Friday, June 04, 2010

London in 1.5 days

First off, 1.5 days in London was not enough. But considering the limited amount of time, we sure covered a lot of ground. It was mostly on foot via slip-on Converse Chuck Taylor's for me, which as I discovered were not meant to be worn for a long time for the sake of my pinky toes.

We arrived in Heathrow on a chilly and rainy day around noon. It took us no time to get to our hotel Novotel in Islington which was right next to the St. Pancras station and the British Library. Excellent. After transforming into European hipster wannabes, we felt it was our first and foremost duty to find the nearest pub to get a couple of pints and fish and chips. No surprise, pubs were everywhere and filled with soccer fans pumped up for the the World Cup taking place in South Africa.

We decided to head towards the water and explore anything and everything on our way there. We stopped by local organic grocery stores for occasional refreshments and snacks. Cafes were also an excellent rest stop for some on-site sketching and caramel/chocolate pastries.

There were plenty of nice parks surrounded by curvy brick apartment buildings equipped with matching big brother cameras. As we walked through Russel Square Garden, I noticed something familiar from the Discovery channel. It was a scene of a fresh kill after a long and drawn out chase between predator and prey. Upon closer examination, we realized it was a massive crow clawing and picking away at the carcass of a pigeon. We'd liked to think the prey was hunted.

We had a full day the next day and were happily greeted by the sun! We started the day off by getting a couple of coffee at the Starbucks across the street. I know, lame. We then walked over to check out the beautiful St. Pancras Station which was the perfect fusion of old and new architecture. I also had my first Harry Potter flashback here.

The one and only location on the itinerary was to check out the Tate Modern, and it was fantastic. Aside from the multi-floor well categorized genres from surrealism to impression, the building itself was more than impressive. It sat right on the river bank facing the the south side of St. Paul's with the Millennium Bridge shooting across the Thames. After spending a couple of hours cruising through the halls among other European art enthusiasts, we walked over to Soho to meet up with my amazingly talented friend- C86- Matt Lyon

I've known Matt via the internet for quite a few years, but never had the opportunity to meet him in person until this trip. With technical difficulties and no maps on our side, we still managed to meet up in front of the fabulous Patisserie Valerie with big hugs. Accompanied with giant waffle with gelato and whip cream, pecan tarts, cafe frappe, and a pot of tea for Matt. He is English, after all ;).

We had a fantastic time talking about art, life, and our love for the ultra nerds- Kozyndan. I've always been inspired and impressed by Matt's graphic illustrations so It was interesting to find out he actually has a background in fine art. I was blown away by Matt's sketchbook. It was filled with fantasy driven abstract shapes that make up the most charming illustrations. It's the kind of stuff I have a hard time grasping- to let go, let your creativity take its course, and just doodle? Still doesn't make much sense to someone who grew up with rigorous rules and regulations. I had brought a copy of my Doodles&Noodles for him as a silly present. In exchange and much to my surprise, he took out his marker and did a sketch for me! Thanks, Matt!

From there we walked past a bunch of cool little boutiques and bookstores on West street, past the Palace Theater and Potrait Gallery to Trafalgar Square, then down Parliament street past Big Ben, then across Westminster bridge for a view of the Eye, then down along the south bank of the Thames past the Royal Festival Hall, the National Theater. The perfect day ended up on the south bank during sunset with 3 pints in hand cheering to new friends. Ah, so good.

London was amazing and I would go back in a heart beat. The idea of traveling to a completely different country by train is fascinating to me. I'm curious about living among such diverse cultures and how it would influence my art and as a person. Perhaps with luck, I'll get to experience it someday.

Special thanks go out to the fantastic Mr. Alexander for documenting the trip and being the perfect travel companion. Visit his blog for tasty speakers, wine listening, and coffee lessons- superradiatingfieldmagnet


C86 said...

Yay! Super fond memories - a good day was had by all! Though why the waiter in Patisserie Valerie pinched my milk is beyond me... I couldn't have a second cup of tea! ^_^

Martin Hsu said...

Ack! is that what happened? Well, NEXT time we go there together we'll bring our own carton of milk and Matt can have ALL the milk he wants in the WHOLE wide world ;) !!!!

Natasha Newton said...

I've just found your work and blog through Matt Lyon's Flickr page. Matt and I have been in touch for a few months via Twitter, and I'm really pleased to have found your work!

Sounds like you had a wonderful time together in London! I love London and visit quite often (staying for several days each time) - I actually live in Suffolk, England, about 80 miles away. Your photos brought back great memories for me of the many places I've visited...I want to go back RIGHT NOW! ;)

I was at St Pancras station in April - such a beautiful building. I'm going to be back there again later this month, but this time I'll be taking the Eurostar to Paris!

I hope you're able to visit London again soon. I always find that no matter how long I'm there for, it's never long enough. We always run out of time way before we run out of things to do, everytime! :)


Martin Hsu said...

Hi Natasha!

First of all, I LOVE your work! It's absolutely precious. Really delicate gorgeous stuff ^_^

Yes, I can't wait to get back to London as well. I would love to spend at least a month there exploring all the different areas with sketchbook in hand. You're lucky that you get to visit often! How is Suffolk like? I bet it's lovely ^_^

Thanks so much for saying hi! You've gained a new fan ^_^ Keep in touch!


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