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  • Shelley Dark

#6 Victoria loves Albert ♡

I've always wanted to go to the Victoria and Albert Museum. It's only a five minute walk from here, so I left home early and wandered the neighbourhood to fill in time.

I was reminded of Soane's mausoleum when I saw the red telephone boxes - there seems to be one every 100 metres! Telephone boxes, not mausoleums. -:) Does anyone use phone boxes these days?

This was on a delivery truck - I immediately wanted a dozen of his eggs.

I like the look of L'Eto Patisserie, don't you? Although I'm not quite sure about bright lavender macaroons.

In Harrods window - Valentino is going wild this winter!

They call this Museum Mile. The Natural History Museum is a stunner isn't it? The architect has created stripes on the facade with a warm honey-coloured stone and a grey one. Love a stripe, specially in stone.

The V & A doesn't open until 10am. The sign said what I felt. There was a long queue in the line for purchasing tickets, and no one in the line for ticket-holders. I booked the Frida Kahlo exhibit back in Oz on the advice of a friend.

As I wandered along Exhibition Road, this girl pulled me up short. It's a nice jacket admittedly, and she has pretty hair, but it's all in the crossed legs isn't it? What a great pose! I'm not sure which one of the gentlemen she has her eye on. Figuratively. I think the bloke on the right. Because she's not looking at him.

This was in a baker's window near South Kensington Station - doesn't it look fabulous?

I'm a big fan of Frida. I think she was the best brand-creator of the 20th century. Did you know that she dressed up even when she wasn't going out or expecting visitors? Makeup, nails, jewellery, flowers in her hair.

In 2004, her bathroom was opened after being sealed on her husband Rivera's instructions for 50 years. In it they found thousands of personal items. 6,000 photos. 22,000 documents. 300 pieces of personal effects: jewellery, medicine, devices used for her medical condition, clothing, accessories.

From these possessions, they've created this exhibition. It's a very intimate glimpse of the woman herself, slightly voyeuristic, but fascinating none the less. No photos allowed which was a pity.

I guess you know she had a shockingly tragic life - polio, a bus accident which left her crippled and in pain for life, a miscarriage which left her unable to have children, many operations, and a leg amputation from gangrene.

On the other hand, she had Rivera, the love of her life. He was an enormous man - her parents said it was a marriage of an elephant and a dove. She said 'I suffered two grave accidents in my life. One in which a streetcar knocked me down. The other is Diego.'

There were a couple of movies showing Frida and Diego together. In one, he puts his hand on her face, and she turns her head to kiss his fingers. In another, they walk along holding hands and then they turn to each other and kiss. Very romantic!

Both she and Diego had many affairs - one of hers was with Nickolas Murray, a photographer. His portraits of her, like the one above on the book, are quite wonderful.

photo by Carl Van Vechten [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

She's quite beautiful isn't she? I wish you could have seen her jewellery. The beads she is wearing in this photo are Mayan jade burial beads from somewhere between 250 and 900 AD.

After Frida, I climbed the wide stairs to the jewellery section. I've picked out a few highlights.

Designed by Sybil Dunlop in about 1934. Silver, opals, rubies, stained chalcedony.

René Lalique thistle brooch about 1905, glass, gold, aquamarine and diamonds.

Both part of the fabulous Londonderry collection.

Napoleon and Josephine gave these emeralds to his adopted daughter for her wedding.

In the 1920's Jacques Cartier started using a combination of coloured stones which was popularly called Tutti Frutti. This tiara bandeau can be worn as a tiara or on the forehead, or undone to make two bracelets. It belonged to Edwina Mountbatten, wife of Lord Louis.

If you have to have a sword, it might as well be glitzy.

There's a wonderful miniature collection. I particularly liked this one of Muhammad Ali Khan, Nawab of Arcot, by John Smart in 1781.

The pond in the central courtyard is a big hit with kids on a warm day like today.

By the time I admired the silver section I was very hungry.....

Today I had lunch at Ognisko, a Polish restaurant not far from the V & A.

Complimentary pickled cucumber and beetroot - both very refreshing!

A goats cheese, peach and walnut salad. The very thing!

I sat outside under a marquee, looking on to the park behind. Such a beautiful setting.

After lunch I went back to the V & A to see the Fashion in Nature Collection. It was a very interesting take on the way man has used (and abused) nature in the pursuit of fashion, and how designers are now moving to sustainable materials.

Five thousand beetle wings were used in this dress.

It's a real bird on that pink fan.

Not to mention that whales who gave their lives to be corsets, crinolines and walking sticks, albatross who became feather trims; beavers, seals and wolves who became fur coats.

It's encouraging to see that they're coming up with innovative dyes and materials which are easier on the environment. And suggesting we mend more, bin less. I will if you will.

I particularly loved this blouse made from a silk World War II parachute.

This woman took my eye - sitting looking at her phone in that great light.

I went on to the Design Museum later. It's a great building, but the display is rather static when you've been at the V & A. I think you can be overstuffed with museums.

Loved the Paolozzi 'Head of Invention' in the garden outside.

This is Maya who works at the Design Museum shop. She loves Japanese philosophy, and she's a mean gift wrapper.

So many of our place names in Australia are English. Like Holland Park, next to the museum.

By the way, I couldn't find my way anywhere without the CITYMAPPER app. They feature it at the Design Museum! It’s the brainchild of Azmat Yusuf who moved to London and found public transport hard to navigate. So in 2011 he made an app which now covers most of the big cities of the world.

It gives full directions to anywhere from anywhere, either walking or train or bus or Uber - there's even a cycling option. Put in your start point and your end point, and it gives you all the options, even down to what end of the train to get on.

I don't have any association with the company (I wish, I promote them enough!) so you can trust my independent opinion. It's simply brilliant. The app and my opinion. :-)

Here's a bunch of roses I chose specially for you.

And now the day is done. Night travel buddies.

shelley dark, writer 

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