Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Fortnight: The Past Two Weeks

Confession: I'm awful at titling things (current blog post included) ....

I've been a busy busy bee since I've come back across the pond. Today marks the start of my third week of classes (Already?!). I have so much to do, but unfortunately I'm not feeling pressured enough by the 2ish weeks away deadlines, so I've been watching Pretty Little Liars (not my proudest Netflix decision, but for now I'm fine with it) and traipsing around London! You saw my post two weeks ago which means you know how crazy busy that first week back was, but I've done much since then, so it's time for another update!

Tara and I went to the Leighton House Museum. It was amazing. We went on a Monday, when we don't have class, it's our new thing this term. We are trying to take London for all its worth while we still can!

Downstairs Foyer (I actually don't know what to call this room)
Artist Studio
This house was so beautiful. You're not allowed to take pictures, but I snapped these two while I was there. The house belonged to the artist Frederic Leighton and right now there is an exhibition on there called "The Victorian Obsession." I didn't know anything about the house before we arrived, but it is only about a 15 minute walk from where I live. I was very pleased to find not only a beautiful home (that we were admitted into FOR FREE thanks to our magical passes) but two art exhibits! Talk about a win win! It also houses "The Roses of Heliogabalus" by Lawrence Alma-Tadema in a little gallery area right off the artist studio. Who knew we would be stumbling onto that masterpiece?!

The house was amazing and contained rooms such as the Arab Hall (the back most room in the Foyer picture I took), which was built specifically for the Islamic tiles Leighton brought back from his travels in the Middle East. There is a stuffed peacock in one room and some type of animal rug in another, unfortunately I can't remember now what animal. The lesson I learned from this adventure was, if you have been to London multiple times and are looking for something off the beaten path, there are multiple house museums in London, and I hope to check out some more while I am here and recommend you do the same!

After the Leighton House, we walked to Kensington Palace where we had a reservation for high tea!

Kensington Palace in the winter, I'll have one in every season soon!

High Tea, the Royal way!
the Orangery
Well, as you well know, I am no stranger to high tea! And I must say, the Orangery at Kensington Palace did not disappoint. Their scones were small (but you get two of them, so that wasn't a big deal) and they make up for it through their clotted cream, which is the best I've had in London thus far! Plus its at Kensington Palace, you just really can't beat that.

It was my mom's birthday last week.

I left her a mug from London in my closet for her to find on her birthday, and I also sent her a postcard tea (that's why I was shopping on oxford street in my last post), which she got in the mail only yesterday. Postcard Tea is a cute little shop off Oxford street that lets you mail loose leaf tea around the world as a post card! It's really awesome! I hope to have a reason to send some again while I'm here!

Tara and I went gallivanting all over London on Tuesday.

We had class at the Tate Britain in the morning, then we went to two different contemporary art galleries in totally different areas of the city, and then we hustled back to the Tate for our timed entrance tickets for the Turner exhibition (we got in for free. Because magic cards!)

We rode bus 88 (I think, maybe it was 80?) to get to one of the galleries and it was the perfect bus if you want a quick site see of London. We passed Big Ben and Trafalgar Square! It was really awesome! I've only seen those places from the street level, so being up in a double decker bus made for a fun time.
Tara walking through Richard Serra's "Backdoor Pipeline" at the Gagosian Gallery
 The Turner exhibit was SO CROWDED!!! Neither of us enjoyed it, which is sad because it was such a huge collection of works, and I absolutely love his stuff! It was actually an exhibit of his older works, which I love even more! Oh well, that's London on the last week of a big name art exhibit.

Thursday we had class at the Tate Modern, which means I got to see this fella on my way to class!

I just love St. Paul's
On Friday we had our first ever Drink and Draw. Us Grad students have to make it through this stressful time somehow. So, how do we that? We pick an artist, bring art supplies, food, and wine, and sit and make copies of famous art works. It was quite the time! And we plan to keep this new tradition going this term! The artist that was picked last week was Kandinsky, and since he is an abstract artist it was easy to sit there with paper and markers and just draw shapes while having great conversation!

My copy of Kandinsky's "Lake Starnberg"
On Saturday I finally got to see my friend Adrienne again! She let me use her suitcase when I had to totally pack out of my room and I brought her back some stuff from America!! So, we went to Portobello Market, cause I've never been and it's really close to where I live, which made it easy for her to swing by and grab her stuff.

I nofficially have to watch the movie Notting Hill, I've only seen the first 10 min. So, Adrienne and I wandered around the market and ate some really good Thai food (my fave!) and then we went to whole foods and I showed her where I go to school! Side note: I now officially have to watch the movie Notting Hill (I've only seen the first 10 min, which doesn't count).

I got back to my room and received a key to my new room. Over the break I had been thinking about moving rooms to a single, it's better for my studies as I put in really late hours and London likes to go to sleep at 6pm. So, I stay up late in my room, which isn't fair to my roommate who has to get up early to teach and practice the cello. I heard about a room change possibility on saturday morning, and saturday afternoon I had the key, and saturday evening I was moved in. Talk about last minute!

My new single room. Looks the same as my old room, except there is only one of everything, including one tiny window.
But, my one tiny window gives me an awesome view over the rooftops of London (I'm on the 5th floor!)
My retriever self is a little flustered about changing rooms, but I think once I get settled in and am here a few more days it'll be my new London home.

So, once again, Monday rolled around and Tara and I went to St. Paul's Cathedral. She wanted to see a contemporary installation there, which was actually really amazing, and I wanted to climb the dome. Did I mention we got in for free?! My friend hooked me up with some awesome St. Paul guest passes!

The dome! We climbed up to the part right above the domed roof, its right underneath the pillars above the dome.

I'm pretty good at taking illegal photos. This is the gorgeous monochromatic painted dome interior seen on our climb up.

Made it to the top of the Dome! I absolutely LOVE heights. I actually get really depressed when I come down from tall places back to the ground level.
Isn't this such an amazing view of London?!
St. Paul's reminds me of everything Italy. The view coming up from the Thames reminds me of walking round the Duomo in Florence everyday when I studied there, and the building itself reminds me of St. Peter's in Rome. It makes my heart ache for the Italian sun and architecture. Someday soon I'll go back! There's no way to keep me away, my heart belongs to Italy whether I want it to or not!

So, every last Monday of the month a pub in Camden holds an Art History Talk. Some of us decided to go this week, and it was actually really awesome! Hopefully we will go again!

Listening to the Art History talk! This was seriously the coolest experience!

Cool graffiti wall in Camden!
I also just booked the tickets for Caitlin and I to go to Paris when she is here for her spring break (in 38 days!) So, I stayed up late last night planning itineraries for her trip here. I'm super pumped to see her, even though I'm pretty sure she will hate me by the time she leaves as I plan to drag her ALL OVER London and Paris mercilessly trying to show her everything I can.

I seriously love this girl and can't wait to get her over here! (p.s. are these throw back pictures making anyone else wish I would just cut off all my hair, or is it just me?)
Like I said, It's been a crazy busy two weeks. I'm writing this blog because I don't want to work on my cover letter for internship and volunteer applications, and also because I'm putting off other things like reading for tomorrow's class and my first paper that's due in two weeks. And, even with all those things, I still have a lot of fun plans this weekend! Gotta make the most of London while I can!

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