Planning Our Trip to London, Spring 2015

We arrived home from our last jaunt in mid-Jan and we leave for London at the end of March, what this experiment has shown me is that ten weeks isn't enough time to see all our friends and reconnect with our home life here in California. So, we'll be in London for three months, as usual we've rented out our home and found a place to stay on Sabbatical Homes. Anyone who follows the blog knows home much I love this organization and I've blogged about our experiences with them here.
We've rented a flat from a cultural historian in Bethnal Green and I've booked lots of theatre for our time in London. We'll be seeing most of the National Theatre's new offerings including Ralph Fiennes in Man and Superman and Chiwetel Ejiofor in a new interpretation of a medieval Everyman drama, reimagined by the poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy.  There's lots more too, Stoppard's new play, a Brecht and Weil concoction at the Royal Opera House and couple of lectures at the Bishopsgate Institute, one on Georgian London and another on the transformation/gentrification of the East End by the Guardian's architecture and design critic. As you can tell the challenge is not to book too much!
As usual we're reading up before we go, it makes such a difference to what we absorb when we get there. D. has almost finished Porter's A Social History of London and I have Jerry White's A Great and Monstrous Thing; London in The Eighteenth Century on my list. I'm  listening to the Great Courses' A Short History of the Greatest City in the Western World the title alone should have given me a sense of the hyperbolic nature of the lectures! I'm also reading The New East End Kinship, Race and Conflict  an ethnography of the area where we'll be staying.

Here's what I'm excited about:
1) Gardens.  we are normally in Europe  mid-winter.  Though I love traveling in the off-season, and I'm pleased to be spending time in London during the spring and summer. it will be great to see some sun (I'm an optimist!) and the gardens at their best. Among others, I'd love to revist Hidcote, to see Kew and the Gardens at Highgrove.
2) Revisiting Old Friends. I know and love the V&A but I want to explore the areas of the museum don't know, Georgian silver anyone? I've been to the British Museum many times but there is so much more I'd like to see. I haven't been to the Imperial War Museum since I was a child, but I know returning will be fascinating.
3) Exploring Smaller Museums and Historic Houses. We've joined the Art Fund and my list is far too ambitious, even though I've been to London innumerable times there are so many gems I haven't visited. Here are some of the places I'm hoping to see; Dulwich Picture Gallery, Denis Sever's House, Red Hill House, the Geffrye Museum, the Foundling Museum, Etham House, Kenwood House, Apsley House, Chiswick House, the Petrie Museum, Danson House, Strawberry House, the Estorick Collection, the National Maritime Museum, the Jewish Museum, the Museum of Childhood, the Horniman Museum and the Emery Walker House.
4) Walking the City. When we were in Paris I spent  four months walking everywhere and once again I've bought lots of secondhand walking guides. London Walks has an incredible array of walking tours and overall the depth of the tour options is far greater than in Paris. I've downloaded several apps including the free Women's Walks put out by the London School of Economics.
5) Reconnecting with Friends and Family - what fun, we can persecute them for three months!
6) Getting to Know the East End - Tower Hamlets has changed a whole lot since I was a kid and it will be fun seeing the city from a different perspective. Bethnal Green is a bit grubby but  it looks interesting, there's a mix of Victorian architecture, social housing and new developments,  combined with a varied population of working and middle class families, Cockney's, Bengalis, and the  ubiquitous gentrifying staple the Bohemian-Banker bourgeoise.
7) Food - I've always been a fan of an affordable lunch at a fabulous restaurant and hopefully we'll have time to explore some of the foodie options in London. I'm particularly looking forward to visiting  Ottolenghi.
8) Blogging in Real Time - I'm looking forward to telling you about things as I go, rather than waiting till I get home to tell you everything. Essentially this will be an ongoing trip report and you can follow along too. I may even join Instagram!

I'm so excited about this trip, there are just so many things to see and do in London. 


Anna said…
Don't forget my favourite-to-see-exhibition, "Fashion on the Ration (at the IWM)! Didi I mention it to you?
Sounds great, there's also the Alexander McQueen show and the V&A and a Vivienne Westwood show at Danson House in Bexley just outside of London