December 13, 2016, Tuesday: London
A Visit to Holland Park and the New Museum of Design
Another Early Start:
It has become routine for me to get no more than six hours of sleep per night. Accordingly, I awoke in Maida Vale as the rest of the household bustled around getting ready for their day. Taking things back and forth between my office and my home takes some organization and I am trying to keep my wits clearly about me as I go about the task of basically closing shop in London.
My aim today was to view the new Museum of Design that used to be at Shad Thames where I had once met a friend for a coffee. After deciding to re-locate, thanks to Terence Conran who seems to have poured moolah into the project, the museum has a new home. During my absence, it re-opened with much fanfare in Holland Park at Kensington and had I spent more time googling its exact location, I would have taken the Tube to Kensington High Street and found my way from there. As it turned out, I got off at Holland Park–which meant a really long walk to get to the other (Kensington) side of the park before I found the building.
Visiting the Museum of Design:
I did not have a lot of time to spare for the museum, so I had to hurry through it. Besides, Holland Park is one of my favorite parts of London and walking through it always gives me a high. I tended to linger there–which left me less time for the museum. I associate the Park, in my mind, with the TV series As Times Goes By (my favorite British TV series of all time!) Lionel and Jean, the protagonists, first meet in Holland Park when young. Almost forty years later, Holland Park is the setting for a lot of their meetings when they reinstate contact and re-ignite interest in one another. I have taken many pictures, over the years, in the exact spots where the shooting of the TV series occurred–yes, I am that keen on it! I have also visited the street and the house that was their TV home for many years while the series was shot–at St. James’ Gardens. not far from Holland Park. Hence, I lingered in the park on a cold morning when so few people were about.
Eventually, a good half hour after I emerged from the Tube station, I found the Museum in its spiffy new home–all glass and sharp angles. The architect is John Pawson with whose work I am unfamiliar. I was fortunate enough to get free entry into the Museum with my Met ID card, but I have to make clear that while there were no ‘free’ bits in the former location, in this new avatar, the Museum has left its top most floor ‘free’. You only pay for the special exhibits that keep changing frequently.
The top floor, in my opinion, was the best part of the it all. On walls that are hung with interesting objects from the beginning of the twentieth century, you can trace the history and development of everyday things that we use while taking their design for granted. There are some museum pieces, for instance, that we did actually once use. For instance, there are brick-size and brick-heavy cell phones that I can clearly remember Llew possessing! I went rapidly through them and really do wish I had more time to take it all in.
Going swiftly from one floor to the next, I found that the best part of the museum for me was its internal design. I loved the concept of assessing each floor through stairs and elevators on opposite banks of the building. The Modernist vision is very obvious and I enjoyed it all.
Off to Waitrose for a Coffee:
I cannot pass Waitrose without going in for a few goodies and since I was starving by this point, I got my free café latte and delicious freshly-baked pecan rolls and ate them at the counter overlooking Kensington High Street. Then, I popped my head into the Oxfam thrift store to look for vintage jewelry and finding none, I hopped into a bus that took me to my office at NYU.
I had a big chore to undertake for my office still needed to be cleared out. I finally finished packing one suitcase that I could carry to India and tried to cram everything else into the other suitcase that I would leave behind in London. The snacks and foods I had left in my office over five months needed to be consumed–and so lunch was rather a mishmash of soup, Border’s Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies, M&S Pistachio and Almond Cookies and Prawn Crackers from Waitrose! Although it sounds an easy task, I have to tell you that I was mentally and physically exhausted by the time I finished stashing all my things away.
Off to Buy Shoes:
Since I would be in Bombay for Christmas and New Year and since I had a rather shabby pair of black court shoes that needed replacement, I set off for Oxford Street to buy myself a pair. I took the Tube to Marble Arch and set off for the large M&S there, when lo and behold, I passed by Next and saw the perfect pair right in the window. Now what are the odds that such a thing would happen? I marched right in and decided that, if the price was right and they were comfortable, I would buy them right away.
How lucky was I? The shoes were very reasonably priced, fit me like a glove (although I did not know my size in British measurements and merely gave the salesman my American size) and actually looked good on my feet. So, without a whole lot of fuss and minimal time, I found exactly what I wanted and was out.
I did, however, get eventually to Marks and Sparks as I wanted to buy a rich fruit cake to carry to India for Christmas. I found the cake too without too much wastage of time and armed with my purchases, I got back on the Tube towards home.
Finishing the Gingerbread House:
Jonas and I spent some time working on the gingerbread house that we had started constructing two days ago. This was the fun day as it involved decorating the house with candy. Jonas had a field day and as we continued our hard work on the project, his mother got dinner organized.
We sat down to eat a simple but delicious salad with bread, cheese and crackers and were ready to call it a night soon enough as it was a school night for Jonas.
Hard to believe that my long stint in London is coming to a swift end.
Until tomorrow, cheerio…