When an old friend that you shared some fabulous memories with on several holidays in the Caribbean asks you to a rum and reggae party, the only answer can be YES! Okay, so it’s not quite as simple as that because said party just happens to be 310 miles away but it’s definitely doable. Plus, with the party being on the outskirts of London, it gave me the opportunity to visit our lovely capital city once more so my partner & I headed off to the big smoke.
It’s been two years almost to the week since I was last in London. I was down in 2016 for Kirstie Allsopp’s Handmade Fair after winning VIP tickets the previous year and getting the bug to go again. Sadly this year, our trip fell the week before so I’m hoping to get there next year. The only problem with that is that we spend a whole day of our trip doing our own thing as my partner stays in London while I head out to Hampton Court Palace. I’m not sure pom pom making or calligraphy is really his thing – ha ha!
So this time last week I was enjoying that gorgeous panorama above from the top of 20 Fenchurch Street, better known as the ‘Walkie Talkie’. The Sky Garden is the highest public garden in London and has spectacular 360 degree views over our capital city. You can pick out lots of famous landmarks and see right out to Wembley Stadium. Oh, and it’s free. There are options to book into one of the restaurants or bars but as we’d just had breakfast, we settled for a drink overlooking the Shard and London Bridge. If you’re heading to London, make sure you book in advance. Tickets are released a week in advance to book a viewing slot for the following week.
So what has this got to do with art? As if I was going all that way and missing out on anything arty. London is full of art, from the amazing architecture surrounding you to the street art plastered all over places like Brick Lane and Camden Town. If you follow me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, you’ll have seen some of it in my posts. We took a quick walk to Carnaby Street to see Ronnie Wood’s Rhino, ‘Spike’ which he painted for The Tusk Rhino Trail which sits beneath a giant mosaic on the corner of Broadwick Street. A trip to London isn’t complete without going to Covent Garden and we also went to see Liberty of London as I’d never been before and wanted to see this beautiful old building which was constructed using the timbers of two old battle ships. It is most certainly impressive.
I also got the chance to visit the Victoria & Albert Museum which had a Frida Kahlo exhibition on, with a huge Frida Kahlo head topped by a crown of flowers in the John Madejski Garden. In the permanent exhibition, you can see a full scale study of The Hay Wain by John Constable, the original of which is in The National Gallery. This study was made to find the general balance of colour and composition of the piece. It’s a looser style than the original but I loved it. You can also see costumes for lots of West End shows like The Lion King as well as the outfits worn by the likes of Chris Martin, Abba, Elton John, Adam Ant, Dame Edna Everage and Fred Astaire. The whole collection is housed within a beautiful building with impressive staircases featuring stunning mosaics.
Along the road from the V&A is the Science Museum which I had a very quick look around before heading to The Royal Albert Hall. Sadly time was not on our side so we were unable to take the tour this time around but if the inside is as impressive as the outside, we’ll definitely be going back for the tour. It was the Last Night of The Proms on the day we visited and there were lots of people scattered around outside having little tea parties waiting for the show to start. The whole place just had a lovely atmosphere and I wish we’d been able to take the group of people on the steps up on their offer to join them.
We also had a quick look in the Natural History Museum which was really impressive. It was so busy and we were running out of time but what we did get to see was amazing. How can you not be impressed by a huge dinosaur suspended in the air above your head? This one for me is definitely worth a revisit and I was gutted to miss the Wildlife Photographer of The Year Exhibition which starts on October 19th.
All in all, our trip didn’t go without any drama. It never does. The trains to the party were on strike all day, I managed to lose not only the travel card we’d just bought but also our room key (both left at the V&A) and our train home was delayed for 45 minutes just as we were about to depart while the police hunted for a trespasser in the tunnel. It never goes smoothly but it was a great four days. There were so many other things I wanted to do and four days is just not long enough. I don’t think we did too badly considering we were really there for a party. We got to catch up with my friends at the party on the Saturday (and make new ones) and another friend on the Sunday in Camden Town, explore a little and make new plans for next time. I’m looking forward to it already.