Thursday, September 7, 2016
As I expected, I had a terrible night. It was hot and the air was simply too still. Seriously...I cannot wait to get to a cooler bedroom. I had awful nightmares (about being robbed), I awoke three times in-between and took forever to go back to sleep. Hopefully, lack of sleep will send me to Dreamland when I am on the coach tonight heading to Scotland.
A Very Busy Morning:
I am amazed at how time flies when I am packing. And packing I did. My room now looks bare. I have now only the few things I will need for the few nights in-between I will spend at this house this month as I travel between Scotland and Oxford and Eastern Europe--with brief appearances in-between here in London. Believe me, it takes enormous organization to stay on top of the varied living arrangements I have made for the next month. It is only my vast experience as a world traveler that is letting me do all of this with cool and calmness what would have driven any one else up the wall.
In-between packing for my move and packing for Scotland, I had my breakfast--(toast with Nutella and peanut butter with tea) and made myself sandwiches for lunch this afternoon (blue cheese, tongue, cheese and pickle) and for dinner tonight (as I shall probably eat at Victoria Coach Station). My red-eye coach is at 10.30 pm. I intend to pop a pill and go straight off to sleep--just as I do on red-eye flights!
With another two big bags of things I will leave at my office at Bloomsbury, plus something else I need to print out (my Application Form for a Member's Card at the Bodleian Library at Oxford), I showered, dressed, and left the house.
Arrival and Lunch at NYU:
I took the Tube to Tottenham Court Road, arrived at my office, placed my materials as intended inside, did the printing I needed to do and went downstairs to the kitchen to make myself some hot chocolate and eat my sandwiches. The Faculty Lounge is a good place to meet my British faculty colleagues and each day I meet a few more--some of whom I know from way back and some whom I am meeting for the first time.
About an hour to two later, I left for the next item on my list.
Off to the Walthamstow Home of William Morris:
Since I am leaving the East End at the end of this month, I am trying to finish seeing all the places on my list that are in this general area. One of them was the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow about which I had heard through a chance encounter with another solo visitor at the Victoria and Albert Museum, a week or so ago. I had never heard of this place, but she assured me it was worth a visit--and what's more, entry is free!
It was easy enough to take the Victoria line to the last stop--Walthamstow Central. It was a swift ride as some of the trains just speed through the tunnels--this one did--while others just crawl--the District Line is particularly annoying in this regard. Anyway, outside, in the bus depot, there are a number of buses to take you to the Gallery. It is possible to walk too, but I am conserving my walking quite judiciously these days. A bus 275 came alone and in about ten minuets, I was deposited at Bell Corner from where the Gallery is about a 100 yards away.
Inside the William Morris Gallery:
It is no secret that I am a devotee of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in general and of William Morris in particular. The three main pioneers of the Movement (Morris, Dante Gabriel Rosetti and Edward Burne-Jones) met at the college in Oxford at which I had done graduate work--Exeter. And it was there that their deep friendships led to the blossoming of what came to be known as the Arts and Crafts Movement. I have had the exquisite pleasure of visiting Morris' home called Kelmscott Manor in Oxfordshire and I intend to go to the Red House in Bexleyheath in October with my new friend Rose who also loves Morris and his work. I also intend to visit his home in Hammersmith on the Thames bank. So a visit to this gallery was a precursor of the other Morris homes I intend to see before I return home.
The Gallery is a museum really to Morris' work--in a building that was his home during his teenage years. He was born in Walthamstow to wealthy parents in a much larger home where he spent his early years. When his father died suddenly when Morris was 13, his mother downsized to this home--which is huge and gracious and uniquely designed with two semi-circular sides flanking a broad hallway. Inside, the rooms lead you through his life and his work with loving care and with such close attention to detail that I was thoroughly enthralled. There is so much to read and so much to see of Morris as artist, designer of textiles, wallpaper, rugs, carpets, drapery, stained glass. There is Morris as illustrator, Morris as publisher (he started the Kelmscott Press whose best-known work was the Complete Works of Chaucer--a first edition of which is on display), Morris as businessman (he initiated and ran Morris and Co), Morris as salesman (he owned a store front on Oxford Street), Morris as lover of nature, of flora and fauna--the list is simply endless. There are references, of course, to Jane Morris (favorite model of the Group) and his future wife, to the tangled relationship that occurred when Jane and Rosetti fell in love, to May Morris (his eldest daughter, a fine embroiderer who became Managing Director of the firm), to the legacy he has left behind. I loved every second in this space.
The home was later bought by the publisher Edward Lloyd after whom the vast park behind the house is named--Lloyd Park. I took a quick turn in it--it has formally-laid out gardens and flower-beds in the front and a more natural landscape at the back. The place was filled with families as the day was hot and everyone wanted to be outdoors. I did not linger long, however, as I had much to do ahead of me.
On the Bus and Train Home:
I took the bus back to Walthamstow and then discovered that I could take the Overground train directly to Bethnal Green--in stead of going on the Tube. There were delays but when the train came, I found out at Bethnal Green that the station was far away from any part of it that I could recognize! So I stayed on it till Liverpool Street, and then took the Tube to Stepney Green from there.
Back home, I made myself a pot of tea and had it with a few chocolate biscuits. It was time to do some more last-minute packing, to type out this blog post and to get ready for my departure. My coach is not till 10.30pm--but once again, I do not intend to leave from here too late or to be on the Tube too late. So, I think I shall leave from here at 8. 30 and do some reading in a café closer to Victoria or in the lobby of the Victoria Hotel (where I have stayed in the past and which I love) before heading off for my coach.
I will not be blogging for the next few days as I will be in Scotland--will catch up with you when I get back in a few days.