Monday, July 14, 2008

In and out and about

On Saturday, my mother-in-law looked after Little Planet for the day while M and I went into town. The two of us walked along the Southbank in the glorious sunshine to the Tate Modern, where we saw American abstract expressionist painter Cy Twombly's Cycles And Seasons retrospective. The early and middle work of this artist's oeuvre failed to stir much emotion in me - I found much of it rather bland - but his later works were lush and impassioned - for example, his haunting Hero and Leander triptych and his verdant green paintings. I particularly loved the painting above with its calligraphic paint strokes like a Chinese nature scroll. We also checked out the comprehensive An Urban History Of Photography exhibition featuring a wide range of photographers such as Paul Strand, Walker Evans, Wolfgang Tillmans and Jeff Wall. It was such a treat seeing so many wonderful photographers in a single exhibition.

We lunched in the Tate Modern's member's room on the fifth floor and got updates on what Little Planet was getting up to with her grandma. Then we made a quick detour to M's office on Fleet Street. He worked for an hour and I sat in reception reading the weekend paper - or at least I was trying to read: I was so tired I had to struggle to keep myself from dozing off.

We grabbed a cab to the White Cube in Mason's Yard where we saw Jake & Dinos Chapman's new work If Hitler Had Been A Hippy How Happy Would We Be which controversially featured Hitler's original, rather bland watercolours of landscapes, Roman ruins and still life defaced by the brothers with psychedelic rainbows, stars and love hearts. Also downstairs was their disturbing installation depicting thousands of miniature Nazi soldiers carrying out acts of mass torture and bloody cadavers hanging off trees being pecked at by vultures. Upstairs was a collection of eighteenth and nineteenth century-style aristocratic portraits doctored by the Chapman brothers to incorporate ghoulish masks and deformations.

Then we crossed Piccadilly to the Royal Academy for the quiet, subtle and contemplative canvasses of haunting interiors and deserted landscapes of Danish artist Vilhelm Hammershøi; into Waterstone's bookshop for baby books for Little Planet; into Zavvi for Beck's new album Modern Guilt and Apichatpong Weerasethakul's mesmeric movie Syndromes And A Century; then a browse in DKNY and Nicole Farhi on Bond Street and Muji on Carnaby Street.

Our day ended with dinner at blink-and-you'll-miss-it Japanese restaurant Kikuchi on Hanway Street, tucked behind Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road. This is our favourite Japanese restaurant because it is so unpretentious and yet the food is staggeringly fresh and of high-quality and the service efficient and very friendly. It's not cheap though and it's easy to spend well over a hundred pounds here. We devoured turbot roll with plum sauce, deep fried tofu with ginger, a sashimi platter, a sushi platter, mixed tempura, pickled horse mackerel, soft shell crab, spinach with egg, scallops with citron miso, green and red bean ice creams, Asahi and Kirin beers and Shōchū made with sweet potato and barley. A delicious and refined end to a lovely day.

But of course, we had missed Little Planet and were eager to return home and see her again.

We didn't stray far from home on Sunday and spent most of it feeding and then playing with Little Planet, settling her off to sleep, then chatting in the garden with my mother-in-law, her friend, and my sister-in-law. In the evening, M prepared a Vietnamese meal on the barbecue of chicken and beef skewers with marinades of freshly-prepared ginger and red chilli sauces and a side of green papaya and prawn salad. Little Planet was asleep upstairs in the nursery. I can't wait until she is old enough to enjoy her dad's cooking.

Little Planet was five weeks old on Saturday. She can now hold her head up unassisted, open her hands fully, lift her head more than two inches though not for longer than a few seconds. She's beginning to sleep for 5 or 6 hour stretches at night. She is more alert and can stay awake for longer during the day - though we still try and restrict her awake time to around an hour or an hour and a half between sleeps otherwise she gets overtired and has trouble settling for her evening sleeps. Her face shows recognition when she sees her dad or I. She can stay for longer periods - 10 or 20 minutes - by herself under the activity gym or in her bouncy chair.


Olivia said...

It's really nice that your MIL was happy to stay with LP so that you and M could enjoy a relief day off, to avoid the inevitable new-parent burnout.

Cy Twombly, what can I say? When I was at university in Houston I lived right by the Menil Collection. The de Menils were patrons of Twombly (and Rothko), so across the road from the museum is the Rothko Chapel with its silent darkness and an upside down obelisk on a reflecting pool. Across the road from that is the Twombly Gallery, an amazing quiet space awash in gentle natural light (designed by Renzo Piano). However, although I liked the architect's work, I didn't like the artist's and walked out saying, "What a load of Twombly that was!"

You might also like to check out the Floating Byzantine Chapel there too.

Rohini said...

Wow! Completely unrelated but just read through your last few posts and your husband sounds like a willing and excellent cook. I am so jealous...

Priyanka said...

Lil P is sleeping for 5-6 hour stretches at night... thats Excellent !! You guys are so lucky ! Aashna sleeps for only 4 hours at a stretch, before she was 2 months old she slept for 3 hours at a stretch. I'm waiting for her to sleep through the night.

Planethalder said...

"What a load of Twombly" - LOL! I would love to visit the Rothko Chapel - I've seen it on TV and it looks so peaceful.

One of the reasons I said "YES" to marrying M was because he was such a great cook!

Things change so much with little ones but yes, at the moment she is sleeping for good stretches and we are fortunate (hope I haven't spoken too soon!).