Marja-Leena Rathje
Home ::: Anna, Courtauld, Westminster

Anna, Courtauld, Westminster


The day after our outing to Brighton, husband and I headed into central London and Somerset House (house? it's a palace!). Here we were to meet long-time blog-friend Anna of Self-Winding who was coming in from Norfolk to meet us. As we waited for her, we noted that the famous fountains were down and we were prevented from entering the huge courtyard because there was a Bollywood film set going up. On the other side of the Strand at India House a large demonstration was underway against India's treatment of the Tamil Tigers, like in Brighton.

When tall, beautiful and lively Anna appeared how excited we were to meet at last! While husband went off to explore the sights along the Thames (taking the camera), we ladies went in to see the art in the adjacent Courtauld Gallery. This museum is a nice size with gorgeous rooms without being as exhausting and overwhelming as places like the British Museum or the Louvre. It has an impressive collection including some very famous works by the Impressionists. It's a great feeling to meet so many well-known pieces that I've not seen in real life. Now and then as we passed by windows overlooking the courtyard we were also entertained by the colourful Bollywood dancers in action. Sadly I have no photos but the Courtauld website has this very good video and more.


Anna and I shared the great pleasure of viewing and talking about the art together even as we chatted about personal things. As we were finishing a light lunch on the patio later, husband found us there and joined in a deep and varied conversation that continued as we sauntered over to Trafalgar Square and eventually a lingering tea and dessert under the Portrait Gallery before we had to say an almost tearful goodbye. We wished we'd had more time together but Anna had a 2 1/2 hour bus ride back home to Norfolk. We feel so honoured and grateful she made this long journey to see us and for her excellent suggestion to visit the Courtauld. Hope we shall meet again!


From the immense Trafalgar Square, we decided to explore more of the city, and we sure did walk a lot getting somewhat lost for a while. Passing Canada House, we wandered past immense palatial looking buildings everywhere and beside a park with row upon row of identical trees (plane trees? St. James Park?). Along Whitehall we hit crowds of business-suited commuters rushing like busy ants from every building towards bus and tube stations.




It was like coming upon a vision when suddenly, at a large intersection, we saw the immense and beautiful Palace of Westminster, also known as the Houses of Parliament and the famous Big Ben. Again we saw a group of protestors this time camped out on the opposite square!

All through this long walk we had hoped to find a place to have a modest supper but it wasn't until we'd circled all the way back to the edge of Trafalgar Square that we found a spot to eat. Boy, were we satiated with the sights, and I was tired and knee-and-foot-sore by the time we got back by tube to our daughter's place in Muswell Hill that evening!

P.S. If you haven't read the earlier posts on our recent trip to UK and Paris and you are interested in them, just click on the theme Travel on the side bar or here.

Marja-Leena | 23/06/2009 | 11 comments
themes: Art Exhibitions, Culture, Travel


The Courtauld's is a lovely collection. I'm glad that you had such a rewarding time in there. Smaller galleries can be so much more fulfilling than huge famous ones.

It is interesting that the protests against the Srilankan government and their cavalier attitude towards the Tamil bystanders was so focussed then, but has now died away despite the folks still being displaced.

What fun to have been able to look down on the Bollywood movie. It is odd events like that that can contribute so much to a visit, I find.

Wow, a 2½-hour bus journey back to Norfolk! Have you seen the knee-room in those buses? That journey can be regarded as a measure of true affection. Reading your stuff I find refreshing light shed on scenes and things I know so well. Sorry about the knees, hope the photographs and the memories outlive the pain. But you were right to walk as much as you could. Any other form of locomotion blurs the impressions.

Olga, I think we might have been in Paris, or just home, when I briefly saw something in the news that the Sri Lankan army defeated the Tamils. Such a decades long fight there and as often seems the case, so much political interference from outside, though I'm a little hazy on all the details. When I'm traveling, I don't keep up with the news well but I couldn't help noticing the demonstrations in so many places in the UK.

Barrett, Anna called it a 'coach' and insisted it was her best choice, almost door to door, compared to trains. I know, it's awful being cramped in any transportation but I must say airplanes are the worst!

I'm glad you enjoyed this revisit. I totally agree about walking and seeing! My knees survived and I have wonderful memories.

I am really enjoying reading this series about your travels. You make it so vivid that I feel like I am having a vacation, too. :)

Maria, thanks so much, I'm glad I'm not boring everybody! I think it's obvious I don't make these kind of major trips often, and not since I began to blog, so I'm enjoying putting it all down in this venue. I'm having a hard time keeping things short though, especially with all the photos my husband took.

I end my reading of each of your travel posts with "that's it?" I also wish I could travel to the UK and France, so please do not brake your impulse to tell up all about your trip, Marja-Leena!

Rouchswalwe, thanks, hope you won't regret it!

If I get to London again I will certainly visit the Courtauld. I like small collections too. I always go the the National Portrait Gallery, but that, in a way, is a collection of oddities. It's fun, though. Your pictures are enticing.

Anne, that Portrait Gallery was another place I didn't get to, except their café. I'd love to read more about your travels, you've led such a fascinating life.

I will hold the memory of that day with pleasure -it was well worth a little leg cramping to meet such a lovely pair at last. Actually, on the return journey, the coach (I insist on the term, though I know it makes you visualise horses and tricorn hats) was pretty empty and I stretched over two seats. Loving your travelogue. x

Anna, thanks for this and again for our time together! Glad the coach ride was comfortable.