On our list for today was the National Gallery. I loved this art gallery when I toured there 8 years ago, and loved it just as much today. There are some great masterpieces in there, and all completely free! One might think I am obsessing a bit about the money, but after paying a small fortune for the Uffizi in Florence (which Tim and I regarded as a bit of a fizzer) and a fair amount in the Paris galleries,it seemed amazing that we paid nothing for the privilege. My favourite painting is also in this gallery, one by Stubbs called Whistlejacket. The huge painting is magnificent to see face to face. We toured around the gallery with another children’s art book in hand which contained some of the paintings held there. Caleb and Daniel enjoyed spotting them in the gallery, sometimes in Daniel’s case from a few rooms away! I find that it makes such a difference when you recognize the painting in front of you. Josh was very tired today, and not really in the mood for art galleries. Even Tim enjoyed some of the paintings there. After a quick tour (Sue will laugh because she finds our tours of museums and such very quick!), the kids sketched their favourite paintings. The paintings that they chose were quite revealing. Daniel sketched one of a tiger by Rousseau, Caleb sketched one of an execution by Manet, and Josh chose one by Monet which had buildings in Venice on it. Josh worked hard on his sketch until the buildings were all in perspective. I wish we could have taken a photo of Daniel, but there were no cameras allowed in the gallery. He looked so adorable, sitting on the floor earnestly making his sketch in front of his huge painting that towered over him. Caleb’s painting had a fascinating history as it was cut up into pieces for some reason when Manet died. The gallery showed the pieces left joined together as best they could.
After our tour, we took the kids to a free hands-on session that the gallery was running. They enjoyed a discussion about a painting by Titian (Tim and I were slightly embarrassed as Caleb and Daniel answered almost all the questions and kept edging steadily closer to the teacher until there were almost on top of her). The kids then made a paper movable figure. Caleb was not satisfied with the generic arms and legs he was given to construct it, so typical to form he made up his own one. Josh wasn’t so interested, so we slipped away to have ‘just a quick look’ at the gift shop where I could easily have spent a lot of money on all their fantastic books. I have to keep reminding myself that somehow it has to all fit in our bags to get home now! The National Gallery is really so well done. Their website is excellent, they have great things for kids to do with education sessions, booklets and audio guides, and everything is so well laid out and displayed. I could spend hours in there. I so wish that we had so many wonderful paintings in the galleries at home, and that they had half so many interesting activities for the kids.
After drinks looking over Trafalgar Square – it is a sign that the family are growing up when we have to order hot chocolates for all the boys too! – we made our way to Hillsong Church. We had visited this church the last time we were in London, and it is certainly a vibrant experience. Tim especially likes the music there as it is like a rock concert. Caleb and Daniel both really enjoyed the kids’ sessions. Caleb even found out that one of the teachers was from Melbourne and knew Donvale! Suddenly he wants to stay in London so he can keep going to that church. Unfortunately, Daniel fell over in his session and got a blood nose which soon resolved itself.
We finished our day with a meal in a pub, then rode home on the bus and tube. There is a tube strike tonight and tomorrow, so we may need to look at other ways of getting around. London is such a fun place, both Tim and I love it. We only have one full day left of sightseeing, as we will need probably a day to clean up the van and get ourselves organized. I had thought that we might even run out of things to do in London as we have had such a long stay here, but now I see we are not even going to make it through my list! Sorry that there are no pictures again. Tim and I are getting tired of lugging all the raincoats, umbrellas etc. around and couldn’t be bothered with the camera too.