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Archive for February 23rd, 2017

London is truly my absolute favourite city in the world….I’ve had a love-affair with this city since the day back in March 2002 when I cautiously made my way from London Bridge station and stepped tentatively onto London Bridge looking downstream. Instant love!

hello london and magic lantern festival

View of the River Thames towards Tower Bridge from London Bridge

After a wonderful adventure on the Isle of Wight I was in transit on my way home in Kent. But first I had to stop over in London, there was much to see and do – 1. go see the fabulous Magic Lantern Festival at Chiswick House and 2. meet my best friend Valy at Guildhall Art Gallery where we were to see that extraordinary and totally amazing sliver of history: William the Conqueror’s London Charter dating from 1067!!! I mean seriously!!

The train hurtled up the line from Portsmouth to London Victoria; 148.6 km’s 🙂 I had mapmywalk on just for fun and it was weird watching myself walking 1 km in 1.20 seconds!! If I had actually walked the distance it would have been 108850 steps!!! Crikey.

Before too long we arrived at Victoria Station. I lugged my bag below ground and onto the Victoria line to Earls Court where I had planned to stay the night at the YHA…my favourite choice of accommodation. I checked in, located my bed (which had been ‘acquired’ by a young lady, whom I very kindly informed had to move to the top bunk.) We swapped bedding, I made sure to put my stuff all over the bed to indicate that it was in use and headed out into the cold and dark to Chiswick House for the Magic Lantern Festival.

Wow!!! What an extraordinary exhibition! when I told my daughter I was planning on going she was aghast….I loathe those lanterns that people tend to send off into the air for arbitrary reasons and various events, and she initially thought “what??? but you hate those things!!” I do and it wasn’t.

Magic Lantern Festival - Chiswick House, London

Magic Lantern Festival – Chiswick House, London

This is the 2nd year that Chiswick House has hosted this amazing festival. The beautifully sculpted and decorated items shone out like a beacon and I’m sure could probably have been seen from space 😉 It was fantastic. My jaw literally dropped at the splendour as I gasped in wonder at each new exhibit. After passing through security the path wove and meandered around the grounds and gardens of the house, weaving between hedges, past the lake, over the bridge, past the house and lit up the night with wonder! I can’t even begin to describe how exquisite each piece was. Lifelike figures, delicate flowers, bold horsemen on charging mounts, magnificent palaces, temples and towering ships in full sail. Magnificent.

Magic Lantern Festival - Chiswick House, London

lifelike figures – exquisite

Despite the ticket sell-out, the venue wasn’t over-crowded and people tended to thin out and then gather in a group at each new wonder. The path was muddy of course and in order to showcase the full splendour of the pieces, there were only intermittent low lights on the ground to guide the way. But seriously there was so much light from the exhibits you hardly needed anything else to guide the way.

Magic Lantern Festival - Chiswick House, London

Magic Lantern Festival – Chiswick House, London

The only downside that I can think of were the food stall sort of half way round and the ‘fun-fair’ and tent and stalls at the end. But even though they were a distraction, they were necessary of course for the venue to generate income to offset the costs of hosting such an event. Well worth the ticket price…which may I add was exceptionally cheap considering the stunning stunning exhibition. I’ll let the photos do the talking.

Sunday dawned more or less bright and of course, being the YHA…quite early. People have no idea how to keep quiet LOL.

I lugged my bag downstairs to the luggage room, prayed it would be okay and stepped out into the then sunshine. I had planned on going to Hampton Court Palace but frankly I was just wayyyy too tired so instead I meandered about the area, just exploring the streets enroute to City of London and Guildhall Art Gallery to view the charter given to the City of London by William the Conqueror soon after he was crowned at Westminster.

colourful houses in london

scenes of London

On the way I visited the V&A Museum…where I saw a fantastic exhibition featuring Lockwood Kipling (Rudyard Kipling’s father), and his time in India…which seemed rather congruent as how I had just the day before visited Osborne House where you can see the influence India had on ‘Empress’ Victoria.

a magnificent Dale Chihuly glass sculpture in the V&A Museum foyer

a magnificent Dale Chihuly glass sculpture in the V&A Museum foyer

Then I popped in at the Science Museum to see the capsule the Tim Peake travelled back to earth in after his stint on the ISS International Space Station last year. Wow!!! Amazing. The Science Museum is a particular favourite of mine and I love to see all the amazing exhibits they have there.

Tim Peake's Capsule at The Science Museum

Tim Peake’s Capsule at The Science Museum

You could spend days and not see everything…much like the V&A and the many other fantastic museums in London. From there I meandered through Kensington Gardens and popped into Kensington Palace. My Historic Royal Palaces membership was due to expire and I really wanted to make one more visit before that happened. It was perfect really as I had visited Osborne House on the Isle of Wight just the day before.

The young Queen Victoria at Kensington palace

The young Queen Victoria at Kensington palace

I met my lovely Belgian friend Valy there at 12noon and we immediately went to have a look. Extraordinary! It’s just mind-blowing to see these treasures. How these things survive is incredible. I often wonder that if people had had more ….I suppose respect for things in the past few centuries, we might have more such treasures. Nevertheless, those that we do have are a wonder to behold and I appreciate every one of them.

On till 27 April 2017: A celebration of the 950th anniversary of the 1067 charter, the oldest item from the City of London Corporation’s 100 km of archives.

The charter was given to the City by William the Conqueror soon after he was crowned at Westminster, but before he entered the City of London. It is key to how William won the support of London and how the City itself began to gain its special autonomy.  Written in Old English, the Charter is tiny, less than 16cm x 2cm in size with one of the earliest seal impressions of William I.

Enchanting!!! Extraordinary!! Amazing!! Incredible!! Ancient!!

We spent another 30 minutes or so in the art gallery…oh those paintings….just stunning. Sometimes I look at them and just wonder at the skill and patience and love the artists must have had…very often you can look at a paintings and it is so finely executed you thinks it’s a photograph.

Procession of Sir James Whitehead, Lord Mayor 1888-1889

“The Ninth of November, 1888”; shows the Procession of Sir James Whitehead, Lord Mayor 1888-1889, passing the Royal Exchange. – artist William Logsdail (1859-1944)

From there we set off across the City of London intending to walk all the way back to Westminster but unfortunately it started to rain so we jumped on a bus instead. On our way to Leicester Square we briefly  passed by the Chinese New Year celebrations in Trafalgar Square.

Chinese New Year 2017 - Trafalgar Square

Chinese New Year 2017 – Trafalgar Square

For the very first time in a very long while I lost my beatings and ended up taking the LONG way round to Leicester Square. Urgh. I can blame lack of sleep LOL.

new LEGO store at Leicester Square

The huge new LEGO store at Leicester Square

All too soon it was time to say goodbye and Valy headed over to St Pancras for the Eurostar back to Belgium and I onto the tube to Earls Court and then back to the mainline station for my train home.

What a fab end to a wonderful trip to the Isle of Wight. I’d SO love to go back there sometime, but the chances of that are pretty slender. I love to see new places and have so many travel goals to achieve on my wish list, that it’s improbable. Although The Needles are calling for a 2nd look 😉 so who knows…..

Next time I’ll be in Surrey working in what I was to discover was one of the Domesday Book towns and………blog coming soon….the place of the oaks.

 

 

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