Day Off

It was our intention today to head over to Somerset House where the Origin Craft Fair was ending its first week.  Mark drove up and met me in Muswell Hill bright and early and the walk from the car park to Aldwych was glorious.  London was looking fantastic in clear sunshine - not a cloud in the sky.  We walked through Trafalgar Square, thinking that we'd sit a while and enjoy the view but sadly all the paraphernalia with an event in the square prevented that.  Admiral Lord Nelson had a better vantage point as you'll see from my photo of the day yesterday. 

Though we've both walked past Somerset House many times, this was the first time either of us had been inside and I have to say, I was amazed at what I saw.  A trip to the loo revealed all kinds of walkways and passageways beneath street level - on the Aldwych side at least, for the other side is high above the Embankment.  Mark explained this was all reclaimed land - something I didn't know/hadn't really thought about before.

We loved many of the exhibits in the craft show - some extravagant silver candle holders by Brett Payne and some fine woodwork and furniture.  We both loved Michael Berger's Kinetic rings too. Had a short chat with Jane Adam, whose jewellery I wear and which always provokes comment and admired the beautiful felted shawls of Maggie Scott whose technique of incorporating fine digitally printed chiffon with very thin layers of more woolly fibres intrigued us both.  But budgets being budgets, we settled for smaller "souvenirs" in the form of a gorgeous merino woven scarf by Keskusta, a woven silky one by Margo Selby and a frilly knitted merino wool creation by Florrie - a longer and more drapey version of the neck ruff shown on their website.  I have to wait for that one to be made.

After a short break sitting in the sunshine on the terrace overlooking the river, we returned to explore a little more of this amazing building, starting with Nelsons staircase.

The Nelson staircase rises elegantly from the corridor where the Deli/Cafe is to be found, and the Navy staircase at the opposite end.  Here we found a great description of what might have greeted us in earlier days:

"In these damp, black and comfortless recesses, the clerks of the nation grope about like moles, immersed in Tartarean gloom, where they stamp, sign, examine, indite, doze, and swear..."

Looking down at those dark and gloomy places below, it's wasn't hard to imagine such scenes.

We agreed that we need another visit to this interesting place and added it to our list for another day before heading back across town on an errand or two.  Finished the day with a delicious supper with Edward at Ottolenghi having spent ten minutes or more deciding which nine flavours of chocolates we'd include in our box of chocolates - Marmite and Port and Stilton were Mark's choices, whilst I went for more conventional Cinnamon and Cider - sadly the Yorkshire Tea ones were sold out!

Headed home late last night and intend to have a quiet day today.  The fun begins tomorrow.

Out of the Office

Ally Pally Day Two