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.