Spent yesterday morning in Antwerp's art museum, a vast collection of Rubens, Van Dycks, other Dutch and Flemish masters, and more modern works.
Ate lunch there also, a stupendous pate, and a wonderful apricot tart.
Then a train from Antwerp to Brussels. Had a bit of a wait in the station, which gave me time to have the best hot chocolate in my entire life. Oh, was it good! Eurostar departed around 6, stopping briefly in Lille before thundering under the Channel to London.
This is a very familiar hotel. Our suite is enormous, I think it has five rooms/spaces, depending how you count. Maybe six. It's lovely and luxurious. However, back at the Lodge the jacuzzi is not visible from the sitting room. Nor is it part of the sitting room, as it is here. Nor is it large enough for 10 people. (That's no exaggeration, either.)
First stop today was the National Gallery. My travelling companion, rather than OD'ing on Dutch and Flemish masters, wanted to see more of them. And did. I was glad to see old favourites from the 17th and 18th centuries as well, and the Impressionist galleries.
From there we wandered up towards Monmouth Street, stopping at a theatre to enquire about tickets for a play, and at this amazing cupcake shop.
I was meeting a new friend, a musician, part-time Londoner, and former blogger (yes, it's possible to quit!) for lunch at the Covent Garden Hotel. It was an extremely enjoyable meal, both the conversation and the food, aided by a couple of glasses of sublime pink champagne. Look forward to repeating the experience when possible. I saw her flat as well, really conveniently located and quite a wonderful living and music-making space.
I'd intended to go from there up to Oxford Street for some shopping. For reasons I don't perfectly understand, I abruptly headed in a totally different direction in search of--yes, my characters. Not only the ones in this book, but some of them from earlier novels. I walked down Drury Lane to St. Clement's Dane, identified the approximate spot where (spoiler!) a murder takes place in my novel. Circled round the Aldwych, came up the back (the Thames side) of the current incarnation of Somerset House.
Passed through the rear portion and walked round the ice rink (now being set up) to the Courtauld Gallery. Hadn't been there in a few years. It's not on my "regular" museum list.
I seem to also be addicted to Dutch and Flemish masters now, because there I was gazing upon Rubens and the lot of them again. But the Monets and the Manets and the Renoirs were there as well, and many other items. Picked up some cards in the shop and then hopped on the Tube, which brought me back to the place where I began.
Weather is decent, no rain.
It's the Fifth of November, Guy Fawkes's Night. Tonight and tomorrow the air will smell of smoke (I've often been here on this day.)
What's it all about?
I'm off to a bonfire party of my own, so haven't time to explain. Here's a helpful verse:
Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t'was his intent
To blow up the King and Parli'ment.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England's overthrow;
By God's providence he was catch'd (or by God's mercy*)
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, let the bells ring. (Holla*)
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!
And what should we do with him? Burn him!
The fireworks have started up all over the city. Lots of bangs and booms.