Saturday, 16 April 2016


I've been jaunting around London in lovely spring weather, I like the city best as this time of year and in the autumn when the plane tree leaves are dropping. I've no more need to lug a heavy portfolio around the place now that I'm retired, I can just enjoy myself and potter round my favourite places before spending time with our elder daughter when she has finished work.
My favourite gallery is the National Portrait
This young lady had been looking at me from newspaper and magazine advertisements for a while. Hard to resist that expression, those eyebrows and her whip-thin waist!
So I bought my ticket
and had a look at a selection of portraits of Russian writers, actors, poets and composers from the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. It was fascinating, beautiful paintings and informative text; Chekhov painted in Nice where he was staying for his health, Morozov in Paris with a Matisse painting that he had bought as his backdrop.
And a stunning Repin with it's sad story of Mussorgsky.
There are always small temporary pleasures to be found in the gallery such as this little exhibition of items relating to Charlotte Bronte. On display was a pair of her shoes, the tiniest cloth shoes you could imagine, looking more suitable for a child and totally impractical for walking on Yorkshire moorland!
Room 16 is small and square and contained a gathering of unclothed portraits from across the centuries. A bit of a hotchpotch, I thought, although the Nell Gwyn painting is a stunner - small wonder she grabbed a royal!
I met my daughter at the end of the day and we went to the tapas bar in the courtyard of Somerset House where people were sitting at tables enjoying the fine weather. In the evening we went to see 'Sunset Boulevard' with Glen Close. (I'll refrain from giving my opinion in case I offend any Andrew Lloyd Webber fans!) 
The following day I visited another favourite place. I've blogged the beautiful covered courtyard of the British Museum on previous occasions. This week it was crammed with folk, huge groups of school children and students, the latter more interested in their phones than in the objects around them. It was noisy! I escaped upstairs to the print room and to peace and quiet, just the environment to enjoy Francis Towne's watercolours.

My local city of Bath has two independent bookshops. One of the joys of London is that it is full of  of places to see and buy books of all descriptions.

I subscribe to the fortnightly LRB magazine so it's nice to pop into their bookshop just across the road from the museum and look at what they have on display. Just a couple of doors down is the beautiful Enitharmon Press.
I caught the train home feeling pretty exhausted. London life is stimulating, but these days I like it in small batches!


  1. Since you live near Bath, I hope you will be reporting on activities at Bath Fashion Week. The lovely Alyson Walsh has written about that (and will be speaking). Will you attend? I'd love to hear your take on things.
    I've been to Bath on one of those luxurious Orient Express day trips (quite the worthy splurge) and been through the costume museum. Wonderful!

    1. I've not yet booked any tickets for the Bath Fashion Week but should really do so for Barbara Hulanicki since I used to wear a lot of Biba clothes back in the '60's. My daughter's friend is to be giving a 'Thinking Fashion' talk at The Assembly Rooms. I'll be popping into the Fashion Museum to see their 'History of Fashion in One Hundred Objects' so shall take my camera and prepare to blog for you, Michelle!

  2. So many wonderful things vying for your attention! I love the review of the portrait gallery. I once thought I would enter their annual competition and didn't - they keep sending me notices. When I see school buses in front of our Art Gallery I stay away; I know it will be too noisy for me to enjoy a slow meander inside.
    Looks like you had a great time. Time to relaaaax now. Thanks for the tour.

    1. I always enjoy the annual BP Portrait Show, it opens on 23rd June this year, it's one of my favourite exhibitions. Pity you never submitted any work, Melanie. There is an age cut-off, so no chance for me! The paintings last year were seen by the nearly 330,000 people who visited the gallery.

  3. Rosemary, we are in London at the moment as well, and love this wonderful city. We went to a concert at Cadogan Hall with Sir Neville Mariner was conducting to celebrate his 92nd. We are meeting a friend for lunch today, but may just pop along to the portrait looks interesting at the moment from your fascinating post!

    1. Your musical experience sounds a whole lot better than mine, Gary! Isn't London fine at this time of year. Hope you are having a lovely short break.