London II Part One

28 11 2011

Saturday, my friend Tom, a fellow horn player who also goes to the University of Cambridge, and I went down to London for a bit of tourism/walking around/things.  We had been trying to get the entire horn section from the orchestra to go with us, but alas, it did not occur.  So Tom and I decided to go down by ourselves.

Little did we know, the day would be filled with transportation issues galore.  It was horrendous.  It started off badly; we should have known that it was going to be a bad day.

I learned the previous week that it was merely £14.50 with a Railcard for a round trip to London from Cambridge including tube transport (this time of year at least).  This is a good deal, as it included for us that day two train rides and 4 or so trips on the tube for just under $23.  I thought Tom had bought his ticket online–I showed up a good half hour before the train from Cambridge left to buy my ticket.  Tom, underestimating the very long line, arrived 15 minutes before the train left.  We got on less than 2 minutes before it left.  And we had to stand for 45 minutes because the train was completely full.

Train Station, Cambridge

After arriving at London King’s Cross a little after 11, we made our way to its tube station.  We attempted to figure out what tube line to take where, as it turned out that one of my assumptions was incorrect.  After much confusement (which isn’t a word, I know), we were unable to go anywhere as we were kicked out of the station with the rest of the passengers due to an ’emergency’.  Tom said that it had never happened to him before, and was just as clueless as I was.  It turns out that the tube station closed down due to overcrowding and a CCTV failure.

So, we had to walk to Euston tube station, a 10 minute walk away.  We did pass by the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel, though, which was worth a picture.  Absolutely huge building.

This is only a small part of it.

When we arrived at Euston, we found out that the Northern Line was closed for maintenance.  This was bad, as we intended to take it to Paxman’s, our main event for the day.  So, we had to scramble to find out what the heck we were doing; we decided on lunch first (Chipotle, naturally).  We eventually decided to take the Waterloo line to Oxford Circus and hop on the Central line over to Holborn.  Turns out that the stop that we should’ve gotten off at was Tottenham Court Road–but I didn’t know that and am not a London expert by any means.  This meant we had another 10 minutes of walking to get to Chipotle.  We arrived at 12:15 or so, completing a 1-hour + journey that would have taken us 20-25 minutes under normal circumstances.

We sat down and ate.  I decided on Chipotle because I wanted to introduce Tom to the restaurant.  He quite liked it, and was impressed.  It is impossible to dislike Chipotle.

After eating, we decided to go to Paxman’s.  We had to decide what to do, and we decided on going to Charing Cross station and getting on the Bakerloo line to Waterloo.  I asked Tom why ‘loo’ was stuck on the end of words in England.  He did not know.  It’s a little odd, being as ‘loo’ is slang for ‘toilet.’  Like saying, “I’m going to Watertoilet today!”  But I digress.

We walked to Paxman’s.  Now, Paxman’s was described to me as ‘Ollivander’s for horns.’  If you don’t know, Ollivander is a shopkeeper in Harry Potter who has a huge shop devoted to the sale of wands.  I was stoked by the idea of this, and as two horn players, Tom and I would enjoy this sort of thing.  Paxman’s is an unassuming shop set in the basement-like area of a building.  Outside is a sign that simply reads “Paxman.”

Outside

So I walk in, and go down the stairs, and then OH MY GOODNESS HEAVEN.

So much beauty...

Horns, mostly of the Paxman brand (The store is the mains store for the London horn manufacturer), but also with some German-made Alexander horns and old-school horns thrown in, line three of the walls (picture is only one of the three walls).  There are also horn mutes, music, and recordings of horn ensembles.  It’s quite a place.  A young dude in his late teens was there with his mom and horn teacher picking out a horn when we arrived.  Tom bought some music, and I looked at the mutes but ultimately did not buy one.

Tom. And more horns.

We then played a couple of the horns.  Tom, owner of a Paxman horn himself, wanted to play the Paxman 20, their flagship professional-level horn.  It was priced, I believe, in the £5000-6000 price range.  It played nicely, but I am already a happy owner of a good horn.  My horn is a German-made Hans-Hoyer.  It is a large horn with a great low range.  Furthermore, some of the best horn players in the business play the exact same model.  Consider this horn solo, played on the same instrument as mine.

However, I did play a triple horn for the first time at Paxman’s.  A triple horn has two triggers instead of one–the second trigger’s use is to play high notes extremely accurately and easily.  And boy, is it awesome.  But it will be a very long time before I own another horn.

Part two will come out soon.  Probably tomorrow.  For now, I have some eating to do before rehearsal and a concert.

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29 11 2011
London II Part 2 « Something Clever

[…] One is here.  The concert went well, although there was literally just 5 people in attendance.  Oh […]

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