For starters, I began my stay in Camden, Amy Winehouse’s old stomping grounds. I arrived with very little sleep into a chaotic and crowded town. To make matters worse I had to wait for two hours to get into my room, which to my horror, involved occupying a top bunk. A phenomenon I am extremely allergic to. I’ve been on over 300 scuba dives, I’ve jumped out of an airplane, I’ve explored the world’s largest cave, but a top bunk is just a bridge too far for me. Go figure. After booking a different Hostel for the next couple of days, I went and gave my first night’s top bunk a try, and dropped off to sleep immediately.
I was jarred awake by my phone only to learn that my third and last functioning debit card had been compromised. Thankfully, we were able to put a block on any further charges, and I was able to maintain ATM usage with PIN. So I can use that card until I reach a relative who has already received two of my replacement cards with a third on the way.
The next day takes me to Wombats Hostel which is a real palace compared to the rather smelly, unkept joint in Camden. Wombats won best English hostel last year. I am so happy to be here, and to be heading over to see an old friend from Bermuda. Joy was doing a Birthday party for her daughter, Allegra, on the last weekend before she returns to Bermuda after twenty-five years in England.
CROSSING THE TOWER BRIDGE TO GET TO THE TRAIN STATION
MORE LONDON TO COME
Joy’s Place & Allegra’s Party
KID’S ENTERTAINMENT – BJ’s Disco Jumpy House
ADULT ENTERTAINMENT – Some really nice vintage Dom Perignon.
As it got a little darker outside the disco lights became visible from the house. Joy and I investigated and found a fully functioning bouncy Disco in her back yard. We proceeded to test it out.
Allegra having delayed going to bed for some time, overheard the commotion and returned to reign over her Disco Kingdom. And rightly so. After all, it was her party.
Having put the icing on the cake, Allegra finally goes off to bed, and I head back to my part of town.
This is what I saw crossing back over the Tower Bridge.
I prefer big cities at night. Those big city lights shine, and all of its flaws just melt away into the shadows.
The British Museum
The British Museum
A well-preserved pharaoh statue
GIANT FIST BUMP – Sans Selfie Stick
COLOSSAL SCARAB – 2nd or 3rd century B.C.
This is one of the largest representations of scarab beetles to survive. It also ranks among the last great statues of any pharaonic deity. This is truly scarabtastic!
THE ROSETTA STONE – Most everyone has heard of the Rosetta Stone and is aware of its importance in the realm of ancient artifacts, but many are unaware as to why other than having the same name as a very popular modern language learning program. That language learning program is a good clue pertaining to its importance.
The Rosetta Stone carries an inscription in different languages which helped decipher the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic script. It is the only surviving fragment of a larger stone slab recording a decree on 27 March, 196 BC.
At the top, the decree was written in hieroglyphics, the traditional script of Egyptian monuments, then already 3000 years old. In the middle, the same decree was written in Demotic, the everyday script of literate Egyptians, and at the bottom in Greek, the language used by the government.
The Rosetta Stone was discovered in mid-July 1799 by soldiers in Napoleon’s invading army at the town of Rashid (Rosetta).
A procession of simply dressed servants brings offerings: sheaves of grain and desert animals to be food for Nebamun. These include a young gazelle and two desert hares. The border at the bottom shows that this was the lowest scene in this wall.
Transport amphorae in the House of the Lyre Player at Pompeii, buried in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79.
BEAUTIFULLY BUT DEADLY
DOOR PANEL – Igbo People – Nigeria – 20th. Century
Cristóvã0 CANHAVATO – Throne of Weapons – 2001
The throne is made of decommissioned weapons collected since the end of Mozambique’s civil war in 1992. This is a contemporary artwork, but thrones and stools are traditionally symbols of power and prestige in Africa.
EASTER ISLAND STATUE
TOWER OF LONDON
NEW TATE MODERN
NEW TATE MODERN MUSEUM
Fernand LÉGER – Two Women Holding Flowers – 1954
Salvador DALÍ – Autumnal Cannibalism – 1936
Painted just after the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, this work shows a couple locked in a cannibalistic embrace. They are pictured on a table-top which merges into the earthy tones of a Spanish landscape in the background. The conflict between countrymen is symbolized by the apple balance on the head of a male figure, which refers to the legend of William Tell, in which a father is forced to shoot at his son.
Piet MONDRIAN – Composition C with Red, Yellow, and Blue – 1935
For those of you scratching your heads at the sight of his work, this composition is a prime example of Mondrian’s astonishingly limited visual language. It consists of just horizontal and vertical lines in black, with planes of white and the three primary colors from which all other colors are derived by mixing. The structure, the order of the elements in a coherent whole and the pure color were meant to suggest an ethical view of society. Each individual element and the configuration to which it contributes were intended to symbolize the relationship between the individual and the collective, or the universal. Hope that helps.
Not all of the art in a gallery is necessarily part of the museum’s collection. I thought these two went together perfectly. There was a photographer to my left, but I think I got the better shot without facial features to distract from the composition.
Wassily KANDINSKY – Cossacks -1911
The cossacks of the title are Russian cavalrymen which you can just recognize from their orange hats at the top right of the painting. However, Wassily Kandinsky believed that paintings did not need to represent the real world. He felt that emotions could be expressed through the way colors and lines were arranged in a painting. He linked musical tones to particular colors and considered color to have a powerful spiritual impact. Can you hear the music when you look at the painting?
ANOTHER INTERESTING COIF AT THE TATE
Pablo PICASSO – The Three Dancers – 1925
The jagged forms of Three Dancers convey an explosion of energy. The image is laden with Picasso’s personal recollections of a triangular affair, which resulted in the heart-broken suicide of his friend Carlos Casagemas. Love, sex and death are linked in an ecstatic dance. The left-hand dancer, in particular, seems possessed by an uncontrolled Dionysian frenzy. Her face relates to a mask from Torres Strait, New Guinea, owned by the artist and points to Picasso’s association of ‘primitive’ forms with expressiveness and sexuality.
René MAGRITTE – The Annunciation – 1930
Salvador DALÍ – Metamorphosis of Narcissus – 1937
According to Greek mythology, Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection in a pool. Unable to embrace the watery image, he pined away, and the gods immortalized him as a flower. Dalí shows this metamorphosis by doubling a crouching figure by the lake with a hand clutching an egg, from which the narcissus flower sprouts.
Cildo MEIRELES – Babel 2001 – 2001
Susumi KOSHIMIZU – From Surface to Surface – 1971
Niki de SAINT PHALLE – Shooting Picture – 1961
Generator Hostel – Dr. Who Floor
1984 – Theater version of Orwell’s classic novel. It’s interesting to see it in London with Big Brother watching in the form of CCTV in every nook and cranny of the city. It’s really kind of creepy, to be honest. It’s fun to play the camera game by checking once and a while whether there is one in close proximity. Usually, the effort will render more than one.
These are groups of three large elevators to transfer large quantities of people to the street level and vice versa. People cram into the back of the elevator, the door closes behind them, the car rises, the door open in front of them and the people march off. It reminded me of an assembly line where the people are secondary to the machinery, their humanity sucked out of them. At least that’s how it felt after seeing 1984.
A little humanity on the walk back to the Generator.
Ronnie Scott’s – After 25 years in London, Joy finally puts in an appearance at this London Jazz institution. Once the little sister of my best friend in Bermuda, she now looks more like my daughter. Way to go Joy!
Jazz After Dark – A less flashy follow up to Ronnie’s, we popped into this spot for a little more entertainment. The music turned out to be quite good.
There were portraits of Amy Winehouse for sale and a dish on the menu named after her. As it turns out, she got her start here in this Soho club.
A LIGHTER SECOND NIGHT OF THEATER
OFF TO AMESBURY
For the second year running, I am making a pit stop in Amesbury to visit Faith, Alexa, Ken, and Charley. Between the beauty of the countryside and the immeasurable hospitality, I am sure to be happy and refreshed when I head off for the Lakes District. Hopefully next year I can actually get some pictures of the Amesbury countryside to include on the blog. My brother Buell and I are discussing a possible rendezvous in old Blighty as he calls the UK. That would be fantastic!
THE COMPASSES INN
Faith and I at the Compasses Inn with Charlie and Ken in the wings.
SOLE MEUNIÈRE – One of my favorites
Alexa, Ken, and Charlie (right to left)
I spotted this growing in a tree on their property the next evening.
The equally visually alluring and tasty dessert.
NEXT DAY IN BATH
A lifetime bereft of New England’s finest fun food, Faith finally feasts upon the holy grail of the crustacean world, “The Lobster Roll”. Fortunately, I found this restaurant last year during my visit so I was able to rectify this impropriety. Perhaps upon returning to New England for a visit, she will indulge in a local version. I will say the lobster roll in Bath is an excellent facsimile of the original US creation. Well done, Burger & Lobster!
A wonderful floral tribute to the Queen’s 90th birthday.
90 YEARS OLD