Dave Walker (wibsite supremo!) posted a link to this yesterday on facebook – the more I look at it the more amazing it is, and I’m loving the local details of the bits of London I know best. This is really just extraordinary – any current or former Londoners should take a look, and enjoy.
So, to London on Sunday for a flying visit. I was staying with friends in Brockley, it was really great to be back there again. I just took a couple of pictures there, around the station, as they are doing a lot of work to tart it up since I lived there. The first two are of the little garden that’s been planted on a patch of grass by the station – apparently it’s not owned by either the council or Network Rail so was just left there, but is now looked after by community-minded locals. I remember when stuff was first planted here, with a Soul Survivor (Soul in the City?) team, I think the summer before I left so that would have been 2005, but might have been the year before. The ground was so impacted I think the poor guys doing the work were practically killing themselves digging it over. I think since then they’ve also had landscape gardeners in, and now a few years later this is how it looks – a million times better than how it was before. The next photo is of a mural opposite the station, which again I think went up before I left but which mercifully seems to have been left alone by the graffiti taggers:
I got to my friends’ place and had a wonderful time – they’d invited a number of friends round and we had an amazing lunch and generally caught up with news. S and R are friends from university as well as from madchurch, and rather embarrassingly they dug out some old college photos. I had quite the mullet hairdo in those days!!
In the evening I went out to a local bar for a drink, and caught up with a few other friends (including another wiblogger) – I’m just so pleased I was able to see so many cool people who I just don’t get to see very often.
Yesterday I also bumped into one of madchurch’s leaders on my way to the station, so we had a little chat too, it was good to see him, and then I had to face the joys of the London commute. The queue at Brockley station was much better than I expected, but the train was absolutely as expected and I spent the journey to London Bridge at very very very very close quarters with my fellow travellers! (fortunately for me the ones near me all seem to have showered!). However at London Bridge there were problems on the tube, and I couldn’t get onto the Northern Line. No problem I thought I’ll get a bus, I know my way round London. So I did, but it turned out to be the slowest bus in the world, and having expected to arrive at the British Library with half an hour to spare to get a cup of tea or somesuch I only made it on time by the skin of my teeth. And gave thanks for my usually pretty trouble-free 40 minute seat-all-the-way-and-no-changes bus journey in Glasgow!
So, the British Library. How have I never been there before? It was the most amazing place of learning – I felt more intelligent as I walked in, it’s like learning and enquiry and research and finding out amazing STUFF is just infused in the walls! The morning was taken up with a presentation by the Head of the Russian section, and then I had a one-to-one session with the southern Europe curator to discuss the services and subject-specific resources of the library and how to go about accessing them. The best thing though was that he had also got out a number of amazing historical and very rare books and I was able to hold them and leaf through them – the oldest was a Romanian Orthodox prayer book dating from 1560. Leafing through those pages of history in Old Church Slavonic was just amazing, what a privilege that was. I didn’t want to let go of it!
After lunch we got a tour of the library with a very entertaining front-of-house guy who was clearly passionate about the library. I especially enjoyed learning about the book retrieval system they have – they have miles and miles of a conveyor system with something like 22,000 possible permutations to get the book from its shelf to the appropriate reading room, it was just amazing.
Over lunch and after the tour was finished I wandered round and took some pictures mainly from the courtyard outside but one or two inside as well. These first few are of a sculpture outside by a sculptor called Eduardo Paolozzi. I was really surprised by it – I have seen a few Paolozzi sculptures (there’s one at Glasgow University as well) and he has a really distinctive style, but this is nothing like the ones I know. I liked it though – it’s called “Newton”:
Finally for outside, a couple of photos closer to the entrance – I was hoping the right hand flag, which shows the library’s motto “The World’s Knowledge” would be unfurled but unfortunately it wouldn’t oblige me. And also one of two interesting tree sculptures at the entrance.
Moving inside, my final three photos are all from the entrance hall. The first one is part of the current Charles Darwin exhibition, and are his musings, found in his notebook, on the Pros and Cons of Marriage. I thought he came across as rather of-his-time, this is quite amusing:
These final two show a sculpture (I guess you’d call it) which is above part of the exhibition space, like a boat sail, and then a mural on the wall inside that I liked.
All in all a great couple of days. It was great to see people and spend time in such a great place of learning. I am glad to be back home though – London is just too big and busy for me these days!
This afternoon we had a meet-up of Glasgow-and-environs-based folk from Ship of Fools. We went to a Spanish tapas restaurant up in town called La Tasca and I must say the food was very nice indeed, though I am still experiencing something of a garlicky aftertaste (this is not a bad thing, because I like garlic, and as the only person I am intending to snog is probably similarly afflicted we can cancel each other out). Mostly people I knew already, but we had one new person (who is also doing a PhD in my faculty, and who has to mark essays by the same students!), a new baby and an imminent bump-soon-to-be-baby as well. Had a very useful chat with one shipmate who is a nurse as I need to get my act together about getting work for when the money runs out, it was also fun to share our colleagues-and-nursing-students horror stories as it is always reassuring to know that it’s not just me that attracts the weird/useless/clueless ones.
No photos unfortunately, you’ll just have to take my word for it that we all looked great!
Now I’m back I need to pack for tomorrow’s adventure. I’m off to London till Monday night – staying with friends in sarf London tomorrow night so am really really looking forward to catching up with them, and then on Monday I’m going to a study day at the British Library. I’ve never been there before, and having looked at the various collections on-line am wondering how much of it I can sneak out of so I can look at the illuminated manuscripts and music scores and maps and stuff, as that will probably be more interesting than the stuff I’m meant to be going there for. Actually that’s not true, I’ll be speaking with the area subject librarians who know about Romania and stuff, so with any luck it will be really useful. I’m just a bit concerned as their online Romania collection mainly seems to be quite ancient – I hope it’s not a wasted journey. Well, it won’t be wasted from the social point of view, but it would be good if I can actually learn something as well while I’m there.
Today HD and I went into London town to meet up with some people from the Ship of Fools. We started off at Tower Hill and then crossed Tower Bridge and walked along the South Bank. I have to say, some people walked really really slowly! But, I did have a good time, it was great to get back into London (and out of Luton for a bit!), and brilliant to see a number of people I’ve not seen since Greenbelt, or in some cases since I left London over 3 years ago, as well as to meet a few new people, including Kelly the guest of honour from California. I took some photos which are here.
We stayed as far as the Tate Modern, but apart from looking at the big spider (brrrrr!) in the Turbine Hall HD and I only had time for a quick look round the shop (for a birthday present for a friend) before we had to head back to Luton. Everybody else carried on walking and were aiming for a pub near Waterloo, I was really sad we couldn’t go but needs must this time. If anyone fancies saying a little prayer for us, HD has a job interview next week (this is why we headed back, so he could spend some more time to prepare a rather scary-sounding – not to mention rather long – presentation he has to do). His contract here finishes in a few weeks’ time, so it would be good if we knew what life might hold in store (and at least where we’re going to end up) sooner rather than later. Thank you 🙂
We had a lovely long weekend in Munich – although the weather was rubbish! I have lots of photos, but can’t face uploading them at the moment, so I’ll put a collage together for another post. On Friday we went into town (me, HD, my sister and niece) and we had a wander round the centre – Viktualienmarkt, Marienplatz (where we made HD, the only one of us who’d not been to Munich before, to do the tourist thing and watch the glockenspiel chiming from the Town Hall. You can’t go to Munich and not see the glockenspiel), lunch, Hofgarten, and the English Garden. On Saturday HD and I headed off to the Deutsches Museum (following Ian’s recommendation – I was embarrassed to admit I’d never been, despite having been to Munich several times, so thought I’d better rectify that!). It is their museum of technology, and is enormous. We started off in the astronomy section, which sadly was rather out of date (the display on the planets was talking about the most recent probe to Jupiter being expected to arrive there in 1995, and they still had Pluto included, although they had stuck a bit of paper over the explanatory bit saying “er, actually it’s not a planet any more). But that could really do with updating! Downstairs the stuff on amateur radio also included mention of the Federal Republic of Germany, so I think that’s a bit old as well! We also saw stuff on telescopes and physics and musical instruments and planes and all sorts of things, but we missed out large parts of the museum even so! It’s definitely an all-day place, and one you probably need to visit over several visits to get the most out of it.
On Sunday we all headed off to the Alps, to a lake called Schliersee. Unfortunately the weather was so rubbish we couldn’t actually see any mountains as they were all shrouded by very low (and wet!) clouds! We did go up in a cable car and had a huge Bavarian meal in a mountainside restaurant, but the weather just got progressively worse, so in the end we gave up and went back home again! Sunday afternoon saw a very serious conker tournament – we’d picked up lots in the English Garden, and my brother-in-law and niece were making figures from them, as that is the German tradition. So HD, my sister and I showed them how we play conkers in the UK – it was very amusing watching my brother-in-law drilling a hole in his conker (surely that’s cheating?!), it was very vorsprung durch technik! The resulting tournament was very amusing, as without exception we were all rubbish at it and hit ourselves much more often than the opposing conkers!
And then yesterday we came home. I went into London yesterday afternoon, just after we got back, to go to a seminar which was by an American student who is doing a similar PhD to me but in another former Soviet country. It was really excellent, and she found very similar things to me, which is very encouraging as it’s further proof that I’m not barking up the wrong tree but am actually onto something (which is always good to know at the writing-up stage of a PhD, let’s face it!). It also inspired a few more lightbulb moments for me, which this time I have managed to write down before I forgot them. That’s always a good thing. I have to say though, it was weird being in London. Too big and busy. I miss people ever such a lot, I still have lots of friends there who I don’t see nearly often enough, but I’m not really missing the place very much at all. I really do see Glasgow as home now (even though I’m spending more time in Luton. Or maybe because I’m spending more time in Luton!).
I’ll try and sort out photos tomorrow.
As promised, here are some photos from the graffiti festival. My top 50 photos (I took over 150 in total!) are in this flickr set, and you can also see some pictures and read about the background to the festival here. I had lots of favourites, so it’s difficult to single out just one or two to put on here, but here are a few I particularly liked:
And probably my favourite, a Banksy of course:
I’m just back from a great weekend – seeing my lovely bridesmaid was great, we bought a dress really quickly (not in Goodge St though ferijen, we avoided the wedding specialist places), and figured out a good hen night venue. I also caught up with a few other friends, and today the grand meeting of the parents went well and they seemed to get on and didn’t show us up 🙂
It was a bit disconcerting though yesterday to wake up and find a police car outside my friend’s house with tape wrapped round her For Sale sign cordoning off the road (as she said, that would make a great impression if anyone had come round to view the house!). Apparently there had been a shooting in the small hours of the morning just down the road, although I didn’t hear a thing despite not sleeping that brilliantly. I know Glasgow doesn’t have a reputation for being all sweetness and light as a city, but it still seems like if there’s a shooting or stabbing we’re still shocked – there it was more “oh, there’s been another shooting”. Lovely.
So, some of you on facebook have already noticed I’m back in the UK for my holiday – it’s wonderful to be here, but also very strange – familiar yet not what at all I’ve been used to these last few months. It nearly went pear-shaped though – I was transferring flights at Budapest, but with less than an hour between flights and a queue of transit passengers that was Very Very Long Indeed, I was starting to panic. Fortunately I managed to collar an airport worker who, when she heard I was on the Gatwick flight, whisked me through to the front of the queue (I’m such a VIP) and I got on the plane at the last minute! Phew!
Once in London I met up with HD (hooray!) and we went to the Tate Modern (where we had our first date, actually) and saw the Global Cities exhibition (Tractor Girl has already raved about it, and rightly so, it was excellent – if you get the chance then go, but it’s only on till this weekend). After that I was knackered (I’d got up up at 3.45 Moldova time, which was 1.45 UK time, so by the time we finished at the Tate I’d already been awake 12+ hours and was starting to flag. So we headed over to Paddington (somewhat hindered by the rubbish suitcase that I’d bought in Romania, which has almost fallen apart after only 2 big journeys, and which probably won’t survive another one) and are now back in sarf Wales. I’ve spent the day Greenbelt shopping, talking to the wedding dress shop (the dress has arrived. Unfortunately so have several centimetres on my waist and hips, argh), and catching up with my mum and dad. Tonight we’re eating out with HD’s sister and tomorrow we go to Greenbelt! I can’t wait (though we are massively unprepared and unpacked). See some of you there 😀
As the finishing touch – find a cute model:
I really enjoyed the party, it was great to see some of my friends again, although there were also a lot of people there I didn’t know. Some people had really gone to town with the “come as a work of art” theme – including 13 people (complete with table) who came as Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper”. It really was very impressive to see the effort some people had gone to. Though at one point earlier in the day I wasn’t sure if we were going to make it – HD and I spent the afternoon in A&E to get him checked out, as someone had driven into the back of his car the day before (he’s OK but a bit shaken) – I did think at one point we were going to die of old age before we were seen. After eventually being seen (after a 3 hour wait, which I suppose could have been worse but wasn’t the greatest way to spend a Saturday afternoon) we got the train to London and on to the party, I was very impressed that HD still said he’d go as after a car smash and an afternoon in A&E I don’t think I’d really want to go to a party full of strangers wearing silly costumes. Anyway – it really was good to see my friends again, it’s been a few months since I saw them and I do miss them a lot. We also spent Friday night/Saturday morning and Sunday lunch at HD’s parents’ place, so that was good for me to get to know them a bit better (they’re not too scary, thankfully).
Now I’m back home I’m trying not to think about PhD supervision tomorrow. I’ve already put it off a week, and I don’t know how I’m going to blag it. Then on Tuesday I’ve got my least favourite tutorial of the year (hooray! it’s the role-play exercise). So I’ll be feeling a bit sick till Tuesday evening.
I wouldn’t normally do a petition-type post, but this caught my eye and I thought it was worth a signature or two and a bit of extra publicity.
Manor Garden Allotments Society has set up a blog explaining all. They’re in the path of the 2012 Olympics development, and so the allotments, given to the area in perpetuity over 100 years ago, will be bulldozed and flattened to make a footpath which will be used for just over 4 weeks. They’ve set up an e-petition here which will no doubt fall on deaf ears, but is nonetheless well worth signing. The Olympics will be great for East London. But there’s no need to concrete over these little oases (there’s a wildlife area which is also destined to be paved over for something or other, again completely unnecessary if you ask me) – why can’t they still exist alongside the new development? Surely there must be someone working for the 2012 Olympics with a shred of imagination? Story originally found at Diamond Geezer.