Graeme Elmore gets his tart

The Byzantians obviously had a much nicer time than the Babylonians! The poor old British Museum exhibit really was a let down...but not so the Byzantium show at the Royal Academy.

Piccadilly was packed with Christmas shoppers as I made my way to the RA. It was that lovely late afternoon time when with a clear sky, the winter sun lights up all those beautiful grand Victorian and Edwardian buildings that line not only Piccadily but the Haymarket and Lower Regent Street and all around. There was a great golden glow which just cut through the winter cold.

The exhibition was stunning, and tells the story of Byzantium from the 4th to the 15th centuries, from when it was founded by Constantine until the final fall to Islam in the mid 1400's. It is full of excellent story boards; thoughtfuly laid out and the most amazing artefacts. Cups and plates and jewellery of gold and silver with emeralds and pearls and niello; chalices with sapphires and lapis lazuli; ancient icons; silk and taffeta work; ivory carvings and alabaster caskets; and illustrated psalters and gospels going back for over a thousand years. It was a true feast and a real privilege to view such rare and precious things.

It so took one's breath away that a good strong cup of Rosey Lee was called for, and where better to get both a good cuppa and a great strawberry tart than my grocer's which is just opposite the Royal Academy in Piccadilly. You know, I think I can honestly say that you get a better sort of tart in Fortnum & Mason's - well...obviously!