Tuesday, 23 July 2013

London. Hot and Crowded. Hoping for a Cold Bath.

Ceramic from the V&A. Dish with Cobalt blue decoration, Arita, Japan, 1875.
This entry was started when we arrived in London last week but we have had no Internet so now we are in Bath. I have made a couple of entries in hope that I would get a connection somewhere along the line but it didn't happen. If an out of date story is boring just jump to the end.

Arrived in London yesterday to hot and humid weather. Met up with Michael and Jane for lunch and a wander in the Serpentine. The installation made of metal bars representing a cloud didn't do it for me neither did the the show in the galleries. Perhaps I was not in the mood. We'd been up since 3.30 London time. We were pretty tired.

Michael and Geoff

We had a rest, I think we are beginning to crumble, all museumed out. We met up again and went to a small French restaurant in Kensington, a pleasant night, concluded with a gelati.

No Internet in the hotel unless we pay a fortune. funny how those tiny Baltic countries had maps to show you where free Wifi was and all you had to do was log in for free in your hotel.

Well time has moved on and we are still without Internet. We are on the train to Bath for a few days (no wifi yet but the bus from Tallinn had free wifi). We have found London so expensive and we have had to pay for every little service like leaving our bags in the hotel luggage room £14. £9 (approx $13) for the two of us to go a few stations on the underground.

We had a quiet morning (whenever it was in London) but eventually the thought of the city outside got the better of us and we thought we would duck into the Natural History Museum but the lines stretched for miles and they were all standing in the sun. So we went along to the V&A and before we knew it we were up on the sixth floor looking at the new ceramics gallery. I was pleasantly surprised with what they had done but it was hard to follow nevertheless I enjoyed it immensely.  It is so hot in London, with temperatures in the high 20's and we feel hot and grimy.
New display cabinets on the 6th floor ceramics dept
Early Gwynn H-P punch bowl and cups right, Louis Hanssen bowl on left. Nice to know they are next to one another.
Now there are explanations of techniques, here is a display of various stages of transfer printing. I thought these were excellent for explaining things to non potters (and potters too).
This is a terrible image of Lucy Rie's studio. It shows her wheel to the right.
This image is even worse. I felt the display was ill suited here out of context. It lacked any emotional connection to Lucy Rie for me.

Michael and Jane picked us up and Michael kindly booked us all on a visit to the new, tall building called the Shard, it is 72 stories high that we can go up to but the view is amazing, 360° view and trains sliding along the tracks below looked like tiny caterpillars. The planes even seemed to be eyeballing us. There was a quiet little pub near where we left the car so we spent some time there in the shade of an umbrella waiting for some cooling down of the hot afternoon. Michael  drove around the city along the Embankment and popped in at the fossil shop as we sometimes do when here to view the incredible rocks and fossils.
We parked the car in a side street and looked up and up and up.
View of Tower Bridge from the 69th floor
Michael Jane and me with view.

Geoff and I went back and packed before meeting up for dinner in a nearby pub where endless news stories on the Poms winning the cricket, the Tour de France (but missed the golf) went round and round. It has been wonderful to spend time with Michael and Jane. They have been very kind planning our London stop and driving us around. i think we have worn them out a bit. 

Today were were awake early thanks to mysterious phone calls from Australia that never say anything when answered. We went to our favourite second hand bookshop near Gloucester Rd Tube and then I toddled off to the V&A, surprise, surprise.

I was very excited about meeting up with my potting pal Susan who kindly came all the way up to London for the day from East Sussex. Of course we met in the ceramics department at the V&A, she is a member so we were able to have a nice quiet chat and cup of tea in the members' room. We had a lot of catching up to do but did manage to view some of the ceramics on the 6th floor as well. It was a lovely few hours talking ceramics in real life rather than by email. I forgot to take a photograph, too busy talking!!

All too quickly I had to leave to catch the train to Bath. It was stinking hot!!!! I mean STINKING hot!!!! The hottest day since 2006, and about 33-34°C. The train was stifling, it may have had air conditioning but it wasn't working too well. I resorted to buying a loose summer shirt in Paddington Station and was very pleased I did as I would have died on the train in what I was wearing.

The big news of course was that the Duchess of Cambridge had gone into labour and people were gathering outside the hospital and the Palace. We had arrived in Bath, it was so much cooler and we walked from the station to our Georgian Townhouse B&B. We were quite pleased to find ourselves in the basement room which was like a refrigerator. Bath is glorious, lovely mellow, yellow, sandstone buildings. We dumped our bags and were off into the town. It was glowing in the evening light. We have missed the storms that have been about luckily but the humidity and heat has been high.

We wandered about the town feeling relieved to be out of the London crowds. Finding a place to get a cold drink in a reasonable time has eluded us. We waited for ages at one place to be served so decided not to eat there and surprisingly ended up eating in a Moroccan restaurant which proved to be a fortunate choice. We sat close to a very friendly couple from the Lake District and had a very enjoyable evening. We were near the Abbey and during the evening the bells started pealing. We soon realised why when I caught the words "baby boy" on a corner of a tv I could see. I must admit it was rather nice to be in England, I'm no monarchist but most of the Brits are so excited and it was catching to be sitting in a square with the bells pealing joyously. It's been an eventful time.
I took this photo from our table when the bells were ringing.

Today we joined a walking tour through the town. Bob, our guide was fantastic. We met outside the Roman Baths and he took us on a two hour walk all over the town. The walks are put on by the local council for free. It was quite a walk to all the "spots" and Bob gave us a great run down of the history. I don't know where they were last night but by the time we got back to the town centre it was packed with tourist crowds, horrible! We could hardly move and to buy food was crazy. So if you plan to have a holiday in England don't go in July.

We have come back to the house to have a rest, and hope the crowds disperse, then we will venture out into the pretty evening light.

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