First Time Thrills

On  Wednesday I visited the The National Gallery in London for the first time. Ever.

I know, I know, the disgrace and shame.

I only live an hour away by train, but London is somewhere I visit for pleasure not more than once or twice a year. London means rush and work – Mr Nina works there several times a week and is familiar with several areas of the city.

And I now know what I have been missing.

Since I am a geek and proud I confess I have a thing about Titian, Van Eyck and the Pre-Raphaelites.  The National Gallery specialises in the Renaissance and the collection there is world class. In fact I would say that the Gallery experience is better by far than the Louvre in Paris. Where else could you come within inches of the finest works these artists created? And without thousands of people crushing you? When I visited the Renaissance rooms, there were probably 6 people in the vast room with me!

And the highlights of the day?

After the wonderful Hans Holbein, it has to be The Van Eyck painting of the Arnolfini portrait. Painted in 1434 – and absolutely stunning. You cannot believe how incredible that an artist living that long ago could create an image of this quality with the simple oil painting techniques available. I studied this one for Art at school many years ago. Brilliant = and I had the painting totally to myself for over 20 mins.

I loved the detail like the shoes and the reflection of the guests in the mirror behind the couple. And the Gallery has loads of notes on every painting so that you can find out WHO these people were and what all of the symbols in the picture meant. He was Italian, this was his second wife – who is not pregnant but holding up her thick folds of the huge heavy gown.

Bonus? The National Gallery has a lovely Dining Room where Mr Nina and I enjoyed a delicious lunch overlooking Trafalgar square.

I chose the Norfolk menu [ Norfolk was the county of the month] and the Cromer Crab and Venison fillet was delicous.  The potted crab had a little too much citrus dressing than I am used to, but the flavour still came through. Kate Hardy will be proud.

At 4pm my head was spinning from too much imagery so we headed for Oxford Street and spent a couple of hours in Dept stores re bedroom decorating and bedding.

From the sublime to the ridiculous nature of duvet filling?


On the Book World Front I noticed that Catherine Cobain, associate publisher at Headline, is to join Transworld as editorial director with special responsibility for commercial women’s fiction – with a ‘key strategic role’ within the company. Many congratulations to Cat – and commisserations to the many authors with Little Black Dress who loved working with her.

And now I have to work on story ideas for Book 4. With a bit of luck – in the garden with a cuppa.

Happy writing.


Motivational Quote of the Day: 

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.  ~Ray Bradbury

4 thoughts on “First Time Thrills

  1. I agree Debs. Wonderful. And such a contrast to my ordinary life it makes the holiday that bit extra special. 🙂

  2. I thought you might appreciate the nod Kate LOL.
    Yes I have visited the ‘Old’Tate several times – Mr Nina used to work just across the river from Millbank and likes Waterhouse and I was happy to revel in the other PreRaphs. When I lived in Manchester I was spoilt for choice for Pre Raphaelites since the cotton mill owners gave their collections to the city – probably for tax – just wonderful.
    Hope you can treat yourself to a visit..

  3. Sure am. Cromer crabs are wondeful :o)

    Glad you enjoyed the National. Now, as you like the PRB, please tell me you HAVE visited the Tate. (Not Modern. The “proper” Tate.) They have some wonderful Rossettis and Burne-Joneses.

    Haven’t been there for a while myself. Must see if I have time to squeeze it in next Friday morning…

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