Generous friends living in Pimlico kindly invited us to join them to celebrate the New Year. We began on the 31st with a brisk morning walk via Sloane Square, in pursuit of wine glasses for use that evening. On to Picadilly by bus for coffee and sandwiches in Pret a Manger before launching ourselves on the Royal Academy’s exhibition of Abstract Expressionism. Twelve huge rooms are a challenge – and concentration lapsed as we entered the late work spaces. Gorky, Pollock and Rothko stole the show…
Clockwise from top left: Arsile Gorky’s The Orators (1947), Jacson Pollock’s Male and Female (1943) and Night Mist (1945) and Mark Rothko’s Untitled (Black on Gray), (one of his later and more melacholic pieces from 1970)
Back to the house (via Slone Square to buy the preferred glasses) and opportunity for the one Master of Wine student amongst us to taste three of the assembled champagnes while our hostess fine-tuned her culinary preparations.
Next stop the Curzon at Victoria with four of us in the back of Ronnie’s car to see the early evening showing of A United Kingdom. A great film which leaves the viewer deeply relieved that at least some moments of history in some parts of the world work out for the good….
We reached home just seconds before the final guests arrived. The food and wines were equisite; our hosts impeccable, the company cheerful and the timing spot on. As the fireworks announced the New Year, four of us tackled the 62 steps to the roof to watch the spectacle on a dry, clear and cold night.
Next morning – and no signs of sluggishness or after effects -and despite there being 267 years between the four of us, we set off on foot for Tate Britain and the Paul Nash exhibition. Pastel palette and a puzzling preoccupation with the ‘personness’ of inanimate objects left some of us bemused as well as moved. (and clearly locked onto the onomatopoeiac ‘P’…ed.)
Wood on the Downs 1929
The Rye Marshes 1932
Equipped for the steady rain we strode out of the Tate and over Vauxhall bridge to Nine Elms Lane to satisfy ourselves about the various building projects – the new American Embassy, the new Institute of the Masters of Wine at Riverlight, Cringle Street, and the old power station site. As the heavens opened we finally conceded that a bus (in fact two) would be the best way home. It was – despite a six minute delay at Battersea bus station (caused by the driver’s insistence that the very light traffic meant we marked time until precisely 14.43)
More tasting, more delicious food, more samples of champagne interrupted another film – on DVD this time, improbably called The Lunch Box. The logistics of delivering tiffin in crowded and frantic Mumbai will stay with us despite everyone losing the plot
The additional bank holiday Monday brought more cold bright sunshine and few shoppers until midday by which time new trousers and bed linen had been purchased and brought home.
It was a perfect day to see London on foot, and the chill made for a fast pace. We strode through Hyde Park and on to Marylebone High Street and a spot of hospital visiting for one of our hosts while the rest of us window shopped.
The final no-alcohol, family day of the Winter Wonderland was in full swing, quite literally, and the home bound walk in the deepening darkness brought its own very particular delights.
No, not the fairground; but Venus…sticking close to a crescent moon as clear as crystal
Thank you once more to our marvellous hosts and fellow guests. A memorable start to new year which we all hope will bring fewer surprises and less alarm than its predecessor…