leisure 06.15.15

Out of Town: England

Dulwich Picture Gallery
Sometimes the gift shop just won't cut it. Sure, you can get a print of, say, the Rembrandt you saw a few rooms back, or a postcard version, or keychain. But wouldn't it be nicer to just have the Rembrandt itself? Slipped into your Harrods bag?

Of course it would. And that—along with enough Rubens, Van Dycks, Van Ruisdaels, Watteaus, Tiepolos and Canalettos to satisfy any art buff—gives a visit to the Dulwich Picture Gallery in South London a special thrill.

The Dulwich has, over the years, been famously obliging about parting with their artworks. In 1966, souvenir hunters helped themselves to eight paintings, including half a dozen Rembrandts and Rubens.

One of those Rembrandts is Jacob de Gheyn III, painted in 1632. It's now been on four vacations from the museum, earning a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the most stolen painting of all time. Its nickname is 'the takeaway Rembrandt'.

Before you get the idea that you can star in your own Ocean's Twelve or Thomas Crown Affair, note that the museum has improved security over the years, particularly when it comes to Mr. de Gheyn. Still, it's fun to think about.

Meanwhile, enjoy this somewhat off-the-beaten-path museum, its exceptional collection of artwork, and its colorful history.

Watergate Bay Hotel
When you close your eyes and think of England, what comes to mind?

If you said surfing—and you didn't—it's a surprisingly reasonable answer. The North Cornwall coast is home to some lovely beaches, surfable waves, and the Watergate Bay Hotel. Originally built in 1904, it has had various careers, but it's hardly showing its age.

In fact, in 1999, the owners' son launched the Extreme Academy to create 'a ski resort on a beach.' So, yes, in jolly old England, you can go traction kiting, wave skiing, paddlesurfing, and handplaning.

Of course, if you're not at that level, you can take surfing lessons, play volleyball, hit the infinity pool with an ocean view, or get a massage instead.

By all means see the latest production of the Royal Shakespeare Company when you're in the U.K. But bring your wetsuit, too.


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