My Mother’s Voice

Alzheimer’s being the conniving thieving bitch that  it is, my mother wasn’t herself in the final years of her life. The  woman I visited in the Alzheimer’s special care unit was a stranger wearing my mother’s skin but not much else, like the invasion of the body snatchers had taken place, month after month beneath the surface, until one day we looked and the woman we knew was gone, replaced by some alien being. An imposter. Intruder alert. Intruder alert. She died back in 2012. Don’t worry; I won’t be getting maudlin on you.  My real mother–not that stranger in a wheel chair, head nodding on her shoulder–is who I want to think about today.  My real mother —Enid Maude Good nee Hayden, a prim, old-fashioned name, perhaps the only thing about her I didn’t love— was British-born and had a lovely London lilt to her voice her whole life even though she left England in the mid-1950’s. I suppose at thirty, her vocal patterns were already frozen in place.  Sounding like a cross between

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Above Ground on the London Underground–Day 36: The National Gallery

Every Friday I take a virtual walking tour ‘above ground’ on the London Underground. Using my Tube guide & my fitbit® device, my goal is to walk 10,000 steps a day roughly following along the Underground route, reporting back here on Fridays with my findings. Here are the days that came before. TOday we're still walking the Piccadilly Line route. This is Day 36.

Okay, enough with lolly-gagging at Trafalgar. Last week I flashed back to hanging out with the pigeons in Trafalgar Square with my big bro. Time to get back to the tour.

Time to get inside the National Gallery and my timing couldn't be better. 

Painters' Paintings: From Freud to Van Dyck is on exhibit through September 4th. The exhibit looks at paintings that artists such as Freud, Matisse, Degas, Leighton, Watts, Lawrence, Reynolds, and Van Dyck themselves owned. The why, whether for inspiration, to support a fellow artist, as a financial investment or even, what the National Gallery calls, obsession.

Was it obsession that drove Matisse to buy Cezanne's Three Bathers (above) painted in 1879? Coincidence that drove him to paint his own take on Three Bathers (below) in 1907? 

The Freud in the exhibit, is Lucian Freud, Sigmund Freud's grandson, a British portraitist who died at age 88 in 2002. Freud was known for his honest portrayals, depicting his subjects without rose colored glasses, bumpy skin, ill-fitting garments and all.

 Ali by Lucian Freud via

Beyond Painters' Paintings

While the National Gallery's current collection of over 2300 works of art isn't huge—the Louvre, for example, features over 35,000 pictures—the National Gallery's collection boasts some of the most famous paintings in the world.

 Vincent Van Gogh's Sunflowers

Rembrandt's Self Portrait at age 34

Vermeer's A Young Woman standing at a Virginal

Turner's The Fighting Temeraire

The Toilet of Venus by Diego Velázquez

and several more 'Bathing' paintings including
Monet's Bathers at La Grenouillère and 

Georges Seurat's Bathers at La Grenouillère

And many more. The museum got it start in 1824 with the purchase of 38 pictures owned by banker John Julius Angerstein by the House of Commons. Because there was no museum in which to house them, the paintings remained on view at Angerstein's home at 100 Pall Mall, much to the embarrassment of the Brits. Not exactly the Louvre is it?

The original collection at 100 Pall Mall 
before the museum at Trafalgar Square was ready in 1838.

And I'm sure you noticed The National Gallery is FREE as are many of its talks and tours. I could spend hours there. Certainly all the time I need to get in my 10,000 steps per day. I know London is full of attractions, ancient towers and charming pubs along the Thames, Dicken's museum and Sherlock Holme's home but I hope the National Gallery is part of your itinerary. If I ever When I get to London for real, it will be on mine.


Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN

Counting the Fitbit steps

Day 1-35:                                                                              
 249,190 steps/111.50 miles      

Day 36:  National Gallery                                                  10,000 steps /4.25 miles    

Total Imaginary Miles to Date                                         259,190 steps/115.75 miles 

Days 1 —35

Every Friday I link up with Joy Weese Moll for 

British Isles Fridays


  1. Those top two photos would make great blog headers. I love them. An art gallery would be great to walk around in today. It's deadly hot here and what better way to spend it than gazing at masterpieces.

    1. Sitting in the shade drinking an Arnold Palmer? That sounds good to me.

  2. Fun! I'm embarrassed to say that we never made it into the National Gallery even though we stayed only a couple of blocks away. Next time!

    1. There is too much to do in London! It's mind-boggling!

  3. I don't get the whole virtual fitbit thing. Do you walk actual steps while walking virtual steps? But I do love the paintings and the stories. VanGogh, Seurat. Not so big on the dark Rembrandt. Love the journey.

    1. Hmmm. Well I map out the route and figure out the miles I would be walking, then I convert that to the number of steps I walk in a mile according to my Fitbit device. I started doing it when I earned the London Underground fitbit badge after I walked my first 250 miles. Thought it would be fun to discover what lies along the route.

  4. I love art galleries. I love that museums are free in the UK. Ours are a ridiculous price.


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