As you may have guessed from the silence that has fallen around these parts; things have all been a bit crazy the past few months. When it got to late September, I became increasingly aware that if I didn’t take some leave from work I would being burning out in quite a spectacular way.
So, about a month ago I decided to take a week off to just enjoy living in London, and to make a dent in my list of places I wanted to visit in the city.
National Portrait Gallery, St Martin’s Place
Whilst London’s museums are places that I’m always happy to visit, there is something about art galleries that make me feel a little bit…unintelligent. However, with a wealth of free ones in London, I really need to move past this and so the National Portrait Gallery seemed like a good place to start.
Going during the week meant that it wasn’t too busy at all, and I could find all those paintings that are so famous; the Tudor monarch paintings (including Elizabeth I and Anne Boleyn), the only portraits of Shakespeare & Jane Austen and the Branwell Bronte portrait of his sisters. It was also really good to learn more about the abolitionist movement and the British Empire. It’s obviously a bit white man heavy, and the ‘modern’ end gallery is a bit strange (…not sure Ed Sheeran really deserves to be in the same museum as Mary Wollstonecraft), but I did have a really good morning here.
Opera: Passion, Power & Politics at the Victoria & Albert Museum, Cromwell Road
The V&A is my absolute favourite museum (thus far!) in London. I love the variety of the exhibits they have and the building itself is just stunning. I was still a tiny bit nervous about forking out for this exhibition. I’m (perhaps obviously) really into politics, and did a special project at school about the intersection between socio-political context and theatre; but opera is not an art that I’ve ever seen live.
However, I needn’t have worried as this exhibition is fantastic, and definitely doesn’t require you to know (anything) about opera. You’re given a neat audio set; which plays specific pieces of music and audio as you move through the hall. The exhibition takes you on a tour of several European cities, a key opera associated with it and the historical events at the time. I was fascinated to learn about the separation in Italy, to see how little attitudes towards foreigners have moved in the UK and I thought the USSR section was also really interesting. I’d highly recommend this (and the seriously great cafe).
The Paignation, Cabot Square
My housemates & I are always looking for good places for drinks in our local area, and The Paignation has always been on our to go list due to its really pretty fairy-light festooned exterior.
So we decided to head there for some after-work drinks/after-chilling-all-day drinks on the final day of my staycation. Due to its position in Canary Wharf you can really handily book tables even just for drinks which means you don’t have to awkwardly stand. The drinks are great and it’s within handy stumbling distance of Shake Shack; home of frankly one of the best burgers I’ve ever had
I also went to the theatre three (THREE) times; including twice in one day. I met up with my Mum and we ate more pasta than necessary at Spaghetti House, before checking out the matinee of Dreamgirls. It was my third time, and I just want to say that Karen Mav and Jocasta Almgill were fabulous as Effie and Deena. I also watched Beginning that evening, and followed it with Evita on the Thursday.
The battery reset that this week gave me was so needed, and definitely set me up for dealing with the ongoing (minor) crisis that is work at the minute. What else should I be adding to my London list?