Monday, 11 September 2017

From David and Lee

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A Few Days R & R in London

You may remember us commenting that the trip we went on last year was to be our last big one. Well here we are again, doing what we love to do, back in London on our next big adventure. we left NZ lats Sunday and traveled with China Southern via Guangzhou arriving London Monday afternoon local time. We find China Southern an affordable way to travel business class and find them really good. It also means a more rapid dilution of the kids inheritance for which I am sure we will get no thanks. Sorry kids, but there you go. Even with a nice bed in which to relax all the way from New Zealand to Britain it does not entirely eliminate the effects of jet lag and it still takes us a couple of days to get ourselves sorted. 
On previous trips we have seen many of the art treasures of Britain but had never visited the Tate Britain nor another gallery of which I had not heard of before, the Wallace Collection. Now this later proved to be a wee gem and is housed in the former townhouse of the Seymour Family, the Marquesses  of Hertford. The 4th Marquess created this private collection and left it to his illegitimate son, Sir Richard Wallace whose widow bequeathed the entire shooting box to the nation. The collection is housed in some 30 galleries and is magnificent consisting not only of Old Master artworks but many other treasures of a bygone age. The best known painting in the collection is Frans Hals "Laughing Cavalier" but there are others by Rembrandt, Titian, Velazquez and Gainsborough among others. 


The object which caught my eye however was a small table clock made in the mid 1500 s and I consider the a thing of equal beauty to the works of the Masters when one considers how it was made, entirely by hand and with such precision that it still works  almost 500  years later.

This Table Clock was hand crafted nearly 500 years ago.

Wednesday had us back on the tube into central London where it was discovered, under interrogation I may add, that I had committed the cardinal sin in leaving my cellphone back at the hotel. Now I must confess that this was a bit of a blunder on my part as we were to meet our niece and her husband for a meal that evening and the only record of where was on the said phone.  All's well that ends well though and peace was restored following a quick trip back to Heathrow and then back to the Tate Britain where things so trivial were quickly forgotten.
Now the Tate Britain is a magnificent and most worthy of our time. We are both great fans of Turner and Constable and there were plenty of both to keep us happy for quite some time. One little painting though caught my attention, being a bit of a Monet fan, and that was one by John Singer Sergeant of the said Monet.

Monet caught in the act by John Singer Sergeant

Having satiated our appetites on thing cultural we set off to find a watering hole that had been recommended to us near London Bridge, reputed tom be London's oldest and owned by the National Trust. Isn't that cool, the trust finds an old pub just  as worthy of preservation as a stately home. Anyway after a few false turns we were settled in the George Inn with a pint (actually only a half as that is about as much as I can handle after so much abstinence) and a rum and coke for Lee. Now, a to whether it is London's oldest is up for debate as I understand there are a few contenders for this title, and anyway it doesn't matter as this was a grand old lady of about 500 years. There had been a coaching  inn on the site from Elizabethan times and the present one dates from the mid 17th century, about the time old Abe Tasman was having a bit of a skirmish with the Maori's in Golden Bay.
For diner that evening we had arranged to meet Lee's sister's daughter and husband, Katie and Cam, and they had picked the ideal place in the Brasserie Zedel, well worth a night out and with such good company we really enjoyed it. Mindful of our need to return to Heathrow and of an early start necessary in the morrow we couldn't linger too long and so it was not a late night at the Brasserie Zedel but it was still near mid night before we were in bed.

Our flight to Moscow was uneventful except for the need to circle endlessly on arrival due to congestion and so a bit of a late arrival. Nice hotel and by and large so were our travelling companions, all English and all very curious as to why there were these couple of Kiwis who had infiltrated there ranks.
Friday found us on a bus to Red Square, which has nothing to do with  the colour red but with some Russian meaning of Red being something to do with beauty. It is the 870th anniversary of the founding of Moscow this week and big parties are planned for the weekend and so half of the Beautiful Square have been cordoned off in preparation for the festivities. It is nevertheless a magnificent place with St. Basil's Cathedral at one end, Lenin's Tomb on one side and the rym (p. Gum) Department store on the other.

St. Basil's

Lenin's Tomb. 
( This is where all the dignitaries stood during those big military parades that we used to see on TV)

rym Department Store.

After lunch which it's self was quite quirky being our first solo attempt at such in Russia and was in an underground shopping centre. Here they have a fast food chain called My My (p. Moo Moo) where they have precooked meals which you mix and match to your taste and they dish it all up cafeteria style and off you go to your table. These meals a quite good and very cheap. I had one of the best Donner Kebabs that I have had, cost $4 NZ.
Before meeting up with our tour party we decided on a quick flick around rym and what a treat that turned out to be. No thought of actually buying anything, these were all the very best label shops from around the world, but the shopping centre was unlike anything that I had seen before.

The interior of rym, there are two of these galleries each three stories and about 200 m long.
Above is the central antrum where water melons are put to their logical use. 

Last night I was talking to one of our fellow travelers when were became aware that we had both been Artificers in our respective navies and had failed to cross paths by the narrowest of margins at HMS Collingwood he having joined a year previous to me and having failed at the end of his first year in Collingwood had, by mutual consent with HM Navy, sought alternative employment. He did remember one of the Kiwi's of that year who had unfortunately died whilst on a training run one morning. RIP Robin Bennett.

Nearly old navy comrades 50 odd years ago.

Well I feel the need to get something posted and, incomplete as this is, this will have to do as an interim until we recover from the tiredness brought about by all this touring.

All the best and take care,

Oh and I forgot to mention, I see the Makos are back at their winning best.


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