Although for some people, January is dreary, sluggish and a time to stay indoors, it's not like that for me as I celebrate my birthday on the 9th. As a child this time of year was like one long party. The Christmas holidays rolled into January and before I had had a chance to play with all of my toys it was my birthday! Well, yesterday was a wonderful day and as such, I thought I would share some elements of it with you.
After a hearty breakfast (which was cooked for me) I went to visit my mum, who after all, gave me my birthday. Having filled up with tea and receiving my gifts I went on my way to Somerset House. I always think of it as a place where the records of births, deaths and marriages are kept, but in fact, the public records which used to be held here were dispersed to different offices to the 1970's. Somerset House is now a cultural and arts centre, open to the public with lots for everyone to enjoy.
I didn't go and see the Dior exhibition, although it looked very good through the window.
Through the entrance hall which is beautifully grand, is the Michelin-starred restaurant Tom's Kitchen. I had a look around inside and it was exquisitely decorated with old maps of The Thames on the walls. It didn't look stuffy or overly formal either. I walked through to the ice-rink which has been a winter feature since 2000.
Hidden down a corridor was the famous staircase 'The Nelson Stair' which was rebuilt in the 1950's after suffering war damage.
The main part of my trip was to visit the Courtauld Gallery. Although I enjoy exhibitions I think I get sensory overload and end up with a headache if I try to see too much on one day. I much prefer smaller galleries or to visit them more than once and just see them a bit at a time if possible. So for me the size of this gallery is perfect. It contains many personal collections and the paintings and exhibits are displayed in themed galleries. I didn't take any photos inside, so I have shown you a picture of my ticket, featuring Cranach's Adam and Eve(painted 1526).
I can't explain the feelings I had when I was standing so close to such masterpieces that I have poured over for years in books. I could see ever crack in the oil and imagined how many owners had had possession of such a painting over the years. I particularly loved the Creation and Fall of Man by Mariotto Albertinelli in the Renaissance Gallery and spent half an hour looking at the paintings in that first room. Maybe that's why I usually feel so tired after I visit an art gallery!
Later in the evening I had a delicious dinner in Soho's Lexington Street. What a a fabulous birthday! Here's to a happy and healthy 2011 :)