Friday, October 19, 2007


Last week I went to London, combining two of my greatest passions, embroidery and ballet. Birmingham Royal Ballet has performing at Sadler's Wells Theater over the same weekend as the annual Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace ("Ally Pally" to the Brits!) My sister Wanda flew in from Frankfurt, Germany. Mathias booked us a triple room in a seedy, cheap hotel that has discounted rates for ballet company members. What the hotel lacked in amenities, it made up for in location.

(Above: Entrance to the Knitting and Stitching Show)

(Above: Wanda and I riding on the upper level of a double-decker bus...on our way to the Knitting and Stitching Show with hundreds of other women!)

Wanda and I watched the matinée of "Strictly Dancing" (a triple bill including Paquita, Nine Sinatra Songs, and Daphnis and Chloe) on Wednesday and the London opening of Edward II on Thursday night. It was fabulous to see Mathias on stage. He looked adorable in a tuxedo for Nine Sinatra Songs, younger than nineteen. He looked quite perfect as the "Fool" in Edward II. Both were soloist parts, and he danced them with gusto. I was very proud, though any partnering still makes me nervous to watch.

Mathias went to an early dinner near London Bridge with us on Wednesday, between performances (Thanks, Mom for treating us!). Wanda and I then took the tube to Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, and the Houses of Parliment for beautiful nighttime views of the city.

During the day on both Thursday and Friday, Wanda and I went to the Knitting and Stitching show to see cutting-edge fiber art, hundreds of vendors, stitching of every kind, and more inspiration than ones mind can absorb. I focused on the exhibitions by internationally renown fiber artists. Wanda found the perfect kit and tutor to begin goldwork. We bought lots of other things too, including Belgium chocolate!

(Wanda and Royal Needlework School tutor Lucy Freed.)

One Friday night Wanda and I went to see Mama Mia. It was so much fun. We got good, inexpensive seats.

(The view to the theater from our box seats)

On Saturday, Wanda had to fly back to Frankfurt. First, however, we went to the Victoria and Albert Museum via the tube and an underground passage to a side door. I've wanted to go there for years as it is supposed to be one of the world's best places for decorative arts. A year or two ago, I had seen an exhibit at the National Gallery in DC of selections from the Islamic Department. I wanted to see more. This was the first area we found. Then we wandered into the incredible courtyard and had a fabulous lunch in the world's first museum restaurant (all others since then pale by comparison). There was a very good pianist, the best service we had in England despite being basically a "cafeteria", good food, and the most elegant rooms. Then, Wanda had to leave.

(Above: One of three rooms for diners at the cafeteria styled V&A restaurant)

So, I'M SO SORRY WANDA...We did it ALL WRONG! We should have wandered further, looked up at the Chihully chandelier. We should have entered by the main door. We should have walked to the casting rooms, the textile department...I'm so sorry. We will have to go back! You didn't really see ANYTHING! I stayed after you left and almost CRIED for you!

(Above: Wanda in the courtyard...part of an art installation...and taking a smoke-break!)

(Above: Mathias in the Casting Room at the V&A)

(Above: Mathias selecting food in the V&A cafeteria/restaurant)

(We didn't actually eat on of these...neither of us like them...yet, they were amazingly GIANT!)

I also returned to the V&A on Sunday with Mathias. We left our luggage in the coat and package check area and ventured out to Kensington Garden and Palace. It was a wonderful, self guided tour; a beautiful day; and we found a great crepe restaurant too.

(Above: As close as Mathias and I dared to go to the many swans and geese in Kensington Gardens!)

(Above: The crepes are great!)

My last night was with Mathias in a plush hotel by Heathrow Airport. I had to leave before sun up but Mathias enjoyed the morning. His return rail ticket, however, wasn't for the nearest station...he got on anyway and hid in the bathroom until arriving in Birmingham!

I'll be posting images from the V&A soon...likely on the other blog. I'll also be posting about the Knitting and Stitching show, etc. and will provide links later!


Doreen G said...

What a wonderful post Susan-you are obviously so proud of Mathias and well you should be-
What a handsome young man he is as well.
I look forward to reading more about him in the future.

Wanda said...

Thanks Susan for taking the pictures! And you've got a deal...we'll do the V&A together next time!!!!