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TR: solo again in London and Wales - more art, history, & literature

TR: solo again in London and Wales - more art, history, & literature

Old Jul 16th, 2013, 04:32 PM
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I can just imagine the painting of Maggie Smith. Thanks for all the details of your day.
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Old Jul 16th, 2013, 05:17 PM
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I agree that there is no such thing as too many details. The more details, the better the virtual experience becomes for the reader.

Thanks too about the tip for Mansion House tour opening hours. However, don't know if we would get there. Too many things on our list too!

I hope there is more to your report.
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Old Jul 16th, 2013, 07:28 PM
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Hi Irishface, thank you for following along. I see that we are often on the same page, eh?

Scotlib, thanks for your interest . You wrote “No such thing as too many details in a trip report.” Glad you agree. Of course, some of the details I have to look up as I go such as dates and circumstances associated with individuals and events. Hope I got them right, but if not someone is sure to correct me which I welcome.
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Old Jul 17th, 2013, 01:18 AM
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What an excellent day, I admire your stamina!
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Old Jul 17th, 2013, 06:08 AM
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Susan001, thanks for your support. You can see that great portrait of Maggie Smith on the National Portrait Gallery website.

http://www.npg.org.uk/collections/se...role=sit&rNo=1

This portrait was commissioned by J. P. Morgan for the Gallery’s permanent collection – just as Kate Middleton’s portrait was paid for by a benefactor.

Cathinjoetown – “I admire your stamina!” LOL. Notice there is a break in each day’s activities – that’s when I retreated back to the Strand Palace for an hour or two of R & R, with my feet up reading the London papers. Then I would freshen up and sally forth again. I could not have done this if my hotel had been a long Tube ride away from the center.
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Old Jul 17th, 2013, 06:28 AM
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I LOVE that portrait!
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Old Jul 17th, 2013, 07:01 AM
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Thanks for the link, LDT. The portrait suits her personality. I, too, like a central location so I can take a mid-day rest.
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Old Jul 18th, 2013, 01:43 AM
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Cathinjoetown & Susan001, glad you liked the portrait of Maggie Smith. When I was at the National Picture Gallery in the summer of 2011, there was a fabulous portrait of Prince William and Prince Harry in informal pose, both in their military dress similar to what they wore at "the" wedding.

It was painted to Nicola Jane Philipps- the work may have only been on loan because I did not notice it this time and I can't find it on the NPG website - too bad. Also I think that the holdings of the NPG are much more extensive than space permits them to display.
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Old Jul 18th, 2013, 03:29 AM
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>

I do the same thing in late afternoon or early evening when I travel alone. It's why I put a significant premium on staying someplace central and comfortable. I learned my lesson after my first-ever travel alone, to Norwich, when I had a nice B&B that was a long, long bus ride from the city center out the gloriously-named Unthank Road.

Looking forward to reading about your adventures in Wales, which is special to me.
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Old Jul 18th, 2013, 06:16 AM
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Tahl, I hear you. "long bus ride from the city center out the gloriously-named Unthank Road." LOL

The STRAND PALACE was so convenient - a 3 star with no AC, not luxurious. But it was bright with good light for reading and tons of TV stations including a English Chinese one.

Thanks for following along, almost to Wales...
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Old Jul 18th, 2013, 08:33 AM
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Waiting for more!
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Old Jul 18th, 2013, 10:02 AM
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Coming shortly, Bettyk. Thanks for following...
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Old Jul 18th, 2013, 12:54 PM
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FRIDAY, JUNE 28: The morning was damp and rainy, but not pouring. No need to hurry. I took the Tube to HYDE PARK CORNER to visit APSLEY HOUSE, a palatial residence located at “Number One London,” the gift of a grateful nation to Arthur Wellesley, DUKE OF WELLINGTON (1769-1852) after his defeat of French armies under NAPOLEON at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. A British officer of over sixty campaigns and a statesman who later served two terms as PRIME MINISTER, Wellington’s place in British history and legend cannot be overestimated.

Apsely House is open on Wednesday – Sunday 11-5, adult admission £6.50. Price includes a user friendly audio devise. After an overview of individual rooms, a further description of each numbered painting or exhibit is available at a click. Masterpieces include those of “Correggio and Giulio Romano and works by Spanish 'Golden Age' painters such as Murillo and Velazquez” including “The Waterseller of Seville”, one of the latter’s first and most important works. Many of these treasures were booty from Wellington’s victories against the French and Spanish. Elaborate swords, weapons, and impressive collections of silver and china are also on display including a spectacular white/green dinner service of Berlin porcelain given by FREDERICK WILLIAM III OF PRUSSIA.

Gerald Wellesley, the 7th Duke of Wellington, bequeathed the house and its contents to the nation in 1947. A small apartment for family use remains there “so long as there is a Duke of Wellington.” Not to be missed beneath the Adams staircase (Adams was the architect who remodeled the house) is the massive 11 foot plus “heroic marble nude” of NAPOLEON AS MARS THE PEACEMAKER in all his glory modeled in the early 1800s. The statue was “purchased” from the Louvre in 1816 by the British government immediately after the Waterloo victory and given as a gift to the hero. Now that’s really rubbing it in, don’t you think?

http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/d.../apsley-house/

After leaving Apsley House (be careful when crossing the road here), I entered the Hyde Park Tube Station which has two VERY steep escalators, up and down, with a metal stair case in the middle. I was shocked to see an older women of some girth struggling to climb up those precipitous stairs, aided by a younger woman, presumably her daughter. She must have been petrified of the escalator. Upsetting, but I soldiered on to Green Park and walked along Piccadilly to do a bit of window shopping. Although I am not a shopper, I was determined to visit the iconic FORTNUM & MASON specialty store across from the Royal Academy, established in 1707 which is renowned for its teas and fine food items. Fortnum’s holds a ROYAL WARRANT indicating that it is a supplier to “royal personages.” Their pricey wicker hampers, especially provisioned with Christmas goodies, are warmly welcomed holiday gifts. Much of what I saw looked inviting but would be too perishable or heavy to carry seeing that I had another week in Britain.

A soft rain continued as I entered the Tube at Piccadilly (I was determined to get my money’s worth from my Oyster Card) back to Charing Cross. Time to decompress at the STRAND PALACE – that’s what I love about this hotel – its convenience.

Around 4 o’clock I ventured out again to the BENJAMIN FRANKLIN HOUSE on nearby Craven Street behind Charing Cross Station. Franklin (1706-1790), American scientist, diplomat, inventor, and political theorist lived in London while on business for the Colonies from 1757-1775 with the widow Mrs. Stevenson and her daughter Polly both of whom became a surrogate family to Franklin. The house itself is quite confining and can only accommodate a small number of visitors at one time. On Wednesday – Sunday an “historical experience” is re-enacted at 12, 1, 3:15, and 4:15 - £7 for adults and £5 for concessions, under 16 free.

Arriving about 4:20, I was welcomed by a staff member and led in the dark down a long narrow corridor and staircase to a room in which the presentation had begun. The performance “presents the excitement and uncertainty of Franklin’s London years using rooms where so much took place as staging for a drama that seamlessly integrates live performance, cutting edge lighting, and sound and visual projection.” Narrating the story was a stunning young actress who played Polly, relating in detail the events of Franklin’s life when he lived in the house during her youth. She was terrific. The audience numbering about a dozen passed (still in the dark) from room to room as the chronicle continued. The lights and sound effects were quite convincing. This show provided a totally different and entertaining snapshot into the life of one of America’s founding fathers. Again, I thought of how my grandchildren would have really enjoyed the show. Highly recommended.

http://www.benjaminfranklinhouse.org...ns/default.htm

Outside, I headed to the nearby NATIONAL GALLERY, premier venue for European art “from Giotto to Cezanne,” whose imposing classical portico and sprawling structure dominate Trafalgar Square. Open Friday nights until nine, free. The galleries were more crowded than they were on my last visit, but I moved comfortably through the rooms concentrating on my 19th century favorites including Caillebotte’s “Bridge at Argenteil and the Seine.” Caillebotte is one of those Impressionists who is enjoying new found popularity. The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston sold some of its jewels to purchase a Caillebotte from the National Gallery a few years back.

Also enjoyed Monet’s misty “The Thames Below Westminster” which he painted from his perch at the Savoy Hotel around 1870 when he and his family fled France to escape the Franco-Prussian War. A gift to the Gallery from Lord Astor in 1971.I was aware that Van Gogh’s priceless “Sunflowers” was on loan in Amsterdam, so I contented myself with his iconic “Wheat Fields with Cypresses.” That painting graces the bags in the NPG’s extensive gift shop. The National Gallery is huge, but by visiting their website beforehand, visitors can drop in at any time as they pass through Trafalgar Square and check out their favorite paintings.

http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/

On to a nearby Italian restaurant for a delicious salad with vin rouge. The next day I would meet my tour going to Wales…
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Old Jul 18th, 2013, 03:26 PM
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Great last day. I really enjoyed Apsley House. I love looking in Fortnum ans Mason and also at nearby Hatchard's bookstore. Though buying books is not practical when traveling, I always succumb.

Looking forward to the tour.
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Old Jul 18th, 2013, 05:23 PM
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Hi CW, thanks for following along. Glad that reading about Apsley House and Fortnum & Mason brought back pleasant memories.

Sorry that I did not notice Hatchard’s. A visit to Foyle’s famous bookstore further up on Charing Cross Road was on my agenda, but alas, I didn’t make it. Just so much to see and do….
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Old Jul 18th, 2013, 06:07 PM
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now that I am finally done re capping my trip, I got to read about yours! Thanks so much for some wonderful ideas for my next trip. I especially noted Benjamin Franklin's house , the lectures at the BL, and though you didn't recommend the literary walk, it still has potential. I want to go do the Hemingway walk in Paris. I was in Paris before starting the book club tour, and spent some time at Shakespeare and Company, which I enjoyed.

Enjoyed your trip report and I think we would make good friends!
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Old Jul 19th, 2013, 02:52 AM
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Hi again Lovetoroam,

Appreciate your interest. I really enjoyed your recent literary tour to England and I believe that a similar excursion to New England would be most successful.

Looking back, I am glad that I went on the Literary Pub tour with LONDONWALKS. I may have been a bit harsh on our guide Brian. The Bloomsbury neighborhood is a must for book worms like ourselves. Last summer I wrote a lengthy trip report about Paris including my great PARISWALKS tour of the Mouffetard section of Paris where Hemingway, Joyce, Orwell and others lived in the 1920s. That excursion is described on Friday, June 8 of the TR.

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...and-beyond.cfm

You wrote: “Enjoyed your trip report and I think we would make good friends!” Ditto….
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Old Jul 19th, 2013, 02:58 PM
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WELLINGTON MYTHOLOGY: After visiting APSLEY HOUSE that morning, I read an interesting article in that day’s LONDON TIMES entitled “Without Prussia we’d all be speaking French.” According to the piece, Prussia (read Germany) was as responsible for the victory at Trafalgar as the Brits under Wellington because Prussian Forces led by FIELD MARSHALL BLUCHER “weighed in at the critical juncture” in the battle. Remember that fancy china service given by the Prussian King and displayed at Apsley House?

But Wellington was never willing to share the glory because “behind the epic story of British victory at Waterloo lies a tale of political spin and historical manipulation.” The writer then threw in “jingoism and Wellington’s vanity” for good measure allowing his “coalition partner (Blucher) to be spun out of history.”

True to the Wellington mystique, the present government of GEORGE OSBORNE, BRITISH CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER, will devote £1 billion to restore the neglected Waterloo battlefield near Belgium in preparation for the bi-centennial celebration on June 18, 2015. Nothing has changed.
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Old Jul 19th, 2013, 03:50 PM
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"The National Gallery is huge, but by visiting their website beforehand, visitors can drop in at any time as they pass through Trafalgar Square and check out their favorite paintings."

I did just that! I went through the Gallery and then for lunch in the Crypt and then back again to see one of my favorite pieces.

http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/pa...ogh-sunflowers

In fact, I did the same at musee d'orangerie in Paris. I feel compelled to spend as much time as possible with these paintings. I know I would go back (I hope I get back to both London and Paris one day).

Once again, thanks for sharing.
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Old Jul 20th, 2013, 06:38 AM
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Hi Kelsey22, thanks for following along. Glad that you enjoyed your virtual trip to the National Gallery and your lunch at the Crypt.

Most major musuems in the world have easily navigable sites where we can enjoy their art a "click." I also check out Youtube for these same venues - includes amateur and professional videos of these institutions.
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