The Strand at night

The Strand at night, 2011

Returning to a place where strong memories dance delightfully in your mind can sometimes be a disappointment, but not for London. This place never ceases to amaze me, thrill me, excite me…. and so much more. After just a few days tazzing the streets, sights, bars, spas… it quickly becomes an uncertain home.

Maybe this explains why all the non-native people you meet in London have found themselves still there, despite themselves and their original plans…!

Strand tube station (no longer in use)

The Strand

As this trip was dedicated to the arts, and the playfulness of the arts, I stayed on the the Strand.

This is a fantastic location for women who are traveling alone, as I was, as well as being at the epicentre for meeting up with people for the many delights around it.

We are talking Covent Garden on your doorstep, Trafalgar Square, the theatre district and the Thames embankment, and, the City and Westminster are within decent walking distance. St Pancras/Kings Cross is just 15 minutes by taxi. The tube stops, buses and taxis are endlessly flying by the Strand, day and night!

Trafalgar Square, 2011

If you want quiet, don’t stay here; the Strand never sleeps!

Seeing Art

Jane Avril in quick scribble, by BP 2011

My first stop on arrival was The Courtauld Gallery. I arrived during the London Fashion Week, so there was plenty of

eye-candy before I stepped into the quiet little gallery for a special exhibition of Toulouse-Lautrec and his friends, and see the permanent collection of van Gogh’s bandaged ear, Degas’ two dancers in oil and many other works.  This gallery is located at Somerset House, with a friendly art book shop on site to peruse.

The National Gallery has free entry for everyone, so dedicating some part of the day to see this amazing collection of art is a must!  I’ve been here several times before, so I was just here to pay homage to my favourite works (Leonardo’s cartoon, in particular) and visit their library/bookshop. Trafalgar Square sits at the feet of the gallery, where hundreds of tourists have taken the place of those infamous pigeons!

Even though I was fortunate to have tickets for the opening day of the new Degas exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, I was actually more interested in the rare opportunity to go ‘behind the scenes’ of the RAA studios!

Life drawing studio, RAA in London

I grabbed my last few hours of London in the V&A.

Cast of a 11thC Norwegian church door in Urnes, V&A London

This museum of art, design and crafts is an absolute MUST for everyone, and since it has free entry there are no excuses toavoid a visit! I am already planning my return so I can see the special exhibition “Power of Making”, which looks incredible.

One of my favourite artists is Dalton Ghetti, and his work is here too, deservedly so!

A Masked Ball

London is famous for its more underground events, which are never too far from the surface if you dare use your nails to scratch it!

My sister and I attended a masked ball at a private club off the Strand.

Handmade mask, hat and jewellery, Masked Ball Sept 2011, London

The entry rules start with a mask, which is mandatory, and the rest is just left to your own imagination and courage (see my related article on the attire).  Since I believe the mystery of such events should remain firmly behind the brass door plate, I only provide a few pictures for your spectacle!

My sister Jude, Masked Ball Sept 2011

My cameo, Masked Ball Sept 2011

Oh to dance, Masked Ball Sept 2011

Sisters and carrots, Masked Ball Sept 2011

Eating out

I don’t think I need to mention all the yummy places in London, since any visitor will be spoiled for choice; even the most discerning of tourists know they will find exquisite foods with easy research. I enjoyed gorgeous Indian and tasty Italian eateries whilst on my trip – there are many to choose from, in and around Covent Garden.

I particularly loved Hakkasan in Hanway Place. It feels like a film set for Black Rain and the Chinese food goes beyond my yummy scale! I had their vegetarian dim sum (to die for!) and the decorative vegetarian chicken. The real beef dish was also ‘melt in the mouth’, as were the mocktails and spring rolls…. I can still taste it as I write this.

Dim Sum morsels and my sister with chopsticks, Hakkasan in Hanway Place, London

Ladies in waiting

And finally, there can be no visit to London for any woman without a day at the Sanctuary in Covent Garden. This is a very special heaven for women only – sorry guys, you have no idea what you are missing behind this brass plated door!

Suffice to say, I enjoyed a black olive and pear oil facial/massage, a Lava Shell massage, meditation in the Sleep Retreat, dips in the water pools and jacuzzi… relaxing in the koi carp lounge… hmmmmm…..

Oh, and a final word on indulgence… the Beaufort Bar in the Savoy hotel is a very nice way to wrap up the spa day. I had the ‘Impressionist’ champage cocktail – cherry marnier, raspberry and rose cordial, violette liqueur and champagne. They served this on a tray with fresh roses bathing in a mist!

Originally published: Wednesday, September 21st, 2011 at 15:21 in Atelier, Celebrating Art, Inspiration, Living matter, Monologues

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One Response to “Timeless London”

  1. Jude says:

    Wonderfully written article on London – how can anyone who reads not be inspired to go?? Glad you found bliss in London – it is a city full of the delights of much hard work and many great creative minds – look forward to seeing you again here ;-))

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