Erics do London, January 2007!
Other Eric and I just back from London and I thought I'd write a little recap of our trip before I go watch two episodes of Top Chef and the season one Project Runway reunion special. Also see my little dining observation in the previous post.
Now, many of you may already know that most of our travel is Kylie Minogue-related. I'm only partly joking; Other Eric is a huge fan and we've traveled several times to see her. I think we're done for a little while but we did go to London this time to see her big post-cancer treatment concert. We travelled to Australia last year to see her in Sydney but she had to cancel the tour right before we went so Eric really wanted a chance to see it. The concert was a blast, she looked and sounded fabulous, and the new Wembly tube station is such an improvement!
We love London but it's so expensive and we are ready to travel someplace different, like China or Turkey. When I go to London I try not to do too much and instead just see things I haven't seen before. For instance, last time it was the London Eye, a boat to Greenwich, a play at the Globe, walking across the Millennium Bridge, seeing the new central courtyard at the British Museum, etc.
Last time we went I did also drag Eric to my favorite London museum, the Wallace Collection (all those Watteaus!) but this time we just went to a few specific exhibitions. We saw the Tiffany show at Somerset House (a friend told me to get a magnifying glass and it really did make all the difference. Beautiful!), Sixties Fashion at the V&A, works from Damien Hirst's collection at the Serpentine Gallery, and we went on one of the slides installed by Carsten Höller in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern (http://www.tate.org.uk/modern/exhibitions/carstenholler/). I also spent two days trying to get into the Holbein show at the Tate. I guess it was worth it -- the paintings were pretty amazing -- but the galleries were packed like sardines so it was a little hard to enjoy them. I also got into the Turner Prize show, which was crap.
We did a couple of things Eric had done before but I hadn't, such as taking the train out to Windsor Castle. We also visited Kensington Palace, which had an exhibition of Diana's evening gowns. She sure wore a lot of velvet. After Kensington Palace we had high tea at the Orangery. It was very nice and it was affordable. We weren't dressed to go to the Ritz (sorry, Ms. Place).
One interesting thing we did was visit the Dennis Severs' House, which advertises itself as a "time capsule" of an 18th-century silk weaver's house. It has very interesting opening hours like "the Monday after the first Sunday of the month from 12 to 2." It's an 18th-century town house that is part museum and part installation art. It is furnished with smells and sounds and with burning candles and food so that you are supposed to feel like you just walked into someones home in a different time period. It sounds a little kitschy but it is actually very interesting because it is so different from a regular museum. The candlelight evening hours are supposed to be best for getting into the mood but the rainy afternoon we visited was pretty good (and it was cheaper). The website is http://www.dennissevershouse.co.uk/ and I recommend it if you want to do something different in London.
We also saw Avenue Q at the Noel Coward Theatre because it hasn't come to Los Angeles yet. Eric already knew some of the music but I didn't. We both really enjoyed it. We had dinner with an artist friend, Michael Petry (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Petry), and his partner and heard about the new shows he has opening in Houston (In the Garden of Eden at the Devin Borden Hiram Butler Gallery) and New York (America the Beautiful at the Sundaram Tagore Gallery, http://www.sundaramtagore.com/) and then we went to a club called Duckie at the old Royal Vauxhall Tavern. Coincidentally, there was a feature article about the Vauxhall in that week's Time Out London and it is a pretty interesting story: the tavern has been important in the history of gay London since World War II and it was built in 1863 on the site of a 17th-century pleasure garden. It was pretty packed on a Saturday night and Eric and I almost died from the smoke but we had a good time.
The weather was much better than we were expecting but we were expecting constant downpours. It was really just intermittent light rain and it was unseasonably warm (I think it was in the fifties. The weather report was for 9 to 13 degrees and I was all, "what is that; like 50 below zero?" Anyway, the only problem was the wind, which was pretty bad at times. But, all in all, we really lucked out with the weather.
Oh, one last thing for fans of food and comedy: on the plane back I watched an episode of the British comedy Posh Nosh with Richard E. Grant and Arabella Weir. Now, I realize my standards for in-flight entertainment are exceedingly low but I found this show to be hysterical and if you get a chance to see it I recommend it. It doesn't appear to be available on Amazon but you can see clips on their website http://www.bbc.co.uk/comedy/poshnosh/. There are some classic cooking tips such as: "There are a number of incredibly overpriced vinegars on the market right now. So any one of them will do."
OK, now on to my Bravo recaps!