Day 5: The Tate Modern - my home away from home! Modern Art museums are where I could spend days, let alone hours. My favorite artist of all time is Mark Rothko who was prolific in the 1940s-1960s. Overall, his paintings are not paintings but "washes" - a technique that involves using layers and layers of diluted paint over a canvas. He belonged to the school of abstract expressionism and his works attempt to pull the viewer in and overwhelm them with the subtle differences in color (colour). Each large canvas evokes an emotion and takes up one's entire field of vision. Anyway, it is rather rare to see Rothko's work because he worked on commission for hotels, restaurants, individuals, etc, most of whom still retain the art in their private collection. So - I hope I have conveyed my passionate obsession with this guy, because I entered a room in the Tate Modern and my eyes fell upon an ENTIRE ROOM of maroon, rose, lavender, and blood red washes. Each so absorbing. The rest of the world class museum fell to the wayside as my memories are mostly devoted to that one room. After that sensory overload, Amber and I enjoyed a walk around the amazingly ideal quarter of Greenwich where there is huge white-columned and red bricked University campus and a castle favored by the Tudors.
Day 6: On my own, I took the tube to Paddington Station and boarded the train to Windsor Castle. I won't bore you with my extensive notes on the Church and the Castle itself, but I was very impressed. I'm not a souvenir buyer, in fact there are a few people who can vouch for my impatience with that kind of tourist. However, there was some sort of magical pull about the many stores within Windsor. It was either the massive amounts of British monarch history objets or the very friendly, elderly knights and ladies who maned the till, but I wanted to buy everything! I managed to whittle it down to a hand forged pewter jam spoon. When I returned home with my proud purchase, Amber laughed.
Day 7: Westminster Abbey was SO COOL (for lack of a better word). One of my favourite parts was the "Poet's Corner" where you will find Chaucer's tomb and monuments to people like Alfred Lord Tennyson, Lord Byron, Shakespeare, etc. The most startling addition, in my opinion a glaring oddity, was Oscar Wilde's name on the stained glass window memorial. When I visited his grave in Paris, I was struck by the sadness that marked the end of his life. He was discovered having a homosexual affair with a Lord and was forced into a de facto exile by the same Church that is now claiming his genius. This event caused him so much pain - being removed from his beloved country and separated from his beloved wife and child(ren) - that many speculate it caused his premature death. I just question what the people who put his name up their were trying to accomplish: acknowledging the unfortunate role the church played in these events or just claiming him as a British national resource regardless of their actions. From there I walked along The Strand, into St. Paul's, and around the Tower of London before collapsing in a pub.
Day 8: I helped Amber move to her new (and much improved) dorm room which was followed by a walk around Oxford Circus and a pint of ice cream.
Day 9: Back to Waterloo station, through the (still awesome) Chunnel, and back to Nantes. Someone told me that leaving France would improve my French because it would have solidified in my mind or something... what a load of crap! While I was waiting for the bus, a gentleman asked if the 10:30 bus had come or not. I could not understand him to save my life. After asking him to repeat himself a few times he switched into English and I felt like an idiot. However, in the past few days I can boast that my French is back up to the pre-London level of moderate to fair.