Nearly over, last full day in the capital. Breakfast then get into town early – I’m still very impressed with the underground system, but I also still can’t get the hang of it and ended up in the wrong place again. Oh well, it just meant a bit of a walk to get to Trafalgar Square to have another go at The National Gallery. I was there briefly on Tuesday but I just had to get a better look. This meant I could try Museum Technique #5!
To recap: Museum (and Gallery Visiting) Techniques:
- #1 ‘run’ around randomly
- #2 hire an audio guide
- #3 ask at the information desk what the highlights are
- #4 ask at the information desk what you should see given ‘x’ minute
- #5 the guided tour
There are a few things you need to keep in mind for a guided tour of somewhere like The National Gallery. You have to be able to hear the guide and you need a solid elbowing technique to make sure you can get a good place after each move! I only started to realise this after the second painting we saw but once I was in on the game I was good at it and very much enjoyed both the tour itself and this gentle ‘sport’ among the 60+ people that were on the tour.
The way it worked here was that the guide took us around 5 paintings in the collection to show the layout of the building and how the collection was divided among the gallery, give some background detail of each painting and the artists. He also mentioned that there are a number of guides and they choose what to show and change it for themselves so you are likely to have a different tour each time you go.
This was a very good way to visit The National Gallery as it gives a good start and overview then allowing you to browse in a more informed manner. I even managed to find a nice corner to do some sketching, which I get very self conscious about doing in a gallery.
At around 1 I did another repeat of Tuesday by going back across the street to St Martin-in-the Fields (which isn’t) for their free lunch time concert. This was great, very well attended but still a nice relaxing environment and now I was in the mood I carried on sketching – also it didn’t really look like the kind of crowd who would appreciate snapping photos during the music.
Then I met up with some friends for lunch! We went to Covent Garden, round some back lanes that I would never have discovered on my own and to a very, very good coffee shop - the Monmouth Coffee Company (good coffee : no website). You could tell it was good by the queue, the fact that there were only three tables squeezed in to the tiny place and the toilets weren’t working. Oh and the coffee was good!
Then we went back to there place a fantastic split level flat somewhere near Shepherds Bush, to just hang out at catch a film – Valkyrie. It was fantastic to hang out and also to just chill and not be either wondering around on my own or in a hotel. It’s funny how hotels – even though someone comes into clean every day and they cook you breakfast – just aren’t as homely as home.