Saturday, March 5, 2016

I'm home

I've been up for almost 25 hours, but I'm home, and all is well.

Time to sleep for a very long time.

Friday, March 4, 2016

A quick note before bed

It's late here, I have yet to pack, and I want to grab some sleep before the very long flight, because I don't sleep well--if at all--on planes.  So, I'll keep this short.

My first adventure today was to follow recommendations and check out the Tower Bridge.  It's a nifty structure whose middle raises--though not today--and one that offers amazing views of London.

Click an image to see a larger version.

The small section of glass floors was cool, but photographing through it with my phone did not work as well as I had hoped.

Next up was a return visit to the British Museum, again to follow a commenter's recommendation, this time to see the Sutton Hoo exhibit.  (I caught more while I was there, of course, but this exhibit brought me back.)  It was a small but powerful show, with a nifty selection of artifacts from Britain around 600 A.D.  I particularly liked this battle helmet, which was amazingly well preserved and then restored,

as well as this replica of what they think the helmet once looked like.

The final big event of the day was a play, the musical Kinky Boots, which comes from the movie of the same name.  A romp with a serious message of acceptance--tolerance is not enough, acceptance must be the goal--this play was fun from start to finish.

Now, to pack, to sleep a bit, and then to begin the long journey home.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Busy, busy

I don't think I will ever see all of the British Museum, but I visit it each time I'm in London.  My progress is slow, though, because there are so many exhibits that I like to see again.  Today, I spent most of my time in the Egyptian sections, which are obviously huge and so take a lot of time even if you're only browsing.

After that, I popped over to the Shaftesbury Theatre to catch the musical, Motown.  Long on music and short on accuracy, the show was both fun and, at times, a touching quick trip through some of America's fairly recent past.  I don't feel I learned anything about Berry Gordy, but the story served as an adequate framing device for the many, many songs, and they were great.  (I should note here that I am a Motown fan, so I already knew all of these tunes.)  As long as you go just for the music, this show is a blast.

Dinner tonight was at one of London's finest restaurants, in my opinion possibly its finest, The Ledbury.  I had eaten there on my last trip to London, and that meal was fantastic, so I wanted to see if a second visit would prove to be as good.  It most certainly did.  I cannot recommend The Ledbury highly enough.

I'd write more, but it's quite late, and I'm very tired, so to sleep I go.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Fascinating obsessions

Today's two main adventures both involved obsessive men, though men with very different sorts of obsessions.

After sleeping late but poorly (as usual), I devoted much of the afternoon to Sir John Soane's Museum.  Dave and MarkP had both recommended it, and boy, were they right to do so!  The place is simply fantastic, in many senses of that word.  I have no pictures to show you, because they do not permit photography, but if you are in London and have any free time whatsoever, I highly recommend it.

Basically, Soane managed to get Parliament to pass a law letting his house become a museum after his death--something he did because he did not want to pass his fortune to his son.  Soane, an architect, built over his lifetime a fabulous collection of books, sculpture, paintings, and drawings.  The house is very close to the way it was when he died in 1837.

A house full of books and art collected heavily from contemporaries and near-contemporaries; hmmm, I wonder why Dave and I like it so much.

In any case, it is a wonderful, wonderful place.  Do not miss it.

Back in Barcelona, eating at Nino Viejo, I chatted with a British couple.  They mentioned that Albert Adria was doing a pop-up version of Tickets in London.  Called 50 Days by Albert Adria, it is one of the hottest tickets in London.  I immediately joined the wait list for it, and by good luck I was able to go tonight.

It was an excellent experience, in the classic Adria style both dinner and a show.  The chefs employed a great many modernist techniques, so what you saw was often different than what you tasted.  Sometimes, though, they went for very simple, very pure but delicious dishes, such as this thin slice of tuna with caviar atop it.

Click the image to see a larger version.

At every stage, the very good staff stressed having fun, and I certainly did.  My only complaint was a small one:  the courses felt a bit rushed.  I would have preferred a minute or two more between each one.  That was, though, a small preference.

Today was day 17 of the pop-up, so if you're going to be in London in the next 33 days, get on the wait list and enjoy a world-class dinner and a fun show, all in one.

Tomorrow, I hope to have at least three adventures!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Old and new friends

I spent a big chunk of today making new art friends and renewing old ones at the Tate Britain.  I am a stone fan of the Pre-Raphaelites, so this museum is a must-visit stop for me when I have any time in London.

Up with the absolutely brilliant William Blake exhibit, the Tate now has some Pre-Raphaelite sketches and watercolors.  I was thus privileged for the first time to see this Rosetti Lady In Yellow.

Click an image to find a larger version.

I know some folks find them overly romantic, but I do not care; I love much of what they did, and I am a lifelong fan of Rosetti.

I mentioned Blake.  I've studied his work in books, and the Taschen complete works is particularly great, but there's nothing like seeing it in person.  His work brims with a mad, strange energy that I find undeniably strong.  Consider the radiance of this piece,

The Four and Twenty Elders Casting their Crowns before the Divine Throne.  Graphite and watercolor, old and fragile, it still radiates powerfully.

No visit to the Tate is complete without a stop to appreciate John Everett Millais' Ophelia,

which is one of those rare works that I consider perfect, exactly what it should be.

I also adore this Frederic Leighton,

The Bath of Psyche.  I wish I could afford to take all my friends to see these wonderful works in person.

I passed some time strolling in Harrods and grabbing an afternoon tea there.  I rarely feel an urge to buy there, but seeing what's on offer is fascinating.

I devoted the bulk of my evening to seeing Nell Gywnn with Gemma Arterton at the Apollo Theatre.  Arterton was splendid, the entire cast performed beautifully, and I thoroughly enjoyed the show.

Another fine London day.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Foolish fun, foodie fun

My morning went to sleep and email.  Walking consumed most of the afternoon, but the walking led to moments of foolish fun.

Isn't this connector marvelous?

Click an image to see a larger version.

I love it.  I do not care for the notion that an American burger-and-fries chain sits on the corner, but so capitalism goes.

Just down the street I encountered this sign, which I absolutely adore.

Don't get me wrong:  I understand there's a lot that's very wrong about this sign.  That's part of why I like it so much.

London even treated me to some sunshine today.

Further along, on the way to the London Eye, I encountered this carousel.

When on holiday you encounter a carousel with no waiting queue, you have only one choice:  you must ride it.  So I did.  The horses proved to have names, so I chose the one named after my friend and business partner.

That it was pink and heavily made up only increased the humor for me.

If you know me well, you know I have a fear of heights.  So, you might reasonably ask, why would I voluntarily board this beast?

Because there's no time like the present to redefine one's self, says I.  So, on it I went.  My pulse was racing at first, but the cabins are as big as rooms, and the pace is slow and constant, so over time I relaxed and quite enjoyed the views, such as this one of that same carousel.

And this shot of Big Ben from above.

Later, I encountered the same landmark from a more traditional perspective.

Dinner tonight took me to another fantastic restaurant, Adam Handling at The Caxton.  I'd eaten Handling's cooking at the 2015 Cayman Cookout, and it was wonderful, so I was excited to go to his restaurant.

He did not let me down.  The food was superb from start to finish.  Inventive, whimsical, and always delicious, Handling's creations were a joy to eat.  The meal was absolutely world-class, and I recommend this restaurant highly.

Another fine day in London.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Easy day, fun day

In this week in London, I'm aiming to mix a lot of rest with a lot of fun.  I'm not trying to cram the most into each day.  I want to have a good time and see a lot of the city, but I also need to sleep.

So, I didn't head out today until a bit after noon, which was just fine with me.  I grabbed a full English breakfast at a nearby place I chose at random.

The food was tasty and filling.

From there I headed to the V&A, just because I love walking its halls and seeing its many different exhibits.  I saw some new ones and a few familiar ones, including this facade

Click an image to see a larger version.

from about 1600 from Sir Paul Pindar's house.  I've always liked that just this bit survived.

After a lot of walking by shops that were all closing, I found my way to the Royal Albert Hall to see Amaluna, a Cirque du Soleil show that is playing there.  The stage was cool, and the hall grand, a simply marvelous venue.

The reviews I'd read of the show were mediocre, but it was Cirque, it was the Royal Albert Hall, and it was available on Sunday night, when not much else was playing.

I'm so glad I went!  Amaluna proved to be one of my favorite Cirque shows, with great acts, a simple story, music I loved, and a strong female empowerment undertone.  I recommend it highly.

Now, I plan to sleep a great deal.


Blog Archive