Exhausted by beauty-Aug 28   1 comment

We started at Euston Station

We got up late and made our way to Oxford Street at around 11:30am to be there when Top Shop opened. We shopped and shopped and found some nice things. After that it was time for lunch, so we went to the street behind Top Shop and had an Epic Lunch at Yo!Sushi. They had a conveyor belt and we just chose what we liked as it went by.

Trying on stuff at TopShop

Yo!Sushi

After lunch, we headed back to the Tube and went to the Victoria and Albert Museum. There is a pedestrian subway directly from South Kensington tube station to the V & A, the Science, and the Natural History museums. It couldn’t be simpler. It’s so very easy to get around this town!

We went straight into the Japan section and I began to lose my powers of speech. Right inside the first door was a rack of samurai sword scabbards. I tried very hard (unsuccessfully, by and large) to take photos of one particular scabbard, but the light was quite low.  Anyway, this had a beautiful silver crab carving at one end, various other sea creatures along the length of it, including a squid and a beautiful octopus whose one tentacle raised a bit, made the loop that a string or thin cord would go through. Then, at the opposite end, an incredible prawn carving (all these ornaments were in silver) which hugged and was incorporated into the end of the scabbard. It’s so much more marvelous than I can describe, I wish I had good photos, but here are a couple.

Scabbard

Prawn end of scabbard

There were also many, many netsuke that were beyond-belief marvelous. Enameled vases, ceramics, and finally an incredible chest that knocked my socks off. This was large, made of wood, and inlaid with brass and abalone – I have a few pictures of this.

Once we had seen the Japanese and Chinese collections, we went into the gift shop adjacent and went through it pretty thoroughly. Then we had a cup of tea in the cafe – which is an incredible space – here is a photo of that, plus one of a stained glass window depicting a figure holding a full-cheek snaffle, of all things!?

Chest border detail

Patron Saint of the Full-Cheek Snaffle

Then, in a bit of a hurry now, we rushed upstairs to the fourth floor and the glass collection. They have quite a few really good pieces of contemporary glass, as well as a stunning collection of historical glass, including important works by Maurice Marinot, one of my favorite glass artists. Oh, my goodness. Each piece was more beautiful than the next. I was quite literally walking from piece to piece with my jaw hanging open, amazed. Here are some photos from the glass collection:

Lissie with Dante Marioni Reticello Leaf vase

van Ginneke/Body Part

Marinot piece that influenced my own coldworking designs

Latticino Plate - very, very Venetian

Lissie says: I love glass sculptures!!!! (she really loved some large Pâte de verre pieces.)

We made our way home and had a quiet evening – pretty wiped out from all the beauty.

 

Posted August 28, 2011 by Evelyn in Uncategorized

August 27   1 comment

Lissie sporting with the buskers

Saturday, August 27

Today we got up and gathered our sacks and went off to the Portobello Street market. This one has got blocks and blocks and blocks of stuff. It sort of starts with antique stalls, which give way to fruit, veg and prepared food stalls, which make way for cheap fashion. However, we didn’t make it all the way to the cheap fashion section…we were exhausted by the time we finished with the food section!

My new stock pin

VATS of Paella

The antique stores, and stalls, are more full of stuff than you can imagine. Some specialize only in antique clocks. Some specialize in jewelry, some in crockery, and others in antique and vintage handbags. One man had a stall which had, exclusively, antique leather wallets, boxes, and handbags.

These were among the loveliest things there, although I have to admit that if I’d had an unlimited budget, I’d have come away from the market with sparkling rings on every finger. It was a wonderland of antique colored stone rings, particularly sapphires – several that were marvelous. They also had at least one ring that had stones of ‘suffragette colors’ – purple, white and green – something I’d never heard of before, but a color combination that was lovely. I did end up getting a sterling silver pin.

We got a lot of produce at the food market, as well as sauce and vermicelli for dinner, and staggered home with full bags in a downpour, having neglected to bring our ‘brollys – d’oh!

Included in those bags were a smart new dress and pair of shoes for Lissie – cute, and real bargains.

We got the goods put away and had time for a cuppa before heading out again for the London Walks British Museum tour. This did not end up to be a good fit for us, as it was very slow paced in one regard, while skipping entire rooms of stuff on the other. It was pretty dry and focused on main points of the roots of Western civilization. Here are a few select photos…

King's Lead Hat

Equestrian frieze from the Parthenon

If we get the chance to go back, which I hope we will, I want to dive into the Department of Asia collections, especially the Chinese, Tibetan and Japanese materials.

We were so exhausted after two hours of scrum – Saturday, probably not the most strategic day to visit the British Museum – that we caught a cab home rather than take the tube. We needed to minimize wear and tear at that point. It was blessedly simple to do. Then we spent the rest of this evening doing laundry and cooking spaghetti and lots of vegetables! Accompanied by an modest bottle of

We liked the equestrian statues a lot

Bordeaux – which I got at the wine merchant next to the Laundrette –  a 2007 Maullin-Péchaud. I left Lissie at home watching TV while I went to get the dried clothes at the Laundrette, but she soon joined me there – having run the whole way (two blocks).

Lissie says: Just watched a TV show on wolves attacking, ee! So, Portobello Rd: Crowded, people not moving intelligently in the

Glass beaker - nice cone

crowd, but still very good stuff there! (But Mom did get caught up in the jewelry section, so tiresome!!) British Museum: would have loved it better if not on a tour. The tour guide droned on and on, and I would have liked to see better or different things, less broken sculptures, and more stuff like the Rosetta Stone (which we did see – and it was beautiful). At the gift shop, there was a lot of Rosetta Stone themed stuff – like mouse pads, tea towels,silk scarves.

At the end we were so tuckered out that all we could do was go home and watch TV.

Posted August 27, 2011 by Evelyn in Uncategorized

August 26   1 comment

Today we rode at Hyde Park Stables. Rotten Row is a GREAT place to ride – basically clear, groomed footing, nice and wide bridle path, enormous ancient sycamores, and so on. (pictures forthcoming when we figure out how to get them 0f Lissie’s Itouch without wifi.)

Our ride was OK, but not great – they put me on a tired or lazy packer… then they were surprised that I could get a good ride out of him…during the trot sets, the lead rider commented that she had never seen him go so well, or give such a good ride. I laughingly told her I’d had a lot of recent experience riding a stonewaller type, so I  had many tools fresh to hand.

Lisbeth and I each had a mounted ‘handler’ or guide. Lisbeth’s guide ponied her horse the whole time. I thought they might drop the lead after we got through traffic and to the wide sand paths of the park, but not so; they retained the lead rope the whole time.

My ‘guide’ dropped the lead early on in the ride (accidentally) and I had to retrieve it from the saddle and hand it back to her. She told me just to keep it. So I was ‘off the hook’, but could not really take much advantage of it.

We had a couple of good trot sets interspersed with walking. At the beginning of the third trot set, however, my guide’s horse took exception at us passing by and aimed a kick at us, which luckily only grazed us…we trotted on, ignoring it; but she then called for us all to stop, as her horse had become unruly and she was ‘afraid to trot’.  So we got cheated out of our third and probably our fourth trot set, because this girl couldn’t…or didn’t know how…to deal with her horse. We ended up walking all the way back and not trotting again.

Very frustrating, considering that she was supposed to be the professional, and also considering how much we paid.  We did discuss it with the manager afterward, but no offer of compensation or partial compensation was forthcoming.

Maybe they’ve had problems with tourists grossly overstating their riding skills; but it was frustrating, especially when it was obvious they had some Very Nice Horses there. All in all, I can’t recommend Hyde Park Stables – unless you know the owner, perhaps – or spend the money to take a lesson first, so they can accurately gauge your level of riding, then follow up with a hack.

In other news, we went over to the British Library in the afternoon, and took our first walk around. There is a lot going on there, and we’ll be going back, since it’s in the neighborhood.   We also made it to
Tavistock Square today, but alas, those pix are also on Lisbeth’s itouch. Here are a few pix from the British Library trip.

British Library courtyard sculpture

Posted August 26, 2011 by Evelyn in Uncategorized

Arrival in London   1 comment

We took the 50 bus from Swanage and then the National Express to London Victoria Coach Station. Our task, was to go over to Victoria train/tube station nearby to pick up Lissie’s Oyster youth ID at the  ‘travel information kiosk’. Unfortunately, there are probably five of these in Victoria T&T. At the fifth (in accordance with Murphy’s Law of finding Public Offices) we finally got the card. I got an adult Oyster card at the same time, and armed with these, we humped our suitcases down another escalator and we got on the Victoria Line, going north. Euston Square was our stop, and we walked right by the Enormous British Library on our way to Cartwright Gardens apartments. The Library is currently having an exhibit on Science Fiction!

We checked in with the building managers, signed some paperwork, and a  guy helped us with my large bag, showed us our apartment, and the ropes of the equipment therein.  He went away and we relaxed and unpacked a bit. Lissie took a shower and then a power nap.

Once we got rested and orientated, we ventured out for some takeaway chinese (green beans, potstickers) and groceries. Now we’re watching Mythbusters while I’m having a glass of Viognier. All is well here; tomorrow morning we Ride.

Lissie says: I am so tired of driving and traveling! I think I am actually allergic to boredom! What do you do for a boredom allergy? If you’re going to say, ‘apply activity to it’,  how do you do that in a tiny apartment? OK, bye.

Note to Lissie from Mama: One word: homework.

Posted August 25, 2011 by Evelyn in Uncategorized

Farewell to Swanage   1 comment

We have been having a lovely, quiet week here…the youth hostel suited our needs quite well and was comfortable, and we loved being able to go to the beach whenever we liked. Today (actually, in about 15 minutes) we’ll walk down that hill for the last time, with our brown suitcases rolling behind us….London bound.

Lissie says: ‘bye, Swanage! I loved your beach!

Posted August 25, 2011 by Evelyn in Uncategorized

August 23   2 comments

Tuesday, August 23

Today we took our all-day trip to Stonehenge, Salisbury Cathedral, the New Forest, and a few other incidental stops.

First, on the way to Stonehenge, our guide drove us by the Knowlton Church site where there had once been a standing ring of stones (now gone) but where there was still the circular moat and doughnut-shaped terrace typical of these rings outside it. Inside the circle was a ruined kirk which had been the center of a town. According to our guide, the town and kirk were abandoned after the Black Plague killed almost all the inhabitants.

Our guide handed out dowsing rods, and I took one. Skeptic as I am, and though I grasped the dowsing rod firmly in my fist, it did twist consistently in my hand twice as I passed over the moat of the ring. In the same direction each time – back toward me (I was walking out of the ring). Most interesting and unexpected!

The other strange thing: I took many pictures of this site. Not one appears on my camera. All the other photos I took from this trip showed up as usual – but there is not one out of the several dozen I took of the Knowlton site. Spooky!

Then, on to Stonehenge.

Crowded, and cold, and wet! (it was raining, and we were a bit underdressed.) These were our main impressions. The stones are very, very, VERY impressive. It is inconceivable that they were raised by human hands/stone age methods. But walking around the stones, viewing them, among so many others, and doing so while so uncomfortable – this was not optimal. I regretted it. I dutifully took plenty of photos from every angle, but did not feel any great love for the site.

However, I didn’t let this influence my actions at the gift shop! I felt fairly sure I wouldn’t be coming back – so I made sure to get plenty of souvenirs!! If I come to England again, I’ll rent a car and go to the Avebury site, where one can still walk among the stones and touch them. But considering how much time elapsed since my last visit, by then, they may have outlawed such license at Avebury by the time I return.

Next, to Salisbury Cathedral. We drove past the site of Old Sarum on the way – a hilltop fortress settlement that predated London by quite a bit, but now just a mound. Our guide said there was a castle there, but according to the guide, it was torn down after no one could come to an agreement about who should pay for keeping it up.

Salisbury Cathedral – what can I say? How to describe it? Exquisite, I think, is as close as I can get. As a person who has spent most of their life focusing on making things by hand, and doing things with care, this was a surfeit of joy. The carving! The stone! The wood! The very cushions that the choristers sit upon – they are gorgeous. I was all agog.

And there is something gorgeous and new in the Cathedral, a font; the Salisbury Font by William Pye – it is BRILLIANT. It is a PERFECT WORK. I don’t say that often, or carelessly. A silent fountain, which flows from four corners (it is cruciform, but ‘old cross’ shape) – the water flows into baffled receivers in the floor, to silence the ‘plash – and the surface, glassy, mirrors the interior of the Cathedral, and the whole thing so quiet and so thoughtful, that it detracts not a bit from the edifice, but only enhances it. I was greatly touched by this work. It actually brought tears to my eyes.

I think I’ll have to make a web album of the photographs of this day, or put them on Facebook – I don’t think I can load them all onto WordPress. But I will post a few. I took a great many photos of the botanical, needlepoint bench-cushions, hoping to copy them at home…the gift shop is missing out on a great thing by not selling the patterns/kits for replicas of these. I will have to do what I can myself.

We had a hasty (delicious!) lunch in the refectory cafe at the Cathedral. We only had an hour and a half at the Cathedral; we could easily have spent 5 or 6 hours, and then come back the next day and looked at everything again, gladly.

After this we headed to the New Forest, where we saw quite a few of the famous Ponies, and not only that, but Fallow deer as http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJ62kB6Hpjo

well – stags, does and fawns! This was gravy, indeed.

Several items crossed off the bucket list in one day – some which we didn’t even know were there!! A wonderful day. We made our way back to the hostel and had a nice quiet dinner and long hot showers. This hostel has been very good to us – tomorrow, Wednesday August 24 is our last full day in Swanage.

Posted August 24, 2011 by Evelyn in Uncategorized

August 22   3 comments

Monday, August 22

Today we were supposed to go to Stonehenge. We got ready, set out, but I underestimated the time our connecting bus would take to get to the tour pickup point and they had to leave without us.

I called the tour company and they were able to reschedule us for tomorrow, for a full day tour rather than the half day we had scheduled for. They were kind enough to credit the full price of the tour we missed, so we only have to make up the difference. So, we had two long bus rides to Bournemouth and back – luckily it was a lovely day and we were in an open-top double-decker bus,

so it was rather exhilarating. Plus, the bus drivers drive very fast and if you sit in the back, it’s not unlike a carnival ride!

Lissie in front of the youth hostel

Tomorrow, we will have to get up very early – our bus to the tour meeting place leaves Swanage at 6:45am.

We bought some carrots and are going to have an all-veggie dinner tonight.

Here’s a link to a short video of Lissie at Durlston Head:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rB7uc4DGe74

I also have a video of the steam train from yesterday

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bx1qFVCmK_s

Tomorrow: Stonehenge, Salisbury Cathedral, New Forest! It is an all-day trip, so we will be back in Swanage around 7:30pm. I’m guessing I won’t get the pix and report posted until the following day, Wednesday – which will be our last full day in Swanage. Thursday we leave for LONDON.

Lissie Says: |It has been a really nice day today, even though we missed our bus to Stonehenge; \i bought a pack of fudge and ate it all on the bus, it was good!

Posted August 22, 2011 by Evelyn in Uncategorized