Tuesday, May 31, 2022

her maj, family life, etc

This may be the strangest Jubilee - er - manifestation.  Let me introduce you to Kingston Eye Hospital's display - two banners, and between them what must, surely, be A Throne.  It says - Please Do Not Sit.  Luckily, there weren't quite people sitting on the floor today - they had wheelchairs, etc - but it was horribly crowded, and my father's whole run of appointments - a standard run - took over three hours.  Even this display was poor recompense.

Earlier in the day, we'd been into St Pancras where - mercifully - Alice had a negative Covid test - with the Gothic architecture providing a great backdrop:

Since both of us have spent the last ten days cycling through every known Covid symptom (albeit mildly) - even if continually testing negative - that was a considerable relief.  Who knows?  Not what we'd wanted for our vacation, but ...

Coming back over Putney Bridge, thunder skies ...

... and from our pub-hotel room in Wimbledon Village tonight, more dramatic lighting ...

and a somewhat forced attempt at a Happy Family Selfie.  Ah well.  Alice flies back tomorrow; I stay on, staying at my father's, for a bit ...


Monday, May 30, 2022

All Saints, Putney

Another damp day - with many Wimbledon obligations, but also a quick trip to Putney to see All Saints Church, and the magnificent windows and interior.  The architect was George Street; the designers Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris - I just wish I could have had more time there - which will require co-inciding with a service.  We were so lucky to get in, by pushing open the vestry door, because an OAP coffee morning was just ending, and we had a few minutes to look around, hosted by the kindest church ladies imaginable.


Sunday, May 29, 2022

different ends of an English day

We started the morning in Bristol - a walk to our favorite cafe, and then up to the Suspension Bridge and views over the Avon Gorge ...

... and then down to London, and to Wimbledon, where the Dog and Fox (where we're staying, in Wimbledon Village) has suddenly grown this new Platinum Jubilee - errr - homage.

Dinner, of course, chez my father ... and then walking back in semi-stormy light.  It's been a very good break away.


Saturday, May 28, 2022

Victorian Bristol

Walking around Bristol today has left me dismayed at my past self: I can't quite work out whether I had my unalert eyes clamped shut in the 1980s, or what.  Did I really not notice all the diverse Victorian architecture around me?  Why wasn't I out there drawing and taking photographs at every turn, or taking students on walks, or or or?  To be sure, I went to the Art Gallery a lot - see below - and revisiting it was like seeing old friends - but otherwise, I felt that I was dragging my heels in retrospective shame ...

But to be honest, I was greatly helped today by a very well-spent £7.99: Julia Killingback and Michael Pascoe's Explore Bristol: 2. Victorian Clifton.  So I looked up at this gateway going into Victoria Square, and saw Queen V herself.  This Cedar of Lebanon, in the middle of the square, dates from the 1840s.

Then this is one of the many Lansdown Place houses with iron pillars supporting railings.

The Bristol School of Dancing - built in 1893 as a Swedish Gymnasium - the keep-fit craze of the time - with bas-relief plaques supposedly by Bertel Thorvaldsen - so says the guidebook - they seem rather beat-up.

Then Cobblestone Mews, with hand-crafted cobblestones: one of the last Bristol streets to be lit by gas.

A fime house at the end of Worcester Terrace (1848-53), with Ionic columns.

A house on College Road, and -

Clifton College - amazing neo-Gothic architecture and, as is commemorated on this sign, the site about/for which Newbolt wrote "There's a breathless hush in the close tonight ... 'Play up! play up! and play the game." (A cricket game was about to happen, and parents were arriving ...).

... later, we went down to the Art Gallery: some Burne-Jones feet from The Briar Rose.  No.3 The Garden Court.

From Alma-Tadema's Unconscious Rivals;

Tissot's Les Adieux;

and then Samuel Colman's St James's Bristol (1824), which is a wonderful piece of social commentary, all across its crowded canvas (and how did I never take on board Rolinda Sharples' work - I need to go back to her!).

And then, finally - I had to go back to the English Department, at 3-5 Woodland Road.

We later walked to dinner at Pasta Loco in Cotham - very much recommended - and back ... 25,409 steps today.  We may sleep ...


Friday, May 27, 2022


It's very strange to be back, after thirty-seven years: like visiting somewhere in a dream.  Plenty of Bristol feels, and is, much the same - like, of course and above all, the suspension bridge (which we can see from our room!).  But then one goes somewhere else, and everything's changed.  Clifton Village I can find my way around, because the streets are the same, but almost all the shops are different (and so trendy!  And it's full of little cafes and coffee shops, like the one where we had breakfast (above).

We walked down Park Street - again, very different - many studenty vintage clothing stores - to the docks, which I were expecting to have changed beyond all memory (apart from the Arnolfini, and the Watershed, where I used to hire a darkroom and develop/print photos) - 

and then to the M Shed - a newish, community oriented Bristol history museum, with a terrific Richard Long painting on the stairwell, painted in River Avon mud, and commemorating a walk in 1996 from Bristol to the sea, keeping the muddy water of the Bristol Channel in view each day (120 miles in four days).

Then walking back up hill to Clifton - signs of the oncoming Jubilee everywhere - here's the Queen peeking out of a downstairs window, in full sized cardboard cutout form.

Little community gardens - this one below Royal York Crescent -

and, on Dover Place, these Ruskinian windows: I'd forgotten them, until I saw them again.  There's a lot that's rather like that ...


Thursday, May 26, 2022

The American Museum, near Bath - and Bristol

Why does our trip to England have to coincide with freezing cold, grey skies, and - not rain today, to be sure, but occasional drizzle?  It's a disappointment...  But we made it to the American Museum, near Bath, which I visited last in 1973, to be struck, above all, by the quilts.  Today, it was more striking for the gardens, which they are trying very hard to make, yes, American.  We went on  garden tour, until we could stand it no longer (not just Great Reverence towards Her Majesty, and Winston Churchill's speech in favor of Conservative Values, but a complete mangling of US history - the rose buds worn in the labels of the Confederate Soldiers in the War of Independence).  But the gardens themselves were wonderful, even if the tour guide was over-ambitious in her envisioning of the landscape, at some point in the near future, swaying with prairie grass.

Here's Mr Lincoln, behind some allium;

and here - unexpectedly! - some research materials: there was a small installation of work by the Anishinabeg artist Celeste Pedri-Spade: this is celebrating birch bark.

Many roses outside;

and then foxgloves,

and Silver Spring - another (and very different) allium.

Then we left off the car - alas, I'll miss her - at Bristol Airport, and Uber'd it into Bristol, where we're staying very near my old flat.  The middle flat - the one with the balcony - at 2 Clifton Park Road was the very first place that I bought: I think it was £19,000 in 1980, and I lived there for 5 years.  It seems a very long time ago ... and I expected more shivers of recognition than actually happened.  Maybe tomorrow?  And maybe the sun will come out?


Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Hauser & Wirth (Somerset) and The Newt

Today, gardens (and a lot of rain - indeed, we seemed to spend whole chunks of day sitting in the car wondering if it was going to stop raining/rain again in a few minutes.  Of course, we had our raincoats and umbrella, but it was chill, seeping rain, not drizzle).

However ... we went to Hauser & Wirth - very familiar from LA, of course, but I'd been wanting for a while to see the Piet Oudolf garden there.  The gallery itself isn't quite open with its Henry Moore show, but there were some installations in the gardens themselves;

and then, at the end of the Oudolf Field, the amazing shell-like Radić Pavilion.

This is what the architect, Smiljan Radić, has to say about it:

‘The Radić Pavilion is part of a history of small romantic constructions seen in parks or large gardens, the so-called follies, which were hugely popular from the late 16th century to the beginning of the 19th century. In general, follies appear as ruins or worn away by time, displaying an extravagant, surprising and often primitive nature. These characteristics artificially dissolve the temporal and physical limits of the constructions themselves with their natural surroundings. This pavilion takes these principles and applies them to a contemporary architectural language. Thus, the unusual shape and sensual qualities of the pavilion have a strong physical impact on the visitor. The simultaneously enclosed and open volumes of the structure explore the relationship between the surrounding environment and the interior of the pavilion. From the outside, visitors see a fragile shell in the shape of a hoop suspended on large quarry stones. Appearing as if they had always been part of the landscape these stones are used as supports, giving the pavilion on the one hand a physical weight and on the other holding a structure characterised by lightness and fragility. The shell, which is white, translucent and made of fibreglass, contains an interior that is organised around an empty patio at ground level, giving the sensation that the entire volume is floating. The shell’s surface appears torn thereby incorporating the surroundings of the garden into the interior. The floor is grey wooden decking as if the interior was more a terrace rather than a protected interior space.’

This is one of the Moores:

And then over at The Newt - four and a half miles away - an amazing set of gardens and structures (and a hotel, but we're not staying there ...) - including alliums, 

and a little thatched cottage in which were preserved, or distilled, herbs and dried flowers;

and some elegant hedges and beds - but not too elegant and regimented: the whole gardens seemed to be laid out according to systems of curves.  I hope, sometime, that I get to come back when it's not raining ...