Sunday, 5 January 2014

The Household Cavalry Museum & The Courtauld Gallery

One of the very best decisions I made in 2013 was to start taking Nice Days Out.

They are so much fun, and are making a big difference to my general stress levels as I am (like many self-employed people, I'm sure) usually pretty terrible at stopping work from creeping into my time off. I managed to squeeze in 17 Nice Days Out into 21 weeks last year which isn't bad going!

I am definitely going to try and stick to my "one Nice Day Out per week" plan in 2014 - and to keep blogging about them, too. Writing about my trips is really helping me to a) remember to take my camera with me to record the day (giving me loads of photos to look back on) and b) stick with it and not let work and the general ups and downs of life (and the demands of work, and the temptation to be lazy and stay in bed and have a long lie in instead of getting up and catching the train somewhere) get in the way of scheduling some proper days off.

Before I start blogging about my 2014 trips though, I need to catch you up on the couple of days I spent in London before Christmas :)

Day #1 was planned around places I could get in for free / for a discount with my Art Pass (the Art Fund have a great map on their website that lets you look up places you can get a discount with your card, plus other galleries and museums in the area so you can easily plan a day out).

First up, the Household Cavalry Museum.
 

I arrived at Horse Guards Parade at the perfect time - just when the Changing of the Queen’s Life Guard was taking place! What luck.

 

I watched a bit of the changing of the guard, and wandered round the huge parade ground looking at the surrounding buildings and monuments and the rather wonderful Turkish cannon....

 

... then I went into the museum. To be perfectly honest I wasn't really expecting to love this museum and I'm not sure I would have bothered to visit it were it not for my Art Pass but I really enjoyed it!

The exhibits had a great mix of historical info, interesting stuff to look at and quirky anecdotes about the Regiment. A friendly volunteer guide came up and pointed out some of the most interesting exhibits & told me entertaining stories about them, which was great. Plus: there's a large glass partition where you can see into one of the working stables, which was quite delightful.

After my visit to the Household Cavalry Museum I walked back along Whitehall, through Admiralty Arch...

 

... and down the Mall to visit a couple of galleries.

I popped into The Institute of Contemporary Arts but wasn't too surprised to discover that it was a bit too conceptual for my taste (I used to love conceptual art when I was younger but these days it leaves me a bit cold. Is this a sign I am getting old? Or just that I'm slowly turning into my dad??).

Then I went to the Mall Galleries which focuses on modern figurative painting - the main exhibition when I visited was The Royal Institue of Oil Painters annual exhibition. I enjoyed the exhibition and had a cuppa and a very tasty cake in their cafe which (rather awesomely) is in one of the gallery spaces so you sit and drink tea surrounded by paintings. I'm very much looking forward to seeing some other exhibitions here during the coming months.


After visiting the Mall Galleries I walked round the corner to the National Portrait Gallery and went to the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize exhibition. This was a lot of fun, with a fabulous mix of different pictures. I think I looked at everything at least twice.


After that it was time for a bit of lunch at the National Gallery (plus a quick walk through some of my favourite bits of the Gallery)...

 

... then a walk down the Strand...

 

... to Somerset House, to have a look at the building itself (I'd never been before) and to see the Stanley Spencer: Heaven in a Hell of War exhibition, featuring the his paintings from Sandham Memorial Chapel. After my visit to Cookham and the Stanley Spencer gallery there, it was really interesting to see more of Spencer's work and great to get the chance to see these paintings without having to trek to visit the Chapel itself.

 

Finally, I visited the Courtauld Gallery (which is in the North Wing of Somerset House) which has been on my list of places to visit for years. I have no idea why it's taken me so long to get around to visiting.

The gallery isn't huge, but there's some awesome art on display and the building itself is quite lovely (the main staircase is especially fabulous). Do check out the fancy virtual tour on their website.

All in all, a long but lovely day!

7 comments:

Fran said...

Love reading about your day trips! It's all on my doorstep, but I don't do enough museum days in London! We did enjoy Somerset house last summer, when they had the fountains going and the whole courtyard turns into a magnificent splash park. Perfect for kids to cool down on a hot day in London. I used to love the National Portrait gallery, in the days when I could potter peacefully...

BugsandFishes said...

Thanks Fran! It is all too easy to not get round to visiting all the awesome stuff you have locally, isn't it?

I am definitely going to be going back to Somerset House in the summer - the ice skating looked fun, but I really want to see the fountains in action :)

opusanglicanum said...

Always make sure you keep the train tickets and write it off as a research trip for your business and it makes the day out even better. I know someone who manages to claim back two weeks holiday in Malta every year

BugsandFishes said...

Ah, that would be nice! :D These trips are absolutely just for fun though, no research whatsoever going on (although the train journeys and tea breaks are good for thinking about new projects!)

opusanglicanum said...

Any museum or art gallery counts as research, for someone in a creative industry-you don't get many tax breaks when you're self employed, so you should take advantage of the few you can. Apparently the revenue assume that something like 20%of self employed income comes in undeclared cash, so anyone like me who is self employed but 100% of my income is in the form of cheque or bank transfer due to the nature of their work is at a disadvantage from the start! I say grab every tax deductible penny you can

PetraB said...

Lovely photos, thank you for sharing your nice days out with us.

BugsandFishes said...

No problem, Petra! It is fun putting together this little "scrapbook" of my trips here on my blog :)

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