No rest for the wicked!

I couldn’t afford to pay for too much musical entertainment so not a lot of sitting down.

I’ve been trekking art galleries: the Louvre (already
mentioned), National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Courtauld Collection. At the NPG I saw the finalists in the BP Portrait prize – akin to the Oz Archibald it seems. I have to say it was a pleasure to see portraits that looked pretty much like real people. Oooh …. I’m getting old! And there was an amazing exhibition of church gold and silver from approx. 800 to the present at Goldsmiths Hall

I’ve walked the shopping streets – but haven’t bought too much. Books excepted, of course. Hatchards, Foyles, Waterstones, the Royal Academy of Arts, the Literary Review Bookshop have all received my custom. Daunts (extensive travel section) and Blackwells missed out, as did Heywood Hill because it was closed. Didn’t set foot in Borders.

One place of note is the Silver Vaults. Let me tell you, you haven’t got everything until you’ve got a silver lid for your tomato sauce bottle. I kid you not! Actually, that was a good piece. As with glass at Murano, so with silver: if they sell some of the stuff that is on display it only goes to show that money doesn’t necessarily buy you happiness or taste!!!

I haven’t done a lot in the Museum line. The John Soane Museum is a gloomy place with poor security for visitors’ belongings. On my last visit I didn’t go in because you had to leave anything bigger than a handbag in a pile by the door. That hasn’t changed so I made sure not to have anything of value to leave. My reluctance was vindicated in a sense: as I was leaving a woman was giving her details in the hope that her coat would be returned by someone who had taken it by accident. And for a place where in some rooms there is only stone, marble, etc there’s no excuse for abysmal lighting … it’s not as though it’s a conservation issue.

The British Museum loomed large and my stamina was failing. I didn’t get beyond circling the reading room and taking a few photos of interesting light patterns. Don’t watch this space – they might not turn out!

When you’re a ringer, churches always feature ….. although I haven’t seen all the churches I’ve rung at. One I haven’t rung at but was lovely to visit is St Bartholomew the Great, the remaining choir of what was a much larger abbey church before the dissolution of the monasteries. Worth seeking out.

The Territorial Army (equivalent to the Army Reserve in Oz) celebrated its centenary on Saturday. I stumbled on it by accident, as is often the case and why, although I did heaps of planning before leaving home, not too many of my plans were ever set in concrete. There was a big ‘do’ at Horse Guards, which I caught a glimpse of and heard a bit of (bringing me undone, as such things do these days). I did a loop around Whitehall and finished back at the Mall, where I first discovered this event. By this time the parade was about to begin, heading up to Buckingham Palace: a mixed regiments band followed by a couple of groups (companies?) of soldiers and following them, Army vehicles going back to WWII and up to the present day. You wouldn’t have needed to be either a vehicle or military nut to be amazed by the collection.

On high, I’ve already mentioned the London Eye. This wasn’t scary at all in spite of being in a glass bubble so far off the ground. Amazing views – it was a clear day. It would be great to do at night and see the lights – but no second ‘flight’ for me at those prices! In Paris, most of the day was spent at the Louvre but I did have time, even with queueing for 45 minutes, to go up the Eiffel Tower. Considerably cheaper than the Eye and …. scary! I bought a ticket to the top but I’m sticking with my story that when changing lifts at the 2nd Stage the queue was too long for me to wait without worrying that I might miss the train back to London ;-/ I poked my head into Notre Dame instead and grabbed a bite to eat on the Left Bank, near where I stayed last time.

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