Sunday, 17 February 2008

One of the excellent things about London...

is how much there is to do. In fact, after dutifully subscribing to Time Out, I thought I'd be able to keep on top of the things I wanted to do each weekend. But really, it just makes me feel inadequate and maybe a little stressed about the sheer volume of cool things to do, that I could never hope to find the time for. And then by the time the weekend rolls around, I feel like I've spent so much time on the Tube already that week, I can't bear to do it again. Not many of these cool things are going on in my London suburb, I must say.

Yesterday I put in a pretty good effort though. I met Alice in Kensington and we went to see the Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Natural History Museum. You can see some of the photos here. We loved it - there were some especially striking shots of wildlife in the Arctic and Antarctic - polar bears, penguins and these narwhal whales with long tusks which I'd never seen before. We didn't really agree with the winner (see here) - interesting but not as moving as lots of the other shots. A lot of our favourites were in the category on this page.

After some lunch in an excellent healthy food chain they have here called Leon, I left Alice and took the tube to Southwark, south of the river to meet The Boyfriend. We went to the Tate Modern to see a new exhibition (which if you're so inclined you can see about here and if you do, don't miss the slideshow of some of the works). We became Tate members a few months ago so I wanted to go and take advantage of the members' room on the sixth floor. Only members can go in and they have great food and drinks for decent prices, plus the gallery is usually so crowded, it's nice to get away. Unfortunately many, many other people had the same plan so we had to sit outside on the cold balcony. Nice view though.

Then we went to the British Film Institute - just down the river - to see The Killers, a 1946 film with Ava Gardner and Burt Lancaster I've been really wanting to see since I read a biography of Ava Gardner a few months ago. It was great - quintessential film noir with the gorgeous temptress and big dumb hero, plus a lot of shifty, amoral crooks and moody lighting along the way.

Then we walked back to St Paul's to catch the tube home. Along the way we saw some friendly gypsy types camping on the banks of the Thames. They had built some fires (also some ingenious sand sculptures including a couch!) and were singing wiht guitar accompaniment to the crowd ("We'd like your money noooowww, so we can buy some beeer"). Sounds dodgy but they were quite charming and the singing was actually very good.

Today we stayed local and went for a wander to take advantage of the sun finally showing itself. It's still freezing - five layers worth today - but at least we can get some Vitamin D. And some parts of my London suburb are very pleasant to wander through - lots of greenery and old houses. And the unseasonable warmth we had a few weeks ago has even resulted in some flowers as well. I can never get used to way flowers just grow unbidden and uncoaxed on the footpaths here. I guess they can't help it with all that rain.

Rest of the photos from yesterday and today on flickr here.

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