Tag Archives: birthday

Reform at Open House London

Bravo to the team at Open House for another amazing opportunity to see inside London buildings not normally open to the general public. Chartered Accountants’ Hall normally joins in, but because of an extensive two year refurbishment decided to pass this year.

Due to an excellent seventy somethingth birthday thrown by Philip Taylor in the Reform (“in case he doesn’t make it to his 75th”) we actually awoke in one of the buildings in Open House. Being in Pall Mall, we thought a round trip of Marlborough House, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Banqueting House might be possible – and indeed it was.

All the buildings were stunning. Marlborough House (sadly unbeknownst to me before the visit) is a royal palace and the international HQ of the Commonwealth. Passing through the Blenheim Room (“one of the handsomest rooms in London”) we eventually made it to the State Drawing Room with the oversized meeting table set up for every country in the Commonwealth.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office continued the theme of intimidating foreign visitors (back in them olden times) with spectacular architecture and art, the Locarno Suite being a highlight. What was surprising is how long this was hidden under plasterboard and pigeon droppings before being unearthed during extensive restoration in recent years (and still ongoing).

The Banqueting House has been on the to-do list for a long time, and it was worth the wait. The Rubens ceiling pays some time spent studying it, with some handily placed bean bags providing an ideal viewing opportunity as well as somewhere to rest!

We will certainly be back next year.

Marlborough House

Marlborough House

FCO Staircase

FCO Staircase

Durbar Court, FCO

Durbar Court, FCO

Banqueting House - that ceiling

Banqueting House – ‘that ceiling’

Fourth Plinth

Fourth Plinth

Philip's party

Philip’s party

Waiting with one of the newer members

Waiting with one of the newer members

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Spem in Alium, Winchester style

Huge shout out to James and Elizabeth Montgomery for their very generous invitation to sing Spem in Alium to celebrate James’s 70th birthday. Taking much of Saturday 12 September to put together, most of that time seemed to be spent drinking, eating and socialising. There were separate choir practices in the morning before coming together for a final full rehearsal in the Cathedral Quire just prior to a performance in front of invited guests.

This time I sang tenor in choir 4, slowly working my way down the choir having sung tenor in choirs 1 and 2 previously. I think it fair to say that the final performance held together very well under the expert direction of Tom Seligman.

A very self-indulgent way to spend a Saturday (for me and my 70 fellows singers!).

Full copies for every singer

Full copies for every singer

Gathering in the Paul Woodhouse Suite first thing

Gathering in the Paul Woodhouse Suite first thing

Lunch!

Lunch!

Getting the 8 choirs into a horse shoe

Getting the 8 choirs into a horseshoe

Addressing invited guests

Addressing invited guests

Would you believe James thanked us for attending!

Would you believe James thanked us for attending!

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Walkie talkie birthday visit

Another birthday, another excuse to visit one of London’s newer towers, this time 20 Fenchurch Street. The Sky Garden at the top has recently been opened to the public along with two separate restaurants. After a slightly extended journey (change of trains at Basingstoke and a diversion around St Paul’s, as the Queen was attending a service to commemorate one year since the end of the British presence in Afghanistan) we went for a visit to the top, nipped into Leadenhall Market, took lunch in the delightful Darwin restaurant and went home via Borough Market. The views from the top of 20 Fenchurch Street were magnificent, with sloping glass helping. We even got to view the flypast of helicopters, a Hercules and a couple of jets looking down from Darwin. Worth a visit to the top.

 

#15 - as old as me

#15 – as old as me

Tower 42, Cheesegrater and Guerkin - oh, and Bex & Bry

Tower 42, Cheesegrater and Gherkin – oh, and Bex & Bry

Climbing gardens

Climbing gardens

St Pauls and BT Tower

St Pauls and BT Tower

Hanging gardens of Fenchurch Street

Hanging gardens of Fenchurch Street

Looking down at Bex

Looking down at Bex

Not many straight lines here

Not many straight lines here

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Comparing Queens – M2 and E2

A short break to Zebrugge (to celebrate our wedding anniversary) gave us the opportunity to compare the QM2 with an earlier (and only) cruise on the QE2. Both were staffed by extremely professional and courteous staff, but the QM2 was more like a Las Vegas hotel compared to the understated elegance of the QE2. Sad to hear about the slow demise of the latter ship. The brief visit to Bruges was a welcome break, but not sure Winchester Market has much to worry about in the global Christmas market stakes!

Birthday October 2008 - Central Lobby

Birthday October 2008 – Central Lobby

Wedding Anniversary 2014 - Central Lobby

Wedding Anniversary 2014 – Grand Lobby

Singing in the Queen's Room 2008

Singing in the Queen’s Room 2008

The largest ballroom at sea - 2014

The largest ballroom at sea – 2014

QE2 Deck and funnel

QE2 Deck and funnel

Balcony staterooms 2014

Balcony staterooms 2014

New York October 2008

New York October 2008

Early morning in Bruges December 2014

Early morning in Bruges December 2014

QE2 getting ready to sail

QE2 getting ready to sail

QM2 getting ready to sail

QM2 getting ready to sail

QM2 from the QE2 - final transatlantic trip

QM2 from the QE2 – final transatlantic trip

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Rembrandt and Alain Ducasse

Another birthday, another excuse to play hookey and do something else instead. This year consisted of a visit to the Rembrandt Late Works exhibition, another lunch deal at a noteworthy venue and a failed attempt to see the poppies at the Tower of London. Conclusions were (1) that the exhibition was rather overshadowed (much like the paintings) by the sheer number of people visiting the rather small galleries (not the case with Leonardo or Canaletto) and (2) the lunch deals at these wonderful restaurants really are worth considering. Although we missed the trip to the Tower on one of the old Routemasters still running, we did manage to catch a brief exhibition of new Routemasters in front of the National Gallery. I still hope to catch the poppies with a quick walk out from work one lunchtime.

rembrandt_ticket

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overdosing on Cath Kidston

Overdosing on Cath Kidston

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Course #11 of our three course lunch

Course #11 of our three course lunch

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Veronese, Matisse and the Shard

Another day trip to London – a late birthday celebration for Rebecca. Without children, but with art. The day built up to an evening lecture, ‘On Colour: Veronese and Matisse’ by the two curators of the current exhibitions for these artists.

First to the Tate Modern to hunt down Matisse in the form of the ‘Portait of Greta Moll’ (1908), even though the talk and future exhibition is on his cut outs. Good to see, as the portrait was compared and contrasted to the ‘Portrait of a Venetian Woman’ (1560), with attention drawn to the background of the later portrait, comparing it to the white on the sleeves of the earlier painting.

Portrait of Greta Moll

Portrait of Greta Moll (check the background)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Portrait of a Venetian Woman

Portrait of a Venetian Woman (check the sleeves)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A quick walk round the Tate Modern with some excellent and perhaps not such excellent artwork…

Challenging (I think)

Challenging (I think)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next a visit to the Shard with a stop in Hutong (entered via the Shangri La hotel). Amazing views, particularly from the award-winning loos (with a view). Then onto the viewing gallery at the top with spectacular views all round.

Top of the Shard

Top of the Shard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thence to the National Gallery and the Veronese exhibition. Not a particularly well known artist, perhaps, but magnificent pictures, use of colour and conflation of unexpected subjects (Christ and his apostles and the noble families of Venice paying for the pictures for example). Finally to the excellent talk on the two artists, who have often been referred to as ‘two of the great colourists of all time’. Bravo to Xavier F. Salomon and Nicholas Cullinan for an excellent lecture to round off the day.

Veronese - Magnificence in Renaissance Venice

Veronese – Magnificence in Renaissance Venice

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Happy birthday Milly

A quick trip to London with Milly to check out the ‘Mind Maps: Stories from Psychology’ exhibition at the Science Museum. Our first visit there but certainly not the last – and a smug feeling as we walked past the massive queues for the Natural History Museum before going straight into the Science Museum. Nice to buy Milly a legal drink, albeit rather laced with sugar and blue colour. Happy 18th!

A quick stop-off before the work of the day

A quick stop-off before the work of the day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The work of the day

The work of the day

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alcoholic blue sugar at the Hard Rock

Alcoholic blue sugar at the Hard Rock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Science museum - out of this world

Science museum – out of this world

 

 

 

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