Thursday, 25 August 2011

In Which There Are Friends, Art and Food

(Photo from Cathedrals Express website)
I'm home now, having had a great couple of days in London.
I travelled up by train, which was a a smooth journey, through mainly rain-washed ladscape, and which included a somewhat surreal encounter as, on pulling in to Basingstoke staition, I saw a rather beautiful Steam-Engine - 'Tangmere', complete with vintage carriages., and diners sitting a little lamp-lit tables.

A little research tells me that this is a locomotive operated by a company called 'The Cathedrals Express', and that it is a post-war, Battle-of-britain class loco.  It looked very sleek and glossy, and all of the people on board looked as though they were enjoying themselves.

I got to Waterloo just in time for the really heavy rainstorm, and rushed up the Strand to our hotel, where I met up with my sister, who was not only providing me with accommodation (dur to haveing enough reward points for a free night's stay) but also brought lunch enough for two with her, so we were able to eat before venturing out for the afternoon.

We went to the National Portrait Gallery first, where we inspected a lot of Tudor and Stuart monarchs, and sir Francis Drake's choice of (pink) doublet  and hose, besides speculating on who it was who first  thought that huge ruffs were a good fashion choiuce, before meeting up with my friend E, and her friend A, at which point we adjourned to the cafe for tea and conversation, before popping round the corner to  The National Gallery where we dicussed our qualifications to write an art guide (Sample entry "Rubens - good at bums, a bit weak on boobs.".) Doctor Who (we checked Van Gogh's 'Sunflowers', just in case it mentioned Amy) and admired lots of pictures. I found time to check on Henri Rousseau's  Surprised, which is one of my favourites, and then we exited via the gift shop, and had a look at the giant  ship-in-a-bottle they've currently got opn the 4th plinth in Trafalgar Square, then went back to the hotel for a quick cuppa, before heading out for supper.

We'd booked at a restaurant called Arbutus, which my sister (the other one) recommended. It's nice. It has a Michelin star, but they do a fixed price pre-theatre meal which made it do-able for us.

And it was yummy.I picked the Salt cod brandade, then what the menu described as a 'pork and spinach meat ball' but was really a faggot - I liked it, it was very meaty, with a real punch to it,and just a touch of offal, although I suspect it wouldn't be to everyone's taste. We had some rather nice white rioja to go with it.In fact, the only disappointment was the cheese - it was very nice, but being given two small slices when you are expecting a choice of cheeses from the tantalising cheese-board you've passed on your way in is - well, a bit of a let down.

but apart from that, it was great. And it carried us nicely through til it was time to head down Charing Cross Road to Whyndhams Theatre, ready to see Mr Tennant and Ms Tate...

(in the next post...)