By Briane Nasimok
(TORONTO, ON) – As the vegetarian chilli, that I am supplying for tonight’s communal meal, cooks, I have found internet access here in Totnes, England (look it up, I had to – start with Devon), so I can finally share some of the exploits of my first few days as part of the SouloTheatre Festival export to the United Kingdom.
Last Fall I took a course to help me create the first part of a one-person show with muse-to-be Tracey Erin Smith. It culminated with a near-brilliant 12 minute presentation and an invitation to help her and her sister-from-another mister (they’re not really sisters but very close) Elenna Mosoff, put together a festival, which we did in May.
The show has expanded to 28 minutes and if I do not get thrown out of this country for my presentation will eventually evolve to a full hour. Watch out Fringe Festivals.
Meanwhile, Mo Cohen, a very enterprising, gentleman from from Totnes (since arriving I have found out the town is twinned with Narnia… makes sense), wanted to have Tracey teach a course in his town, and it which evolved quite rapidly to a whole Festival, including the participation of six Canadians.
I arrived just before Canada Day and prepped in London; meaning that I thought I would need a day to reset my time clock.
Fun Travel Fact Number One : If you take a day flight and consider taking a nap on the Transatlantic trip, sit in an aisle seat next to someone who keeps the window shade up for the whole trip (perhaps so they can stare out the window at the clouds for six and one half hours) denying you a chance to doze off. This will mean that once you get to your hotel, you will be so exhausted you will sleep the night through and … voila… you are on UK time.
Fun Travel Fact Number Two (which goes hand in hand with Number One) : Take the tube to your hotel, especially if you have to change trains twice, carry heavy bags up many flights of stairs, and roll your valises for many blocks.
This will ensure you are exhausted on reaching your room and will fall asleep and … voila…
London is a marvellous city. As this was my second time there, my first was on my honeymoon, oh so many years and former-spousal payments ago, so there were good and bad memories.
The food has got better, not cheaper. The theatre has got better, not cheaper. And the Tube service.
Having been given two very valuable gifts by the “better half”, the mini-I-pad that I am writing on (and I know that I am can go into much greater details on its joys, as soon as Apple sends me an I-Phone for free, that I can review and endorse whole-heartedly), and an Oyster card for transit travel.
Oh yes, the wonderful I-Pad was a gift from the designated stepson (thank you). Good thing that I established that or my welcome home would’ve been less welcoming.
The Oyster card fast-tracks you through the Underground system and means you don’t have to keep searching for coins you will not recognize, and it was a must for my travels. The highlights included Greenwich Market (great food stalls and unique gifts), the Maritime Museum (free like many of them), Ben and Jerry’s Fishy Food ice cream, the National Gallery, and St. Martins in the Field for an evening concert.
Fun Travel Fact Number Three: Be Internet aware. Some hotels, like mine, want to charge you big poundage for internet use. Unfortunately when I checked my old standby, Starbucks, there was no free Wi-Fi at the ones I passed. However along the street you’ll find phone boxes (not the red, traditional boxes) that offer free Wi-Fi. And one of these meccas was a scant three blocks from my hotel and seemed to offer me more room than my chamber (my feet enjoyed the freedom of not having a mattress boot under them when I slept).
I got very close with my booth – who I nicknamed Boothy – spending many waking hours there, getting Blue Jay scores. I waved him a fond goodbye as I rolled my suitcase to yet another tube station for my trek to Totnes.
One final memory of my first London leg; landing at Heathrow. I decided that I must decant and when I headed into the men’s room, the Beatles were playing on the overhead sound system. How British.
Coming Soon : Totnes England, thank goodness I brought my tie-dyed tee-shirt so I could fit in.