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Welltravbrit's London Sojourn - An Ongoing Trip Report

Welltravbrit's London Sojourn - An Ongoing Trip Report

Old May 5th, 2015, 03:43 PM
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Spent the week mostly focused on family but I have done a few things that may be of interest and I've finally posted some London topics onto my blog.

First of all finally some pictures and details about the Broadway Market which is worth exploring, it makes a fabulous combination with a walk along Regents Canal on a Saturday.

http://www.somuchmoretosee.com/2015/...d-markets.html

My second posts is about tackling the British Museum one bite at a time

http://www.somuchmoretosee.com/2015/...e-at-time.html

Today I headed to Apsley House on the bus only to check (when I was half way there) whether it was open, of course it would be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays! Instead I stopped by the Courtauld again, this time to see their collection of religious art from the Middle Ages. It's a small collection wonderfully displayed, you can really get up close to the works which I liked. Then in to Somerset House for guided tour focusing on the Old Palace. They also have a tour focusing more generally the Historical Highlights.

https://www.somersethouse.org.uk/events/guided-tours

There seems to be more and more going on at Somerset House and it's always worth going in to see the river terrace or to have something to eat at Tom's cafe which has a lovely spread at lunchtime.

Then we headed on to the National Portrait Gallery for the Sargent exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery. It was only an hour before closing and the perfect time to come, it was almost empty, which is exactly how I like it! It's an impressive collection of his works though I wished the interpretation had gone beyond the chronological display. However, that said it's very much worthwhile seeing and gives you a sense for the depth of his talent.

Here's the link, the show runs through May 25th.
http://www.npg.org.uk/whatson/sargent/home.php

We were also at a couple of plays this week, details for anyone who might be interested....

Hay Fever with Felicity Kendall (a well known British sitcom actress and former muse to Tom Stoppard). Frothy fun, well acted, very British and perfect for my mother who thankfully could hear everything as we were in the second row.
The Hard Problem - Stoppard's new play at the National. The reviews were a little unenthusiastic but it's still a very satisfying night out. Crisp, fast paced and well edited -so much of what we see by contemporary playwrights seems unecessarily extended and sometimes Stoppard can be very long. Anyway, we enjoyed it very much though it isn't in the same league as Arcadia.
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Old May 6th, 2015, 05:03 AM
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Then in to Somerset House for guided tour focusing on the Old Palace. They also have a tour focusing more generally the Historical Highlights.>>

I should love to do that; my memories of Somerset House are of standing outside in the freezing cold waiting for them to open the doors so that we could go in and find the court that we were going to be appearing in, whilst trying to make conversation with a nervous or angry client. It had some of the worst facilities of any court in those days, although it heard important family cases. No proper waiting rooms [you had to sit outside the court room on a green leather bench with your client and try to take instructions and negotiate with the other side in the corridor] the loos were miles away on different floors usually, and in the days of no mobiles [yes, I'm THAT old] no public phones.

glad you enjoyed the Sergeant Exhibition and Hay Fever - did you know that Felicity Kendal once won an award for having the most attractive bottom?
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Old May 6th, 2015, 08:34 AM
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I'd say she still has a pretty attractive bottom!

As for Somerset House I guess you're talking about when it was still govt offices, the only thing I remember was the "Hatch, match and dispatch" reference for the Office of Births, Marriages and Deaths. What I hadn't realized (until the tour) was that the whole thing was built as government offices.

Today we had a lovely lunch at Ottolenghi which I very much enjoyed, though I couldn't bring myself to order several lovely slices of bread for four pounds fifty, really a bit too precious! However, the atmosphere was stylish but casual and the food was wonderful. After cooking from his books for several years it was fun to make it to the restaurant which we wandered across while walking around Spitalfields. They have several outlets round London and we will certainly be back.
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Old May 6th, 2015, 09:50 AM
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I saw Hay Fever on Saturday afternoon - really delightful.

Thursday evening it was 'Its a Mad World My Masters' at the Barbican - just wonderful. A Jacobean farce edited/updated to 1950s Soho - just hysterically funny.
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Old May 6th, 2015, 09:54 AM
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Thanks for your wishes well travelled Brit . I have a trip report started in dribs and drabs and liked the JSS exhibition. Rather liked the other gallery nearby - Judi Dench, Tony Blair and the photography exhibition of Anthony Armstrong Jones.
We did a little Venice walk last Saturday and loved it- London walks.
I remember when I first stated my family tree going to St Catherine's - fro certificates was that Somerset house?
I've got tickets to see American Buffalo and Elephant Man
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Old May 6th, 2015, 11:24 AM
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I appreciate the theatre reviews as I am finalizing trip plans for June and I love theatre in the UK.
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Old May 6th, 2015, 03:04 PM
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Hi again WTB,

Thanks for continuing your report. Enjoyed your blog entry about the Broadway and Columbia Road markets. Wow, those desserts! Also took your suggestions about tackling the British Museum to heart. Will try that route next time.

Glad you enjoyed the Sargent exhibit. What's not to love? Most of that show was at the MFA in Boston a few years back. Lovely. For Sargent aficionados, I always suggest re-reading THE LONGEST JOURNEY: Americans in Paris 1830-1900 by David McCullough - colorfully describes Sargent's life in Paris as a young man and his interactions in the art community there.

Hope you make it to the APSLEY HOUSE before you leave - truly has some great art which the Duke of Wellington "bought" after Waterloo including a nude statue of Napoleon.

Waiting for more - would love to be back in London....
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Old May 7th, 2015, 05:36 AM
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WTB, this is the UCL Festival of the Arts I mentioned a while back. Just got an e mail. Might be worth looking at.
http://www.ucl.ac.uk/festival-of-the-arts
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Old May 7th, 2015, 02:11 PM
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As for Somerset House I guess you're talking about when it was still govt offices, the only thing I remember was the "Hatch, match and dispatch" reference for the Office of Births, Marriages and Deaths. >>

yes, we used to enter [and exit] via the big double doors at the front, and walk through the Registry, heading off to the left to go to the court section.

I've never been back since but still remember it fondly - though I'd love to see it now.
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Old May 7th, 2015, 03:22 PM
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Glad you are all still following along!

So, I've just posted photos and details on my blog of a walk we took a few weeks ago on "Post-War Architecture in London" which we enjoyed very much. Overall I've found the specialty walks done by London Walks on the weekend are generally very good. Also we were quite pleased that although the prices just went up (now £10 and £8 concessions) they are honoring the old price for those with their frequent walker card which seems very reasonable.

http://www.somuchmoretosee.com/2015/...ndon-walk.html

Today I was at the luxury purveyors Garrard and Asprey on tours of their workshops which I booked through London Craft Week. What a great experience, it was fascinating to see silver smiths, jewelry designers and stone setters at work and to be able to talk to the crafts people about their trades. The ateliers are right at the top of their buildings. Who knew people are still making things on New Bond Street?!!

I also dropped in to Etro (possibly the prettiest shop in London) to see how their paisley shawls are designed and visited a fabulous watchmakers to see an engraving demonstration. All-in-all a great event.
http://www.londoncraftweek.com

This evening we wandered over to Brawn on Columbia Rd which someone on the board recommended. It's very close to our place and we were very impressed, all very hip, elegant, simple food, well made and very satisfying, I had white asparagus with clams and thyme followed by tagliolini with morels, delicious!
http://www.brawn.co

latedaytraveller - Coincidentally,between the two craft tours I dropped in to Apsley House which was nearby, great because it's free with the Art Fund card! I loved it and will certainly be back, the art collection is fabulous and who could resist seeing Wellington's dentures?

Lots of photos, architecture, street art etc. on instagram for anyone who is interested.
https://instagram.com/welltravbrit/
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Old May 7th, 2015, 08:09 PM
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Thank you for sharing your wonderful report.

Our son moved to London a few months ago for work and is living in Bethnal Green! Will be visiting in September and your posts are whetting my appetite.

Looking forward to hearing more.
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Old May 8th, 2015, 02:57 AM
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A friend of mine was working in Garrard and Asprey up until last year, her speciality was making "bling" for "celebrity" who wanted something unique for tomorrow (or maybe Tuesday) so had to meet the client, sketch something out, get the order and then go make it with the client dropping by tomorrow to pick it up....

Left for Sweden and a slower pace of life.
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Old May 8th, 2015, 04:35 AM
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four_maccas I think you'll find Bethnal Green quite interesting it's certainly a new perspective on London for us. If you go to the right places you can get a real dose of Cockney color.

This morning we went for a fry up at E Pellicci, what a place! It's an old cafe on the Bethnal Green Rd and like everything else (Columbia Rd market and Broadway Market) around here it's the same ten minuted from our flat! There's a great art deco interior and it's still run by the original family who combine cockney accents with fluent Italian - as they shout the orders through to the kitchen. There's lots of argie-bargie and lots of local color and they are very friendly to out of town visitors. Well worth heading east to check this one out.
Here's what TimeOut says...

http://www.timeout.com/london/restaurants/e-pellicci

bilboburgler - your friend's job sound just like the designers we met. One of them showed us the deigns for a bespoke horse head brooch made for a man to wear to the Cannes Film Festival and modeled on his own horse and his love of Islamic calligraphy!
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Old May 11th, 2015, 05:17 AM
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Just posted a report with picture on the Sky Garden at the Walkie Talkie which is a great place to see the view, if not the garden. Lots of details including the link to get free tickets below.
http://www.somuchmoretosee.com/2015/...ie-london.html

Yesterday was a lovely sunny day and so we went out for a rather long walk, ten miles by the time we staggered back home! We were following a tour from one of our walking books this one was Time Out London Walks (Two) The walk took us along the canals, first est along the Regents Canal and then north (on the Harford and Union Canel)up to the Olympic Park. It was gorgeous weather and lots of people were out for "Run Hackney". WE then headed south with all the Olympic buildings on our left looking surreal in the landscape until we arrived in Bow at Three Mills.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Mills

It's an interesting site, an old tide mill first recorded in the Doomsday book the site has been used for grain for food and later gin production and later still to make gunpowder. Right now it's in the midst of the massive "regeneration" of East London. Apparently Ikea will soon be building a town nearby. I really thought they were joking but apparently it's the future.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk...y-8196429.html

WE took a tour of the mill and it was fascinating to see , apparently it was "international open mill day" and the guide was quite disappointed to find nobody of even knew about it and none were crazed mill enthusiasts!

After the tour and a cup of tea we headed on, continuing south. I definitely want to come back to Bow as it has an interesting radical history (including suffagrettes) but I'll come back to this later. We walked down towards Canary Wharf for our next stop the Docklands Museum.

I was here to see one of their permanent exhibits, "London, Sugar and Slavery". Overall I've found very little in London acknowledging (in a critical way) either the history of slavery or Empire, in terms of their link to the development and wealth of the city. Anyway if this is something that interests you the gallery at the Docklands Museum is certainly worth checking out. There was lots more there on the docks, the shipping trade as well as the East and West India companies but I'll have to go back another time for all that.

Afterwards we headed to the Grapes in Limehouse for something to eat though by this time we'd missed much by hours and they were no longer serving. So a quick drink later and a brief look out on their porch to the Edward Gormley statue that stands in the Thames behind the pub (photo on Instagram for anyone who cares) and we moved on for food. We were starving and for expediency ended up at the nearby, Narrows- a Gordon Ramsey pub. Iy's all fancy gastro pub generica, with rather blah service. But we were ready to chew our own shoes so we wolfed down the Sunday roast quite happily as we admired the view over the river.

From here we headed back through LImehouse basin along the Regents Canal until we arrived at the end of Victoria Park. It was a lovely day out. The canals really are an interesting way to see something of the industrial past of London and the new development that's happening along them.

Just to get back to my mention of Bow and London's history of radicalism I've just bought a new walking guide by David Rosenberg called Rebel Footprints; A Guide to Uncovering London's Radical History. He teaches a class on East End History over at the Bishopsgate Institute and has just brought out this bookFrom first glance it looks great and I'll update when I've done one of the walks

http://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/bo...o20709568.html

It covers a lot of the East End but also Bloomsbury and Westminster as well as a couple of walks south of the river.
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Old May 11th, 2015, 08:38 AM
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Loving your report. Did the Little Venice Walk with London walks a week ago - loved it. Also Hampstead walk .
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Old May 11th, 2015, 03:39 PM
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HI Northie,I was just checking out your trip report. You are well ahead of me I've never been to Little Venice! Great to hear you made it to Sissinghurst too.

On the topic of garden I've just booked to see the Gardens at Highgrove which have been on my wishlist for years. To be honest I'm less interested in the royal connection (Prince Charles) than the garden design. Having seen some modern French gardens in the Dordogne I'm interested to see the topiary at Highgrove too.

I think we'll combine it with a quick trip to Bath as haven't been there for decades!
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Old May 12th, 2015, 06:55 AM
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High grove sounds fascinating. Last time we went to Bath it rained hard all day and we were miserable . Did love the place though.
We are looking forward to Chelsea Show next week !
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Old May 12th, 2015, 01:05 PM
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Hi again WTB,

Loving your report. I would also like to explore the Docklands Museum/historic area. You mentioned:

"I was here to see one of their permanent exhibits, "London, Sugar and Slavery". Overall I've found very little in London acknowledging (in a critical way) either the history of slavery or Empire, in terms of their link to the development and wealth of the city."

When you get home, you might enjoy reading SUGAR/A BITTERSWEET HISTORY by Elizabeth Abbot which traces the relationship between 16-17 century sugar cane plantations in the Caribbean, the involvement of Britain in the early slave trade, and Europe's insatiable appetite for sugar during this period. The sugar aristocracy was powerful in finance and politics in this era.

Looking forward to your description of Highgrove. I will stay tuned...
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Old May 12th, 2015, 02:54 PM
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I would also recommend the London Walks, Little Venice walk, but NOT if Richard III is the leader. He was awful. His personality is not suited to this sort of thing. Or maybe he was just having a bad day? Who knows. Anyway, be a bit cautious if you see he is on for that day. It is a lovely walk. otherwise...ad then a further walk down the canal path toward Camden, if you are up to it.
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Old May 12th, 2015, 03:40 PM
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Hi AMEMIMI2007,

"I would also recommend the London Walks, Little Venice walk, but NOT if Richard III is the leader. He was awful. His personality is not suited to this sort of thing. Or maybe he was just having a bad day?"

Wow, I feel vindicated because I also had a bad experience with RICHARD III on a Hampstead pub walk last summer. I describe it on Saturday, June 20 in my (warning - lengthy ) trip report.

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-business-.cfm

Long story short - it was a beautiful evening. After a stop at the Hollybush Pub, we proceeded through the town. Then Richard said, "It's Mid-Summer Eve, shall we walk through the Heath?" The latter is a 600 acre park in north London.

We proceeded down a ruddy path (at a 45 degree angle). Luckily one other walker stayed with me. Richard charged ahead leaving us in the gloom - then about 8:30.

We finally caught up with the group - Richard admitted he was lost. When we alighted near the street, I hailed a cab to Hampstead Tube station and returned to central London. I was furious. Immediately emailed London Walks - they were solicitous. Richard emailed me a begrudging apology.

Bottom line - although I did not say this in my complaint , I think that Richard was "on something." His behavior before this event was strange too. My sense is that he is a frustrated actor/writer/musician(?) who thinks his job is beneath him. Just had to vent again.
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