Sunday 10 May 2015

More Sheep! Plus a Visit to Carlyle's House

After my fun day following the Shaun in the City art trail, when I came to plan my next Nice Day Out I knew I wanted to fit in some more sheep-spotting!

So, I looked at my much-scribbled-on trail map, a tube map, and my looooooong list of "things it would be awesome to go and see in London sometime" and hopped on a train.

My first Shaun sculpture of the day (Lambmark Larry) was an easy one to tick off the trail map, as it's located on one of the platforms at Paddington station.... which just happens to be the last stop on my train into the city. Hurrah!


Next up was Paddington Shaun, which wasn't in the station itself but nearby at Paddington Basin - somewhere I'd never visited before. It had just started to rain, so my next few photos were taken from under my umbrella...


I loved the details on this one!


On the way back to Paddington station, I turned a corner and found myself in front of the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital, where people were camping out in anticipation of the new royal baby's birth. I'd just been reading about them in the paper that morning, so it felt slightly surreal to stumble upon them (and lots of people from the press doing interviews).


Continuing with the royal theme, my next stop was St James's Park (near Buckingham Palace).

This was not the best time to be strolling around a park, as it was absolutely chucking it down with rain at this point and getting pretty windy, too. Brr.

I paused to ooh over this border filled with tulips (an absolute riot of colour, so beautiful)...

... then headed off to the end of the park where my map suggested the Shaun sculpture was located. I found Happy & Glorious eventually, quickly snapped some photos then headed back to the Tube as quickly as I could to get out of the rain. 


After spotting 27 sheep last time, these three brought my total up to a nice round 30. There're 20 more still to go, but the rest would have to wait as I had other stuff I wanted to visit.

The next stop on my "to see" list for the day was Carlyle's House, one of the National Trust properties that you can visit for free with an Art Pass. To get there, my plan was to get the Tube to Sloane Square and walk along the King's Road. I did do that, but I took an unplanned detour along the way: a visit to the Saatchi Gallery.


I'd never been to the Saatchi Gallery before as contemporary art is not usually my cup of tea, but I decided that it was silly to just walk straight past without taking a quick look round as it's free to visit... and I'm really glad I did. I happened to catch the Herm├Ęs Wanderland exhibition just before it ended, which turned out to be completely enchanting - a magical, Alice-in-Wonderland-like stroll through a series of delightfully surreal sets. I came out of the exhibition with a huge grin on my face and a spring in my step.

After my detour, my walk continued: passing lots of interesting buildings along the way, including Turner's studios.


Carlyle's House is tucked away in a quiet little street, and not signposted from the main road. This makes it a teeny bit hard to find (definitely take a map if you visit!) but adds to the feeling that this is a hidden gem, away from the hustle and bustle of London. 

This is one of those places that I would never have heard of, let alone visited, without my Art Pass. I've never read anything by Thomas Carlyle and didn't know much about him before my visit, but I found this a hugely enjoyable place to explore.

It was fascinating to learn about all the famous Victorian writers who were friends with the Carlyles and visited them in this house, and the volunteer guides were friendly and helpful, pointing out lots of interesting objects. The house became a place of literary pilgrimage shortly after Carlyle's death, with most of the contents preserved so there's lots to see in each room.

I also loved reading the extracts from Jane Carlyle's letters - she was hilarious! There's even a Twitter account devoted to her & her husband's letters. I am definitely adding a book of her selected letters to my reading list.

After I'd finished looking round Carlyle's House, there was just time for one more stop: a trip to the Natural History Museum to visit their Coral Reefs exhibition (half price with my Art Pass - woohoo!). This was utterly fascinating - coral is weird and amazing stuff.


Finally, I called in at the museum's gift shop before heading home and had a delightful surprise as I spotted a copy of my book, Super-Cute Felt Animals, on sale!

One of my books on sale in the bookshop at one of my all time favourite museums / places in London??? So exciting. I may have let out a small "eeep!" noise in the shop :)


Emilia Jayne said...

Great post. I love the Shaun trail - we did a few when we were in London a month ago.

I recently bought an Art Pass and used it extensively on a trip to Greenwich at the weekend. I will definitely add Carlyle's House to my To Do list.

Josie said...

It looks like you had a great day and such stunning photos. Thanks also for the (very) lovely cat pin cushion in the earlier post xx

Bugs and Fishes said...

Emilia Jayne - the Art Pass is so wonderful :) I have a trip to Greenwich planned, plus a visit to the Tower of London. Can't wait!

Josie - cheers! It's been lovely sharing that pattern with my fellow cat-lovers x