Tag Archives: nerd

Life in London Part V: Silly Things and Lovely People

6 Jul

Things I’ve fallen in love with while in London…

General Sillyness

The is the last stop on the Picadilly line going North. The trains announce where they are travelling to, so in this case, you hear: "This is a Picadilly Line service to: Cockfosters". What makes this so great is that it is said by an almost robotic sounding British lady. And I take the Picadilly line about ten stops. So I hear this over and over. Does it get old? Nope.

Of course.

I'm just silly. But I don't care, I have fun.

People

I love love love Sam to death. She and I went through a lot together at the beginning of the semester and our friendship is solidified after this experience together. Our mutual love of Robert Downey Jr.'s wax figure certainly helps.

Matt and I have intellectual conversations about literature and the state of the world while enjoying a glass of wine... or two or three. We also enjoy pretending to be hipsters and having a photoshoot, lounging in the parks on sunny days and dancing the stress away at night.

Obviously I love Jack and have loved Jack for years. And next to Jack is Meggie, who is probably the funniest person I have ever met. Her angry cat noises and Wisconsin mom accent will always make me laugh uncontrollably, no matter where I am.

Natural History Museum: Let’s talk about sex

7 May

One of my favorite places in London is the Natural History Museum. I first visited this museum five years ago with a student travel group and since I first saw the building I have been in love with the architecture. It is one of the most beautiful buildings in London.

After a few visits to the Natural History Museum I finally went to the Sexual Nature exhibit. I’ll describe the exhibit first as it was both informative and hilarious.

Sexual Nature is (until October 2011) an exhibit at the Natural History Museum which aims to educate visitors about sex in the natural world. This means I spent an hour or so in a hall dedicated to how and why animals have sex. Immaturity aside it was fascinating to learn about the different mating rituals and parenting styles of animals like snails and gorillas and giraffes.

One of the best parts of the exhibit was the video series by Isabella Rosallini. This woman is insane. Her videos are hilarious. And here is proof:

I can’t begin to comment on the response this video triggers from me. And this is only one of her videos. We saw at least 10. And the gift shop sold a DVD. Kind of wish I purchased said DVD…

As for the rest of the museum, there are several permanent exhibits including (but not limited to) human biology (This is what your insides look like! This is what puberty is!), taxidermy animals of all species (So cute, yet so sad in a way), dinosaur bones, geology and meteorology.

Here is a slideshow of some of my pictures from my (3) visits to the museum…

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Hampton Court Palace

28 Apr

On the 17th it was mid-sixties and sunny, the perfect day to head a half hour outside of London to visit Hampton Court Palace, home to Cardinal Wolsey, Henry VIII, and later, William and Mary. Cardinal Wolsey took a lavish house and turned it into a palace fit for the then-archbishop of York. After Wolsey failed to help Henry get a divorce from Katherine of Aragon (to marry the much prettier and younger Anne Boleyn) Henry took Hampton Court Palace for his own and proceeded to live there with all of his wives (at different times, of course). Henry even rebuilt rooms for his brides. Later, Hampton Court was a retreat for his children and succeeding monarchs James I and Charles I. When Oliver Cromwell took over as Lord Protector during those crazy days where the monarchy fell, he used the palace for his own enjoyment (quite interesting considering he was “puritan” and believed monarchs to be greedy…). After the monarchy was restored with Charles II the Palace underwent changes. Charles II preferred Windsor Castle and before you knew it, William and Mary took over. Queen Anne liked Hampton Court for its hunting grounds. George I preferred to stay in his native Germany and his son, George II, was the last royal family to stay at Hampton Court. Queen Victoria made the decision to open the palace to visitors.

Now that the background information is over, let’s talk about Hampton Court today. It is separated into the William and Mary apartments, Young Henry’s story, the Tudor kitchens, and Henry’s apartments. There’s also vast gardens and a hedge maze.

Canterbury

8 Apr

After Leeds we headed to Canterbury, the site of an amazing cathedral and the center point of Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales stories. The Canterbury Cathedral is famous for being the site of Thomas Beckett’s assassination.

I will never get tired of medieval churches. Trying something different with this post, all the photos are in a gallery below.

Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre: The nerdgasms continue

6 Apr

Last Friday I finally made it across the Thames to Shakespeare’s Globe… Well, the recreation of the Globe. The original Globe Theatre is long since burnt down.

The Globe is located in the South End on the River Thames, right next to the Tate Modern. It is the only wooden building within three miles of the city of London since the Great Fire. It was built using the same materials that were used for the original: English Oak, wooden pegs, thatched roof, goat's hair plaster, handmade bricks

The Millenium Bridge, recognizable from the 6th Harry Potter movie. I walked across and back, enjoying my nearly daily dose of Harry Potter referencing.

I like to take pictures of all the signs. Like a total nerd. You can imagine how many signs I photographed at the Globe.

A timeline of the plays and the life of the Globe along with some history of London

This prop made me think of Hamlet. Alas, poor Yorrick.

The Globe is an open-air theatre and therefor has no roof. In Elizabethan England plays were performed during the day when it was light because it would have been too expensive (and dangerous) to light an entire theatre by candlelight. The Globe is still run as it was in Shakespeare's time, with the plays performed in the day. However, the only lights in the theatre simulate daylight so that they may also perform in the evenings. There are no special effects lights, spotlights, or strip lights in the Globe.

The Royal box where her Majesty herself has sat to view a play. In Elizabethan England the actors travelled to the palaces to perform. These boxes would be used for Lords and other nobility. Technically speaking they don't offer the best view but in those days you came to hear a show, not see it. This is why Shakespeare's plays contain context clues in the dialogue about location, weather, etc.

The Heavens, or roof of the stage. The trapdoor is used for heavenly bodies to speak from and fairies to ascend the stage from. Today invisible wires are used but in Shakespeare's time they used large ropes for two reasons: Safety and to assure the audience that the actor was not flying with witchcraft.

We sat in the top of the stands, which was amazing. The Globe is the only building in London with a thatched roof. Because of the fire codes in London (and being the only wooden structure for miles) the Globe is fully fireproofed, including the thatched roof. As an added precaution there are sprinklers all along the roof.

When we visited they had just finished repainting the stage and preparing for the spring season.

This poster was displayed in the exhibition and of course I had to get one at the gift shop.

Oxford: Just makes me want to go to Hogwarts

1 Apr

After Stratford-Upon-Avon and our lunch in the Cotswolds we went to Oxford. The University itself is comprised of several colleges including Christ Church which was founded by Cardinal Wolsey, King Henry VIII’s trusted advisor (later imprisoned for treason, Wolsey slit his own throat. His remains are in St. Paul’s) in 1525 but was unable to see its completion. Henry VIII refounded it as King Henry’s College and after breaking from the Vatican and forming the Church of England refounded it again but as Christ Church.

Christ Church College

There was a massive line (or, queue as the Brits say) to get in but luckily we were with a tour and got right in. One of the main tourist draws to Christ Church (in addition to the architecture, cathedral, and art) is that Christ Church inspired some sets from the Harry Potter movies and was used as a filming location for some scenes. This is what we cared most about, naturally.

The dining hall that inspired the Great Hall of Hogwarts. It is a functioning dining hall, so the students of Christ Church get to eat in the Great Hall every day.

The staircase where they filmed a few scenes of the first two Harry Potter films

Professor McGonagall waits for the first year students on the stairs...

The courtyard at Christ Church

Inside Christ Church Cathedral.

Beautiful medieval architecture

Medieval Union Jack flags

Entrance to the library, off-limits to visitors to our great disappointment

This tree has formed a bond with Christ Church

One of many prestigious looking buildings at Oxford

An interesting old building

Logic Lane... Oh, Oxford.

Spring is in bloom in Oxford

The Eagle and Child Pub, a frequent hang-out of J.R.R Tolkien (author of the Lord of the Rings trilogy) and C.S. Lewis (author of the Chronicles of Narnia books).

Overall, I enjoyed Oxford. It’s full of history and beautiful architecture. And it’s Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Chronicles of Narnia connections certainly help.

Stratford-Upon-Avon: Shakespearean nergasms

28 Mar

This past Saturday I took a bus tour with one of my roommates to Straford-Upon-Avon, the Cotswold’s, and Oxford. I’ve wanted to go to Stratford since I first learned about William Shakespeare. He was born in Stratford-Upon-Avon (the River Avon runs through the town, thus it gets the name) in 1564. The house he was born in and grew up in stands to this day thanks to his popularity before and after his death. The house has hosted a number of famous visitors including future U.S. presidents Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, authors Mark Twain and Charles Dickens and poet John Keats. Needless to say, I was in good company in Stratford.

The first stop on our tour of Stratford was about a mile outside the town to see where Shakespeare’s wife, Anne Hathaway, was born and grew up. Shakespeare married 26-year-old Anne when he was just 18. Oh and she was pregnant with their child at the time of their wedding. Fun fact.

The Hathaway family and then its descendants lived in this cottage until the early 1900s when the Shakespeare's Birth Trust foundation acquired it. The Hathaway's would charge visitors to see the house and would tell lies about furniture, saying, "Shakespeare sat here!" just to make a few extra bucks.

The house itself is neat because it is a medieval/Tudor style home with a thatched roof. Throughout the years the Hathaway descendants kept the house in its original design with little to no updates to the inside. Though there weren’t any artifacts that Shakespeare himself would have seen/used, it was still interesting to see a little bit of what it would have been like to live in the cottage.

Next we headed to the heart of Stratford to see where the Bard was born. I could feel my heartbeat quicken as we walked toward the house, passing all sorts of sights and signs of Shakespeare.

A Statue of the Fool; "A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool"

O, had I but followed the arts! -- Twelfth Night

How well he's read, to reason against reading. -- Love's Labour's Lost

If you have tears, prepare to shed them now. -- Julius Caesar

Soon enough I was walking the ground that my literary hero once walked on. Breathing the air. Taking it all in and savoring each moment.

Shakespeare's actual birthplace, still standing after almost 450 years.

The front entrance to Shakespeare's house, complete with the Shakespeare family crest above the door.

I feel like I can share this with you all: whenever there is a “do not touch” sign, I am about 80% likely to touch whatever object it is I am not supposed to be touching, 99% likely if there are no “guards” there to yell at me. So of course when we walked through Shakespeare’s bedroom, past the four-poster bed he slept in, I had to feel the intricately carved wood. Not only was it beautiful, but the wood was soft yet sturdy. As it must be seeing as it is 400+ years old.

On the way out I signed the guest book. They’ve been keeping a guest book for over 200 years and the very first visitors were American! Just goes to show that Shakespeare has been loved around the world since he first became famous. I had to write my favorite quote in the comments box: “This above all, to thine own self be true” from Hamlet.

After some fun in the gift shop, we had a few minutes to walk around town before getting back on the bus. We went into the bookshop and then passed a few awesome shops.

If music be the food of love, play on. -- Twelfth Night

The Creaky Couldron, an homage to both the witches of Macbeth and Harry Potter

Butter Beer and Pumkin juice: the two beverages consumed most frequently in the Harry Potter books

And soon enough we had to get back on our tour bus and bid adieu to Stratford (for now).

Our tour took us on a drive through the Cotswold’s, stopping for lunch at a pub before continuing our journey to Oxford (more on that later).

The Cotswold’s is a quaint, countryside area of England. Absolutely beautiful with lots of these little guys:

Baa Ram Ewe