Another day of much walking but not as much as yesterday. And another day of waking to cloudy skies and chilly air. Strolling along the Serpentine on my way to Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery, I saw ducks of course, but also swans, including a black swan, apparently the mother of the juvenile snoozing just a couple of feet away. The young one still didn't have his full feathering and looked very fuzzy and sort of pale grey. The mother didn't stir when I stooped to take a couple of photos (check them out on Facebook), but when two more men came along and stopped too close, she got up and extended her neck. No hissing or honking or pecking, but it seemed to be a warning.
After morning tea at the Serpentine Bar and Kitchen, I went on toward Hyde Park Corner and the Wellington Arch. I skirted them on the north and walked through Green Park toward Pall Mall, which I don't think I've ever walked along, except maybe the final block or so. Fancy buildings, lots of money. When I was a kid, we pronounced "pell-mell" and Pall Mall (cigarettes) the same way. The English pronounce Pall Mall to rhyme with "pal".
There's always a crowd at Trafalgar, including musicians performing, artists chalking the pavement, and those not-quite-mime performers that often perform on poles and look like they are floating. The National Gallery has several Van Gogh paintings, which were drawing a crowd, and a couple of Gauguin works too. Cezanne, Monet, Toulouse-Lautrec. I sat down near an early work by George Bellows and did a jittery sketch of it (which you can see at Flickr if you like). I roamed a little more, then was ready for lunch. The Potato Project (nor Packet, as I misremembered) was closed, but M&S had a jacket potato for me, which I supplemented with a Devon scone and a pot of tea. Then I walked back down to Piccadilly.
I visited St James's Church there, consecrated in 1684 and designed by Christopher Wren, before he did St. Paul's. It's a small "neighborhood" kind of church, though it would seat several hundred, I imagine. There are burials there, of course, and a sign out front says William Blake was christened there, which is cool for us English majors. At the present there is an art exhibit throughout the church, fifteen or twenty artists all given standing ankhs, each about four feet high, to paint or decorate in their own ways to convey the message they wanted to convey.
I also wanted to browse Waterstones bookstore some more. They have a section just for independent publishers fiction, which is interesting to see, and of course I looked a bit at poetry as well. I finally settled in the book I'd seen there the other day and had been intrigued by--Timeskipper by Stefano Benni, translated from Italian. Not even Foyle's had it (making me wonder if it's out of print, since it's several years old.) Yes, yes, I know, it's the fifth book I've bought here in seven days.
By this time (3:30 or so) there was finally starting to be some actual sun and I wasn't feeling so depressed as this morning. As I headed out again toward Oxford Street for an early supper, I had an odd encounter on the street which may have been my Blakean moment of contact with the spirit world. Who knows? After supper, I worked my way back through Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, stopping three times, I think, to sit on a bench and read in the rare warm sunny air!