Saturday, August 13, 2022

An unexpected visit to the National Gallery

The car started to make a funny noise as we travelled to London for a family visit. The idea was that we would stay in London from Thursday to Saturday and then set off to Eastbourne for a two week break. 

But as we turned off the M4 we noticed the car sounded a bit odd. Like our old school unleaded guzzling Ford Focus had transitioned into a whining elecric job. Freaky. On arriving at our destination a peek under the bonnet revealed a fluid leak. Not engine oil, but whatever it was, there was quite a bit of it. Too much to risk proceeding with our journey without getting it looked at. 

A visit to a garage on Saturday morning revealed that the power steering pipe needed replacing. Couldn't be done until Monday at the earliest. We were stuck. In London. Where there's always stuff to see and do.

Like arty stuff in an air conned gallery during yet another summer 2022 hot spell. And so we braved the sweltering Bakerloo line and headed for the effortlessly cool National Gallery. 

We hadn't visited for years, so it was like bumping into old friend after old friend as we wandered through the various exhibition rooms. There's Rembrandt as a young man and then as an oldie. The greatest self-portraits ever? And his epic Belshazzar's Feast. 

I wanted to see Turner's The Fighting Temeraire. There it was. Like, wow. The ghostly old ship being towed to the breaker's yard by the fiery, modern tug boat. That sunset. On the way we saw Gainsborough's portraits of gentry couples proudly posing on their estates, shooting a confident gaze at their  viewers. Placed next to tenderly intimate depictions of the painter's young daughters. 

Then the Monets and Reniors. Not to mention Van Gogh's Sunflowers, Chair and Wheat Field. It was the visual eqivalent of playing a setlist of all your favorite songs, with some welcome surprises thrown in. And this was a rushed 2 hour visit in which we sampled only some of the artworks on display in the grandeur of the National Gallery. All for free. To think, we could have been travelling to Eastbourne. 

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