Day 2 - British Museum and the National Portrait Gallery
Thursday 16 Jun 2011 - Thursday 16 Jun 2011
I awoke, a I mentioned previously, early this morning and broke my fast with the continental breakfast included with my lodgings: cereal, coffees, juice and toast. Around 8:30 I headed out and stopped en route to pick up a sausage roll, a little bit of pork heaven wrapped in a tasty pastry shell. I hate to think of what my arteries think of me.
I spent most of the morning just gadding about the area, through Holburn and Soho and finally found my way to the British Museum.
It. Is. Immense.
And it is filled with historical treasures that cover millennia. The Elgin Marbles? Seen them. Sutton Hoo hoarde? Yep, that too. More mummies than an embalmers convention? Lewis chessmen? Egyptian cats? Pictish bulls? Roman reproductions of Greek statues? They're all there, too. From kouros to clocks, weapons to arms, obelisks to object d'art, the British Museum is your one stop shop for world history. I was simply amazed at the number of pieces I had seen only in art books that were there in front of me. I loved it!
After the British Museum, I spent a bunch of times wandering again. I had lunch, steak and ale pie, at a lovely little pub called the Princess Louise, after one of Victoria's daughters. No kidney, just steak and an ale gravy tucked into a pieshell. Yum!
After lunch, I stopped at Corneliessen and Son, the coolest little art supply shop you've ever seen. I was tempted to buy a bunch of goodies, but common sense convinced me that it was impractical to carry this stuff around the UK for the next two weeks, so I only bout a couple of small things: a holder for pencil stubs so I can wear them down to the nubbins, and a cap for pencils to keep the lead from breaking.
Other things I saw today- a shop that specialized in umbrellas, which sadly was not open when I first passed it. It rained steadily this morning and I was soaked by the time I reached the British Museum. I considered buying a British Museum umbrella, but decided against it. Later I passed by again and they were open. Very nice, high class brollies, as well as canes, sword canes and shillelaghs.
I stopped at the half price ticket sellers and enquirer whether they had any tickets for Much Ado About Nothing, but alas, there was nothing to be had. So I stopped by the Wyndham Theater box office and found they did have one comp ticket returned, for tomorrow, down in the stalls (that's the front part of the theater to non-Brits). After some deliberation I decided to pay the price and I now have a ticket to see David Tenant and Catherine Tate in Much Ado. Really, can I ask for more? I think not.
On my way. Back to my hotel, I discovered that the National Portrait Gallery was open late tonight, so I spent a couple hours perusing the faces of the famous down the centuries. They had some Sargents (Jonathan Singer, that is), which were amazing, as well of a ton of artists I had never heard of. After seeing these, it makes me want to do some serious oil painting again. Now that I can see what the greats did, I want to try myself.
Finally I made it home and had dinner at the Indian restaurant in the hotel. Now this place has been running continuously since the 1940s as a haven for Indians visiting London, so it was supposed to be good. It was fantastic. I had Lamb Curry Madras which was flavorful, moist and HOT. The Nan was great and made a wonderful counterpoint to the spiciness of the curry.
At dinner I met two gents who owned their own business, archiving film and video onto disk. The work they do is specifically for high end archival use and they were there celebrating a contract they had just secured. We got to talking and ended up sharing a bottle of red in the bar afterward.
Now, the evening Is over and I should head up to bed. After I upload some photos.
EDIT: decided to go with Facebook for photos, imperfect as it is, since the upload system here is not compatible with iOS and no apps are available.