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Published: November 27th 2007
River Thames ...
The cloudy sky, a touch of light, the London Eye and Big Ben in the background ... even though it's rainy sometimes it's just lovely to look at.
First week in London ... I admit it was a bit of a downer to leave Berlin and face the reality of my new life choice ... but happily I had the blow softened by getting to spend some time with Dave and Kristie from my India trip, who happened to be on the London leg of their year long round the world jaunt.
I've sorted a place to live in Clapham and am still in the job hunt, but having interviews where the feedback is good, just waiting something definite to fall into line. This means I've had a fair amount of time on my hands and outside of organising my life I got to spend spend a bit of time with Dave & Kristie doing a bit of sight seeing in this fair city.
One great thing about London is that most of the museums and galleries are free and as it can get a little chilly, it's a tempting way to while away a few hours. My firt gallery was a rainy afternoon at the British Museum. This place is amazing and absolutely huge! A couple of hours here is just a taste of the overall
It was all about mummies and 'liberated' artifacts
collection and so I didn't get "museumed out" too soon, I decided to spend some time in ancient egypt and greece. I was keen to see the Elgin Marbles
which were taken from the Parthenon back in the early 1800s with the agreement of the Ottoman authorities at the time. I'd seen a program some time ago about the controversy of this as the Greeks now want them back, even if it is only to be put into a museum, as they are effectively taking all the art off the Parthenon to protect it from pollution and acid rain. The eternal question of what to do with ancient plunder - do you return it or dig your heels in and keep it?
From the ancient to the modern ... art that is. I had to do the classic approach to the Tate Modern which is across the Millenium Bridge over the wide and mighty (but a bit dirty) Thames. The Tate Modern is housed in a converted power station so it's an impressive big building with it's blank brick face broken up by the old chimney and a glass extention on top. The front courtyard is used to display
across the Millenium Bridge
elements of current exhibitions, and that means at this point in time you get to go and play under a giant spider sculpture by Louise Bourgeois. Inside the building the od Turbine hall exists as a large space stretching the full height of the building. Intended as a display space, it is currently filled with a massive crack which is designed to address "the long legacy of racism and colonialism that underlies the modern world". Now I'm a person who likes modern art (selectively) but I tend to think this is just taking the piss. To me it's a long crack for people to fall over and according to the local paper apparently that purpose has been fulfilled by 15 people who have failed to show due care in the crack vicinity. The collection of the Tate is like any gallery/museum filled with some works I thought were great and others I just didn't get. I'm still looking for someone to explain to me how 2 flouro lights crossed over in a corner is art?? Light installations obviously aren't my cup of tea.
My favourite museum to date has to be the Natural Science Museum - all I can
My pal Rexxie
Animated and angry ... you can just see in his eyes how much he wanted me ... how could he not, after all he's only an animated dinosaur
say is show me a person who fails to get excited by dinosaurs (especially a big animated T-Rex) and I'll show you a person without a soul! I had a fab afternoon racing around the prehistoric displays, looking at the poor stuffed animals and birds (although they do note that they don't purchase them anymore as that encourages the wrong behaviour) and learning all about the earth. More biology, history and geology than I ever remember paying attention to at school.
It hasn't all been about museums - I went with Dave & Kristie to fly the Aussie flag and support the Socceroos against Nigeria at Craven Cottage, home of the Fulham Football Club. I'm happy to report the Australian stands were full and noisy although was personally stuck in the scurge of female life (the dunny line) when the only goal o the night was scored, although from the cheers it was a good one! I wore my green and gold wallaby jersey, but it was so chilly it was covered up most of the time. After that it was off to Putney for dinner and drinks at a pub on the banks of the Thames.
Fun with Dave & Kristie!
little trip with D&K (plus Laura their london friend) was a trip to Greenwich. Greenwich is actually a UNESCO world heritage site and the heart of this is the old Royal Naval College and the Maritime Museuam along with a the Royal Greenwich Observatory, home to Greenwich Mean Time. The nautical stuff was fine, but my main focus was to straddled time ... well the time line at least ... the point of 0 longtitude ... the prime meridien ... all highlighted by a shiny metal line on the ground and a green laser in the sky. Lucky for us at 4.30pm it was dark so we got to see the laser shooting across London. The observatory is up a wee hill surrounded by green open space and is really quite lovely. At the top you get a wonderful view across the Maritime Museum and over to Canary Wharf - well worth the trip!
Just a touch of this week's cultural events ... hopefully soon one of my jobs will fall into place to get some lovely pounds rolling in and I'll be a little more sorted. Until then ... more sightseeing!
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