First of all, I would like to apologise for not being as regular as I want to be. You see, my keyboard stopped working entirely, which made it difficult to post on Facebook, let alone a blog, plus being in Rome made this a little difficult as well. So, sorry about that!
Moving on, it has been a while since I've had to type on my tablet rather than a PC, though this isn't due to a broken keyboard (which has now been replaced). Nope, instead, I am sitting on a bus heading to Stansted airport after an amazing weekend in London, and I do not use the word amazing lightly (though I know I often do).
After flying down on Friday night, and having avoided multiple attempts to make me miss the bus, I met up with Michael and Cara and headed to their flat (whilst munching on some of the best chips that I've had in a while). After a couple of beers, and some catching up, it was time for a not-so-early night.
After getting up, eating a delicious breakfast (Thank you both!) and getting ready, we all headed into Camden Market for a quick wander round, where we saw a group of violinists playing and dancing the can-can, and were I bought Alison some nice chocolates (aaaaawwwwww...I'm only gruff on the outside). Sadly I only saw a quick glimpse of the can-can but we did stay for more of the show which was really good.
Having had our fill of violins, it was time for our fill of sushi at a nearby restaurant called 'Wasabi'. Wasabi was great little place, a typical Japanese style fast-food venue with fresh sushi, Onigiri and warm dishes as well. As I always do when I eating sushi, I decided that I don't eat enough sushi and vowed to do so more often.
After lunch, Michael and I headed to the main reason for me being in London: Final Symphony II. Now, Final Symphony II (if you don't know) is a video game concert that is performed by the London Symphonic Orchestra and was influenced by music from Final Fantasy 5, 8, 9 and 13.
Now then, you may have clocked onto the fact we were just heading there after lunch and you might be thinking to yourself that it was a little bit early. Well, as it turned out, Michael had entered an essay competition and won it, which meant that could actually attend the rehearsal for the show!! This was a fantastic opportunity for us both, and we were highly excited.
After arriving at the Barbican, and having rather easily entering what should have been a secure artist's entrance, we were found by a member of the band and escorted backstage. Here we waited for a while before actually getting into the hall to watch the Orchestra perform the first two songs of the evenings show (fantastic, by the way) with Nobou Uematsu, the composer, just in front of us!! Now, if you don't know who Nobuo is, that's fair enough but he is one of, if not the, best known video game composers ever. He has worked on over a 100 different projects, ranging from video games (including most of the Final Fantasies) to anime to CDs! His music has also been played in over 500 different concerts as well (he is now a record holder due to this as well). And there he was, just sitting quietly watching his music be played.
Oh, and did I mention that Michael and I got to meet him, and got our photographs with him? This was just a fantastic moment for the both of us! Here are some pictures from it.
After this once-in-a-lifetime moment, Michael and I headed for a pint to discuss the aforementioned meeting, and grabbed a sandwich after wandering around the City of London for a bit including past the London Stock Exchange and the St Bartholomew Hospital, where Sherlock leapt to his 'death' (which has a lot of Sherlock related comments written in the dusty windows). And oddly, despite it being such an important centre, there is very little open on a Saturday, forcing us to have a sandwich from the Co-op.
Now, the reason we were actually waiting around the area was for Derek, who was joining us for the show. After waiting for a while, we had actually just decided to head back to the Barbican when he arrived, so we were able to meet him and get to the pre-concert talk just in time. The pre-concert talk was an enlightening experience that interviewed Nobuo Uematsu, the arranger for the show and the person who had planned the show, allowing some insight into the whole event. Plus I can now say that I've seen Nobuo Uematsu whistle the Chocobo theme tune as well!
Finally, and after another beer with Derek and Michael, it was time for the show itself and it was absolutely fantastic! Although we had seen the first half, it was a great experience to see it again in a packed hall, and the second half was a complete mystery, which was as good as, if not better than the first half. The show even contained various injections of humour into it, which worked well and it became clear very quickly that a lot of love had went into the symphony, with no-one leaving disappointed. Plus a load of rather mediocre world records were handed out at the end...including 'First Conductor to play a video game concert outside of Japan'. Not sure that will be added to your CV...
This fantastic day/night then ended after we headed back to Michaels flat for some lovely cake baked by Cara (thank you Cara!) and some homemade Bacon infused Bourbon, infused by Michael (thank you Michael)! Lovely end to a lovely day,
Sunday quickly came around again and it was time for a little bit of sightseeing after breakfast! First of all, Cara, Michael and I headed off to the Emirates Air Line, which is a short cable car that goes right across the Thames, giving a great view of the river and beyond.
With our feet back on land again, we then headed further into Greenwich to the Old Royal Navy College for three reasons. The first was the market there that had some delicious food stalls (we shared some onion bhajis and mixed samosas - lovely). The second was that we could walk up to the Observatory where the Meridian was located, which we did and got a great view of London. It was here we also got a great show of people deciding to try and take a shortcut down the hill (by not taking the path) before realising that it was fenced off 3/4s of the way down, then trying to work out how to get round the fence (so few people thought to climb over it). The third reason, and perhaps the most important reason, was because this was the area which Thor destroyed in 'Thor 2: the Dark World'. This was particularly fitting for the theme of the weekend.
Then it was time to say goodbye to Michael and Cara, and part-ways on the underground. Thank you both for putting me up and coming round London with me, again! And that leads me to now...so I guess it's time for Pick of the Week!
Pick of the Week
Final Symphony - How could it not be?? Not only did the show blow me away, but the music is fantastic as well. If you like video games or classical music, check it out online and you will see how good it really is. If you're just looking for something a little different, I would recommend just listening to it. It will really brighten up whatever task you're doing!
Music of the Week
I think you've guessed that I will be posting a Final Symphony song today, so here it is. It is 14 minutes long, so enjoy!
See you all next week!