Wednesday, June 25, 2014


24 hours after hugging my mom goodbye at Charles de Gualle Airport, I was at Gare de Nord with le boyfriend on our merry way to London!  It was an accident that these two trips bumped up so closely to one another.  I was running on fumes, but we had a GREAT time and saw as much as possible in a 2-night London getaway!
A surprise gift - Cartoville's guide to London with Penelope Bagieu's delightful artwork!  I loved having this to reference and grab ideas from.

We got into London on Saturday morning, dropped off our backpacks in the hotel, and immediately started pubbing.  Our main purpose for the trip was to see friends (Mary and Sarah for me -- my friends who hosted me in December).  We ended up "grabbing a pint" with about a dozen different groups of people, and were somehow always surprised at the end of the day to find ourselves completely buttered.

Right off the bat I needed a refresher (ha!) on ales vs. lager.  I like my beer cold and well carbonated, so ales are a sad mistake for me.  I mostly stuck with names I knew, but I really liked the Dogfish Head "DNA" IPA I tried.

Sunday morning we went down to Carnaby Street for a long drawing session in Costa and then clothes shopping.  I don't have a ton of money for clothes, and consumer culture grosses me out more and more the older I get, but I do enjoy looking for one nice item to buy myself when I take a trip to remember it by.  I found a sweet, summery dress, and I know that whenever I wear it, I'll remember the trip and smile.
Of course we hit up the London comic shops, too.  I got this sweet Oyster card holder at Forbidden Planet, and we bought comics at Orbital Comics and Gosh.  Le boyfriend is showing me Doctor Who; it was really fun being back in London and seeing it through a new lens.  I noticed familiar pieces of the show everywhere, as well as plenty of ads for the new Doctor, Peter Capaldi.

It was SO FUN traveling with someone who liked to stop and draw, too.  It's a "recharge" activity for me, and if I'm tired or grumpy I can turn the day around with 60 minutes of drawing in a cafe.  With other friends, I normally have to excuse myself from another activity in order to get this time, but we stopped frequently for mutual coffeedraws and museumdraws. :)

Monday was museum day.  We hit The National Gallery, The Wellcome Collection (well, it was closed, but we went inside for lunch and a look round the shop), The Grant Museum of Zoology,  and The Charles Dickens Museum.

I tried visiting this Cézanne piece in The National Gallery that made burst into tears in December, but the entire wing was closed for rearranging.  A sympathetic museum employee told me that I could find the museum's entire collection online--how cool is that?  If you never make it to London you can still visit The National Gallery.
We spent hours in the Grant drawing the grim animal samples.  If you're an artist or enjoy studying animals/biology and you find yourself in London, don't miss it!  I really liked the fish fossils, complete rhino skeleton, giant elk antlers, and the collection of extinct animals.  The animals in jars and bisected heads were a little much for me...I've got a pretty tough stomach, but this fawn in a jar, for example, made my knees go wibbly.
A personal highlight was visiting The Charles Dickens Museum, outfitted in a townhouse he inhabited with his family between 1837-1839.  Most London museums are pay-what-you-like (SO cool!), but we splurged on the entry fee for this one.  It was calm and quiet.  I appreciated the recreations of daily life throughout the 4-story home, from servant's rooms to writing rooms to bedrooms to washrooms to the children's play room.  I got major feels in the last exhibit--a plain white room in the attic with his words written on the walls, trying to summarize his philosophy and the impact he's had on literature.
Dickens is my favorite author; in high school I wrote my "junior paper" (to be used as a sample for college applications) on A Tale of Two Cities, Nicholas Nickleby, and David Copperfield.  He so masterfully fleshes out sprawling, inhabited worlds that feel real, and he manages to keep order and bring things back together with neat endings.  The museum highlighted Dickens' personal understanding of poverty and tragedy, and his attempts to write sympathetic characters outside of just the upper class, which was rare in Victorian literature.

Our final act before catching the train back to Paris was grabbing a pint with Agathe Peyrat, the angel-voiced singer of Inglenook. (check out some of their album work here! I love that song about Shakespeare & Co!!!)
Thanks for the good times, London.  You stay classy.

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