Friday, 14 August 2009

Saturday, August 8

My first photo of London

Today is our last full day in London, as we head home on Delta tomorrow morning. Spent the day tying up loose ends, finishing packing, and preparing to head home.

Highlights of a month spent abroad (in no particular order):
  • making wonderful new friends
  • the ease of an Oyster card
  • Konditor and Cook's delicious sweets
  • St. Paul's library (thank you Mr. Wisdom!!!)
  • viewing multiple First Folios
  • sticky toffee pudding in Stratford
  • the British Library (thank you Mr. Mehmet!!)
  • the spiral staircase at St. Paul's
  • the view across the Thames of Big Ben, Parliament, and St. Paul's
  • Holyrood Palace
  • celebrating birthdays with Chai and Nicole
  • watching Kendra become a world-traveler
  • the library at the V and A (WOW!!!)
  • generosity of librarians of their time and knowledge
  • a terrific professor (thank you, Dr. Welsh!!)
  • Harry Potter at the Odeon
  • the macaroons at Paul and Laduree
  • Carnegie Library in Edinburgh
  • Museum of London lecture and tour
  • and much, much more

What a great class this has been! Thanks to all of my London LIS buddies for a fun and memorable month!

Friday, August 7

Children's Department Waterloo branch library

My day started with a trip to the Waterloo branch library and a meeting with Anita Lewis, Children and Young People's Librarian, Lambeth. My interview with Ms. Lewis was very productive. She provided me with lots of great information about the libraries in which she works, including information on collection development, programming, plus much more. She was a wealth of knowledge and provided exactly the information I needed to help complete my research paper.

The gang and I took the Tube up to Knightsbridge for a visit to Harrods. While we were ostensibly shopping for gifts and souvenirs, we all were craving a return visit to Laduree! Just happens that the lovely tearoom there was open for lunch and for the purchase of macaroons. We ate a small tables on the upper level just visible in the photo behind the white railing. Yummy as always and the delicious fat frites that we now enjoy so much were on the menu. The people watching was as interesting as the food was delicious.

Headed back to Stamford Street to prepare for our BSP symposium across the river at Somerset House. Each professor gave a brief overview of what the class had studied and a student from that class spoke about his/her research project. It was fun and interesting to learn what all the other groups had been doing while we were visiting museums and libraries. One student told us that this was his fourth BSP trip and after learning about other class offerings, I can understand why someone would want to return again and again. At the conclusion of the symposium, we walked over to Giraffe to celebrate Nicole's birthday and reminisce about our fun times during our time in London.

Thursday, August 6

Thursday dawned with the realization that our time in London was drawing to a close! It seemed like a month would be more than ample time to see and do everything I ever wanted to do in the London area, but once again, time has slipped away. On the agenda for the next trip to London--the Banqueting House, the Public Records Office, the renovated Museum of London. . .

We headed down along the river to the County Hall to visit the Movieum of London and the current exhibition. The "London on Film" exhibit offered loads of interesting props and other items from a number of movies including Star Wars, Terminator, Gladiator and several of the Harry Potter films. Getty Images had a terrific display of photographs of the Beatles, taken primarily during their tour of the Far East in 1966.
It was fun to see many iconic props from movies like this of Han Solo in suspension from Star Wars.

After a busy morning sightseeing, we met Dr. Welsh in the Courtyard for the trip to the British Library Centre for Conservation. This new (opened in October 2007) facility was designed with a "sawtooth" roof allowing in northern light to aid in conservation efforts. A number of conservators were working on a variety of different items when our tour commenced. We watched one gentleman replace the silk stitched headband of a book after which he explained to us what steps he had taken in the conversation process with that volume. He had removed the front and back boards (which were not original) and was replacing them with new acid free boards which would later be leather bound. The old boards would be placed along with the newly bound book in an archival container for posterity's sake. We then moved to the next workstation where another gentleman who was farther along in the same process with a different volume replaced the leather along the spine. He moved deftly through each step, describing to us the process and the whys and wherefores of each step. We looked around the room a bit and saw conservators working, with great care and precision, on a number of different items. We stopped to admire the tooling brasses displayed in the hall and received a brief explanation of that process.

We had a few minutes to look around the library and admire the great tower of books donated by King Charles. We bought some postcards in the gift shop then it was back to Stamford Street.

Later a quick train trip took us to Kingston where we had a lovely dinner with good friends. A great time was had by all as another fun day in London drew to a close.

Wednesday, August 5

We all agreed that a "museum free" day was in order after our visits to a number the some of the finest museums in the world! Oxford Street beckoned with great shopping at TopShop, Uniglo, and more. While London doesn't get too hot too often, this was one of those rare 80 degree days where air-conditioning would been a boon. We managed to forge on despite the heat and found lots of great clothes and shoes for us all.

After our shopping adventure we voted for a quiet and relaxing lunch at Fortnum and Mason just down the street on Piccadilly. This venerable establishment has been in operation since 1707! Our lunch in the lovely marble tiled restaurant was just the ticket after a busy morning. I had a yummy piping hot pie, filled with fish and scallops and topped with piped mashed potatoes. We discovered that F & M had our new favorite of fat frites on the menu which helped satisfy all these hungry shoppers.

After lunch we ventured upstairs for some souvenir shopping. The selection was enormous with teas galore! We purchased some tea, and cookies along with a set of embroidered linen napkins before calling it a day. What a treat to be in such a lovely store, filled with delights, and with excellent customer service to match!

We finished the day with dinner and a quiet evening at the dorm.

Tuesday, August 4

Our rainy day in London began with our final class meeting. What a great class this has been in every way! The course work has been interesting and stimulating, and my classmates have been delightful. Under Dr. Welsh's tutelage we have had experiences that would gladden the heart of any librarian. I think I can safely speak for all of the class and say that we all feel lucky to have had such a wonderful and truly once in a lifetime experience.

After class I boarded the Thames Clipper to take me to Greenwich. It was fun to see London from the Thames and gain a new perspective on the city. After about 40 minutes we docked in Greenwich and I headed to the National Maritime Museum Library. This facility is beautifully outfitted and is filled with all things maritime. A quick perusal of the shelves revealed that anything a scholar of the seas would need could be found here. Much like the Shakespeare Library in Stratford, the Maritime Library uses a unique classification system since the vast majority of the collection (if categorized according to Dewey or LC) would primarily fall under the same shelf numbers, which would negate the value of that classification system . The friendly and helpful librarians had a selection of treasures from their collection for me to view. It was gratifying to see The Principles of Mr Harrison's time-keeper after having read about Harrison's struggles with clockmaking in the book Longitude. The librarian brought out two archival cases that were filled with small, wooden-bound books about the Royal George. These tiny books recounted the story of the loss of the ship while in harbor in 1782 and were bound in wood that was recovered from the wreck.

I explored the grounds a bit and then trekked up the hill to visit the Royal Observatory. It was quite a workout, but well worth it. The Flamsteed House was designed Christopher Wren and houses an original octagonal paneled room designed by Wren. The house is full of items relating to astronomy, navigation and clocks and all were well-displayed in a thoughtful manner. I also took a moment to stand on the Meridian line and have one foot in each hemisphere. I look forward to visiting Greenwich again and seeing more of this lovely town. Many of the attractions were closed for renovation (including the Cutty Sark) and I hope to see them in their renewed glory at a later date.

My photo from the observatory

The boat ride back was a nice change from the noise and crowds of the Tube and especially handy since the pier was close to Stamford Street! As I walked back to the dorm I noticed even more street performers on the Queen's Walk, each performing something unusual for the coins tossed into the hat .

After dinner we headed to the West End to Shaftesbury Avenue for a performance of the musical Avenue Q. It was fun, funny and a bit on the naughty side! Piccadilly Circus was bustling as we made our way home on the Tube after a fun-filled day in London!

Monday, August 3

View from our Paris hotel room

It was time to leave Paris so we packed our bags and prepared to head out of town. We had just enough time for one more quick trip to Bon Marche to look around and then pick up some of their scrumptious macaroons for the trip home. This store is a mecca for shoppers, and I especially loved their shoe department. It was a disappointment, then, when the shoes that I requested to try on just "could not be found". The salesman gave that famous Gallic shrug and suggested that I come back later to purchase them! Since we were on a tight schedule, that was not to be. A quick lunch, then a cab to Gare de Nord to board the Eurostar for London.

The train ride was wonderful and restfully quiet. We had a table for 4 which we utilized for the delicious lunch service. The French influence was evident in our meals of salmon and pasta which resembled fine dining much more than typical train or airplane food.

Our trip to the St. Pancras/Kings Cross stations would not have been complete without a visit to Platform 9 3/4. It was easy to find since there was a line of other Harry Potter fans ready to give the luggage trolley a push into the wall. We took some photos and headed back to the dorm.

We settled into Stamford Street. My daughters and Shelby were newly ensconced in their rooms across the Courtyard from mine. Later we met Jessica and Christina for a nice dinner along the river at Giraffe.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Sunday, August 2

We slept in after our previous big day of walking across Paris and were well rested for our trip to the Pompidou Centre. This quirky building is located in a bustling part of the city in a neighborhood full of activity. It was here that we saw several of our iconic American food establishments including KFC, McDonald's and Burger King, all in the same block! It took several tries to figure out how to actually enter the Pompidou but we finally got in and took the escalators that hug the outside of the building up to the 6th floor. The view was worth the trip, as we were able to see all of Paris spread before us.

We were able to get a table at the Georges restaurant on the 6th floor and to look out over the city while we ate. We had a birds eye view of the Kandinsky Fountain on the plaza, too. The decor was interesting and spare and very futuristic. We all loved the huge (at least 30" square) crisp linen napkins and wished they were available for purchase. Brunch was yummy and we all enjoyed another serving the the fat, crunchy frites that we had first discovered at Laduree.

The Centre offered an interesting exhibition, "elles@centrepompidou", which featured works by women artists from the 20th century until today. We enjoyed wandering around the exhibit which was thought and conversation provoking. We will remember for some time the dress made of slabs of beef, the video of the angry "housewife" demonstrating use of kitchen implements, and the photos of the bearded lady.

With no taxis yet to be found, we walked back to our hotel. Dinner was at a local brasserie just up the street. We were seated next to a couple from Orlando and had a nice conversation with them. Another memorable day spent in Paris was over!