09 March 2009

Princess and me

How can it already be almost 6 pm? Once again I seem to have done nothing today but flit from one unrelated administrative piece of business to another, from checking on my state pension plan to sending off a wedding card & check, from prescription renewal to phoning our jack-of-all-trades re the display shelves for Michael's sand collection he was supposed to install last month.

Before I squander yet more time, I'll quickly type up a summary of the rest of the Harts' visit. On Day 2, Princess and I started out by retracing our steps to the shop in Burlington Arcade where she had spied a paperweight-sized heart in the labradorite she collects. Luckily it was still there, and the shop owner was so taken by Princess's enthusiasm and stone lore that (a) she knocked £10 off the price and (b) she took us on a tour of the upper floor where the treasures were. I may be the official guide on this London jaunt, but being with Princess definitely opens doors. [Her mother must have known what she was doing when she gave her that name -- in Kuwait a passport reading "Princess Hart" definitely merits special treatment.]

From Mayfair we walked via Carnaby Street, Liberty's, and a coffee at Le Pain Quotidien to the British Museum. I'd intended to tack on the British Library as well, but that was overly ambitious. Alan arrived before we had got beyond the Egyptian, Assyrian, and Greek rooms. He had last been at the BM twenty-two years ago and his favorite display turned out to be the same tender Egyptian sculpture of a couple, with the man's hand resting on the woman's, that Princess had remarked on as we went round earlier.

On Thursday I led Princess south of the river, to Tate Modern (much better lunch than at the British Museum), Borough Market (Jamie Oliver is popular in New Zealand too), and--as a contrast to her Chelsea experience--our flat. Friday saw the four of us gathering at the Natural History Museum to walk through the geology and mineral exhibits. Sensory overload: after an hour and a half, I pretty well stopped taking it in. Must return another day.

And the Harts must return to London. So much they didn't get to see--not surprising, since there's so much we haven't seen ourselves. I have my own mementos of this visit, a beautiful labradorite pendant and ring, in simple but stunning silver settings designed by Princess. I'll look at the fugitive flicker of blue in the stones and think of the Maori legend that a kingfisher is flashing there. I'm not about to embark on an enlightenment journey of my own, but spending time with Mrs Hart has certainly expanded my mind. Quite a change from my usual days of googling and paper pushing.

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