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One thing we both noticed during our trip through Ireland and then the UK is how foreign workers most of whom are EU Citizens work in the service industry. Gone are the days when Irish or British worked in that sector. It got us thinking that in the  event of Brexit, Britain will find itself in a very difficult position, all those EU workers in the service industry would go home or move to other EU countries. What will Britain do to replace them? The Brits are not going to take those jobs there has been in the last 30 years a culture change and you will find Brits working abroad but not at home and not necessarily in the service sector. In Hotels, restaurants, etc. staff is from a variety of European countries, not a Brit in site. It will be interesting to see how this situation evolves.

While in London we also stopped at the Victoria and Albert Museum. The V&A covers 12.5 acres (5.1 ha)[3] and 145 galleries. Its collection spans 5,000 years of art, from ancient times to the present day, from the cultures of Europe, North America, Asia and North Africa. The holdings of ceramics, glass, textiles, costumes, silver, ironwork, jewellery, furniture, medieval objects, sculpture, prints and printmaking, drawings and photographs are among the largest and most comprehensive in the world. The museum owns the world’s largest collection of post-classical sculpture, with the holdings of Italian Renaissance items being the largest outside Italy. The departments of Asia include art from South Asia, China, Japan, Korea and the Islamic world. The East Asian collections are among the best in Europe, with particular strengths in ceramics and metalwork, while the Islamic collection is amongst the largest in the Western world.

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The V&A has its origins in the Great Exhibition of 1851, with which Henry Cole, the museum’s first director, was involved in planning; initially it was known as the Museum of Manufactures, first opening in May 1852 at Marlborough House, but by September had been transferred to Somerset House. At this stage the collections covered both applied art and science. Several of the exhibits from the Exhibition were purchased to form the nucleus of the collection. By February 1854 discussions were underway to transfer the museum to the current site and it was renamed South Kensington Museum.

The official opening by Queen Victoria was on 22 June 1857. In the following year, late night openings were introduced, made possible by the use of gas lighting. This was to enable in the words of Cole “to ascertain practically what hours are most convenient to the working classes”.

It is an immense museum and you have to choose what you want to see in the various galleries, one can become overwhelmed by the wealth of the collections. We picked to visit the Asian galleries on our visit and looked into Islamic Art. What is on display is of very high quality and is beautifully curated. It is also very well explained and the collections are part of established British policy to bring back to London treasures of conquered lands which at the time came under British rule. You can say the same thing about the French, German, Spaniards, etc who also had colonial empires. This is why museums in Europe have such extensive collections of Art from abroad.

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Ceremonial dagger encrusted with semi precious stones, carved ivory, enamel, a gift from Fath Ali Shah of Persia (Iran) to Captain John Malcolm of the East India Company in 1810.

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Gold and pink sapphires bracelet, Madras, India.

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Chintz costume, a man’s morning gown made from Indian painted cotton, very popular in England, France and Holland around 1660. It is recorded in Samuel Peppys journal that he bought himself one around 1661. Much later chintz will become popular with ladies.

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Fine stone carved window panels, exquisite design, Iran. This fashion of carving appears also in India, Syria, Egypt.

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 Men’s Mughal Costume, was based on the Jama a tailored gown tied at the side and the Paijama trousers loose at the top but tapered at the lower leg. An elaborate turban (Pagri) was also worn at Court and a long decorative waist sash (Patka). Fine kashmir wool shawl were often draped over the shoulder, a fashion started by Emperor Akbar (1542-1605).

There were many other objects to see, making the visit most interesting. All this in only one part of the V&A museum.

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We then went to lunch or Brunch this being Sunday with our friends J. and David Nice.

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The House of Pre-Raphaelite painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti 1828-1882 in Chelsea

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The Thames at low tide.

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On the Thames this sculpture by Korean artist Ik Joong Kan, entitled Floating dreams. It is in front of the New Tate Modern Museum.

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A small front garden of a house in Chelsea.

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A street by our hotel in London

Now comes the time for our last leg of our trip, going home from Southampton on the Queen Mary 2. A 7 day crossing of the North Atlantic our destination New York.

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