Paper & Felt Research Trip - Part 5, London & Surrounds

Dear Friends and Family,

We were so ready to have our own place by the time we hit London. As good as food has become in London, in our opinion it doesn't really compare to the Umbrian countryside and all the truffles,  porcini and other mushrooms in season now. We were so looking forward to having our own kitchen.

It was pretty distressing when the cabbie, one of the wonderful London Black Cab drivers, could not find the address of the apartment we had rented in Mayfair. He let us off close to the address, with our  agreement, and we walked up and down the street looking for the address. It did not appear to exist. We put in many calls to the rental agency and there was no answer. They had told us they would meet us at 4:00, although we had requested 3:30. We waited in the rain on the sidewalk, close to a nonexistent address, convinced we had been scammed. We had already paid for the full rent, a not inconsiderable sum. I was pretty furious. 

Finally, at 4:00, just as I was about to look for a hotel, a young Frenchman showed up. He was very nice, which helped, but I was still pretty peeved. The apartment turned out to be around the corner, on an entirely different street. Anyway, it all turned out well. The apartment was nice and roomy, plenty of hot water, spectacular location, small kitchen. It was just an unnecessary worry and stressful situation to start off like that.

View from the bedroom

The next day we had made an appointment to view Renaissance drawings at the Victoria and Albert Study Room. Buckingham Palace was pretty much right down the street.

The guards made us stop as a few limousines whizzed in. We think it was Rod Stewart and his family, as we later saw that Rod Stewart was being knighted that day by the Queen.

A lot of construction and restoration happening in London

And a lot of beautiful little parks and green oases.

Reached the Victoria & Albert at precisely 10:00, our scheduled appointment, where we were taken by a guard in a small group through a maze of hallways to the Prints and Drawings Study Room where we looked and annotated dozens of Renaissance drawings. We spent all day there; it was actually quite thrilling. 

Adam Asleep by Giovanni Antonio Sogliani, 16th c

A Witchs' Sabbath by an Anonymous artist before 1700.

We are looking at the paper and texture as much as the drawings themselves.

Afterwards we went to Brasserie Zedel, an art deco restaurant which we kept returning to, as the food was good and we loved the decor and atmosphere.

On the way to Brasserie Zedel we tried to go into the Royal Academy, but were once again stopped by guards. The Queen was coming to give out more medals, this time in the arts. She is reported to have beamed when meeting Grayson Perry in a dress of his creation. Photo from The Sun.

Note: when we were applying to visit the Royal Collection at Windsor, we were told men should wear tie, jacket, no jeans, no sneakers, which caused some concern, but this turned out to be dress code only if you were to meet HRH. HRH was probably delighted to see something different on Grayson Perry.

Brasserie Zedel is actually down 2 flights of stairs in a wonderful cavernous room, which feels so thirties. This is taken from their staircase.


The dining room is cleverly lit so that you feel that it is a sunny day outside.

Seafood vol au vent

Boeuf Bourguignon

You get the picture, classic, old-timey French bistro food

We were in London for 9 days. Don decided he really needed to see earlier paper, perhaps from the Middle East or Spain. We were told at the British Museum that we should go to the British Library and visit their study rooms, which we did, the next day.

We tried to walk as much as possible. Shakespeare looking out the window of his pub.

The British Library; absolutely amazing institution. Huge and astonishing in its available resources. Don and I both became registered readers, which you must do if you are to access their study rooms. We visited their Middle East and Africa study room where they were so accommodating. We requested to see some very early Middle Eastern manuscripts. They pull the requested volumes and you come back later to see them.

Walking "home" and stopped in for a drink at the Artesian Bar in the Langton Hotel.

Langton Hotel lobby

Don had a crazy drink which came in a small treasure box and was opened at the table to spectacular effect; no doubt inspired by Harry Potter.

Cheerio from London,

Era and Don