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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 7th, 2014, 08:53 AM
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Hi Annhig,

I really don’t know much about the parliamentary system in the UK. Two questions – are the elections held at regular intervals (like every two years) and does a person have to reside in the district to represent a particular area? And doesn’t the Commons have hundreds of members?

I will continue to watch Boris…

See, Stoke, your trip report has engendered all manner of discussions, eh?
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Old Apr 7th, 2014, 09:49 AM
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Show Biz and Politics are difficult to separate anymore. Is the cable car really as useless as it appears to the outsider? I stood on the Thames Path downstream from O2 and watched the cars whizzing along high overhead, had trouble imagining they'd be full of paying customers.


A LITTLE MORE ART, MORE INDECISION, AND STUMBLING UPON THE GOLDEN BOY

My last free Tuesday, when H was in class, I had a loose list of too many things I wanted to do, some mutually exclusive. Sticking with known winners, I started with a walk through Trafalgar Sq and Green Park, though the Horse Guards Parade with a peek at mounted guards, and caught the fine 87 bus on Whitehall to Millbank and Tate Britain.

I've been to the Tate several times. I still couldn't call it "newly refurbished," since a big chunk of the central hall is being worked on. I like the way the British art is organized now, roughly in decades. In the 1910's room: "The Resurrection -- Cookham" by Stanley Spencer. According to the Tate, "Spencer believed that the divine rested in all creation. He saw his home town of Cookham as a paradise in which everything is invested with mystical significance." Graves open all over Cookham, and the attractive dead emerge. Must be seen in person, more so than the average painting. The Gwen Johns in 1890's room and the Sargent of Robbie Robertson and his dog. Later on Sargent's wonderfully lit "Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose." https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks...ly-rose-n01615
An ordeal to paint, but worth it for us. George Romney portraits, also luminous.

Speaking of Sargent: if anyone has influence over the Tate people, his "Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth" is not only hung too high to appreciate, but the glare of lights on the glass makes it almost impossible to see. (In Seville's Museo de Bellas Artes, I loved how their oils are appropriately not covered with glass. I had the guilty flash of an idea to leave my fingerprint on an El Greco, but didn't of course. I suppose the honor system isn't enough anymore.)

Someone did a study of museum fatigue, and determined you have around 45 minutes before requiring caffeine or carbohydrates, unless I made that last part up. Sitting and sketching paintings can extend the limit to a few hours, but then one emerges dazed into the sunshine trying to decide what to do next. Jumping on a bus seems like the easiest option, and by then it's late afternoon and what one needs is lunch.

Dithering, deciding it's probably too difficult to get to Brixton Market without access to tfl.gov.uk. I alight back at ground zero/Trafalgar Sq., remain undecided, get some fruit and yoghurt at Tesco on the Strand. Last time in town, both daughters and I had tried and failed to find Olde Cheshire Cheese. Refreshed, I decided to locate that fine olde place, go inside, and see whether H and I would like to go back later for pints. Yes! for coming back. I'd like to have a box full of that pub's fragrance I could open sometimes to inhale.

I headed on to St. Paul's, thinking that evensong was still at 1630. Nope, not until 1700, almost an hour. Now what? I checked out One New Change across the street, took the elevator to the top and thought it looked fun for drinks some evening, with its magnificent view of St. Paul's dome.

Still further now what? Guess I'll head back to the hotel and regroup. (H and I a few days earlier tried to go to the Bank of England Museum and found it closed until April. H and her sister both think taking cabs is a reckless extravagance, so she vetoed my suggestion of a cab to our alternate beloved Museum of London. Last year she and I took forever to walk there from the Monument. This time it took forever to walk there from the Bank of England. I believe there's some sort of anti-tourist vortex in between.) I got on the 521 bus near St. Paul's, remembered the Museum of London is open until 1730 and worth many more visits, jumped off at the Thameslink, stop. Consulting my map, I cut back to Giltspur Lane and up along St. Bartholomew's Hospital -- the famous and ancient St. Bart's -- happened to look up and saw the Golden Boy of Pye Corner.
http://hidden-london.com/the-guide/g...of-pye-corner/

He used to adorn a pub at the far end of the Great Fire, and is depicted as chubby because somehow the fire was caused by gluttony, unless it was the Papists. I've seen his photo so often in my old DK London guide, but always thought it would be too difficult and far away to find.
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Old Apr 7th, 2014, 10:02 AM
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>>Two questions – are the elections held at regular intervals (like every two years)<<

Maximum five years; parliament can be dissolved and a new general election called at any time if the PM formally "advises" the Queen to do so, but by custom and convention wouldn't do so much before four years, or if they had lost a vote of confidence in parliament. If a PM is losing support within their own psrty, it's assumed the party will make it clear by one means or another they should go so that someone else can rally the troops for the next general election. This government, being a coalition, put through a law to make it impossible for either of them to cut and run and force an election when it suits them, so they're committed to staggering on to May 2015.

>> and does a person have to reside in the district to represent a particular area?<<

No.

>>And doesn’t the Commons have hundreds of members?<<

650. The COnservatives in this government wanted to cut this to 500 but their coalition partners put a block on it because the Tories had made sure one of their constitutional proposals fell by the wayside.

>>One place I want to check out in London is the new city hall on the Southbank – the architecture intrigues me.<<

The Crystal Testicle is interesting. There's a public area and café on the ground floor, usually with some sort of exhibition on show. More of it might be open in London Open House weekend.
http://www.london.gov.uk/city-hall

(PS: the top floor is also available for hire - to follow up on the discussion above on wedding receptions. Come to think of it, so are the Bridgemaster's office and the upper walkways of Tower Bridge).
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Old Apr 7th, 2014, 10:50 AM
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So's Chatsworth. http://www.chatsworth.org/weddings-hospitality

That's where I want, if I come back as a pampered daughter of the nouveau riche.
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Old Apr 7th, 2014, 11:03 AM
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Still really enjoying your report.

re Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose . . . I could look at that painting for hours. The light is almost unimaginable - how a mere human could get that effect w/ just paint???
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Old Apr 7th, 2014, 11:20 AM
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lateday - Patrick got in first with his summary of the english parliamentary system; I've no arguments with what he's written.

an addition, however - sometimes there are seats which come up unexpectedly, mid-term, due often to the death of the sitting MP, in which case there is a by-election just for that seat. Boris might well be able to take advantage of such an occurance.
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Old Apr 7th, 2014, 12:00 PM
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Hi again Stokebailey,

Really enjoyed your description of TATE BRITAIN. That’s a great link with the gorgeous John Singer Sargent – “Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose.” The other works in the link look so “approachable.” Never heard of Philip Wilson Steer but will look him up.

On a personal note, I visited the Sargent Watercolor show at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston some months back. It was fabulous! His watercolors though are somewhat smaller than his oils since he did most of them outside.

Where did you pick up Bus 87? I presume it goes down Whitehall? How near does the bus go to the museum? The Tate Britain will be my destination on the first full day of my stay.

Speaking of the Olde Cheshire Cheese, do you mean the one on Fleet Street? I think there is a pub with a similar name near Charing Cross too. Sorry you missed the BANK OF ENGLAND MUSEUM. Save it for next time. I also hope to visit the MUSEUM OF LONDON where I know they have several lectures through Gresham College.

Patrick London and Annhig, thanks for the clarification on the UK’s political system. I had picked up from various biographies that politicians would “stand for” election to Parliament from different districts.

Stoke, awaiting your next installment. You certainly covered a lot of ground…
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Old Apr 7th, 2014, 12:27 PM
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I'm so glad you were speaking of Sargent! There was a retrospective of his works at the NGA in DC while the Tates were coming into being so I got to see so many works in one place (including the watercolors, lateday). I was in tears at the scope and beauty of his works. The two Tates are first on my list also.
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Old Apr 7th, 2014, 01:33 PM
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Hi TDudette, so glad you saw the Sargent show in DC. MFA in Boston has many Sargents including “The Daughters of Edward Boit” which has pride of place in the New Americas wing.

Looking forward to hearing about your adventures in London and Madrid. Just booked today for ten days – June 16-26 at the Strand Palace. Flying solo and totally open.
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Old Apr 7th, 2014, 03:05 PM
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Ah, I'd love to have seen the Sargent watercolors at MFA or NGA. We had quite a nice exhibition here (the SLAM) several years ago, including preliminary sketches for Madame X and travel journal watercolors. The story of "Carnation etc", how he and the long-suffering young models, hosts, not to mention the local florists accomplished the sittings, is fun. Apparently he worked by painting what he saw.

Lucky lateday! You can catch the 87 bus on The Strand not far from your hotel, and it will wind past some of London's great sights. I caught it on Whitehall near the Banqueting Hall, and it takes you along the river side of the Tate. The 88 bus goes down Regent St. through Picadilly Circus, down Haymarket and south of Trafalgar Sq, past Westminster Abbey and down the street in back of the Tate.

And, yes, the Olde one on Fleet St.
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Old Apr 7th, 2014, 04:43 PM
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Stoke, thanks for the info on the London buses. I am really going to try using them more this time with my trusty Oyster card.

You wrote: “We had quite a nice exhibition here (the SLAM) several years ago, including preliminary sketches for Madame X and travel journal watercolors.” Love Madame X, but not sure what SLAM refers to.

Again for art lovers, I would recommend THE GREATER JOURNEY, Americans in Paris 1830-1900 by David McCullough which provides great insight into the formative careers of many 19th century artists including Sargent and Whistler in their salad days abroad.

Still happily along for the ride …
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Old Apr 7th, 2014, 05:25 PM
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Would love to add the Tate to my long long list too. Thanks for the book recommendation Lateday.

When we traveled the first time to London a few years ago we had mother in law with us and because she had a hard time going up and down the stairs, we took many buses. Before we left I printed multiple journey planners from the tfl website--how to get from point a to point b by bus and took all those sheets with us so we were able to hop on a bus to the next stop. You get to see a little bit more of the city that way.

Still enjoying your trip report Stokebailey and looking forward to yours too Latedaytraveler when you return.
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Old Apr 7th, 2014, 06:46 PM
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Thanks, Europeannovice. I think that what is confusing is the great number of buses in London. But I am sure that using them is more convenient and enjoyable than the Tube in many cases.
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Old Apr 7th, 2014, 10:05 PM
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>> info on the London buses. I am really going to try using them more this time with my trusty Oyster card. <<

Start with the bus map in this:
http://www.tfl.gov.uk/maps/visitors-and-tourists
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Old Apr 7th, 2014, 10:52 PM
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If you have internet on your phone while you're in London, get a London bus app that shows you exactly which bus will be at your nearest stop when, and where it will take you. It will also show you if a bus has just left, and when the next one will arrive at your stop.
London Transport live bus tracker is free.

Citymapper is also an easy app to use in London. It will show you how to get from A to B using different transport options, how long they will take, different costs, even how many calories you will use if you walk.
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Old Apr 8th, 2014, 03:09 AM
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Patrick London and Tulips, thanks for the helpful info - will study both suggestions.
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Old Apr 8th, 2014, 06:17 AM
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I normally do just fine with the Central London paper bus map you can get for the asking at Tube station windows. You get finer points with tfl.gov.uk, like exactly where a given stop is, that can come in handy. Or if your destination is off the map, of course. The paper map weighs less than electronics, and is infinitely cheaper to use.

For getting to Brixton Market that day, tfl site would have given me a rough idea of how long it takes by bus, tube, or walking. Since I had late lunch in mind time was my main consideration.
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Old Apr 10th, 2014, 01:05 AM
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Hi Stoke, just wondering if there is more to your story...
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Old Apr 10th, 2014, 06:57 PM
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Hi, lateday. Thanks for wondering that. I've been out digging in the garden lately during that golden sliver of time: all potential and no mosquitoes.

Sorry to use "SLAM." I hoped to present St. Louis Art Museum as one of the big boys, recognizable by initials. It is a fine museum, with "Free to All" carved in stone above the entrance. (Except if you want to hold a reception in the grand room hung entirely with Max Beckmann German Expressionist paintings; then it costs a lot.)

After the Golden Boy (the tavern where he stood having once had a room to store stray corpses until St. Bart's surgeons could come appraise them for purchase) (St. Bart's est. 1123) and still thinking I'd head for Museum of London, I realized I was across from Smithfield Market, the scene where rebel Wat Tyler was killed in 1381, and where Protestants were burned at the stake during Bloody Mary's reign, and where they stopped dragging the naked Scottish William Wallace all the way from the Tower by his heel behind a horse, so they could get really tough with him, 1305. This was quite the bloodsoaked location at one time. I tried and failed to detect violent spiritual emanations.

Turning east, you come upon St. Bartholemew the Great Church, built 1123 and the oldest church in London according to the nice young woman taking admission (£3.50). greatstbarts.com
Again, a hushed odor of centuries. (What did the good monks back then think of all that bloodshed? Did they shrug and get on with their chanting?) I had a pot of tea in The Cloisters, the adjacent fan vaulted coffeeshop, felt refreshed and no longer in need of museum history, and walked back to the Celtic. I was grateful for where indecision had led.

RELIGION EXPERIENCES

H's London classes include World Religion, and what better place to study this, one of her favorite classes ever, though she inclines toward Ethical Humanism herself. She studied for an exam while I was there, and would share her religion pearls. We kept changing favorites, but finally settled on Daoism. Lao Tsu's "quiet stillness; save energy for times action is required" was quoted as needed during our travels.

Sunday morning we went to St. Etheldreda near the Holborn Viaduct, a wonderful old church that at one time was chapel for the Bishops of Ely. Statues of Catholic martyrs high on the walls, tall stained glass windows. I'd been to mass there a couple of other times, and we meant to go to the stripped-down earlier one but misjudged and arrived while the choir was practicing for the sung latin mass. Ahhh. Then tiptoed out.

We did make it to evensong at Westminster Abbey, walking down Whitehall, aiming at being there at 1600, or 30 minutes early, and it ended up taking longer to walk than it looked, so we were a little rushed. As we got alongside the Abbey, we couldn't understand why there were armed guards and barricades down the length of the church. And things didn't look familiar. H finally asked the policeman in a guardhouse, and it turns out it was so heavily guarded because it was the Houses of Parliament. Oh. That definitely explained it. He kindly pointed us across the road, where we we queued for 1700 evensong at 1630.

We got to sit in the choir, with a view down the towering nave. A men's and boy's choir, a woman officiated, and a Ghanan dignitary did the reading. A peaceful and satisfying end to the afternoon.

(The acoustics for St. Paul's evensong music are possibly even better, if you sit under the dome.)

As we left the Abbey, I pointed out the door I think Caroline of Brunswick must have pounded upon when they wouldn't let her into her husband's coronation. Well, what would you do? I might pound, too.
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Old Apr 12th, 2014, 04:46 AM
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Hi Stokebailey,

Glad you continued your adventures. Love your historical references. "This [Smithfield Market area] was quite the bloodsoaked location at one time. I tried and failed to detect violent spiritual emanations." Agreed.

I tried to read a history of the Tower of London a few years back but had to abandon it because of the excessive blood, gore, lashings, and frequent regicides in various iterations.

The Museum of London and evensong or vespers at Westminster or St. Paul's are also on my agenda so I was interested in your descriptions of these venues. I am now booked from June 16-26 solo in London with a large list of sites to explore.

You concluded: " As we left the Abbey, I pointed out the door I think Caroline of Brunswick must have pounded upon when they wouldn't let her into her husband's coronation. Well, what would you do? I might pound, too."

The reference to that unfortunate Queen (must admit, I was not familiar with her plight) was coincidental because I had just booked a lecture at the QUEEN'S GALLERY (part of the Royal Collection attached to Buckingham Palace) for June 18. Subject - "Life at court through the eyes of Queen Caroline." Collections at the gallery change on a regular basis and this talk is part of their new Georgian exhibit.

http://www.royalcollection.org.uk/vi...kingham-palace

Looking forward to more of your meanderings as I fill my ten days with new discoveries.
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