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Posts tagged ‘Ice Skating’

London Calling

2014 was full of novel, exciting and previously unexplored experiences, the likes of which I was able to reflect on when recently looking through my photos of the year. And while the most significant of my year’s experiences is undoubtedly the total change which came about when I left London and moved to Mallorca, I was also given the opportunity to live out yet another novel change as the year drew to a close. I became a tourist in London.

After 12 years living in the city, I never thought it would be possible to see London as a tourist destination, and to discover it afresh in the way I would a new holiday location. Yet when I headed to London for two nights this Christmas, I suddenly felt like a stranger in my previous home city. The change was almost undoubtedly brought about by the accomodation: being able to stay in a hotel in the centre made all the difference, not least because it cut out the ghastly return tube journey which was an inevitable accompaniment of every trip to the centre when I lived in the suburbs. The hotel (we stayed at the new “Me” hotel on the Aldwych) also enabled us to see London from a new literal perspective too – our room was on the 9th floor and provided us with the most stunning of bird’s eye views. Suddenly I realised that atop buildings I thought I knew inside-out was a secret roof terrace full of plants; and from this viewpoint, the cluster of shiny new skyscrapers in the City finally made sense.

London viewed from the “Me”

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We also felt like tourists because suddenly we had time on our side. With no work to get to or no reason to rush home, we could indulge in many of the treats the city has to offer: We went to see the stunning musical Miss Saigon, we visited the British Museum (with what appeared to be thousands of other tourists) we drank mulled wine in Covent Garden, and we even went ice skating at the Natural History Museum – a first for my leg post-2008 accident.

A tourist in London – ice skating, Covent Garden and the British Museum

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But of course being a tourist also brought with it the inescapable frustrations of London: the eye-watering expense, the unfriendly customer service, the rushed restaurant sittings, the 12.5% “discretionary” service charge, the packed tube, and the horrible, horrible cold. So for all of the excitement of being a tourist in London, I suddenly found myself relieved to be leaving again, and full of joy to return to my new home in Mallorca. I needed nothing further to confirm that in swapping London for Palma, we have truly made a change for the better.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Sunday Supplement: Christmas Double

For this week’s Sunday Supplement, it is in the spirit of Christmas that I bring you not one but TWO de Lacy-Brown paintings to add a little artistic fulfilment to your weekend. And, seeing as this will be the last Sunday Supplement before the big day itself (I am anticipating being ever so slightly too merry and/or stressing in the kitchen next Sunday to blog…and I suspect you will be too busy in similar scenarios to read the good old Daily Norm) I bring you two paintings from my collection which have the great festival of Christmas at their core. Some way apart, the first, painted in a more illustrative style, was created in 2002, while the second, painted in 2010, features a much more matured, realistic style of representation.

Ice Skating at Somerset House (acrylic on canvas, 2002 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown)

The first work, above, was painted when I was in my first year at university in London. Studying at King’s College London on The Strand, I was lucky enough to be situated bang next door to what has become one of the most iconic sights of London’s Christmas celebrations: the ice skating rink at Somerset House. Flanked on all sides by the stunning Neo-classical masterpiece of Somerset House, the rink in the building’s huge cobbled courtyard is utterly atmospheric, reminding of the days of Dickensian London street scenes which, thanks to the likes of A Christmas Carol, have become synonymous with the traditional view of Christmas all around the world. At night, the rink glistens under turquoise lights, flame lanterns flickering on either side, and a tree, usually sponsored by Tiffany & Co. the jewellers, sparkling at the foot of the ice. It’s a wonderful place to skate, and it is something I really miss doing every Christmas since my accident in 2008 precluded me from engaging in such a risky activity. This painting however represents the jovial, whimsical joy of the skating I remember. However, if you ever got the rink as empty as this these days, you’d be very lucky…

Alexander, Enchanted by Christmas (oil on canvas, 2010 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown)

The second painting of this week’s Christmas double-whammy is my later portrait of my nephew Alexander when he was just 18 months old. It captures a magical moment when he encountered the large family Christmas tree for the first time. Utterly entranced by the feast of new colours, objects and lights on view, he was literally stopped in his tracks as he took in the wonder of Christmas before him. Painted in a more photo-realistic fashion, I have tried to capture the furry white brim of the cute santa hat he was wearing, while blurring out the tree lights in the background. It was a beautiful moment. As ever, Christmas really is enhanced by the joy you can see reflected in a child’s eyes. However I may feel differently come this time next week, when I have three toddlers running rings around me, fighting for presents and playing catch with the baubles.

Postscript: If you like the painting of Somerset House above, and would like to own a high quality giclee print of the image, there are some available for sale via my Etsy online shop.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2002-2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.