Sunday, February 25, 2018

Day 5: London (Saturday)

Day 5: London

Tech support staff trainees (and photo-hog service dog)

Please sir, can we walk on the sunny side of the street, please?

Weather:  Another chilly one, this time with the sun shining. Low 40s in shade, maybe even high 30s. Much better in the sun

View from 18 Cadogan: creative sheathing on construction project

Toast and coffee in the apartment for breakfast. We’re meeting the son and daughter-in-law and two grandchildren of MB and DB for brunch. Gail’s Bakery, the first choice, is a short Uber ride away (DBr, after helping DBl with his Uber, gets the app to work on her phone as well).

It's a small to-go only place

No toaster on the premises

Gail’s has only outdoor seating (and there are actually people sitting outdoors!), and can’t handle 8 of us (phew); in the meantime, THB goes in and buys some San Francisco sourdough and two hot cross buns (which heat up nicely tomorrow morning).

We end up around the corner at Le Pain Quotidien (DB and THB remember eating her the other time we came to Collect, years ago). It’s toasty inside (though they don’t toast the bread, which renders it substandard to THB’s taste at an eat-in bakery) with room for 8. Scrambled eggs and prosciutto for DB and THB, a variety of meals for the others. Most uniquely, granddaughter K has hot chocolate with a carafe of chocolate to pour in and a chocolate waffle with a carafe of chocolate to pour over the waffle. It’s a lot of chocolate….even for an 8 year old.

The others head off to the museums, the gents in one direction, the ladies in the other. DB and THB walk back (preferably on the sunny side of the street) to the apartment to rest and freshen up.
The original 
Mid-afternoon, Uber through a now much less congested downtown (it’s Saturday) to Vauxhall Station and catch a train to Raynes Park. GO is there to greet us and we motor the last bit to where KB and THB spent almost 3 weeks during the summer of 2012.

Huf (hoof) Haus (house)

Owners Manual?

Well….almost. GO and MO have moved next door. Sort of. They subdivided their lot and had a German-made “Huf Haus” installed on the smaller portion of the lot right next to the traditional Wimbledon house. Most of THB’s friends have resisted downsizing: The O’s have totally embraced it, along with moving into an eco-friendly house.

Air to heat power source

The haus is “powered” by an air to heat source pump * (see below for the marketing brochure version of how this works). Here's the "engine" room; the German manufacturer of the house knows something has gone wrong before the residents do.

And, they have just moved in and are figuring out how to live in the space: we’re the  first non-family entertaining they've done, and wouldn’t you know it that means THB is posting pics before they're all settled in (THB’s rough rule of thumb: it takes 2 years to get settled into any new residence).

Lots of drink, excellent food (MO is getting used to having company “in the kitchen” while prepping the meal), much conversation of life changes (you know, small stuff like grandchildren and multiple weddings of offspring in same year), what life in the times of Brexit and DJT feels like (more “small” stuff, right DJT?).

Uber all the way back to 18 Cadogan to revisit our day and theirs with MB and DB.

Shots from around town:

The ugliest building in London?

*How it actually works sounds more complicated than it is so hopefully this step by step guide will ease you through using an Air Source Heat Pump:

A fan simply forces air over a heat exchanger (a copper coil filled with refrigerant) in order to extract its heat.

The Air Source Heat Pump’s evaporator then uses the air source heat obtained by the exchanger to boil the refrigerant (boils at approximately -10˚C) and the act of boiling turns the refrigerant into vapour which is then transferred to the Compressor.

The Compressor then literally compresses the vapour and as its volume decreases, its temperature increases and the gas that is created by this is fed through to a heat exchanger within the heating pump.

Forcing this hot gas through the central heating system’s cold water condenses the refrigerant back into a liquid but as it does this its heat is passed into the heat exchanger which supplies your domestic hot water and powers the central heating system using the air source heat extracted originally.

To complete the Air Source Heat Pump’s closed circuit, the pressure of the condensed liquid is reduced via the expansion valve and ‘Voila’ – your heating requirements are provided!

Friday, February 23, 2018

London: Day 4

Day 4: London

Was that a snow flurry?

Weather:  Really cold. How cold? Really cold: 39, and with wind chill probably in low 30s

Long overdue, our apartment building

THB sleeps in and through the night, a freak occurrence. Four of us breakfast on various cereals, and DBl, with DBr’s help, makes his first use of Uber.

We’re off to the Tate Modern and the 10am opening, that’s when our tickets to the Modigliani show are booked for. Fortunately, the timing is just right and we are standing outside waiting to get out of the really cold weather for less than a minute.

No pics of Modigliani work allowed

The Modigliani show is way better than THB imagined: the work is grouped chronologically for the most part, the big and little explanations are very helpful, and the guy died early having done mostly easily accessible portraits and nudes, with a few sculptured heads.

Wilhelm Sasnal

El Anatsui; this piece drapes on the floor

Julie Mehretu

Mark Bradford piece (that is not Mark in front)

Detail of Bradford

Part of show of work by women

From there we split up and agree to regroup in one of the Tate cafes at 12:15. The other exhibitions we roam through are very good, and we only get mildly lost trying to find the cafĂ©. DB and THB split an oat bar of some sort, $4.40, otherwise we won’t have enough fuel in our tanks to reach Borough Market and tour through all the food stalls before making a lunch choice.

While it is only a 10 minute from the Tate, it is really cold out. Really really cold. And, wouldn’t you know it, at 12:30 on a Friday afternoon in February with the temp nearing freezing, the market is absolutely mobbed. We think it is almost snowing. Maybe you can’t keep a mob of tourists in their hotel rooms and Airbnb apartments unless it is snowing and -10 degrees.

DB and MB remember there is actually a fish restaurant (indoors!), fish!, in the middle of the market and amazingly they can take four us right away. DB and MB have fish and chips and DB and THB have grilled octopus, with one bottle of still water, $70 per couple and well appreciated for the “ambiance” as well as the food.

Lots of good looking bread stalls

Inside Neal's

Now for a visit to a very unique (by US standards) cheese shop, Neal’s Yard Diary. Tastes from large rounds of aging cheeses (cheddar and others) followed by tastes of blue and goat cheeses (not from rounds).  We end up with three cheeses and a pack of oat cakes, $25.

Time for a visit to the Hayward Gallery in its recently redone state. It is back on the other side of the Tate, so around 1.5 miles from Borough Market. That’s 1.5 miles in (with wind chill) around 30 degree weather. Yowza!!! Cold!!!

We had been to the Hayward many years ago and the refresh has come out quite nice and very much traditional. 95% of the Hayward is devoted to an exhibit of large (very large) photographs by Andreas Gusrky and 5% to an installation by Simon Starling that is reminiscent of Jennifer Bartlett’s work in the Benesse Museum on Naoshima, Japan.

All part of Simon Starling installation: a canoe made of magnesium leached out of the Dead Sea and then set adrift

 Entrance fees are $17.50pp and THB pays to offset the fees for the Modigliani exhibit at the Tate Modern paid in advance by DB/MB. We take our time, the photographs are stunning and Gursky really tries to show the bigger picture while making the viewer very aware of the details juxtaposed with the view from a distance.

Photos of photos generally don't come out all that well; THB takes pic of Gursky's pic of Turners

THB's version of a Struth pic in front of a Gursky pic

Exhibit is broken into analog old-style pics and digital re-composed digital pics. The catalog cover shows a digital pic, THB must preferred the non-digital (when he could tell the difference)

Uber back to 18 Cadogan place for a rest up and a cuppa very strong Yorkshire tea accompanied by Harrods cookies.

Picadilly area is jumping around the Underground station

It’s a fine line: a shorter rest up and we’re not quite refreshed or a longer rest up and we can’t get motivated to leave. This time we take the underground three stations on a very crowded Friday night train to Nopi, and Ottolenghi upscale restaurant.

In an oddity, or was it?, there are 5 tables and ours was the only one with men, otherwise it was pairs or trios of women. 

The good news: the food is way better than the to-go items we’ve had from around the corner. And, the food is nothing like THB has been making from the Jerusalem cookbook the last three years.

We share the following:
·       Mixed seed lavosh, burnt aubergine with leek oil and walnuts
·       Truffle polenta chips, parmesan, aioli (think fish sticks filled with soft polenta instead of fish)
·       Stir-fried morning glory (like cooked spinach) with monk’s beard, anchovy and shoyu
·       Courgette and manouri fritters with cardamom yogurt
·       Valdeon cheesecake, pickled beetroot, almonds, thyme honey (think hot thick soufflĂ© in skillet)
·       Slices of rare venison with caramelized yogurt, peanuts and blackberries
·       Chickpea pancake, spiced peas, tomato, pickled chilli (DB got the chilli and clean sinuses), and yuzu


Not Nopi-baked, excellent country-style

"Cheesecake" gone before THB remembered to take a pic

Venison, ditto

Chickpea pancake

Morning glory

Polenta chips

Back of main floor; downstairs are two large communal tables, loos, and kitchen

   Three puddings/desserts, an espresso, and a very interesting bottle of Italian white (somewhere between a Sauvignon Blanc and a Chardonnay), $125 per couple (all prices include tax and tip/service, which is generally between 10 and 13%)


Baked Chocolate

Blood Orange sorbet

Cab back from the restaurant to 18 Cadogan: $20

Shots from around London:

Victoria Station under construction

Big Ben is under all that scaffolding

The Eye, near the Hayward Gallery; yes, there are people up there, the gondolas look enclosed

Really inclusive

Blurry view of Sponge Bob Squarepants building

Refurbished Globe Theatre