Sunday, 24 November 2013

Composers, Canalboats And Christmas Cheer...

What with lots of changes, challenges and general excitement over the last few months I've been a little lax in my pottering about London (note I do not include my recent tourist-ing with Lil Chicky in this - that was by no stretch 'pottering') and today it was a combination of music and markets that had my full attention. Having been in Chicago for work this week (and slept the morning away yesterday 'in recovery'), today saw me up, about and out the door for a little culture and some festive cheer. 

First stop (well after the tube ride and the large soy cappuccino purchase at Caffe Nero) was Kings Place for Bach Unwrapped, a one hour concert featuring the work of JS Bach, his protege JG Goldberg, and his son, CPE Bach. For those of you in the know about these things, today's Trio Sonatas programme consisted of:

Trio in G for flute and violin
Trio in C for two violins (collaboration with Goldberg)
Trio in D Minor for two violins (collaboration with his son)
Trio Sonata from Musical Offering

(For those of you who know nothing about these things, the violin, cello and harpsichord were joined by another violin for the second and third pieces and a flute for the first and the fourth.)

Apparently the last piece, Musical Offering was borne of the composer's meeting with Frederick The Great in 1747 - the King challenged Bach to improvise over a theme he had written and while Bach rose to the immediate challenge, on returning home he composed Musical Offering and despatched it to King Frederick. The programme note claimed that Musical Offering has been dazzling musicians with its brilliance ever since.

While I don't know very much about classical music, I find it incredibly moving and very easy to lose myself in the ebb and flow of the music so after an enjoyable hour, I wandered out and headed back to Kings Cross Station in a leisurely snap-happy stroll. 

Despite my having been there several times, I had never actually walked out the back of Kings Place before today - lo and behold there's a rather lovely deck which overlooks Regent's Canal...





...and the stroll back to the station along the canal was quite pretty too.




The area around Kings Cross and St Pancras Stations has been undergoing a major redevelopment since 2008 and in the midst of the construction site, there's quite a pleasant walkway - dotted with titbits about the area's history - which connects the stations to Regent's Canal. This is the view coming back from the canal, the spire of the Grade I listed St Pancras International station building standing tall above the 'debris'.



The forecourt between Kings Cross and St Pancras stations.
The second half of my Sunday foray was spent wandering along the Southbank Christmas Market. There is something deliciously festive about this market. The decorated stalls stretched along the riverside path from The London Eye to the National Theatre with stallholders plugging their wares (hand made gifts and eclectic arts and crafts feature heavily), tempting passersby with a fresh waffle, a little glühwein or perhaps some kind of German sausage concoction.


Nearly there - this glimpse of Big Ben framed by the railway bridge caught my eye from Concert Hall Walk on the way to Southbank.
This 'urban' paint job decorated the entrance at the back of Royal Festival Hall. 
Traditional festive cheer above one stall...
...faced off against Scrooge on another.
German sausage concoction? Enough said...
The twinkling lights, the smell of roasted chestnuts...I just love it. Even the nip in the air as I snuggled deeper into my coat, hat and scarf was a reminder of the merriment to come...in just 31 sleeps.

Needless to say I've started my Christmas shopping...
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