In which I go rowing on a roof

London Travel Blog

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Me

today I had a meeting in London, which finished slightly earlier than I was expecting, but late enough where by the time I left London I would be too late to go back to work anyway.  Accordingly, what with it being daylight and the Hayward being open til 10pm, I thought I would go to the Psycho Buildings Exhibition that I had hoped to see but thought I wouldn't have time to go to.  I am really glad I did, although it does get this month's Sarahelaine prize for random experiences. 

Today was one of the first sunny days in weeks.  It's been torrential rain for at least a fortnight.  So I was glad of the time to get some fresh air, even if it was London air so possibly pushing the definition of Fresh a bit!  I crossed the Hungerford footbridge to the Southbank, which is about my favourite place in London.

Crochet jelly fish
  Neglected for ages, and unmistakably out of sync with the rest of the city's architecture, the concrete blocks of the South Bank Centre take on a different air in summer.  There are gardens in some of the concrete balconies, there are loads of terrace bars, adn there is usually something a) free and b) mad going on if you go there on the weekend.  As I was there on a Friday, there were no salsa bands or Turkish festivals (both of which I've seen before), but there were several dozen buskers and living statues, and the trip to the Hayward was pretty interesting.

As a side point, what on earth is the point of living statues?  I mean, please.  Buskers, fine, they provide a service, and the weird guys who juggle or balance stuff, I mean, hell, even the illegal find-the-lady game and the woman witha fortune telling budgerigaar make some sense.
London Pride, a statue whose artist I forgot to write down
  Today there was a wonderful steel drum guy, a sort of New Orleans jazz band, and an impressive cellist.  All cool.   But why on earth do people give money to people who have just painted themselvves silver and are sitting very, very still?  I mean, other than silver paint, what on earth is the difference between sitting still like that, and sitting still with a sign saying "hungry and homeless please help - not an alcoholic I swear?"  Arguably, the beggar at least needs the cash.  I have more sympathy with them.  For a start, they rarely make annoying squeeky noises and they clog up the pavement less.

OK, I'm done.  The buskers were cool, and the illegal find-the-lady game might have been interesting but I have the sense to get out of that sort of crowd whilst I still have my purse and my mobile.
View from the roof of the Hayward Gallery


Psycho Buildings is the summer exhibition at teh Hayward - it's a set of large scale, totally bonkers installations that wouldn't fit in most galleries.  I loved it. Nooooo idea why it's art, but it is epic cool. First up was a sort of tent made of waht looked like a giant set of tights, that smelt really strongly of cloves.  There was a steel tube you walked through, a maze made of coloured paper, a big plastic dome that was meant to be a cloud (but if you've ever climbed a mountain, you know that clouds are not hot dry plastic greenhouses!), a whole room full of empty doll's houses, and many things of that ilk.  But best of all...

I got to row on a roof, and I got to jump a queue to do it!  The artist has flooded one of the Hayward's terraces and put rowing boats on it!  Now I am sure this is meant to say something really meaningful about the human condition, and I could make a convincing point for the value of doing something so unexpected in terms of, oh, challenging the nature of space or something.
Going up to the jetty(!)
But when it comes right down to it, there I was, work-suit all unbuttoned, in a rowing boat with a total stranger (I got to skip the queue because I was alone and could make up the numbers in her boat), laughing my head off.

There was also a free exhibition of a coral reef made of crochetted wool.  Apparently, the forms that are made by coral cannot be convincingly replicated by traditional space - something to do with hyperbolic curves?  No idea what that means, except that it has something to do with coral not being either flat or spherical.  And apparently, for centuries, noone could model hyperbolic space until a Lithuanian mathemetician in America found out you could crochet it.  So she did - adn they have a whole crochet coral reef to highlight environmental issues.

Me
  It's very pretty. 

It has been a difficult couple of weeks, and this is exactly what I needed.  I strongly recommend rowing across the sky next time you need a quick shot of relaxation.  And I would like to thank Joanna-from-Sweden for her part in it, and wish her a good holiday.

Then I did two of my other favourite things - I had an elderflower presse in the sun, then I had dinner in Yo Sushi.  Alas, the interim did involve a deep line on the Tube, which is as close to Hades as I will ever need, but there were empty seats and a nice person gave me their newspapers.

I don't know if I am becoming more approachable, or if Londoners are melting, but I have spoken to strangers the last twice I've been on the UNderground.  Weird.


sarahelaine says:
thank you! :)
Posted on: Aug 21, 2008
tvillingmarit says:
You have cut your hair, nice
Posted on: Aug 20, 2008
londonstudent says:
And 100 yards away about 20 random TBs were queuing at the South Bank (I refuse to write Southbank) Wagamama's for a pre-meet-up meal ... we could probably have waved to you!
Deliciously-written blog, as always :)
Posted on: Aug 17, 2008
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Me
Me
Crochet jelly fish
Crochet jelly fish
London Pride, a statue whose artis…
London Pride, a statue whose arti…
View from the roof of the Hayward …
View from the roof of the Hayward…
Going up to the jetty(!)
Going up to the jetty(!)
Me
Me
The sofa
The sofa
Yours Truly - yes, it was that fu…
Your's Truly - yes, it was that f…
The Hayward
The Hayward
The National Theatre Green ROom
The National Theatre Green ROom
The Thames
The Thames
London
photo by: ulysses