Tag Archives: London

IT’S GRIM DOWN SOUTH.

I couldn’t think of a theme for this post until I was caught up in the transport chaos that is almost the norm down here. [almost as scary as the Hieronymus Bosch painting seen below] After a lovely weekend I was dropped off a few streets away from  Woking station as the traffic came to a stand still. I was going to catch a train up to London Waterloo to begin my journey home but the station was closed as the lines were blocked due to ongoing weekend engineering works. I was pleased with my lateral thinking and quickly had an E-ticket on my phone for the coach to Heathrow to link in to the tube system. OK the bus was an hour late due to the traffic but once on board the driver skilfully navigated the traffic and dropped me off at Terminal 5. Should I go back to Preston or fly off to the Caribbean?

 

I was down here to see my old friend Mel [a regular walking companion on many of my posts here]  who has had some recent heart surgery and is on kidney dialysis, some people get a bad deal. He was feeling great and looked really well.

I’d arrived at Euston Friday lunchtime, usually I have a break in the British Library but today headed across the road to The Wellcome Collection, ‘the free museum for the incurably curious’.

 

What a strange but fascinating collection – artificial limbs, paintings, sex aids, obesity, pharmaceutical jars, Charles Darwin’s walking sticks, Napoleon’s toothbrush, Everest medicine chest and much more all collected by Sir Henry Wellcome.

The Garden of Earthly Delights from Hieronymus Bosch.

On at the moment is an exhibition Living with Buildings looking at the relationship between our health and the spaces we live in. Included is a painting by Pissaro, Andreas Gursky’s iconic photo of apartments in Paris, the Paimio chair. There is a separate Global Clinic exhibition looking at a new design for simple and sympathetic installations in emergency situations and remote locations.

Oh and there is a nice cafe and an upside down Gormley statue. Quite a place and one I’ll put on my visit list for trips to Euston.

 

Whilst Mel was at hospital Saturday morning I visited the Woking Lightbox for an Impressionism Exhibition. This gallery is only small but seems to organise some outstanding displays and this was no exception…

There was a good selection of paintings but I was intrigued by the previously unknown bronze statues. A glorious infants head [Dalou], a simple peasant worker [Dalou] and a brutal figure [Rodin] drew my attention.

Next door was an exhibition of Elisabeth Frink’s works and when you step in the room you are confronted by …

… the gallery lady on duty felt uncomfortable when alone with this figure.

I joined up with Mel’s wife for a street Korean lunch at Shins, I was confused by the menu and smiling staff so I just opted for a tofu Bipimbap – tasty and filling. The Katsu curry looked good as did the glass noodle soup. Waiting at the bus stop was an experience as we were directly below the cranes working on some new sky scrapers almost as scary as Frinks works. These will completely transform the skyline not necessarily for the better according to local opinion, but they may save some fields being built on.

Sunday morning saw us at the RHS Wisley garden, it was clear and sunny but very cold so we headed to the cafe for hot drinks. A walk around the grounds is always selective but we managed to see the vegetable plot, rock gardens, Bowles corner, alpine houses and the Tropical Glasshouse. The autumn colours were still prominent and I found this a relaxing interlude in a busy schedule, I am envious of having this wonderful place on your doorstep and being able to visit regularly and leisurely to see the changing seasons.

I didn’t fly off to the Caribbean but caught the train to Paddington and a bus to Euston. With all the rearrangements and travel this morning I’d not eaten so I ventured into a Nepalese Restaurant in a nearby side street for a late lunch. https://www.great-nepalese.com/eat/  It was actually quite authentic and made me wish I was back in Kathmandu but I ended up in Preston.

SOUTHERN NOSTALGIA.

I was a student of the ‘sixties’. Living in London, and when not enjoying drug fueled orgies, I acquired numerous strategies for free entertainment to eek out my grant of £10 per week. You didn’t get a lot of orgies on that. Cycling up to Hampstead Heath for sunny picnics, playing football in Hyde Park on Sunday mornings, free theatre tickets from the nurses home, BBC performances when they needed an audience, folk clubs enjoyed over a long solitary cup of coffee, Kew Gardens, British Museum.  You get the idea.

Close to where I lived was Portman Square which hosted The Courtauld Collection [of textile fame] another free facility. Maybe I had to show my university pass but I don’t remember. Often I would come along here and immerse myself in their intimate world of art. A few rooms depicting some of the world’s masterpieces. Medieval religious works, Rubens, Gainsborough, Degas, Pissaro, Monet, Manet, Cézanne, Gauguin, Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec, Seurat, Van Gogh, Matisse, Dufy, Sickert, Mûnter. What a list. Those images have stayed in my brain all these years so it was time to refresh them. The Courtauld is now housed in the imposing Somerset House and has become a major attraction, attracting a considerable entrance fee. But all those mental pictures are still here although they have been diluted by more recent, equally brilliant, acquisitions. The atmosphere is not as personal but the rooms hosting the galleries are elegant in themselves, giving that quintessential English experience. A magnificent spiral staircase connects them, I used the lift.

The pictures below are only some of the ones I remembered, as you will see this is an amazing collection.  Thank you Mr. Courtauld. How many do you recognise?

 

CAMPIN. 1425

 

VAN DER WEYDEN. 1430

CRANACH THE ELDER.  1526

RUBENS. 1613

GAINSBOROUGH. 1778

MANET. 1863

DEGAS. 1871

MONET. 1873

RENOIR. 1874

MANET. 1881

SEURAT. 1886

VAN GOGH. 1889

CEZANNE. 1892

TOULOUSE-LAUTREC. 1892

GAUGUIN, 1897

MATISSE. 1905

DUFY. 1907

SICKERT. 1909

MUNTER. 1909

Outside in the square ice skaters were enjoying an early Xmas. Waterloo Bridge gave a view of the city with all the new high rise buildings and St. Paul’s tucked away. the bustle of Waterloo station brought me back to reality.

Whilst visiting Mel and Pat in Surrey we also crammed in Wisley Gardens, Mercedes Benz test track and showcase building, an exhibition of Turner’s art of the Thames Valley at Woking Lightbox, Asian street food, Polesden Lacy house and gardens, beer and curry at the opening of a new restaurant and a French Bistro. The weather was beautiful, blue skies and sunshine. The colours Autumnal.                                                                                    ***

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On the way back to Euston I visited The Agra in Whitfield Street to prolong the nostalgia. This family-owned restaurant was established in 1954 and was reputedly the first establishment in Britain to install a tandoori oven. As students we would visit for the Tandoori Chicken and Naan Bread. The decoration and toilets have changed little over the years. The food however remains good quality ‘curry  house’  Perfect before boarding the Pendolino.