Monday, November 23, 2009

O, what a lovely day!

It all started at breakfast with card and pressie opening, which brought some lovely surprises. Then we planned to get the train into London, so we walked down to the station. Our first stop was Patisserie Valerie on Piccadilly where we were lucky to get a couple of seats at the 'bar'. Delicious coffee, a croissant and a frangipane tart were consumed while people watching through the window.Then it was time to cross the road and turn into Burlington House. There in the courtyard was the first part of our visit to the current exhibition - Anish Kapoor's Tall tree and the eye. The silver balls reflect the surroundings again and again in a fascinating manner, but also reminded us of Chihuly's glass baubles in the Temperate House at Kew. Having walked all around, we entered the Royal Academy and ascended up the stairs to the rest of the exhibition. It was just stunning with early works such as the pigment sculptures; some mirror-polished stainless-steel sculptures that everyone was interacting with; and the worm-like cement sculptures that make up Greyman Cries, Shaman Dies, Billowing Smoke, Beauty Evoked, 2008-2009 on display for the first time. We also saw Shooting into the corner, an installation where a canister of red wax is fired through a doorway into the room beyond. It sometimes shoots through the door cleanly only to crash into the wall beyond; but it can catch the arch of the door and splat over the room. There is also the stunning yellow square called Yellow that is in fact a 3D sculpture that changes as you walk towards and across it.
But running the entire width of the building is a track carrying a massive lump of red wax that has been moulded as it travels through four doorways, back and forth, slowly and relentlessly. It now looks like an enormous loaf of red bread, and bits that have been shaved off form splatters of red wax by the doorways and up their frames. The 'loaf' must be 3m high and 5m long, at least! We waited for it to enter the first/last room and start reversing back again, which it did so smoothly it was hardly noticeable.

We now had a couple of bits of shopping to do, can't miss such a good opportunity before taking the tube down to Embankment from where we walked over the Hungerford foot bridge to the Festaival Hall. Here we dropped in to a favourite place for tea and cakes - Le Pain Quotidien.  But it was time to walk down to Waterloo and the train home as one last treat was in store. This was dinner at Jamie's Italian which has just opened and if you don't go early you have to queue, which is very boring. We beat the rush and had a great dinner in in this up to the minute venue. And, yes, everyone was queuing by the time we were leaving, though not as badly as during the first few weeks.

So we walked home viewing the Christmas lights that were switched on last week. We passed the brand new Steamer Trading store that opened today. They will have a rooftop coffee shop and restaurant, but not until the new year. The new shop is in the style of the Bodum Shop in Copenhagen - very spacious and minimilist.
Home at last and one more surprise - a lovely bouquet of birthday flowers.
O, what a lovely day.

Patisserie Valerie
Anish Kapoor at The Royal Academy
Le Pain Quotidien
Jamie's Italian

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Moose eating a tree!

During our recent holiday in the Canadian Maritimes we drove along the Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia. Some people warned us that there were probably no moose in the area any more, so we were delighted to encounter this female with her calf by the side of the road, quietly getting on with the business of eating.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Torchlight procession, Guildford

At first the band came playing jolly marching music.

Then, lead by a couple of bobbies, the people carrying lighted torches approached.

They streamed by like a huge snake.

Turning the upper High Street into a river of fire.

Headed for fireworks in Stoke Park.