The theme for our Wednesday in London was most definitely the theatre. First thing, we headed to the Globe and took a tour of the theatre (a replica, which isn’t overly old, in fact) where a group of actors were rehearsing for that afternoon’s performance of Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’.

The Globe Theatre

The Globe Theatre

John Cleese's Flagstone at the GlobeBuying a flagstone was one way of contributing to the great cost of building a replica theatre on this site… and a few familiar names pitched in.

We grabbed lunch at the cafeteria in the Tate art gallery and then spent a couple of hours (with conveniently sleeping children) looking at all the free exhibits. The Lichtenstein exhibition was tempting but we barely had enough time to see all the free stuff.

colours, shapes, words

These were a few of my favourites. Above, I really liked the colour and use of words and lines, as well as white space. I like the boldness.

not just hung on a wall

I liked how this one was quite different depending on where you stood to look at it, and it definitely poses the idea that a picture doesn’t need to be just hung straight up-and-down on a wall.

Luuk takes a weight off

Luuk and Elena taking a break. One has art fatigue, the other a sleep.

thick and heavy

I love working with thick, decadent oil paint. And I love how the mess can come to life and capture form, and still look like chaos.

messy lines make form

Similarly, I love all the lines and scribbles in this and how they come together to create a clear image. I also like the mix of paint and pen and (possibly?) charcoal, with the smokey thing going on and smudgy border.

setting up a new instalation

One of the rooms was hemmed off, but it was pretty cool that they still allow you to see in. I’d love to sit there and watch them set up a new exhibition. A lot of them include elements painted or glued directly onto the walls and floors – effectively the art is created (though probably not for the first time) in the exhibition space.

not quite 'right'A very simple and classic example of modern art. I just like that it’s all off and asymmetrical. Wouldn’t put it on my wall, but like it anyway.

We had a date to meet up with a friend on the steps of St Paul, so crossed the Thames again and, while we waited, watched numerous men and women in full military dress uniform… and then we remembered the date: 8 May – the end of World War 2 in Europe.

waiting at St Paul's on 8 May

Elena, Luuk, and Louis, taking in the sights.

St Paul's Cathedral, London

Just one of the sights.

walking london's bridges

Crossing London’s many bridges. (And, hey, there’s the Shard.)

In the evening Luuk and I left the kids with a school friend of mine who is now based in London. In fact, she came to our hotel room and looked after our two little mischief-makers while we went off to the theatre.

the show, about to begin

The show, about to begin.

Les Miserables at London's West EndYep, I saw Les Miserables again, but it was Luuk’s first time. Fabulous show. If you’ve never dared see a proper sung-through musical, this would be a good place to start. I cried twice and laughed numerous times. The music is still going around in my head and the staging is so brilliant, it’s like a work of art in its own right. Love it.

Our last day in London was a bit grey (at last, the weather we were prepared for!) and we were all feeling a bit out of oomph. There were two museums of particular interest – the natural history museum (quite popular and no great surprise) and the foundling museum (a little more obscure, yes.)

A character in my historical romance novel gets involved with the foundling hospital in London and so I was particularly keen to see this museum, located at the site of the original foundling hospital. This was a place set up to take care of children whose mothers or families were unable to do so themselves.

Supporting such charities was quite fashionable for upper-class women in the 1700s and 1800s, but also many musicians and artists got involved and supported the cause – making the museum something of an art gallery as well. The top floor is basically a museum to Handel and his last will and testament is on display there. He left a full copy of his Messiah to the foundling hospital and many other things, having supported the charity fiercely for much of his life.

elena, ready to composeElena playing dress-ups at the foundling museum.

We grabbed sushi train for lunch, always a bit of a silly idea with our particular brand of kids.

sushi train for lunchElena ate more rice than ever before, but Louis wouldn’t touch it (probably for the best, considering the wait-staff’s preference, no doubt, for rice to stay off the floor) and stuck with his fruit salad.

Next stop, the dead animal remains…

the natural history museum, london

The natural history museum.

architecture in the natural history museum, london

Cool architecture on the inside as well as out. And then there are the dinosaur bones.

dinosaur bones and architecture

Dinosaur bones, architecture, and quite a lot of people.

t-rex, all lit up

T-Rex, come to life, and lit up rather blue. Don’t worry, Louis, he’s just pretend.

walking with the dinosaurs

Wouldn’t want him standing on your toes.

don't worry, he's extinct really

Relax, wee man, he’s extinct.

looking up at blue whale skeletons

Looking up at blue whale skeletons, among other things.

smile for the camer

Everybody say ‘cheese’.

We were so tired of carrying the pushchair up and down the steps in the underground that we decided to walk back to the hotel to pick up our suitcase… a couple of kilometers, but right through Kensington Gardens, and so rather scenic really. Certainly more scenic than the underground!

Unfortunately we got a little lost. Luuk had to run for the bag and I waited at the station with the kids, then it was zippety zip to St Pancras, through customs and security and all that jazz. We had to wait a bit and grabbed a drink but my coffee was too hot to drink before the train started boarding. It was all a bit of madness but once we got on the train we could relax… almost.

sticker-books for train trips

Eurostar were booked pretty full so we had the kids on our laps again. Thank heaven for sticker books and nice neighbours.

manic-tired on the train home

Manic-tired the both of them. London was quite the work-out.

Time to go home for a rest.