I’m a real creature of habit and it’s been a very very long time that I’ve not published a post on a Saturday so let me first of all assure you that the lack of an update yesterday was a good thing – and I’m not dead or in trouble!
Sometimes change is a positive thing.
Doing the same thing over and over has recently enabled a lot of success – but in the past that also caused me a lot of problems too – so yesterday (feeling a little blue and having taken two sick days during the week) I decided to mix things up a bit and do something I wouldn’t normally do.
Go to London.
My internal narrative told me continually that I don’t like the place – that it’s noisy, crowded, stressful and dangerous.
I was instead going to go to Cornwall or the East Coast.
Maybe some of my feelings about London are true – but I suspect that (as with many other things in my life) this perspective mostly developed for largely subconscious reasons – so I decided to break from my occasionally narrow perspective and try it again.
Also – driving to Cornwall was an expensive eight hour round trip with a large price tag for overnight accommodation (London in contrast is £30 for a return train ticket) and this is something best not done on the spur of a moment. The plan instead would be to do something both cultured and interesting with my day – so I resolved to visit the British Museum and then take in the Tate Modern too.
I started early (after two hours sleep because I was a teeny bit excited) by getting up at 4am. I got ready, drank lots of coffee, walked to Tesco for provisions – and then on to the station before hopping on the first train from Warwick at 6.47am.
When I arrived at Marleybone (which I’ve always thought is quite a nice place) my first impression wasn’t great – mostly because at 8.10am there was a guy just outside urinating in a phone booth. To add insult to injury – rather than it being of the fashioned ‘red box’ variety it had a screen that started at waist height and the only thing hidden from view was his face…
Oddly I could sympathise with his sense of urgency though. A particular theme of my own day had started and I was grinding my teeth about transport for London wanting 30p of my hard earned money for a wee in the station.
I resolved to wait till I find a Starbucks…
I’d decided that rather than use visual GPS maps on my day out I’d choose turn by turn guidance in the Google and Apple navigation apps and see which worked best for me.
The Apple one has little haptic feedback taps on your Apple Watch as you walk that tell you which way to go as well as an audible voiceover (present in both) that cuts into your music to tell you which way to turn when you get close to a junction.
This is when I love having the benefit of owning an iPhone, an Apple Watch and Airpods, because they all combine together in these sorts of situations to form a complete whole that no other technical solution I’ve found does.
When used together they are irritatingly good.
Both apps during the day performed pretty well for the most part – but I found the wrist tapping in Apple Maps a bit pointless after a few miles and moved pretty much exclusively to Google Maps with it’s voice overlay, which overall seemed to do a better job of what I wanted from it.
As luck would have it I soon found one in Regent’s Place Plaza on the first leg of my journey and I stopped off to relieve myself and refill my flask with some hot coffee.
I’ve absolutely no idea where this continual need to go to the loo comes from…
As I wandered along the rather exclusive looking streets nearby with my nectar of life I found myself on Bedford Square in Camden. I had begun to notice that (as with many things in London) that keeping up with the Jones’s – as well as serious ‘one-upmanship’ was alive and well.
Number 2 was clearly proud of its very bold polished brass door number and neatly trimmed topiary.
However next door number ONE wasn’t above flouting its clear numerical superiority and showing once and for all who was boss.
Even though I’d stopped to indulge my secret passion for looking at front doors I was still slightly ahead of schedule. The exhibits at the British Museum didn’t open until 10am – and when I finally arrived at 9.35 I still had time (in the largely empty atrium) for some breakfast (a bag of carrots).
I have to say that I really rather love this place – and I think I’m going to have to come back. To start with the Ancient Egyptian, Syrian and Greek Exhibits I thought that would definitely be my favourites – particularly the wall reliefs, carvings and the full sized architecture.
But then I started finding myself drawn to the pottery – in particular this teeny tiny (about 6cm tall) greek perfume bottle.
I then realised that this kind of thing really piqued my interest and quite unexpectedly found myself lingering much longer than I expected to amongst the nearby Roman pottery collection. The intricate details on these exceptionally lovely little items really caught my eye!
Honestly though these were pretty small fry compared to the main event because I then moved over to the Asian area of the Museum where things really started to take off.
I have to say that Asian and Indian art never ceases to astound me with its cultural intricacy and diversity.
Although I’m not in the least bit religious I have two small buddhas in my house. I can’t explain why but they always calm me down when I look at them.
Imagine how a giant one makes me feel!
The simply overwhelming number of deities and figures of worship in the nearby halls was just wonderful. The passion and artisanship that went into creating these masterpieces of devotion and contemplation is just mind boggling to me.
However – the pottery once again just took my breath away. The skill that it must have taken to create some of the brain bendingly delicate items just beggars belief.
However – I think the absolute stand out items in the whole museum for me were the Ming and Quing Dynasty glass tile reliefs and Cloisonne incense burners.
In contrast, whenI reached the ‘age of enlightenment’ part of the museum, things seemed a whole lot more stuffy then elsewhere.
On the bright side however, my front door fascination was definitely catered for in this area – alongside my willingness to stare endlessly at HUGE KNOCKERS – which could have totally managed to bump number one Bedford Square off the top spot if they were installed by number two.
Maybe somewhat appropriately placed the nearby there was a large helmet – which was a similarly impressive example of metallurgy.
This piece brought me neatly back to the entrance – and I stepped outside into the now bright sunlight to eat the rest of my carrots and munch on an apple. After almost two hours on my feet at the day’s first culturally enhancing pit stop I was now headed to another.
The Tate Modern.
I was a really rather enjoying my culture vulture status!
Join me in part two for pictures of bricks in stacks and you can decide with me whether they’re art or not!