|The rest of that London weekend
||[Apr. 29th, 2015|10:33 pm]
Although we had managed to scoop up an extra celebration by spending my birthday in London, the actual purpose of our visit was to celebrate the 70th birthday of two of my cousins - twins, not coincidence. So that's what we did on Sunday: a pleasant family occasion made livelier by the presence of a bonus set of twins, toddlers and the great nieces of the birthday boys. I can't have been the only one who was thinking what a delight it was to be gathered together for something that wasn't a funeral. The Bears are experts at picking the right combination of trains for the smoothest journey, so we arrived home with enough energy to make the final preparations for the arrival of Monday morning's builders (mainly spreading dust sheets around the kitchen and hoping for the best).
Since the Bears needed to be at home dealing with builders on Monday, we deferred the excursion we had planned, and durham_rambler and I set off to amuse ourselves in South Ken: he wanted to visit the Science Museum for the first time since childhood, I wanted to see the medieval galleries of the V&A for the first time since their refurbishment. I had remembered these as being much larger than they were: perhaps because I was thinking of one particular exhibition of medieval ivories, perhaps because I was confused by the seamless presentation of the 'Medieval and Renaissance Galleries' - or perhaps I was thinking of somewhere else altogether. Once I had found my way downstairs into the Middle Ages, I was very happy: unbelievable survivals (Coptic textiles like this tunic) and glittering treasures (this miniature tabernacle, for example) displayed in spaces defined by architectural salvage (though there's probably a fancier term for it when a museum does it):
By the time durham_rambler and I met for lunch at the V & A's café (in the Morris Room, pictured here, though it's a long scroll down), I had seen as much as I could digest, and was ready to walk through London for a bit; durham_rambler had seen half the Science Museum, and was ready for the other half.
We made a detour through the Natural History Museum: a huge tent outside promises butterflies, and there are dinosaurs everywhere, but the process of refurbishment had closed the bird galleries, leaving only a couple of vitrines on show. The display of beaks of all shapes did include the severed head of a puffin, but this wasn't really what I wanted to see. So out into the sunshine. My plan was to visit Holland Park, about which GirlBear spoke highly, and although durham_rambler suggested taking a bus, it didn't look too far to walk. He was right, of course: it wasn't too far, but much of it was not particularly interesting, and I could have made better use of the time in the park itself. Which is not to deny that the walk had its moments:
like this almost random juxtaposition of buildings glimpsed from Queen's Gate. I might have lingered longer in Kensington Gardens, but a gaggle of screaming French children seemed to be everywhere, so I walked straight through, and emerged under the gaze of a winged lion:
After this, Kensington High Street was a long slog. I son't know what I'd expected, but something more glamourous. This was just a High Street like any High Street: there were charity shops, and a whole foods supermarket (none of which had anything I wanted), and there was noise and traffic. The side streets looked more inviting, and with a better map I would have turned off the main road, but I carried on until I reached Holland Walk, a broad tree-lined avenue running between the park and a street of elegant houses, where the horse chestnut candles were just lighting up. From here it was easy to find a way into the park.
The Kyoto Garden was indeed charming, a tiny patch of freshness and calm. The pigeons seemed out of place, as if this wasn't London any more - the solitary moorhen seemed more in keeping. I could have spent longer here, just watching the waterfall, and the huge carp, and the families who had come to visit them, but I was running out of time:
It was a short and pleasant walk from the park to Holland Park tube, with time to dip into Daunt Books (because it would have been rude to walk straight past), and an easy journey home.
It was a good day, full of variety and interest: but I wish I had known about this Eric Ravilious exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery.