London, Part 6.

More museums! Can’t get enough! But first, a couple of random photos.

Pret A Manger (or Pret, as it’s often referred to) is from England, and I found this window cling very pleasing for two reasons. One, I like alliteration, and two, I happen to know (don’t ask me how or why) that the tool used to stir porridge, the one you see in the bowl there, is called a spurtle.

I mentioned earlier when I was talking about the play Warhorse how creepy I thought it was to have war stories for children. Apparently Warhorse wasn’t enough, oh no! Let’s have a whole freakin’ exhibition of traumatic tales for tots! Nightmares for everyone!

Did everyone read the book The Witches by Roald Dahl? If it’s been a while, let me refresh some points for you. The witches don’t blend into normal society. They have long claws, so they have to wear gloves. They are bald, so they have to wear wigs. They have blue spit, which makes their teeth have a bluish tinge. And finally, they have no toes and their feet end in blunt stumps, making wearing modern pointy shoes extremely painful for them. I used to love that book and read it over and over, and to this day every time I see super-pointy shoes, I think about how uncomfortable those must be for witches to wear. Imagine my glee when I saw these shoes in a shop in Greenwich, in the land that the book The Witches takes place in.

This proves it! The story is true! Witch shoes!

This is a poster from the subway for a drug exhibition. I didn’t go, but I loved the words chosen for the poster.

Now, the V&A Museum. The Victoria and Albert Museum of Art and Design is my most favorite museum in the whole wide world. If I lived in London, I would be there once a month. You simply can’t see everything, even after many visits. It’s a beautiful building in itself:

Which still has shrapnel scars all over from the bombings of WWII.

And inside is rooms and rooms and rooms of every kind of design you can imagine – architecture, garments, jewelry, housewares, armor, etc. Check it out.

You want a room full of Greek stuff? You got it.

How about Early Christian? Not a problem.

Medieval, perhaps? We have a room for that.

How about a long hallway completely filled with every kind of ironwork? Okeedoke.

Seriously, it’s intense. Here’s a picture of a giant super-snazzy Baroque wall of a house. You can’t appreciate it in the picture, But the red parts of the wall is transparent red glass over mirror shards, giving it that extra tackiness. Sparkly!

I decided to focus on the Japanese items on this visit (last time I focused on the art glass section). It was really dark in the Japanese wing, but I still tried to get some decent shots.

The Japanese traditional clothing did not have pockets, so the Japanese originally used little hanging boxes called inro, like little wooden purses. The toggle bead holding the cords of the inro together was called a netsuke. The inro and the netsuke were often exquisitely carved small sculptures made from ivory or hardwoods, accented by metals.

Often natural elements are used in the pieces, like wee beasties or plants. Here is a tiny curled-up rat netsuke.

And here is a snail on a leaf netsuke.

But my favorite, without a doubt, was this one.

A badger wrapped in a lotus leaf?! With a little rain hat? How effin’ cute is that? I totally squee-ed.

Interestingly enough, the thing that blew my mind the most in the museum wasn’t anything I expected. I was walking up to the fourth floor when I passed this enormous wall drawing. It had to be 10 feet by 14 feet. It was huge.

It was an isometric drawing of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Here’s the deal, though: Every single detail is in there. Drawn with pen. Probably a pen with a nib that you have to dunk in an inkwell. It might be one of the most humbling things I’ve ever seen. Since it’s so tall, I could only take pictures of the lower half, but you get the idea.

Woooooow. Here’s the info card next to the drawing.

I might have stood in front of that drawing for fifteen minutes. If you go to the V&A, make sure you check this out. It’s at the top of the stairs to the fourth floor as you enter the architectural section.

(And here’s a nice photo Cricket took of the Millennium Bridge with St. Paul’s Cathedral in the background.)

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