I recently spent an evening of total captivation immersed in Carmen at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. It was the Barrie Kosky production and it’s an opera I’ve always wanted to see performed professionally.
A bit of background, because I have a guilty little secret that relates. I used to be a thespian and tread the boards at our local amateur drama group. There was also an operatic group based at the theatre and I used to go and see their productions. It was there I saw Carmen for the first time and fell in love with the music and passion of Bizet’s best-known opera.
Since then it’s been a dream to see Carmen performed professionally. The dream came true at London’s Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. I really don’t know why I left it so long…
©2018-2019 ROH | Photographer: Bill Cooper
A tour of London’s iconic neighbourhoods to seek out the city’s sweet treats is the perfect antidote to a wet winter’s afternoon. Sampling delectable desserts and feasting on fabulous chocolates whilst listening to tales of the rich and famous turned a dreary afternoon into a sugar rush full of fascinating facts, fun and the sweetest of surprise endings. Come with me on a luxe London dessert tour of the city’s sweet spots with Urban Adventures.
One Aldwych is a gem of a boutique hotel in London’s vibrant theatre land. We stayed for a night in December to soak up the city’s Christmas atmosphere and kick-start that festive feeling. We liked the idea of skating at Somerset House, watching street performers at Covent Garden or checking out the Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square. Thing is, once we’d stepped through the welcoming doors of One Aldwych we really didn’t want to leave…
The Ambrette (now renamed The Devil in Rye and run by the same people) is located in Rye, East Sussex. Rye is one of the Cinque Port towns and also one of the prettiest and best-preserved medieval towns in England. It has a small seaside harbour, quaint cobbled streets, ancient inns and tales of marauding smugglers. It is also, surprisingly, the venue for Deb Biswal’s contemporary Anglo-Indian fusion restaurant.
After a day spent exploring Cornwall’s craggy coastline from Lizard Point to Land’s End via Kynance Cove and the Minack Theatre we arrived at our final destination, a Tregenna Castle in St Ives. Feeling wind-blasted and hungry we were ready to relax and Tregenna was the perfect place.
We’d got just a day and a half to explore the pretty Cornish harbour town of St Ives before heading back home to Sussex. A cheeky add-on to our trip to Truro for a family wedding and my very first taste of Cornwall.
A Cornish Castle
Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red
Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, the art installation at The Tower of London, will be completed on 11 November when the last of the poppies are set in place. The poppy installation, by Paul Cummins, commemorates the centenary of the start of the First World War in 1914.
Over five million people visited the display of 888, 246 handmade ceramic poppies ‘planted’ in the moat surrounding the Tower of London. The poppies have now all been sold with proceeds going to Service charities.
The Tower of London Poppies
I visited the installation in October and quietly pondered the sea of red around the Tower. People gazed solemnly at the poppies and many shed a quiet tear or two.
The thought that every poppy represents a British, Australian, or Commonwealth fatality from the First World War made the waves of poppies a powerful sight.
Tower of London Poppies and Tower Bridge
I hadn’t realised until this year that my grandmother lost two uncles during WW1. My Dad and brother, while researching our family tree, have found out a little about them so I’m going to share a small piece of our own family history with you today in my own tribute to them this Remembrance Sunday.
Brothers Jasper Botting and George Botting died whilst fighting in France in 1915. We know little about Jasper except that he served with the Royal Sussex Regiment and lost his life on 31 July 1915. He has a memorial in Houplines Old Military Cemetery in northern France. I’m told that my grandmother, now long gone herself, remembered her Mother being inconsolable when the news broke of the loss of her two brothers.
The Battle of Loos, France
We know a little more about George Botting, known as ‘Sim’ to his family. He served with the 7th Battalion East Surrey Regiment and died during active service aged 29 at the Battle of Loos on Friday 8 October.
A Letter Home
He’d already had a near miss, as described in a letter home, and had endured the terrible mud in the trenches.
Letter from Great, Great, Uncle Sim (George)
Transcript of part of George’s letter home…
Dear Min and Chas
Just a line in answer to your letter which I received quiet safe and to say that I am still able at present.
Sorry that I have not answered your letter before but I have been back in the company for a while to let some learners get used to the guns. We have had a good lot of rain lately and there was plenty of mud about, I am really fed up with it, shall be glad when it is all over.
I have had one narrow escape, had a bullet through my hat, plenty close enough; it really made me drop a bit.
Thank Chas for the tobacco. I always look forward to your letters because you are the only one that sends a few cakes.
From your loving brother Sim xxx
George’s name is inscribed in the Loos Memorial in France.
Private George Botting who died in active service in the Battle of Loos 8/10/1915
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
Robert Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)
The Weeping Window and Wave segments of the exhibition will remain in place until the end of November 2017 before touring the country. They will then be placed in an exhibition at the Imperial War Museum until November 2018.