Day 36 – Wednesday, May 30th

Flowers at Kennsington Palace. I have these same flowers in my yard, but they dont quite look this good!!!!

The pond at Kennsington

Trafalgar Square … note the ominous weather!!!

This was another London day as Michael was giving a talk at University College. He didn’t have to be there until 1:00, so we decided to run an errand and also see a few things before he went to work.

We first caught the train to Richmond (then on to Kew) and delivered a package to our hosts from last week. When we got back to the tube station and started to buy our tickets, we were told that if we waited 10 minutes we could get the ticket for half the cost because it would no longer be considered “peak” travel times. Well, we couldn’t resist a bargain, so we walked down the street and had “morning tea” at a local Starbucks and then purchased our cheaper ticket for the day.

Michael had been interested in seeing the Tate Modern Art gallery, so we headed back that direction. We decided that it must be “all of France tours England day”, because there were tons of French tourists around!!!!

We enjoyed walking through the gallery again, although for some unknown reason, a number of the exhibits were closed off. Unfortunately, several of these were ones that Michael had especially wanted to see, so we were a bit disappointed. We did end up in a gallery that I had missed previously and saw a beautiful Monet “Water Lily”. We also saw an interesting piece by Jackson Pollock and a Matisse that was done when he was bed ridden. His assistants had painted heavy paper with bright colors and he had cut them out to design the work.

After looking at the other galleries, we headed back to the train station. As we were walking we saw a “subway sign pointing down a series of steps and thought “wow, we missed that exit earlier”. So, we walked down the stairs…..crossed about 20 feet and then came back up the stairs….on the other side of the street!!!! We learned that “subway” simply means an underground tunnel and has nothing to do with THE underground tube system!!! When we got to the station, we each headed to a different platform to continue our journeys. My train journey was interesting because I spent my time watching the people sitting across from me….there was a place for 4 people and it was the most interesting array of individuals. And, the scene changed about every 4 or 5 minutes as people joined and left the train. I also laughed about my train driver. If you are learning to drive a car in this country, you put a sign on your car with an “L” on it…for learner. I decided that this train driver needed an “L” plate on his train!!! It was not the smoothest journey that I have ever had!!!!

I headed to Kensington Palace….in the POURING rain. This palace is one that many of the Royals have lived in over the years, including Charles & Diana. There was a wonderful display of photos of Diana that were taken shortly before her death. They were commissioned by Vanity Fair magazine to advertise some gowns that Diana was auctioning off for charity. They were gorgeous pictures of her in the simplest of settings. She wore no jewelry, little make up and her hair had simply had a comb run through it. The photo shoot was done in a room with white walls and a white couch. The photos showed a laughing and relaxed Diana….not with all of the pomp or her royal times. The galleries that the photos were in had been designed to mirror the simplicity of the pictures. The walls, chairs and even blinds were specifically designed for the gallery. The exhibit then moved into a display of some of her gowns, with an audio commentary about each of them. There was also an area with chairs and couches and books about the royal family. Many people were enjoying looking through all of them.

The funny thing to me was that the tour ended up in the gift shop where you could buy (among other things) postcards of the royals. The selection included, one of the Queen, one of Prince Charles, one of Harry, one of William and TEN or more of Diana!!!!!

After enjoying the palace, I walked around the garden area and headed back toward the tube station. It was really raining by this time, and my jeans were soaked so I found a small café and sat for over an hour and had lunch and dried out!!!!

My last stop of the day was to the National Gallery. I was looking forward to seeing the Impressionist paintings, but unfortunately the galleries were closed for refurbishing!!! I wandered around the other galleries for a while a stumbled onto a really cool display called “Take One Picture”. It is a program that is run between the National Gallery and the primary schools in England, where the schools focus on one painting for an entire year and develop a portion of their curriculum around the painting. The painting for this past year was “Two Boys and a Girl Making Music” by Jan Molenaer (1629), and the exhibit showed many of the projects that had come from their work. The students had made music instruments, birdcages, birds, chairs, costumes and had written songs and poems about the painting. One group had even used clay-mation figures to make a movie about 3 kids playing. It was interesting to see what the teachers and students had been able to accomplish.

I briefly looked into the National Portrait Gallery, but didn’t have a lot of time before it closed. I did enjoy one portrait of Sir John Sulston, who is a geneticist……his portrait was his DNA suspended in agar jelly!!!!

I caught the tube back to Paddington Station and waited for Michael to join me once he had finished with his seminar. We sat and waited for the station board to show which platform the train is on…..the have a nasty habit of only displaying the platform about 5-10 minutes before the train leaves, and sometimes the platforms can be REALLY far away. This was what happened tonight and tons of people started running for the train. We simply joined the rushing throng and made our “train dash” to the platform.

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