Monday, March 21, 2005

Hanging out

Had such a chilled weekend, yet somehow still managed to be as busy as ever. I think it was the glorious weather that warmed my mood and slackened my pace.

Saturday began with a lie in -- preparing for the day ahead by luxuriating under the covers, watching the sun stream in through the wooden blinds and listening to the birds shrieking at each other through the open window -- followed by a flick through the papers over brunch, and a saunter -- arms bare to the sun -- to catch the bus to Aldwych.

We meandered through the backstreets from Drury Lane and Covent Garden to the top of Tottenham Court Road, then walked down its length towards Oxford Street, wandering in and out of whatever gadget shop took our fancy -- dreaming up our electrical wishlists.

Arms still amazingly free of shopping, we strolled across a sun-hazy Hyde Park to Bayswater, where we sank into two antique armchairs of a backstreet pub -- doors and windows flung open to the quiet street -- for some liquid refreshment. By evening, we found ourselves at the cinema watching, in astonishment, Christian Bale's phenomenonly gaunt features and emaciated body in the predictable but moody The Machinist. Cheap and delicious kebabs in a fluorescent-lit and plastic-tabletopped cafe, followed by Never Mind The Buzzcocks on the TV at home capped a wonderful day.

Sunday began with a delightfully purposeless stroll around Tate Britain -- enjoying The Cholmondeley Ladies, The Saltonstall Family and Giovanni Canaletto -- then vanilla ice cream cones from the van outside, and a jump on Damien Hirst's spotted Tate-to-Tate boat that took us along the Thames to the Tate Modern for a look at August Strindberg's broody paintings of blustery seas and skies. I found Strindberg's paintings dramatic enough, but ultimately -- curiously -- flat and uninspired.

After another look round the Tate's brilliant Beuys exhibition, we ate dinner by a window overlooking the River: tasty Caprina (goats cheese and sundried tomatoes) and Four Seasons (mushrooms, peperoni sausage, mozzarella, capers, olives and anchovies) pizzas followed by rich chocolate fudge cake and pear tart at the Pizza Express next to The Globe. Neat double whiskys on Whitehall ended a fabulously relaxed "summer" weekend.

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