Well it's been another big couple of weeks! We've managed to check out the National Library, go Scottish dancing, see the Lion King and visit Platform 9 3/4 but the highlight has definitely been our visit last week to Helsinki; and catching up with Al and Gudrun Evans.
Really the only adjective to describe Helsinki is amazing. We walked on a frozen harbour, watched mad Finnish people leap into ice-bound water, ate reindeer stew and had a lovely time catching up with Gudrun and Al. Whilst we've been to places where it's been that cold before this was the first time we've visited a city where people actually live in such conditions, and it was certainly an eye-opener. There really can't be many places in the world where a sunny Sunday afternoon (even if the temperature was about -5) sees people taking a stroll across the frozen Baltic Sea with their children and building ice castles on the ice shore. Al and Gudrun gave us a wonderful tour of their current home, and put up with us saying 'Wow - that's amazing!' a lot. And, we hope they haven't been too scarred, socially, by having to admit to their Finnish friends that they took us to the Helsinki Ice Bar! Check out our photos for the full story.
On Thursday night last week we went along to the 'Lion King' musical, and exchanged a Finnish cultural experience for a quasi-African one. It generally lived up to the hype, and even if the cast's performance was a little lacklustre, the music, puppets and staging blew us away. It must be tough to be out-performed by your costume! One definite highlight, in what is billed as a family musical, was the fly-wired dancers during 'Can You Feel the Love Tonight?' who struck erotic poses and then formed hearts whilst hanging from the ceiling. They were possibly the only people in the performance who weren't outshone by their costume, but then a nude body stocking with a few twists of ivy isn't much to live up to!
This weekend we thought we'd stick a little closer to home and went along to a Scottish Ceilidh (a.k.a country dance) which Brendan's choir was holding as a fundraiser. Turns out that Scottish dancing is quite like bush dancing, although with more tartan. The band was great and some dancers even wore kilts! Sunday afternoon we spent an amazing couple of hours touring the British Library, a place that Kate has been meaning to visit since we arrived in London. The BL has one of the most extensive collections in the world, with some 12 million books stored on-site. The exhibition room, although small in size, was both historically and artistically immense, with gorgeous illuminated manuscripts, the first printed books/parchments and letters, scores and diaries of some very famous people. We figure the Beatles must be pretty chuffed to have their lyric sheets share a room with Mozart's original Messiah score, Scott of the Antarctic's diary (open to the last page), the Gutenberg bible, the Magna Carta, letters written by Charles Darwin, Shakespeare's Folio and pages from Leonardo Da Vinci's notebook. An amazing collection in a lovely building.
And as we were in a literary frame of mind we felt we'd better go and check out Platform 9 3/4 at nearby Kings Cross Station - the place where Harry Potter boards the train to head off to Hogwarts. It was just us, and almost a dozen English and Japanese fans, clustered around a sign and half a luggage trolley, wishing that we too could catch that train!
- 17th March 2005
Australians are at a disadvantage looking casual in ice-skates.
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