I have been on my feet and GOING pretty much non-stop since Monday what with hashing, rehearsals, concerts, Ascot, World Cup, dinners, etc. etc. I'll try to give you the highlights, although too much has happened to write absolutely everything here. If I took 370 pictures in two days, you can imagine how much I could potentially say.
I got to Waterloo in plenty of time for the 11:05 train to Ascot. It was quite obvious that it was nearly everyone's final destination as there were top hats and feathers galore. Some old Irishman who worked at the station immediately helped me out (even though I didn't need it) with the ticket machine. He asked if I was Irish and seemed upset when I couldn't remember the county where my family lived at one point. A homeless woman walked by as we were talking and told me how beautiful I looked.
I somehow managed to snag a seat on the train. The aisles and ends of the cars were completely packed of people who had to stand for the duration of the hour-long journey. I was amongst a group of 6 guys who talked to me most of the way there and invited me to join them. When we got to Ascot, one of them bought me a rose for my jacket. They waited for me at the entrance to the Silver Ring (but I was in the Grandstand). By time I got my ticket, they had vanished.
I stood around in the parade ring until the royal procession so as to keep my wonderful place in the stands. If you check out my facebook, I have some wonderful photos of the Queen, Prince Philip, and Andrew Lloyd Webber. I eventually realized that I was more in shock that I had seen ALW than the Queen, as I hadn't expected him to be there.
I placed all of my bets at the beginning, horses chosen mostly because of their names. Won nothing on the first race and immediately thought the whole day would be like that. Then my horse won the next race. And the next one. And the next two after that- 4 consecutive winners and 2 placers, overall (i.e. I won on 5 of 6 races)!!! By the end of the day, I'd paid for my entire day out and still had £13 in my pocket.
On the ride home, I stood in an aisle and chatted with three guys who all used to work for Proctor and Gamble. One of them now owns an IT company based right behind Trafalgar Square. One of the others looked vaguely like Prince William. They invited me to watch the England/Algeria match, but I had plans to head up to Camden to meet up with some hashers. I made it to the pub minutes before halftime. Shoulder to shoulder in the place. Changed. Tie. Curry. Bed.
Woke up early enough to make it to 5-hour Bart's rehearsal 20 minutes late. In the last 5 minutes of rehearsal, Ivor had us all move around and sit next to someone we "liked the look of." In short, just to get us listening a different way. Two seconds after we shifted around, he got off the podium and shouted, "Ashley- get up here." Completely in shock, I ran up to the podium and kept on chugging. By time I found my place on the page, I realized I was conducting what was supposed to be in 4 in 2, fixed my error, then spent the rest of the movement just trying to keep my hands from flying off my arms! I had a sort of involuntary Gergiev twitch going. No matter, I survived! Very glad he hadn't warned me about it. I'm going to be on edge every rehearsal from now on. So long as it doesn't happen in the concert....
I ran to the pub straight from rehearsal so I could get changed for a formal dinner at a hash friend's house in north London. Second outing (in as many days) for the Ascot ensemble (sans hat). Did my hair without being able to see the back of it (so I kept shoving flowers into it at dinner). LOVELY meal cooked entirely from scratch- delicious smoothie-type freshly-juiced raspberry/apple concoction, harvest soup, asparagus with secret sauce, lasagne, salad, potato salad, and DIY Eton mess for dessert. Charades, made-up dictionary definition game, and additional fun was had by all.
Vaguely slept in this morning. On the walk back home from King's Cross, I heard two American girls behind me saying, "This is King's Cross Bridge...maybe it's down this way?" I immediately knew they were looking for the Clink Hostel where I stayed last summer. How did I know? Because I made the exact error of turning down that road. I helped them out, they put their bags in the luggage room, then I played tour guide for a while. We walked down to St. Paul's, across Millenium Bridge, back up Blackfriar's Bridge, had lunch with Adam across from the Royal Courts of Justice, then walked back up to the flat/hostel. Likely meeting up again later in the evening, as they are only here for 2 days and would like the guidance on what to do in such a short period of time.
Adam has a 5-day tribunal in Reading all this week. It'll take him about an hour to get to Reading and an additional 20 minutes to get to the courthouse. He has to be there by 9 AM every day, won't be able to head back to London until 4:30-5ish, then will have to go back to the office for a while before finally being able to head home. Repeat until Friday evening. My schedule is also quite full this week: Monday- LSO and choir rehearsals and meeting up with Karl, Tuesday- hashing, Wednesday- Marriage of Figaro (with Sir Colin, I believe!) at the Royal Opera House, Thursday- some sort of club thing. It's going to be a very long week.
If I've forgotten anything, expect another post.