Tuesday, January 19, 2010

London tourism

Today we took time out to visit London engaging with cultural references from Clare's OU course. We started at the Royal Institution at Albermarle Street (Green Park) to see Faraday's original lab. This was down in the basement: small, poky and distinctly unimpressive.

Then it was off to Bloomsbury to the British Museum where we were able to view the bronze castings from the African city of Benin which were such a surprise to the Portuguese colonialists when they arrived in Nigeria. We also took in the recent Mercian treasure hoard found near Stafford, the Sutton Hoo exhibition and sundry material from Roman Britain. Then we timed out.

Today's view of Trafalgar Square

Finally we were off to Trafalgar Square where we first took in the National Portrait Gallery (Clare wanted to see the new painting of the Princes William and Harry) and then walked round the corner to the National Gallery where we mostly lingered in the Impressionist wing.

I was particularly impressed by the sheer luminance of "Les Andelys, the Washerwomen" by Paul Signac, using Seurat's recently developed technique of pointillism. The picture below really doesn't do justice to the painting's sheer brightness.

Les Andelys, the Washerwomen - Paul Signac

As an aside, the traffic in central London was dreadful: completely gridlocked along Piccadilly and awful along New Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road. Looks like the magic of the congestion charge has long since worn off.

Finally weary from repeated use of our Travelcards and with so much walking around, we took the last off-peak fast train out of Paddington and were back in our flat by 5 p.m.

Clare and Shadow

Here's a little memento of Sunday evening when the cat was showing his usual predeliction for maximum comfort.