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goddesstogo and mr. goddess's big London adventure (an ongoing tale)

goddesstogo and mr. goddess's big London adventure (an ongoing tale)

Old Sep 16th, 2010, 05:38 AM
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A great read and I'm so jealous, gtg, that you and SO have so much time in London.

If you go to the Tate, please look at some Sargent's and sigh for me.
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Old Sep 16th, 2010, 05:46 AM
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"Where are you?"

At the time of writing, just on my way out of the door for a day in town that would have included a session at the BL.

Then the phone rang, a client had a problem and the day's plans changed.
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Old Sep 16th, 2010, 11:11 AM
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It really is wonderful to have all this free time. If I were at home, I'd be working so that in itself is a gift. Thanks for the recommendation, lizzie. We'll be back at Sloane Square another day and try Tom's. It's a little pricier than I'd usually do for lunch but still...

We had a lovely day. We're treasuring every day of nice weather and it was beautiful today. I finally got the clothes thing right -- I wore pants, a shirt (my favourite white jacquard) and a thin cardigan over it. Perfectly comfortable.

We started off at the British Library which didn't look anything like I expected it to. It's a low, modern building that looks like a very upscale community college in the US, but attractive and well planned out. SO got signed up for his reading card while I had coffee in the cafe and then we saw the wonderful map exhibit. We viewed it from two different perspectives -- SO, who did his undergrad degree in geography, was interested in the geographical aspect, and I, a former commercial artist, couldn't believe the tiny, detailed fabulous artwork!

We'll both return to the BL. I want to see the wellcome exhibits nearby and more of the library itself as well as more of the neighbourhood. I feel like these first few weeks here are a sampler of stuff to come later in greater detail. I can't tell you how many times I've said "we have to come back here".

Walking from the Sloane tube station to the BL, we passed a gorgeous, huge, ornate confection of a building that seemed to be under renovation. Is that going to be a hotel? What was it before? It's incredible. It's actually what I expected the BL to look like.

After the BL, we hopped on the tube down to Sloane Square where we were seeing a matinee of Clybourne Park, chosen because the daughter of my doctor is one of the actors. Before that, though, we took janisj's advice and had a very nice lunch in the top-floor cafeteria of Peter Jones department store. We were lucky enough to get a table with a beautiful view. The play was very good -- a comedy -- and the young lady we'd come to see was excellent so I can now send her aunt an honest and excellent email!

We're staying in tonight. Tomorrow we may explore "the other way" towards Kilburn Road.
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Old Sep 16th, 2010, 10:04 PM
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"Walking from the Sloane tube station to the BL, we passed a gorgeous, huge, ornate confection of a building that seemed to be under renovation. "

EH?? You don't pass St Pancras walking from Sloane Square to the Euston Rd. Don't you mean walking from Kings Cross tube?

St Pancras station was built as the London terminus of the Midland Railway, which connected London to the area (Nottingham, Derby and Sheffield) we now call the East Midlands. Local businessmen wanted a hotel at "their" station which would demonstrate how advanced their area was, and commissioned George Gilbert Scott to build the Midland Grand Hotel over the station. Probably the second finest example of High Victorian Gothic in London, after the Palace of Westminster and opened in 1873, it was as stunningly decorated inside as out.

It wasn't very commercially successful, though. It was closed in 1935 as a hotel, and went through a number of othefr lives, sometimes as offices but mostly as a whopping great monstrosity everyone knew was going to be demolished one day. The State-owned railways liked nothing better in the 1960s than destroying our great buildings: they got away with it next door in Euston, and we've still not got rid of the junk they hid the beautiful bits of Kings Cross with.

By the 1970s, though, demolition had become politically impossible, and we all argued for a few decades about what to do with the place. The whole area eventually got a ton of redevelopment, partly centred on a huge expansion of railway capacity at St Pancras which still hasn't been fully finished. The hotel building reopens next year, partly as a Marriott Renaissance hotel and partly as a set of flats: till recently the boarding around the construction works featured prominent ads for the biggest flat, with a price tag of £10 million. At the same time, posters on this forum were regularly (and inanely and ignorantly) telling visitors to avoid the area because it was supposed to be dangerous.

Incidentally, the British Library moved to St Pancras only a decade or so ago. It started life as the Reading Room in the British Museum, and remained largely based there, and elsewhere in the British Museum, till the St Pancras move. The former Reading Room is pretty much preserved as it was when Marx wrote his juvenile screed there, and is visitable most of the time. You'll find it's much more like what you expected the Library to be. There was a terrific pair of programmes ("The Golden Age of Civic Architecture") about the 19th century civic use of Gothic on BBC4 on Monday. They're still available for the next day or on the BBC website if you've got the right computer setup - and they often repeat on the broadcast channel.

It's a little known fact, BTW, that Oxford is almost as unquestioning about doling out readers' passes as the BL. If you want to see a more traditional library while your bloke's researching, get him to get a Bodleian card.
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Old Sep 16th, 2010, 10:46 PM
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Some people are already living in St Pancras Chambers:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesi...thouse-renewal

Since they're finishing off the approach road to the main entrance, I would assume the hotel is getting near completion too.
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Old Sep 17th, 2010, 12:32 AM
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Yes, sorry, I did mean Kings Cross Station.

Thanks so much for that history. I can't believe anyone would want to tear that building down -- it's incredible! Perhaps when my big lottery win comes in, that's where I'll buy a flat.
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Old Sep 17th, 2010, 08:22 AM
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Talking of coincidences.... no. I'll let GTG tell the story....
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Old Sep 17th, 2010, 09:34 AM
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Thanks for that history, flanneruk! I knew what the building was but not how it came to be there.
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Old Sep 17th, 2010, 09:38 AM
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"It's a little known fact, BTW, that Oxford is almost as unquestioning about doling out readers' passes as the BL."

Thank heavens they're letting us commoners in now! Actually, the process was not completely unquestioning and fairly long one (hence my sitting in the cafe with a coffee) and they definitely wanted to know something about his area of study. While we might go to Oxford for a walk around, he really doesn't need library access there.

The Story of the Coincidence and the Great Afternoon (as untold by WHampstead but told, instead by myveryownself)

Today we decided to walk 'the other way' up to Kilburn Road. We were toddling along in our usual unplanned way and we'd just stopped to read about the Tony Kushner set of one-act plays ("Tiny Kushner") at the Tricycle Theater and then went around the corner to the cinema to pick up some info. (There's a plaque saying that the cinema was opened in 1968 by Emma Thompson, one of my favourites). We were leaving the cinema lobby and saw a little crowd of about a dozen people outside and a fellow was talking about the theatre so we stopped to listen. It was obviously some sort of formal thing because there were people taking notes and recording what he said and there was a photographer. I asked a young woman what it was all about and she said it was a tour of the live music venues in Kilburn and did we want to come along? Well, my dear. OF COURSE. We tagged along and the next stop was The Good Ship. As we walked along, one of the women asked how we'd known about the area and I explained that I'd been reading a blog called West Hampstead Life and the writer had told us that we could find good live music there, and she said 'oh, there's someone who writes that blog on this tour' and guess who. What a great coincidence and what a wonderful way to meet Jonathan who is WHampstead! He's a very nice (and quite good-looking) fellow and so knowledgeable about this area. The tour was great -- we went into several music venues and got a bit of a talk about each place, it's history, what's new, etc, from the owners. We also were invited into the very lively Institute of Contemporary Music where we got an interesting extemporaneous talk by the owner/managing director. I picked up tons of information about up-coming music and we'll definitely go back for both music and comedy.

Jonathan, I hope you'll correct anything I've gotten wrong and add your own experience of the day. It was lovely to meet you!

At the end of the tour we left the group and continued a long way along Kilburn Road. It's such an interesting street, very much like the neighbourhoods we both grew up in -- not at all trendy, lots of ethnic mix, lots of very casual eateries of all cuisines, lots of second-hand shops and little markets. If I had to make a comparison to Toronto, I'd say Kensington Market stretched out to be a big, wide street. We stopped for a bit of a sit-down and a drink at a pub where we were possibly the only patrons under 80 and then walked home.

We're home for a bit now and then going out to a nice place around the corner, Saraccino, to have my delayed birthday dinner.
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Old Sep 18th, 2010, 09:11 AM
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Only "quite" good looking?
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Old Sep 18th, 2010, 09:18 AM
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Today, Borough Market!

We both love markets and it's a wonderful one. We took the tube and our shopping bags with the goal of buying something nice for dinner, which we did -- cod, leeks, samphire and a huge slice of puffball mushroom. I've only had samphire once before, one of the first nights we were in London, and it's delicious. I'd never heard of it before. It must be something usually served with fish because at Waitrose they keep it at the fresh fish counter. I've also never had puffball, so that should be interesting.

Anyway, the market was lively and crowded and we had lots of fun wandering through and sampling little bits of this and that. If only we both weren't dieting -- there were fabulous baked goods stands with giant meringues and double brownies and caramel nougat and ... oh, well. Never mind. The most exciting things we bought at a baked goods stand were a walnut loaf and an English muffin. The only English muffins I've ever had came out of a box at the supermarket and this one looks nothing like that. It's about 3 inches across and 3 inches high and looks yummy. I'll have it for breakfast, if I can wait that long.

Among the more interesting things we saw were globe artichokes the size of, what? I can't think of a sports metaphor. All I can think of is the size of a baby's head. A big baby. And smoked garlic bulbs (we bought one).

There's a lot more interesting ready-made food there than at our home market, including a great curry stand. We bought our lunch at a couple of stands and took it outside and sat on the concrete step at the base of a pillar to eat. Across the road there was a coffee shop (I can't remember the name -- something that starts with M) that had a line-up down the street and around the corner. Just for coffee! There was a young couple sitting near us who were drinking it and when we asked them what was special about it the response was 'I dunno. It's good though. Maybe they put drugs in it.' That's what I figure -- a pinch of cocaine in each cup keeps 'em coming back. Starbacks should take a lesson from this place.

And that was it for the day. A quick stop at the supermarket for a few supermarkety things and then home for the evening.

Tomorrow our landlady is dropping by so we'd better straighten up the place.
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Old Sep 18th, 2010, 09:19 AM
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OK. He's more than quite good-looking. He's very quite good-looking.
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Old Sep 18th, 2010, 09:33 AM
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On a more serious note... if you like Emma Thompson and you would like to participate in a quintessentially British event, then there's a pro/celebrity cricket match on tomorrow in West Hampstead and she's going to bowl the first ball. They are threatening "other film stars" - Jim Broadbent and Imelda Staunton are highly likely to be there.
All the details are here: http://hampstead.play-cricket.com/co...312459&cid=200.
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Old Sep 18th, 2010, 09:44 AM
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Jonathan, that sounds great (except that the only name I actually recognize is Emma Thompson's).

Where is it? I know there's the West Hampstead Cricket Club on the street where the Dutch and Dutch office is on West End Lane. Is it there? It says 'gates open at 12:15'. Are these things usually well-attended? If we show up at 12:15 will we be too late or too early?

And what does one wear to a cricket match? I don't want to stick out like the proverbial sore thumb.

(And, if you want my two cents worth, I think Emma Thompson should be married to Alan Rickman in real life. Either him or Bill Nighy.)
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Old Sep 18th, 2010, 09:54 AM
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Jim Broadbent starred as Bridgit Jones' father and the husband in Iris-with Judi Dench. You'll know him when you see him. Love Emma Thompson and think she did very well for herself marrying Greg Wise. Guess she's a bit off a cougar. As for cricket, I'm sure half of the Brits don't know the rules either. Wonder if they'll be any Pimms served.

Ah Monmouth's coffee-one of the pleasures of Borough Market. I also love the Olive stall-beautiful olives. Oh to be back in London.
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Old Sep 18th, 2010, 09:55 AM
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Yes, it's the one on that street - Lymington Road.
Really hard to know how well-attended it will be - a decent scattering of people. If you HAVE folding chairs, then bringing them might be wise, but I expect they have some seating. I would turn up maybe 12.30, then you can wander round the homemade cake stall before the match starts at 1pm. Wear whatever you'll be warm in and bring an umbrella. You may find it a bit dull to stay for the whole match - or you might be gripped by this fine sport. Not sure whether I'm going to go or not - but if I do I'll keep an eye out for you. J
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Old Sep 18th, 2010, 10:14 AM
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Excellent. We truly wanted to go to a cricket match and I've been meaning to look up the schedule but haven't gotten around to it. Any sport that includes a homemade cake stall can't be all bad.

We'll look for you there. We'll be the ones without the folding chairs.

Thanks so much for letting me know about this.
gtg
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Old Sep 18th, 2010, 10:16 AM
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You'd very likely (definitely in fact) recognize both Jim Broadbent and Imelda Staunton. Broadbent is in everything

Imelda Staunton has been in several mainstream films including Shakespeare in Love and at least a couple of the Harry Potters, plus the two Cranford TV series and just about everything ever shown on Masterpiece theater (only a <i>slight</i> exaggeration)
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Old Sep 18th, 2010, 10:18 AM
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Oh emily, I do remember Jim Broadbent now! We saw a few olive stalls and every one of them was delicious-looking. We had to pass by, though, because SO can't have the salt and if I buy them, I just eat all of them myself. I love the crunchy bright green ones.

Monmouth coffee remains a mystery to me. If I see another of their outlets, I'll give it a try but there was no way I was going to stand in that line for it.
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Old Sep 18th, 2010, 10:19 AM
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I've seen one Harry Potter and I've seen Shakespeare in Love, so yes maybe I will recognize her.
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