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!

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Saturday, August 1

It was another beautiful day in Paris ! We started our day with a trip to the Louvre. I had visited the Louvre in the past, but this was the first time I had been there since the addition of the pyramid. We entered through the pyramid into a wonderful open and sunny space that was filled with eager tourists just like us. We strolled through the galleries within, stopping to admire Winged Victory, the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, the Grand Gallery filled with paintings by Ingres, David, Gericault plus much, much more. We rested our feet and eyes at lunch in the cafe and compared notes on all the wonders we had seen. We all agreed that the Louvre is a multi-day project in that no one can begin to see everything in just one visit. Our next stop was St. Chappelle and then on to Notre Dame.

We had visited St. Chappelle years ago while in Paris and it was an amazing experience. We had stumbled upon this beautiful church on a rainy October afternoon and were only two of a handful of visitors. I was sorry to see and hear that things had changed and that this lovely church had become quite the tourist attraction. Vendors were selling souvenirs in the church hall, and upstairs in the sanctuary tons of tourists were talking and taking photos. Not the quiet and reverent experience that I had remembered and hoped that we could enjoy on this visit.

We walked on a few short blocks to Notre Dame. The line to enter stretched far out into the courtyard, but it was moving quickly and the crowds were well-mannered. The cathedral was full of visitors, most of whom were quiet and respectful of their surroundings. Notre Dame was as awe-inspiring and beautiful and I remembered and I'm glad that Victor Hugo was successful in saving this iconic church from destruction.

Our plan was to grab a taxi back to the hotel but with none in sight, we ended up walking back to the Rue Vaneau and our Hotel de Suede. It had been a long day and we were ready for the quiet of our neighborhood.

Friday, July 31

Today was all about great shopping, great food and great art. We spent the morning at the Musee d'Orsay enjoying the wonderfully restored train station filled with an assortment of fabulous art. It's hard to choose just one favorite artist or piece of artwork from the huge collection which includes works by Degas, Renoir, Manet, Monet, Van Gogh, Whistler and Seurat. We then strolled across the Seine towards the posh shopping area of the Rue Faubourg St. Honore. After selecting a tie for my husband's birthday at the fabulous Hermes store, we walked down the the Rue Royale for a late lunch at Laduree. We were all ready for some pampering after our big morning and this lovely restaurant filled the bill. Lunch was delicious with big, fat crispy frites accompanying a perfect omelet, then scrumptious desserts for us all. While known for their wide variety of macaroons, all of the sweets we enjoyed were heavenly!

It is true that in August many of the stores and restaurants in Paris close for the holidays, and we found that out the hard way. Many of the dining spots in our neighborhood were shuttered for August, so we visited the Bon Marche food halls for an al fresco dinner in the courtyard of our hotel. The food hall was stuffed with too many goodies to list from places all over the globe. We selected a variety of salads, cheeses, breads, and desserts for our picnic.

After dinner we headed towards the Eiffel Tower in hopes of seeing the city from the second or third level elevation. It seemed that everyone else in Paris had the same idea as this iconic landmark was jammed with throngs of tourists. In lieu of riding to the top, we wandered around the base of the tower and watched as the light show commenced upon the hour. It was a beautiful night and the perfect culmination of our big day in the City of Light.

Thursday, July 30,0.jpg

Our day started off with the trek to King's Cross Station--with our heavy luggage in tow-- to catch the Eurostar to Paris. The station was bustling with travelers but security and embarkation procedures went quickly and smoothly. The train ride was easy, and fast as we swooshed our way through the English countryside, under the Channel, and into the countryside of France. In just 2+ hours we were at the bustling Gare de Nord station in Paris! A short cab ride later we landed at our accommodations, the Hotel de Suede, on the Left Bank. We stopped in the courtyard to plan our afternoon of sightseeing. It was a beautiful day so we took advantage of the nice weather and explored our neighborhood and surroundings.

We were close to the Rodin Museum and walked past it, admiring the beautiful gardens and sculptures therein. We continued to the Invalides and then strolled across the bridge past the Grande and Petit Palaces. Paris is such a great city for walking and we were doing our share!

We found a great little bakery just down the street and had a yummy snack of wonderful baked goods. For dinner that night we found a little Italian restaurant close by where we all satisfied our craving for pasta. After a big day, we headed back to the hotel to rest up for and even bigger tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 29

Woke up early this morning to board British Airways to take me back to London. The flight was quick and easy and I was delighted to arrive back at Stamford Street. My daughters and their godmother had arrived the day before and had decamped at The Mad Hatter Hotel located at the other end of Stamford close to the Blackfriar's Bridge.

After a happy reunion, we strolled down to the Queen's Walk for lunch. There were loads of performers on the street like this funny guy in the dog crate. He would sing and bark along to a song when folks tossed money into his dog bowl. There was a guy moon walking to Michael Jackson music, several human statues, a guy dressed like a chameleon on a bike, plus more.

We walked along the river until we crossed the bridge at Westminster. We passed by the Houses of Parliament and strolled along the other side of the river until we reached the Tate. It was a treat to be back in this lovely museum. We strolled through the galleries admiring the works of Stubbs, Gainsborough, the Pre-raphaelites, Constable and Turner.

Our day ended with a nice dinner at the Wagamama noodle bar close to the river, then back to the Mad Hatter. We packed up in preparation for our trip on the Eurostar to Paris the next morning.

Tuesday, July 28

Spent a quiet morning in Dalkeith before packing up and heading out to my hotel at the airport. My cab ride was interesting as my driver was a Scotsman who was heading to New York City for a visit. I shared some tips I had on staying in NYC and he reciprocated with information about Edinburgh.

Our next group stop was the National Archives of Scotland. This handsome "purpose built" building now houses the Archives and the Scotlands People Centre and features a beautiful dome designed by Adam. Our guide was the charming and personable Margaret MacBride who shared loads of information with us. Ms. MacBride told us that the Archives maintain "over 70 kilometres of shelving, [with items from] from the 12th century to the 21st century ". These bibliographic records include court and legal documents, wills and testaments, maps, photographs, plus much more. This centre is used by writers, genealogists from all over the world, and "interested citizens". Ms. MacBride also shared information with us about websites operated by the NAS, including and

Several treasures from the collection were displayed for our perusal. These included papers from a suffragette, loans made to Scots natives who purchased land in the United States (specifically in Mississippi in honor of our class), and court records from the hearings and trial of the infamous duo of Burke and Hare who were responsible for many murders in the Edinburgh area. The pair then profited by selling the corpses to the medical college for dissection purposes.

After an interesting session at the NAS, Jessica, Christina and I walked through Edinburgh to the Hard Rock Cafe. It was nice to relax with a big Coke in an ice-filled glass and enjoy the memorabilia and good food featured at the HRC. The bus carried me back to my airport hotel where I prepared to head to back to London.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Monday, July 27

Our morning began with a visit to the National Library of Scotland. Our guide shared interesting information with us about the library, its role, and goal of "increas[ing] access to [their] collections". Founded in 1710 as a legal deposit library, it was originally known as "The Library of Advocates". The collection reflects Scotland and all that is written or published within. The archives boast quite a collection of books and ephemera from Scottish authors and one can only hope that native author J. K. Rowling will add her manuscripts and other Harry Potter memorabilia to this terrific facility.

While at the library we viewed a wonderful exhibit on immigration. The focus was on actual people and the stories they told as they migrated to other countries and left Scotland behind or immigrated to Scotland. Exhibits included suitcases filled with letters, diaries, clothing, and other items that immigrants would have used or taken with them. A touching and poignant way to gain insight into the immigrant experience and some of the travails that they may have experienced.

Since we had a bit of time to visit Edinburgh we strolled along the Royal Mile up to the Castle. Due to time constraints we were not able to tour the castle but did look around a bit and were able to enjoy the view from this high point above the city. As we walked back down the hill we came upon the historic St. Giles' Cathedral. We spent some time wandering through this beautiful cathedral enjoying the gorgeous stained glass windows and interesting architecture. We located the cafe downstairs and enjoyed a delicious lunch before heading to the Edinburgh Central Library. This Carnegie library was founded in 1890 and still occupies the original building (though renovations and alterations have taken place throughout the years). The gracious librarians there provided us with a wonderful tour. One of the librarians, Ian Wright, showed us around the lovely old building. We even got to see the stacks where many of the titles (including duplicates) are tucked away and retrieved when needed by patrons.

A wonderful renovation of the ground floor reading room had been recently completed. The room has been restored to the original color scheme and superfluous additions have been removed. The room features beautiful egg and dart molding, grand wooden columns, and even a bit of gilding. We toured the departments housing the children's and music collections and then retired to a meeting room where we were treated with tea and cookies. Colm Linnane of the Reading and Learning Team shared interesting experiences with us about his time working with young adults in group homes. His practical tips and information were appreciated by us all.

Jessica and I decided to hike back down the hill towards Holyrood and visit the Palace where the Queen stays when she visits Scotland. My sister had visited Holyrood on a previous trip to Scotland and had mentioned what a wonderful experience it had been. I'm glad we had time to tour the Palace because it was well worth the trip. I'd have to say that it was one of the highlights of the trip and hope to be able to visit again and spend more time there. The rooms were beautifully appointed and the audio guide that accompanied the tour was well-done and full of interesting history and tidbits. Walking where royalty has trod and seeing where Mary, Queen of Scots lived made for a memorable afternoon.

After a yummy meal of Scottish Salmon and new potatoes at a pub along the Royal Mile, we took the bus back to Dalkeith. We missed our stop initially and had to switch buses. The passengers and driver on the bus were most helpful in pointing out our stop on the next go-around! I spent a quiet and restful evening at the County Hotel in central Dalkeith and even watched a bit of Scottish television!

Sunday, July 26

Our day started early with a trip on the Tube to St. Pancras Station to catch the train to Edinburgh. The trip on the fast train was quiet and relaxing after our busy time in London. We arrived in Edinburgh late afternoon to overcast skies and much cooler weather. We then boarded a coach which took us to our home for the next few days, Dalkeith Palace. Located about 30 minutes outside of the capital, this beautiful palace was a quiet respite from the bustle of city life. After checking in and receiving room assignments we headed up the lane to a walk into Dalkeith and dinner at a local Italian restaurant. We all had fun celebrating Chai's birthday in style. Her birthday serenade by the waiters, along with a Peach Melba parfait topped with a sparkler, made for a memorable celebration. We strolled along the cobbled streets back to the quiet of Dalkeith. After exploring the palace a bit we settled in to watch a movie in our historic surroundings.

The birthday girl with her sparkly Peach Melba!

Saturday, July 25

Back to London to gear up for our trip to Edinburgh. Catching up on classwork and other odds and ends. Not much to report today!

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Friday, July 24

It was a busy morning in London! I caught up on classwork then headed to the local Waterloo library branch. A program was scheduled for the morning and I hoped to meet with the children's librarian. Unfortunately, the program had been cancelled but a kindly librarian gave me the contact information for the librarian who circulates throughout the branches and is in charge of children's programming. I hope to meet with her after the return from our mini-break to Paris.

I grabbed a train to Kingston and was picked up at the station there by my friend Jenny. We ate a quick lunch then headed out to the local mall. It was pouring rain so it was nice to be able to shop indoors. We found lots of goodies and took advantage of the big Summer sales. Later we met Jenny's mom for a drink and finished up our day of shopping. We ended the evening with a delightful meal on the patio at the local pub, the Rose and Crown. It was a lovely day, especially nice since it was spent with such dear, longtime friends.

Thursday, July 23

Exterior of the Bodleian

We jumped on the train this morning for a visit to picturesque Oxford. We were met by a delightful tour guide, Mr. David East. He was full of great information about Oxford and specifically the Bodleian Library. Our first stop was Duke Humfrey's library which was completed in 1488 and designed to hold the gift of 281 volumes from his personal library that he donated to the college. Sir Thomas Bodley became the next patron of the library at Oxford and in 1598 donated funds to refurbish the library. The Bodleian has been a repository library since 1610 and holds over 9 million bibliographic packages. The library houses such treasures as a first edition of Shakespeare's sonnets, four original copies (with seals intact) of the Magna Carta, a 42 line Gutenberg bible, and an Egyptian marriage contract written on papyrus dating from 527 B. C.

Mr. East took us on a wonderful tour of "behind the scenes" of the library. We saw the underground stacks with their book-moving system and snaked through a tunnel which ended up linking us to the New Bodleian the Radcliffe Camera. We learned that the D-Day invasion was planned in the Radcliffe building Upper Reading Room. Unfortunately this room was under refurbishment and we unable to visit it. The New Bodleian is undergoing renovations and will be unveiled in the new and improved form in 2012.

Several of us strolled through the streets of Oxford and found a great little noodle bar for lunch. We sat next to a nice couple from Mexico City and chatted with them about lots of interesting things including the outbreak of Swine Flu in the U.K. The gentleman was an immunologist and provided much for us to consider and reminded us of the importance of hand sanitizer!
We strolled up the High Street and stopped to purchase sweatshirts and mementos of our day in Oxford. Plans to visit and tour the Oxford Castle were dashed when we found that the remaining tours were booked for the day. Jessica, Christina and I boarded a train back to Waterloo and home to Stamford Street.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Wednesday, July 22

Spent the morning catching up on coursework before heading to the Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington. Always a favorite of mine, this museum has only gotten better in the years since my last visit. The beautiful interior courtyard now boasts several shallow pools which attract many families with small children who like to splash and wade around them on a sunny day.

We were met by Jen Reeves, a librarian who specializes in Collection Development and Acquisitions for the V & A library. She took us on a wonderful tour of this closed access library, showing us both the public spaces and those areas off limits to everyone but the staff (and a lucky bunch of future librarians!). The focus of this library is art and design and accordingly the V & A has an amazing collection of books and journals relating to this topic. The library also treats books as "museum objects" and maintains an international focus with a specific interest on collecting within the European sphere. It was interesting to note the collection of sales catalogs from auction houses such as Christie's and Sotheby's. Ms. Reeves indicated that these generate great interest and are often used by collectors and other interested parties in determining provenance and prices previously fetched at auction. The collection contains over 2 million items and is, in the words of Ms. Reeves, "growing daily".

After our tour we were greeted by Ms. Bernadette Archer who shared with us a number of rare and even priceless objects from the Special Collections of the V & A. She spoke briefly about the treasures that lay before us and then allowed us a closer look at what lay before. The goodies included a poem by Keats written in his own hand, a proof copy of Dickens's Bleak House with correction and annotations in his hand, an armorial book featuring a fine leather binding tooled in gold, and a collection of letters written by Charles I written in his hand and addressed to his nephew.

It amazes me that in just the space of a few days I have been lucky enough to see three First Folios ! We have been a fortunate group of students and are all especially appreciative for these wonderful opportunities.

The day ended with a yummy meal along the banks of the Thames and the Queens' Walk. We were able to miss the showers both coming and going and it was agreed that a great day was had by all!

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Tuesday, July 21

We began our day with a trip to the British Museum via the St. Pancras station, where we visited Platform 9 3/4. It was fun to see the spot where Harry Potter gained access to the train platform. No one from our class had any luck, however, in getting their own trolley onto the platform! We then strolled through the neighborhood and stopped in front of the home of Charles Dickens for a photo op.

The British Museum was as fabulous (but more crowded) than I remembered from my last visit. We were allowed to roam throughout the museum and I quickly sought out all of my old favorites. The mummies and treasures from Egypt, the Rosetta Stone, the Sutton Hoo treasure, statues from Easter Island, the huge statue of Ramses the Great, and the Elgin Marbles from the Parthenon were just a few of the highlights. We also viewed a mosaic considered to be the earliest representation of Christ and the Flood Tablet, a cuneiform tablet which is inscribed with a portion of the tale of Gilgamesh. The museum was a wonder and a treat for us all and someplace we all hope to visit again soon.
Later that evening a group of us ventured over to Tottenham Court Road to the Odeon Theatre to see the latest Harry Potter movie. It was fun to be in London and see places that we have visited be a part of the HP saga. The Millennium Bridge which is close to our dorm was featured in one part of the film as were tube stations and streets that looked familiar. It made for a late, but fun, night!

Monday, July 20

Back into Waterloo Station after a quick train ride from the country.

Time to catch up on class work and to visit the Imperial War Museum again. I had thought of our family friend Arthur (now age 89) often as I had first toured the museum. He served in World War II with Montgomery and had landed on the beach with the second wave during D-Day. When we met for lunch on Sunday I mentioned my museum visit to Arthur and we talked some about the exhibits at the museum and the war in general. He then shared some of his experiences with us, telling about how his unit was mobilized for D Day, about serving in the desert for 3 years, remembering the day he enlisted, plus more. Irene, his wife, lived in London during the war and her stories about air raids, rationing, and being sent to the country to live with another family all made the war experience much more significant. Hearing the stories of people who lived through and served in the war made my trip to the museum much more real and tangible.

On this visit I experienced the Blitz in a recreation of the nightly bombings of the city. Scary and daunting and more significant since I had just talked to Irene who had lived through the experience. I headed upstairs to visit the Holocaust exhibit. Words can't do justice to this except to say how powerful and sobering an experience it was.

My daughter and I have often spoken of her desire to be a photojournalist and the power in the picture. Visiting this museum reaffirmed how much can be said through the lens of a camera. I look forward to hearing my daughter's comments and thoughts about this after she views the photos on display.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Saturday and Sunday, July 18 and 19

The delicious chocolate/orange/almond bombe from Konditor and Cook!

Saturday dawned bright after a rainy day in Stratford. Spent the morning running errands and picked up this yummy cake at the local bakery Konditor and Cook. This picture doesn't do justice to how beautiful it was on the outside and how yummy it was on the inside! All that aside, the cake was a big hit with everyone and I will make another foray to K and C very soon!

Later that afternoon my dear friends of many years picked me up at Stamford Street and we headed out to their lovely home in the country. It was a treat to visit with them and catch up since our last visit nine years ago. We watched Frost and Nixon and had a lovely, quiet evening.

On Sunday we drove to the pub for lunch and met more friends there. We were right on the river and had a great view of the Dragon Boat races.

Friday, July 17

We all boarded the bus for a day trip to Stratford-upon-Avon. Everyone seemed to be ready for a break from the hustle and bustle of life in London and the quiet 2+ hour trip came at just the right time.

After lunch we made a visit to the Shakespeare Centre Library and Archive where we were greeted by the friendly and effusive staff. Our tour guide Maddie was full of information and anecdotes about this fabulous facility. The library and archives were opened in 1864 and the first librarian was hired in 1873. The collection continues to grow rapidly and is replete with numerous treasures. The library houses the memorabilia of the Royal Shakespeare Company including prompt books, costume and design sketches and plans, video and audio recordings and much more. As Maddie said the collection is "enormous" in that it also includes 250,000+ photographs. The library also houses the local collection and including tax and government records and genealogical information.

After a brief tour we met with Jo Wilding of the Centre in the upstairs conference room. It was a treat to peek at the numerous pieces of Shakespeare memorabilia which she had laid out for us to peruse. These goodies included playbills, costume sketches, photographs, and several beautiful leather bound volumes to which Shakespeare may have referred during his period of writing. The biggest treat was the up close viewing of another First Folio! To see one of these treasures is a privilege, but to see two in as many days was a special treat.,%20England%20--%20Public%20library.jpg

We exited the library to gray skies and drizzle so I sought out the local public library for some research. This Carnegie Library was built in 1905 and serves as the "major library for Warwickshire" as explained by Jan Dawson, a specialist in reader development with the library. Ms. Dawson spoke with me about events for children especially the "Dragon Quest" Summer reading program. I found loads of good info for my research paper and headed out as they closed for the day.

Christina, Jessica and I met on the High Street and walked down to the restaurant Oppo for dinner before the theatre. We had a yummy meal in half-timbered surroundings and ended our dinner with a delicious treat of sticky toffee pudding!

The RSC was performing "As You Like It" and our seats on the balcolny provided us a wonderful view of the action. The performance was interesting and stirring but I would have voted to eliminate the skinning of the rabbit that started the action in Act 2!

The bus carried us back home and we arrived, after a long and fruitful day, at 1:30 a.m.