Old London Posts (cont.)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Friday, 20 May 2011
The last few days have been crazy busy with research. We spent all day Tuesday and Wednesday at the National Archives. Tuesday Jamie and I took the other girls to our favorite pub, The Hourglass, which we went to after work Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. It’s so nice to feel like we are actually working here, not just being tourists.

Thursday and Friday were spent at the London Metropolitan Archives. We had a fabulous tour behind the scenes by Claire, and she also introduced us to Jeremy in maps and images and Tim in conservation. Really fascinating stuff. Pretty sure I should have been a conservationist or archivist, though I’m not sure how you get those jobs.

PB took us all to dinner at the Admiral Codrington last night (Thursday), which was really good. Today Jamie and I hung back to see if we could get the room situation straightened out, and the good news is that we get to move May 31st to a new flat! Then we spent the rest of the day at the LMA. I had some amazing finds there, including an 1890s photo album from a family in India. I’m trying to figure out who they are right now. I would post pictures from it (because they are awesome), but they are copyright protected so I can’t put them online. :-(

After we left the LMA, Jamie, Cassie, and I went down to Trafalgar Square, ate at the Bear and Staff, and spent the evening at the National Gallery, which doesn’t close until 9 pm on Fridays. Tomorrow is another full day of work at the British Library, which I’m actually really excited about—because I’m a nerd over here doing nerdy things. :-)

The National Archives at Kew
Stacks behind the scenes at the LMA.
Tim, a conservationist at the LMA, showing us a book that has been burned to a brick.
Trafalgar Square from the front of the National Gallery.
Sunday, 22 May 2011

The weekend is over, and tomorrow it’s back to the BL for another fun day of research. (And I’m not being sarcastic.) Yesterday was our first day at the BL, and I have to say I was extremely happy and made some great and super useful finds. It’s been awhile since I’ve been really happy about doing research, so this trip was exactly what I needed to get back in the dissertation-writing mindset.

I spent most of the day transcribing this children’s book a mother wrote for her daughter growing up in India. In the dedication she says that the British children’s books didn’t really suit her daughter because they were all about experiences and places and things she was unfamiliar with, so she thought her daughter should have a book that reflected experiences she could relate to. The BL has the only two copies of the book that have survived (and both of them are on reserve for me!) and I think only one other person in the world has written about it (albeit briefly), so I think there’s a lot of original stuff I can say about it.

My nerdiest moment had to be when I was given the BL’s three copies of Eliza Fay’s Original Letters from India, a text I’ve been working on for over a year.  The BL has two copies of the 1821 edition and the only surviving copy of the 1817 first edition left in the world—the very copy E.M. Forster used when he did the 1925 edition of Fay’s book. I *might* have gotten a bit misty eyed when I opened that cover and saw 1817 written at the bottom. It’s a book I’ve been wanting to see for so very long.

Last night Jamie and I had dinner again at our favorite local pub, The Hourglass, and then we went out for drinks with Kellye and Cassie at the Queen’s Head, another local pub that also happens to be the oldest gay bar in Chelsea -AND- it happened to be karaoke night. It had a much older clientele (we had to be the youngest people there by 20 years), but listening to old gay men sing standards, show tunes, and classic songs was certainly entertaining (and most of them could really sing!), and Kellye and Cassie also performed a rousing version of a Cher song. :-)

Today we took to the bus to Covent Garden, wandered around a bit and listened to a string quartet and an opera singer, then went to the Globe to see As You Like It—a really fantastic production, I might add. Then Kellye, Sam, Cassie, and I went to the Tate Modern for the rest of the evening. We tried to go back to The Hourglass for dinner, but they don’t serve dinner on Sundays, so we just got pre-packaged Indian food from our local Sainbury’s, and it was actually quite amazing. Tomorrow it’s back to the BL, and then we are seeing Sheridan’s School for Scandal tomorrow night.

Covent Garden
St. Paul's
The Globe


From Blogger to Tumblr and back again

I fully intended to use Tumblr to record all of my doings while I'm here in London, but alas, it did  not work as planned. Internet access was spotty for awhile, and I found myself updating every two or three days instead of everyday, and then I realized how wonky the Tumblr formatting is if you try to upload pics AND say anything substantial about them. (How dare I.)  So I'm returning to the blog. First, in case you didn't see the few Tumblr posts I did, I'm going to repost them on here, then I'll add new posts, with exciting new pictures and reflections on my time spent in London. I'm exactly two weeks in right now, exactly half-way through my program here, which is incredibly exciting (because of how much I've learned and done) and incredibly sad (because I'm having an amazing time here and don't want to leave anytime soon--or maybe ever.  I'll say more about all of that in a little while, but, until then, here is the first of the Tumblr posts:

16 May 2011
Monday began with a tour of Guildhall Library. This is the old library; far fancier than the one in current usage. After combing through some of the library treasures, we had lunch in the shadow of St. Paul’s Cathedral and then went on a walking tour of the Old City, including stops at Smithfield Market, St. Bartholomew’s Church, the Roman Wall ruins, Wesley Chapel, and Bunhill Fields cemetery, where Defoe is memorialized and Blake is buried.

Old Guildhall Library

After the walking tour Monday, Jamie and I had to go back to Nell Gwynn House to get some room issues straightened out. (Still not done yet, though. Grrrr.) Then, while everyone else was still holed up at the Guildhall Library, we went for a walk through Chelsea (our neighborhood) and Knightsbridge, passed Royal Albert Hall, and ended up walking through Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. Where we saw the Peter Pan statue. And ducks! And baby swans!!!

Royal Albert Hall
Peter Pan Statue in Kensington Gardens
The most awesome duck ever.
Baby swans!!!
More to come...


London Calling

Saturday, May 14, 2011

It's been awhile since my last blog, so it seems I am failing on several fronts right now. Although I've been trying to keep up with my ROW80 goals, I haven't been blogging updates the last couple of weeks. And I haven't been doing all that great a job at meeting my goals. I kept telling myself, "Next update. You'll blog next update," but then the next Sunday or Wednesday would come and go, and I still hadn't updated. I could make a million excuses for this (end-of-semester grading, research projects, getting ready for London, huge family issues and the disaster that has been my personal life these past two weeks), but the truth is I simply let other things distract me from my writing and my goals. This last week has been a special kind of hell (The second circle perhaps? I sort of feel like I'm being beat by a cold, dark wind....), and I'm sitting here at Logan Airport right now, feeling unprepared in every way for the month ahead of me.

I know I'm going to have a great time in London. I know that. I know that I'm extremely fortunate to have been given this opportunity, to be able to do my dissertation research in the most amazing lab imaginable, the libraries and archives of Great Britain. But part of me hates that I have to leave right now, when my family life is in chaos and I have not yet mentally or emotionally transitioned to the idea that I will be in a foreign country for the next month and communication with people here will be limited. Another part of me is glad to be escaping the drama.

If you want to follow my journey, I've started a Tumblr account specifically for the posting of pictures and short anecdotes about my trip. You can find it here. The plan is to post something everyday, even if it's just a picture or a quote I discovered. Despite my best intentions, I've realized that if I tell myself I'll blog about my trips, it rarely happens, and this is one experience that I want to ensure I don't forget. Posting a picture a day seems better than not posting anything at all.

I'll also be reading your blogs and checking in sporadically, and hopefully doing a little bit of writing. This past week of family drama, while terrible for me emotionally, has actually fueled a lot of great ideas in my writing. I've had a couple of breakthroughs with The Novel thanks to it, so I guess something good came out of all of it. It certainly didn't feel like it at the time, but I'm sure I will emerge from this experience a stronger, more independent person, and that's never a bad thing in my book.

My flight is boarding soon, but I'll try to post an update after I get all settled in tomorrow. Until then, adios, and hope you're all enjoying your summer.


  © Blogger template On The Road by Ourblogtemplates.com 2009

Back to TOP