Holy cow! We had almost unbroken sunlight today AND a temperature in the 70s! Man oh man. But I've been told the predicted "heat wave" of temps in the 80s will only last two days. Who knows? I don't trust forecasts.
I took a leisurely walk to Victoria & Albert this morning with the possibility of meeting up with one of my online contacts in Julia Kay's Portrait Party. The museum wasn't quite ready to open, and I was enjoying being outside, so I sat on a bench between V&A and the Natural Science Museum and did a sketch inspired by the line of folks waiting to get into the science museum. (I'll post it at Flickr and Facebook.) A woman and her son joined me on the bench and watched me draw a bit. They were from Spain, so we had a bit of conversation, partly in English, mostly in Spanish. It was simple and shirt, so I didn't have to struggle to understand the spoken language which usually goes by too fast for me. (Later in the day I also had a bit of Spanish conversation at a coffee shop.)
When I went into the museum I was still early for the meeting, set for the courtyard coffee shop. So I got a cup of tea and drew a sketch of a woman with two little boys at the next table. Once Valerie arrived, we visited for a good while, then decided we had better draw each other or (pardon the pun) draw the ire of the other portrait party members, who expect drawings at meet ups. After we finished, Valerie went on her way, since she was paying to have her car parked--how much must that cost in London? A lot, I'd imagine. I roamed the museum a bit, including the "cast" courtyard where notable statues, pulpits and other artistic objects are represented in replica. They have a life size plaster replica of Michelangelo's David, which is amazingly large, and it's fun to see him with metal bolts coming out of his back--the various pieces of the cast have to be held together. His hands are enormous.
They also have a replica of the David of Donatello, which couldn't be more different from Michelangelo's, with David in a funky little sunhat and looking like a little boy--which arguably reflects the Bible story more accurately. Another statue, perhaps also by Donatello (they know, but I've forgotten), is of John the Baptist wearing a furred skin tunic. It sort of made me think of my Maltese werewolves!
I sat outside the museum for lunch--tuna and chips--then began the walk along Cromwell Road as I angled toward the Tate Britain Museum. It was an interesting walk, following the map to weave my way through various streets and neighborhoods (nothing in London goes straight anywhere, remember) to finally reach the museum. Along the way I met again some of the streets I'd seen on Wednesday trying to get to King's Road and found, without expecting to, a bookstore I'd read about somewhere--Belgravia Books. A small store but with quite a few books from small literary presses. I decided to buy a nice little hardcover translation of one of the small books Kafka published in his lifetime--A Country Doctor, published by Twisted Spoon Press, which seems to operate in the UK, the Czech Republic, and the USA. But I didn't imagine I'd ever see this book on the shelf in the states so I got it.
One of the streets I walked along, a major street that runs pretty straight for a while, is a good example of the complications of London for foreigners like me. When I first started following the street it was Belgrave Place. Then it became Eccleston Street (and, I think, Eccleston Bridge at one point), then Belgrave Road, which then changes to, or is simultaneously also, Eccleston Square.
(I just made the mistake of watching the forecast--figuring I needed to know if I should carry the umbrella: cloudier with some sun, and cooler than today. Rats. I'll never come back to London in August.)
The Tate Britain is a great museum which I've visited a lot. I never see all of it both because I get sensory overload in museums and because I start getting really antsy to be outside or at least near a window, especially on a sunny day. I visited the Henry Moore sculptures and drew sketches of two of the, then wandered through the JMW Turner rooms--I really like his late unfinished paintings, which are Impressionistic before Impressionism, and some of his watercolor sketches. I also looked at their Blake works on display, some of them illustrations for his books. By that point I was just about maxed out on being inside.
I had afternoon tea and croissant at Ravello Cafe, which I'd never been to before, as well as I can remember, and wandered on toward--of course--Marks & Spencer for a jacket potato and apple supper (which I later supplemented with honey ham from Sainsbury, picked up on my way back to the hotel.) Before that supplement, though, I went back to HMV Music and browsed CDs for a while. Here's my sermon: the surviving members of the Beatles and Pink Floyd and their heirs need to get over themselves! You can buy, for four to six pounds, "classic" records from Creedence Clearwater Revival, Love, Bob Dylan, T Rex. You can buy Pet Sounds, Forever Changes or Electric Warrior. You can buy a two-cd Small Faces compilation with about 50 songs and more than two hours of music. But if you want the Beatles or Pink Floyd cd--records which have recovered their production costs thousands of times over--you're going to have to fork over twelve or thirteen pounds. Yes, yes, I know about the "law of supply and demand," but there is no shortage of these CDs and the artists (and the record companies) ought to feel some kind of responsibility to offer good value to the fans as well. Pricing like that is why a lot of younger music fans "steal" music-- which isn't acceptable either. End of sermon.
Okay, you know how my days here end: a long walk back to the hotel, then collapse (including blogging) in the hotel. Cheers!