This trip to London had been planned for several months ever since I managed to get tickets to see Eric Clapton at the Royal Albert Hall on May 16th as soon as they went on sale. My only problem was that the tickets were actually sourced via the concierge service offered by my cc, and I had to purchase 4 tickets in order to see the show in a box as I had requested, resulting in them costing an arm and a leg! On the other hand, it did include hot food and drinks etc. and it was to see Eric after all so what the heck [or should I say EC! ]. I was initially thinking that I may well end up selling the 2 spare tickets on Ebay [no doubt at some considerable profit ], however this would have meant sharing our box with strangers. Fortunately, the concierge at the hotel where we normally stay in London stepped in saying that he and his friend, who also is a huge EC fan, would be more than willing to see the show with us so all was well. My DW and I have become close friends with a family we met on our DCL Med Cruise a couple of years ago and the lady of the family has a senior position at Eric Clapton’s record company, reporting directly to her boss who is the vice president of the company. At every opportunity, she is pulling out all the stops to try and arrange a meeting for me to see Eric [it would be good to see if he recognised me from the day in the late 60`s when I was a part time stage hand [and one of his fans] when he appeared with Cream! ] but so far she has been unsuccessful, although she did manage to get us passes for the press and VIP entrance for his Hyde Park concert last year. On this occasion though, when she found out that we had tickets for the show [she actually rang me to see if we wanted her to get us some tickets!!], she said that this time there was a strong possibility the meeting could be arranged and to make sure that I had my mobile phone with me at all times when in London ….more later. Thursday May 14th We set off for the drive to London at around 11.00am immediately after my DW`s hairdressing appointment , arriving at our hotel shortly after 2.00pm. We normally visit London at least once each year and we always stay at The Rubens at the Palace Hotel which is a great hotel located right opposite the mews entrance to Buckingham Palace, and by now we have made friends with many of the staff there so it really feels like home from home when we arrive. This hotel has a separate wing housing around 10 bedrooms each of which is named after the old kings and queens of England and each room has a different décor to reflect the particular monarch that the room was named after. One by one, we have sampled most of the rooms and this time we opted for the King Charles room which was great as usual. After unpacking, we had a late snack lunch at the hotel and then we went to get some fresh air and exercise, taking in a leisurely stroll from the hotel to the rear of Horse Guards Parade, returning to the hotel via St. James Park. One thing that I noticed was how advanced the flaura was when compared to the tundra region where we live near to Stoke-on-Trent some 150 miles away! We couldn`t venture too far on this occasion as we had pre booked tickets to see “Wicked” and the show was to start at 7.30pm this evening. Fortunately the theatre was located in Victoria which was only a five minute stroll from the hotel thus avoiding the astronomic cost of catching a taxi on this occasion. The concierge at out hotel had managed to get us superb seats in the stalls, only 4 rows from the stage so needless to say we had a good view as we settled down for the show to start. Wicked was in my opinion, well…ok! We have seen loads of West End shows during our visits to the capital and many of them we have seen [or would like to see] on more than one occasion. Sadly this show did not fall into this category. Don`t get me wrong, we enjoyed the show and the girl who had the leading role had an excellent singing voice, but somehow, something didn`t “click” with us. Maybe it was because we couldn`t relate to any of the songs, having not heard them before I dunno. After the show, we caught a taxi to take us to Salieri`s Restaurant, located in the Strand which we make a point of visiting every time we go to London. Despite the fact that we only go there once or twice each year, the owner and his staff instantly recognise us and make a huge fuss which is great. The only drawback with this being that invariably the owner comes to our table for a chat, offering us complimentary drinks at the end of our meal resulting in making it a very late night after seeing a show . Having said that it`s nice to know that we are treated like real people and not just a “number” which sadly can be the norm at many restaurants in London and elsewhere. We opted to take a walk back to our hotel to “walk off” our dinner, travelling along the Mall arriving at the hotel way past midnight, ready for a good night`s sleep after a busy day.