Ivan, Lil Dave and I woke up early at 10:30 am on October 6, 2011. It was a pretty cold day.
We got into London earlier than usual. We picked up tickets for Billy Elliot. Then, it was time to find some lunch.
Ivan and I thought La Tasca sounded good. Ivan and I shared a couple tapas: bread with onions and goats cheese, shrimp in a garlic sauce, potatas a la pobre (fried potatoes with onions and peppers), paella, mushrooms and fried fish. Lil Dave got banana bravas, banana paella and a banana and chicken salad. The food was quite good.
We walked back to the Victoria Palace Theatre. Ivan asked one of the ushers for a booster seat. The guy said it was for children only. Ivan said my girlfriend is short and pointed to me. I thought the theatre had limited quantity. But, he unlocked a cabinet and there was lots of booster seats available. Our seats were in the front row and the stage was quite high – so I still couldn’t see very well. Ivan got me another booster seat. I like sitting close in the theatre since you feel part of the action. When we sit in the Royal Circle, Ivan and I feel detached from it.
Billy Elliot is about a boy living in a Northern England town. During the time, there’s a mining strike going on that Billy’s father and son are involved in. Billy’s father wants him to take boxing, but Billy ends up enjoying ballet. The story is very interesting. The dancing is phenomenal. The songs are great which were composed by Elton John. My favorite scene is when Billy Elliot is dancing while riot police are moving along with their shields. It’s really powerful. This is my third time seeing it and it’s still entertaining. The song Solidarity gets stuck in my head after seeing this excellent musical.
Later on, we went to the Japanese restaurant Ukai. Lil Dave decided to get some banana sushi specially made for him. The chef was happy to oblige.
Ivan and I shared carrot and papaya salad, Japanese pancake, a few sushi rolls and salmon teriyaki. The sushi was alright. The salmon teriyaki was delicious.
We got the train to Holborn. We met the tour guide for London Tavern Trails – In the Footsteps of Dickens tour. The group consisted of 7 people and 1 monkey.
The four pubs on the tour are all English Heritage listed properties and are included in CAMRA’s National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors. The interior of these pubs have remained much the same as they were before World War II.
Our first stop was the Princess Louise pub. It’s named after the princess who was very different. She didn’t want to marry a royal. In 1872, she created quite a stir when she married a commoner. The Victorian pub was really nice inside.
There are lots of ornate mirrors on the wall. Ivan and I shared an Old Brewery bitter.
We walked around stopping at Red Lion Square. On Bedford Road, we saw many listed houses. Listed properties can’t be destroyed, extended or altered without permission from the local planning authority.
In Gray’s Inn Square, our guide talked about how Charles Dickens was a lawyer’s apprenticeship. This inn contains barrister’s chambers.
Our next pub was Cittie of York. I saw many photos of barristers and judges on the wall in the cellar. We headed to the main bar. This bar is really cool inside.
There are large barrels above the bar with high ceilings and wood paneling. I like the individual booths. This was definitely my favorite pub of the tour.
We moved on to Ely’s Place. We saw St. Etheldreda’s the oldest Catholic church in England. The guide said that if you wanted to find a pub in a village, look for the church. The pub would be right near the church as was the case with our next pub.
The group walked down an alley to arrive at Ye Old Mitre. It’s a small pub where you can order food like toasties and a scotch egg.
We walked to St. Sepulchre-without-Newgate church. Across the street is Old Bailey which is the Central Criminal Court. The guide talked about how Newgate Prison was located where the Old Bailey now sits. Priest would travel by tunnel to the prison giving last rites to prisoners.
Our last stop was Viaduct Tavern which was formerly a debtor’s prison. This pub is the most haunted pub in London. The guide arranged for us to see the cells in the cellar.
It looked really small in there. Ivan and I shared a London Pride before heading out.
This was a great tour. I really enjoyed seeing the Victorian style of the pubs.
Source: Billy Elliot photo