- 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
Friday, 14 August 2009
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.
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.
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.
Thursday, 13 August 2009
Wednesday, 12 August 2009
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.
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.
Wednesday, 5 August 2009
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!
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.
Saturday, 25 July 2009
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.
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.
Thursday, 23 July 2009
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.
Wednesday, 22 July 2009
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.
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 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.
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.
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.