Glorious Galleries

The last few days have been spent travelling back to London and settling in here for a week of resting, with just a few visits to the local sights. I broke my train journey up so I could spend a few hours in Birmingham to visit the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. They are the custodians of the recently discovered Staffordshire Hoard  of Anglo-Saxon gold as well as the lucky owners of over 3,000 Pre-Raphaelite works, the largest collection in the world. Naturally they also have some gorgeous jewellery as Birmingham is renown for its Jewellery Quarter. I just happened to be there at lunchtime on a Friday which is when the students at the local Birmingham Conservatoire perform free lunchtime concerts in the gallery which was a wonderful bonus!

On Saturday Kathy kindly came down to meet me and we went out to Greenwich to The Queens House to see the Armada Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I which is on public display for the first time. I was amazed by this gallery – entry was free (although they did ask for a small donation) and it housed hundreds of incredibly rare and important works. The building was designed 400 years ago by the great Inigo Jones and has just been restored with some beautiful modern inclusions and sympathetic decorations. We went through most of the rooms and saw Holbein’s portrait of Henry VIII, the Armada Portrait of Elizabeth I, original Joseph Banks prints from his voyage with Cook, dozens of paintings of kings, queens and naval officers as well as ceramics, silver and wonderful views of Greenwich.

Below are a few more highlights from the day: a film set on the street in Greenwich near the Old Naval College, the Remembrance Day video installation in Paternoster Square, what must be the worlds largest ship in a bottle and this yummy Scottish treat Kathy told me about called a Tunnock’s Teacake, delicious! Oh, and to round off my night I popped over to Royal Albert Hall to see Carmina Burana from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and five choirs with a total of over 400 voices singing at once. I’m not sure this holiday can improve from here…