After a lovely train journey spent chatting to a couple of very nice old ladies, my first stop was Annely Juda Fine Art (which is just off Oxford Street) to see their David Hockney exhibition, The Arrival of Spring.
This exhibition was quite wonderful! The gallery is split over two floors - the first had charcoal drawings and a slightly hypnotic video of a slow drive through snow-covered Woldgate Woods, then the next floor up was an explosion of colour with prints of Hockney's iPad drawings. I feel a bit mean blogging about how great this was after the exhibition has ended, but you can view a video tour of the exhibition here.
When I was looking up the gallery on a map I was delighted to discover that it's right next door to MacCulloch & Wallis.
Honestly I feel really dim for not realising that this well-known shop was so close to Oxford Street (and lovely Liberty!) and for never having visited it before. What a treasure trove of gorgeous textiles!
I didn't buy anything on this visit, but have added it to my mental list of places in London to visit when I'm in need of specific supplies... or a textile-y treat! Mmmm... sewing supplies....
After swooning over all that delicious haberdashery I thought about going back to Oxford Street and hopping on the Tube again (as planned) but decided I'd go for a walk instead. I walked down Bond Street & New Bond Street, peering in the windows of all the smart galleries and fancy shops (you can read about my previous visit to this area and its galleries here).
Walking past Asprey reminded me that there'd been a documentary about the store recently - I was delighted to find it was still available on catch-up when I got home (very enjoyable and perfect to put my feet up to after my long day in the city!).
I walked to Green Park fully intending to hop on the Tube there, but then looked at a map by the station and thought "ah, I might as well just walk!" As you can see it was a bit of a grey day but I find this is perfect weather for wandering round London as you don't get too hot.
Green Park itself is not super exciting, but the gates at the Buckingham Palace end are rather spectacular. Plus of course there's the Palace itself to look at!
I went to a garden party at Buckingham Palace a few years ago (which was just as fancy as you'd imagine, sooo many cucumber sandwiches and the chocolates had little gold crowns on them!) but have never been round the building itself - must add that to my (very long) London To Do list!
Next I cut through St James's Park. This is one of those places which I've walked past many times before but never explored. It turns out to be rather lovely, with a lake and lots of resident birds...
... including (to my surprise) pelicans!
My next stop was the nearby Guards Museum (which is one of the places you get free entry with an Art Pass, hurrah!). This museum tells the stories of the Foot Guards (the Grenadier, Coldstream, Scots, Irish and Welsh Guards) who along with the Household Cavalry guard the Queen and the Royal Palaces.
If it weren't for my Art Pass I would never have visited this museum, but I'm very glad I did as I really enjoyed it and spent much longer looking round that I'd expected to. It turns out that military history is pretty fascinating and there are a lot of really interesting (and at times delightfully quirky) objects on display here. Oh and the Household Cavalry Museum (which is a bit smaller but has the added attraction of being able to peek into the stables) is just round the corner, so you can easily visit both in the same morning or afternoon.
After my visit to the Guards Museum I looked round the neighbouring Guards Chapel which is a beautiful and quite moving space.
Then I walked through another bit of St James's Park, spotting the pelicans...
... a heron (who was hanging out next to the cottage built for the park bird-keeper in the 1800s)...
... and lots and lots of tourists feeding and taking photos of pigeons! I quite like pigeons (I even included one in my recent book!) but I'd never really thought of them as a London "attraction" before, but apparently they are (?).
After my wildlife-packed walk through the park, I strolled to the Mall and popped into the Mall Galleries to see their current exhibition (which, at the time, was a display of work by some very talented students).
I also stopped to admire the White Horse, which is rather lovely. Do not climb on the horse, do not feed the pelicans - these are not the usual signs you see in central London!
I wasn't sure quite what to expect from this exhibition as I'd heard that like the recent Strange Beauty exhibition (which I was rather disappointed by) this was another exhibition where the National Gallery charges an entry fee for paintings which are mostly drawn from its free-to-view collection. But I do love colour, and I could get in for half price with my Art Pass (did I mention that I love my Art Pass??) so I thought I'd check it out anyway... and I loved it!
It was really interesting learning about the different pigments used in art history, and how they were discovered, developed and used. I spent quite a long time looking round and took quite a few nerdy notes along the way (mmm... lovely facts...). Even if you'd seen lots of the paintings before in the National's collection and knew lots about the history of pigments there's nothing quite like being able to see actual examples of specific pigments on the wall in front of you! Plus there were lots of interesting objects accompanying the paintings (like dyed textiles, ceramics and samples of the minerals used to create particular pigments), a couple of videos to watch about making and testing pigments, and recreations of how certain paintings would have looked before their colours faded.
All in all, an excellent end to a lovely day out.
P.S. Planning your own Nice Day Out in London? Check out my London Pinterest board - I'm mapping all the places I've visited :)