by little red pen
5 May: London
Everyone very slow to get going this morning. Dad came with us and we walked around the Docklands to Canary Wharf. Ian bought toasted ham sandwiches — a revelation that they could work without cheese. Turns out that squashed bread and hot ham is all you need. Who knew?
We caught a riverboat up the Thames. Went a bit gawky and tourist-eyed as familiar monumental and historic sights appeared around us. Took photos and pointed shamelessly. We changed to the Tube at Embankment and had serious Underground font joy. Got off at South Kensington to take the Cat to the Natural History Museum.
Ian and the Cat headed for mammals and dinosaurs while Dad, the Rabbit, and I went to Sebastiao Salgado exhibition. The photos are haunting; precise in timing, composition, and lighting, but with a grace of wonder, hope, sadness that carries them beyond. The Rabbit very keen on one with a boy and a chicken.
Dad and I lost each other, but we all reconnected in the lobby. Back to the flat where Fiona and Duncan somehow magicked a stirfry out of the kitchen.
6 May: London
We attempted to do adult stuff this morning, with partial success. The Cat grumped all the way to the Tate Modern (past the Globe, which I didn’t visit because of the paying thing and also leaving Ian and Dad outside with two fractious children — sad about that — I just wanted to stand inside and whisper to literary ghosts, and the same goes for Westminster Abbey), but he managed to look at a few galleries, and more importantly, so did I. Excellent coffee kiosk, with computer stations connecting to an interactive art project, This Exquisite Forest. The kids drew for ages, while we ate our sandwiches and had coffee.
We headed to Hyde Park/Kensington Gardens after that — glorious open green spaces, and a river of birds that cheered everyone up. We searched a long time for the Diana Memorial Playground; when we found it, there was a long queue outside. Queuing for a playground! Poor Brits.
7 May: London
A different group spilt today, with Duncan and Ian taking the boys to the zoo and me, Fiona, and Dad going to the V + A. Loved it. Loved the garden, loved the galleries, loved the immensity and hoarderesque quality of the collection, loved the whole damn thing.
Fell in love with Lucie Rie when I saw her pots, and more so when I saw David Attenborough interviewing her (aged 80-odd) in her studio, the pair of them flirting gently over the making of a pot. At one point, Rie is lying, planking really, full stretch over the edge of her kiln and she asks Attenborough to hold her leg. He does so, carefully and with a hint of a blush in his body language. In fact, he displays the same sort of hushed, wondering delight he shows in the presence of a rare and easily frightened animal. Rie pops up and thanks him. “I got a little bit stuck there,” she says. For the merest moment, he looks faintly disappointed.
After a lot of text negotiation and confused navigation, we met the boys at the boating lake at Regent’s Park. Duncan took the Cat out in a paddleboat. We saw more birds. Some icecreams were eaten.
8 May: London
Sorting and shopping. 84 Charing Cross Road is now a Pizza Hut. Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone, etc. Packing. Bangers and mash for tea. Goodbye, Britain, the UK, whatever you like to be called.