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Welltravbrit's London Sojourn - An Ongoing Trip Report

Welltravbrit's London Sojourn - An Ongoing Trip Report

Old May 19th, 2015, 02:30 PM
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She's one of those non-flashy actors that disappear into their roles, why they're so good, but the result is, I think, we don't remember them for themselves.
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Old May 19th, 2015, 03:38 PM
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Hi

(sorry to interrupt!) I noticed the link to your blog, so I clicked on it to read more with interest, and particularly looked to see where in Italy you had visited. When you get a chance, you might want to correct a typo in one of your entries

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giorgio_de_Chirico
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Old May 20th, 2015, 06:35 AM
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And she's back.
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Old May 20th, 2015, 08:25 AM
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Yes, you noticed too. This is not the first. Sometimes I hate being right.
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Old May 20th, 2015, 10:30 AM
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Ahh, sandralist, spelling has never been my strong suit!

We are up in the Cotswolds for a couple of days and I just wanted to give people a heads up for a lovely garden we saw this afternoon, Kiftsgate Court Gardens. It's right next to Hidcote but well worth visiting. It was particularly magnificent as so many of the peonies were in bloom. The view over the Vale of Evesham was idyllic. I'm sure I'll be posting photos on the blog but it could take months to get around to it!
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Old May 20th, 2015, 03:05 PM
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WTB, I've never made it to Kiftsgate, though I've been to Hidcote a couple of times.

I must certainly try harder, but in the meantime, I'll wait for the pics on your blog.

just you make sure you get the spelling right!
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Old May 25th, 2015, 01:27 PM
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WTB, I really like your blog! Lovely photos and good info on some interesting places. I was just perusing your post on the Moreau Museum and, thanks to you, I will add that to the list for the next time I'm in Paris. And, if you did not already know, Moreau was Rouault's teacher, so maybe that's why that one painting reminds you of him.
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Old May 27th, 2015, 03:26 PM
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sfmurphys - so glad you liked the blog and that it was helpful. I was fascinated to hear that Moureau was Rouault's teacher, thanks for letting me know. The Moreau Museum really is very atmospheric, I loved the way it combines the domestic and artistic spheres. I can't think of anything comparable in London though I very much like the Leighton House.

So, we were away for a week (as mentioned above) Cotswolds, Wiltshire, day trip to Bath, lots of gardens and houses, a nice day walking, and a family birthday party. I should probably start a separate trip report but as that may not happen I'll just make a couple of notes here.

LOVED the Lion in Winchcombe and go ta a fab last minute deal. This isn't the prettiest Cotswold town but the pub was really wonderful, stylish, comfortable with welcoming staff, good food and fresh flowers everywhere, including the room. It has been refurbished very tastefully and it has a quiet, elegant charm. Highly recommended. Excellent meal at the michelin starred 5 North, also in Winchcombe.

Loved Highgrove, it's just a magical garden. I wasn't very interested in the royal connection but I have to say I think more highly of anyone who would put so much time (or perhaps money) into creating such beauty. It's very much worth seeing - unfortunately they don't allow photos so it may not make it to the blog.

First time in Bath for decades, we did the Mayor's free walking tour and were very impressed. I liked the Fashion Museum at the Assembly Room too. Enjoyed a day walking from the pub (King John Inn) we stayed at in Tollard Royal, Wiltshire. All rather like Chelsea in the country. A little to precious even for me. I really don't need a Bang and Olufsen phone in my room when I'm staying in a pub! I should have realized how flash the whole place was when our walk took us right past a country pile surrounded by CCTV cameras - apparently Guy Ritchie installed them when Madge was living there!

In the local church we saw a flyer for an open garden a few villages over and I dragged my husband. It was priceless, so much the England of my youth. We may have been the only members of the "public" to stop by as everyone else knew each other. Anyway, the place was in the middle of nowhere and after wandering around and seeing the garden we ate tea and cake on a very nice women's lawn, all donations went to the church roof appeal fund! It was the quintessential English summer experience and we got a great reception, particularly when they realized we were just visiting!

Anyway, enough of this rubbish, this is meant to be a London TR!
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Old May 27th, 2015, 04:48 PM
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I love staying in Winchcombe, and as far as I'm concerned you can include as many open gardens, cake on a nice lady's lawn and wanderings around the countryside as you like. "These are a few of my favor-it things!" Leighton House, too.
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Old May 28th, 2015, 10:29 AM
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Glad I have permission to ramble on!

Ok, here's a post with pictures for anyone who's interested in the Dulwich Picture Gallery which I put up on the blog yesterday. It really is a lovely collection of old masters.
http://www.somuchmoretosee.com/2015/...ry-london.html

Today I had a lovely day and went to the Soane Museum for their new private apartments tour. I highly recommend you get tickets for this free tour. I thought it was the only way to see the newly restored top floor but it seems these rooms are also included in their highlights tour which you can take a couple of times a week for ten pounds. The top floor includes Soane's bedroom, a small oratory, his wife's sitting room and a model room containing models of his own buildings and building models of various classical buildings including a scale model of the excavations at Pompeii.

http://www.soane.org/your_visit/tours/


I think this may be my favorite museum, it's just so delightful and it's such a wonder to find more rooms, what a feast. I've visited so much over the years and I see something new every time. This time I spent some time downstairs admiring the beautiful sarcophagi of Seti the first. For anyone who isn't familiar with the Soane it's hard to describe. It's a jewel box of a museum, packed to the gills with fabulous treasures, sculptures, classical fragments, books, prints and painting. Everything is displayed in a series of connecting rooms and spaces, each unique and interestingly interconnected, many with skylights or views into another room or outdoor space.

Soon was one of the great architects of his age and he left the house int rusts having secured an act of parliament protecting the house and the collection. For me it's a museum that takes you back in time and it is a great introduction to English eccentricity and intellect.

The Soane is always my first recommendation for friends and so much more interesting than most of the standard tourist fare.yesterday I was at Kensington Palace and for me the Soane is a hundred times more interesting.

After the tour and a walk around the museum I headed across Lincoln Fields to the Hunterian Museum which is a museum run by the Royal College of Surgeons.
Here's the link but the website doesn't do the place justice.

https://www.rcseng.ac.uk/museums/hun...ian-collection

I'd heard about this place for years but wasn't really sure where it was but a friend who is a medical anthropologist (and knows me well) said I should check it out. The truth is with three months in London there's no longer any valid excuse not to see the things that have been recommended- how bothersome!

I found the audio tour excellent and would highly recommend it. The museum was fascinating, yes it's full of oddities, the false teeth of Churchill and Babbage's preserved brain. But this isn't just the cabinet of curiosities I was expecting. It's a museum dedicated to telling the story of the history of surgery along with displaying the incredible collection of specimens from the Hunter Collection. There's lots to cover including plastic surgery during the war, the introduction of ether and the professionalization of surgery from it's early and somewhat dubious beginnings in the barber surgeons guild.

What is also great about these two museums is that they are located in one of the most atmospheric areas of London right by the Inns of Court so it's a fascinating area to walk through too.
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Old May 29th, 2015, 03:34 AM
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Luckily we all have different tastes welltravelledbrit- I can't stand the Soames museum - to me it's a collection of beautiful works but so junky and crowded it does head in!
Didn't get to Wellcome museum this time but has medical artifacts -as the Hunterian - I'd be interested to know if it's worth a visit .
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Old May 29th, 2015, 04:35 PM
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Yes, we all do have different tastes which always makes me nervous when I recommend anything to friends! I haven't made it to the Wellcome but a friend recommended it highly. Incidentally I've just found wonderful free audio tours for the Soane on their website for those who are interested.

Continuing my theme of obscure places or things you can visit for free on Wednesday I went on a tour of the GOVERNMENT ART COLLECTION or GAC. It's in an rather anonymous building hidden away off Tottenham Court Rd and it's a fascinating place for those who love to see behind the scenes.

http://www.gac.culture.gov.uk/visit.html

The GAC is the repository for all the art used in ministerial and govt offices as well as Embassies so the tour included discussions about how and where the art goes, how it's chosen etc. When we went downstairs to see the art store rooms the curator explained their purchasing budget is approximately 30,000 a year which wouldn't seem to allow them to buy too much. In another room someone pointed to a Damian Hirst and asked how they'd bought that for 30,000, she shrugged, muttered something about not paying for it and quickly moved on!

hearing about the problems, costs and conservation of works going into Embassies abroad was quite interesting and I enjoyed the quick one hour tour.

After the GAC I headed to 18 Stafford Terrace (off Kensington High street) a house museum which is only open a few days a week. I hadn't called and the tour was fully booked, so I booked for the middle of June. I've learnt my lesson after missing the Arts and crafts era Emery Walker Museum which is now sold out for the season. Unfortunately my second option the roof gardens above the High Street were also closed

http://www.virginlimitededition.com/...ns/the-gardens

I headed to KENSINGTON PALACE with fairly low expectations. I'd read a lot of negative reviews online but it was free with the Art Pass. After all everything else was closed and I didn't have the attention span for the nearby V&A. Well what can I say about Kensington Palace? Primarily that I'm glad I didn't pay 14 quid for the experience!

I get the negative reviews, several of the exhibits are very "experiential" particularly the one on "Victoria Revealed" which tried to get you to se her as an individual - well I think that's what the half empty rooms, the quotes on the carpet and the picture of her mourning clothes in a glass display case with paper cut out vines means!!!??? Really you couldn't make this up.

In a way it does give you some feeling for her as an individual, but is that what is most important about our longest reigning monarch, where is the history here, the empire, the ruling over half the world? Clearly the curatorial staff lived through the postmodern moment in museum studies, there's no definite history anymore, it's all what you see. I get that, but surely we need some socio-political context.

The Kings and Queens's rooms are quite different though my gripe here was that there is almost no information about the art works, furniture, sculptures or tapestries. Though if you ask the staff they can tell you about everything, often with considerable fluidity. Though again, a lot of what they were retelling was designed to tell you about how they lived, clearly this is the trend in museum management and you see the same at the National Trust.

OK enough griping. I did like the William Kent painted staircase which was interesting after seeing his work at Chiswick. there's also a small fashion exhibit which had some lovely outfits worn by the Royals - I particularly liked the outfits worn by the Queen and Princess Margaret in the 50's and 60's. The exhibit ended with a room featuring a number of outfits worn by the late Princess of Wales which hold little interest to me, but you could see that it held considerable appeal to others.
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Old May 30th, 2015, 06:33 PM
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Just returned from 5 nights 6 days in London.

I had no ticket to the Soane private apartments but showed up early and talked my way into a tour when, as apparently happens a lot, some ticket holders didn't show up.

A tip for others who find the tour sold out...

I got to the Courtauld on the last day of the Goya show - the pages of his Witches and Old Women album reunited after 150+ years. Superb, engrossing.

As someone who's seen a lot of period rooms, I found the Geffrye museum of very modest interest. However the setting and the building itself are lovely.

From there I walked (this was a relaxed Bank Holiday weekend jaunt) to Shoreditch, then Spitalfields.

These were a complete revelation.

I was the oldest person in Shoreditch, by a factor of 2. I liked the edgy vibe - might not like it so well after dark.

I wondered who patronizes these hip, noisy clubs in the middle of a Sunday afternoon.

Spitalfields was more sedate and - what shall I say? - wholesome. Still thronging with holiday crowds. I wished afterwards I'd booked for the Dennis Severs house. Skeptical comments I'd read online had deterred me.

Another high point: the Henry Hudson show at the S2 gallery (owned by Sotheby's I believe) in St George St in Mayfair, just off Hanover Square. Google it. Definitely worth seeing if it is still up.

Next door is St George's Hanover Square, the "society wedding" church, in whose pews the homeless kip all the afternoon. They and I were alone there, apart from the rehearsing organist.

I skimped on the V&A this time but got there one "late-opening" Friday evening (I was staying 10 minutes away, off Queen's Gate) for a casual dinner at their cafe. You make a selection of any 5 of their superlative mezze dishes for £8.50. Best dinner bargain I found in London.

I was able to sample only 1 item from the UCL week of cultural events: a walking tour of Soho, built around Jean Cocteau's London stay in 1959, when he painted a Crucifixion mural in the French church of Notre Dame de France in Leicester Place.

The academic who led the tour was a Cocteau expert and the talk was 90% Cocteau and 10% Soho, which was about the right mix, IMO.

As a consequence of taking that tour, I skipped another tour, given every few weeks, called The Seven Noses of Soho, by Peter Berthoud. (Google him too)

Several times I walked from Queen's Gate via Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park to the Green Park and St James's. I actually walked from the Albert Memorial to Somerset House while only walking ONE block on a city street (from the Horseguards to the Embankment).

There are many gorgeous mini-gardens strung along the S side of Hyde Park, including the world's most lavishly landscaped 10-hole putting green. A work of art.

Finally I spent a wet afternoon at the Tate Britain. It's a very odd place, I've decided. Huge and monumental galleries for works (such as the pre Raphaelite pictures) that need a more intimate setting. The collection has an odd patchwork feeling, too - the result, I assume, of being formed mostly from a few large personal bequests.

The Turners (and Constables) alone justify a visit however.

I still left scratching my head. EG Why would the Bloomsbury painters be displayed in any major art museum?
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Old May 31st, 2015, 03:00 AM
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I am shamed by the number of places that you visitors to our shores have seen that I haven't - I would need months in London to catch up with you all.
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Old May 31st, 2015, 03:05 AM
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Tedgale - what a great mini TR, succinct, opinionated and evocative! The Cocteau walk sounds fabulous. Thanks for the heads up on the V&A evening deal and the S2 Gallery. I'd read about the 'Noses of Soho' tour but promptly forgot about it so thanks for the reminder too! I'll add it to the list along with the Marx tour and the Charles Booth poverty map tour.

Isn't Shoreditch great, I wouldn't worry about walking there late at night, the other day I decided to walk back from Old Street and cut through Shoreditch after 11pm. There are so many people on the street, spilling out from the bars, clubs and restaurants that it seems like a safe area to me even as a 5ft tall woman in her forties lol!

On Rivington St. in Shoreditch (right across from Tramshed, which has an unappetizing Damian Hirst cow in formaldehyde suspended above diner's heads) we ate at a lovely little Italian place, Bottega Prelibato. We had a good meal and I'd recommend it. The atmosphere was nice and the homemade pasta was excellent with a number of interesting varieties including dishes from Sardinia.
http://www.bottegaprelibato.com

Next week we've got a reservation in Shoreditch for a hip cocktail bar/jazz venue called Nightjar which looks like fun, once again we'll also be doing our bit to bring up the average age!

Funnily enough I've hesitated on the Denis Sever house too but I want to do a Huguenot walking tour near there so so perhaps I'll trot along. Ottolenghi is just around the corner and I need no excuse to go there!

MY husband was at the Tate a few weeks ago for the Sculpture Victorious exhibit and he was quite ambivalent about the museum. He said that he found the displays rather odd and that the whole place had a half empty feel. I'd been meaning to visit the Turners, yes one more thing on my list! He also enjoyed the Goya exhibit which I passed on.

I made it to the Geffrye Museum fairly soon after I arrived but I'm not sure if I mentioned it here, I would also give it a lukewarm review. It was a nice enough afternoon for me because I can walk from the apartment very easily, but the whole place feel rather rote and it could be updated. They use the whole notion of displaying rooms of the "middling sort" but this seems to be a rather broad classification. I did like several of their rooms but it needs an injection of "wow". Given the surrounding neighborhood i was surprised it wasn't more "designy". However, I've been meaning to go back to check out the garden rooms and I may check out their special exhibit on homelessness.

I think it works best as a destination if you combine it with either a street art walk, a walk along Regents Canal, a trip to Shoreditch or a nice Vietnamese meal on Kingsland Rd. Incidentally I keep meaning to make it to the rather hip restaurant/bar right behind it called Beagle which is right below the Hoxton overland station.

I felt somewhat the same about the V&A Museum of Childhood, it was interesting enough to visit because it's so close but I don't think I'd have been so thrilled if I'd tracked half way across London.
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Old May 31st, 2015, 03:31 AM
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I find it very difficult to get my head around the idea of Shoreditch as a hip tourist destination - when I worked in London about 20 years ago I used on occasion to have to go to Shoreditch County Court and I would get out of the area as soon as possible, whatever the time of day.

How things must have changed!
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Old May 31st, 2015, 04:25 AM
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Did you come across
Boxpark in Shoreditch? I must say that I did a double take when I first saw it. A friend of ours has lived in the area for years. He has also had a beard for years and mutters about bearded hipsters invading the place. He lives near a restaurant that was visited by Prince Andrew and family. There goes the neighbourhood
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Old May 31st, 2015, 04:27 AM
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Shoreditch is also a great place to pick up fashion tips. In consequence of my visit, I am growing a full, square-bottomed "lumbersexual" beard. I can't manage the man-bun look so I'll wear a woollen tuque in summer (easy for us Canadians). My skinny jeans, rolled 3 inches above the ankle, will highlight my retro laced boots and I'll top my paper-thin, deeply scoop-necked T with an open plaid shirt.

I've ordered my nerd glasses and I'm booked for the throat tattoo next week.
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Old May 31st, 2015, 04:45 AM
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You'll also need a bike
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Old May 31st, 2015, 04:51 AM
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http://autolycus-london.blogspot.co....talfields.html
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