By which we mean our trip to London, natch.
When we were in the midst of planning for our move to Portugal, it could get hectic. Very, very hectic. To the point where more than once we’d ask ourselves just what the hell we were doing, and maybe let’s think this through again. So, to keep ourselves sane (by our standards, ok? no judgment), every now and then we’d revisit our reasons for wanting to move in the first place. As you might remember from our talking about our winter trip to Spain and France, we spent a lot of downtime planning out that “first trip” to other countries, and made a point of putting it early in the calendar so it would feel like something to look forward to. (In retrospect, Braga itself would have been the “something to look forward to”, but we hadn’t been here yet.) The other things we’d daydream about were the spontaneous trips that we didn’t even know about yet, but that we were certain would happen because it would be so much easier to accomplish.
(Again, foreshadowing. It can’t be over-used, can it?)
On many of our trips to cities both abroad and within the US, John would grab the local Time Out or similar publication and check out what was going on in the city that wasn’t big news. When we went to New York a few years ago, Lisa bought John a ticket to “Hamilton” while the original cast was still performing, and that was great. But John found out about a play called “The Woodsman” that is in the running for our favorite theatrical experience ever. It was something wondrous to behold, and it helped give rise to John’s working theory that amazing things are going on all the time, all over the world, and outside of their homes you hear very little about them. (It’s not much of a theory, more of a “no shit, Sherlock”, but still…) Case in point: “Hamilton” was a cultural phenomenon that managed to break through for the world’s attention, but “The Woodsman” was our favorite. On our honeymoon in 2012, we found a theatre housed behind a socialist bookstore in Dublin, a little black box with maybe 100 seats in it; but, we saw Love in the Title and haven’t forgotten about it in the 10 years since. (Although, to peek behind the curtain for a moment, we forgot the name of the play, and there’s been about two hours between those last two sentences as John went down the rabbit hole to find it. No, you probably wouldn’t have cared if we didn’t name it, but once he starts looking…) From events like these we (and John in particular) have latched on to the idea that if we had easier access to more places, and more time to go with it, we’d take advantage of interesting cultural events that would have passed us by in the past.
So, back in March, John had a review cross his feed from The Guardian newspaper about an exhibition at The British Museum titled “The world of Stonehenge” that was rapturous in its descriptions. Interesting, he thought. Then, the very next day, he say a different review for an exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum (and let’s not be coy here, he had no idea where that museum was until he looked it up) presenting Camille Pissarro in the context of his relationships with the Impressionists. That was very interesting, he thought. And then, no more than a couple of days later, he read about A Century of the Artist’s Studio: 1920-2020 at the Whitechapel Gallery and it was apparently really excellent. Once he confirmed that Whitechapel is, in fact, in England, this sealed the deal. He presented all of this to Lisa, and with no reluctance at all they decided to make a weekend out of it. And so it was that on very little notice we decided to make a quick trip to London, with a day trip to Oxford(!), to take in highlights of the artistic season. And to top it all off, we decided to add a delay for the National Gallery since we hadn’t been the last time we were there, and with no notice whatsoever we discovered an exhibition of Raphael’s work, giving us all the omen we needed, if we needed one, that this trip was a good idea. And so, coming up next, our long weekend in and around London.