I was rudely awoken by Ben yesterday morning – he and his dad had gotten up at 5am in Suffolk in order to drive the big Capri down to London, and he phoned me from Kennington at 7:30am to see how I was. Mostly I was “rssnfrss?” as I was a bit groggy from the previous night, but I was happy to hear he had gotten into London ok. I decided to get up and do some housework, whilst I waited for the text from my friend Louise to say she had gotten out of her interview. At about 11am that text came, so I estimated about an hour to get to the V&A. It actually only took me half an hour! What a joy to know I am only half an hour away from the city’s biggest museums.
Louise was not so lucky – she got a bit lost in north London, and only tripped into the V&A around 12:30-1pm. But that was fine, as I had a book, a camera and a homing instinct for tea.
Strangely, the first thing that met me as I entered the V&A via their tunnel entrance was a variety of plants. Underground. Odd.
I have never had a proper look around the V&A before – only a brief amble around the ground floor sculpture gallery, and a visit to their fine gift shop (to get my super fantastic rabbit dish rack). So after a brief refuel (in the form of tea and a bit of Steven Pinker) I decided to have a gentle amble around the rest of the museum’s ground floor. The V&A café is in itself a glorious piece of design: with two main sections, one which is romantically decorated, with a grand piano (being played by Harry Nowakowski-Fox, whilst I was there) and another which is modernly minimalistic, and a bit quieter. Like the Natural History Museum, the V&A’s café and restaurant is run by benugo and therefore I knew to expect slightly pricey but good quality food.
After a brief amble, Louise gave me a ring to try and find me, so we regrouped back in the café. As it was around 1pm at this point, we decided it was time for a spot of lunch. We chose to go for a light sandwich-based lunch, with Louise trying out a baguette with chicken, grilled courgette and pesto (I believe – correct me if I’m wrong!) whilst I went for salami, rocket and gherkin in mine. I also had a side salad of grated carrot in a sesame dressing, and new potatoes in pesto sauce.
Then, we decided to “attack” the museum properly. We headed straight up to the third floor to have a goosey at the metal ware.
There are some really curious items from history – above for example is one of the original sporks! I think it’s quite clear how it’s supposed to work. We also saw a “spoon warmer” for gravy spoons (now an obsolete piece of tableware – a shame) and a metal cabinet labelled “metal for men”:
Now, why is that tankard just for men? It looks like it would hold a good two pints of tea or chocolate milk. Thank you to Louise, my skilled hand model.
I like lions.
From here, we ambled quite aimlessly – the V&A is enormous, and we very swiftly got lost. Not a problem though: there is a massive variety of things on display, and all of it interesting (whether in a “wow!” sort of way, or just to raise an eyebrow).
We found our way into the costumes department, and marvelled at how skinny Adam Ant was in the Prince Charming days. We also had a play in the dress-up bit of this gallery, but unfortunately my camera died at this point, and it was simply too dark for my phone camera. A shame: Louise looked awesome in the magician’s robe!
Next, we found ourselves in a gallery overlooking the Cast Courts. What met us there was breathtaking: there, in two pieces, INDOORS, stands a cast of the magnificent Trajan’s Column.
It is hard to communicate via a blog how impressive this was. The Cast Courts are quite eerie to be in, even more so when you manage to find your way down onto their floor (we went downstairs, and then they simply disappeared. We had to ask for directions. Doh.)
Doors, sculptures, columns, staircases… All in one giant room.
Not the sort of thing you usually expect to see indoors.
We were starting to flag at around 3:30, so we decided to call it a day. But we had seen a lot, revelled in the glory of human creation, and generally felt quite cultured. We only scratched the surface, but as the V&A (like most London museums) is free, we can always go back again and see more. And again. One thing I didn’t managed to get a shot of was the adorable Beatrix Potter original sketches of Peter Rabbit. Nawww 🙂
If you have never been to the V&A before, then I thoroughly recommend you get yourself down there – there genuinely is something for everyone, whether your interest be textiles, architecture, traditional artwork, jewellery… They have enormous collections from a variety of cultures and eras, and also have temporary (ticketed) exhibits. And of course, very importantly, their gift shop and café are both ace 😉