Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Half Term Feb 2010 LONDON

It has become tradition for us to spend a few days in our capital city during February half term. This has been made a lot easier with the new Chester to London train service, the Super Explorer covering 179 miles in a mere 2 hours.

We were greeted by the Cubster who, hours previously, had partially dislocated his shoulder playing Winter League frisbee.(N.B. my gentle hug!) This, however, didn't prevent him from eating his share of the metre-long pizza he had booked for us at a VERY local pizzeria....

we didn't qualify for a heart-shaped balloon, (it being Valentine's Day) presumably because there were 4 of us!! but Cub was able to use his London Diners card (50% off on Valentine's Day whooptydoo!) which meant we only had to pay for 19.5 inches.

Yes it was a metre long...

whichever way you looked at it...and we ate the lot.


Monday was a brilliant day. A direct train from Clapham Junction to Plumpton Racecourse... literally... over the railway tracks and you are on the course. At just over a mile round it is one of the UK's leading small jump courses and racing has gone ahead there when other meets have been cancelled on account of the deploying of covers OVER THE WHOLE COURSE which we saw being removed as we arrived.

We did a good job of studying form and picked out several winners between us... when A.P.McCoy turns up for an odd race it is usually an indication his horse has a good chance. We saw Billy Bonds (ex West Ham) there. "Nestled in the heart of the South Downs" it is picturesque, friendly and we loved it.(The soft double runny yolked egg bap was delicious too)

PRISCILLA, Queen of the Desert.

What a great show! We dashed from the Races to the Palace Theatre with half an hour to spare (plenty long enough for a Sub-of-the-day from Subway) and........

.........look at these brilliant seats... 3rd row back, centre, dress circle.Fantastic!

Priscilla has recently won BEST NEW MUSICAL in the WHATSONSTAGE AWARDS and Oliver Thornton won the BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR. Brian Thomson won BEST SET DESIGNER and Ross Coleman won BEST CHOREOGRAPHER....all well deserved, it was a brilliant show, amazing costumes, clever, funny and totally outrageous! (My votes counted then...!)

I think we all came out feeling a little bit gay(!)


We enjoyed a couple of hours here, it houses approx 2 million items and a room dedicated to Horatio Nelson, impressive stained glass windows and a hands-on twister...

then we walked up the hill to the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, built for the purpose of finding longitude at sea.

View from the top, you could just see the new Olympic Stadium (Well, a crane, building it) and the Dome...

Since 1884 Greenwich has been the "centre of time and space", the "Home of the Millenium".

In October 1884, at the behest of the President of the United States of America, 41 delegates from 25 nations met in Washington, DC, USA for the International Meridian Conference.

At the Conference the following important principles were established:
It was desirable to adopt a single world meridian to replace the numerous one's already in existence.
The Meridian passing through the principal Transit Instrument at the Observatory at Greenwich was to be the 'initial meridian'.
That all longitude would be calculated both east and west from this meridian up to 180°.
All countries would adopt a universal day.
The universal day would be a Mean Solar Day, beginning at the Mean Midnight at Greenwich and counted on a 24 hour clock.
That nautical and astronomical days everywhere would begin at mean midnight.

Here it is! The Clock!

Being a 24 hour clock, midday is at the bottom, it was 2.35pm

We are stood on either side of the line that divides the Western and Eastern hemispheres of the Earth. 0°0'0"

Click here for nice diagram!

(OMG I just worked that out by myself,
all programmes, system tools, character map, degree sign, copy and paste OMG OMG)


VINCENT VAN GOGH (Royal Academy)

By now the rain was pouring down but we queued for half an hour to see the new exhibition of "The Real Van Gogh" which looks at the artist through the letters he wrote, mostly to his brother Theo. He wrote as he painted and we can see how he used his letters to develop his plans, deal with his frustrations (Drawing people in motion!!) and clarifying his thoughts. Some may be disappointed that the most celebrated classics like Starry Starry Night, the Sunflowers, the Self Portrait with bandaged ear are not here but the exhibition does include several canvasses from private collections and is well worth a visit. Anneka Rice (Challenge Anneka!) went to see it the same day as us (!!)

The 7 rooms included Dutch Landscape, The Peasant in Action, Colour, Japanese Prints, Portaits, Art and Literature, Arles, Cycles of Nature, Late Landscapes

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Happy Birthday Pixen and Cubba!

With twin 1 in Darlington and twin 2 in London it was impossible to spend the day with both birthday children so the plan was to go up to Darlington this weekend and London next. I had cancelled my evening spin on Friday night on acccount of doing the catering for dear Harry's funeral (which went very well, he would have been made up to see so many faces at the cricket club) and so we travelled up Friday evening. On Saturday after presents, we took the train to Newcastle

where we did a bit of culture first at the Laing Art Gallery (which included lunch)

then a little retail therapy where I bought myself a coat

even though it wasn't MY birthday and then back to JoeRigatoni's for pizza via the steel pans who were playing under the Charles Earl Grey Memorial.

Fabulous day and lovely to see the Nixen Pixen looking so well and happy.

Alberto Giacometti

L'Homme Qui Marche 1 is the name given to the bronze cast sculptures by swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti in 1961. We are big fans of his emaciated bronze figures but little did we know how famous they were to become when we visited the Foundation Maeght whilst on holiday in France. We were in good humour that day,

having watched Chris fall into one of the fountains...

and continued to have a giggle when we saw the third edition of the cast of L'Homme Qui Marche 1 in the grounds of the Foundation Maeght.

This week, on Feb 3rd, the second edition of the cast of the sculpture became the most expensive work of art sold at auction fetching a price of just over £65million. The piece is described by Giacometti as "a humble image of an ordinary man" (though anyone with this much money to spend is not exactly ordinary!!)

Great to know we were having fun with a record breaker!