london diary – day 4: v&a, boat trips & posh grub

Thursday was the day when me and mum had planned to go to a museum, with so many in London to choose from I suggested the V&A as I really wanted to see the Club to Catwalk exhibition. Personally, I love museums, they are so interesting and they are places where you really could spend all day if you wanted to because there is so much to see and that is definitely the case with the V&A. Located in West London it’s very easy to find from the South Kensington tube station with such a grand exterior and a beautiful interior it is a stunning building in it’s own right regardless of the amount of brilliant things to be found in there. We went and bought tickets for the exhibition which was £5 each with the majority of exhibitions being free as well so we could view plenty more stuff after the exhibition anyway. We’d not had breakfast so we headed to the cafe for food, again no toast to be found anywhere so I went all out and had a huge pain au chocolat and a cappuccino, not a healthy breakfast but a good one nonetheless.

We headed to the fashion section where there are some beautiful dresses through the eras that you can see for free, my favourites were the beautiful white lace wedding dress and the 1920’s attire. After looking at all the beautiful clothing from the different eras we headed into the actual exhibition which is absolutely brilliant! I would recommend that everyone goes to see this especially if you are interested in fashion or the 80’s. Full of iconic clothing of the era with pieces from Vivienne Westwood and the like. Customisation, punk, goth, slightly more respectable day time looks and the completely out there looks from the clubs of 80’s London when everyone went all out to make an impression and show their style. I wish in many ways I could have experienced that era for myself because looking at the clothes and pictures just fuelled my obsession with not just fashion but the way people use it to express themselves and push the boundaries of what the majority deem is possible/safe. Going there with my mum was quite good as she was in her teens/twenties then and obviously experienced some of the fashions [the less extreme ones] and the culture with her commenting on all the looks. Though she grew up and has always lived in Sheffield and things weren’t as fashion conscious as London she still saw how the looks that clearly started in the capital had made their way up North. The 80’s was a huge fashion era and not just all about big hair and shoulder pads and it was so brilliant to see all these looks in person, the whole exhibition had been put together so well and very thoughtfully. There was also catwalk videos and pictures from the popular clubs at the time as well as popular songs from the 80’s being played as you walked around the exhibition. £5 is extremely cheap for all of that brilliant and iconic fashion history and like I said I fully recommend this exhibition to anyone and everyone.

After fashion we had a look around the medieval section, I’m completely obsessed with medieval times. I always have been and I’m not sure why but put a show about medieval times on tv and I will watch, I’m currently reading Phillippa Gregory’s ‘White Queen, Red Queen, Kingmaker’s Daughter’ series and I’m on the third book ‘The Lady of Rivers’ which is the series of books which was the basis for The White Queen which was on TV earlier this year that I absolutely loved. The medieval section took up two floors and plenty of rooms starting from around 1000 AD to the late 1500’s with pieces taken from the UK and Europe mainly Germany, Italy etc. Seeing full windows from churches made from stone and wood, stone sculptures, huge tables, doors, chairs, an early piano and lots of treasures from those 500 years was amazing and I still am in a total stage of awe with museums at how they manage to find those pieces in such good condition from nearly 1000 years ago for people to go and see in a museum for FREE. I think it just proves and adds fuel to childhood ambition of wanting to be an archaeologist or failing that work in a museum. I would absolutely love that and if this writing thing fails it is a definite option for me. Sheffield museums if you have any vacancies I will gladly work for you. I am a massive history geek and I love museums but I totally recommend the V&A if you are in London, there was plenty of exhibitions I didn’t get to see so I would love to visit again and I could easily spend the whole day there but what I did see was just brilliant!

In the afternoon after the museum we headed towards the river for a quick Costa break and then a river cruise to take in some of the famous sights of London from the river which I think a lot like Amsterdam is completely worth doing as you do get a really different and brilliant take on the view and architecture of the city. The boat tour cost £11 and was around 45 minutes long going all the way from Westminster down past Tower Bridge and then back up again. It was a very good boat tour and you did learn things though having been on quite a few tours of London now some of the information was things I’d already heard but that is to be expected I guess when you’ve been on more than one tour of any city. There are more expensive boat tours in London but if you are just after a basic tour like we were this was perfect and didn’t break the bank. It was a lovely sunny day as well which for late October made sitting on the top deck of a boat actually rather nice and not a horrific prospect. Well done London on having a good weather day that day and having some stunning architecture running along and over the river.

That night we had planned on going to the theatre, we bought tickets in advance for Phantom of the Opera and we were both quite excited about seeing a show in London and I’ve always wanted to see Phantom. First we went to quite a posh yet affordable restaurant in Leicester Square called Scoff and Banter. I had a goat’s cheese and onion tart with new potatoes and a salad which was beautiful with so many nice flavours going on. I had apple crumble for after which came in cute little pots and an old school bourbon cocktail, it was such a lovely meal and a great start to our final night. We then headed to the theatre – Her Majesty’s Theatre for the performance. Having booked tickets for the balcony as they were more within our budget I knew the view wouldn’t be as brilliant as the more expensive seats down below but I wasn’t prepared for just how bad it was. The fact that we could see nothing at all for a start was a major disappointment, then there was no legroom whatsoever which as a tall person at a theatre I expect but the discomfort was something that just added to my disappointment. The cramped atmosphere, the freezing cold, getting punched in the head by the fidgetty person sat next to me, feeling sick because of how high up in the theatre I was just did it for me. I lasted out the first half but me and my mum decided to leave at the interval, nothing to do with the show itself as if I could have seen it I would imagine it was brilliant but I couldn’t sit there for another hour to an hour and a half. The thing that totally did it for me and proved a huge point that a lot of Londoners I encountered that week were extremely rude was as leaving my mum complained to the man on the door about it and all he did was laugh in her face, no apologies or anything. Personally, I was completely disgusted that they could get away with charging people for those seats at all and I will definitely not be visiting that theatre ever again at any other times I go to London especially with such disrespectful staff working there.

I’m sorry for the rant but I feel like people need to be aware of the views in the theatre and the treatment you may receive from some of the staff and after usually being a person not to complain about terrible service I’ve decided that needs to change and when I spend a lot of money [for me anyway] on a theatre ticket I expect better than that. It ruined our final night in London after what had otherwise been a really wonderful trip.

Like I said it was a really brilliant trip all in all, with a few stressful moments and that major disappointment but apart from those it was a really lovely few days and so nice to get away from Sheffield and the stresses of the last year or so. I know I will definitely be visiting London again as soon as I can because there is so much left to see even after such a packed trip this time. I will never get bored of that city as it is one of my favourites and though there are a few bad points in the main it is a really great place to visit.

Catch up on day 1, day 2 and day 3

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