Thursday - May 11, 2017 - Lock, Stock, and Silver

Today we walked along the Embankment along the Thames River marveling at the flower gardens and seeing blue tulips for the first time. There was a statue of Robbie Burns and another of Arthur Sullivan of Gilbert & Sullivan fame. We saw an Egyptian Obelisk and continued our walk to Somerset House. Somerset House is a vast palace along the Thames that historically was home to three Catholic queens. It has an enormous courtyard where they show movies in the summertime. There are small galleries on one side and on the side along The Strand (street)  is the Courtauld Institute. One of the gems of British museums this small gallery has Gauguin, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Kandinsky, Lucien Freud, and much more. There is also historic silver and furniture, a medieval religious gallery, a gallery with historic drawings, a tea room (of course!) and a gift shop. It's my second visit and I always marvel at this fine collection that sits in this small museum on the edge of a commercial street with business people and tourists walking by who might not know that this museum even exists!

After tea and scones we walked along The Strand looking at the Halls of Justice, old pubs, new highrise apartments, and jewelry shops. We turned north onto Chancery Lane where we ended up at The London Silver Vaults. I have wanted to visit the vaults for two years and this was our moment! There are two basement levels and you are ushered into long hallways with shops on either side filled with SILVER! Each shop is inside a locked vault. The silver is mainly antique and it's gorgeous. Now we did try on some rings that were silver and pearls and we did look at earrings. We walked away knowing that we had seen these treasures and while we were empty handed it was a lot of fun. 

We take the bus when we can and we found a bus that was headed in our direction and found our way home. We ate dinner at Orsinis, a neighborhood Italian restaurant. It was a lovely meal and a great end to another busy day!



Wednesday - May 10, 2017 - The Victoria and Albert Museum and the Natural History Museum and ABBA!

Well, time is running away and we have done so much. At the V&A we visited the British section that includes Mary Queen of Scots' embroidery. It's the second time I have seen that display and the small pieces always amaze me with their tiny cross stitches and beautiful shading. We looked at British historical costumes, furniture, jewelry, bobbin lace, and tapestries. Of course, there was the visit to the Gift Shop which has been remodeled and that made it easier to spend money! We were too early for The Pink Floyd Exhibit so that might require another trip back!

The museum is vast and because Mary and I have both been here several times we opted for just the British section. On the way to the British section we saw the immense cartoons for tapestries that Raphael had designed for the weaving process.. The museum is vast, ornate, not air-conditioned and it would require days and days to see everything! We visited an exhibit on Space that focused on refugees and how space is allocated for refugee camps. The photographs were taken using heat sensing cameras and they were fascinating to look at.

Across the street is the Natural History Museum and that was my first visit. We toured the Earth's Treasury which focused on gems and minerals - I'm always interested in looking st the patterns and colors of gems and minerals and I took a lot of pictures. Mary explored the Dinosaur section and I visited the National Wildlife Photographers' exhibit; what marvelous pictures of birds, animals, people working in zoos, sand and oceans, whales, baby lions, and patterns in nature!

We walked down a hallway filled with stuffed Dodo birds, a huge hummingbird nest display and wing and foot bones from birds.  We visited The Cocoon which looks like a giant white multi-story cocoon and we walked down a circular ramp learning about DNA in animals, insects, how scientists do research, and much more.

One of the most fascinating hallway galleries was Images of Nature. The long corridor was filled with historic illustrations for books on nature, photographs, and journals. There were lots of schoolchildren again, harried teachers and parent chaperones, and it made me realize once again the joy of retirement!

Since our hotel is across the street it made for a short walk, but you can't imagine how many steps it takes inside these cavernous museums! 

Well, our next adventure was walking up toward Hyde Park to The Royal Albert Hall, the historic round entertainment venue. We had dinner at The Elgar Room and I ate hangar steak again and had a lemon tart for dessert and Mary had fish and creme brûlée! We finished our meal just in time to walk downstairs and find our seats. Abbaphonic turned out to be a fabulous retrospective to the musical group ABBA! There were many thousands of filled seats, people dancing and clapping, and it was such a feel good type of concert. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves!!

Another marvelous day in London Town!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017 - Van Gogh, Queen Elizabeth I, and The London Skyline

We visited The National Portrait Gallery - the first museum I ever visited in London in 1972. I fell in love with the portraits of Queen Elizabeth I! (After all, us redheads are in a class by ourselves!) Now I came looking for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert! If you haven't seen the series "Victoria" on PBS try to find it On Demand. They were quite a couple, so ahead of their times! Mary and I really enjoyed our morning at the gallery and we had a lovely gourmet lunch at The Portrait Restaurant with a fabulous view of Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, The Shard, the London Eye, and the building where the tickets were sold for The Titanic! The waiter was from Nice, France  and he was quite charming. Mary had sea bream and I had hangar steak! I did find Albert and Victoria in the gallery, he was so dashing and she was painted as rather dowdy and stout.

After lunch we meandered over to the National Gallery next door. There is a new entrance since I was there last fall and they have moved a lot of paintings around. I think every school child young and old from London and Paris was in the museum! What an abundance of different school uniforms, languages, and teachers chaperoning. With the advent of The Chunnel it's so easy for the schoolchildren to come and visit these cities for a day trip.

We spent the afternoon admiring paintings by Monet, Cezanne, Pissarro, Turner, Ingres, Seurat, Raphael, and Rubens. The highlight was seeing Van Gogh's Sunflowers! I've now seen his sunflower paintings in Tokyo, Paris, London, and Chicago.

We found our bus back to the hotel and stopped at Patisserie Valerie and had late tea for our dinner.

Our hotel is lovely and we are enjoying meeting people at breakfast and in the elevator. At night we regroup and plan our next day's adventure! We need more time.....there are so many wonderful things to see, places to go, and people to meet. Walking around 4-5 miles every day!!

Monday, May 8, 2017 - We shopped 'til we dropped!

We were up and at breakfast by 8:30. The hotel is lovely and the breakfast was fabulous, a large buffet with the usual foods: eggs,  fruit, croissants, yogurt, toast, broiled tomatoes, sausage and bacon, black pudding, mushrooms, assorted juices, and tea and coffee. The dining room was packed. It's a large hotel right across from the Victoria and Albert Museum.  We took the #14 bus and it was fun to see all the shops near  the hotel and pass Hyde Park. We are a stone's throw from Harrods!

We went to the Royal Acadeny and saw Grant Wood's American Gothic - amazing! It was a part of an exhibition of 1930's paintings created after The Depression. There was an early Jackson Pollock that was unrecognizable as the Jackson Pollock pictures that we know today. It seemed to be an abstract horse as opposed to his splatter pictures.

We went to the lovely and elegant Fortnum and Mason and checked out each floor looking at perfume, the candy gallery, teapots, Sophie Digard hand crocheted scarves, gorgeous fruits and vegetables and flowers, and much more.

We went to McCullough & Wallis so I could buy more silk thread! Mary and I walked through Liberty House checking out all the fabric and yarn and designer clothes. When I bought more thread (!!) the sales clerk told me she remembered me from the last time I was in! We had lunch in an Irish pub which was okay, nothing special, and we were surrounded by a very large group of rowdy women singers who were going to be singing at the London Palladium.

We went into Marks and Spencer so I could  look for a sweater and ended up at John Lewis where I bought some beautiful Kokka blue and white fabric and a lovely blue sweater.

We window shopped and marveled at the variety of shops. London is a world class shopping city and you see very trendy clothes on young people and business people.

We did carry-out from Patisserie Valerie and returned to the hotel, a great day had by all!!

Sunday, May 7, 2017 - We've Arrived in London!

I never thought I'd get ready for this trip! Between charging my Mophie, learning how to use my new FitBit Alta R, updating the iPhone and iPad, and learning how the SanDisk Wifi Stick works  I never thought I would be ready.

Packing is my least favorite travel activity. So, I went to sleep late on Friday night and got up early on Saturday to pack. I took a 2:48 flight from Tulsa to Chicago and my flight left Chicago around 9:00 for London.

I just arrived! Mary is coming in a little bit later and I am headed to a different terminal to meet her.  I found Mary and we got into a taxi heading into London.

We are staying in London at The Rembrandt Hotel very close to the Victoria & Albert Museum. We have been planning our adventure for quite awhile and as soon as we drop our off our bags at the hotel we are going to the Fashion and Textile Museum to see the Josef Frank exhibit.
Never one to miss an opportunity for a museum we are going to the exhibit today because it is the last day. Later on in the summer on another trip (!!) I will be going to Stockholm and I will get to visit the design shop that Josef Frank and his wife created in Sweden.

Confused....London, Stockholm, right now it's just London, Norway and Amsterdam.

After we checked into the hotel we walked six miles today!! We went to the Fashion Museum and walked partway back along the Thames. It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon and people were outside enjoying the breeze and sunshine. We had a lovely dinner at a French restaurant and took the subway back. We've planned out our week and we need more time!!!


The Josef Frank exhibit was fabulous. The fabrics reminded me of Florida style upholstery fabrics. There were also some William Morris pieces of fabric that were an interesting contrast to Josef Frank's work. We're now planning to go to Walthamstow to see the William Morris Gallery.

We walked six miles after we got off the plane!! My new Fitbit is coming in handy!

We visited Southwark Cathedral and saw stunning stained glass including a display of Shakespearean themed glass that honored the late Sam Wanamaker, Hollywood producer and actor.

We walked along the Thames and passed the new Globe Theater!

We walked past the Tate Modern Museum,  crossed The Millenium Bridge, and found the restaurant Cafe Rouge and had French food for dinner!

We made a tentative itinerary for the week - let's see what we get accomplished!


Leaving on a jet plane.......

I'm going to London, Norway, and Amsterdam!

Here is the calendar:

May 7-14 - Visiting London with my friend Mary Melander
May 14-16 - Visiting Oslo with my friend Mary Melander
May 16-May 30 - In Oslo we will be joining the LoomDancer Odyssey Weaving, Knitting, and Embroidery Tour of Norway and meeting up with some of our friends from last fall's Scotland adventure.
May 30-June 4 - Mary and I will finish up in Amsterdam and say good bye until the next time!

I am on Facebook as Michele Kramer Lasker - I will post pictures on Facebook.

I am on Instagram as michelelasker - I will post pictures on Instagram.

 I am most excited about returning to London for the fifth time, thrilled to be going to Norway for the first time, and finally returning to Amsterdam - I was 23 the last time I was in Holland - seems just like yesterday..........just a young girl with long hair, short skirts, no joint replacements, and a whole wide world ahead of me.

I'm still that young girl at heart with a few improvements along the way. I hope you enjoy the ride....I am planning to have a fabulous trip!