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back to Barnes

Well, my friends, my artfest has exhausted us both; time for a break. I’m in Barnes, where the only art is dreadful new stuff in the windows of shops. The real art here is the buildings and the wonderful gardens.

I squeezed as much juice as I could from my last hours in central London, despite the intermittent rain (and I’d left my raincoat, of course, in Barnes.) I did a speedy National Portrait Gallery – it’s great to put faces to names, from far back in British history to the very present – including a nice portrait of Paul McCartney called “Mike’s brother,” because it was painted by a friend of Paul’s brother Mike. I saw a bust of Aneurin Bevan, a distant relative of my friend Lynn Bevan’s. Many great actors, writers, painters. There is, thrillingly, a whole room devoted to photographs of modern British poets. Can you imagine the National Gallery of Canada putting aside a whole room for photos of modern Canadian poets? I’m a Canadian writer and I can’t name more than a handful of modern Canadian poets, so you can imagine what the average person knows. But here, the hoardes can not only see their photographs but read handwritten poems besides the portraits. Love it.
As always, I went into the shop to buy postcards afterwards; this not only allows me to take away a little bit of what I’ve seen, but shows what I haven’t – the collections are so big that invariably, many pictures are not on display, so the postcards show them. Also bought an umbrella – I thought if I had an umbrella it wouldn’t rain again. And it didn’t, until a raging lightning and thunderstorm last night, after I was safely in bed. 
Then had to dash into the National Gallery for one last glimpse on the way back. Bruce had written from Vancouver about the special room of Poussins – that didn’t ring a bell, for a good reason – I had missed it, and found it this time. It’s in fact two Poussins and two Turners in juxtaposition – wonderful. As I walked out of this massive building, I felt like I was saying goodbye to a dear and inspiring friend. “See you soon,” I said, full of hope, as I left – though again, my legs were wooden by this time. 
Back at Christopher’s I cleaned and tidied, packed and left. I’m very grateful to Christopher and Christina for making London so accessible to this eager Canadian. It was an unforgettable time.
Managed to navigate the crowds on Regent Street and the Piccadilly tube and the bus to Barnes. The crowds in mid-London are overwhelming, the noise, the smell. Barnes is sweet heaven. Oh it is good to breathe fine scented air and listen to birds again. I have two days to sort out my affairs, mostly to pick the clothes I don’t need and send them home, to lighten the load for my journey back to France. I have learned my lesson, yes I have, for good. It’s all very well to think, I might need this, I’d better take this just in case … but then you have to carry the @#$%^& things. Better to keep it all minimal. And even now, for me, minimal is not what it means for others. But I have quite a large pile to send home. 
Signing out from a Starbucks in downtown Barnes. The adventure continues. 

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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