Sunday, 11 December 2011

Where we went and what we saw

This is part 2 of my post about my spectacular birthday doings. The last post was all about my pressies so read that if you missed out and then snuggle up to read travel-y bits.

It has been a whirlwind of a weekend. We got up early yesterday and trained into London. First stop: the Flemish Gallery to see a retrospective of children’s illustrator John Burningham. From their website:
This retrospective exhibition celebrates the rich and varied career of one of Britain’s most distinguished and best-loved illustrators and includes illustrations for his children and adult books as well as those for Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang by Ian Fleming, working drawings and previously unseen archive material.
Burningham’s first attempt at writing and illustrating a children's book was Borka: The Adventures of a Goose With No Feathers in 1963. Tom Maschler, a forward-thinking editor at Jonathan Cape , agreed to publish the book. In the early 1960s there was a shift in attitude towards children’s books and Burningham’s fresh and imaginative stories combined with his bold and original illustrations helped change the genre forever. Borka was awarded the Kate Greenaway Medal for illustration and Burningham never looked back; he is still inventing and illustrating stories to the delight of readers of all ages.
It was delightful and chock full of art and artifacts from his life.
Stop number two: Tibits restaurant to eat a glorious vegan meal. My favourite place for fresh, delicious, healthy, animal free food.

Stop number three: The British Library. This place rocks my socks. They hold all sorts of interesting events for dirt cheap. Tickets were £7.50 each and we went to see A Christmas Carol, and the Conjuror which was writer and BBC radio broadcaster Brian Sibley doing a dramatic reading of a slightly abridged version of Dickens’  A Christmas Carol acting it out and doing all the voices. He used Dickens’ own cutting of the work and tried to copy the suggestions Dickens recorded for when to gesture and what words to emphasize. Plus there was David Weeks of The Magic Circle presenting interludes of bewildering bafflement out of the Victorian conjuror's box of tricks. I am a sucker for magic tricks and so easily bewitched by their trickiness ever since BoBo the magician graced my primary school and really pulled his thumb off (he really did, you know!) It was a glorious day with lots of oooos and ahhhhhs. But wait, there’s more!
This morning we set out bright an early back to London with a bottle of claret and a homemade card and headed to Chris Beetles gallery to hang out with Britain’s greatest children’s illustrator Quentin Blake. It is his birthday soon, hence the card and the claret. He was having a book signing and a display of some of his art for sale and there was a band called the Jelly Rollers who play old stuff from the 1920s on the tuba, banjo and fiddle whist dressed in period costume. The banjo player let me beep his hooter and I was so excited that I actually leapt up in the air! Alright, get your mind out of the gutter—beeping his hooter is not a euphemism for something obscene—it means honked his horn. In that great classic The Wind in the Willows, Mr Toad’s motor car has a hooter that when you beep it goes, “Poop Poop!” Seriously. That’s the noise hooters make here. Not beep beep but poop poop.
We had a lovely chat with Quentin Blake who is just a charming old bloke in his worn out wooly jumper and white plimsoles.  We looked at art that we would love to be able to afford (and one day may but not now) and then trained home for the rest of my birthday celebration.
Always every year on my birthday we put up the Christmas tree, eat leek and potato soup and watch the Muppet’s Christmas Carol. I’ve got an idea on how to bake some gluten free gingerbread as well so we’ll be tucking into that for pudding.
Hoorah and tally ho!


  1. Happy Birthday, Chickadee! (or Snicklefritz if you prefer)

  2. Happy Birthday to you. Sounds like great fun.
    Carol Durusau