15 January 2017

It's The Circle of Life | A Day In London

I've always been the type of person to go out of my way to get extravagant presents for the people I love, and this Christmas was no exception. It has been a dream of my Dad's for over 10 years to go and see the Lion King, so I thought it was about time that I made that dream come true. After browsing the internet for the best deal, I found discounted tickets for the show in London, booked us on a train and just like that, my Dad's dream became a reality. On Christmas morning, I wrote both of my parents riddles and put them in red envelopes alongside the tickets. My Mum opened the train tickets and guessed straight away that we were going to London. Then my Dad teared open his envelope, saw his Lion King tickets and absolutely freaked out. I've never seen him look so excited in my life; he reminded me of the way I used to look when I'd stare out of my window at night and see a shooting star. The only downside was that we had to wait until January, but there's no better way to kick off a new year than with a trip to London's West End.

On Wednesday, Mum, Dad and I jumped onto our Virgin Train in Liverpool and started our 2 hour journey to London. Dad's never really been keen on London as a city, even though it's one of my favourite places in the world, so I tried to make sure that we had as little time walking around as possible. As we were awake at 4:30am, I slept for the majority or our journey until Dad woke me up with his rendition of 'Circle of Life' (one of the many renditions we heard from him throughout the day). When he wasn't singing songs from the film, he spent his time playing cards whilst Mum did the crossword puzzles in the morning paper. There's something about going on a Virgin Train that's so special to me; it makes me feel important, and I value my time on it as much as possible. 

Euston Station was crowded with people; some helplessly staring at the departures board, others eagerly anticipating the return of a loved one. Weaving through the crowds, we made our way onto the bustling London streets in an attempt to find the theatre. It was a good job that we had our walking shoes on because from the moment we stepped off the train, we walked everywhere. I'm aware that getting a tube would be more efficient but as someone who has a fear of going on the London Underground, I try to avoid it as much as possible. I think walking around London is better for you anyway; you get to see places and find out information that you wouldn't normally come across on an underground train. On our journey to find the theatre, we found the house where Charles Dickens used to live and sat in Russel Square for a while, just watching the world go by. As we were walking, I tried to snap some iconic shots of London life including telephone boxes, big red busses and the Underground sign.

Surprisingly, it only took us half an hour to find the Lyceum Theatre where we would later be transported into the world of the Lion King. As we had around three hours to kill, we decided to walk further down the road when we came to Trafalgar Square, renowned for its famous lions and home to London's pigeon population. I've only seen Trafalgar Square at night; we thought that was best due to my fear of pigeons, but I have to say that it looks even more beautiful during the day. The Square was surrounded by tourists taking photos and around 20 street artists; singing, painting, dancing and even floating. London is like a completely different world, especially when you compare it to Liverpool. It's given that the people up North are a lot friendlier, but the art and inspiration you see in London is something that you'd never find anywhere else. 

Joining in with the crowds, we had some photos taken and I noticed that you could see Big Ben in the distance. It would have been the perfect photography shot if there wouldn't have been clouds in the sky and if I was a decent photographer. We then walked down the steps where Mum and Dad sat on a bench and opened their sandwiches. I on the other hand ran away screaming as hundreds of pigeons surrounded them desperate for just a crumb of their bread. It was like my worst nightmare. The worst part was that when I ran away, the pigeons followed me; I think they could sense my fear. Instead of being molested by the horrible birds, I went and sat by the fountains, took some more photos and watched the world go by.

I know I previously said that the people of London can be seen as rude, but they're nothing but helpful, especially when they see people walking round with a clueless expression on their face. We were directed to Oxford Street by a lovely man who walked half of the way with us. On our previous trip to London, Mum and I walked the entire length of Oxford Street but there was one place in particular that we wanted Dad to experience and that was Selfridges. It's one of the oldest department stores in London and even though you probably wont be able to afford anything, it's so amazing to go and explore. We have Selfridges in Manchester, but that includes a Primark and escalators that break down all the time, so when Dad walked into the revolving doors his jaw dropped and he looked around in bewilderment; it was very far from Manchester. We spent half an hour walking around, looking at all of the different things and crying over the things that we couldn't afford. Dad then went around the revolving doors three times, just to say that he'd done it. 

It was then time to make our way back to the theatre but not before a browse in the Disney Store. This is potentially the most beautiful Disney Store in the UK and with two floors packed with Disney magic, what's not to love? Snow White greeted us as we walked in and I ran straight downstairs to go and see Cinderella's glistening carriage. Mum pulled the camera out as I went to sit inside and attempted to do my best Princess pose. I was then joined by Dad who just wanted to get in on some of the Disney magic. I left the Disney Store with a Marie plush, which I was supposed to get for Christmas before they ran out of stock. I also met my lovely friend Laura who had gone down to London to go to an audition and it was so lovely to see her; I miss her so much! 

A trip to London would not be complete without a visit to Carnaby Street. I could walk down the lanes and explore every single shop on this iconic street but sadly we didn't have enough time as we had to get back to the theatre. We took in the atmosphere, looked at even more stuff we couldn't afford and then bumped into this extremely cool guy floating in mid-air. I was so blown away and as much as people try to explain to me how they do it, I still don't understand! 

Then it was the moment we'd all been waiting for, it was time to see the Lion King!
We walked into the theatre and took our place, I was so nervous that our seats weren't going to be good enough but we had the perfect view. We were sat in the Grand Circle on the fourth row from the front and although we missed the atmosphere of the animals walking down the Isles, we saw everything and had such a clear view. It's definitely worth getting the cheaper seats, I don't think you miss out on that much of the experience. The staff at the theatre were so lovely and extremely helpful, showing us to our seats and making sure that we were settled. The theatre was also beautiful; I wish all theatres could look like the Lyceum.

Suddenly, the lights dimmed and Rafiki ran onto the stage starting with the infamous beginning of Circle of Life. The audience was silent, you could have heard a pin drop as we all stared in amazement as the sun began to rise and the animals slowly plodded onto the stage. At first you do notice the actors and dancers who act out the parts of the animals but by the end you only see the animals which is such an amazing transformation throughout the show. At this point, tears were running down my cheeks and I felt so content just being in that moment. When the elephant walked onto the stage with it's little baby running along behind it I turned to my Mum and said 'I'm in tears' to which she replied 'So am I'. It's so moving because you don't realise how incredible it's going to be; no video or television performance does it justice. 

The actors were phenomenal and their ability to take on the persona of every animal was incredible to watch. I admire them for their ability to stay upbeat throughout the performance; I would have been tired just after the opening sequence. The lady who played Rafiki really stood out to me, she brought the comedy element to the show and listening to the school children laugh added to the atmosphere. Singing along to some of my favourite Disney songs with a theatre full of people is something I will never experience again in my life time, it was such a magical moment. 

In a nutshell, Lion King was pure Disney magic and I can't wait to go and see it again. If you get the chance to go and see it then I would highly recommend it! Also, if you were wondering, Dad loved it!

We exited the theatre with Dad giving his final rendition of Circle of Life and headed over to Covent Garden to see if there was anything going on. I love the quirkiness of Covent Garden and seeing it at night made it more beautiful than before. There were street artists giving different performances on every corner, and I'm so happy that my parents got to see what Covent Garden is all about. They absolutely loved it, and it looked so pretty with all of the fairy lights and everyone sat outside the restaurants with candles flickering on their tables. 

However, we decided not to eat in Covent Garden and headed back towards Euston Station. We called in at Wetherspoons for some food, and sat in the pub for a while reflecting on what an amazing day we'd had. Dad couldn't stop talking about the Lion King and told everyone he came into contact with how amazing it was. I think I've well and truly exceeded myself on the extravagant present giving front. An hour before our train was due to depart, we started to walk back to Euston, looking at the pretty London hotels with sparkling lights, listening to the hustle and bustle of the city and gazing at the full moon that was shining down on us. 

When we got back to the Station, we saw Jeremy Corbyn walk through. It was completely bizarre but I suppose the people of London are used to that by now. Soon enough, our train was called and we departed London, all very tired but so content that we'd had the most incredible day! 

Lots of Love,

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