My last day in London was bright and pleasant. I spent several hours at the Tate Britain. The Tate was founded by Henry Tate and opened in 1897 as the National Gallery of British Art. In 1932 it became the Tate Gallery and in 2000, the Tate Britain. It houses British art from 1500 to the present. It is on Millbank by the river and a good ten minute walk from Pimlico station.
The Tate is the home of the Turner Bequest and has the largest collection of JMW Turner’s work. Way too much for me! He was a prodigy and showed his first work at the Royal Academy when he was only fourteen. He had an enormous amount of work, most of it left unfinished at the time of his death. Turner liked to leave the completion of his work until it was actually hung in the Royal Academy. Thus much of the work we see today was considered unfinished by his contemporaries. And by me.
I decided to end my trip with some non-souvenir, non-touristy shopping. Starting at Green Park, I walked east on Piccadilly Street. I was drawn in to Fortnum & Mason by the window displays. Known as the Queen’s grocer, it has been here since 1707. You’ll find fine foods, luxury picnic hampers and a vast array of teas. The upper floor has tea sets, cookware and a selection of tea towels. I bought a couple of Christmas presents here!
Across the street is the Burlington Arcade. Built in 1819, it is a covered shopping arcade and a precursor to today’s indoor shopping mall. High-end stores, many say by appointment only. And very quiet: security guards enforce ‘no running – no loud noises.’
Walking along the street, I felt I was among Londoners, not just tourists. At Piccadilly Circus (a major crossroad
junction), I continued up Shaftesbury Avenue. This street has many cinemas and theaters. I hopped onto the #38 bus and headed back to the hotel.
I have had a fantastic week in London! Although I had been planning this trip since January, it was more than I had hoped. I had an itinerary but was open to whatever presented itself each day. G.K. Chesterton once wrote: The traveller sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see. And Emerson has said: For everything you have missed, you have gained something else.
Beth, Reader’s Services