Monday, March 19, 2018

Unexpected Details

Some of the wonder of Gothic architecture comes from the elaborate ornamentation.  Can you imagine designing and creating all those elements?

The downside to such ornate surfaces is that many wonderful details get be easily overlooked.  The gargoyles above the public entrance to Westminster Abbey were a surprise. The whimsy was unexpected.

Each of the gargoyles is unique!

Here's a close-up
Seen from below
Architecturally, this is a good example of implied symmetry and, more to the point for me, about having fun.  Westminster Abbey proves that something can be majestic and have a bit of silliness, at the same time.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

L * O * N * D * O * N

A member of the Queen's Guard
I've just returned from LONDON!!

Perhaps you've been to London, but I'd never been.  When my husband had to travel there on business, I hopped at the chance to join him.

We had to cut our trip short (to three days) due to the impending storm in New York, but the trip was still an absolute delight.  I'll be oohing and aaahing about it for a while, I'm sure, and reflecting on all I learned.  Some things I discovered:

* Did you know that you can observe Parliament in action?  I didn't.  I stumbled upon the opportunity and found it fascinating.  I got to observe debate on prison reform in the House of Commons provided, of course, that I promised not to shout out in response to anything said on the floor.

* Did you know that some of the underground trains have no car dividers?  It's like being inside a long snake as it twists and curves. Rather cool.  But it bungles up some of the James Bond tube foot chases, though.

* Did you know that you can go to free organ recitals at St. Paul's Cathedral?  We used that as an opportunity to see the cathedral on a Sunday, when tourists aren't allowed in unless they are attending a service or a special event.  The organ was a breathtaking instrument.

*  Did you know they still have all the original room keys in the Churchill War Rooms?  It's true.  Even after all these years.  They also still have the asbestos cloths they kept on hand in case of a fire.

I could go on and on, but you'd likely get bored -- or perhaps you have all already visited London.  I'm going to have to restrain myself.  I'm still all giddy from the experience and would otherwise likely do a play-by-play travelogue. So I'll limit myself to a few snippets and images.

The National Gallery at dusk

Sunflowers, 1888, Vincent VanGogh at the National Gallery

St Stephens Hall in Westminster.  The last public place you're allowed to take pictures on the way to the House of Commons

Courtier clothes rendered in paper at Kensington Palace

Regent Street at night

Magnificent Gothic architecture