Victoria and Albert Museum

The Victoria and Albert Museum is located in a cute neighborhood full of French people. The restaurants, cafes and little card shops have a San Francisco hipster feel to them. But even more so. They out-organic, out-vegan us there any day. The museum is not only free, but one of the nicest I’ve been to.

Here’s the entry hall dome

And here is the spawn of Medusa and Chuthulu hanging from it

There are also these men lounging everwhere. Here, over a doorway and under an antlered thing who seems very suspicious of me.

This was the tomb of a cardinal, and was commissioned by a rival to make him look lazy. He does seem to be lounging rather than dead.

There’s something lovely about where this statue is placed. I was startled when I saw it.

I heard once that all the nudes in art were a form of proto-porn. I wasn’t sure about the claim, since most nude paintings I remembered didn’t seem particularly suggestive. This, however… Note that he was placed in a room full of religious art. Maybe the curator has a sense of humor.

These were giant and (I think) modern. Too bad the don’t sell copies of them in the store!

I think they moved an entire fancy baroque room from a hotel and put it in the museum.

The tea room. I was introduced here to a real strawberry shortcake. Yum.

Those are all the photogenic parts of the England part of our trip. Next, it’s on the Corsica!

London and Oxford

Let’s start with the obligatory Big Ben shot with the bonus double-decker bus. We were staying with a friend near Leicester Square and this was taken not far from there.

Westminster Abbey now charges a £20 entrance fee. It’s a new fad at popular tourist churches throughout Europe. We passed, and just looked from outside.

St. James Park looks like a painting. There are 3 parks that are one after the other. Our host said he still can’t tell St. James Park from Green Park.

Seeing ducks at the park always reminds me of the story told by a social worker specializing in helping refugees adapt to their new country. She has to tell Asian refugees that the ducks in the park are not for dinner and that it’s forbidden to hunt them. (But they look so juicy!)

No trip to London is complete without a slow stroll through Harrod’s food halls to ogle the cakes. What is a hummingbird cake, anyway? Does hummingbird taste like chicken?

I’m not sure if her face is cracked on purpose. I do like her lounge lion though. Maybe they sell them at IKEA.

We spent a day in Oxford. This is the Bodleian Library.

And the Radcliffe Camera

And this is an old wooden door with rusty bits and a lion. Europeans are obsessed with lions. I’m sure they find me very odd for taking pictures of their doors. Maybe they wonder to themselves whether I’m from a country where doors haven’t been invented yet.

We went to a couple of museums, including one full of curiosities like shrunken heads, but I’ll spare you. The outsides were lovely.

This man with his giant bird friend — maybe it’s supposed to symbolize a friendship between America and France. That guy looks pretty French. And I’m sure that ridiculous bird is our national mascot.

Christ Church now charges an entrance fee too. But Evensong is free. I took a few sneaky pics on my way out. The ritual of evensong is slightly goofy, with a lot of standing and sitting, and a priest doing monotone chanting.

We had a kebab dinner (from the kebab truck at Pembroke Square)

and watched the sun fade out over Christ Church meadow.


Shaun the Sheep in London

Just got back last week from a two-ish month trip to Europe. We started in London where N’s friend has a spectacular flat near Leicester Square. Shaun the Sheep was everywhere, doing a promo tour for an upcoming movie.

I was first introduced to Shaun the Sheep last winter during a stay at N’s uncle’s house in the north of France. He doesn’t speak English and my French is incomprehensible. But we could both understand the language of sheep antics! He had a stack of Shaun DVDs for his grandson — or so he claimed. (He watched them nightly, even when his grandson wasn’t around.)

Here’s Shaun is in Trafalgar Square dressed as Napoleon:

And on the border of Green Park, another Shaun the Sheep! I overheard someone saying there were 47 around London.

A geometric / modern art Shaun in front of the British Council

A chinoiserie Shaun in Chinatown

A child spots Shaun! Shaun looks wary.

My favorite is the Cath Kidston Shaun. Pictured here staring at a man in purple hoodie. While he stared back.

I’m a little frightened of the smile-faced grey cloud on top of this Shaun’s head

Very meta