|Cool London (Millennium Bridge & St Pauls)|
31.5 - LondonVery cold and gloomy, wet and windy (maximum 12º!). We hang around the flat all morning waiting for the rain to stop, and venture out around midday. Aaagh - the wind blows our umbrellas inside out as we battle up the road to buy a local phone SIM at the post office. Back to the flat to activate the SIM ... but there is no mobile reception and I can't top up using my Aus credit card. So it's back on the streets, tube to Southwark, and the TATE Modern.
We have to walk several hundred metres around construction fencing to access the entrance (the vast new extension will open in a couple of weeks), and when we get there it seems crowded and dingy. The cafe is closed for renovation so up to the 6th floor restaurant for lunch - crowded and noisy and no seats with a view. Chicken livers on toast and salt & pepper squid are average, small serves, expensive. Jetlag is kicking in as I drag myself around the exhibits, can't remember when I was last so uninspired walking around a gallery. Anything memorable? Hmmm ... John Heartfield collages, Malevich and Mondrian, Rothko, ummm ...
The weather is still too awful for walking around so we stay at the TATE until 5, then head home. Cup of tea and lie down on the sofa ... Ah, that's better! Libby prepares avocado and mozarella salad with purple sweet potato mash, while we play Boggle and drink wine - it's fun, and I win!
1.6 - London
|Bob & Chris at the Foundling Museum|
At the Library, a display on the history of punk in London (76-78). It's amusing, but makes me realise how very slight it all was, yet seemed so important at the time. Do prefer the US new wave that influenced the Brits - Patti Smith, Television, Talking Heads and Ramones.
At the Foundling Museum (wonderful and poignant museum in itself), an exhibition called 'Found' curated by Cornelia Parker. It's patchy, but some lovely things, based on found objects. Lunch at a dodgy corner diner doing Lebanese and Moroccan kebabs - it's fresh, tasty and cheap. Then the Wellcome Collection, another wonderful space (free entry) with permanent and temporary exhibitions - Voice and States of Mind, both of them a combination of museum display, text, art and artefact - very mod in a lovely old building. A satisfying day.
Quickly back home for a cup of tea and birthday champagne. We decide after all that we will eat at home - smoked salmon and mangoes - it will be more enjoyable and better value than eating out. But first to Camden Arts Centre just down the road for text artist/performance poet (Karl Holmqvist).
It's like being transported back to the 70s, amusing but a little excruciating. The exhibition doesn't impress, nothing new to see. But a show of work from a mid-century Polish couple (Franciszka & Stefan Themerson) is more interesting and charming. Back home for smoked salmon picnic, I torment the family with my 2015 musical 'quiz'.
2.6 - London-Newent
|Me, Auntie Pat and Emily|
A snack of soggy leftover kebab wraps. A petrol stop with the worst servo toilet ever. Bumper to bumper traffic for close to an hour around Oxford. Aaahh - England! The congestion, motorways and endless roundabouts finally give way to country roads lined with blossoming hawthorn, then we are there, in Newent.
Dear Auntie Pat, and a welcome lunch at The Buttery - fishcakes and salad. Pat's granddaughter, Emily, turns up with her new baby, Noah. We walk around the lake and chat, but am feeling weary. It is, however, a beautiful day at last and for that I am thankful.
Newent is a classic pretty village, old buildings wind along a narrow hight street, set in a quaint, slightly hilly, rural landscape. It manages to avoid too much of the 'ye olde' theme park feel, and is a lively, busy community. There is actually wine produced here - I don't dare to buy without a recommendation so play it safe with Italian pinot grigio and Marlborough SB to accompany a picnic (in the lounge room) dinner.
3.6 - NewentWe are staying in the Guest Suite at Pat's retirement village. It's plush and chintzy - flowery pink curtains, pink flower pictures, pink artificial flower arrangement and pink carpet on the bathroom floor. It's very comfortable, although Chris is not impressed with twin beds!
Almost midsummer, it's still quite light at 10pm when we go to bed, and light again at 5am when I wake up. I have finished my book (Paul Auster) and there's no wifi, so amuse myself writing this journal, although not so much interesting to report.
How is the trip so far? Too many airports, and staying in other people's places, and rushing from one spot to the next. I am happy to hang out, drink tea, read, drink wine - but feel we are wasting time if not out 'seeing things'. Staying in other people's places it's easy to feel intrusive, and wonder how to make recompense? But this very feeling seems ungrateful to the gorgeous relatives who make us so welcome. The fact is that Chris and I are so accustomed to our self-containment that the company of others can begin to seem oppressive. And over it all is the expense, the (unjustified) luxury of travelling like this. Discomfort with the sense of entitlement underlying such travel. I think of all the people in the world for whom such angst-ridden indolence would seem ridiculous and an impossible aspiration. I think of our friends who feel the same, ideology perhaps driven by financial circumstance, but I cannot say they are wrong. I think of the Maids' Day Off.
Auntie Pat is a picture of bustling hospitality as she organises breakfast. We only want a little cereal and coffee so she packs up fruit, bread, cheese, eggs and bacon for us to take with us. We won't need to shop today.
|Bunting in Newent|