Thursday, 5 July 2018

London Mini-Break: Concert at British Museum and visit to RBGKew

So many blog posts to catch up on and June was supposed to be a quiet-ish month in comparison to what's ahead in July! 
On  23rd June  we had a ' minibreak'  in London ,  staying  at the Premier Inn in Brentford , round the corner from where we used to live, in order to go to an evening concert at the British Museum. This was an 'after hours' event just for Friends of the BM   with the London Philharmonic Choir    with music for midsummer , inspired by the Celtic collections. 

 After checking  in hotel ( and helping some American tourists negotiate the local buses ) we headed into London   with time for quick look at the 'Charmed Lives'  exhibition   before an early meal at Savoir Faire  which was as delicious as usual.
What a contrast   when  we returned to the British Museum - walking through the gate and up the steps with  only fellow concert goers instead of the usual crowds . Drinks were served in the  Egyptian Sculpture Court  where for once you could  easily look at the  Rosetta stone and other exhibits  ( it's usually absolutely packed with visitors). The lighting was very atmospheric and spooky!

 We were seated  in the Great Court  and the acoustics  were  wonderful  - ' O Radiant Dawn'  by James MacMillan sent shivers down my spine  and the music played  on the harp was particularly beautiful
 The following day  we  made our way to RBGKew ( with my 'Life Pass' )  to see the newly re-opened Temperate House. 

 It was wonderful to climb up the spiral staircase  to the roof top walk and look down on all the replanting

Down to earth again and I spent some time searching  for some of the plants I'd worked with.
 Early in my career  we made  some attempts in the lab to grow some cuttings of the 'St Helena  Olive'  but they failed and the original  last remaining plant unfortunately died and so it is now extinct.  It was great to see this story  explained  through the excellent interpretation  ( and the symbolism of a large, empty, pot) . Failures are  just as important  as successes - we developed   innovative methods   that have saved other plants   but we were just too late.

We finished the day by visiting the Shirley Sherwood Gallery , fascinated  by the examples of how  various artists had tackled different examples of botanical illustration  and revisited the Marianne North Gallery  ( I'd forgotten  what a  fantastic  collection it is)

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