I have just got back home after a wonderful Blipmeet with Sandy, aka SweetArt from Hong Kong, who wondered if we could meet because she was in the UK taking her sons to uni - one in London and one in Oxford.  Of course, I am always up for meeting Blippers, and as we have been friends on Blip for quite sometime, thought it would be great to meet.
So at 70¾ off I went on the train to London on my own for the first time - I was fine and only had to ask someone whether Charing Cross was going North or South out of Paddington, then I was on the way.  SweetArt had text me to say she was outside W H Smith, but I left the underground a different way and ended up by the lions in Trafalgar Square.  A quick text and we soon found each other though and after hugs and a selfie decided that we would visit the National Gallery.
WOW - what a feast for our eyes!  We were both surprised that we could take photographs and were snapping away until I got into one room and was told off for taking photographs - I hadn’t realised that it wasn’t allowed in that particular room!  We noticed one young girl sitting down and copying a painting of a racehorse, Whistlejacket painted in about 1762 by George Stubbs – we both marveled at what she had done because it was an amazing likeness.  We saw paintings by Monet, Sunflowers by Vincent Van Gogh, John Constable and many others – a wonderful treat for us both.
Sandy had been advised by RachelWhyNot, the Blipper she is staying with, that the Opera House did a lovely lunch, but after walking there, found that they are closed for meals until 2018 - we told the man on duty that we did want something before then, so found a nearby Pizza Express and had a lovely lunch together.  We didn’t stop chatting and then set off for Covent Garden - I was hoping to buy some Christmas presents, but it was not to be. 
SweetArt bought a hoodie - not the one she wanted, that had a little pink on it and try as I might, I couldn’t get Neil, the stallholder, to knock the price down because that particular one was a little “shop soiled”.  In any event, we had a lovely conversation with him, blessed him and then went on our way rejoicing .  I think SweetArt might need that hoodie when she goes up to Scotland to stay with CBLinks2 next week.  I doubt whether it will be as warm up there as it was in London today anyway.
After that it was a quick look around Covent Garden where we noticed a shop called SweetHeart - so we went in for a coffee, but resisted the wonderful cakes.  However, SweetArt did have a chat with the young waiter about the cakes while I rested my weary legs.  There was lots of Street Theatre going on all around Covent Garden, so it was hard to know what to watch for our afternoon entertainment.
We then headed off to the National Portrait Gallery and more wonderful paintings.  Of course, we knew would never see everything so just pootled round but I did find a portrait of W G Grace, the famous Victoria cricketer, and have included this especially for Mr. HCB, who has been down in Bristol for the last week of cricket this year.  To finish off our wonderful day, we went to see the crypt under the church of St Martin-in-the-Fields, then went upstairs to the church, where it was good to sit and contemplate the beauty all around us, and an added bonus was that the organist gave a quick recital – or maybe he or she was just practising!
So I’m now back home and completely “cream-crackered” but it was a wonderful day and one I shall remember and who knows, we may meet again before too long - I certainly hope it won’t be the last time we meet and perhaps if SweetArt comes to the UK again to visit her sons, she will come and stay with us in our part of the world - not quite as much culture, but certainly a a much slower pace of life and we have some beautiful countryside.
“The only time I feel alive is when I'm painting.” 
Vincent Van Gogh

I think I will feel more alive when I have had a good night’s sleep.  According to Sandy’s phone she walked 6.5 km but I went up and down stairs to the loo more than she did, so I reckon I walked at least 7 km, if not more!

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