Saturday, 10 December 2016

A Long Weekend in London

 I visited London, by train, with David for long weekend from late on Thursday evening until Tuesday, staying in a friend's flat in Islington.

Friday daytime, David had his own thing to do. I explored the local area, around Camden Passage, a bit then went to the medieval embroidery exhibition 'Opus Anglicanum: Masterpieces of English Medieval Embroidery' at the V and A . I enjoyed it but less so than I thought I would. There were major tube problems so it had taken me longer to get there than expected. 

David came and joined me for a latish quick lunch. Then we looked around the exhibition ‘You Say You Want a Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966-1970’.

We had headphones with appropriate music playing as we reached the correct part of the exhibition. I was at school during this period and pretty disinterested in music, politics and fashion - I would say I really only became aware of these in 1971, the year I started university, when I'd just turned 17. David is a few years older and was interested in music, playing and listening - and much more aware of political issues. But not fashion.

Two exhibitions on the one day is too much so I was glad to leave for my meeting with Kate. I left in good time but the ongoing tube issues on the Piccadilly Line made me a bit late. Kate of Fabrickated had said it would be nice if we could meet when I was in London. We arranged for me to pop into her office, close to where I was due to meet my oldest daughter. This was the best we could do with our clashing schedules. It was lovely to meet with someone you otherwise know only through their blog. I also briefly met Marijana of Sew2Pro,  whose blog I also follow, which was lovely. I stayed with Kate longer than either of us had planned as my daughter was held up. Even so, the time was brief and hopefully we will be able to meet for a longer period sometime in the future, outside the office environment.

David had originally planned to come with me but had to return to the flat to pick up Helen's parcels (her birthday presents and some parcels that had come to ours by post) and then made his way independently to Helen's flat. I ended up travelling there without waiting for Alison as she was so delayed and I was so cold. I usually associate London with heat but not this weekend! It was freezing.

Helen tried on her birthday skirt (see blog post, now updated with a photo).

To my surprise, Helen liked the skirt and it fitted!  Not so the ribbed polo jumper. Helen thought I'd bought a size too big based on the size label but it was actually a little small - but the neck didn't lie nicely, anyway, so that will go back. She didn't really comment on the sewing book I gave her!  ‘A Beginner's Guide to Making Skirts: Learn how to Make 24 Different Skirts from 8 Basic Shapes’ by Wendy Ward.  I think it looks good. She tried on the silk dress she wants me to hack to see what if any changes she wanted. I decided to go to Goldhawk Road on the Monday to see if I could buy suitable silk - red, sandwashed. Helen thought her dress was the perfect shade, really a true red but if the exact shade was not available, she'd prefer bluer rather than more orange. This surprised me - I need a cool red but I thought Helen was probably an autumn,  needing a warmer red. I'm no expert,  of course. 

Helen had made a lovely meal. She wasn't feeling well so even more amazing. This was the first time we'd been in her flat since the new bathroom was fitted and the decoration and furnishings finished. We'd taken a bottle of champagne for a celebratory drink. There was plenty of wine with the meal, too. A lovely evening. It was sad that Joanee couldn't join us. Afterwards, we had our first Uber trip back to Islington. Alison was staying with Helen.

On Saturday we all met up at Borough Market. 

Fabulous looking and tasting food. No photos of the amazing food - it was just too busy to even think of it. We bought some cheese (which we accidentally left behind in the flat but my friend is bringing it after her next trip down,  next week) but overall were very aware of carrying limitations. Lovely street food too. We went to the Christmas Fair in the nearby Cathedral (where amazingly one of Anthony's workmates was getting married that very day and we saw him arriving) Afterwards, Anthony left us to watch the England rugby game. 

The rest of us went to the Tate Modern to see the exhibition of Elton John's photographs ‘The Radical Eye: Modernist Photography from the Sir Elton John Collection’ and visit the Christmas market. The exhibition was interesting but not really my scene.  

We all met up for mulled wine and then travelled to Islington where we had a lovely meal in the Fig and Olive. And within walking distance of our flat. I don't have a suitable photo.

Sunday morning we visited Columbia Road Flower Market, which we love. Photos can't do justice to the colours, the smells, the atmosphere, so no photo! 

Unfortunately, we didn't feel able to carry any flowers etc home. I so wish we had similar on our doorstep. We could have spent a fortune! Alison did buy a little as she was going straight home and has since created some lovely DIY Christmas decorations - versions of what we saw. Helen still wasn't feeling well and feeling really cold so we went back with her to her flat. We had a lovely lunch and left her to recuperate.

Afterwards,  David and I went to the Barbican to visit ‘The Vulgar. Fashion Redefined’ exhibition.

I really wasn't sure about this exhibition. David liked it. I found the concept a little pretentious, I think. Maybe I just have a different definition of vulgar. I did enjoy the fashion. Amazingly, this was my first visit to the Barbican. As it was Sunday,  the Conservatory was open. An amazing space. However, rather dark. I guess in daylight it's brighter. Some of the displays were ill-lit, too,  and I had great difficulty reading the badly positioned placards,  twice briefly setting off the alarm. Nevertheless, I would go back. We got back to the flat much more quickly than we had got there. Quiet, simple night in. Warmer, since we managed turn the heating on.

When we left the flat on Monday to travel west, we found that there has been a massive flood from a burst water main,  causing millions of pounds worth of damage and so much distress on our doorstep. Camden Passage which I had visited and had coffee was at the centre of this. The retailers rely on Christmas trade so the timing is particularly devastating for them and the affected householders. Traffic, including buses, was diverted away. There were so many emergency vehicles and police.

We travelled to Goldhawk Road by tube. I was extremely focused and didn't buy fabric other than the silk! I looked at all the shops but ended up returning to the first I'd tried; the one we thought we'd buy in had a beautiful green (Helen's 2nd choice) but not the correct red. I hadn't realised that so many of the shops are linked. As I walked on,  I was asked if the fabric I'd seen in the previous shop hadn't suited. In one case, they had obviously gone to one of the other shops to bring me a bolt.

David bought a leather hide in Missan West, which had opened there since we last visited, though we have shopped in the Soho branches. He plans to make a camera bag. While there, we also visited Shepherd’s Bush Market. I bought a couple of zips. There were a few stalls selling haberdashery but I was focused!

I went to Oxford Street afterwards while David returned to the flat with his unwieldy hide. I couldn't cope with the crowds. There was no pleasure in it. I did see a coat I liked - cost £3350!! Simple, beautifully made - I aspire towards this. I don't think I bought anything at all and when David and I met up later it wasn't long before we gave up! 

We had dinner in Mem & Laz Brasserie in Islington. The highlight of this restaurant is the display of fabulous lights, which I tried to photograph on my phone but this didn't work.

Tuesday - home. A relief, to be honest. I've since started on the pattern for Helen's dress but it is a bit more complex than I realised - getting there,  though. I'll take it to Dan's Sewing Bee on Monday evening to see if I can progress. No point in posting photos yet - to come!
Not much time before Christmas! 


  1. You have had quite a time - all sorts of interesting ideas and places. I somewhat miss all of that, but then, at the end, you are glad to be getting away from it all again, and so would I! And as you say, fighting crowds and navigating public transport rather take the fun out of things.

    1. We usually try to fit too much in, which is tiring. I enjoy my visits, but am happy to live where I do.

  2. It was really special to see you Anne. You are just as interesting (and focused!) and kind in real life as you are on the blog. It was so kind of you to bring me a range of special needles (easier to thread). Next time we will go to see something really interesting together.

    1. Thanks, Kate. I have only today seen this comment as it had been sent to spam!! I'm not sure why as I get other comments from you. Sorry about that. I enjoyed meeting you.


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