Subject: UK 2001 Part 3 (long)(extracts)
September 25

After all the moaning I have done over the years about wanting to see the Tate Britain and the J. M. W. Turner paintings, I should have known I had my hopes up too high. There are quite a few rooms in a separate wing at the gallery dedicated to Turner but most of what's here are his unfinished works. Of the one room that had finished paintings I only recognized one of his shipwreck scenes. I thought it would be mostly works that I would recognize but perhaps most of them are scattered around galleries around the world unless this was a temporary exhibition. I ate lunch at the gallery, feeling let down a bit but the food at least is excellent here!

After lunch I browsed in the other galleries, seeing works by John Constable and some really nice portraits by John Singer Sargent, an artist I hadn't really considered before. There were a lot of portraits that were actually very interesting although the Victorian morals were really played up in many of them with allegories depicted in others. The gallery is not really large so it's not overwhelming. Most of the modern art is now housed in the Tate Modern on Bankside near the Globe theatre and wobbly new Millenium footbridge.

I wandered down the Strand, admiring the turreted Royal Courts of Justice, a bit too Over The Top for my taste but interesting nonetheless. Twinning tea shop is just across from it as well, a deep narrow shop filled with tea and coffee, cups and teapots.

A little farther on I arrived at Temple Bar. This was originally where the Knights Templar had their headquarters and church. There is still a very old church there but it is covered in scaffolding. The Poor Knights of the Temple of Solomon were founded in 1118 to protect Christianity during the Crusades when they accumulated a vast amount of wealth, mostly donated by grateful followers. Power followed along with the wealth. About 200 years after their founding, however, their organization went down in flames, literally and inexplicably swiftly and without resistance, in France. Shortly after, in London, the law profession moved into the area where the Templars once reigned. This area is the Lower, Middle and Upper Temple area of London, just off the Strand near the courts. It consists of a few streets, lanes, courtyards lined with buildings of various age containing law offices and law schools and residential blocks for law students as well. When you finish your law degree, you are called to the Bar. There are a few medieval buildings left and there is a serene Fountain court circled with benches and trees through which the rays of sun knifed through like laser beams. There has been a fountain on that spot since the 17th C. There is also a large fenced park which is not open to the public. Many of the buildings are under tarp and scaffold for restoration including the old Temple Hall.

September 26

My 6 zone pass is good for travel before 9:30 unlike the one day passes but the Underground is not pleasant when you're jammed in like sardines. I did this every morning for the rest of the week and it worked out well for me.

The shoes in the Ecco store drew me in for a look. There is no Ecco store in North America other than one in San Francisco though some of the better shoe stores do carry the brand and I had heard they were wonderfully comfy. I am not normally a shoe shopper but I was delighted in the choices I saw.

I discovered a smaller Evans store near Oxford Circus while searching for a boutique called 16/47 owned in part by the marvelous Dawn French. There I was successful and walked away with three new tshirts and a funky purple bra! I went in Selfridges which was far posher than I realized but I did buy a pot of eye shadow at the MAC counter and had a light lunch in the café where I wrote a few postcards with Beatles music drifting over the sound system.

I also went down Regent Street a little ways, saw Carnaby Street which is just in behind Liberty, and found, Ta Daaaa, Past Times my all time favourite store! Can't get out of there without buying something for sure. Another tea break at a café that specializes in homemade soups. Damn, I wish I had waited and had my lunch here! Diane Johnston