Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Capitol Trip!

Last Thursday I traveled down to London for what became one of the best weekends of my life. My dear friend Hayley Anne invited me to stay at her’s for the Halloween weekend. I know Hayley Anne from a couple summers back when we both participated in the Moscow Art Theatre’s Stanislavski Summer School actor training program in Cambridge Massachusetts. She made her way to London last autumn to embark on a Master’s program for directors at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA). Hayley Anne lives in Notting Hill, made famous by the Hugh Grant/Julia Roberts film of the same name. It is official, I adore Notting Hill. It is the most fantastic neighborhood! There are fabulous cafes and restaurants and Portobello Road’s famous market. The houses are bright and colorful and it just feels good to be there. If I get to move to London, I’m going to try and make Notting Hill my home. However, starving artists types like me may find it challenging to find affordable accommodations in this little slice of heaven but I’d be quite happy with a broom closet! We shall see!

Friday Hayley Anne threw a Halloween party and I was able to catch up with our good friend Emma. Emma is from the London area and also attended the program in Cambridge, MA, two summers back. After a late but joyful night of crazy costumes, meeting new people and catching up with old friends we called it a night at about sunrise. Emma crashed with me in Hayley Anne’s living room.

Saturday Emma went with me to Camden Town to visit the delectable veggie restaurant I discovered on my last trip to London. It took a bit longer than we had anticipated because we got on a bus heading in the wrong direction. Oh well, we had a nice tour of London and did manage to get there eventually. Thank goodness for good company on the journey! Camden Town was insane; you could barely walk on the sidewalks. I felt like I was in Times Square again. This was due to it being Saturday and Halloween, I’m sure. We ate veggie food and then headed back. Emma and I parted ways on the underground as she headed off to friend’s party and I was to meet up with Hayley Anne to head to another celebration of our own.

Back at Hayley Anne central we ate Thai food and carved pumpkins. I hadn’t carved pumpkins in ages! I went with a traditional goofy Jack-O-Lantern face and Hayley Anne got fancy by carving a silhouette of a cat. Then back into costume for party: round two. Upon arrival at the host flat it was wall-to-wall people. I couldn’t believe how many people were crammed into the three bedroom apartment. We had to flatten out and wedge ourselves between people in order to migrate into the living room, which did provide a bit more space. It was another night that met the dawn and we finally got home and into bed just as the sun was coming up.

Needless to say, we slept fairly late on Sunday. I came to life before Hayley Anne and decided to go for a coffee at one of the groovy little cafes I saw around the corner. I was not unique in my Sunday morning coffee plans. There were many people in search of recovery aides from the night before but I managed to grab a seat on a comfy sofa near the window. I spent some time doodling script ideas in my notebook and engaged in a conversation about film with the local lad sitting next to me. Then Hayley Anne called me and off I went to meet her for afternoon tea. Afternoon tea, ha! I love the UK! We went to the Orangery restaurant at Kensington Palace in Kensington Gardens, just a short walk from Hayley Anne’s flat.

After tea, Hayley Anne had to head home and get ready for a wedding she was attending Sunday evening and I was off to meet my cousin, Lance and his wife Katie for dinner. Lance and I had not seen each other in about two decades, literally. We both just happened to be in London at the same time and available to have dinner on Sunday night. What are the chances?! It was a fantastic reunion! Lance is a professional opera singer and we talked shop and compared our ends of the showbiz industry and I got to know Katie and her passions as well. We had a delightful time and vowed to make our next meeting sooner than twenty years!

Monday I woke up in Hayley Anne’s living room to someone yelling, “Action!” When I stumbled to the window there was a mess of people on the street right outside the building. They were shooting a commercial for Rimmel cosmetics. Three models in short khaki trench coats kept walking down the side walk saying, “Get the London look.” It was kind of cool to have such a fantastic view of the filming but it gives you an idea of how repetitive the process can be. After about the seventeenth take I decided to give up and hop in the shower. Hayley Anne and I went out for lunch and then to a movie and then, that was it. I had to go get on a train and head back to Glasgow. Ah well, I couldn’t sleep in her living room forever now could I? So there you have it; a play-by-play of my wonderful weekend and perhaps more exciting than poetry about sheep. Photos below!
Take care!

Colorful Portobello Road in Notting Hill

Alice’s Antiques, one of the many places to purchase antiques on Portobello Road

Vendor stalls set up to sell antiques and other goods on Portobello Road

The street sign

A section of the Portobello Road Market is dedicated to food. Here is fruit and veg and cheese.

Pumpkins for sale!

Vintage clothing anyone?

I found Tacos in Notting Hill! Yummy! It’s been so long!!

Notting Hill’s travel bookshop featured in the film: Notting Hill

Hayley Anne and Emma at the Hayley Anne’s Halloween Party

Pumpkin carving complete! Masterpieces!


Me again; on the tube to Halloween party number two with a look at my full costume; The Chakra spectrum

Me and Lance and Katie. Family reunion!

“Get the London look.” Commercial shoot out of Hayley Anne’s window

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