London tales

London view
BM courtyard vert

Above is our view from a room that used to be part of the B&B’s family’s compound. When we were here last many years ago, they had gotten a new but short-term lease to continue with the property, but the handwriting was on the wall that they were not going to be able to continue. I think the B&B is now managed by a face-less company, and all the staff we’ve seen are immigrants (which is fine). I’m guessing the property owner (the Duke of I forget what) has upped his income significantly. It’s all impersonal now, no one to share a cup of tea with, and no one to ask if you slept well.

This is the way of the world. I hope that family is okay; they were very nice people.

Anyway, our room is in the basement, but in the back of the building, and so facing the back garden. We hear the birds. Also using our airshaft are windows from the kitchen. This morning we heard the chatter of the young Eastern-European? women who do breakfast, starting shortly after 6am. Since we’re jet-lagged, we fell back asleep. However, after the cleanup after breakfast service, the airshaft is ours again, and this is the view. We try to avoid flashing our neighbors when we’re changing.

We had two big missions today, beyond having fun, and that’s on the list everyday! The first mission was to the BBC building, and that’s someone else’s story.

Brit Mus street view
Brit Mus guybutt

The second was to the British Museum. It’s free and busy busy on Sundays. We joined the crowds coming in the gate, through the photo-zone, and up the stairs into the building. Then, we discovered that the interior courtyard now has a glass roof, which we thought must have been a move inspired by the IM Pei Pyramide du Louvre.
I loved noticing this woman (above right), who set up her cane-chair right at the shadow junction to settle in and enjoy her ice-cream cone. I could not decide if it was a deliberate siting…. I also love this courtyard!

As a result of our crowd-avoidance strategy, we didn’t visit the treasured pieces in the collection that are on display and most discussed. No Parthenon sculptures. No Rosetta Stone.

We did look at the Etruscan room. We saw some Greek and Roman sculptures…. Cute butt, eh?

Portland vase sq

This is a close-up of one of the scenes on the side of the Portland Vase. I never would have sought out this piece, but I enjoyed “finding” it. It’s made like a cameo, in that the vase was made with two layers of glass, the inner dark one and the outer white one. Somehow, craftsmen or a craftsperson carved away much of the white, leaving this scene. I don’t know how someone carves glass successfully, but apparently it involves a gem-cutter’s skills, and modern craftsmen have found it quite a challenge. The Wedgwood company and others made copies or “inspired by” vases.

Apparently this vessel was bought by the British Museum after it was slightly damaged (fire sale price?). Then, in its care, the vase suffered mightily and was broken into many pieces. The restoration was…lacking, and in the late 1980s it was taken apart, cleaned, and reassembled using modern adhesives. Big story on the Museum website.

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