St Martin’s in the Fields November 2018
Concerts are a special tradition around Christmas and this year were delighted to be given tickets to a candle light concert at St Martins in the Fields at Trafalgar Square. We took the opportunity to wander the area around Trafalgar Square
As ever to be a good tourist the first stop is for a coffee. We went to Patisserie Valerie just a little way up Charing Cross Road. The coffee was good and we had a light lunch with a cheese and ham toastie which was freshly cooked with the cheese oozing out from the crisp toast and ham. We followed with a slice of Carrot cake- moist with a good carrot and cake texture.
The truly international appeal of London was clear as 2 men from the eastern part of Europe were sat at the table next to us. They were happy to enjoy a large coffees and cream cake. The staff took the wide mix of nationalities in their stride and were very efficient and welcoming to all.
Then a little bit of culture to help us prepare for the concert. First across the road to Foyles. I have been a long time visitor and their current premises spread over 5 floors showcase the richness of all facets of life as recorded in books and music. I looked at the photography section and can see I have much to aspire to with my photographs.
On another floor a whole section was devoted to the history of various European countries. Its worth reflecting that despite the current apparent turmoil, parts of Europe will have been through and survived similar episodes in the past.
National Portrait Gallery – Gainsborough Family Album paintings
Then to the National Portrait Gallery. We were there to see the Gainsborough family album exhibition. This had just opened and showed how Gainsborough started as a portrait painter in Suffolk before moving to Bath and then London. It showed how in the age before photography the portrait painter could make a good if rather pressured living as a good portrait was a proclamation of a persons achievements status and wealth. His relatives pictures also showed the jostling within families which occurs even to this day. One painting of his two daughters had been cut into two at one stage. The exhibition included the later reunited canvas but the two daughters were slightly out of alignment.
The pictures of current key people is very varied and include the late Tessa Jowell and Doreen Lawrence, Tim Peake, and Sir Kenneth Branagh, and Ed Sheeran to name but a few. It was thought provoking to consider who are the influencers on current our society and why they are.
Then for a quick evening meal before the concert. This was at Prezzos just off Trafalgar Square. We have been there several times and luckily arrived just before the post work rush. The waiting staff efficiently found us a table and to one side were a couple possibly on a first date who were holding hands and planning to go onto some nearby event. Elsewhere there was a group from an office party complete with a funny face mask for the “host”. We were warmly greeted with appropriate suggestions of olives to nibble and drink to start followed by a salmon pasta dish and a spaghetti carbonara for the main. Despite every table being taken service was good and food arrived rapidly.
Across the road from the restaurant is a statue to Edith Cavell who as a Nurse in World War. She was shot at dawn on 12 October 1915. The inscription on the statue was most relevant as we entered the church of St Martins in the Fields.
The quiet serenity of the Church was a perfect setting to the various pieces. Handel- Arrival of the Queen of Sheba was very evocative for us as was Pachbel-Canon in D. The piece by Bach- Air On a G String also resonated
The second half was Vivaldi- the Four Seasons a well known classic.
Despite having being composed in 1723 the experience of hearing it live within the acoustics of the church by candlelight transported one away to a different place and time.
For details of the concert see St Martins in the Fields
Sadly all too soon the concert came to an end and we were walking back to Waterloo. The night time sights of London did however mean that there was still something magical to savour. The London Eye, the city landmarks. Although just for the season the rotating chair ride and lift also added to that spectacle of lights