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We saw a fox on Great Ormond St (and other sights up and down the Thames)

We saw a fox on Great Ormond St (and other sights up and down the Thames)

Old Apr 1st, 2014, 11:31 AM
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"the floating docks by the college rowing crews' shacks"

The Thames at Oxford is far too narrow for floating docks (invented for ocean liners on the Severn and Mersey to disembark passengers in their hundreds). And boat clubs, even without their supporters and drinking companions, far too big to squeeze into a "shack" .

I think you mean "riverbank (or maybe jetty, or possibly landing stage, depending) in front of the boathouses"
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Old Apr 1st, 2014, 11:53 AM
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Ha, yes, if you say so, that is for sure what I meant.
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Old Apr 1st, 2014, 12:42 PM
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Stokebailey, delightful account of Oxford - so glad you got some sketching in too...
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Old Apr 1st, 2014, 12:44 PM
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"pontoons" would be a good word.
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Old Apr 1st, 2014, 01:21 PM
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O, dear mot-juste-insisters. I respect and admire you.

I like the word "pontoon" for its own sake. Around here, it has an unfortunate "party barge" connotation: a rectangular motorized craft that leaves a trail of gasoline fumes on the weekend lake, men loudly working on their beer bellies, women on their sunburns.
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Old Apr 1st, 2014, 08:50 PM
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'H accused me of speaking to every single uniformed employee around the Palace, which I stoutly deny: there were several I merely nodded'
You made me laugh! I fully agree with you Stoke -- these uniformed guards/guides are well informed and are waiting for us to ask questions. Last year in Windsor Castle we started chatting to one of them, and half an hour later we had heard amazing stories about the furniture and especially the paintings in the room. The poor guy had a slight stammer, but he knew his room.

Your description of Oxford brought back good memories!
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Old Apr 2nd, 2014, 08:57 AM
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Thanks, kovsie. Same with yours and daughter's.

lateday, I'm looking forward to hearing about your trip. A few days ago I got over dreaming I was still there and making to-do lists as I woke up. I'd like to go back and start over again, except this time I wouldn't buy the rock salmon & chips from the Euston Rd chippie after buying my wellies on Hampton Court day, take them back to the Princess and attempt to eat them while watching the Ukraine/Crimea crisis on TV. For one thing, I forgot that one portion is enough to feed a family of four. For another, I should not have traveled farther than 10 feet from the vinegar bottle. But enough idle regrets. Refreshed, I took a but to the National Portrait Gallery for its late Friday hours.

ART and LOTS OF IT

Seville's Museo de Bellas Artes, reportedly second only to the Prado for Spanish art, displayed two Velasquez portraits: one second-rate full-length of Don Somebody kneeling, and a fine small study of head of an apostle. (They did have lots of other great, mostly religious, paintings, and a couple of sweet Goya portraits on temporary loan.) The Wallace Collection in London has is so stuffed with great art that they had to hang a Velasquez Infanta over a doorway not far from his great Lady With a Fan. And that's a museum you can just walk into when you have a spare hour.

I'm a Velasquez and a portrait fan, like to look at a few paintings really well, so I was sketching both of those in the Wallace Collection dining room when a staff member came in with two women to discuss which setting they'd like for a wedding reception. You can rent! a room containing two Velasquez portraits, nibble your sorbet or whatever and make small talk. For mere money. As the mother of two daughters -- though someone who hopes that their university educations will count as most of a marriage portion and wedding contribution -- I find this fascinating.

After they'd left and I'd finished my sketches, I approached an intelligent-looking man whose job seems to include not letting anyone steal the paintings (but "guard" doesn't seem to cover it), hoping to get an idea what people pay for such an evening. Besides having a beautiful mustache, he was also full of information about London's art, how such a place as the Wallace is financed, and was incidentally very well informed about my hometown art museum since he was once the vicar at an Episcopalian church down the road from our house. He even has a favorite painting at the St. Louis Art Museum, another place that's free to enter, taxpayer supported, and available for deep pockets. According to him, England was able to snatch up a lot of European art in the early 19th century, when French revolutionaries needed money to finance the Austrian war and had surplus canvases on their hands. England's keeping a stable monarchy and aristocracy seems once again to benefit the current day American tourist.

(I walked off feeling I'd taken too much of his time and attention, never did learn what renting the room costs.)
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Old Apr 2nd, 2014, 09:07 AM
  #108  
 
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http://www.wallacecollection.org/ven...eprivateevents

wow
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Old Apr 2nd, 2014, 09:17 AM
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Ha, thanks bilboburger! I was just about to do that myself.

The Velasquez portraits are in the Dining Room, which seats up to 40. So for a mere £6,500 weekday, £11,000 Friday and Saturday, plus approved caterer's food and drink, wait staff, tips, and I suppose I'll need a new dress and shoes.... carry the one... No, I don't think we can afford it, even if my girls ever got engaged.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2014, 12:02 PM
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Hi again Stokebailey,

“lateday, I'm looking forward to hearing about your trip” Aren’t you nice! I plan to do another TR. What I have to keep reminding myself – we can never do it all, right? So much to see and do in London.

For starters, I want to do the TATE BRITAIN (newly refurbished I believe) and the TATE MODERN to see the Matisse cutout exhibition. This trip I am doing solo (with no add-on tour as I usually do) so I expect to include LONDON WALKS and tours of various museums/sites for company.

I enjoyed your description of the WALLACE COLLECTION which I find spectacular. Glad you enjoyed the Velasquez paintings there. Love the Wallace and hope to drift by there again in June. Another fabulous Velasquez is at the APSLEY HOUSE across from Hyde Park Corner, home of the first Duke of Wellington.

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

Wellington also amassed the booty of war which is elegantly displayed there including Velasquez’s famous “The Waterseller of Seville.”

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Waterseller_of_Seville_(Velázquez)

I found the WALLACE COLLECTION and APSLEY HOUSE “doable” within a 2 ½ hour frame, whereas I found VICTORIA & ALBERT, not to forget the BRITISH MUSEUM overwhelming. But I am glad that I saw the latter two once.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2014, 12:23 PM
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"I found VICTORIA & ALBERT, not to forget the BRITISH MUSEUM overwhelming"

The trick is to pick just one or two galleries at a time. Since they're both free you can just stop by any time. It would be a shame not to revisit them both, but especially the V&A which is my rainy day retreat. (Don't miss the costume and jewelry galleries.) The cafe in the V&A is a don't miss too - good scone-with-clotted-cream and beautiful rooms to eat it in.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2014, 04:57 PM
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Thursdaysd, “The trick is to pick just one or two galleries at a time.”

I am sure you are right. I would have to do my homework before visiting the V & A or British Museum again. My “rainy day retreat” happens to be the NATIONAL GALLERY or PORTRAIT GALLERY near where I stay.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2014, 06:30 PM
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Stokebailey--I am thoroughly enjoying your trip report and writing style. We can't wait to go back to London this summer.

Latedaytraveler--Regarding the 100th anniversary of WWI, the British Library will have a special exhibit on this very topic--don't remember the exact dates of the exhibition but it is posted on their website. We didn't get to the Wallace Collection or Apsley House on the first trip over and on the second trip we skipped London and went directly to Oxford and beyond so we are looking forward to visiting these places of wonder. Would also love to revisit the V&A period rooms and revisit the National Gallery too. Like you said, there are so many wonderful things to choose from and never nearly enough time to scratch the surface of but a few.
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Old Apr 4th, 2014, 01:21 AM
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Hi Europeanovice,

Thanks for the suggestion. I will check it out. I intend to take the regular tour of the British Library this time too.

Great info about many WWI commemorations on line, but many do not start until later in the summer since Britain’s declaration of war was on August 4, 2014.Then four more years of remembrances.

Have you any plans for London in the future?
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Old Apr 4th, 2014, 09:00 AM
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>>the V&A which is my rainy day retreat<<

I was brought up on that side of London, just a bus ride away from the V&A. My mother's solution to a wet day in the school holidays was frequently a packed lunch, bus ticket to the V&A and don't come back till tea-time.
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Old Apr 4th, 2014, 10:25 AM
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@PatrickLondon - lucky you! I grew up about 40 miles north, and London was a rare treat.
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Old Apr 4th, 2014, 04:45 PM
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We assume you dutifully went to the V&A to soak up culture, Patrick, and not slip off to South Kensington's pool halls and opium dens.

Thank you, europeannovice!

KENWOOD HOUSE, MUD, AND SPRING PEEPERS

Another day when H was busy with classes, she told me I'd better not skip Kenwood House, which was one of her favorite discoveries. Early in my visit she and I had walked to the top of Parliament Hill and over to Highgate Cemetery along solid paths, so I'd seen the more parklike side of the Heath.

This day I took the bus to the South End Green stop, alighted, and headed up S. End Rd to the Heath's first access path. When I reached Pond No.1, I heard one of my favorite springtime sounds: spring peeper frogs. Right here in London.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=UwVEI5M-948
We have to drive well out into the country in the early spring to hear these tiny tree frogs peep.

Cutting northwards through the Heath through forested areas after that gave flashes of Narnia and Middle Earth. You feel talking badgers and Ents around the next tree. Sometimes, though, your attention is focused on others' footwear, and you attempt rough estimate of wellies percent: I came up with ~ 33% wellington.

I was very glad to be wearing my short wellingtons. Even when following paths through the center of the Heath there were very boggy areas that would have been difficult to go around. Not that I tried to go around. My inner 3 year old was delighted to squish right through, and at one point, coming back west of the Ladies' Bathing Pond I was mired about my ankles. Several low lying areas of the Heath looked as if a herd of humans had passed through. It reminded me of the Sherlock Holmes story where bad guy fixes horses with cattle-hoof shoes, except in this case it would have been human running shoes on cattle. Eventually I passed a roped off area where the sign explained they were trying to reseed grass after a recent cross-country meet.

Near the top of the hill you reach beautiful Kenwood House. What a gem. Thanks to the Guiness fortune, built up a pint at a time, for preserving the art and stately home for everyone to see. Visitors may walk from room to beautifully preserved room and admire paintings by Van Dyke, Reynolds, Turner, Romney, Gainsborough. Be sure to read the cards in each room that explain the paintings. There is a room where you can sit in one place and contamplate both a Rembrandt in old age self-portrait and Vermeer's Guitar Player.

One portrait show two of the Earl of Mansfield's grandnieces, Elizabeth and Dido. Dido was the illegitamate daughter of the Mansfield's nephew and a black woman from the West Indies, and remarkably for the time was brought up almost as one of the family. (According to Kenwood's literature, there were some slaves in England around that time.) Lord Mansfield used his position in government to help abolish the British slave trade. He, and I'd say especially his wife, must have been people of character. From Dido's portrait, she had a charming personality.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dido_Elizabeth_Belle

Coincidentally I saw a trailer for the movie Belle at a movie theater yesterday.
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Old Apr 4th, 2014, 06:05 PM
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Stokebailey, I think the library in Kenwood House is one of the prettiest rooms I've ever seen. Our trek was not soggy, but we walked all the way across Hampstead Heath, toured KH, and walked around the road to Spaniard's Inn for lunch. It was a wonderful day.
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Old Apr 4th, 2014, 06:57 PM
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Stokebailey,

Kenwood House and its collection looks very interesting. Exactly how did you get there from where you were staying in central London?

Thanks ….
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Old Apr 4th, 2014, 06:58 PM
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Oh, yes, Carolyn. I walked past Spaniard's Inn, loved the looks of it, but wasn't up for either a full meal or attempting a pub on my own, though.

I ended up back at Euphorbium Bakery down the hill sipping a free latte with my apple tart outside, writing in my trip journal and watching the world go by.
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