Saturday, October 29, 2016
Morning Preparation for the Rest of the Day:
Saturday morning, while the rest of London has a much-deserved lie-in, is a good time to catch up on all things lap-topy: such as writing a blog post, responding to email, reviewing plans for the week, etc. After breakfast (which will be bagels with cream cheese and croissants with peanut butter and Nutella for the next few days as I have run out of muesli and do not wish to buy any more as I will be traveling again soon), I had a quick shower.
I then stepped out to Morrisons to buy some goodies for Afternoon Tea as I have a few friends coming over this evening. I bought a Black Forest Cake, some cheese sandwich biscuits from Tucs (as I needed something savory), croissants and bagels for myself and some single cream for my coffee. I returned home, stashed away my eats and cleaned up my kitchen area in readiness for my guests.
I then decided to go out to the Victoria and Albert Museum and see those bits of it that are my favorites as well as the Costume Department for which I lacked time on the last occasion I was there.
On the Tube to and At the V&A:
The V&A is nicely located for where I am now living in Ealing--a single Tube ride (District) takes me there in about twenty minutes. I love the underground tunnel that links the Tube station directly with the Museums at "South Ken". This time, however, instead of emerging at the Sculpture Gallery, I made a detour to the right and found myself in a part of the museum that I do not think I have ever seen: the French Gallery with its Baroque Over-The-Top extravagance of decorative objects--quite seimiar to the ones in the Wallace Collection.
A tour was just winding down in the gallery and I was pleased to catch the last bit of it: a woman in a markedly French accent spoke very competently about the last days of Napoleon and his entanglement with Josephine and later with the Hapsburgs through his marriage with Marie Louise. But from what I could see, there was much more about the history than about the art works--for apart from pointing to a small sculpted bust of Josephine, she showed nothing. Oh, she did point out to a fabulous silver dinner service gifted to Arthur, Duke of Wellington, by the Portuguese government, in gratitude for his victory over Napoleon in the Battle of Waterloo. Marvelously displayed, it is really stops you in your tracks. Clearly, the Portuguese used their slave labor thoroughly in their African silver mines for I recalled a magnificent center piece that arrests the visitor at Apsley House at No. 1 London, a mansion that was gifted by a grateful nation to its then favorite son--it runs the length of an extraordinarily long formal table and is stunning for its size and its craftsmanship.
For the rest of my time in the same gallery, I feasted on eye candy available in the form of a German ivory and walnut table top sculpture depicting the Wisdom of Solomon from the Bible, an occasional table made from mother-of-pearl, a marvelous Sevres porcelain dinner service made for royalty and several gorgeous pieces of furniture that vied for attention with tapestries and other decorative objects. This gallery alone deserves a visit to the V&A and I am glad I spent time in it. The 'discovery' as it were of this gallery made me convinced that no matter how often one goes to such museums, there is still always something new to savor.
I got the news of the passing away of my Dad's second cousin Clifford in Arizona while in this gallery. The wooden benches inside a very intriguing sculpted wooden "globe" made by a co-operative of carpenters in South America provided a handy perch as I digested the news by phone delivered by my cousin Cheryl in Kent. It was sad indeed but merciful and I paused for a few minutes to utter a prayer for him as I moved on.
The next gallery that grabbed my attention was the Costume Department which I had specially arrived to see. It is marvelous how well the V&A documents Western fashion from the 18th century to contemporary times--all the way to the 1980s. There are spectacularly large mantuas which make you wonder how women ever moved in them, cage crinolines from the Victorian Age which make it clear how women wore skirts with so much girth and on to the 20th century with fashion icons such as Mary Quant popularizing the decidedly minimalist mini dress--such a contrast to the abundance of fabric used by women in previous centuries.
From there, I went upstairs to one of my favorite sections: Jewelry. There I found that cameras are no longer allowed--I was glad I took pictures of the lovely silver 'chatelain' which is my favorite piece in this section, a while ago. After Jewelry, I moved into the Silver section (also a favorite) where I viewed, once again the three Rosenborg silver lions in silver electroplate: the originals are in the Throne Room at Rosenborg Palace in Copenhagen where I had seen them with Llew, a couple of years ago. I also moved further into the gallery to see the Jerningham Wine Cooler: a gigantic one that can accommodate up to 117 bottles of wine.
Down the gorgeous ceramic staircase I went--it is also one of my favorites--to have lunch in the most gorgeous café in the entire world: the Poynter and Gamble Rooms on the ground floor. I ordered a coffee and had it with my sandwiches before I walked through the Courtyard with its fountain and its strange sculpture and returned to the tunnel to go back home.
Preparing for Afternoon Tea Chez Moi:
I was all set and ready by 4. 30 for my guests who arrived at 5. 15 pm--Cynthia and Michael followed by Raquel. I had invited several others but travel and Diwali came in their way and they could not make it. We had a lovely two hours together as we tucked into cake and biscuits and the brownies and bakhlava that Cynthia bought. Raquel brought me a fabulous gift: a book on Caravaggio which would not just immortalize the visit we made to the exhibition at the National Gallery but will give me intense pleasure as he really is my favorite artist of all time.
Time flew as we nattered on. My guests loved my place and told me how lucky I was indeed to have found it--and at the price I am paying too (which is really reasonable for what it offers). Indeed, I do wish I had been staying here right from the very beginning, but I know that I have made the most of my time here.
After my guests left at about 7. 30 pm, I cleared and cleaned up and then had a long Face time conversation with Chriselle which allowed us to catch up on so much. The evening arrived and because I had eaten so much for Tea, I skipped dinner. All I had was a cup of soup. It was when I opened my fridge again that I made the late discovery that I had completely forgotten to serve my guests the Lamb Samosas that I had bought specially for them from Southall! That was a very serious Senior Moment for me!
After a bit of TV, I switched the light off and went to bed.
Until tomorrow, cheerio...