I took a trip to London this week, to indulge myself in four days full of museums and art galleries. It's hot in England this week, and London is always even hotter, so we sweltered as we walked around, but it was worth it.
The Horniman Museum is one of the smaller, lesser-known places. More of a local museum than a national one. But their aquarium was brilliant.
They had several different tanks, illustrating the different aquatic environments around the world.
Also an old Victorian 'parlour aquarium' which were very popular at that time.
But what really interested me is that they currently have a focus on plastics in the oceans and the environmental consequences of our everyday actions. Various tanks were littered with plastic bags, bottles and cups.
They had a film running which talked about what we could all do to reduce our consumption of plastic and especially the 'one-use' variety. We've been trying to do this in recent months, with some success, but this very effective display really brought home to me the way we humans are negatively impacting the planet and I'm going to try harder.
Their butterfly house is also beautiful.
Hundreds of brightly coloured butterflies flitting about all around us.
Some were huge. These owl butterflies are about four inches high. I thought they were models because they didn't move, but the guide said they are real, but just lazy!
The Royal Albert Hall was next on my list.
It was built in the 1860s as part of a major cultural project by Prince Albert and is most well known for the Proms, a series of classical music concerts which runs every summer. They do a variety of events though, and Prince Harry and Meghan were there recently to see Cirque de Soleil.
I did a tour and the guide was fascinating. He showed us the royal entrance, and their private reception room and we even peeked into the royal box. He clearly loved the place and had all sorts of anecdotes to share. I've been there for concerts in the past, but this was an in-depth view of the place which I really enjoyed.
The 'mushrooms' on the ceiling are to improve the acoustics, which apparently were dreadful originally!
Then a short walk down the road to the Victoria & Albert Museum, which is a museum of art and design and my favourite museum of all time!
I had originally wanted to see the Christian Dior exhibition, but it's been sold out for ages, so I settled on a tour of the Theatre and Performance galleries. Again, a fascinating guide with lots of stories to tell. He once went to New York to bid on a gown worn by Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady.
They had thought it would go for about £200,000-300,000 and he had a cheque for £500,000 in his back pocket, so he felt reasonably confident. But it went for $4.5 million or well over £3million!!
My last stop was at the Dulwich Picture Gallery.
They had an interesting exhibition about printmaking in the 1920s.
They also had a lovely cafe in their garden so we had a great lunch too!
Although Dulwich is a part of London, it has retained its village atmosphere. There was even a toll gate to get in - I didn't know there were any left in England, never mind London!
Wow - I did a lot in four days. But I loved my culture spa and feel all the better for it. We are really lucky in this country that most museums and art galleries are free. There are so many more to see in London - the Charles Dickens Museum, the Sherlock Holmes museum, there's even the Foundling Museum (all about the very poor families who had to give up their children) but my heart breaks just thinking about that one, so it may be while before I get there!