Monday, September 9, 2013

A little R & R.....

I had decided that I wanted to do some exhibitions while I was in London, so decided that I would take myself out and about for the next few days. As I had had such a busy week, I didn't go to far on the Monday, I had to return my car to Gatwick, it really is pointless having a car in London when transport is fairly reasonable and relatively easy to get around on. So my day started at the airport and then I caught the train back to Croydon. I thought I would have a leisurely day, just wandering around the town.

It was a gentle day, a little shopping and then back to the house in the afternoon. A quiet evening in and an earlyish night. The next day I went to the V&A.
Glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly

I love this Museum, the mix of exhibits is quite something, Samurai armour to ceramics and all in between, a good eclectic mix. I specifically went as I wanted to see the From Club to Catwalk exhibition which is on and features Fashion from the 80's. The music took me back, and it was interesting to see the influences on fashion at that time, New Romantics, Boy George and a myriad of other groups who set the pace, plus the clubs that they frequented. I worked in a Department store during the 80's, originally as manager of the dress department, Dynasty was THE tv show, so fashion was influenced by that and Princess Diana was also news at that time, so things were beginning to change. I then took over Young Fashion, oversaw the installation of a brand new department and saw the influences slowly filtering into it, Cyndi Lauper, (think bubble skirts and sweatshirts).

The point of me telling you all that is that I think fashion changed dramatically at this point, it started to slowly filter out of London and make its way into the suburbs. Now, shopping in any town is easy and it isn't necessary to go to the city. However, I used to love shopping in London, and so having done the exhibit at the V&A, i walked back to Harrods.

Now there are several things I love to do in London, one is walk everywhere, you see so much more, and I got to know the backroads from Victoria station to Knightsbridge well. The other thing is wander around the top department stores. I used to love the Harrods Sale, and had an account which was always used in the Sale, the first Saturday was always an extra ten percent off so well worth going, and the husband would quake. My first stop would be the shoe department, Ferragamo was my shoe maker of choice, and I bought some beautiful ones in the sales, some of which I still have. The one thing about living in North America is that I have discovered that I have English feet, they are used to being shod in leather, uppers and soles, and not in North American plastic, I don't mean that in a disparaging way, but there is a tremendous difference. The other thing with shoes here, is that I can't find a size that fits.

Anyway, there I am at the doors of Harrods and in I went. Well, the one thing the husband says is that I knew that store like the back of my hand, that is, until they have now changed everything around, and I actually got lost. Absolutely impossible but yes I managed it. It's been a while since I was there admittedly, but I wasn't expecting it to have changed quite so much, the shoe department was so different and I restrained myself, (the husband thanks me), although I had trouble not dribbling over them. I eventually managed to find my way to the Harrods Souvenir department, (as I mentioned, I was Christmas shopping), and bought some items there, then I wanted hosiery which used to be on the ground floor. They have moved it to the first floor, and I had to walk around the store a fair way until I found it.
Harrods Teatowels

Baseball cap

Pug purse

I had a quick visit to the Food Halls, the husband and I used to meet for lunch there quite often but on the whole I was glad to get out of the store. A wander along Knightsbridge to Harvey Nichols was in order and it amused me that things hadn't changed. Tourists amble along without a care in the world and those of us who wanted to get places do what we normally did, walk in the road to get round them.  Harvey Nicks has changed too, and not necessarily for the better, I thought it looked a little tacky. Anyway I had my shopping so decided to go home.

The next day, I was at the Royal Academy. On my walk up to the Academy, I go past Buckingham Palace. There were hundreds of people and the Police were doing their best to clear the entrances to the Palace. I heard them say it was for the Changing of the Guard. Well, I didn't have time to wait and see it so carried on and was waiting to cross the road, when who should come riding past me but the Horseguards!

The Summer Exhibition was coming to an end, and I had purchased my ticket online in readiness. Used to go every year and really enjoyed it, so it was good to get back there and see what art was hanging. I soaked it in and felt inspired, got some ideas for work, but would loved to have taken photos, yes, I could have bought the catalogue, but papers heavy to carry home. I think the highlight of the show were the Grayson Perry tapestries. Exquisite work and the story in them was very interesting, I could have spent a lot longer looking at them, but it was beginning to get hot and stuffy.

I decided lunch was in order and took myself off to probably my favourite store, Fortnum and Mason's. I had been given strict instructions to top up the tea bags! The husband loves F&M's Earl Grey bags so I didn't dare come out empty handed. This is another store that has gone through a makeover, but is still as lovely as ever, I didn't get lost so that was a good thing.

The front of the store is lovely, and the window displays are always good to look at. I managed to miss Mr Fortnum and Mr Mason coming out of the clock on the front of the building. If memory serves me, they used to come out on the quarter past the hour and quarter to.

I wandered the Burlington Arcade, and then up Bond Street, breathing in all the expensive stores, and then popped out onto Oxford Street. John Lewis was my next stop, another favourite. After all this it was time to go home, I was exhausted!

The rest of the week went by gently, dinner out one evening with the gang, we all used to live in the same street and next door to each other and is usually a feature of a visit. I love to see them all, the kids come out too, although now they are married and have families of their own!

Before we went out for dinner we visited Dave and Pauline's house as they had just added an extension on the back so she has a beautiful kitchen and garden area now. It also took us past our old house which hasn't changed since the day we left 10 years ago!!
Our old house!

Graham, Chris, Dave, Dennis, Pauline and Wendy on the new patio

I spent the weekend packing and then was up early on the Monday morning, ready to fly home.

 It's always lovely to see everyone, and this trip was no exception and I had a great time meeting so many people in Birmingham, I think next years Festival will be a lot of fun! Now it's down to getting the details organized!!

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