Titian at the National Gallery

Yesterday, Robin and I took an adventurous trip to London having booked tickets to see the Titian exhibition at the National Gallery. We boarded the train with our face masks on (cute matching ones that Robin ran up last week). The 11.06 out of Eastbourne was 8 carriages long, and until we got to Croydon, there were no more than 6 people in ours (a few more joined at Croydon and Clapham J). When we moved towards the ticket barriers at Victoria, I remembered I had to take some photos for this blog. Have you ever seen it so empty?!

We walked out of Victoria, then down the side streets around Westminster Cathedral – lovely mansion flats around there – and on to Westminster Abbey. In most of the photos, so you will see an absence of crowds and relatively little traffic.

and this photo looking from W.A. down Victoria Street – I could almost have stood in the middle of the road and taken it.

We then walked up Whitehall, past Downing Street, then Horse Guards Parade (with no visitors harassing the mounted horses). Opposite there, there’s a statue of the Eighth Duke of Devonshire, once a leading politician (Liberal Party), and son of the 7th Duke of Devonshire who owned much of the land around Eastbourne, and developed the town in the 19th century. Each statue we passed, we wondered how the person stood (always a man of course) regarding the slave trade.

We arrived at Trafalgar Square and waited until our time slot of 2pm.

Entry to the museum was very well organised. We were encouraged to wear face masks and numbers in each room were regulated. Titian: Love, desire and death is the bringing together of his 6 poesies painted in the 1550s for Prince Philip of Spain (married to Mary I of England, and later defeated at the Spanish Armada). Although I’m sure it’s a remarkable and historically important re-uniting of these pictures, it’s essentially just one room. But that leads to another room of related contemporary pictures which are just as interesting and important.

And then you move into the ‘ordinary’ galleries – and see what a fantastic collection there is there all the time. I’m not a connoisseur – I get excited when I see a famous picture – and I saw lots yesterday. Gainsborough; Monet; Renoir; Constable’s The Hay Wain; Rembrandt’s Belshazzar’s Feast (yes, the one on the cover of the vocal score).

Finally we got to the newly renovated Julia and Hans Rausing Room.

Hans father invented Tetrapak and made billions. And it’s great that they’ve funded this beautiful restoration.

We had cheap train tickets, which meant that we couldn’t get on a train home until 7.20pm, so we walked around Covent Garden (almost empty)

and Bloomsbury. Robin and I have been watching the TV series Spooks recently (all episodes available on BBC iPlayer) and we passed Spooks version of Thames House, which is actually Freemasons Hall just round the corner from Covent Garden.

They have a very nice Harrison & Harrison organ there, which I went and played last year.

Then we had something to eat at Browns near Victoria where again, it was very well managed (easy when it’s pretty empty) and a good end to the day. Actually, the day ended even better when I got home and watched the highlights of the final day of the test match.

We have some fine weather promised for the rest of the week, so I hope you are all able to enjoy it.




  1. What a nice day! Looks like the right sort of time to go to London!

  2. It’s so much more relaxing when there is very little traffic. What a brilliant day you had .

    1. Author

      Hi Chris. Yes, London was noticeably pleasanter with far fewer tourists, we began noticing people that we suspected might be residents. I realise that London needs tourists, and indeed that’s precisely what we were! Before lockdown, we used to enjoy walking in ‘the city’ on a Sunday when streets are commonly empty. Nick

  3. Hi Nick. We are in London having a mini break (instead of Nice). We drove up but it sounds as if the train was fine. I completely agree how pleasant it is but I do worry about the future certainly in terms of tourism and hospitality. Glad you both had a great day and good luck with the choir meetings. Helen

    1. Author

      I hope you have a lovely break in London. We love London – there’s so much to enjoy. I know what you mean about tourism and hospitality, but you might as well enjoy your time there while it is so quiet, and let others sort out the problems which you and I are not able to solve independently! Nick

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