Mum’s staying with me at the mo.
She’s taking a little break from country life and exploring the bright lights of London, with me!
There’s really no-one in the world I’d rather hang out with than Mum. And certainly no-one I’d rather spoil.
In the morning I turned the bathroom in a Spathroom (lots of candles, oils & bubbles) and shepherded her in. While she unwound, I tucked into the new Porter magazine with an icy latte and a few snacks.
A few people on Instagram asked where everything was from so I shall include it all here!
Once mum was well and truly in holiday mood, we set off in search of a little culture.
Where better than The National Portrait Gallery?
We climbed up, right into the belly of the place and gorged ourselves on art, history and old-school scandal.
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This (believe it or not) is a painting. It’s acrylic on linen, by Jason Brooks.
The subject is Sir Paul Nurse, a scientist and nobel prize winner.
One of the reasons I enjoy The Portrait Gallery so much is the scope of work and subjects shown. The very modern sits happily along side the very old.
We visited the Virginia Woolf exhibition.
And the BP Award gallery.
This is a portrait of artist, Yunsung Jang’s mother. He said he “wanted to record not just her physical likeness, but the depth of the relationship including the complexities of devotion, pity, guilt, and gratefulness that a son feels towards his mother.”
It’s a wonderful piece, and the whole exhibit is well worth a trip if you’re in town.
Upstairs however is where we really enjoyed ourselves. Mum’s a bit of a history buff, but only tends to remember salacious details! She knows exactly who was sleeping with who, who died when (and how) and everything juicy you could hope for.
All the best bits of history, and it really makes it come alive.
I addressed The Somerset House Conference.
They all listened intently.
We marvelled at the architecture.
And spent the next couple of hours pouring over the paintings.
Queen Caroline by Jacopo Amigoni, 1735.
Sarah Siddons, a leading tragic actress and celebrity in her day (1755-1831).
(Not tragic as in she couldn’t find a date, but she starred in most of Shakespeare’s tragedies and was most famous for her role as Lady Macbeth. Which explains the mask, dagger and grave.)
The rather dishy Sir Joseph Banks. President of science and professional adventurer.
William Wilberforce, perhaps my favourite painting.
I have a real thing for unfinished art and he was mostly responsible for abolishing the slave trade in Britain, followed by the emancipation of slaves in the British colonies.
A good egg.
She arrived in England as an orange seller and soon became not only a leading actress and celebrity, but Charles II’s mistress. She gave him two sons and he remembered her on his deathbed, saying; “Let not poor Nelly starve.”
But alas they did. And she died in poverty.
Tricky thing, mistressing (I imagine).
I fell a little bit in love with Prince Rupert.
And gazed at the incredible detail in Queen Victoria’s Coronation.
Good old Mr Darwin.
Now this, is Albert Ball.
A fighter pilot from Nottingham. He joined the Royal Flying Corps and was posted to France in 1916. He flew an SE5 120mph bi-plane, bareheaded, without goggles and preferred single combat.
He shot down 43 enemy planes and a Zeppelin, but was killed in action over enemy territory on May 7th 1917.
Immortalised in bronze by Henry Poole. If I could choose just one piece to steal and take home, it would be Albert.
Mum thinks he looks like Tom!
We paid Beatrix Potter (my childhood hero) a visit.
Before giving into growling bellies, and heading upstairs for lunch… and one hell of a view!
The charming waiter heard us discussing the various monuments and brought us a map to consult.
Which Mum enjoyed enormously!
I enjoyed my champagne.
We both started with crab.
Which I followed with rare roasted sirloin, with horseradish cream and beetroot.
With a few bites of Mum’s buttery plaice with pea puree and samphire.
Both were quite remarkably good and we oooh’d and ahh’d through every mouthful.
To polish it all off, Mum had panacotta with figs.
And I had summer berries, with clotted cream.
The perfect girls’ day out!
I was really blown away by how good the restaurant is. I can’t recommend a visit enough. It would also make one hell of a date spot in the evening. You could wander the gallery, hand in hand before heading upstairs for champagne and supper, looking over the twinkling city below.
You’ll want to book, and try and get a table by the window. Contacts on the website.