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Abbey, Art and just plain awesome

Posted by on April 12, 2012

Huge day today, no time for photos (bloody WordPress app on this infernal iPad playing up, will edit it later).

We awoke blearily, still tired from the previous day and breakfasted leisurely before training then walking to Westminster Abbey. We are both pretty run down, and Jo’s heas cold is still bashing her up a little so we are going at our own pace, glad of the slight sleep in this morning, give both of us are now sleeping acceptably.

After a brief queue (it pays to go early) we toured the Abbey using free audio guides and WOW is that place amazing, colossal tombs of nearly every famous king/queen, poets corner with the resting places of some of the worlds most influential writers, musicians and scientists (it amazed me that Charles Darwin and Isaac Newton were interred here, both being heretical in their day).

I must admit to being overwhelmed by the history and majestic architecture of the place – exquisite and ornate vaulted ceilings, astonishing amounts of marble, gilded wood and almost caricature tomb statues of greats in repose, serene faces, hundreds of years old – the stained glass in the Chaper House and various other private chapels was glorious – all the more beautiful as the sun was streaming in through them. We walked the cloister, marveled at the religious iconography and history of the place.

We next walked down Whitehall, past some lovely guards on horseback, waved as we passed Downing Street (we are sure the chap in power at the moment was close to asking us in for tea), then on to Trafalgar Square. Amidst hundreds of people we braved the cold winds for a moment to take in the scene then retreated into The National Gallery.

I had a route planned out that started with the Dutchand Flemish masters, wended it’s way through contemporary British and European portraiture and landscapes (marveling at Constable’s Hay Wain, Reubens and so many paintings I never dreamt I would ever see close up. I am in awe at the “light” in paintings rendered in oil, tone, shade and life – astonishing given the ages of some of the works the facial expressions are as modern as if they were painted today. We finished in the impressionists and abstracts, concluding that Van Gough’s “Sunflowers” is painted very clumsily, but I could live with Monet’s waterlillies – so much beauty.

We had lunch and a cup of tea back out in Trafalgar Square, then walked down The Mall to Buckingham Palace, for a bit of a sticky beak (the queen was not home), then trudged up Constitution Drive and caught a trainback to the unit. Huge day, not over yet.

Early dinner then off to the Lycaeum Theater to see The Lion King – very excited about that.

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