Saturday, June 19, 2010

London walking

Pater and I have evolved a travelling style that suits us but which makes us the target of family jokes -- we walk and walk and walk. Then we walk some more. Rarely do we resort to public transit. However, we thought we'd be less rigid this visit and since we were going to the Tate Britain for the Henry Moore exhibit (as per the poster above) from our hotel in King's Cross, we took the Tube there, planning to arrive fresh enough to get the most out of the show, then stroll back over the afternoon.

The visit was wonderful, and we feel we've gained some understanding of Moore's work as well as been exposed to the work of a few other artists/sculptors we want to learn more about (Barbara Hepworth and Bill Nicholson above all). We enjoyed a simple lunch of sandwiches and crisps (the Brits really have those gourmet potato chips down pat, don't they!) in the sunny courtyard of the Tate Britain, and felt quite ready for a lovely walk back along the river.

Applying our newfound knowledge, we were pleased to recognize a Moore sculpture along the way. Pater took this snap which, like the one above, he thinks I look great in -- I think, Oh, dear, maybe don't do the white anymore, and lose the cross-body strap, and, hmmm, maybe not the cream tea tomorrow -- honestly, I like his vision of me much better than my own.

Moving along,

we admired some stunning skyline architecture across the river, something I admire about London's energy, although it's often to chaotic effect.

But this scene, for example, of the Battersea Power Station (decomissioned) offers wonderful juxtapositions of light and dark, round and square, columns and blocks -- irresistible!

We even liked the purely industrial when it's not so monumental

Now, if you're alert, and you know London at all, you may know enough to think we're heading the wrong way, considering we're planning to have afternoon tea at Trafalgar Square's National Gallery Cafe. But we hadn't figured that out yet, and moseyed along, remarking on interesting buildings across the Thames
until we sat down for a rest (we'd been walking over 90 minutes by this point, had passed the Chelsea Physick Garden, disappointed that it wasn't yet open for the season. Instead, we settled for a bench in this pretty little riverside park, where Pater happened to remark that he suspected we might be walking in the wrong direction. . . .

So . . . long story short, or at least much shorter than our walk was, we finally recognized that we were now several hours' from our hotel, but at least we could have a lovely walk back through Chelsea and Kensington, stopping for tea and pastries and, eventually, speaking to each other again . . . I knew there were no grounds for blaming Pater, but I can't say that made me happier. We've agreed it will become one of those stories we'll laugh about, and this is meant as a start!
Since then, a Baroque ensemble playing Bach's Art of Fugue in St. Martin's in the Field, The Tempest at the Old Vic, and we've just coming in from the wonderful, energetic, hilarious, even moving Priscilla, Queen of the Desert!
More stories to come. Stay tuned . . .


  1. Wonderful pictures, London looks beautiful, I say succumb to Pater's vision of you, and next time, you be the boss of navigating:).ve

  2. Oh, do have the cream tea! After all, you'll surely walk it off in a couple of hours!

    I remember walking to the Tate from Chelsea while pushing a stroller. Twas one of the best summers imaginable!

  3. Savouring these do get a feel for a city when you walk....and you look perfectly attired, and relaxed!

  4. Hmmm yes - if you had walked along the Embankment from Millbank only as far as Westminster Bridge and THEN took a left and walked up Whitehall you would have arrived directly in Trafalgar Square. Next time!

  5. hey mom!
    Can you pass a message along to dad for me???
    lots of love, megan

  6. LPC: Good advice, thanks! Actually, to be fair to Pater, which I should be in deference to his charming vision, the navigation error was as much mine as his -- I just dearly wanted to be able to blame someone for it!
    Miss C: I can imagine!
    Hostess: It's our favourite way of learning a city!
    Araminta: the trouble wasn't so much knowing where we were going as it was knowing where we were -- I hesitate to tell anyone where we'd imaginatively situated the Tate Britain, but it's nowhere near the Tube Station we actually got off at. . .
    Megan: I've passed your message along and he's smiling. . .

  7. Oh dear, I did laugh at the 'eventually, speaking to each other again ...'. Somehow, NOT being able to blame the other person can just make it worse. And you're right, this will become (it is becoming already) an excellent story! London looks wonderful - love those industrial skylines.

  8. You probably saw more of London than the locals ever do!
    Lovely to see you both, have a fantastic time in Portugal I will rack my brains for a good cream teas place as I promise you the NG is not that good!

  9. Tiffany: Yes, and besides not being able to blame, if I know I'm being petty I feel even crankier . . .
    Alison: I'd love to hear your tea suggestion but we do think the scone quite decent at the NG and the jam and dollop of cream, mmmmm. Plus that lovely strong Builder's Tea and the price is right, no? And just seems so central that it's easy enough to pop in there and have a chance to view a favourite portrait or two . . .

  10. Oh your story reminds me of when we traveled and we would walk and walk and then walk some more around many cities. I remember hours upon hours of walking in London, and the long days in early June just gave us more hours for walking. I do think it is the best way to see a place, and we have spent hours walking London, Paris, Madrid and Lisbon so I am savoring your trip-talk.

    It is nice to have someone to blame sometimes though. The tea sounds lovely and a treat savored all the more with the walking and relaxation of vacation. Envious of the Moore.


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