Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Making our way back up north!

Here we are, back in a remarkably mild and sunny Saddleworth. Well, at least Tuesday was remarkably mild and sunny. The forecast promised more cloud than sun but they were wrong. Definitely more sun than cloud! Wednesday promises sun and cloud with an occasional shower. At least it's not predicting rain, rain and more rain! 

It is, however, decidedly cooler here in the North West than it is down south. We spent a few days with offspring number one and his family at the far end of the tube system, in Buckinghamshire, at the point where you can no longer call the underground service the underground. The place was very mild and full of flowers. 

On Saturday we went into London itself. Our plan was to go to see some Botticelli at the Victoria and Albert Museum. A what's-on-in-London website had told us about this; what they neglected to put in clear and obvious large letters was that this exhibition does not start until some time next spring. So instead we went to the Courtauld Institute to admire the paintings. Some Van Gogh, Manet, Degas, Gauguin, Kandinsky, among other stuff. Even a very early Picasso, before his models began to have their facial features rearranged into odd places. 

Goodness knows what the insurance must cost them. The value of one room alone must run into millions! 
The art was wonderful. The building itself is worth visiting, with a most impressive staircase. 

Unfortunately the Institute's cafe leaves much to be desired. Looking at lots of fine art (or Fine Art) is quite exhausting and we really needed refreshment. So before moving on we went into the depths of the building for a cup of tea. Such a refined establishment does not have a cafeteria style service; you wait to be seated and they give you time to study the menu before coming to take your order. We opted for an afternoon tea (scone and a pot of tea) between the two of us. The scone was a great disappointment. more of a rock bun than a fruit scone. No amount of tasteful serving with little pots of jam and cream could make up for the fact that it was difficult to cut the thing in two. We succeeded but felt rather disappointed in the result. 

At another table a lady on her own had ordered the same. She did not succeed in slicing her rock bun/scone in order to butter it. Hers ended up in crumbled pieces and she called the waitress over to tell her that the thing was too hard for her to eat. She was sending it back and only wanted her pot of tea. She demanded to know if it was fresh. With a sniff the waitress told her that all their cakes are freshly baked each day! Now, I suspect that the scones were overcooked rather than stale but whatever the truth of the matter, these were not the standards one expected of a venerable institute such as the Courtauld! 

 Otherwise our trip to the capital was almost without incident and we had a very pleasant weekend, setting off back for the North West on Monday. Disaster almost struck as we strolled down the hill to the station to catch the not-quite-underground to Euston. A few minutes into our stroll I remembered that my mobile phone was still plugged into a borrowed charger in our son's kitchen. Leaving Phil to pull two wheelie suitcases, I ran back up the hill, retrieved the phone, ran down the hill again and reached the station with two minutes to spare before the train set off. 

That was quite enough adventure and excitement for me, thank you very much!

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