We're back from a blitz of a trip to London. From Darwin to Diana, the Beatles to the Bard, we covered a lot of ground, thanks to the Tube.
Here's a slice of our jolly good time. After wearily arriving at our hotel, we crashed for a few hours. Being right near Kensington Palace, we then had a lovely stroll through Hyde Park, past so much wide open green space and romping dogs, we felt restored. Especially by the Peter Pan statue.
Nearby is the serene memorial for Princess Diana, where a rolling loop of flowing waters calmed our jet lag immensely. This sculpture by Simon Gudgeon was a welcome sight.
More astonishing was the very near presence of real herons, like this one, who waded a few yards away.
On Sunday, we headed to the Upmarket for browsing and being in the throngs. Unique wares, indeed.
Our daughter found a vintage 1930's collapsible top hat that she had to have. Great signage everywhere, buskers, reggae, and street murals.
Our real destination was Ryantown. As fans of Rob Ryan's work, we had only Sunday to make it to the shop. The narrow street was crowded with flower seller's but we found it!
The big bonus was chatting with the Queen of Ryantown, Cynthia Grandfield, who offered suggestions for places to eat and see in the area. She and her partner are classmates of Rob's, all alums of Royal College of Art. We chatted about teaching, zines, and blogging. Cynthia's son even has a blog! Drawing brings us all together, doesn't it?
From there, we headed to our next important destination: Abbey Road. Our top-hatted Beatles fan found kinship there.
We continued this trail the next day, taking a Beatles walking tour, in which our guide Kevin brought us to a ring of spots, including the local jail where John spent a bit of time, Trident Studios, and a bar where Paul met Linda. He often pulled out vintage photos for effect.
We continued on the bus, passing some interesting public art.
On Tuesday we toured the massive Tower of London, where I was surprised to learn a polar bear was once kept as a pet, and allowed to swim on a chain in the Thames.
Quite a bit of brutal history there, alongside the Crown Jewels. Our heads were spinning.
In need of fresh air, we headed over the Tower Bridge.
After crisscrossing the bridge and admiring the mighty river, it was off to the circus!
We had ringside seats for a most amazing performance. My favorite act was the ringmaster with his budgies, as classic as can be.
The next day we payed homage to Darwin, at the Natural History Museum.
The architecture alone made us swoon. Everywhere a carved monkey, ornate columns, vaulted ceilings.
So many specimens, our eyeballs crossed.
We found a nice bench to commune with the blue whale for a spell.
We visited St. Paul's Cathedral just before evening mass, enough time to say a prayer and be humbled by the sacred space and history. After a hearty pub meal and pint of ale, we hauled over to Big Ben.
Just in time to catch the striking of 10 o'clock.
Time to re-watch some Dr. Who episodes, after spying the London Eye.
On our last day, we headed to the theater for a lively tour of Shakespeare's Globe. A downpour proved a handy example of the conditions experienced by a medieval audience.
Right next door is the Tate Modern which provides a startling welcome for visitors.
I found this piece by Do Ho Suh to be most memorable and brilliant. It thoroughly lifted me to another place.
The entire museum triggered my radar for red. The dotty spaces of Yayoi Kusama delighted me no end.
And we even glimpsed the Beatles.
We crossed the Millenium Bridge in a daze, noticing dark clouds. Got caught in our first thunder and lightning storm, taking refuge in a doorway at Westminster Abbey. The sudden downpour was still no match for the local drought.
The sun prevailed in the end.
We gazed through the puddled gates at Buckingham Palace before making our way to another pub for dinner. Our very last destination was King's Cross Station, of course!
The city is bracing for both the Queen's Jubilee and the Olympics. We missed the real crowds.
Too much to see, not enough drawing time!
I managed to do only a few sketches for the Sketchbook Project.
I think I'm done. Saved the first page for last, a sketch of my mum taking a photo. We have her to thank for our trip. I know she was with us in spirit!
No rest for the wicked.