So much for plans. I wanted to revisit the Chelsea Physic Garden, a place that enchanted me in the mid-1970s. It was established in 1673 as an apothocaries’ garden and I remember feeling the first tendrils of what became a full-blown interest in ethnobotany as I walked along those tended paths. We took the bus over, riding the top deck in pleasure along Oxford Street, past Regent Street’s elegant curve. Got off the bus at the Royal Chelsea Hospital — a retirement facility for old soldiers, a few of them in red jackets and blue caps along the road. But, no — a sign on the gate saying the garden wouldn’t open until 2. (It was 10:30.; the opening time advertised on the website is 9:30…) We had coffee and a very expensive sweet in a little patisserie on Sloane Street and caught a bus back to the British Museum. Patrin Szkandery, the main character in my forthcoming novella, is interested in a wall-painting from the tomb of Nebamun (c.1350 B.C.) and I have only a vague memory of that work (which goes to show that fictional characters have their own interests and lives…). But looking today, I could understand her attraction to the painting. Patrin particularly loves the pool in the garden and I did like that, too —
Last night we went to a concert at the Foundling Museum, a birthday celebration for Handel, with selections of arias from his choral works as well as Purcell’s, performed by musicians from the Academy of Ancient Music (Charman Bedford, soprano; Alex McCartney, theorbo; Reiko Ichise, viola da gamba). All of it was lovely but how sweet the two toccatas for theorbo by Giovanni Kapsberger, a composer unfamiliar to me.
Tonight, our last in London until late March, we’re going to see the new Tom Stoppard play, The Hard Problem, at the National Theatre. We feel very lucky because the play is sold out but we managed to get tickets by stopping in at the theatre on our way back from the Imperial War Museum yesterday (the “Truth and Memory:British Art of the First World War” exhibit is very powerful).
Tomorrow to Amsterdam and a wedding…
p.s. — I hope I’ve caught all the “corrections” this tablet makes to my writing. Somehow it thought I meant “ethnicity” instead of “ethnobotany” and “tomcat” rather than “toccata”. Well, who knows, maybe I did. And I can’t figure out formatting so you’ll just have to imagine italics, etc.