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Two and a half weeks of High-ish to Low-ish London Culture, March 2024

Two and a half weeks of High-ish to Low-ish London Culture, March 2024

Old May 28th, 2024, 08:51 AM
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Who needs the Eye? Not us.


Leadenhall
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Old May 28th, 2024, 08:55 AM
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My man Apollo.

Soane's clever use of natural light.
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Old Jun 11th, 2024, 12:13 PM
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THE DOCKLANDS MUSEUM

One misty morning, we took the Uber/Thames Clipper boat to Canary Wharf to visit the Museum of London Docklands. www.museumoflondon.org.uk/museum-london-docklands

The excellent Museum of London Wall will be closed for another couple of years.

Uber Clipper to Greenwich is one of my favorite rides anywhere, though previously I always bypassed the Isle of Dogs. Pay by touching card or phone as for the bus or Tube, wait no longer than 20 minutes at the Embankment, then glide past St.Paul’s and the Tower. Under the Tower Bridge into the Pool, then open throttle for a satisfying burst of speed. Old docks and warehouses there, now bijoux residences.

Walk a couple of blocks from the Canary Wharf Pier, past modern office buildings to the old warehouse that holds the museum. And what a fine one it is, devoted to the Thames’ and London’s seafaring history. We got there early, had the place practically to ourselves before school and family groups added to the fun. Lots of hands-on exhibits, along with the mercantile connection, the lives of the dockworkers, and discussion of the slave trade. Worthy of repeated visits, and highly recommended.

We caught the Elizabeth Line back to Tottenham Court Road, our first trip on that snazzy and clean train. I sat next to a woman who said she commutes from Woolwich, is grateful for Elizabeth’s far quicker trip.
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Old Jun 11th, 2024, 01:01 PM
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Embankment Pier

We like the front row seats.

Elizabeth Line, Canary Wharf to Tottenham Court Road.
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Old Jun 11th, 2024, 01:46 PM
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Just seeing this wonderful trip report. Thanks for taking us along.
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Old Jun 18th, 2024, 03:18 PM
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Nikki, thank you.



THE BRITISH MUSEUM

Of course.

We had the luxury of being within an easy walk for 2+ weeks, so we went often. The first time I visited with my mother, back when Hector was a pup, the building housed the British Library, I think, and the Queen Elizabeth Great Court was the Reading Room. It seemed quiet and obscure then, not today’s thronged attraction with gorgeous central tessellated roof, gift shops, cafés.

I paid to see the exhibition Legion: Roman Army because my brother back home had mentioned it. There was a lot to see, and if I could have visited it in small doses over time I’d have appreciated it more. I'm only mildly interested in military history.

We have to see the Parthenon Marbles every time we’re in town, and try to decide whether we think they should go back to Athens. Sometimes I think yes, sometimes no.

Always the Japanese collection.

One time I latched onto a tour as the excellent guide described the Lewis Chess set. Shoot, wish I still had his card. You meet him at Russell Square tube stop, spend a couple of hours. Well worth it. I listened in for 15 minutes, after he went to the Sutton Hoo trove, and later realized I should have tipped him.

I like the using Montague Pl entrance. It almost always seems less crowded, and you get to pass through the Oceania collection. Vivid, dramatic.
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Old Jun 18th, 2024, 03:43 PM
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Possibly my favorite sculpture anywhere.

From Sutton Hoo.



Roman army standards, I think.

Hands-on Army experience, trying helmets on for size.

A young centurion exits the museum, fresh from the gift shop.

From the Parthenon pediment. I'm glad it's not up to me to decide. Were they kidnapped, or rescued?
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Old Jun 22nd, 2024, 10:43 AM
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DRINK AND FOOD

We had a half pint at the fine old Ship Tavern, a stone's throw from our flat. Cozy atmosphere, just what I'd look for in a pub. I asked a young bartender about the supposedly banned and dangerously intoxicating drink Snakebite, but she had never heard of it. Her senior colleague smiled, said they didn't serve Snakebite there, but not for toxicity reasons. I think Hannah's friends at Regent's College were taken in by a schoolboy myth and/or the placebo effect.

The Ship overflowed outside every afternoon and into the night, and the convivial sound floated up to our windows. It stayed open until midnight, later than usual 23:00 pub hours for some reason. Hannah tried to meet friends there after work hours, but it was impossibly crowded.
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Old Jun 22nd, 2024, 10:54 AM
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Never heard of Snakebite


The Princess Louise, with never an empty seat


It's fun just to peek into the Princess Louise.
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Old Jun 22nd, 2024, 01:50 PM
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stokebailey - licensing hours in the U.K. have been somewhat deregulated for some time and the common 23.00 closing time was abolished in 2005. Many pubs do still close then but generally they don’t have to, so plenty in central London will stay open later, especially at the weekends.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2024, 03:17 AM
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"Snakebite" is a combination of lager and cider. Bear in mind, cider over here is alcoholic, sometimes more so than people expect, hence the notion that it can be metaphorically lethal. But banned? I'd guess some pubs have had trouble with rowdy people drinking it to get drunk quicker and just refuse to serve it.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2024, 12:13 PM
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Ah, thanks, John. I've been going on old information. Bars in my town must close at 0100, or cross the Mississippi and drink until 0200.

That sounds possibly tasty, Patrick. Unless it's a waste of both lager and cider. I usually get a half of local cider when in the UK.

Half pints aren't a thing where we live, though on request they will charge for a pint and fill the glass halfway. Never quite saw the point of that, unless they think it's a self-control issue.


A COUPLE OF NEW FOOD FINDS, SOME OLD FAVORITES

We had not been to Arôme Bakery on Mercer St. in Covent Garden. So good. It fills up quickly, so we got there near opening, sat in for coffee with French/Asian pastries. Another time got takeaway. The almond croissant is on another level entirely. Miso in pastry.

One Sunday evening we found ourselves ready for supper with limited options, decided to try our first Malasian food up Southampton Row at the Holborn Food Hub. It's a bare bones room with a Shawarma booth, a dessert and beverage area, and the kind and friendly Malasian place called 7th Floor. Laksa soup, spicy and good on a cool and rainy evening, lasted a couple of meals.

Another memorable meal was at Beirut Garden on Shaftesbury Ave, where the host remembered Hannah, what she had ordered and where we had sat six months previously. Then brought little gratis treats. It's Hannah's favorite falafel, and we went there twice that trip. I'd have been glad to go a third time, except for the excessive hitting on my beautiful daughter.

Still seeking Mediterranean food, we had a lovely Ottolenghi breakfast at his Islington shop before our Almeida matinee. Scrambled eggs, orange-pink and swirly, with salmon: just delicious.

Borough Market, yes. I've been there several times, still want that experience. And please one more cheese toastie. Of course go early, and Kappacasein Dairy is only open Thurs-Sat when the rest of the market is teeming with humanity. Still worth it. Most booths stopped offering samples during the pandemic, abundance of caution, now must rely on irresistible visuals and aroma. The truffles booth has jars you can smell. So much good food, so little time.

We enjoyed our quick light meal at The Real Greek on Long Acre between comedy shows. I had expected something touristy and inauthentic, but the atmosphere and the food were just what we wanted.

It's possible to eat well and inexpensively in London, by our standards anyway. Many evenings when Hannah went dancing I got sushi, sashimi, soup half price at the Holborn Itzu 30 min before closing. Pret's soups were very tasty, and they have good sandwiches, too. Also, a person can do worse than the Tesco or Sainsbury's meal deals.

Last edited by stokebailey; Jun 23rd, 2024 at 12:44 PM.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2024, 12:30 PM
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Arôme Bakery. So good.

Laksa Soup at Holborn Food Hub.

The Real Greek. Small table, tall food.

Love the Kappacasein men at Borough Market.



Pizza Sophia, up near the Generator Hostel on Tavistock Place. Hit the spot on a rainy evening, anchovies and all.
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Old Jun 24th, 2024, 09:18 AM
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PORTRAITS

I ended up not seeing the Sargent exhibition at the Tate Britain, though we visited the museum twice. I paint portraits for love and occasionally money, and am a big fan of his. At first I was deterred by a negative review in I think the Guardian and a lack of interest in seeing that famous clothing on dummies. Then when I snapped out of it and realized this was my only chance to see some of those paintings in person, we took the bus over again. I stood behind a woman at the ticket desk as she was told that her next chance of entry would be in > two hours, and it dawned on me that I should have checked online.

I am moderately interested at most in the Royal Family. I"m neutral on whether there should be such a thing, but maybe tilt a little Pro on the basis of staff and guard employment. I'd like the U.S. to have a wholesome and photographic first family, leave the governing in other capable hands. I'm not super interested in palace intrigues. Hannah pretty much keeps up with royal developments, though.

We were there in March, for Mother's Day, of course saw the lovely portrait of Princess Katherine and her children, said to have been taken by her husband. Weeks or months previously, she had been hospitalized for several days then released with a statement that whatever it was, wasn't cancer, and that she was resting at home. The day after Mothers' Day, the portrait reappeared with circles around suspicious areas of retouching. Then, a deluge of revelations. More circles! How could people inspect anything that closely?

We had been buying the Guardian every other day or so and reading the free papers handed out at the Tube entrance, so of course we followed the fevered speculation in all of them. Then a few days later came the columns scolding us all for paying attention, blaming the frenzy on America, accompanied by more large photos of the poor woman whose privacy we should be respecting. I think I can forgive myself for reading those articles, even though we are American. Whatever it is sounds serious, and I am sorry as I would be for any young mother especially, trust she is getting the best care.

Last edited by stokebailey; Jun 24th, 2024 at 09:23 AM.
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Old Jun 27th, 2024, 08:57 AM
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BUS TO THE V&A, VIA DENMARK STREET

I hadn't been to the Victoria & Albert museum in awhile, took the bus over one day while Hannah was busy.

I'm trying to verify my bus number on TFL site, can't find the one bus I caught at Bloomsbury Sq that took me all the way there. Also can't find the very handy #1 bus we caught on Kingsway to the bottom of Hampstead Heath.

I do love a London bus. This one took Shaftesbury, I think, then cut up to Denmark St. with all the guitars in the windows.

The V&A is always worth a visit or several. So much to see. I was low energy, didn't venture upstairs even, but first headed to the famous cafeteria for a late breakfast of soup in the corridor.

Coming back, I alighted at Denmark Street to window shop. Decades of young men, not quite making it in the business, forced to sell beloved instruments. Others snatching them up for £thousands. Recording studios. Vibrations.

Speaking of music, some of my favorite came from an amusing old guy resting on a bench near me at the Roman Legions exhibition. I can't remember what led up to it, but he sang "Keep Right On to the End of the Road" for me. Probably encouraging me to persevere and get my £22 worth. Another reason why I love London.
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Old Jun 27th, 2024, 09:11 AM
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From the bus.

Victorian splendor.

I preferred eating in the airy, light-Filled corridor, with time to sketch Mercury.

The first museum Cafe anywhere, I think? Beautiful, not crowded when you come early.


Some instruments priced for an old guy's collection.


Employment opportunity.
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Old Jun 29th, 2024, 07:52 AM
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WE GO TO CHURCH

I attend UK church services for shallow and non-spiritual reasons: the peace, the music, the interiors, the feeling of being among a congregation, the plummy-accented prayers. It's always refreshing.

I've gone to Evensong every London trip, either at St. Paul's or Westminster Abbey or both. This time we chose the Abbey, and arrived just on time to be seated in the North Transept, at the feet of famous statesmen. It's always tempting to look around, since we're whisked out at the end of the service. No photos, of course. A woman seated in front of me kept holding her phone up to take pictures, which annoyed me until when we were leaving she told me I had dropped my scarf. Another lesson in forbearance.

One Sunday, we walked to the ancient (London's oldest?) Catholic church, St. Etheldreda for mass. (is this where the BIshop of Ely grew the strawberries that Richard III requested?) Beautiful interior. It filled up quickly. Hannah and I sat at the back, since we didn't plan to stay. Becoming a Roman Catholic celibate priest is maybe not the attractive career path it once was, and a church sometimes must import from less fortunate parts of the world.

Another morning, we stopped at the most impressive Pret yet, on the Strand across from the Royal Courts of Justice, then looked in at St. Clements Danes. I had always meant to stop in there, and finally did. RAF memorial, moving testament to London's ordeals, and lovely interior.

Last edited by stokebailey; Jun 29th, 2024 at 08:20 AM.
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Old Jun 29th, 2024, 08:06 AM
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Not easy to find St. Etheldreda.


What is this style called?

Posh Pret, almost empty on a Sunday.

St. Clement Danes.

Temple Bar.
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