The Final Banquet

The Final Banquet

Tonight, we gathered as a group for the last time to celebrate finishing Grinnell in London.

The papers are in, the bags are (nearly) packed, and the last little things are finally being done. The banquet was a nice cap to the semester. It was so nice to get to get together with all of the wonderful people who made this semester what it was. Not only did I get to dine and chat with my fellow Grinnell-in-Londoners as a large group, but I also got to say some final goodbyes and thank yous to the program professors and staff.

It was a wonderful evening filled with great conversation and fantastic food. We dined at the Clerkenwell Kitchen, a little restaurant right by our flat. We each received a three course meal. I started with a delectable English Onion Soup. It was rich, hearty, and wonderfully seasoned. I quickly gobbled it up and eagerly awaited the main course. I had opted for the roasted sirloin served with vegetables, which turned out to be parsnips, potatoes, and sprouts. It was a delicious and quite filling entrée. Finally, for dessert, I opted for the toffee pudding, which was scrumptious and not terribly heavy, a sweet way to top off a fabulous meal.

After the meal, we convened to snag a final group shot. It is somewhat crazy to see how much we've grown together on this semester together. We've bonded over an incredible experience and it's been wonderful to make so many new friends. We said our goodbyes see-you-laters and headed back home to polish off some more packing. All in all, a good day. My final day in London is tomorrow. Pictures below.

Teddy and I

 

Soup!

 

Fresh Sourdough! Yum!

 

The Main Course

 

Delectably Delicious Dessert

 

What a group!

 

Libraries, Indian Food, and Skyfall!

Libraries, Indian Food, and Skyfall!

It was another busy day in London for yours truly!

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My day began with a trip to The Women's Library, a massive collection of books and archives focused on women's history. We spent the morning exploring our research options, touring the facility, and examining some example pieces from the archives. I am really excited to have access to such a first-rate resource, especially as I begin to do some independent research for my class on British Feminism.

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After the museum, I meandered down to Bricklane for lunch. I ate at Sweet & Spicy again, and enjoyed a lunch special with lamb curry, chana, some pilau rice, a puri, a naan, and some pickled mango. It was very delicious and an amazing treat.

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Finally, I went to go see Skyfall, the latest James Bond film. It was AMAZING. I will definitely be seeing it again when I get home. I particularly enjoyed seeing how many of the locations I recognized, as a good portion of the movie takes place in London. It was pretty fun to see the places I pass every day on the big screen!

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Pictures below…

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The Women's Library

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My lunch

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Pilau Rice

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Walking Westminster, Again

Walking Westminster, Again

This morning for my History of London class, we traveled yet again to the Westminster area to explore some historic sights. We focused on Whitehall and the embankment today. It was really amazing seeing the monuments to World War I and the to the women of World War II.

The river was really interesting, especially when a great deal of its history was explained. The lion pictured below is not for mooring boats, nor for decoration; it is a flood marker. The danger level depends on how high the water reaches on the ring.

I always love walking the city and learning the little stories that lurk around every corner. Enjoy the pictures below!

WWI Monument

Tower Bridge, Markets, Indian Food, & Bollywood-Style Shakespeare

Tower Bridge, Markets, Indian Food, & Bollywood-Style Shakespeare

If the title didn't give it away already, I've had a fairly intensive and interesting day!

It began this morning with an informative tour of the Tower Bridge area. We explored the areas we had talked about in class, and it was easier to see how crime would have flourished in this area early on in London's history… The boats, morning fog, shipyards, narrow and winding streets, the flurrying populace, and the ever-present River Thames would have made this a criminal's paradise. On a related note, We also walked through Jack the Ripper's stomping grounds and sat in the courtyard where his last victim was found. Slightly creepy, but it was also historically thrilling to be sitting in the exact spot where history happened, walking the same stones as people in the 1800s did.

Post-tour, I hit the gym again and then went home to make a lunch of yogurt with a super wrap: pan-fried salmon filet with a few chorizo slivers, a touch of Brie, and half a bag of spinach (heat-wilted in the pan). It didn't last long.

In the afternoon, we toured a set of market areas (Petticoat Lane, Spittlefields, Bricklane) I've come to know and love for my Cultures of Empire class. It was really interesting to hear and see the layers of history that lay under the structures of today. This was especially interesting in the Petticoat Lane and Bricklane areas, where the early structures and markets were created by the Jewish population in London and today is dominated by African & Asian vendors and Indian, Bengali, and Muslim populations respectively. It is always interesting to consider what all of the areas will look like in fifty-plus years as the city continues to layer histories and cultures over time.

After the tour, I went to an Indian restaurant called Sweet and Spicy, which came highly recommended as a place for locals who want authentic food without fuss. It was amazing, definitely some of the best Indian food I've ever had, and was quite reasonable price-wise as well. I got a samosa, Sikh kebab, cauliflower curry, and two puris for under five pounds. I also snagged a medium chicken curry and a naan for an additional few pounds. I left the restaurant full and happy, with the soul-filling feeling only Indian food can deliver.

As if that wasn't enough for one day, I also made my way down to see a production of Much Ado About Nothing by the Royal Shakespeare Company. It was Bollywood-style, which was a phenomenal treat and matched my dinner quite well. It had the actors in full Indian costume and featured a few dance numbers. All in all, a wonderful show that was the perfect way to top off the evening.

 

Pictures below, per usual. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Liverpool Day 2 Part I

Liverpool Day 2 Part I

Today we awoke in our hostel, had a quick and light breakfast, and then walked to the Liverpool Docks to see the Maritime Museum. A retired history professor from Liverpool, Mike Boyle, met us and gave an interesting and very detailed account of Liverpool's connection to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. This lecture included incredible facts, such as nearly 50% of the slaves transported to America were taken on Liverpool-based ships.

This lecture gave great background to the permanent floor of exhibits on the history of slavery and African culture, which was partially organized by Professor Boyle. The exhibits featured artifacts spanning the centuries from slaving contracts, to manacles, to traditional African clothing, to displays on food and music. It was an immersive experience and felt like we were traveling through time.

After the Maritime Museum, we were free to wander the city for a bit. I snapped some fun shots of the Liverpool Docks and surrounding buildings and snagged a small lunch at a combination Chinese Restaurant/English Diner. After the small bit of exploration, we hopped back of the bus for a small tour of important Liverpool sights. It was surprising to see that so many streets (including the famous Penny Lane) were named after slave-trade profiteers.

After the tour, I went to the Beatles Museum. Curious? Read the next post, Liverpool Day 2 Part II!

 

Exhibit From the Slavery Exhibits

 

 

 

 

 

Touring South Kensington

Touring South Kensington

Today, for my History of London class, we toured the area surrounding South Kensington and the Royal Albert Memorial. It was a beautiful day, and the area is filled with amazing museums and fun architecture. We had just studied the Great Exhibition of 1851, so seeing the area that evolved from that space was really incredible. I really enjoyed getting a closer look at the Memorial and we had an interesting conversation about its meaning and about the legacies of Prince Albert.

 

After class, a few of us meandered through some sections of the Natural History Museum. It is an amazing museum filled with incredible exhibits. I loved getting a close look at the rock formation exhibits and some extinct preserved creatures. The visit was too short to see everything, so I will definitely be returning soon!

 

I spent the rest of the day doing readings, cleaning, and general homework. This monotony was broken by a nice long run to the grocery store for dinner supplies and a relaxing bus ride home. I also finished addressing some postcards and sent them off today! More will be written this weekend, as I am riding a bus for five hours to visit Liverpool!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey

Today, for my Cultures of Empire Class, we visited Westminster Abbey. It was an amazing experience. The architecture is so grand and impressive, and I spent a great deal of time in awe that this building was built without modern technology. The soaring ceilings and unbelievable stained glass were out of this world.

We went all around the building, touring the memorials and examining the various graves and statues for imperialistic flair. I saw some famous authors’ memorials in Poet’s Corner, including Kipling’s and Dickens’. (Sadly, no photography was allowed in many sections of the church) I am consistently pleasantly surprised by the little things that remind me that London is such an old and important city, and standing above a memorial to Charles Dickens is just one of those things!

Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens

This morning, we adventured to Kew Gardens, a botanical reserve on the due of London. We took at short walking tour with Professor Guenther, then proceeded to explore and relax for the remainder of the afternoon within the park until we decided to go home. I ventured all around, snapping shots of various flora, some birds, and some amazing scenery that included greenhouses and follies. (small English pleasure structures that served as relaxation spots for the English)

Some highlights form the trip Included an amazing tour around the gardens and the amazing walkway nearby that rose over 40 feet above the ground! I also got to see a phenomenal set of artworks by Robert Nash.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amazing Drawing Studies At the British Museum

Amazing Drawing Studies At the British Museum

Today for art history class, we climbed all the way up to the fourth floor of the British Museum to enter the Print and Drawing Study Room. It houses some amazing materials, and you need to register to enter. After some brief signing-in and rules explanation (including no cameras, which saddened me greatly…) we were ushered into the large room.

 

It was a large room filled with volumes and large folios. Immense wooden desks with easels lay ready for the invaluable drawings and other works to be placed upon them for closer examination. The smell of old ink and paper, better than the best library, permeated the air. The quiet, still air lent an atmosphere of near-reverence to the room. It was almost as if one could feel the weight of the historical treasures that surrounded us.

 

Our course today focused on the evolution of commission drawings. We started with early works, including some stock drawings by Benozzo Gozzoli, which were designed to be placed cookie-cutter-style into commission drawings, creating a fairly standardized picture. The pieces at the end, by artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo were much more fluid and sketchlike, allowing the artist to craft a scene creatively, rather than dropping in stock pieces.

 

It was incredible and surreal to be mere inches from works from the Renaissance masters. This class has been an incredible experience so far. Not only do we get to see magificent works by famous artists all the time, but I am also learning so much about what to look for in art. I am learning so much new information about everything, and I am loving it!

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Gozzoli (c. 1450)

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da Vinci, (c.1470)

ImageMichelangelo (c. 1508-1512)

Reference drawing for Sistine Chapel's Creation of Man

 

 

Bounding about Brussels

Bounding about Brussels

We left Bruges early this morning, arriving in Brussels just around lunchtime. After a quick tour of the city square, we were left free to wander for about two hours. Between a wonderful lunch featuring the best hot chocolate in the world, and the wonderful wandering around the markets and shops surrounding the main square, we were doing quite well. We then visited another amazing museum as a group.

 

Post-museum, we ventured home to London. It was so wonderful to finally be back in the flat. It's funny how homelike this flat has become. I also enjoyed many Skype chats, including ones with Emily (with grandparents and parents and PUG!!!!), Ben and Chris.

 

Brussels was beautiful, so enjoy some pictures below.