Thursday, July 28, 2011

Ancient History

Vancouver, Washington is old. Lewis & Clark came through on their Expedition in 1805 and Lewis wrote that the area was "the only desired situation for settlement west of the Rocky Mountains." About twenty years later, the Hudson's Bay Company established a post there and the City of Vancouver was incorporated in 1857. For the Pacific Northwest, this is about as old as it gets--at least in terms of European settlement.

On Tuesday I went to a cathedral that was dedicated in 1258. That's right--TWELVE fifty-eight. Six hundred years before Vancouver was incorporated as a town (which itself pre-dates Washington even being a state), Salisbury Cathedral pointed its spire 404 feet towards heaven. Now that's old!

We've loved all our Blue Badge Guides. 
This is Sean. Knowledgeable and freakin hilarious.

Salisbury Cathedral is also home to one of the four surviving copies of thel 1215 Magna Carta, which means that I've seen half of them this week!

We also broke for lunch and exploration in the quaint town of Salisbury.

This couple is contemplating knickers
in the outdoor underwear stall.

But before we ever got to Salisbury Cathedral and town, we parked our motor coach next to one billion other motor coaches at...Stonehenge.

Stonehenge looks a bit more weathered than it did when I let my children climb all over it a few years ago. They don't let you get right up to the stones, you say? True enough. My kids hung out at the Stonehenge in Washington state. Our Stonehenge was built in 1918 on a bluff overlooking the Columbia River. It is a memorial to the veterans of World War I.

The Stonehenge we saw on Tuesday:

Now that's REALLY old!!!

Monday we toured St. Paul's Cathedral. This is the fifth cathedral to be built on this site, the previous one was burned in the Great Fire of 1666. I'm not a big fan of churches, so...

Let's all go to the Museum of London! I do really like museums. Particularly free museums that are well done. And have historical clothing. The Museum of London is therefore a jackpot. I was so interested in the history of London--from the pre-Roman era all the way to "mods, rockers, hippies, and skin-heads"--to take very many photos, so check out the website.

I did get this, though:

Re-creation of my days as a medieval re-creationalist.

Which is an excellent segue to Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, where last night we were treated to Anne Boleyn. I joked about not spoiling the end, but really, we all know Anne's fate. The play was a fascinating mix of social history, political intrigue, religious hereticalism, and lust.

The Globe is a replica of the open-air theater built in 1599 where William Shakespeare worked and wrote his plays. I've been to a similar theater in Washington, DC, the Folger. It's a fun way to see a show, with three tiered balconies and the actors addressing the crowd.


So, I think that brings me up to date! I'm leaving for Paris in the morning and will be off-line until sometime on Monday. Au revoir!

National Treasures

Like the Library of Congress (where I interned waaaay back in 1990), the British Library is both a research library and the official national depository. Everything printed (or published to the internet) in Britain is archived here. The library receives as many as 8,000 new items every day--every newpaper, book, comic, stamp, postcard, and dirty magazine.

We had a tour of the Treasures room, which exhibited such famous works as a Gutenberg Bible, the Magna Carta, and some of the earliest published Shakespeare. No photos were allowed in the Library, but they have a great website where many of the treasures can be viewed online. (More here: Austen, Blake, Lewis Carrol's original Alice manuscript, Handel's Messiah, and about 30,000 other things.)

We also registered for reader cards and many of us requested materials in the reading rooms. The British Library is not a lending library; everything has to be used on site and with fairly strict rules. For example, no pens, highlighters or cameras could be taken in the reading rooms. My next big project will be about Beatrix Potter, so I reserved a biography and a guide to an exhibit of her work. My British Library card is good for a year, but it seems unlikely that I'll ever use it again.


I stopped by King's Cross Station this morning.
Do you know where I was going?

That's right. I tried to catch the Hogwarts Express.

"Behind the magic."

 Like much of London, King's Cross is undergoing major renovations. The Olympics opens exactly one year from yesterday and everyone here is hyper-aware of the "eyes of the world" being focused on their city. At one point, not long ago, the Platform 9 3/4 photo opportunity was actually in a quiet corner of the station. Now it is in a tiny alcove off the street. It was still busy.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Weekend Wanderings

Due today is our third major project, the digital story. This project is a combination of still photos, music, and narration. I used iMovie again, which I'm getting more and more comfortable with.

In my story, I take Chick on the tube to Harrods. There we explore the food halls and have some lunch.

I took the photos for this project on Saturday. We had the weekend free to catch up on homework and explore on our own.

I set off first to take some pictures of the London landmarks for my tattoo video. I took the tube to London Bridge and walked past pubs and parks to get to the Tower Bridge.

Love this blue sky after a week of London rain!

I skirted the Tower of London and then enjoyed a short portion of the Thames Path. I ended my walk with a jaunt over the Millennium Bridge, featured at the beginning of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. The bridge connects the Tate Modern Museum and the area around St. Paul's Cathedral.

Looking towards the Tate.

Looking back towards St. Paul's.

Next stop: Trafalgar Square. In Portland, Pioneer Courthouse Square is considered "Portland's Living Room"--a site for festivals, music, and just hanging out. Londoners hang out in their public spaces--parks, roundabouts, even the courtyard of the British Museum--all the time, but Trafalgar Square, capped by the steps of the National Gallery, seems to be the living room of London.

On this day, there was a children's movie playing on a huge screen. It was sign language interpreted, which I've seen several times here. There was also a kids' art area right in front of the stage.

I hopped the subway to Harrod's next, to take pictures for my digital story and have some lunch. This was the most expensive meal I've had in London, but since it was school work, it's completely justified, right? Harrod's is really big and I only explored the food halls, which were four large rooms. I know there's more to it, but I'm trying not to do much shopping. One thing that really impressed me was the huge number of staff at the store, all gracious and helpful.

Chick's adventure on Saturday:

Tower Bridge

The London Eye 


Biscuit (cookie) tin: "Did I ever tell you I have two dads?"


Sunday was pretty quiet. Again I had to make a special excursion as part of an upcoming assignment. Our free time is often spent researching or filming for our multimedia projects. I think this works okay if you do a project on something that you're particularly interested in, like the oral histories at the Foundling Museum. However, it is difficult to just get in and get out. I went to the Victoria & Albert Museum specifically to see and photograph some watercolors painted by Beatrix Potter, author of Peter Rabbit. I needed to get back to my flat to work on my video, but the V&A is huge--and incredibly interesting. I did browse the jewelry exhibits, which I had to walk through on my way to the paintings.

I was disappointed that the textiles and costumes have all been removed from display pending architectural renovation of those galleries. Bad news for the fiber artist in me, good news for the harried student.

Keeping up with the projects and the daily assignments, all while spending much of our days on group tours is challenging. All of the other students are writing fascinating blogs and making cool multimedia projects, and I don't have time to check them out! 

Tonight we're headed to the Globe Theatre to see Anne Boleyn (no spoilers, please!) and then practicing some nighttime photography. And I haven't even told you all about St. Paul's Cathedral, the Museum of London, Stonehenge, or Salisbury...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bloomsbury Square with Dad

Today's photo assignment was to tell a story in five pictures.
I caught this little family in the park near our flats.

Monday, July 25, 2011

London Ink

Remember how I"m in London for SCHOOL? This isn't all tours, and shows, and pints, people. Sometimes we have actual assignments!

Today's assignment is to make and post a 1-3 minute video. My utmost appreciation goes out to Aubrey for the excellent camera work. (I only allowed her one take.) I cut out a few minutes, but this is basically 30 minutes compressed into less than three. Take your dramamine, it's a wild ride!

I was looking for a tattoo studio close to where we living in London, and I wanted to see an extensive portfolio from the artists, as well as positive reviews, since I don't know anyone here to ask for a recommendation.

I stopped by my chosen studio, Extreme Needle, on Wednesday afternoon and visited with Abz, the owner, about my idea. I wanted to be really happy with the tattoo, of course, but I also needed to have permission to film the process. No worries. He was open to the filming and knew just the artist to do the piece. I felt better about the price (not in my budget for the trip!) when he explained that there was no tip expected on top of the quote. Also, as we visited, he got a call from a "Nigel" who just happens to be the local health authority--hundreds of studios in Westminster, and he wants to schedule a tattoo at this place!

Our class had a work/rest day on Friday, so Aubrey and I walked down to Chinatown that afternoon. I had met Alejandro, the artist, earlier that day when I made my appointment and paid the deposit. Once we finally got the artwork to size and properly placed, the inking took just half an hour.

Alejandro, the artist

Abz, the owner

All done. Happy face.

Whoa! First placement.
I love London, but I don't want to MARRY it.

Several days later, I'm still thrilled about the tattoo. It's also healed faster than any of my other tattoos, which I think attests to the skill of the artist. The actual inking was not painful; he has a light touch.

So friends and fellow classmates, I highly recommend Extreme Needle for any of your London tattoo needs--just a fifteen minute walk from the British Museum, in case you get inspired.

Filming by Aubrey Clark.
Still photos by Eliza Lane.
Exception: Photo of the Gherkin by Mike A. Lambert. From Flickr, follows Creative Commons usage guidelines.
Music: "Tryptamine Extraction (Hardoff's Remix)" by DJ Donna Summer. From the Free Music Archive, follows Creative Commons usage guidelines.