I realised I hadn't finished the last details of our London trip. We had a very different evening with my son Mat: a West African meal, followed by an experimental Spanish theater production. It was great to see around his neighbourhood, where he lives and where he's studying and to meet his new girlfriend. And, as we were in Bloomsbury, there were a couple of little pilgrimages to houses with green plaques: notably Virginia Woolf's. And we saw a squirrel, and an institute with a famous name — click to embiggen — the squirrel is so cute and you need to read the name of the building (my legal name is actually Mary Helen Ward - my parents didn't give me the hyphen; I took it for myself. I suppose you could say it's an affectation.)
We spent a wonderful day with Emily, who had come down from Nottingham just to see us. We were mainly at Angel Islington, which means, for yarn fanatics like us, at Loop. If you can only visit one yarn shop in London, make it Loop. It is just stunning - two floors of all kinds of yarns that you'd never dreamed existed. I bought enough Madelinetosh Prairie (merino laceweight) in the most gorgeous buttery caramely bronze called candlewick to make a cardigan, and also some unbelieveable Danish yarn (Sarah Tweed from BC Garn) that had both mulberry silk and silk nupps and wool; enough for a short-sleeved over-garment in three shades of grey. After we'd yarn shopped and eaten we paid a short visit to Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery, and walked home through Seven Dials.
We spent the last couple of days walking around the Holborn and Lincoln's Inn areas, including a visit to Sir John Soane's Museum, one of the strangest buildings we've ever been in. It's an innocent enough house opposite Lincoln's Inn Field, with a construction site next door. But inside — it's a tardis! Sir John was a Georgian architect (he died the year that Victoria came to the throne), and among the things he put into his house are a room in which all the walls, covered in amazing, valuable, original paintings, swing forward to reveal two more layers of even more valuable original paintings. He dug out the basement and filled it with copies of classical statuary and artefacts, including an Egyptian tomb. Then he installed windows so that you could see all this from various angles on the ground floor. Eventually he bought the house next door for his family home, which is the building that's now being restored to extend the museum and make it more accessible (more here). Odd as it was, I would thoroughly recommend a visit — it's definitely unique, and it's free!)\
We'd hoped to get to iKnit, but that didn't happen because of my cold; our last day was spent doing a little light shoe shopping in Seven Dials, packing and sleeping (me).
Taken all together, our London trip was damn near perfect. Too short, of course, but as we're planning a longer trip at the end of 2012, when I have submitted my PhD, we could live with that.