Monday, June 30, 2008

Friday, June 27, 2008

Back in the BM

It was good to revisit the British Museum. The Great Court was perhaps one of the greatest 'building improvements' in history, even if there were some issues over the meaning of 'Portland Stone' that the trustees couldn't get their heads around.

Adela's first visit.

We enjoyed discussions about the amazing game and lyre stories... And further thoughts on the swimmers...

...even if some of the audience will writhe on their pedestals rather than paying attention...

Mildenhall's treasure...

And Sutton Hoo...

A rather large fist...

Interestingly, these plaster casts of Egyptian freezes are better records of the look of the thing than the real thing these days, as the originals have been eroded since the cast was taken (and of course the originals lost their paint millennia ago) - 'better than the real thing'?

The King's Library, with the move of the books to the British Library building near St Pancras, has been re-used, very well, we thought, to tell the story of the Museum and its acquisitions -

We were amazed to see the copies of the Danish Viking Horns, the originals of which were stolen and melted down, and thus lost.

Bev liked the details:

There was an excellent display from Captain James Cook's voyages, including this miniature portrait I'd never seen before. As he died on his last voyage, and spent most of his life away at sea, most portraits are posthumous and some very speculative. Unlike...

Joseph Banks'. Joseph was made by the voyage to Australia, and the clever, energetic young botanist became a grand old man of society and science. What might have happened if Cook had lived?

Of course we weren't the only ones to be captivated by the Egyptology craze of the 1920s. This building nearby shows what an influence it had on the architecture of the time too.

It was good to be back, and great to see the original was as good as ever, but developments were also underway.


London Calling - Back in the UK

While collecting our bags from the carousel at Heathrow (sucessfully) I noticed a man wearing a London Calling T-shirt; appropriate really, and although Joe's not around any more, sadly, it was good, we decided, to be back. It was all too scarily familiar, as Roger kindly drove us back to his and Di's place for a weekend of catching up.

After a visit to Old Warden (more of this anon) Bev headed down to Lourdes' place and rejoined the old gang, who seem to have a number of very small recruits...

On the Monday, Lourdes (and Adela) was up for a trip into town, so the number one stop was the British Museum (of which, more anon...) and after loading them back onto the tube, Bev and I did some essential shopping:

Neil's Yard Dairy...

Some cheese? Yes please...

These seemed a bit big for hand luggage.

Then a quick coffee at the World's No.1 Coffee Shop (TM, JDK) The Monmouth Coffee Co. We had to wait, but it was worth it...

When coffee was first brought to the west, coffee shops like Lloyds and Hatchards would have been something like this. It's nice to catch up with old friends and old haunts.

The BM report will follow on this channel. Stay tuned...

And over to Mr Strummer and the boys:
Now get this
London calling, yeah, I was there, too
An' you know what they said? Well, some of it was true!
London calling at the top of the dial
After all this, won't you give me a smile?

New post

Blog technology.

This one appears way back in the depths, despite finishing it now, because it's dated when I started it. Grrrrr. Have a look.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Yorkshire sun and rain

Yorkshire hills are green - and that's because they get a lot of rain!

This is what it looks like in the sunshine, and mighty fine the sunshine is, too. Ross and Chris opened the world's largest bottle of pinot grigio, and we sat in the garden until we all froze to death. Because that's how you enjoy sunshine in Yorkshire.... or so we are told.

Do we think we are being wound up?

- Never!

But it's okay, the sunshine didn't last for long, and soon it was right back to normal:

It's been fantastic staying with Ross and Chris, and we're really pleased to have been able to see some of James' pack of half and step siblings, between university digs moving in and out, jobs and lives elsewhere.

We're really glad you made it down to say hello, folks!

When we're not drinking or sleeping, we've been out to York, a favourite town to visit. At York we walked in the rain, visited the Monster, and saw the brand-new, just-opened National Quilt Museum (about which there is much more on Bev's blog, Taccolina...). I think James will be posting more about York soon.

-Now if only the tourists would get out of the way when James tries to take a photo....

(tee hee)


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Tivoli, and out

So far our posts have been essentially in chronological order -- however, this has meant that we've 'missed' some trip highlights. If, and as, time allows, we will soon revisit some earlier scenes. So this will be our last post which appears in order, we think...

The Tivoli Gardens are one of the world's oldest still active 'amusement parks', originally opened in 1843. Unlike almost any other amusement park, I actually wanted to visit it because, according to our guidebook, it is a 'much-loved Danish institution' with a range of non-whizzy entertainments that seemed very interesting. And the Tivoli, unlike most other parks, offered a range of real food from basic self-service up to a Michelin starred restaurant. (Bev: -And you wonder how he convinced me to go? This I had to see!)

Apparently, Tivoli's founder, Georg Carstensen obtained a five-year charter to create Tivoli, by telling King Christian VIII that "when the people are amusing themselves, they do not think about politics". This, I think, tells you a lot about Carstensen, the King, and the Danes.

Also, interestingly, it operated throughout W.W.II when Denmark was occupied by the Germans, as shown by the poster above from the Danish Design Museum collection. In 1943 it was burnt down by Nazi sympathisers, but was temporarily rebuilt (within a matter of weeks) and the Danish carried on. You can see why it sounds interesting, I'm sure...

Some of the rides are very whizzy - as below, but I do like the Hugo Gernsback styling of them as well.

Others are dangerously twee or cute. This was a mannequin on the ride inspired by the Hans Christian Andersen stories: I think this one was from the story called 'The princess with the remarkable helmet-hair and noteworthy chest' - or something... As the cliché has it, popular with people from 6 to sixty - and further. (Bev: I called this the princess with the stuck-on boobs and smirky smile...)

While the biplane ride was a winner.

It looked rather cool, and though Bev was (understandably) slightly sceptical when I pointed out that some of the schemes were accurate - you be the judge:

(Curtiss P-6 Hawk of the 17th Pursuit Squadron US Army Air Corps - or a fairground ride?)

Even the old car ride had accurate model names, at least. Sadly, I was too big for either ride.

We could have had a go on the frog firing game (note Bev's excellent shot capturing a frog mid flight - natural history film-makers eat your heart out...) but we were just enjoying watching the others.

Bev was hit with Wellie Lust; amazingly, for an item in Denmark, they were affordable, and after some confusion over Continental/Australian/US shoe sizes, they were snapped up.

(Bev: And I stomped off into the sunshine in my spotty wellies. Note Bev now praying for rain as we continue through England...)

Some stuff was just pointlessly cool. The bubble tubes garden was just great to watch, if you were tired from too much touristing (as we were). Very inspiring of looking and thinking, thinking and looking and reflecting, and ZZzzzzzz...

While the newly refurbished 'Nimb' building had some classy chandeliers... (And that classy restaurant, which we didn't visit, but...)

One of the other stages reminded me a lot of London's 1950s South Bank complex.

When we arrived the smaller bandstand was occupied by the orchestra delivering a range of light classics, which they continued to do right through to our excellent terrace dinner in one of the very nice restaurants; good food, reasonable price, with excellent people-watching and ambiance.

After the Pantomime theatre, (see below) Bev had spotted that the Tivoli Big Band were due up - so we strolled over to the second bandstand where we enjoyed a top class variety of Big Band classics introduced in Danish where the only words we could make out were the composer/arranger and the title. 'Easy Street' appearing in the middle of a long Danish sentence is most disconcerting... And the drummer looked like James Cromwell - I keep expecting him to nail Kevin Spacey mid drum-roll!

But trumpeter-face is the same the world over...

...and was much enjoyed by all of the audience.

Bev wanted to see the lights come on (I did too) so we waited until it nearly got dark (sunset being very late at this time of year in Copenhagen) and we were treated to twinkling among the trees.

With two concerts, a meal, pantomime theatre and much relaxed strolling and watching, all in the middle of a capital city, it would have been hard to find a better au revoir to the Continent than this. Clearly the Danes know the value of a good time. (Bev: And it was a great date, too).

James (with commentary from Bev)

Tivoli's Pantomime theatre

After over a month's travel, it was our last night in Denmark and on the Continent; and it was a good one, at the Tivoli Gardens. One of the core parts of the Tivoli is the theatres and stages, and particularly, the Pantomime theatre.

This has little or nothing to do with the fine old tradition of British Panto, but has its roots in the in the Commedia del Arte tradition, including the portfolio of stock characters: Harlequin, Colombina and Pierrot, who have a reputation in mainstream life. Visiting Tivoli, we made sure we took in one of the two nightly performances, and here's a few highlights...

Pratfalls and slapstick (top) and the dance of Harlequin and Colombina.

She defies her father, who wishes to match her to Il Capitino (below).

Pierrot, the servant, is well meaning but clumsy and disastrous - a pistol provides endless comic possibilities...

All of which the kids enjoy...

...and at the end, the stage is hidden away by the amazing screen based on a peacock's fan tail.

And that's just the centre of a marvellous open air stage (below). We were reminded of London's Globe Theatre, in its importance as a historic, open venue. (Bev: and in the sheer delight with which the show was greeted by the locals and tourists alike. I enjoyed seeing the Danes in front of us HOOT with laughter when the fop minced on stage and fell over Pierrot).

We thought it a wonderful entertainment, and we enjoyed it immensely, even the (few) bits in Danish. And it is presented in two differing performances most nights at the Gardens, throughout the open season. There will be more about Tivoli Gardens in the next post - so stay tuned!