Greetings from London! I have been back to for the first time since 2012, so a lot had changed since my last visit. Michael and I were going to his son’s wedding in Saffron Walden and wanted a few days in London beforehand. Our friends Chris & Martin said we had to see the Yayoi Kusama Infinity Mirror Rooms at Tate Modern and booked tickets for us in April. The four of us also agreed to have dinner at the Japanese restaurant Engawa in Soho. I was pleased that I found a nice hotel room for us in Paddington (which I know well from my tour leader days many decades ago) at Best Western Plus Delmere Hotel, a short walk from Kensington Gardens, in Sussex Gardens, see above. I was lost coming out of the new and impressive Elisabeth Line Tube entrance on the side of the train station as all the buildings were new to me, but it did not take us long to find the hotel.
Chandelier of Grief, is a room which creates the illusion of a boundless universe of rotating crystal chandeliers. It was remarkable and the first of the two mirror rooms. Can you spot me to the right, taking the photo?
My plan also included meeting my friend knitwear designer Cecilie Telle at her house in Finsbury Park for lunch. Above you see the former factory turned into a semi-detached house, with their part at the end. I had a fabulous time with Cecilie & Hiro, who I have not seen for a couple of years – last time they took part in the arts fair in Oslo.
Here is from my first walk in the Italian Garden in Kensington Gardens above. We were so lucky with the weather in London and had the warmest days we have had this summer!
I also had the chance to walk across the Millennium Bridge (nicknamed the Wobbly Bridge, after pedestrians experienced an alarming swaying motion on its opening day) from St. Paul’s Cathedral to Tate Modern. Below you see the view from the top floor inside Tate Modern.
The building and scale is so impressive! We had timed tickets for the Infinity Mirror Rooms and were waiting to go in. There were two small rooms inside the exhibition that we queued for and they let 5-6 people into each room at a time. Inside they felt enormous due to all the mirrors. See the second photo from the top.
The dinner at Engawa with several courses of our chosen set meny came in Bento Boxes and was a delicious new experience for me.
Next to Tottenham Court Road Tube station we discovered the Now Building with its digital art exhibitions, featuring 23,000 square feet of floor-to-ceiling videos, see the queue for an event above and the photo below of one of the three exhibitions we watched. Do take a look at the video at Outernet Global so that you can experience it too!
The walls were covered in videos and the most impressive part was the ceiling that looked like a constantly changing dome during The Summer Palace exhibition, see below.
We also looked forward to meeting Tom & Verity in London before the wedding. Michael suggested to meet at The Royal Exchange, where he was the architect adding the top floor and then many years later the retail at the ground floor.
This is the third Royal Exchange at the same spot launched in 1844 by Queen Victoria. The first (1571) & second (1669) building both burned down. The restaurant in the middle was no longer Conran but Fortnum & Mason to our surprise. Such a beautiful place to stop for a tea or meet friends. Yes, I did buy some tea: Royal Blend – which I have not had for years. I was visiting when the concrete flooring was being made inside, while Michael’s son Tom had been there many times in his youth. We had a lovely time with the couple before they had to continue with their wedding planning.
Japan House on Kensington High Street was new to me; a combined shop, travel agency, library, and gallery. The cultural home of Japan in London. So fascinating! I spotted a breathtaking cover on a Kimono book in their Library that was not available in their shop, unfortunately.
The V&A Museum was one of the many places I wanted to visit again. The fashion section was closed as there was an exhibition there called Diva and the daily tickets for it was all sold out. We did however have a walk through their Japanese section, and I had tea with a scone in their café! In the shop I found the Kimono book – I was so excited. See Kimono. Kyoto to Catwalk. Official Exhibition Book (hardback). I enjoyed being back and had a brilliant time in London! The wedding in Saffron Walden was unforgettable!