A few days Christmas shopping in London. Sounds rather nice but in reality it was complete madness! The exhaustion I felt after returning has been replaced by the virus I caught from my brothers. They said it was 'flu, but since it's not that bad I think they must have meant 'man flu'!
Actually, the purpose of the visit was for Paul to go to the Race of Champions at Wembley. It was touch and go whether I would have to go in my brother's place (it sounded like fun, I would have gone) but after they got back I'm glad he recovered in time - it was great but so cold that after five hours in the stadium, they were frozen to the bone and couldn't feel their legs or feet!
Paul let me use this photo and come to think of it, it seems to sum up my experience too, racing all over the place! Unfortunately I could feel my legs, and my blistered feet at the end of it, only too well!
It wasn't without it's compensations of course, with some lovely window displays and colourful Christmas decorations like these in John Lewis.
One of my stops was to Hotel Chocolat in Knightsbridge to get some treats to bring back. (Paul thought it was amusing when I told him I was tired of Lindt. 'Are you tired of life too?' he asked.)
It's not hard to find, right opposite Harrods. (Traffic at a standstill on Brompton Rd as usual - I'm amazed anyone tries to drive into central London anymore.)
My personal Mecca, Marks & Sparks, at Marble Arch. I don't know what I'd do without it, I've always found something here when I've needed it! I took this photo from the bus as we sat in the traffic and marvelled at all the people walking by and how different were all their shapes and sizes and features - and how wonderful they would all be to draw!
Outside the shop was a man selling the Big Issue magazine. I gave him some money to take a photo of his dog. He looked very jolly, but the dog looked very worried, poor thing. Hardly surprising with the demonstration opposite him against supermarket monopoly (they should come to Geneva where there are only two main supermarkets!) the crowds streaming past and the noise - brass bands, carol singers, steel bands and even those devotees chanting Hari Krishna.
Opposite Harvey Nichols on the corner of Knightsbridge and Sloane St, is the Manderin Oriental Hotel. I took a photo on the way to Hotel Chocolat as I really like the building, particularly that magnificent arch only recently revealed since the building next to it was demolished. It's a shame they don't make buildings like this anymore - and a shame about those big, ugly fire escapes. I'm sure this arch will disappear again once the work is completed.
Out in the cold way too late when I'd rather be at home tucked up on the sofa with a cup of tea, a visit to Liberty as part of a wild goose chase looking for a particular pen, with a particular nib with a particular colour ink for a particular teenager! (I blame that school in Kuwait - the kids would be told off for using the 'wrong' pens!) Or was it the time we were looking for that particular bag, in that particular colour? I'm too tired to remember!
And of course, no trip to London would be complete without a trip to Green & Stone for this particular blogger! I was thrilled to receive an e-mail, quite unexpectedly, from the owner Rodney Baldwin, thanking me for writing about his shop when I visited in July. When apathy and even hostility are the more usual treatments for customers these days it was especially touching.
Not that I need an excuse to write about this delightful shop of course, one can never have too many sketchbooks, but this time I was hunting down some Schmincke colours and travel brushes too. There were all sorts of little treasures inside the glass display case but sadly, I didn't have too much time to spare for browsing.
Dragging myself away, a quick shot of the window display.
I didn't sleep at all well while I was there so not only was I pressed for time but I just didn't have the energy for drawing anything. Finally, collapsing into a seat on the Gatwick Express, I drew this rather large man in the next row.
We were on the wrong side of the plane both ways to catch the best views but they were still spectacular! London wasn't as cold as I had expected but the cold hit us coming out of the airport at Geneva - the temperatures have plummeted! But with the cards sent, the shopping done and the turkey bought, the kettle is on and I'm now putting my feet up!