11 December 2013

Mums on the run!

Sometimes it feels like I am falling through life and some of the people I pass make contact and stick and others don't get close enough and fade back into memory. The ones that stick are my friends. The ones that, for whatever reason, have become the people I share my life with. The people I bump along with sharing good times, hard times, trying times and just time. I like making my friends happy and I try not to annoy them and I think those are the ingredients for friendships that can stand the test of time. Only time can prove or disprove that one.

So, in my eternal quest for happy friends and a happy me I planned to to take one of them to London for her birthday. As I have got older, and since we both had children, I have favoured experiences over gifts. There is something much more important about building memories with the people close to you than just buying them another scarf.

We got into London just before midday. We had a lovely sunny stroll from the underground to Bankside past St Paul's Cathedral. St Paul's is an iconic, religious symbol of London. To some it is synonomous with royal weddings, to me it's Mary Poppins.

Time for a coffee outside Tate Modern watching the world go by. At that moment in time the world consisted of a man with a microphone talking about writing, a man with a string loop on sticks making massive misshapen bubbles, a gold man posing as a statue and an American Dad failing to point out St Paul's across the river to his disinterested kids.

Next we wandered round the collections in Tate Modern. Some amazing works, some famous works and some which remained a mystery to our untrained eyes. Louisa had a couple of giggling fits at people earnestly searching for the meaning of an art installation that we thought was part of the building! Based in the former Bankside Power Station, the building itself  is an integral part of the whole experience. It's vast amazing spaces are a perfect backdrop to the subject matter.

We had lunch at The Swan Bar & Chophouse at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. It was perfectly balanced. Informal but civilised. Light and airy with a warm atmosphere. Busy but sociable with a long sharing table which encouraged light interaction with other diners, but only if you wanted it.

After lunch, a boat trip down the Thames to Millbank, past the London Eye and Westminster, was the best way to travel to Tate Britain. We had a look around the public collection there, the Pre-Raphaelite works taking me, as always, back to age 17 and my sixth form art class. Sun streaming through the open window, the smell of linseed oil hanging in the air and where I first began to understand these amazing works and why the movement happened.

Then we had time for a glass of wine in the shady gardens of the gallery surrounded by trees and pink roses. 

We finished our day with Lowry at the Tate. The exhibition we'd built our day on. I'm not an art critic, or even close to it, but I have always loved Lowry. To fully understand that love you need to be aware of my weird longing for 'the industrial north'. Moors, valleys, mining towns, rows of terraced houses. The irreducible spirit of people and families juxtaposed against the cold, hard reality of industry and of bleak landscapes is real and beautiful to me. Lowry painted everyday life depicted against that immediate, imposing backdrop of heavy industry and captured poverty, pain, anguish, love and resilience in his work.

Why do I have this affinity with the north of England? It might be my love of the Brontes and their haunting descriptions of wild moors and harsh conditions, or my childhood memories of meandering canal holidays through rolling countryside interspersed with the industrial centres of northern cities or The Railway Children. A childhood favourite of mine which captures the essence of being a child perfectly....and is set in Yorkshire. Or, most likely, it is a combination of all these things. The exhibition was everything I hoped it would be and rounded our day off perfectly.

So that was our day. Another memory formed rather than another scarf on the scarf hook and, best of all, the Dads didn't kill the kids!

"The most important thing in life is family. Sometimes it's the family you're born into and sometimes it's the one you make for yourself" 

1 comment:

  1. Read this for the third time. Made me laugh and smile. Again! Again!