The British Art Fair, Science Museum, Ride on a bus and a Picnic

It is Sunday night and David is at the Heathrow airport waiting for his flight to return to Saudi.  We both agree, it seems like he has been out forever!  I rather like this 4 weeks on/2 weeks off routine, as does David.  He is all rested and raring to get back to the grind.

I am mostly packed as I leave tomorrow for Prague.  I will be traveling the next month, and on the 12th I will return to London a couple of days before David comes out for his next “turn around”.  I am looking forward to traveling again.  I fly tomorrow to Prague and will spend my first night at the Holiday Inn hotel right at the airport since I am arriving late…around 10:00 at night…but I got a great price for the ticket!  It was only around $100 on British Airways.

Tuesday morning, I will go into Prague where I found a small studio apartment for 6 nights. I am so looking forward to seeing Prague. The last time I was there, was in 1977 when it was still under communist rule. It was in November.  As a matter of fact, I believe that I celebrated Thanksgiving there.  I was traveling with two Canadians, who I had met in Inverness, Scotland and we made the trip to the Eastern block together.  We were only allowed a 3 days visa to get through Czechoslovakia, as it was known back then, to travel into Poland.

My memories of Prague is it was such a beautiful city but had such a feeling of suppression and gloominess.  The city was heated by coal and everywhere, there was a thin layer of coal dust on everything…the cars, buildings, sidewalks.  The weather was dreary, too.

I am so looking forward to seeing the renaissance of Prague…it will be much nicer weather and hopefully, flowers will be everywhere.  Now, with communism in the past, hopefully the atmosphere will be lighter, cheerier.  I can’t wait!

We had beautiful weather again this weekend!  Friday afternoon, David and I went to the annual British Art Fair.  Our landlords had free tickets and they went out of town this weekend, so generously passed them onto us.  It was booths of 56 art dealers who had paintings, prints and sculptures for sale.  Some of the art was very contemporary but there were some wonderful pieces that I loved….mostly, they were the sculptures.  One gallery in particular, the Beaux Arts from Bath had some lovely sculptures.  I especially loved a large horse one that they had on display.  Another gallery that I enjoyed was John Iddon Fine Art in Richmond. I loved some of the artist that he had on display.  It was fun to dream!  The prices were a tad expensive, especially when you figured the exchange rate….we didn’t see anything less than a $1,000 and they went up from there.  If it didn’t display a price, I figured I didn’t need to know.  You know the saying “If you have to ask, then you probably can’t afford it!”

This art fair was at the Royal College of Art.  It was an area that we hadn’t been in before.  It was right next to Royal Albert Hall, the concert hall that was opened in 1871 by Queen Victoria.  It has a wide variety of performers each year from classical, to pop, to the ballet, to comedy.  The building is done in the 16th Italian Renaissance style, also known as Italianate architecture. The outside of the hall is decorated with an Italian mosaic frieze.  It is quite an impressive building and can seat close to 9,000 people. I am anxious to attend an event there when I get back.  Nearby the Royal Albert Hall were other colleges….the Royal College of Organist and the Royal College of Music.  Both were impressive buildings as well.  It was nice walking past the College of Music as you could hear the musicians practicing.  There is also a concert series at the music college that I hope to attend as well.

Right around the corner from this area is the Albert and Victoria Museum, the Science Museum and the Museum of Natural History on Exhibition Road.  David wanted to go into the Science Museum and since I had taken him to the art exhibit, I thought it was only fair that we go.  It is a large place and we only did part of the first floor….they had steam engines, full size airplanes, the cross section of a Boeing 747….it was huge.  They had an excellent exhibit for the history of the space exploration.  All the museums are free, so I plan to visit a section of one museum a couple times a week until I finish it and can move onto the next museum!  I will have more than enough to keep me occupied here!

Saturday morning, David and I were working on our computers and all of a sudden, we heard drums beating.  I looked out the window and going down the Thames river were several boats being powered by rowers.  It was the annual Great River Race, a 21 mile race that people from around the world take part in.  Some take it very seriously but then there were the more entertaining ones who were dressed up in costumes….a group were in top hats, another had pink tutus and still others all had Mohawks! It was quite an event.

Saturday, was another lovely day. We were going to see the movie Ana Karenina.  We decided to see the matinee show at 3:00.  It is different from the states as they reserve a seat for you when you buy your ticket.  Plus, they don’t have matinee prices on Saturday, except for the first showing in the late morning.  Matinee prices are about $13 a ticket, which is steep and for the regular price, it is close to $20.  We decided to wait and see it when we could pay the matinee prices. I tell you, the exchange rate is dreadful and it is just better not to figure it or we wouldn’t do anything!!!

It was too nice to be inside a movie theater, anyway.  We have these Oyster passes…which gives you unlimited rides on buses and the underground.  We hopped on Bus 11 from Kings Road and road it up to Liverpool Station…it took us through parts of the city that we hadn’t seen….mostly past St Pauls Cathedral.  Liverpool Station is large. It is a train station as well. I don’t think I have ever been to it.  I have been mostly out of Paddington and Victoria whenever I have taken the train.  At Liverpool, there was a lovely statue commemorating the people of England who fostered or adopted over 10,000 children during World War II.  These children were sent from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia, on the Kindertransport, to escape Nazi persecution.  Liverpool station was a central meeting point for many of the new families and the children.

We hadn’t eaten much all day, so decided to make our way back to the Whole Grocer and get some food to have a picnic in Hyde Park.  We hopped the underground and got off at Notting Hill to transfer to High Kensington Road. However, they were doing work on the circle line and it was closed.   It was about a 15 minute walk and we headed toward the store.  On Kensington Church Street, we passed Churchill Arms Pub that had the most amazing flowers I had ever seen!  I just looked up the website to make certain I had the correct name and from the picture I saw, they really decorate for Christmas!!  I can’t wait to share that picture with you!

The day ended with a lovely picnic in the busy Hyde Park. I think everyone was enjoying the good weather since when in London, you don’t know how long it will last!  Dinner was various salads made with quinoa and beans, feta cheese and topped off with a small bottle of wine!  Delicious and another fun memory!

It is time to call it a night. I have a long day tomorrow.  Next time, I will be sharing Prague with you!

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