My English holiday ends tomorrow when I fly back to Australia. I have loved the things I have done here – a special time with family at Christmas, meeting a grandchild for the first time, seeing London anew, visiting Cambridge and villages in Essex, going to cozy English pubs, eating all sorts of goodies and just enjoying walking and looking.
The last ten days have been full on – exploring Notting Hill Gate (not as nice as I remembered), finding Lord’s Cricket Ground – nothing happening, but did glimpse the famous green turf, had lunch in and explored a gorgeous hidden garden nursery with my daughter and baby (first lunch date for her and all the other lady lunchers exclaiming), bought a Maidenhair fern in the hope that it can be kept alive!
Walked up to Kensington Gardens again, determined this time to see the Zaha Hadid exhibition at the Sackler Gallery – so worth it – she was an extraordinary woman and way ahead of her time – sadly died this year (1950 – 2016) – worth looking up her art and architectural work.
Took the underground to Pimlico and walked to Tate Britain – such a lovely walk – majestic with the river, the smooth grey buildings, empty trees (except for the odd shoe – why do people throw them into trees and power lines?) and then the magnificent gallery itself – this year with an upside down Christmas Tree with the bare roots painted in gold leaf – startling! And impressive! Loved the Turner section – can never get enough of his mastery but also enjoyed someone I did not really know – Walter Richard Sickert, an English painter in the first half of the 20th Century who used as subject matter, newspaper photographs – I just loved his ‘take’ on them.
Watched the last episode of ‘The Crown’ – a brilliant series and the scene at the end of Sir Anthony Eden is a show stopper – had me scurrying to the www to check out the facts – wow!
‘Trained’ back up to Saffron Walden for Christmas with three little human beings – now Christmas is all about children – we don’t put their images onto social media so you won’t see them in my posts but believe me they were having a ball – putting out milk and cookies for Santa and a carrot for the reindeer, opening a mile high pile of presents (and managed not to open all at once!).
Interesting phenomenon here, which I noted with my own children – the parents have tried not to promote gender differences with regard to upbringing but Master 4.5 years old is fascinated with garbage trucks and now, living next door to a farm, farm equipment. All he wanted was a combine harvester and Miss 2.5 years old also wanted a farm (and got one) but also was given a baby doll which she constantly mothered and dressed and put to bed – saying to me on about 5 occasions – ‘Be quiet Baba (that’s me), baby Annabel is sleeping!’ and carefully put her finger to her lips in the universal sign for ‘Be quiet’. She has a baby brother of 7 months, so she knows all about needing to be quiet (of course that doesn’t always happen!)
There was no snow but on Boxing Day the frosts came and for the next couple of days became even more beautiful first thing in the morning – a scene of white with the skeletal trees and the frost lace on every blade of grass, leaf and twig. The red breasted Robin came to eat the seed left out for him and one afternoon the Fox came right across the lawn and looked in at us – so wonderful with his deep red coat and bushy tail. In the woods some clumsy partridges flew out in front of us. We had some great soccer games later when the sun came out and I can still kick a ball pretty well, if I do say so myself…..
We had a meal in a pub called ’The Bluebell Inn’ – all low ceilings, black timber and white plaster walls, one room leading to another. A true English pub meal with a pie and mash just about covering your plate and a tasty wine or Guinness to wash it down – heaven!
Back to London with all three children to see ‘The Gruffalo’ pantomime – a huge success even though a pretty tiring day for little bodies and incredible crowds on the underground and down Shaftesbury Avenue. Goodbye to them all – will miss those little faces, but am coming back in May when I take a group of artists to France, so not too long before I see them again.
And when I returned to Little Venice I found my husband’s niece cradling the baby with her husband – they are from Adelaide and visiting London for a few days before going on to Europe, so that was a great catch up, too.
Wow! – the last day! Of course I visited the sales and scored some great pants at Selfridges, walked back through Regent’s Park and down St John’s High Road and packed. See you soon Sydney and Lennox Head……….