Friday 06 October 2017 – London.
We had the great pleasure of mum coming to stay for a few days over the past month. Mum turned 80 in May and my sisters and I conspired to buy her return ticket from New Zealand as a present. Mum had not been here for (I think) seven years, and was not sure if she would come back, so our birthday present was a welcome surprise!
In 1973, mum and (my late) dad emigrated to New Zealand, taking me and my sisters along for the ride. I am very glad to have mostly grown up in NZ, a fabulous country to be boy and young man in, and something I will be for ever grateful for. Mum has two brothers and other friends and relatives in the UK, some of dad’s family are here too.
Mum stayed with El and I for half of her time in London and was out and about with her brothers visiting friends for the rest. If I had not recently started a new job I could have spent more time with her. I was lucky enough to be able to take a few days off here and there, and have the odd ‘work from home’ day.
Mum arrived on Saturday 2 September after 27 hours of travel with Singapore Airlines, she was glad it was over! I took a couple of days off work so Tuesday mum and I went for a drive out to Southend, a place mum had been to a number of times over the decades. After faffing trying to find a place to park we stopped on the west side of Southend and decided to go for a walk towards Westcliff, before turning back for a traditional fish and chip lunch on the waterfront, followed by a gentle post lunch leg stretch and then a Rossi ice cream.
I parked as close to the centre as I could, near a tiny section of virtually empty sand.
We headed westward, towards Westcliff, and view on to London. It was not a hot day, nor was it cold, some where irritatingly inbetween. It was windy and quite cloudy. A bit grim, bit not terribly so., which probably sums up Southend.
Soon after starting our walk, it started to rain, not heavily, though the drops were big and solid and the promise of a windblown downpour was strong. We had coats but chose to turn back, skip the walk and go for lunch instead.
By the time we were half way back the threatening rain had been blown away and while the sky stayed heavy and full, it did not rain on us again. We walked along the seafront, past the pier and the entertainment area.
We were looking for somewhere reasonable for lunch. Somewhere on the sea with a view over the water; and somewhere selling fish and chips. We found that somewhere, and lunch was excellent, we chose the right place. It was full, with small groups of retirees also eating fish and chips, if is full then there has to be a reason. After a large lunch we waddled back to the car, stopping for a famed Rossi ice cream on the way. It was good day out.
On Saturday we took a trip in to central London to visit the Tates. None of the special exhibitions were of interest to mum at Tate Britain so we took a walk around and perused the general galleries. There are no photo restrictions in the free galleries which was fab.
I am not sure who painted this massive piece but I really like it, you will have seen similar in some of my photos; A tiny stretch of beach/land and a massive sky taking up most of the frame. The colour reminds me of Turner.
Speaking of JMW Turner, Tate Britain has an exceptional collection of his work. For a long while I was not a fan, art is very subjective, and I just did not get him. Even though he was active during my favourite artistic period and certainly has a lot in common with the impressionists I love, I just did not get him. Over the past couple of years that has been changing and the more I look at his work and think about how it could influence my photography the more I have come to appreciate what he has done. This work from Lausanne from 1841/42 is a great example of what I want to be able to do with my camera. I am not quite there yet.
It was a nice day so mum and I took the opportunity to stroll the south bank of the Thames to Tate Modern. I love the Thames, it is such a nice walk; history, space, views, city, what more could you ask for; though there are places where the crowds are just maddening. We were lucky in that it was still not too busy, yet…
The office building next door but one to mine!
I took mum for lunch in the members lounge in the new extension to Tate Modern, the view over south London, and up and down the river is just lovely, and worth the members fee alone. The extension is magnificent, a wonderful concrete and steel construction on the side of an already brilliant space. They should offer afterhours photography tours of the building. Though having the odd person in the shot does give the scale of the building some perspective.
We had a walk around the Giacometti exhibition, it was really busy and quite hard work, being able to stand back and read the signs and take a decent, broad view of the pieces was impossible. I am not really a sculpture person, but I do love his mid-period tall skinny people work, fabulous. Hopefully El and I will get an opportunity to go back and take a longer look; at a members only session
Mum stayed with family for most of the next week, coming back to stay with us for a few days when Meliesha was visiting on her way from Bristol to Austria. It was great that mum and Meliesha could hang out for a few days together in my neck of the woods.
Mum, El and I had a weekend away in Edinburgh, and I will write about that next. On the way back south Mum stayed ‘oop north’ for a few days with one of her brothers and visited some old friends. All too soon it was back to us in London for a few days and then off to Heathrow and back to New Zealand.
It was great having mum over to stay, hopefully there will be at least one more visit before mum does not feel able to travel such long distances again; though maybe we could meet half way for a catch up some time! Love you mum xx