Monday, September 24, 2012

London



I’ve been mostly offline the past two weeks, although the blog (thanks to the scheduling feature) has been operating normally. We were on vacation in the UK, specifically London with a day trip to Oxford.

We were in London in 1983 for an early 10th anniversary trip. Our oldest was three (and stayed with his grandparents in New Orleans). Our oldest now has his oldest who’s 2 ½ and his youngest who’s four months.

Much in London has changed in the intervening years – and much has stayed the same. What’s definitely changed is that the food has improved dramatically – we didn’t have a bad meal the entire time. For our 1983 trip, we can remember the one really good meal we had.

Some of the highlights:

 Seeing the J.M.W. Turner painting collection at the Tate Britain.

The Lewis chessman exhibit at the British Museum. And the Elgin marbles. And the “Shakespeare Staging the World” exhibit. And walks around Bloomsbury and Russell Squares.

An early Sunday morning walk along the south embankment from Westminster Bridge to Lambeth Palace, home of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Coffee and dinner with two online friends of my wife’s. Face-to-face still trumps online.

The parade through central London for the British Olympic and Paralympic teams. We waved our British flags along with about a million other people.

The evensong service at St. Martin’s in the Fields on Trafalgar Square.

The fireworks display at the conclusion of the River Thames Festival.

Seeing the stage play “Chariots of Fire” at the Gielgud Theatre (our seats were on the stage – we were part of the Olympic stadium). And then seeing Simon Callow in the one-man play “The Mystery of Charles Dickens” (he even did the public reading that Dickens was famous for – the murder of Nancy by Bill Sykes in Oliver Twist).

Hearing my name called while I’m washing my hands in the men’s room at the National Gallery, and turning to find a friend from our church in St. Louis who was in London on business.

Victoria sponge cake at the restaurant in the Crypt of St. Martin’s in the Fields. Twice.

Christ Church College at Oxford (where the staircase and dining hall were used for the Harry Potter movies) and the Dickens exhibit at the Bodleian Library. And the Anglo-Saxon Gallery at the Ashmolean Museum.

The Buckingham Palace tour (the Queen does it first-rate).

Westminster Cathedral (the Catholic one, not the Abbey). I went to pick up a Pilates mat for my wife at a fitness store near Victoria Station and took a slight detour to see the cathedral. I stood in the back while a mass was going on – in Latin.

Walking around the craziness of the Jubilee Market in Covent Garden on a Sunday afternoon.

The weather. The one day London caught any rain at all was the day we were in Oxford – which had sunny skies.

The Edvard Munch art exhibit at the Tate Modern. The Poetry as Image Galleries at the Tate Modern.

The portraits of Charles Dickens and William Shakespeare at the National Portrait Gallery, and dinner at the gallery’s rooftop restaurant overlooking Trafalgar Square.

T.S. Eliot’s grave in Westminster Abbey.

The view from the front door of our hotel: Parliament and Big Ben.

I wanted to see the Tate Modern Museum, but I didn’t expect to fall in love with it. I viewed the galleries on one visit, viewed the Munch exhibit on another visit, and hit it a third time to get a final glimpse of what was my favorite work in the entire museum – Marguerite Kelsey by Meredith Frampton (1928) (pictured at the top).

We also got to see three paintings by Vermeer – one in Buckingham Palace, one in the National Gallery, and the only one privately owned and currently on loan to the Ashmolean in Oxford. That’s about 10 percent of Vermeer’s total output.

I’m just about ready to go back (or maybe that’s residual jet lag).

6 comments:

Maureen said...

What a wonderful time you and Janet must have had! London truly is one of the great cities of the world. . . and now that it has good food, I'm ready to go again.
High tea, anyone?

Linda said...

It all sounds so lovely Glynn. So glad you were able to do this.

jasonS said...

Wow, sounds like a packed and fun trip, Glynn!

Laura Boggess said...

I had goose bumps reading this entire trip. It sounds so lovely.

Diana said...

Oooh, thanks so much for all these delicious details. So glad you could go and that you had such a rich experience. Appreciate being able to to a little vicarious visiting over here on the CA coast.

nance said...

two thumbs up!