London: St Martins in the Field Cafe, the National Gallery and Extinction Rebellion

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An artist copying a painting in front of an audience at the National Gallery

Yesterday morning we were held up by workmen coming to replace a couple of windows in the apartment. I wanted to check on their work as we had problems previously. It was only two of the windows being replaced, rather pointlessly, to hang from the opposite side when in casement mode. One of the replaced windows seems slightly wonky, the handle doesn’t end up completely straight and the window doesn’t tilt as much as the others, but I may leave it for now. When Gary has other people staying here they may find problems and he can follow it up. Basically, things work.

They left in time for us to go out for lunch before visiting the National Gallery. We knew that Trafalgar Square in front of the Gallery is a place where protesters are sitting, but as there hasn’t been violence we thought it was safe enough to check things out.

Lunch first, at the underground cafe at St Martins. This is a cafeteria type cafe with good food, not too fancy, located in the crypt.

We wandered out into the square and observed the protesters from the edge closest to the gallery.

There are three cafes in the National Gallery and for afternoon tea we chose one which had subdued lighting and a view of Trafalgar Square. The seating was comfortable as well.

Afterwards, before heading back home, we took a walk amongst the protesters. We felt fairly safe with all of the police around and the overal general good feeling of a peaceful protest. We were intrigued by the people dressed as living statues in red costumes and I followed up today on Google.

Who are the Red Brigade who silently appear at Extinction Rebellion protests?

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Asking people to sit so they weren’t blocking the view of the Red Brigade.

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It was a very grey day, but there was surprisingly little rain when we were out.

 

 

London: British Library and ‘Little Venice’

The British Library is a relatively modern library (1973) incorporating the old British Museum Library as well as some other collections. Red bricks are used to blend in with the other buildings in the area such as St Pancras International Station, which is across the road. Inside, it is a very interesting place, with a collection of very old books and a copy of the Magna Carta, a shop, bookshop and what appeared to be cafes on every floor. There are seating areas everywhere with tables and plug in facilities and they were just about all occupied by young people with mostly Apple laptops.

On the left, St Pancras, on the right, the British Library

After we left, we realised that we didn’t actually see the reading rooms. It is not a lending library, but a place to do research like our WA State Library. Although the building is relatively stark on the outside, the interior has enough curves to make it feel a delightful place to be.

We caught the Thameslink train which takes us straight from East Croydon Station to St Pancras and had tickets that allowed us to catch buses as well. The bus to Little Venice took about 30 minutes. The area is a bit disappointing. We have been to canal areas in other cities and they are usually picturesque, but there was something a bit neglected about the area that mean that despite the willows, bird life and beautiful surrounding townhouses, it just missed being lovely. The houses mostly appear to have been converted into flats, as evidenced by TV aerial cords snaking up the outside of buildings. They are not even confined to back of the houses.

I had hoped to get a photo of these swans, which were a sort of motley colour in stead of pure white. But you can see that they made their escape before I could, and the camera wasn’t able to keep up with the action enough to get a non blurry photo.

Stephen had read about a historic pub in the area where we hoped to have afternoon tea, but we found it not very hospitable and found a tiny cafe nearby.

It was a grey day, as you can see from the photos, but we didn’t have any rain and the temperature was pleasant for walking, cool but not cold.

Our journey home on a different bus seemed very long, but there was interest in going through different residential areas of inner London, some more posh than others. Of course, it is all very expensive, but some areas seemed run down and others very vibrant, with interesting shops and cafes.

Our train tickets also allowed us to take the tram home for the same price. We enjoyed leftovers, followed by fruit and ice cream for tea.