Wednesday, July 25, 2007
I have a rough idea of the places I want to go. Because we have the room in Edinburgh another night, I'm staying here tonight and getting the free breakfast in the morning (a lovely full Scottish breakfast and other cafeteria style food that sticks with you the entire day). Then, I am going to be going down to the Lake District, probably staying in Windermere or Ambleside (a town near Windermere). I am going to go to Dove Cottage (Wordsworth) and spend sometime next to the lake recovering from my cold. I would have liked to walk the hills a little but the last couple of days in Edinburgh have completely killed my calves and the muscles in my left leg have kind of seized up. I'm sure that will go away soon. Anyway, I am going to spend the one night there. The next morning I'm going to take the train to Lancaser and spend the day there. I want to walk some of the footpaths there but we will have to see. I'm going to then catch an evening train to York and spend the night there. Then I am going to spend the day wandering around York. Next, I will take the train from York to Newmarket. There is a race going on Saturday so I'm going to go see that. Then I will go to Cambridge to spend the night there. Being in Cambridge, it will be only be a short hop back to London to be there by the 30th.
A little bit of time to see the countryside and hopefully a lot of time on the trains to knit :)
Tomorrow is the start of the mini-break and I will be wandering, making my way back to London by the 30th. I probably won't be able to get online much.
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Mystery Stole: Clue 4, the extended version (because Clue 5 isn't coming out next week so everyone has a chance to finish Harry Potter) came out on Friday but I haven't had the chance to do anything on it yet other than print it out. I'm taking the one with me to work on during the mini break but didn't have room for the other.
Speaking of mini break, is it sad to plan more about the knitting projects than the clothes you are going to wear?
Saturday, July 21, 2007
So last night Cortni, Meagan, Stephanie, Carrie and I went to stand in line for the book at the Waterstones in Piccadilly Circus. (Waterstones was having the 1/2 off price deal for pre-ordering.) Stephanie and Carrie were just being nice by waiting with the rest of us because they had pre-ordered their copy at another store in Trafalger Square. In hindsight, I wish that the rest of us had ordered from a smaller store, too. The line would have been shorter :) Though the crowd's excitement and all of the activity were exhilerating! Some of the costumes were really fabulous. One girl was dressed up as a stitch with her boyfriend dressed as a broom (though later she we saw her with a Harry Potter, oooooo drama). I also saw an entire family dressed as the Malfoys. Their costumes were really good but I ask you, the Malfoys?
All of the excitement really built as midnight got closer and closer. Finally the time came and the 1/2 to 3/4 mile line errupted into cheers. After that, it was kind of anti-climatic because they were letting only so many people into the store at a time. This made complete sense because it would have been a mad house if they didn't. (It probably was a madhouse anyway.) After an hour, we had only moved one city block and it didn't look like we were going to be going anywhere anytime soon. So my friends and I decided to walk home and come back in the morning to get our copies.
I had no trouble picking mine up this morning and started reading on the tube going back home. I originally planned to read in a park but it started raining again so that idea was out. Erika (who was reading Jane Eyre, not HP), Meagan and I sat in the kitchen all day reading. It was kind of funny because occasionally someone would gasp or laugh or exclaim about what they were reading. If it was Meagan or me, we'd shush each other so nothing would be given away. Towards the end of the book, I had to leave the kitchen so I wouldn't give anything away to Meagan. I think she would have hit me with the book and you know the size of that sucker . . . :)
**************SPOILER************** kind of
OK, I'm not going to dissect the book tonight because now I am coming off my high from finishing the book and am getting very tired.
J.K. Rowling is a wonderful author. She grabs your attention from the very first page and keeps it until the end. I was amazed by the ways she developed her characters and really kept you guessing about some of their motives until the very end. You know the one I am talking about.
How about that pensive memory of Snape's? Most of the time before this book was released, I was torn about whether or not he was good. I finally decided that he killed Dumbledore in order to ensure that Draco didn't but couldn't decide if he had truely betrayed Dumbledore to Voldemort. I found the conversation between him and Dumbledore about Dumbledore's death very powerful. Imagine planning out your own death. That was asking a lot of Snape to do. Sure, Dumbledore was dying already but Snape still had to kill him.
Didn't your heart just sink when Dumbledore told Snape that part of Voldemort's soul was put into Harry when he was a baby and Voldemort tried to kill him? That meant that Harry was a Horcrux. One of the very things that Harry was trying to destroy and needed to be destroyed before Voldemort would finally die. At that point, I knew Harry would sacrifice himself in order to make sure Voldemort would be stopped. I never even considered that he was doing the exact same thing that his mother did, ensuring that everyone fighting Voldemort had the protection of love. Now it makes perfect sense! I guess I was distracted by the drama of the fighting and the horrible losses of Fred Weasley, Remus Lupin and Dora Tonks.
The moment that Harry faced the Killing Curse for a second time was horrible. I hoped that she wouldn't kill Harry off but it was so hard to tell what would happen. It was clever the way that Rowling showed that Harry could survive because a part of him (his blood) was in Voldemort like a part of Voldemort's soul was in Harry.
And how about the ending chapter? It made me so happy that she did a follow-up for when the children of all of the main characters were headed to Hogwarts on the train. It would have been horrible to be left hanging at the end of the fighting even though the good side had won.
OK, the last part of this spoiler was a bit disjointed because now I really have to go to bed. Tomorrow, we go on an extremely long train ride to Edinburgh. Yea.
Friday, July 20, 2007
OK, Oxford. We met in the courtyard of Stamford St. at 7 am to take the tube to London Paddington station for an 8.52 train to Oxford. Upon arriving at Oxford, we made our way to the Bodleian Library for a guided tour. Here is a map of the 4 buildings in the Bodleian complex. We visited 3 of those buildings: the Old Library, the New Library, and the Radcliffe Camera.
And here is a picture of the Radcliffe Camera. Our guide told us that it is probably the most photographed building in Oxford. Pretty impressive.
The tour was very interesting. In the Old Library, we got to see some chained books and learned about how they were stored and cared for. Readers can use the old chained books but they must be supervised closely.
After the tour, a group of us went to the Eagle and Child pub where J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis used to meet and talk about their writings with their group, the Inklings. I had a wonderful steak and ale pie and a pint of cider. Almost all of our class went there for lunch other than 3 students and the 2 professors. And none of it was planned!
After lunch, Carrie, Stephanie, Cortni, Meagan and I went to Christ Church College for the tour. It was nice walking through but we got stuck in the middle of a three huge groups so that was a little crazy.
When we first got to Bath, we went to the Roman Baths Museum. Have I told you how much I love Roman Britain stuff?
I posted this group shot the other day. Left to right: Megan (Carrie's friend from home), Stephanie, me, Angie, Erika, Meagan, and Carrie in the back.
After the Baths, I split off from the group to look in some shops. They were looking for lunch and I had packed mine and ate it on the train there. Then we met up again at the Jane Austen Centre. Some of them are writing their papers on Jane Austen so going there was really helpful to them. There was an exhibition going on about the costumes used in a new television production of Persuasion. It kind of made me want to see the show after seeing all of the costumes and listen to what the designer wanted to convey with the.
The Royal Crescent is a semi-circle of buildings which look out on a green which was filled with people on such a nice day. I could give you more facts about it but I'll let you do research for yourself :)
I again split off from the group to spend a little more time on the green, knitting and reading. I also wanted to go to some different places than everyone else. I wandered by the street where Jeannette lived while she studied here, went to the Biotanical Gardens, down to the River Avon to walk along it for a while, and to the Abbey.
Basically, I loved being in Bath because I remembered visiting Jeannette there with Kelly and then with Emily during my first study abroad. It was really nice going somewhere and remembering many of the streets and sights. I also love the appearance of all of the sandstone buildings and the architecture of the city.
I grabbed the 6.30 train back to London Paddington and was back at Stamford Street by 9.
**Update: Wow, I can't believe I forgot to write about going to the Bath Library while I was wandering around! It was a really nice branch. They are located in a shopping centre on the 1st (our second) floor. Each of the different sections (i.e. large print, fiction, non fiction, children's, etc) were identified by colour. For instance, the non fiction was blue and the large print was orange. Above each of the sections was a large sign pointing out the section in the same colour. The large print sign said "Large Print. A great selection of books to save tired eyes. Thought about trying a talking book?" It was like readers' advisory on signage. It was great. All of the shelving was on rolling shelves which made it very easy for them to rearrange everything to give it a new look or if they were having a special event that needed lots of space. Also, they needed to be able to move the shelves quickly in one section because the bathrooms in the hotel above them keep leaking and causing lots of water damage. Their catalogue was really cool, too. You could add reviews and comments on the books. Ah, Web 2.0.
The tour started with us walking up the Geometric Staircase, an engineering marvel. The weight of the steps are even divided between those above and below so it 'hangs' off of the wall. For you Harry Potter buffs, the scene in the 4th movie with them coming down from the North Tower was filmed there.
Once we came to the top of the steps, we were offered a pretty impressive birds-eye view of the main floor of the cathedral. Next, we went into the room where the Great Model is held. This model showed how Christopher Wren wanted the cathedral to look like. It was rejected because it looked too much like a Catholic cathedral though he still retained many of the same elements in the finished building. The room where the model is housed was originally supposed to be part of the library because it has huge windows and a ton of natural light and designs on the walls of ink bottles, pens, and books.
Going into the library was like going into your stereotypical image of an old library. Bookshelves on every wall filled with old books with lovely leather bindings. Antique desks piled high with books being worked on. High windows letting in light which picks up the dust swirls. That smell of old books. It was wonderful. Many of the books there date to after the Great Fire of London 1666 which had destroyed many of the original holdings.
After our tour was over, Erika, Stephanie and I went to the Women's Library. They intended to do research there while I went to see the exhibition that was in place. For class, we have to visit three additional places (i.e. not with the class) and write about it in our journal/blog. The exhibition was called, What Women Want, and was very interesting. My favourite part was the wall where people could post their responses to questions from different parts of the exhibit.
After going through the exhibit, I split off from Erika and Stephanie to go to a public library that I had seen on the map. I think I am going to write my small paper on a public library. It was very interesting to go in and see how they had things set up. They use Dewey for the NF collection just in case you were wondering.
After that I went to Harrods to try to meet up with people for high tea. I got there at 4 and completely missed them. They were there and I was there but didn't see them. I was able to pick up some gifts for people, though, so it turned out well.
Again, we come to the part where I shouldn't be allowed to have a map because obviously I can't judge distances. I decided because it was such a nice day I should walk from Harrods to Piccadilly Circus. I was going to Piccadilly Circus so I could pre-order a copy of the new Harry Potter for half price. £8.99 instead of £17.99, I'm totally doing that. Other people had pre-ordered there so we could all go together as a group. Well, it is a far distance. Then I just got stubborn and wouldn't go to any of the tube stations because it would be only one stop away and didn't get on any of the buses for the same reason. But I got to see some nice stuff like this along the way.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
The group of us in Bath. Left to right: Megan, Stephanie, me, Angie, Erika, Meagan and Carrie in the back.
Monday, July 16, 2007
This morning, we met at 9 to take the tube to the Museum of London. There we listened to a very interesting speaker who is in charge of the pre-history area of the museum. He told us that the Museum of London is the largest urban museum in the world. He also talked a lot about the set-up and design process about the new (2002) pre-history exhibit, London before London.
I found that part of the talk fascinating. I knew a lot of work was involved but never knew how much. He said that they had a group come in who normally designs for shops, not museums, to get a fresh outlook on things. They considered traffic flow. Apparently in England, people tend to go to the left and the museum had to do things to draw people right. We decided that Americans tend to go to the right. It must have something to do with the driving/ side of the road thing. They also had to consider the appearance of the exhibit and make it a "design classic" so it wouldn't look dated in a couple of years. How do you think they did?
That blue wall with the spear points and other things hanging in it is supposed to mimic the Thames. It was very important to the pre-historic people and still is to people today. They define themselves as "North Londoners" or "South Londoners" depending on where they live in relation to the river.
I really liked the design of the space. They did a very good job in making everything look fresh and interesting. His talk also got me thinking about the design of the rest of the museum and how they designed everything else. What draws people in, how they are subconsciously directed to the next important thing, how important lighting and color are, etc. etc. Like look at this color.
Red is the perfect wall color for an exhibit about fire and London burning down. It is definitely going to make me look at things differently now.
I found some more knitting and, look, it is a sock! This is from 1540-60 roughly and is the only known example of its kind in England. The pair was probably imported from Italy or Spain and is made of very expensive silk. I just had to take a picture.
After wandering through the rest of the museum, I decided to go to the Queen's Mews. Mews is a word for stables. It comes from a latin word but I didn't catch the latin meaning. I got there at 3.15, just as the doors close for the last people to be let in. The Mews close at 4 so they give people 45 minutes to go through. I didn't get to see many horses because it was late in the day but I was able to see a pair of Cleveland Bays and a pair of greys (both fleabit).
He had such personality, doesn't he?
I was going to go to the Horse Guards Museum too but didn't want to pay full price for both. At least with the International Student ID I will get a couple of £s off. I might go there tomorrow.
Tonight is nothing really special. Some other people went to go see Wicked but I didn't feel like paying that much for a story that I wasn't too thrilled about. I might try to see the Mary Poppins play. Anyway, I'm just sitting here trying to get all of my pictures up, this blog current, and doing the reflective journal blog for class. That one requires me to have the notes I took at the various places. Usually I forget my notebook in my room whenever I come to the computer lab but not tonight! Now, off to go do that one. It won't have fun pictures of horsie butts.
. . . yarn stall! She had more the funky ribbon yarns which would be good for a single skein project. I mean, you couldn't have an entire store in a little booth. She and a couple of people who were around the booth were very impressed by my bamboo socks that I had on. It is good to where handknits, you never know when you will run into your people somewhere :)
Here is a picture of a tiny portion of the rest of the market. Imagine this picture times 5 and then you might understand how big the market is. There were a lot of people there, too.
I can't believe this but I can't remember what I did yesterday evening. Nothing is there. I wrote it down in my moleskin (thankfully) but it is back in my room and I am lazy. You all will have to wait until tomorrow (or whatever day I get back to the lab) to find out about Sunday night.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
On Saturday, most people went on a tour of Dover and Canterbury. Because I had been to both of those places and I wanted to see more things in London, I stayed around here. I went with Carrie and her friend from home to the British Museum.
It is amazing with all of our technological advances/changes how similar some tools still look.
Recognize any of those?
It was my goal to actually make it to one of the many yarn shops in London and I succeeded! The Loop is a cute little store in Inslington. It is very small and so doesn't have a huge selection but I was able to find some sock yarn (of course).
I could go on and on but you probably want a picture by this point. People started sticking all of the visitors' passes on this sign at the exit.
After the tour of Parliament, Cortni, Erika and I went back to Regent's Park to try to get tickets to that night's production of Midsummer Night's Dream. (Insert pretty pictures of the park.)
As you can see it was a very clear night. We were able to see really far and even able to see Stamford Street. After the 30 minute ride, we took a walk down the river front to enjoy the lovely weather. And that was the end of the first week (of class).
Where was I? Oh, yeah, the British Library on Thursday. We had a guided tour of the library by one of the librarians. It was a really cool tour because we even got to go in some of the staff areas. The library has 800 miles of shelf space and that is only a portion of its holdings. These shelves are all underneath the first part of the building and the piazza outside. Amazingly, all of them are below sea level. Our guide said there are pumps and a holding tank that should prevent water from getting in there. If it does, however, they already have a contract with a freezer company to be able to immediately freeze the books. Then, once the books are frozen, they can take the appropriate steps to save the books.
It simply amazed me the sheer number of important books and documents the library owns. One display had works from Shakespeare, Austin, books from the 11th century, etc. etc. It was amazing to be able to see a piece of one of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
One of the main artistic features of the cafe/main area is a column of books 6 stories high all surrounded in glass. Those books were donated by king George III. In his will, he said that the books had to be used and had to be on display. You can imagine how difficult that could make things for the architect.
Speaking of use, this library is not like your public library where you can go in and walk through the stacks. No, here, it is more like the National Archive in D.C. You have to know what book or document you are looking for and request it. Our guide showed us a little of the book transportation machinery in the staff area. He said that the library has to be able to get a book to the person who requested it in 70 minutes or less. That might not sound like a short time but for an institution that size, 70 minutes is AMAZING. The books are tracked through every stage of their journey by barcodes on the crate they are put in and the barcode of the request slip that is put in them.
After the tour was over, I looked through a couple of the exhibits including the Sacred exhibit full of all sorts of religious objects. Definitely felt a little museum burnout.
I tried to go to the Midsummer Night's Dream production in Regent's Park but all the tickets were sold out by the time I got there. The same was true for the next night but I digress. Nothing else special happened that night.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
OK, Stratford-upon-Avon. Well, we had to meet at 6.40 am in the courtyard of the college (I'm sure all the people who were asleep were happy about that). Everyone came to the conclusion that they just said that early to make sure everyone would be there by the time we were supposed to actually leave. That totally penalizes the people who drag their butts out of bed on time. Anyway, the bus actually left at 7.10ish. We then drove for a bit to Oxford to spend a little time wandering those streets and seeing some of the sights. Here is a group of us in Oxford. (It is amazing what you can do with self-timers!)