It’s Spring for real this time! The daffodils are past their prime, but the tulips are just coming up. It’s such a wonderful time to be in London. Or maybe it’s just a wonderful time to not be in Austin with allergy season and round up. I’d usually be on steroids with a rescue inhaler in hand at this time of year, armed with a box of tissues and two allergic pink eyes. I can’t be confined indoors, it’s not a thing. This last week has been a lot of new coffee shops: Peyton & Byrne for five hours of research and a slice of Espresso Walnut Cake, Z Cafe for a Pain au Chocolat and some gallery reflection assignment and Benugo for a Millionaire’s Shortbread and some travel research. Looking back, it was a highly caloric week, but a fairly productive one. There’s something about sitting near an open door watching London go by.
Our program took us to War Horse this week, a theatrical play put on at New London theatre. If you know nothing of the play, just watch this TED Talk. The horse itself is a masterpiece and I found myself enthralled by the movement and thought that went into designing this character. The play was nearly three hours long, a bit much by the end, but I did enjoy it.
I had a presentation on Friday, in which my voice shook violently for the first minute so that was fun, but I made it through and I’m just glad to have that bit out of the way. One paper, one journal, one bound book and two weeks of classes for the semester. I got this. This semester is unlike any other I’ve ever had. It’s not that I didn’t put in the effort here, it’s that I didn’t need to. I’d debate that school is actually more difficult here because I just don’t feel that. I also really appreciate our rounded education in the States more, but to each their own. We had a special visitor in the studio this week. A pigeon snuck in a window and made a cozy little nest above our desks. He was actually shitting on our art so that was comical. This week also took me to the Courtauld Gallery at the Somerset House which has a serious Impressionist collection. I’m quite find of this movement in particular and this gallery solidified that.
I spent Saturday morning in Shoreditch, the east end of London. It’s a bit rough around the edges, but I can appreciate that. I moseyed through Old Spitalfield’s Market which has it all from jewelry, clothing, and food to home goods and antiques. From here, I found some street markets along Brick Lane and bought a Salt Beef Beigel with mustard from Beigel Bakery. This was recommended by two locals so I had to and I wasn’t disappointed. I’m not a mustard person, but I’m all for trying the local dishes in full. And mustard is growing on me. Did I mention I bought a package of mushrooms and ate mushrooms for a week straight on my salads? My grandma and mother probably have their mouths dropped on the floor right now, I know I know. Who am I?
From the markets I ran to Tower Hill to catch a boat to Greenwich. The ride is somewhere around forty minutes and there is a guide cracking jokes about Scots and pointing out Thamesside pubs along the way. It really was a great way to see London. We passed Canary Wharf, a little city sprawling outside of London with its skyscrapers and many housing developments. Greenwich is a royal borough, one of three, and holds the Old Navy College, which Christopher Wren designed and Sir James Thornhill painted. The walls consist of trompe l’œil paintings, for which he was paid £1 per square yard and the incredible ceiling paid £3 per square yard. It took 19 years and he was never really paid so at one point, he included a self portrait with an outstretched hand on the wall. So cheeky.
We spent a few minutes wandering the National Maritime Museum to see the actual uniform worn by Lord Horatio Nelson when he was killed in the battle of Trafalgar. Nelson is quite a celebrated hero in London as he sits upon a high column in Trafalgar Square and is buried in St. Paul’s Cathedral. He died at war and didn’t want to be buried at sea so his body was pickled in a wine barrel for weeks on the journey home. There are several stories that go along with this, including some sailors unknowingly enjoying this barreled beverage. In the uniform, you can see the hole where the bullet entered his shoulder and went straight to his spine. The bullet is now at Windsor Castle as it was lovingly put on a string for Queen Victoria to wear around her neck. How sweet.
The Royal Observatory in Greenwich was the first of its kind in London, which held the Flamsted House, designed by Wren again, and the Median courtyard. I got to straddle the eastern and western hemispheres so that was neat. We didn’t spend much time here and the tour was going a bit too quickly for my liking, but we had to get the city market before close. We didn’t really as everyone was packing up, but it seemed like many of the other markets in and around London, but with less of the usual suspect Banksy tank tops and wood carved iPhone cases. The rain started so I walked under the Thames via tunnel and hopped on the DLR to Canary Wharf and onto the Jubilee line back to Central London. I plan on revisiting in May when the weather is warm and I can enjoy the 200 acres of parkland.
After quite the long, adventurous day, I returned home to go out to a club with my flatmates. Of course, I was the recipient of some girl’s projectile vomit on the dance floor so I’m probably going to burn my dress and never go back there again. I went for a lovely jog in that park this morning and spent the evening at Little Wu’s Chinese buffet in Chinatown. Though it wasn’t Cedar Park’s China Café, I was content and more than full for once. I don’t have big plans for the next week, but I’ll find a way to make the most of it. Thanks for tagging along on this adventure with me.