Tuesday 23 April 2013

The sun shone on bare legs.

Toenails were painted for the first time in I don't know how long.

My favourite white amaryllis burst into bloom overnight. (Why am I never there at the moment it actually happens?)

Sandals were dug out of the bottom of the wardrobe.

And all the self-employed people sat outside the café on the corner all afternoon drinking iced coffee.

Because who knows how long it will last?

Saturday 20 April 2013

She was one of those people who only saw jokes by appointment ...

Looking for something to listen to while I had dinner, I happened on this Alan Bennett play with Patricia Routledge, which hadn't been broadcast since 1980. You can catch it for another few days if you missed it.

Who would have thought that Gene Hackman and Al Pacino ... ever looked so young?
The film was on in Soho, so I took the chance to head around the corner to this exhibition of Bert Hardy's photographs which, disappointingly, turned out to be a tiny display tucked into a corner behind the shop, and I was in and out in five minutes. Surely he deserved a better show in his centenary year?
So with time on my hands, I strolled slowly up to Covent Garden and some wonderful London Transport posters displayed in very cramped space. As they charge a ridiculous amount to get in here, especially if you've only come to see the posters - I do love the old buses, but I've seen them countless times before - so here's a link to everything that's in the exhibition. And here's a few of my favourites ...

I don't remember this 1970's poster but I definitely remember the free museum guide that she has in her hand. 

Thursday 18 April 2013

I've always thought that Kew is the prettiest of the Royal palaces, despite its sad history, but it used to be quite expensive to get in - on top of your ticket to Kew Gardens - so I hadn't been inside for several years.
But I was delighted to discover when I was admiring the magnolias there yesterday, that it's now free. (That is, you still need to buy a ticket for the Gardens but it's all-inclusive.)
I'm never sure whether my fondness for George III is for a real person or for Alan Bennett/Nigel Hawthorne's creation. But it seems so sad to think of the Queen and the princesses quietly carrying on with their lives while the poor mad King was enduring the attentions of his doctors (in a wing of the palace that no longer exists).
The servants' quarters and two of the princesses' bedrooms have been conserved but left unrestored,  giving them almost a haunted feel. I wondered if the poor girls would have been able to hear the shouts of their father? What a pleasant change to see a restoration so lightly done.

Wednesday 17 April 2013

At long last ... London has exploded into spring and I see I'm not the only one who noticed today that the magnolias are out in abundance and the cherryblossom is bobbing.
But when did it happen ...?
I've had my head down all weekend, not exactly working, but grouching about having to work. (It all got done in the end but I am living proof of Parkinson's Law.)
So this afternoon I thought I deserved a couple of hours off to enjoy coffee and cake at Petersham Nurseries, sitting in the balmy sunshine, swooning over the scent of jasmine and lemon blossom and looking in wonder at pot shrubs laden with tiny oranges.
In the city where I turned the central heating off only two days ago.
According to the man at the counter, it all went - boom - on Friday afternoon.
Just like that.

Saturday 13 April 2013

There was a standing ovation - the man in the seat next to me was in tears - and a crowd gathered afterwards at the stage door, hoping to see Dame Judi  (although on such a damp night, my guess would be that she'd have her driver pull up at the front).
I found Peter and Alice extraordinarily moving. Alice Liddell Hargreaves, the real Alice in Wonderland, and Peter Llewelyn Davies, who was JM Barrie's Peter Pan, really did meet briefly in 1932, when she was 80 and he was 35, at the Bumpus bookshop on Oxford Street.
The play is magnificent, superbly acted by Dame Judi and Ben Whishaw as the bruised, forlorn boy who eventually had to grow up.
It's about loss and growing old and resilience and loneliness and obsessive love and I can't imagine that there was a person in the theatre who didn't find a line that spoke to them.

Thursday 11 April 2013

    Serendipity is when ...

    You nip out for a pint of milk.

     Get mugged by a sticky Polish jam doughnut.

     And arrive home to find that the new Persephone Biannually is on
     the mat.

     My idea of a perfect lunchbreak.

Wednesday 10 April 2013

At long last some sunshine, so on Saturday I caught a train down to Brighton for the day, bought bread and Victorian sausages in the farmers' market; remembered how I longed to own a Biba dress; ate fish and chips on the pier and gawped at other people having fishy pedicures. (Yuck. When did that become traditional pier entertainment?) After I recovered from the disappointment of discovering that the once wonderful Bill's is wonderful no longer and has stopped making fabulous cakes studded with fresh flowers ... a victim of its own success, it's become just another noisy, boring chain ... I perked up when I discovered my new favourite Brighton teashop where toffee and cranberry cake was the healthiest thing I ate all day. Then I went for a long, slow amble down the seafront, admiring Regency terraces and tiled shopfronts and King Edward VII's butcher ... and purely by chance found a little gelateria that sells violet ice-cream. Just the thing, don't you think, for a Regency-Edwardian lady?