Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Knops, Pontils & Prunts

 It's Wednesday, and raining, and the van is still in the garage. It turns out that there was some serious damage to the engine, as the timing chain snapped, causing all sorts of destruction to chain gears, valves, camshaft and head etc. Looking at a bill of around £2500, and hopefully the van back on Friday. We have a hire van in the meantime though. I have neber liked driving around in some other company's van, especially when it's covered in signwriting and logos. This had Hippos all over it.....nice! Typical that we have a hire van, and things are too wet to get much done. I shall be glad when January is out of the way and we can get on with our lives properly once again.

On that note, let me share something more positive that happened to me in the last few days.
Amanda had to go up to London on an important matter, and as I wasn't going anywhere workwise, decided to tag along for the day. She would be busy until the evening, leaving me to play on my own in the big city. Money is tight at the moment, and so free things needed to be found. We parted company at Trafalgar Square, she heading to Piccadilly, and I went to a corner of Trafalgar Square, and St.Martin-in-the-Fields. the beautiful church.
They have regular free recitals there, and today there was to be the London Lithuanian Trio, an ensemble of Viola, piano and clarinet. They were very good, although one piece in particular was a little wierd for my liking. All soloists in their own right, and with awards aplenty, the music was captivating, and they finished to a rapture of applause. You can find them on Youtube. The building of the church itself is really quite lovely inside, but maybe I will do something on that another day, as I was now heading to my main event of the day.
I had to get to South Kensington, and so strolled across to Piccadilly, and headed underground to catch the tube there.
I love the buzz of a big city, and walk whenever possible, but it is sometimes too big to get anywhere without using the underground. Half an hour later and I was at my destination, the Victoria and Albert Museum. One of many national treasures that, like the others, is free.

I was here for a specific reason, and didn't plan to look around the whole place, as that is for another day with Amanda. Today I was looking for one gallery in particular. I entered the impressive entrance lobby, and asked where my destination may be found, and tried to take on board the answer.

And on the fourth floor I found it, the glass gallery. The Vand A have one of the largest collection in Europe, and for one who collects such stuff, is a must to see, especially as they have some things by my favourite glass maker Salviati. I was eager to compare pieces and techniques. Nothing really prepared me for the sheer quantity of items on display though.
I didn't know where to start first, and was a little like a rabbit caught in headlights. I asked one of the guards if photos were allowed, and on getting a 'yes' answer, proceeded to snap away like a thing possessed.

The displays were huge, and I still handn't found the venetian section. There is only one venetian glass in the display below, the rest are german of dutch. Quite surprising considering the strong venetian style of them all. Do you know which is the one from Venice?

And then I came to what I had been looking for, the work by Salviati. In my mind the finest glass maker and designer to have ever lived. These were stunning pieces, perhaps gaudy to some, but there are individual catalogues of the skills used by the glassblowers of Murano.
You would have to go to Youtube to see the complexity of making one of these, but trust me, it is skilled work. It was interesting to see almost every techniques that had been employed in my own small collection, and I wouldn't have minded taking one of these beauties away with me.

I strolled a little more, and headed up to the mezzanine level, where more was to be seen. I particularly like the glass balcony safety rail, again all glass, and beautiful in it's own right. Most didn't give it a second look, but I find this stuff mesmerising.
My favourite piece here by Salviati? This opalescent goblet, simple and stunning.

 There was glass in every shape and colour, and the contemporary section had a few eye openers.
This caught my eye because of the bold colours and abstract shaping.

I couldn't believe that I had been in this one gallery for a few hours, and so decided to head for a late lunch before heading somewhere else. The restaurant at the museum is located along one side of the garden. The original simple layout was designed by John Madejski, but for the moment has been transformed into 'Travelling to the Wonderland' by Xu Bing. It's really quite extraordinary, and a little creepy, but kids seem to enjoy it.
I enjoyed a salad and coke before heading back to the cafe area that I had agreed to meet Amanda. There was still a couple of hours to go, and so I walked and walked, exploring every little thing that caught my eye. There is a certain liberating feeling when in such a place and on your own.
And simple things, like when one requires the toilet, then why not use the ones in the National Gallery eh? After all, just like the gallery, they are free! It was while in there that I got the idea to find out where the Camille Pissarro paintings were, my favourite artist, and spent a very pleasureable half hour looking at the half dozen in the collection. My favourite piece on display was 'The Boulevard Montmartre at Night'.

But, alas, my sole exploration drew to an end, and so after a pint at The Salisbury I headed over to Fioris on Leicester Square, where we found one another, and made our way across to Waterloo Station for our journey home. We had both had very different days in all sorts of ways, but we were both too tired at this point to chat much. That happened the day after!



  1. That is a real bummer with the van. I had a similar disaster and now change cam belts every couple of years.
    I can appreciate the skill in the glass but it's a little overdone for my taste.

    1. Hi Adrian,
      I prefer a changeable cambelt, but unfortunately Ford in all their wisdom gave this one model a chain instead, and buried it in the engine.

  2. It's bloody years since I have been to the V and A
    You have fired me up to revisit

    1. Glad to hear it John, it's still worth a trip to London just to see it.

  3. I am so sorry about your van. When you get it back it should be almost as good as new, well one can hope anyway.

    Your day looked to be very enjoyable, and 'free' is always good.

    I love the glass display, very beautiful. Mark and I have always loved blown glass, so intricate. I have some pieces I love in our collection, bought here and there inexpensively. I'll have to take pics of them for you to see since you are a lover of glass.

    Hope Amanda's day was good as well and that all went well for her there in London.

    Love and hugs to both of you ~ FlowerLady

    1. Hello Lorraine,
      I think that we will trade the van for a newer model at the end of the year regardless. I look forward to seeing the pictures of your glass. Take care.

  4. That's a real bummer on your vehicle. You'd think they'd have better timing belts or a device to warn you.
    You had a fantastic day in London.

    1. A device to warn you, what a sensible idea Red, especially for the one malfunction that always causes major damage. Stupidly enough, it does come with dashboard indicators for when you are travelling forwards and/or uphill.

  5. Sorry about the van. Your day in London though seems to have been perfect, with both the concert and the V&A.

    1. Hi Alain,
      The day out was a nice reprieve from ghe trials and tribulations going through our house at the moment.

  6. You're in a hippo van? That's amusing.
    Sorry the repairs will be so much.
    Your day adventuring sounds fun. What amazing works of art. All the detail in glass!

    1. Good morning Sherlock,
      Yep, a hippo van, I shall put a photo on here. I find it quite wonderful what different wYs glass can be worked. More to it than the humble tumbler.

  7. The sheer beauty of the glass is astounding Gary - what a fabulous day out. I've an ancestor way, way back that was a glass blower - although I had nothing quite like this in mind as to what he was doing!
    Shame the van is still off the road - what a real pain.

    1. Hi Angie,
      I would like to try blowing glass to any degree. I love glass from most coutries, but the Venetians really do have the edge. Rhanks for dropping by.