenes tour.
The ladies wait for the tour to begin
There were so many of us they had to split us up into two groups!  We weren't allowed to take photos, but you can take a virtual tour of the auditorium.  We learned the history of how the hall came to be built in the 1860's, and how it was partially funded by wealthy families who purchased seats for the princely sum of £100 apiece.  Not only were they entitled to use those seats for every performance at the RAH, but their descendants are still afforded that pleasure today.  About 25% of the seats in the RAH are privately owned, and their owners can attend about 70% of the performances at the venue.  That's a pretty sweet deal!

We enjoyed a brief visit to the Royal Box as well as the private reception area used by the royal family.  Then we headed down to the backstage areas, which were packed floor-to-ceiling with equipment for Cirque du Soleil, including lighting, props, costumes, and even their own transformers, since all their equipment is Canadian and requires a different voltage.  We couldn't imagine how they transported everything around the world.  It must require several cargo planes and dozens of trucks!  It could not have been more perfectly timed for me, since I was able to recognize everything from the show I had seen less than 24 hours earlier.

Our fabulous tour was topped off with afternoon tea in the Cafe Consort on site, where we feasted on finger sandwiches, cake, and scones with jam and clotted cream.  Yum!  What a wonderful way to spend a snowy Monday afternoon!

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