Friday, June 25, 2010

Listy Things

Top 5 Things I Miss About London (in no particluar order)


3. The Tube - more specificly, public transportation that actually takes you places you want to go, and quickly

2. The plethora of opportunities to participate in the arts - museums, theater, opera, symphony, concerts

5. All the markets

1. European Men - Holy cats! Do those guys know how to dress! They always look fantastic. Guys here in the states are super shlubby by comparison

4. Having the rest of Europe at my fingertips. Granted, I didn't travel all that much, but it was there.



Top 5 Things I'm Really Happy About at Home (in no particular order)

4. My friends and my family. I missed them.

2. My bed! The beds at Regent's, where we stayed, were not very comfortable. Plus they were small and the quilt barely covered the mattress. I'm so happy to have my nice, big (comparitively) double, soft mattress and all my pillows and my lovely soft sheets.

1. My own room. My roommates in London were very nice. I like having my own space though.

3. Bacon!

5. Ice!

There's No Place Like Home

Well, I've been back for about four days now. Life in Salt Lake hasn't really changed much while I was gone. In the next few days (actually it will probably be more like the next week or so) I will hopefully find the time to fill in some of the gaps in my account of my trip. Dublin, for instance. Visiting there was one of my absolute favorite things I did, but I haven't given it more than a short paragraph in this here blog.

For now I suppose I should finish my brief account of the trip. The last two days passed rather quickly.

Thursday
I went to Saint Paul's Cathedral in the morning. It was really spectacular. I then climbed up 530 steps to the Golden Gallery. There I was with the most spectacular view of the city of London from right smack in the middle of it. I pulled out my camera... and realized that I had left the battery in my room. Sad day. Actually, it wasn't so bad. Big panorama's like that rarely turn out with a little point-and-shoot camera like I have. It was also kind of nice to spend the day without worrying about taking pictures of things - just to enjoy it totally in the moment. Except I kept seeing things and thinking "Oh! I want to take a picture of that!"

Anyway, I finished at St Paul's around 11:30 and then jumped on the tube. I took my lunch at Trafalgar Square and then went in to the National Gallery. After looking at art for a few hours (they had some very impressive pieces, and the building itself was rather pretty as well), I jumped back on the tube and went to Harrods. I would have rather skipped Harrods, actually, but I was commissioned by my mother to buy some tea that only they carry. It's the Harrods brand so....

Thursday night I went out with some other students. It was kind of a one last hurrah since a lot of kids were leaving really really early on Saturday so would not be able to go out Friday night.

Friday
I slept in a little and started packing. After lunch I went up to Camden do get some last minute shopping done. I went during a football match* so it was very pleasantly not crowded. Usually (based on the one other time I went there) it's cramped and busy. That's very neat for people watching, but kind of claustrophobic for shopping. Afterwards I watched most of the U.S. vs Slovania game, went out for a nice final dinner, finished packing... and that's about it.

All the pictures from the trip are up on Flickr. There are over 1,000! So if you are planning on looking at them all I hope you have a lot of time.

Saturday I spend all day on a plane. I touched down at 11:59 at night and got home, to my own lovely bed, around 12:30. The next day was, of course, Father's day. I feel like I kind of hit the ground running. I've been mostly taking things easy, but I haven't had a day when I haven't done something. I suppose my life will soon get back to it's normal state of chaos.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Winding Down

I only have two full days left here in London. I have mixed feelings about it. On one hand I have a long list of things I would still like to do (if I had time and money). On the other hand I miss all my friends and my family. I'm really looking forward to sleeping in my own bed and in my own room.

The last few days I've been keeping busy. Sunday I did go to the Marylebone Summer Fayre and Spitalfields Market just as planned. It was a fun, and busy day. Sunday night I watched Blood Diamond with a few classmates in the cinema here on campus (a bar and a cinema? Yes, Regent's College is pretty nifty).

Monday
I had class in the morning, as usual. In the afternoon I went to The British Library. It was...transformative, incredible, awe inspiring, breathtaking... and those words don't even come close to describing how _________ it was.

What was it that blew me away? They have an exhibition of "treasures," and treasures they most certainly are. In one room they have (safely in secure display cases) so many incredible things. The first thing I saw was the Shakespeare folio. The First Folio. Plus several other early, early publications of plays, and a manuscript with what is most likely his very own handwriting.

Next I saw Beowulf... the Beowulf, and the original (in Charlotte Bronte's handwriting) Jane Eyre, and Jane Austen's notebook and writing desk, and Virginia Woolf's journal from when she was writing Mrs. Dalloway, a draft of an Oscar Wilde Poem, a first draft of a Pinter play. These are all in the actual handwriting of these great, amazing, brilliant writers. And that bunch alone would have been enough to floor me, but there was still more!

In the next case was music. The first draft of Handel's Messiah. Scores written, by hand, by Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert, Hayden. I was literally in tears by the time I took all that in. I had to sit down and recover for a few minutes. And still there was more!

The next case was much smaller. In it was Beatles lyrics, originals. They had the birthday card on which John Lennon wrote "Hard Day's Night." They had 8 lines of an unknown song by George Harrison that is the only Beatles manuscript in his handwriting. Plus several other songs and an original John Lennon poem. And still there was more!

I turned around and found myself face to face with an Alice in Wonderland case. Within in, Alice's Adventures Underground: the original story, written out by hand and personally illustrated by Charles Dodgson (nom de plume: Lewis Carroll). Plus the original woodblocks for the illustrations of the first published edition.

Around the corner then were three pages from Leonardo Da Vinci's notebook.

This was only about half the exhibition. I left completely overwhelmed and thoroughly impressed. I can't even begin to find the words to describe how I felt to be in the same room as all those impossibly wonderful things. It was like a religious experience.

Tuesday
It seems odd to write anything after that. But the next day I was back out in London enjoying the city. I had class again in the morning. In the afternoon I went to Macbeth at The Globe. It was a really interesting production. I'll tell you all about it in a later post. I'm a little typed out now. I think my first week back will be very full of blogging just so I can fill in all the details of things I've breezed over while here.

Anyway, after Macbeth and then dinner we went on a Jack the Ripper walk. It was a very bloody day.

Today
We had our last class. And in the afternoon we went on a guided walk to Brick Lane. It was kind of neat, but I'm also very walked out. Plus it was the same general area as the Jack the Ripper walk so parts of it felt very redundant.

I am not up to very much this evening. I'm taking it easy and letting my legs recover. I'm going to need them tomorrow. I'm planning on going to Abbey Road, St Paul's, The National Gallery and Harrods. It will be a very busy day. Friday I'm going back to Camden to shop and then I suppose I will have to pack.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Slainte*

I love Dublin.

I just had to get that out of the way first. I don't have a lot of time to write this morning, but I wanted to at least do a quick update. I'll probably go into everything more extensively later... like when I get home (which will be a week, sad face). So, on with it:

Wednesday after my brithday
The day was full of class stuff. In the morning we went on one of our walks lead by David Brady. This time we were (mostly) following in the footsteps of Mrs. Dalloway. That was really kind of fun because we had to read that book for class. And, that reminds me, I have to write a short paper by Tuesday. *sigh*  Anyway, our walk took us through "club land" where all the men's clubs are and where all the men's shops are. That's where you go for suits, ties, cigars, fancy shoes (that don't have heels) etc. Best thing I found: Zombie cufflinks!
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The Weekend after my birthday
A group of us headed to Dublin on Thursday. We took the train and then a ferry. I may have mentioned this, but I love Dublin! I think I may have liked it better than London. It deserves it's own post completely but here is a short list of highlights: I rented a bike from the hostel and rode around a bit, saw the Book of Kells and the Guinness Storehouse, drank lots of good beer, saw some live music. Here is a picture:
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Monday
After spending all day on the train back from Dublin on Sunday, I was all set to spend the day recovering. But then some classmates said "We're going to Kew Gardens" and I said "I want to come!" so I spent the day in Kew. The gardens are really lovely. I took lots of pictures of flowers. It was a nice relaxing way to spend the day.
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Tuesday
I did finally take some time to rest. I was kind of exhausted after Dublin and Kew. Plus I had some homeworking to do. So after class I spent most of the afternoon just getting things done. Tuesday evening I went to a play: Joe Turner's Come and Gone. It was brilliant

Wednesday
was full of class stuff. We had regular class in the morning and then the afternoon was another David Brady walk.

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I have to confess, I had a hard time on this walk - I only have so much interest in buildings and architecture. It was kind of a rainy day. I like London in the rain. After the walk I took the tube over to Covent Garden with a few other people for dinner, then caught a play at The Dunmar that was really good.

Thursday
We took the train to Richmond and then took a ferry up the Thames to Hampton Court.

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I would have been happy to spend all day just on the river. But Hampton Court was really neat too. There was a real hedge maze. I got lost for a minute. That evening I went to a concert of the Philharmonia Orchestra.


Friday
Lynsey and I took a bus to Cardiff so we could be nerds.

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We did Doctor Who and Torchwood stuff (didn't see any Cybermen or Daleks or even Weevils out around town, sadness). Plus, we saw the church where Roald Dahl was baptized.


Saturday
Yesterday. I've finally caught up to the present! I had a slow morning, slept in a little, took my time getting ready for the day. Then we took the tube to the south bank and saw Henry IV, part 1 at THE GLOBE THEATER. It was really good. We were groundlings, which means we were standing in front of the stage the whole time. That also means we were really close to the actor and got a (semi) authentic Shakespearean experience. I loved it, though my lower back and my legs were a little unhappy about standing around for 3 hours. Last night was, of course, the USA v England World Cup football match**. I watched it with my fellow classmates in the sports bar on campus... Oh? Have I not mentioned that there is a bar on campus? Well, there is. After the match we wandered over to a nearby pub and just spent some time having fun.

Today I'm planning on going to a couple markets with my roommate. There's a big street fair on Marylebone High Street and we're also maybe going to go to the Spitalfields Market.

* Irish for "Health." It is a common toast and is pronounced slon-cha
** British for "soccer game." Football match sounds so much nicer though, don't you think?

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Cheers, Mate!

Oh I have been remiss! There is so much that I've done in the last week and I really don't want to spend a lot of time blogging today.
Really quick recap:

Tuesday we (as a class) went on a guided Shakespeare walk through London. We started at Middle Temple Hall, where the very first production of Twelfth Night was performed (and the film site of Hogwarts' banquet hall):
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Then we proceeded to go past the reconstructed and relocated Globe Theater, the original site of The Rose theater and The Globe, and several other interesting things as well.

Wednesday we went on another walk, this time lead by our very quintessentially British guest lecturer, David Brady.
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He's an Arts and Architecture professor at Regent's so his walk was more to do with architecture. Very interesting. Lots of buildings. We went from White Hall to Somerset House through Trafalgar Square and Covent Gardens. After the walk I dallied at Somerset House a while. They had a really interesting sound installation - the artist placed microphones under the Thames. As you walked around this interesting little space, you could hear all the different noises of the river. It was very cool and very difficult to describe. Finally I wandered around The Courtauld Gallery. It's a small art gallery but it has some amazing paintings, including two Van Goughs. One of those two is THE self portrait. The other is just spectacular. All Van Gough painting are, and you have to see them in person. Just the depth and the texture of the paint. I could stare at a Van Gough painting the size of a post card for hours on end and stay completely enthralled.

Thursday we took the train to Stratford-Upon-Avon (!)(... that wasn't nearly enough parenthetical exclamation. This is better: !!!!!!!!!!). It was really nice to get out into the country for a little while. We did all the typical Shakespeare tourist stuff, of course. The highlight for me was Shakespeare's Grave:
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I know it doesn't look like much, but as I stood there I had chills. I was just a few feet away from the corporeal remains of the greatest writer of all time! Just let that sink in. The greatness is indescribable. Of course, we also went to all the important places: Anne Hathaway's Cottage, the Birthplace, Hall's Croft (his brother in law's house), and we saw a production of Antony and Cleopatra. The play was actually a little disappointing.

Funny thing: Seven years ago, Make-A-Wish sent me and my family to London for a few days. It was a wonderful, but brief trip. My actual wish was to see a play at the reconstructed Globe Theater and the play we saw was Richard III. It was a spectacular production with an all female cast. Very unusual, very interesting, very good. The actress who portrayed Richard in that production actually played Cleopatra in the play we saw last week. She's brilliant, but I'm not sure it was the best casting choice.

On the way back from S-u-A on Friday a handful of us decided to jump off the train in Warwick and have a look at Warwick Castle:
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It was gorgeous. Sadly my camera battery died in the Peacock Garden so I didn't take as many pictures as I would have liked. C'est La Vie.

Saturday and Sunday I spent lazing about. My stomach rebelled and wouldn't let me eat anything so I spent most of my time in my room doing not much of any interest.

Yesterday I wrote a paper. In the evening we went to a play at The National Theater: London Assurance. It was fantastic! It's a farce, so of course it was funny. The cast was brilliant and star studded.

Today is my birthday so I am definitely going out tonight and having a fabulous time. I've got my eye on blues bar with a live band. Hopefully some dancing in is my future too. It will be grand! And, as per tradition on this blog, I have some some dancing creatures doing a birthday dance:







I like cats. Here's another one: