London

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R and I went to London today, for the first time in twenty one months. It felt pretty strange being on trains and tubes again, and I’m still quite uncomfortable being in confined spaces with a lot of strangers – especially as perhaps a third of the people with whom we shared tube carriages today were unmasked – but we’ve reached the point at which we feel it’s right to start resuming some of our pre-pandemic activities. We’ll be taking lateral flow tests over the next few days, and obviously monitoring ourselves carefully for any signs of illness.

The main reason for our trip today was to see the exhibition Masterpieces from Buckingham Palace at the Queen’s Gallery. This contained a fair number of fillers that I’d personally hesitate to call masterpieces, but the Vermeer, the Rembrandts, and the Van Dyck double portrait justified the trip and the price of admission all by themselves. There were also a wall and a bit of Canalettos, a superb Gentileschi, and a handful of very striking pieces by artists I’d never previously heard of, so it’s an exhibition that’s very well worth seeing – especially if you can get to the gallery without needing to use the underground.

During the morning I spent some time in St James’ Park, where there were fewer birds than I’d expected to see, probably because the water fowl that tend to overwinter there haven’t yet arrived. The pelicans put on a good show though, and I had fun trying to photograph them in different ways, including taking some extreme close-ups of different facial features. This ‘head and shoulders’ portrait caught my eye while I was processing this evening because of the light, and the amazing colouring of the bird’s bill. I wrote quite a bit about the pelicans on my last encounter with them, so I’ll spare you a reprise this evening; if you’d like to read my earlier ramblings, you can find them here.