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Welltravbrit's London Sojourn - An Ongoing Trip Report

Welltravbrit's London Sojourn - An Ongoing Trip Report

Old May 13th, 2015, 08:00 AM
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Wow, there's tour you'd want to avoid!

Thanks for the advice on the walks and books, I've only read theclassic anthropological text Sidney Mintz's Sweetness and Power.

Yesterday I took full advantage of London, first at a talk given by the architect Norman Foster. You'll know his work, the Gherkin, the roof on the Great Hall at the British Museum, the Millau Viaduct the Hong Kong airport and of course Stansted, anyway I could go on and on.

Yesterday he was talking at a new lecture series at the China Exchange. A friend of mine who's worked with Tibetan activists was very skeptical of these China cultural events but we went along. The whole thing is run by David Tang who founded Shanghai Tang and you had to put up with his sexist remarks, " There are two seats down here at the front for any two beautiful women" really he said that?!! Anyway it is an opportunity to hear a lot of very interesting people speaking right in the center of Chinatown on topics that often engage with what is going on in China or the impact of China. It's not about critical discourse but it was interesting enough and they have some incredible people speaking, we passed on Eric Schmidt from Google the day before, in what is really a very small venue. You can even ask questions as long as Mr Tang deems them intelligent enough! Quite an experience and it was interesting to hear Norman Foster talking about large projects all over the world including the new Apple campus.

http://chinaexchange.uk

Afterwards I headed to Chiswick to see Chiswick House and Gardens. It's a little over a mile to walk from Turnham Green Tube which is on the District Line. The neighborhood is leafy and green and quite affluent, small houses now worth a fortune which is the familiar story even this far out!

The gardens are charming and the house is very important architecturally as a significant Palladian style villa and one of the first after Indigo Jones' work including Queens House. I'm quite interested in this period architecturally particularly having visited Vicenza in Italy a few years ago to see a number of Palladio's villas including La Rotunda on which Chiswick seems to be modeled. It's quite fascinating how long the revival of neo classical architecture too to take hold across Europe, thus there's a gap between Palladio and Indigo Jones and then between Jones and Burlington building Chiswick. Yes, it's the same Burlington of Burlington House (now the Royal Academy) and Burlington Arcade.

The house was an important salon and connected to various artist and musicians including Alexander Pope, Handel and others. The interior are interesting and there is a good audio guide but the house was in great disrepair and they've had to try to reassemble the collection. I enjoyed it but it's a better place for those who are garden architectural enthusiasts than those looking to see a classically English interior.
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Old May 13th, 2015, 01:11 PM
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Re London walks: we had a delightful woman take our little Venuce walk- it was the day of boat festival so very busy and she was very careful where she took us.
I have done the Hampstead walk on a Sunday morning and the guide was a London based American man- can't remember his name but he was excellent.
I have read the complaint from ladydaytraveller from someone else on that same tour. What a bad experience!
I love archiectecture WBT so would love both the talks and Chiswick. On my list ! It's my dream to go to Vicenzo . Did you see Kevin McLeods visit to that area?
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Old May 13th, 2015, 01:23 PM
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Just returned to this thread and found you've saved me a bunch of research -- I'm heading back to London in 7 days and haven't got anything planned. Will borrow shamelessly. Thanks.
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Old May 13th, 2015, 07:00 PM
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If going to Chiswick, look for Colin Firth's wife's shop:
http://www.treehugger.com/sustainabl...eco-store.html
You might just catch a glimpse of him, too
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Old May 14th, 2015, 07:30 AM
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Please do borrow shamelessly, that is after all the point! Thanks for the heads up on Livia Firth's shop.

Northie, I don't watch much tv so I had to Google Kevin McLeod, but the program does looks very interesting, thanks.

Well it's cold and wet here in London and my intolerance for both reminds me I've been abroad in the sun for decades. I have no desire to go anywhere in the rain, but my husband lured me out for lunch, apparently I'll take bus in the rain if it's going to Ottolenghi, though I'm not sure I'd make it much further than the Spitalfields branch. Menu quite similar to our lunch a few weeks ago, I love this place, casual, fresh, healthy fabulous food (though not inexpensive sigh)and I'm now addicted to the food photos on Sami Tamimi's instagram which is so fabulous. He is Ottoleghi's partner. They have several branches so they're worth checking out.

I've just posted on the Courtauld Gallery which I've been visiting quite a bit. It's such a lovely collection as you'll see from the blog photos. For me the Curtails, a walk round Somerset house and then the Soane Museum with a walk through the Inns of Court is a wonderful day in London and highly recommended.

http://www.somuchmoretosee.com/2015/...ry-london.html

We've been keeping up the lectures and yesterday went to hear the artist Yinka Shonibare talk at SOAS (School for African and Oriental Studies). It's great that they have so much for free and open to the public here in London. It's was so enjoyable to walk through Bloomsbury in the evening, down Lamb's Conduit which is one of my favorite streets in the area and for a quick meal at the Lady Ottoline a rather nice pub on Northington St. It was a lovely evening and everyone was out in the streets in force.

They say the light is lovely in New Mexico and indeed it is but here in London when the sun comes out it is glorious and people respond immediately pouring out of the buildings at lunchtime to gather every possible bit of the brightness during the lunch hour. Here it isn't the quality of the light that makes the difference, but the lightness in the hearts of those who've seen too many days of rain.

So I'm looking out the window and hoping the sun will come back soon!
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Old May 14th, 2015, 08:19 AM
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I'm following along enviously. We'll not be able to do most of these things when we visit in July for 6 nights. I'm determined to get some time at the V&A, at least. Apsley House would be a nice bonus!
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Old May 14th, 2015, 11:54 AM
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Glad you're following along, even a couple of hours in the V&A is magic.
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Old May 14th, 2015, 04:43 PM
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Hi again WTB,

"Who knew there was a second Dejeuner Sur L'Herbes (above) in London? The Courtauld feels like a private house museum, even though it's housed in the enormous Somerset House."

So true. Glad you have the time to really get to know the Courtauld. It is so special.

You also mention a Derain painting. I was particularly impressed with his works shown at the Orangerie in Paris, on the lower level (beneath the Water Lilies) Walter-Guillamume Collection.

Hope the weather improves....
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Old May 15th, 2015, 06:32 AM
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I agree the collection down there is fantastic, it introduced me to an number of artists I was less familiar with, I do love a personal collection, particularly when you get a sense for the collector.
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Old May 15th, 2015, 09:45 AM
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We have bought Ottolenghis food at the Notting hill store - mostly take away there. We had lunch at The Ledbury first - a most beautiful treat - both in same street
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Old May 15th, 2015, 06:23 PM
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Re Last Tuesday Society: there's a great pair of speakers planned for Wed May 27, 6 to 9 pm: Sofka Zinoviev speaking on Lord Berners and Lady Serena Hastings speaking about her father, the Earl of Huntingdon. Two gifted and highly unconventional - even eccentric - noblemen.

Unfortunately I will be gone by the 27th.

The Soane apartments open on the 19th but are booked right to the start of June. Another thing I'd love to see but can't....
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Old May 17th, 2015, 01:25 PM
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Tedgale,
Thanks for the heads up on the May 27th lecture.
We'll do our best not to suggest anything more that you might not be able to make!

This weekend we've been doing a couple of the walks from Rebel Footprints; A Guide to Uncovering London's Radical History which I mentioned above. It took us through areas of London we didn't know at all. On Saturday we went to Bow where we saw some lovely areas, a sikh temple that had been a synagogue and a methodist church and the Bryant and May match factory which was the site of a pivotal strike. On Sunday (today!) we went to Bermondsey, discovering a fascinating history of social activism along the way. I can highly recommend this book to anyone interested in working class history and/or union activism. It really gives you a different history of the capital, taking you into new areas while you do it.

We ended our walk today by heading up to the Thames Path and then eastward to Rotherhithe. We stopped by the Mayflower pub which was packed and then went into the small BRUNEL MUSEUM opposite. We sat down for a cup of tea and the volunteer on duty sat down to play the piano which was lovely. The museum is very small and we descended to see the entrance to Brunel's tunnel under the Thames. This really was an engineering marvel in it's time and its still in use. It is moderately interesting but you don't see into the tunnel itself as it's currently in use by the Overground. Yes, I know - it's still the overground even when it's going underground! I was glad to see the site as we were Rotherhithe already but I think it would have been disappointing if I'd chased across London just to see this, so make it part of a wider itinerary in the area. If you're thinking of a riverside lunch at the Mayflower make sure to book in advance.
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Old May 18th, 2015, 05:18 AM
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On Saturday we went to Bow where we saw some lovely areas, a sikh temple that had been a synagogue and a methodist church and the Bryant and May match factory which was the site of a pivotal strike>>

Anyone who was up late last night could have seen a film about another pivotal strike, that of the Ford ladies at Dagenham, Essex. Staring amongst others Bob Hoskins and Miranda Richardson [playing a great Barbara Castle] "Made in Dagenham" is the story of the women who went on strike to get equal pay with the men. Set in the 1960s, it has a great sense of time and place.

You can probably still catch it on i-player.

WTB - I've tried to catch up with your London activities but you crammed a lot into the week I was away.
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Old May 18th, 2015, 07:38 AM
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Ooooh, annhig - Is Made in Dagenham still playing in the West End? I still need to watch the film.

>>Here it isn't the quality of the light that makes the difference, but the lightness in the hearts of those who've seen too many days of rain.<<

Love that - and so true! I felt it myself last November when it was quite overcast and rainy most of my trip. But when the sun came out - Glorious!

And I'm from SoCal where the sun <u>always</u> shines!
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Old May 18th, 2015, 10:10 AM
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I love Made in Dagenham and Kinky Boots, two great small British movies though I'm not partial to musicals so I can't comment on their West End incarnations!

I've just posted on the blog, it's a piece on all the great lectures and events you can find in London and how we've put together a whole pile of things put on by different groups as a sort of seminar on architecture/urban planning. there are lots of links and ideas for anyone who is interested.

http://www.somuchmoretosee.com/2015/...resources.html

Today I was at the BRITISH MUSEUM and once again opted for some of the free eyeopener tours, this time the Islamic Gallery and Medieval Europe. The Sutton Hoo cache is fantastic and I'm very interested in Islamic art so that was enjoyable for me. However, I'm always disappointed in the absence of African and Asian objects in the Islamic galleries, after all Islam stretches far beyond the Middle East, Spain and northern India which are the areas normally covered in these exhibits, incidentally it's the same story at the Louvre and the Met.

Incidentally, if you're at the British Museum and you're looking for a quiet cup of tea (out of the tourist madness) I can recommend the modest tearoom at RADA (the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art) on Gower Street just behind the museum. Today they were selling fabulous homemade cakes as a fundraiser for the student hardship fund.
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Old May 19th, 2015, 02:06 AM
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Ooooh, annhig - Is Made in Dagenham still playing in the West End? I still need to watch the film.>>

sorry, LBC, I've no idea. the last musical I went to was the west end revival of Guys and Dolls about 10 years ago.

Do watch the film if you can. The lead is very much like Rita Tushingham and very good but i've never seen her in anything else.
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Old May 19th, 2015, 08:07 AM
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Lead in Made in Dagenham is Sally Hawkins.

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1020089/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1
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Old May 19th, 2015, 08:48 AM
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>>The lead is very much like Rita Tushingham and very good but i've never seen her in anything else.<<

She was also the lead in Mike Leigh's Happy-Go-Lucky, and a minor part in his Vera Drake.
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Old May 19th, 2015, 09:15 AM
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She's been in loads of movies, listed in the link above.
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Old May 19th, 2015, 12:06 PM
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thanks for the link, Mme P. how have I missed her?

I'll be looking out from now on.
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