Thursday, May 29, 2003

We spent yesterday in the glorious majesty of the Victoria and Albert museum in warm and sunny London. We travelled up yesterday morning, on the train with our friends John and Jane, in order to see the highly praised Art Deco exhibition. We arrived with plenty of time to spare, before our timed entry tickets would give us access to the exhibition, so taking advantage of the fact that we needed to be in the South Kensington area, we set off for The Conran Shop. Located in the gorgeous Michelin Building, we treat it more like a museum that a shop. Full of sublime furniture at outrageous prices, it's a place where we have wasted many hours furnishing imaginary rooms.

Then it was onto the V&A, the exhibition itself was a bit of a mixed bag. The initial rooms aimed to explain the roots of the Deco movement, which was a good idea but resulted in lots of displays, with only partial interest for me. Things picked up as we moved through the next room, the highlight being the restored former entrance to the Strand Palace Hotel. Many years ago we saw some pictures of the magnificent interior of this hotel, so on our next visit to London we were delighted to get a reasonable deal in the hotel. We arrived full of anticipation, only to find a bland and functional building with no sign of the beauty we had expected, everything had been removed in 1969! Still at least it was kept safely and this was our chance to see it at long last. The exhibition really came into it's own in the final, which concentrated on Art Deco in the USA. As I have said before, one of the reasons we love New York is the abundance of Art Deco architecture which still exists. Lots of fantastic things to see here, one highlight was a huge scale model of The Rockefeller Centre. The building is so vast that when you see it he flesh, it's difficult to appreciate the scale of the place. We also saw some brilliant furniture, I think that once the American bought into the concept of Art Deco, they did so in such a huge way that millions of objects and hundreds of amazing buildings were produced. Fantastically many of them are still with us today.

After that we had a drink and a yummy piece of cake in the amazing surrounds of The Gamble Room". Is there a more ornate café in England? Or indeed anywhere?

Then we went around the corner to The Science Museum where we spent several happy hours looking at all manner of domestic appliances from this century. You could play with lots of things and also watch some incredible American TV adverts from the 1950's and 60's. Great fun.

From there a quick trip of the top floor of a double decker bus took us to Edgware Road, where we feasted on huge amounts of delicious Lebanese food. Eventually we waddled off towards Paddington, in the warmth of a summer evening. Tired, stuffed and happy.


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