Archive for May, 2017

London, UK

Saturday, 13th May:  Arrived in London after a longer than anticipated flight, via Dubai, with an extra stop at Muscat where the plane refuelled – necessary to avoid the problems of a threatened two hour holding pattern over Dubai. Some very annoyed passengers with missed connections! Apart from that and the usual discomforts of long haul travel, the journey was comfortable enough. Just think of those nineteenth century families, from whom many of us are descended, making the trip to Australia by sea, in cramped conditions below deck, with limited food and water and facing the dangers for all shipping along our coastline at that time. We’re doing this for pleasure. Their journey was from necessity. Stop complaining!

Sunday, 14th May: A visit to Kew Gardens and a much anticipated meeting with an old friend from Wollongong, now living and working in London. Perfect weather and great to catch up and revisit happy times shared with mutual friends. I was grateful to Safia for taking the time out of her busy life to meet up and for suggesting Kew. An interest in plants and the history of botany is one of my failed potential career directions, although it always did seem like a luxury pursuit. We walked through many of the main parts of the gardens, the Palm House, conservatories, rockeries – an amazing witness to centuries of collecting. The tenacity of those engaged in this enterprise – from both the famous and wealthy, like Banks, to the largely forgotten independent collectors across the world, who worked for them – incredible!

I was listening to (sleeping through) Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things on the flight over. It included some of the history of Kew and Banks role, as part of the background to her fictionalised version of events, introducing her story. I’ll have to go back and read it properly – I have a hard copy at home (and, I confess, a digital copy on my Kindle – serious book addiction!).

Anyway, thanks again to my friend, Safia, for sharing the day. I’m attaching some photos, although none of our afternoon tea. The cakes were delicious but it is a shame they don’t make more of it given the history of the location and the hype on their website. I’m sure the staff may have meant well but didn’t seem to have any idea of what they were expected to offer in exchange for what they were charging.

A wonderful day out, however. Thanks, Safia.


Monday, 15th May:  Trapped in the V&A! The weather changed to variable with occassional showers, so a day spent at the Victoria and Albert Museum seemed not too hard to take! Something to everyone’s taste, here: the Arts and Crafts movement including Morris & Co to centuries of clothing fashion, design in all its form, iron work, leaded glass, ceramics (a major feature in parts of London he building’s interiors), casts of ancient buildings, tapestries, fabrics and wall hangings from Asia and the Middle East – a day is hardly enough. Among the clothing fashions, I was interested to find that the dresses I liked best were from the forties – maybe a memory of  clothes my mother wore??. Any way, I’ll attach a few photos.


Tuesday, 16th May:  Meeting up with Keith, today. Heading to Spain and the Picos de Europa, tomorrow. I hope I’ll have some web access while we are there!!

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