A Sunday Afternoon in the ByWard Market (Ottawa)

A Sunday Afternoon in the ByWard Market (Ottawa)

Category Archives: United Kingdom

Well within the city limits of London is Greenwich (GREN-ich and NOT Green-witch :). As this was our second visit to this outer borough, we forwent visiting the Cutty Sark (the last of the great China tea clippers) as well as the Royal Observatory. Instead we walked around enjoying the small shops lining the streets of the town centre, and strolled through the magnificent Greenwich Park. It was such a beautiful day, we actually laid down, right on the grass, and read our books looking up now and then at the calm cloudless blue sky through the hanging branches of the large English plane tree under which we were huddled. It was a truly wonderful moment.

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On the cruise ship on our way to Greenwich

Coming back on the DLR (Docklands Light Rail), we stopped at South Quay in order to walk through the old Docklands. The Docklands used to be the world’s largest-of-its-kind harbour organizing the shipping of English goods throughout the empire. Bombed in WWII, it was completely destroyed and remained useless marshlands for decades. As is always the case, some investors saw the potential this site had to offer and transformed it into a vibrant urban economic hub surrounded by elegant condominium living and rows of hip restaurants. We quite enjoyed our walkabout and fervently wish we could afford a small pied-à-terre in this part of the city.

Coming back to yesterday, which already seems so far away, we found another little gem in the city: the British Library. I can’t believe we had not visited it the first time we were in England. Here is my TripAdvisor review:

The King George IV 65,000-book collection behind glass is quite impressing as you walk inside the building. The actual room open to the public (The Sir John Ritblat Gallery) is quite small but contains many treasures. From the Magna Carta to early editions of the Bible, from Mozart’s music sheets to the Beatles lyrics, from a letter written by Anne Boleyn to a tale written by Chaucer, and early designs by Leonardo Da Vinci, there is something to everyone to admire. Well worth the trip to King’s Cross Station when in London!

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I’m sitting in the Library Café looking up at King George’s collection

From what I have read in Rick Steves’ London 2016 guide book, King George IV in 1823 gifted this collection of 65,000 books to the people with the express condition that it be on display for all to see. Well, the condition in itself has certainly been met in that the collection is certainly on display. However, it sits behind glass in a 50-foot-tall wall (as you can see from the picture on the left) and not accessible to commoners. You probably need special permission from a university or a research facility of some sort. I was dying to have access to it and peruse through some pretty extraordinary books.

But talking about extraordinary, the folios on display in the Ritblat Gallery were certainly magnificent, and did their part to appease my strong desire to infiltrate the secret vault.

Stay tuned for more adventures from London.

I had to write a post that solely dealt with the new Tate Modern museum, simply for the fact that I was mesmerized by so many messages and affected by the true genius of artists even if modern art does not score high on my love of art scale.

I went to the Tate mostly to look at Picassos and Pollocks, and maybe some Matisse and Cézanne. Much to my chagrin, I did not find any Pollocks (my favorite ‘modern’ artist – I am fascinated by the organized chaos of his colours and strokes), but instead I found remarkable pieces like this one:

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It looks quite boring until you read the inscription indicating that these are fire hoses that were used to break up the peaceful marching of black students in May 1963 Birmingham, Alabama. These powerful hoses injured many young protesters. This piece of art keeps a part of history alive and reminds us not to repeat our horrible mistakes.

Now between modern uses of varying mediums:

you can find an interesting Picasso or a Degas sculpture:

Justin and I went from room to room inspecting tiny treasures and pondering at various creations. One room, dedicated to Louise Bourgeois, the French-American artist who gave us Maman (one large version is housed at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa), portrayed less known pieces which brought us some insight into her creativity.

Another part of our dismay was the building itself, a former electricity-generating powerhouse. What a brilliant idea to renovate and house these modern pieces in an unused manufacture!

And before ending this post, I must urge everyone visiting this museum to pay the 4 pound suggested donation per visitor (or more if you can afford it) in order to support art and keep London’s museums free of charge.

My regular ‘What have we been doing in London’ will be back shortly with some great additional pics.

Stay tuned!