72 hours of sheer joy it was, wasn’t it, our London break last week. London has always represented the top of the world for me, so yes, I’m biased. Guilty as charged. First time post Brexit, so far all is still good, buzzing, polished and polishing, metropolitan, cosmopolitan, huge, diverse, expensive, welcoming. However, it’s gonna be choppy ahead. For the United Kingdom, for London, for the rest of Europe, for everyone.
The reason, the cause, the motivator for this last trip to London was this magnificent David Hockney exhibition at Tate Britain that I just couldn’t allow us to miss. Its closing date is approaching so it really has been high time we went. (I started lobbying last spring when first announcements of this splendid show appeared, I persevered through summer and autumn, my man wilfully resisted for some (strange) reason, winter went by, spring burst out, clock was ticking ever so loudly, and voilà, stars aligned, for London we departed.)
Not only is there this fabulous Hockney show, there are thousands of possibilities in a city like London. If one comes from as monocultured a country as I do one simply needs to connect to power of everything multi- every now and again. The world is enormous and as far as I’m concerned it springs up most dearly in London.
Middle Eastern breakfast? Check.
Chinese dim sum? Check.
Portuguese wine? Check.
Indian dinner? Check.
Proper poached eggs? Check.
Delightfully charming British park? Check.
Glorious skyline? Check.
Sensible traffic signs? Check.
Great mind reminders? Check.
Typically British talk of weather? None. It’s amazing to see how people in such a weather-wise unpredictable place enjoy the outdoors no matter what. Drizzle? Don’t bother with the umbrella. It’s reserved for downpours. Winter coat? Unnecessary. It’s warm enough underground on the tube anyway. Al fresco luncheon? Anytime, not only for smokers, the vanishing breed. No matter how big a crowd, how many comers and goers, no one pushes, drags, touches you. The tube sees Nikes, Converses, generic no-brands amass but also Jimmy Choos, Italian stilettos, French ballet pumps and old-school British brogues alike.
London’s unavoidable landmarks? Galore. The morning we walked along the Thames it was exceptionally low, so much so that the rubbish collectors (and sand artists) were at work all along its drying bed. When I stopped and watched the colossal volume of water move, I could’ve sworn it was running in the wrong direction. (The tides, I know.)
The Borough Market? Business as usual. Lots of buyers, lots of curious loiterers. Plenty on offer from places near and far. Smells of delicious food, freshly roasted coffee and baked bread, colourful veggies and fruit, meat and fish, oysters, cheese, pastries, name it. And spices, certainly. The Spice Mountain is the shop in London for quality spices from all over the world. We intended to stop by and stock on much desired and needed spices and off we went with a full bag. We were stunned by the fact that the staff do calculations of every purchase mentally (!) before the proper receipt is issued – this in itself is a rare curiosity to experience in the west.
Leaving the bustling city of London aside, the true jewel of our trip remains the Hockney exhibition. Not only his famous depictions of water (see ↑) but also his portraits and landscapes are brilliant, really, so are the monochromatic studies and drawings, and last but not least his digital art (iphone/ipad paintings) is fascinating. I was growing more and more exhausted by the beautiful and powerful works of art from one room to the next, however, I found myself completely mesmerized by the fantastic video-screen walls titled The Four Seasons. Evidently, the artist was definitely struck by the changing seasons – come to think of it, we who live in the cycle of all four of them do take ’em for granted.
London absolutely continues to resonate with me forever. With memories like these I should be safe.
* LADY OF MAYFAIR (from the cocktail menu) This recipe has been adapted from the original 1934 luxurious cocktail created at Harry’s Bar, Venice. Ketel one vodka, elderflower syrup, lychee puree and lemon juice, topped up with Champagne.