Thursday, July 28, 2011

Happy Days...

Yesterday (Wednesday), was one of my lovely London days, which I must say are few and far between lately. However, as it was one of my days off (from Grandson) I scooted up to Town to luxuriate in a quick visit to Peter Jones and then a much longer look at the Summer Exhibition.

Dipping into P.Jones for a cup of coffee is always a delight, and sitting in the top floor cafe next to the window you get simply the best free view of London's rooftops (well, the coffee actually costs £2.50, but who's counting?). Anyway, after that refresher, I tootled off to the Royal Academy on the bus, and skirted round the lovely water splashes which are constantly bubbling over the stones in the Courtyard. Such a nice idea and it obviously delighted the children, who were running and splashing and generally having a wonderful time in the sunshine. Once inside, I headed for the ticket desk and asked for a Senior ticket for the Summer Exhibition. Imagine my delight when the young man on duty asked me for "proof of age, please". I laughed and asked if he was serious, then produced my bus pass - but a woman standing behind me was terribly miffed. "He didn't ask me for proof of age" she sniffed:-)

I missed the Summer Exhibition last year, so was very happy to make it this year. I always start off with the intention of doing it justice, but there is just so much to absorb that I have to take a break half way round, and usually end up feeling exhausted. This year was no exception. As always, my favourites are the smaller prints and paintings, and this year there were lots of animal subjects - funny I know, but there's usually some sort of theme, and this time it was animals, and lots of dogs! The nicest was a little black and white etching of "Morandi's Dog" having a good scratch - very funny. I also spotted a frog, an armadillo, a turtle and even a polar bear. My favourite though was a small lino cut, very Eastern European in style, printed in black and white and called "Driving Rain": a little man on a motor bike is splashing through driving rain and guess what it's raining? Cats and dogs!

They've done something awful to the Royal Academy restaurant. I was so looking forward to having lunch there in one of my breaks, but it has changed for the worse. It used to be bright and light, with artistically painted walls and lovely food to choose from. Now, however, it's dark and rather forbidding. There's a maitre'd who smarms up with a big menu (with big prices) and it's table service or nothing. I voted for nothing and went to sit in the Courtyard, in the sunshine,with a sandwich and a ginger beer. I do wonder who is responsible for these "improvements" however, I can't imagine that anyone who used to eat there regularly (or even once a year, like me) would consider this makeover an improvement. All they've succeeded in doing is turning a lovely, welcoming space, which served really good food, into just another posh, overpriced restaurant

After my culture overload, I staggered off to meet Son for a drink and a chat - we needed a catch-up as I hadn't seen him for a couple of months. He was looking very well, as he's just back from a holiday in Croatia. He has been jetsetting around as he was in Cannes in May, back and forth to Poland since then (which is where his new girlfriend hails from) as well as the Croatia trip. He's planning to take a Sabbatical of sorts next year (not for a year, but for a few months). I think it's such a good idea, I asked if I could go along too! Maybe not, but I do think it's a great plan. Anyway, it's something I wish I'd done when I was young...happy days.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Student City..

Well, the student season has started in earnest here in not-so-sunny Brighton. My first Summer student arrived on Sunday (which was very hot and sunny actually) and though I was expecting a young woman from Switzerland, I wasn't prepared for a 22 year-old Turkish Muslim who lives in Switzerland (was in fact born in Switzerland), speaks German and Turkish and whose family run an Italian restaurant in Berne! Beat that! That has to be the most multi-cultural situation I've ever encountered all in one person. She is extremely nice too - very polite and we will get on famously I'm sure. She is here for six weeks and will be joined next Sunday by a man from Brazil, a mature student of 44, who is an English teacher and is coming to brush up on his English teaching skills for a couple of weeks. After him comes a Russian girl for three weeks, so we have a full house for six weeks altogether, and no doubt it will be a pretty full-on cultural experience too. With any luck we can also expect a few laughs language-wise along the way!

Added to that, it's the start of Grandson's summer holidays. He finishes school on Friday and is actually leaving St. Aubin's, which will be rather sad for all of us.
Never mind - it was exactly what he needed when he and Daughter moved back from dreadful Dorking, and now he is quite ready to move on. The lovely teachers in the pre-prep could not have been better, and we have chosen presents and cards for Grandson to give them. Tomorrow is Sports Day, so we are hoping for a bit of sunshine so that we can enjoy the races and our picnic. Afterwards there is the Class 2 end of year performance, The Enormous Crocodile, in which Grandson is playing Humpy-Rumpy the Hippo. That just leaves Friday to say goodbye to everyone, and I expect there will be a few tears. Luckily though he is not the only one leaving - there are four going altogether, for different reasons I'm sure, but I'm equally sure that lots of families are really feeling the pinch when it comes to affording something like private school these days!!

Time for bed. Must be up bright and early to make ham rolls and cook sausages for the picnic. Oh, and I've bought some of those gorgeous little pork pies to have with our salad. Yum yum, pig's bum (oops, don't mention pork, ham or bacon for the next six weeks, or sausages, and certainly not pigs...:-)