On Wednesdays We Go To The V&A

Yesterday Emma was in London for the day and so we hatched a plan  📝of sorts to keep ourselves entertained.

It was a beautiful day ☀️, one of those cold crisp sunny mornings, and I cycled 🚴 over Wandsworth Bridge to Fulham, where I met Emma and Chesca for a speedy breakfast 🍴☕️.  Chesca is a student 🎓, so we packed her off to class 🎒 and then had a think with what we should do with our free time.

And I discovered that Emma had never been to the V&A!!! Completely preposterous, yes she may now live in the countryside 🌳, but has spent rather a lot of her time in London 🎡.  So this obviously needed to be rectified, at once.  I was on my bicycle 🚴, so Emma bravely decided to take on a Boris Bike 🚲.  Boris Bikes 🚲 are brilliant – I first got into cycling in London with Boris – but they are quite cumbersome and very heavy (very good for the gluteus maximus).

Off we went – Cycling with someone else made me realise I am a fairly nonchalant cyclist 🚴 , and I know I am rather leisurely.  I tend to cycle in a very low gear (which completely baffles Max and Chatty, they are both uber speedy cyclists 🏁🚵🚵) and I’m not usually in a rush.  There were only a few cries of distress from behind me from Emma, mainly due to my lack of signalling ↔️, and we got there in one piece.

Yes! Time for Boris
Today I wore my helmet (I really want a bright pink or bright blue one)

So the V&A 🏤.  I am a member, which is good – but I did not have my membership card with me, so the very nice ladies behind the desk gave me a temporary one.

We first went into the Cast Courts to see David 👦.  Well really to experience the Cast Courts as everything is SO BIG.  We couldn’t decide if it just seeing these huge monuments inside a room, that creates such an odd sensation – if they were outdoors, next to a vast building your brain and eyes would be happier with the concept.  But seeing them all closely packed together in a huge room under a ceiling, creates this rather awe inspiring feeling.  We liked the Courts a lot.

Hi David
Tiny Emma
Just SO big

We then went to see the exhibition ‘Bejewelled Treasures: The Al Thani Collection’ – but I am going to tell you about this at the end, as I got rather over excited by all the jewels 💎💍.  Do go see the exhibition, there are many fascinating pieces.  It is crowded by day trippers of a certain age who are a bit slow moving and not very good with personal space, but no matter, you can always subtly budge your way to the front of each case, and do make sure you remember your glasses 👓 (I forgot mine.)

So having enjoyed many gems – Emma and I wandered through the maze  that is the V&A.  We liked the ironwork 🔨, the ‘Renaissance City’ is very tranquil ⛲️ (apart from the small child trying to drown itself in the fountain), and more jewellery 💎 – there are an intriguing number of tiaras 👸 on display ‘Accepted by the HM Government in lieu of Inheritance Tax and allocated to the Victoria and Albert Museum’ (I wonder if they are allowed to borrow them for special occasions).

Part of the display – mystery legs!!
Melancholia? and mystery legs again!!
Tiara – I do hope she gets to borrow it
I like these people very much – brooch by Georges Braque
Our favourite exhibit of all 😉

I do really love the V&A though – and we have to go back and get your fridge magnet Emma!!

Next on the agenda was a coffee (and a check that my bicycle had not been stolen) – I am always convinced it will be.

We went to Roots and Bulbs as it seemed like a good place.  I have to say, it smells incredibly heath foodie 🌿 when you walk in.  Emma sensibly had a coffee ☕️ and I had the B Wave smoothie 🍶which had this in it: Maca, Flax Seed, Blueberries, Banana, Honey, AM.  I mean I definitely know what all those things are. Oh and by the way AM is Almond Milk 🍶 – duh!  I have to say it was very tasty.  We sat outside and enjoyed the sun ☀️ – and decided on our next movements.

I love protein…

We thought it should be somewhere neither of us had been before, so rejuvenated we headed for Holland Park 🌳🍃 – what a beautiful day ☀️!

We sailed past Leighton House 🏡 on our bicycles (must go back and visit) and arrived at Holland Park.  Holland Park is wonderful and bizarre.  The first highlight was the Kyoto Garden 🌲 – we communed with nature, I got on splendidly with a peacock 🐦, squirrel 🐭 and some terrifyingly large goldfish 🐠🐬, and a squirrel 🐭quite spectacularly threw itself at Emma, clinging desperately to her leg.  (It was quite a terrifying moment – can people please remember squirrels 🐭 are rats 🐭 with tails and letting them crawl all over you in not ok.  Actually is really quite gross.)  We felt a bit like disney characters 👸 who have animals (rodents) as friends 🐰🐭🐱 who help them with activities such as cleaning.  I don’t want any rodent friends, we already have a rabbit 🐰 in the house, and he certainly does not do any cleaning….. 😉

Then we discovered Holland House 🏰 (originally Cope Castle), which is now part ruin as it was destroyed by a fire bomb 🔥in the blitz. In some ways the remaining facade is rather sad, this grand house, now gone, the gate standing alone, overlooking what once would have been a lovely view – now a football field ⚽️ and some rather nasty modern buildings.  The last ball 💃 to be held at the house was the debutante ball of Rosalind Cubitt in 1939 attended by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth – just over a month later the house was hit by 22 incendiary bombs 💣.  Amazingly the east wing and library 📚remained almost completely undamaged.  It remained a ruin until 1952 when it was sold to the London County Council.

We discussed how we would very much like to go to a ball 💃 – a proper ball, not the commercial type where you buy a ticket which gains you entry and one glass of ‘champagne’ but a party hosted by someone, where everyone was nicely attired (we get to wear some fabulous jewels 💎), and no one gets annoyingly drunk 🍸🍸🍸 before they arrive.  Drinking is fine, it’s really quite fun, but I never see the point in getting so drunk you can’t stand up before you’ve even arrived at the party, the beginning is often the best part, you get to discover who else is there and have a good look at what they are wearing.  Now what we really need is a venue, a nice big room….

It really was a splendid day, and we parted ways as I needed to cycle home before the sun set.  Let’s do it again soon please Emma, it really was super fun ☺️ !!

Alice xxx

Ready for action (also this sculpture (?) makes me feel very uncomfortable..)
Leighton House
Taking a turn about the park
A peacock, a pigeon and a bonsai tree
I met a peacock
And then this happened


Holland Park – Cope Castle

About the Jewels in the V & A:

‘Bejewelled Treasures: The Al Thani Collection’.  No photos 📷 or sketching allowed 🎨 !  Which was sad.  They had some really incredible pieces – the exhibition guided us through from early Mughal and Indian jewellery to modern pieces 💎💍.

I enjoyed the opening explanation that early Sanskrit gemmology recognised nine gems as the most important, and these are often seen set in a Navaratna (nine gem) amulet – a Ruby at the centre, surrounded by a diamond, natural pearl, red coral, hessonite, blue sapphire, cat’s eye, a yellow sapphire, and an emerald.  And each gem also represents a planet – the Ruby (the sun) at the centre with the other gems (planets and moons) surrounding it.

However, at the Mughal court in the late 16th century, they classified gems completely differently and the most valuable stones were deep red spinels.  I found this really fascinating, to see these huge red spinels set into jewellery.  Having worked with jewellery for a while, spinel is something we had, but not in abundance.  I actually rather like it as a stone, as it comes in all sorts of colours including some really wonderful pinks and blues.

So the Timur ruby, on display in the exhibition, is actually a spinel.  The same goes for the British Imperial State Crown, in the Tower of London – the large ‘ruby’ is a sneaky spinel.

Imperial State Crown – that sneaky spinel > Image from Royal Collection website

Other spinel’s on display included the seal ring 💍of Nizam of Hyderabad – which is a red spinel set into gold with tiny retractable key 🔑 which is rather fun.

Nizam’s ring set with a spinel > Image from V&A website

Other intriguing items on display were a number of diamonds 💎 including the Arcot II diamond – which is internally flawless, pear shaped, brilliant cut and really very big.  I do love diamonds – to be a completely materialistic person for a moment – there is something amazing about putting on diamonds, however big or small, and wearing them all day.  I think diamonds should be worn during the day, they instantly make any outfit better, and I like the idea that no one knows if they are the real thing.  For all they know, you could be wearing Accessorizes finest plastic.  (For the record I don’t own any diamonds, so please don’t mug me on the off chance, it would be really tedious for both of us.)

Arcot II Diamond

It was interesting to learn that platinum was introduced after 1911, up until that point most jewellery had been set in gold.  I am a white gold / silver person usually.  But sometimes I get taken in by jewels set in gold..

The other items I really liked were a pair of earrings and bangles by Bhagat.  The earrings consisted of 38 table cut diamonds set into platinum, and had been made in such a way that the diamonds looked as if they were suspended next to each other, with almost invisible settings.  And the bangles were fabulous – set with diamonds and freshwater pearls in platinum to look like interlocking jasmine buds.

Bhagat bangles

If only I could have taken photos 📷!!!  Ok, I have borrowed some photos from other people – but those earrings are actually divine 😇.  And they had a rubbish selection of postcards in the gift shop – this is something that really bothers me, please sort this out – if we can’t take photos, at least provide some good postcards.  But what fun to be able to see the jewels up close 😊😍!!

Alice xxx

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