Wednesday, 13 May 2015

The Mousetrap - Theatr Clwyd

I've resurrected my love of the theatre. OK so I can't pop down to London to watch all the big plays, but my local theatre puts on great shows and I've decided that I'm going to go to the theatre. I don't care if no-one wants to go with me, if I can holiday alone, I can theatre alone!

Tonight I am going to see Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap. I've always wanted to see this. Back in April I watched "And Then There Were None" with Paul Nicholas and Susan Penhaligon which was brilliant, so I'm really looking forward to watching The Mousetrap, and it doesn't matter that's it's not on in the West End or there are any big names to watch out for!

I'm pleased to say that I really enjoyed it, it was a very clever murder mystery. For those of you who don't know the premise of the story, a group of people meet in a country house in the middle of nowhere. It snows and so they are cut off from everything when they discover that there is a murderer amongst them! Each character is suspicious in their own right, and as we go through the play we discover more about each character and their sordid pasts. At the end the identity of the murderer and their motive is revealed, and in the true spirit of the play, at the very end the audience is asked to keep the secret alive, and not tell anyone who the murderer is!

A very enjoyable night, and now it is time for bed!

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Back in Blighty

Well it's been a good week and now it's back to reality, whatever that maybe! Washing, food shopping, generally getting back on track before going back to work! Seriously, this wasn't supposed to be happening, I'm supposed to be a lady of leisure now, oh well I have the weekend before bracing myself for a week of hell! Whilst I might not like my job, I still cannot believe they chose to close my office down and keep the other one open. The staff are on the phone continuously because they have no idea what they are doing. I do feel sorry for them really. My branch had really complex Trust funds to administer, whereas the other office only dealt with standard Trusts. To have all of this dumped on them can not be good, and I can't see this area operating long before it gets closed down either. Such a shame as it was should a great service and profitable part of the business. Still them in their ivory towers know best!!!

Friday, 8 May 2015

Last Day Blues in Prague

Feeling a bit depressed actually. I've actually enjoyed my week here in Prague despite being on my own. I truly didn't know if I had it in me to spend a whole week in my own company in a foreign land, but I've done it and really enjoyed myself. I mean there have been a few times I've got a bit lonely, but I soon shook that off. If I'm honest the only thing that I have found difficult is eating on my own. Somehow having lunch out was fine, but when it came to eating at night I felt really self-conscious asking for a table for one! Stupid I know, and to be fair I was still given nice tables with a view rather than being shepherded into a corner, but it still felt strange!

So today it's Convent of St Agnes day 2 and a great art exhibition downstairs. Whilst there are a lot of screens set up to display the paintings, you can still see the actual building, and more importantly where some of the filming has taken place! Whilst I was going round the exhibition I took notice of two paintings in particular. One looked very much like a scene between Athos and M'lady (yes I have a one track mind), the other was just purely lustful thoughts about changing the model in the painting to Tom Burke!!!!!

Then it is off to the river to sit and eat my final meal before heading (slowly) back to the hotel for my chauffer to pick me up and take me to the airport. Had a great chat with him for most of the journey and it was interesting to hear him talk about the changes that have taken place in Prague over the years. He asked what music I was into and I said I still liked really old bands like The Cure, The Strangler and The Damned. Apparently The Cure were liked in Czech Republic and he proceeded to tell me all about the days before it was easy to pop into a shop and buy a record. It really opened my eyes how easily us Brits have had it compared to countries that were under Communism.

Plane is going to be over three hours late. Three hours at Prague airport. Not happy, could have spent more time in Prague pottering about, and no-one at Jet2 knows what is going on. They are so unhelpful. My car park token had better work when I get back to Manchester, I'm not fighting with a stupid parking machine just because my plane is late and I've overstayed my welcome!

Just change to Tom Burke

Athos and M'lady???

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

In Search of a Musketeer - Chateau Dobříš

Woohoo!!!! Today I am taking a trip out of town and getting the bus to Chateau Dobříš, a rococo styled mansion which has been used in both series of the BBC production of The Musketeers. I've never been obsessed with a TV show before. Not sure what is going on here, but my favourite books have been turned into a TV series, not an adaptation, new storylines, but the essence of the characters has been kept very much alive and I just can't get enough of it! I suppose casting my favourite actor (Tom Burke) as my favourite literary character (Athos) has got nothing to do with my obsession!!!
So I met up with Marie and we got a bus out of town to Dobříš and located the chateau, and the first thing I noticed was that the colour of the building is different to the one on screen. We had a guided tour around the building, and had to wear these huge slippers over our shoes so that we didn't ruin the wooden floors! Our tour was in Czech, but that didn't matter, I had some notes in English, it was just a wonderful experience to walk around the house and go into rooms that I recognised from my TV screen!!

Walking round the garden was another great musketeer experience, and I walked along the tree lined avenue where Aramis announces he is leaving the musketeers! Seriously you'd think I was about 10! There is a large park surrounding the house, and we noticed signs saying the park would be closed over the next few days. Hmm it looked as though the place was to be used for filming, and as we walked through the woods we saw some old style carts being watched over, definitely looked musketeery. Going to have to watch series 3 with extra vigilance!!!

Got the bus back "home" said goodbye to Marie, and yes you guessed it, I stopped off for a pot of tea!

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Girl About Town - Prague

After the past couple of days I've decided that maybe I should take it a bit easier, so heading into the centre of town to Klementinum for a guided tour. I believe that there is an amazing library there, and if there's something that goes well with a cup of tea, it's a book!

First stop on the tour was the Mirror Chapel, a gorgeous chapel lined with mirrors which is used for classical concerts. We then moved onto the Baroque library. A stunningly decorated room with frescoed ceiling depicting education and saintly motifs. A number of globes are also housed in the library showing both geographical locations, and astronomical ones. A number of books are currently missing as they have been removed to be digitally copied, so the library looked rather stark and no photographs were allowed to be taken!

As we climb up to the second floor, we enter the Meridian Hall which was used to determine noon, by the light of the sun hitting a string held taught across the floor. Many various astronomical devices are housed in this part of the building.

Finally we enter the top of the Astronomical Tower, about 52 metres high, where you can go out and look down on the city. It was certainly an interesting place to visit.

After lunch, and a short stop to try some green tea, as it was such a beautiful day, I headed down to Marksman's Island to chill out and read for a bit. As I pass the Franz Kafka sculpture most days on my way to and from my hotel, it seemed only fitting to read some of his stories. Very strange - that's all I'm prepared to say at this moment!!

Mirror Chapel - ~Klementinum

Gyokuro Kyoto - Japanese Green Tea

Looking out from Marksman's Island

Franz Kafka Statue

Monday, 4 May 2015

TV Tower - Prague

Last year when I visited the city, I noticed a strange tower in the distance dominating the skyline. Neither travel partner wanted to "walk all that way", so I never go to see what it was. This time, I had no-one to say no to me, so today is the day to head off to Zizkov and Prague's tallest (and possibly ugliest) landmark!

As I head off, I suddenly realise my map does not stretch this far out of town. Well it's the tallest landmark, so how hard could it be to find? Very, when you're as navigationally challenged as me.  Every time I turned a corner the thing would disappear from view. Eventually though, it stood still and I caught up with it.

TV Tower, the landmark I tracked down, is actually quite stunning when you get close to it. It is an amazing piece of modern architecture, made even more futuristic and disturbing by the ten sculptures of crawling babies that are exploring the various parts of the tower, created by the Czech artist David Cerny.

Next to the tower lies the former Jewish Cemetery. Following WW2 the cemetery was left to deteriorate, and it became overgrown and the tombstones were destroyed. A park was built in it's place, and the TV Tower constructed. Only the oldest part of the cemetery remains and the juxtaposition of these two very different landmarks is rather haunting.

Since I was in the district, I decided to walk down the hill to Karlín where the National Monument is situated. What I should have thought about is that whilst I was climbing down one hill, I would soon need to climb another hill, complete with about a million steps to get to the top! Everywhere I go in Prague I seem to end up having to climb up so many steps, they're endless!

Well, after the end of another long day, there's only one thing for it... yes, time for a nice pot of tea!!!

TV Tower - Miminka (Sculpture Mummy)

The Former Jewish Cemetery
Steps, steps and more steps!

 National Monument

Yunnan Tue Cha Xing Cha Wan (Puerla)

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Back to Prague to meet a Burketeer!

I love Prague. I first visited in June 2014 because I saw the Strahov Monastery on The Musketeers (BBC TV show!) and I had to see the ornate beauty of those rooms for myself. I went back again in September, little did I know I was about to become a Prague addict!

Having been told that the office I worked in was closing down, my immediate thought was to go to Prague, on my own, and figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. The plane was booked for May, just after I finished work. Well the best laid plans and all that... things were not going well with the closure, so I was asked if I could I stay for a little bit longer? Oh well, I thought, I'll just have to take the week as a normal holiday then! Normal? I hate flying and I'm about to embark on a holiday abroad on my own. This was complete and utter madness but too late to change my mind now, so the next few posts will be all about Prague!

1st May 2014 Arrived in Prague 10 am. A dry and bright day and a trip around Staré Mêsto (Old Town) to get my bearings and relax. It does seem strange to be here on my own, still, it's an opportunity to get the camera out without someone sighing about how long I take shooting so many photo's!

Charles Bridge

I've become techno savvy in the last 12 months. I've joined Facebook and Twitter. I'm blaming Tom Burke. I don't know why, he doesn't do social media! Somehow I have ended up buying a tablet and communicating with the cyber world! Part of this cyber world is group of Tom Burke fans (Burketeers we're affectionately known as). Today I am meeting a Czech Burketeer. 

I am heading to Vyšehrad a historical fort on the outskirts of town that many people don't know about.  Marie (who I'm meeting) told me to meet her at the metro. Me being me though, will not use the metro, not if it's possible to take a "little" walk through Prague!

As I head down to the Old Town Square, I walk past a building which always makes me smile... well you can't be a fan of Alexander Dumas without loving the fact that Prague has a building called Three Musketeers. (tři mušketýři)

As I crossed the Old Town Square, the imposing gothic
spires of the Church of Our Lady Before Týn come into view; it's like looking at something from a Grimms fairy-tale!

As I head out of town, I came across the beautiful Charles Square. It is quite unbelievable that such a peaceful oasis can be found within minutes of the busiest area of Prague.

Vyšehrad is a beautiful place. There is the Basilica of St Peter and St Paul on the top of the hill, with a cemetery housing the names of a number of prolific Czech citizens including the composer Dvořák. Whilst the views looking down on the Vlatava River from there were beautiful, one place suddenly caught my eye. Hmmmm I'm sure I've seen a photo of that path before, yes I have, I'm sure Howard Charles (Porthos) posted a picture on Instagram of his fellow musketeers here!

Ice broken, the two Burketeers decided that we should have a day out at a chateau where some episodes of The Musketeers have been filmed! Well I'm not going to say no to that am I?!

Of course, there was only one way I could finish the day, and that was to pop into my favourite tea shop and have a nice pot of Dian Hong Cha! It was a blessed relief I can tell you. My friend's mother once said that even if someone chopped my feet off I could still keep on walking. Well today even I must admit I might have walked a little bit too far, and my feet were about to drop off!