Any opportunity to explore new places is a welcome one and our short stay in Bedfordshire meant we could visit Woburn Abbey . Each time we go to a stately home or an historic property, I am surprised by how fascinating these places are. It’s not that I was dragged around such places as a child, nor do I ever remember not enjoying a visit, but I think that the typical visitor experience has been improved greatly and Woburn was well worth a couple of hours of our time. We’d thought of joining a guided group to learn more about Humphry Repton and lingered a little at the start of the route through the house, but decided that the staff in each room were so knowledgeable and willing to tell a story that we’d do better going it alone.
Sadly no photographs inside, so take a look here to see what we saw.
The gardens were lovely too and a walk in the fresh air was just what we needed to gather an appetite for a late lunch at The Black Horse in Woburn - in Bedford Street, of course.
Enjoyable though it was, visiting Bletchley Park and Woburn Abbey, spending time with our friends and generally pottering about, our main reason for being here was to go to the theatre. When we were together on our cruise, we’d chatted about this, that and Hamilton, coming up with a plan to get tickets and meet up.
So here we were, tickets in our hot little hands and standing in the immensely long queue (that moved pretty quickly, to be fair), in more or less the same spot as I’d been last Thursday too.
But this time, we were in for a treat. Since we’d last been to the Victoria Palace theatre (we think to see Billy Elliot?) it has been rebuilt and is now a comfortable, air-conditioned (thankfully) modern theatre (with still far too few Ladies’ loos, though!) We had excellent seats with a perfect view - first class!
What of the show?
We’d listened to the soundtrack on Spotify a few times, almost always giving up before the end, feeling overwhelmed by the unrelenting words and rhythms. Nevertheless, the powerful raps had stayed with us and I felt sure that seeing the performance would make all the difference. Unlike my historian Hero, I knew nothing of Alexander Hamilton other than he was one of the American founding fathers, so I settled in and prepared to learn some history!
And how was it?
Magnificent! OK, so not exactly something to hum along to, but as well as those familiar and very masculine rap numbers were some powerful songs too and some fun numbers as well and though by the time the show was over, we were all pretty exhausted, there was no doubt, we had seen a memorable performance.
And in the cold light of day, we’ve listened to the soundtrack again, just to get all of those clever words and catch the bits we missed. The man behind it all, Lin-Manuel Miranda is an absolute genius - who’d have thought that Mary Poppins’ sidekick could come up with such powerful stuff?