Camden Lock / Camden High Street
I went to Camden Town, my happy place in London. The ambience always puts a smile on my face and I could have spent all day exploring the markets and shops.
Trafalgar Square / Speedy's, the café featured in BBC's Sherlock
I had a quick dash around the National Gallery (which probably didn't do it justice, to be honest) before doing an equally quick dash around Oxford Street and Piccadilly Circus (ditto - although that was a good job since I don't really have any money to throw around). I was a bit miffed to discover that the Oxford Street Waterstones of Twitter fame is actually really small! I also went to see the Sherlock café after discovering it was ten minutes' walk from my hotel. I'm not sure why it's so exciting to see a building that's been in a TV programme... it just is. (Also, it would appear from the sign that Sherlock's flat is to let...)
David Hockney, 'A Bigger Splash' / Francis Bacon, 'Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion'
One of the main must-sees on our itinerary was the Tate Britain - a gallery I've never visited before - the main reason being the current L.S. Lowry exhibition. Now, I must admit that I'm not the biggest fan of Lowry's work: he's one of my mum's favourite painters, hence the visit. However, the exhibition was still really interesting, and very extensive - with any famous artist I think it's always fascinating to see how they started out and get a sense of their early work and the development of their style. The lesser-known Lowry paintings and sketches in the gallery turned out to be the ones I liked the most. I also really enjoyed looking around the permanent collections, particularly the more recent artworks. I had no idea they had Hockney's 'A Bigger Splash', or not one but two Francis Bacon triptychs!
Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait - Amy's favourite guitar and record collection / Some of Amy's books and other belongings / Some of her clothes and shoes / The outfit she wore to perform at Glastonbury 2008 / Family photos / An early list of favourite songs
Another exhibition I was very keen to see was Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait at the Jewish Museum. Curated by Amy's brother and sister-in-law, it's a very personal exhibition, which focuses more on Amy as an individual and how her roots shaped her than the achievements of her career. It's fairly small but will be absolutely fascinating for any fan of Amy: I feel very privileged to have seen some of the items on display here - her personal belongings, family photos, her handwritten application for theatre school - and I know that had I not gone to this exhibition, it's unlikely I would ever have had the chance to see them. Outside the main exhibition space is a wall where you can post up messages to Amy and her family, or write in a guestbook, and playing quietly in the background is a playlist based on Amy's own 'chill-out tape', as pictured above. (I made a Spotify playlist featuring as many of the songs as I could find, which you can listen to here.) Seeing all this evidence of her life did bring a tear to my eye, but I also came away feeling comforted by the knowledge that she did achieve what she'd desired since childhood - to be known for performing and entertaining and selling out concerts - and that she will always be remembered and revered by so many people.
Pretty windows in the hotel / The Gielgud Theatre
After all that exhibition-going, it was off to see the Noël Coward play Private Lives, starring Toby Stephens and Anna Chancellor, at the Gielgud Theatre. I loved it - the leads were both absolutely fantastic and I couldn't stop laughing. I didn't really fancy seeing any of the musicals that are on in the West End at the moment, and I'm now very glad that I picked a play instead. Since it was short and funny, it was just as light and mood-lifting as a musical and it's pretty awe-inspiring to get to see truly great actors on the stage.
Here's what I bought in London (you can take the fashion out of the blog, but you can't take the fashion blogger out of the girl, etc etc). A vintage shirt from a charity stall in Camden for £2; a skull disc necklace (which you can just about see on top of the shirt) from Topshop; Damien Hirst fridge magnets from the Tate Britain gift shop; the Sherlock DVD boxset, because seeing the set reminded me I really ought to buy it, since it's so rare for me to get into/stay interested in any current or recent TV these days; and an assortment of art postcards (Gilbert & George, Francis Bacon and Dorothea Tanning).
Finally, I loved this tiled message I kept seeing in the tube station (Russell Square). And here's a tantalising glimpse of what I was reading over the weekend - more to folllow...!