Home and away

Since my last post I have been busy and international.


Thursday was a continuation of my holiday at home. It was very churchy. Having visited the medieval church of St Audoen’s a few months ago, I called in sick for that particular house of worship. Not that it is not a fascinating place – because it is – rather I don’t want to get attached to a holy house.

Instead, in the sweltering heat, we visited St Patrick’s cathedral. It is an Anglican cathedral located only a couple of hundreds of metres from Christchurch cathedral – another Anglican cathedral. I had always assumed that these two churches were for different denominations. In fact they are not. In the thirteenth century, St Pat’s was build by an uppity catholic bishop, who was feuding with the church hierarchy so he built his glorious new monument to God directly outside the city walls. These men of god are always throwing a strop.

St Patrick’s is a monumental church – sweeping, majestic and beautiful. The type of church you’d expect to see in Paris. I was massively impressed – and again a bit dumbfounded that I’d never paid a visit before.

After this visit we decided to cross the river to see the crypts beneath St Methen’s church. However as there is limited access and a queue of fifty eight Spanish students waiting before us – I know the exact number as the woman behind the admissions desk was quite specific – we decided to head over to the Hugh Lane Gallery. An interesting gallery – as I have written about it before here is the link to that excursion – Hugh Lane Gallery

Feeling all cultured out we went to the pub for cider. Pantibar no less. It’s a bit discombobulating to realise that Panti is now fairly well known outside Ireland, and that her bar is a place of pilgrimage of tourists – the Camino de Panti if you like. It was a mildly raucous evening. We finished early, as the next day I was traveling to London, and I wanted to be dewy eyed and fresh faced for that journey.

The day started promisingly. I got a free ride to the airport in the big green bus, as the driver didn’t have change for a twenty. The flight was non-eventful. It’s always incredible however to witness those Ryanair flight attendants engaged in the hard sell. Refreshments, lottery tickets, car hire, perfumes. They traverse that aisle selling stuff the entire duration of the one hour flight. I expect they will be offering Ryanair credit cards soon.

I had no specific plans made for my visit, save for spending time with some friends. We started with a drink beneath the busiest motorway in Europe. A fish supper – not fish and chips – involving sea bass and spinach, and a drink in a former bordello in Westminster. The wall art was rather revealing. I clutched my pearls and pursed my lips into a vinegary pout of disapproval. These heterosexuals and their disgusting lifestyle choices.

The following day started with a cycle to Hampstead Heath – an enormous city centre park that has not been over-cultivated and manicured. You get the sense that you are in the countryside, despite being in the centre of the megalopolis. This Heath has long been notorious as a gay cruising ground, particularly in the area surrounding the Men’s Pond. The Men’s Pond (and Women’s Pond) are still single sex bathing areas – having received their designation last century, when summer swimming became popular. To avoid wicked thoughts it was decided that the sexes needed to be segregated to protect modesty, and it remains that way. The men’s section these days is popular among gay and Orthodox Jewish menfolk (and whatever crossover takes place within those two identities). It looked rather deep, so I lay down my towel in the sunbathing section outside. There seemed to be nefarious activity happening in the bushes – secret rendezvous. Then I remembered where I was. I felt all George Michael. My lips pursed again. Not in disapproval this time, but with nerves. We hopped on our bikes and departed.

Onward to the New Tate Modern – a modern art gallery built in a former power station. Those poor millionaires living in their skyscraper flats must be annoyed by all those tourists on the eleventh floor outdoor viewing areas, snapping pictures of their sofas. The art itself was modern. I had no idea what most of it represented. But I nodded my head sagely, and stroked my chin as if I knew exactly what the artist was trying to portray.
The museum is on the South Bank of the Thames. And the tide was out. We descended the steps to the beach, and got a stunning view of theĀ  London skyline at night, from the depths of the riverbed.
The next day began with a cycle around Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill. The thirty degree heat was stifling. After breakfast it was on our bikes again to the Victoria and Albert Museum. We cycled through Hyde Park, stopping on the way at the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain. This was impressive in that it’s a both a fountain and a swimming area for children. Meant to be a place of silent reflection, the screaming children put paid to that noble idea. And all the better it was for it, too.

The V&A was overwhelming. Too large and too eclectic. I chose specificĀ  exhibitions as you’d need a week to explore the entire building. I chose the fashion area, and the theatre area. As the map for the museum is the most confusing map in the history of map-making, I got lost trying to locate the theatre section. Therefore I also experienced the doorknob exhibition, as well as the 16th century furniture room, via the sculpture and jewelry section. Finally I found my destination, where Kylie’s dressing room was on display – behind a pane of bulletproof glass. Those rabid Kylie fans clearly need to be kept at bay.
Later that evening we went to a pub on a roundabout in Vauxhall – called the Royal Vauxhall Tavern – to see a cheesy cabaret show. And the cheese was gorgonzola-esque

Yesterday was home-time. As I waited in the queue to board my plane, I noticed the tattoo across the chest of the woman in front of me. It read ‘Only God can judge me’. I’ll be the judge of that, I thought. My judgement was simple. That tattoo was ugly.

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