My trip to the UK went well, though the journey out was unintentionally stressful as power in my house decided to malfunction, a thunder storm switched off the electricity, so I had to rush to the airport once I had cleaned up the water from the freezer and figured out the issue.
Very lucky with the weather as was dry and 20 degrees for all four days in England. The UK is known for rainy weather and there wasn’t any! On our first day we saw the historical Roman Villa in Bignor, West Sussex. Very quiet place in the middle of nowhere. The main attraction was a well-preserved mosaic floor. You can see the long hall in the image below. A small part of the flooring looked as if it had reacted badly to the air and humidity. The woman in the ticket office said they were aware of this and were protecting the rest with some kind of special detergent. The four heads (below) represent the four seasons, around a head of Medusa. The third image depicts winter. The area offered good conditions for agriculture for the Romans.
After lunch, drove to the south coast to Bognor Regis. We played crazy golf near the Pier and walked by the sea. At the end of the Pier there were a bunch of love locks/padlocks attached, a sweet tradition. Bognor is a seaside town that has stayed almost the same for decades and frozen in time. Near the mini-golf course, there was a fortune teller in a small hut, I felt sorry for her as nobody looked interested in her business.
Next day, I had planned a trip to London. Decided to go at non-peak times (arriving 11am and leaving after 7.30pm) to save on the price of the train ticket. My companion and I decided on a day travel card which besides the train allows unlimited use of the underground and buses in the city.
We had booked a guided tour of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. There wasn’t a whole lot to “tour” but the guide was friendly, well-informed, and had a sense of humor. The most surprising was her informal clothes as she looked like a punk in her spare time. We concluded the Globe visit by sitting in on a rehearsal of The Merry Wives of Windsor with the actors pulling a heavy basket down some steps. Good acting as the basket was likely empty.
Heading over the Millennium Bridge, took the tube from St Paul’s Underground to Notting Hill Gate. From there, a short tube ride to Kensington where I had booked tickets for the Stanley Kubrick exhibition at the Design Museum. Unexpectedly, the layout was thematic and non-chronological. You view the exhibits and there are audio and video clips. Not the most inventive or interactive exhibition. I expected a bit more considering the 5 star reviews, but I did get to see my first Oscar statuette in person which was cool. The only Academy Award Kubrick won was for special effects in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Other exhibits included the maze, typewriter and Kubrick’s personal copy of Stephen King’s The Shining with notes. The milk bar and orange vehicle from Clockwork Orange, futuristic chairs, an ape suit, and Kubrick’s letter to Arthur C. Clarke where he airs his enthusiasm for collaborating on an upcoming 1968 space movie.
Interestingly, also included was material about Kubrick’s unfinished films (Napoleon, Aryan Papers). In the upstairs area of the museum there were photos from Kubrick’s pre-movie days when he was a street photographer. The gift shop in the Design Museum was every Kubrick fan’s wet dream! I bought a pin with a Hal9000 quote for £1.
I didn’t learn a ton but fun to see these movie props up close. The concept art was the most fascinating to me. What I took away from the exhibition is how Kubrick managed to collaborate with some very talented people such as Ken Adam. His war room design is an amazing set which is displayed in miniature (see below) while the likes of Roy Carnon, Harry Lange, and Richard McKenna were responsible for concept drawings on 2001: A Space Odyssey, the circular space ship, ape landscape (see both below) . These talented men don’t always get the credit they deserve so was nice they got to have their concepts displayed with their names attached. Sure, Kubrick is the director, but he needed a team.
By the time we finished our legs were pretty tired from standing, so went to a restaurant nearby on Kensington High St called Nandos (a South African chain). Known for their chicken, I bought a veggie burger. I like their special chilli sauce which you could add yourself from a bottle.
A number of London bookshops stay open until 9 or 10 in the evening so that gave us time to visit Foyles though I thought the Book & Comic Exchange in Notting Hill had more charm with second hand items and dust balls on the floor. Foyles is great for selection and was once listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s largest bookshop. There wasn’t time to visit Fopp but hopefully next time. On this holiday, I only had a day in London. Below are the books/dvds/magazines I bought. Apropos the blog banner image, I was tempted to go for an Abbey Road Beatles T-shirt in a shop window.
The following day, a trip to Battle (yes a town called Battle), near Hastings. Allegedly the site of the famous battle of Hastings in 1066. The museum is pretty small but you can see the Abby ruins which William the Conqueror constructed. Apparently William also was responsible for having the Tower of London built, and these structures helped cement his legacy. The battle field in Battle (there is dispute as to where it actually is) sometimes features mock reenactments.
Also visited Box Hill (named after the boxwood plant) and Denbies Wine Estate. They use heaters in the winter to keep the vineyard from becoming too cold. Bought a bottle of Zigzag red wine costing £11. Wasn’t super impressed by the taste and maybe I’m hard to please. You probably need to spend double or triple for quality wine. The zig zag name is (as said on the bottle) derived from the winding road at nearby Box Hill, used by cyclists during the 2012 Olympics. I became slightly car sick driving up! Took time to see the graveyard where my grandparents are buried, and drove to Beachy Head and saw the impressive view of the sea. I did take pictures of people as well, I just prefer to keep those private and not have them turn up in google searches.
Cinema Paradiso (1988)
Rewatch. Based on the Italian director’s own life, a love letter to the old movie houses, and the joy of watching cinema with an audience, before the era of TV. A touching story with an ending that can bring a tear to your eye. The parts set during childhood are very charming, especially the unforgettable warm friendship between the boy and his substitute father. The shorter version makes a bigger impact emotionally. It’s sentimental but not in an off-putting way.
Django (1966) (Sergio Corbucci)
Rewatch. Sergio Corbucci’s westerns inspired Tarantino. The death count is pretty high and the violence extreme, but you keep watching, to find out what will happen next. The suspenseful story contains striking visuals, an enigmatic lead character, and the main theme is fantastic. There’s a sense of danger in that anyone could die at any moment. Everything is so on point that I barely noticed the iffy dubbing.
Me and My Kid Brother (aka Mig og Min Lillebror) (1967)
Goofy yet sweet. Lovable characters with Dirch Passer perfectly cast as the clumsy younger brother. I wouldn’t be surprised if the role was written specifically with him in mind. The parts filmed in Copenhagen were the funniest where the duo are out of their depth, stumbling around. The sort of Danish comedy that doesn’t get made anymore. There’s also a sadness, intended or not, about the ending on the fictional island of Bomø. Two sequels exist, continuing the adventures of the brothers.
What do you think? As always, comments are welcome