Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical (hermionesviolin) wrote,
Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical
hermionesviolin

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two days out of town

Spent Friday in London. (I think it's a sign that Oxford feels like home that every time i go to say i went to London what first comes out is "i went to England," because England is foreign but i don't feel like i'm in a foreign place where i am now.) I don't intuitively have a great sense of direction, but given a few trips in an area and i get the hang of it, which is a relief to learn.

Why did i take like 15 pictures of waterfowl in St. James Park Pond? They're not even good pictures. The informational displays were somewhat helpful, though not entirely. They have those birds with the white head patches that i saw at University Park and i learned they are coots. There were baby birds (goslings?) near the shore whom i watched diver under water and swim and that was so cool but there was no way i could have gotten a decent photo.

I keep thinking how a great a zoom lense, as well as a digital camera (see the photo-image immediately) would be. As i wandered the South Bank i often found myself wanting a video camera as well. I saw so many people with "mobile phones" with image capacity.

Went to the National Gallery. Spent most of my time in the East Wing (1700-1900) and saw most of the North Wing (1600-1700) as well. The East Wing Impressionists room was of course my favorite. I recognized the Parliament at Sunset as being Monet even though i'd never seen it before. It was surrounded by other Monet's i didn't immediately recognize as his. I learned that he started painting Giverny in 1899, and really it's the Giverny paintings i think of as Monet. All the other Monets in that room were from before 1899, while the Parliament was 1902. Is there something in his painting style that changes when he starts at Giverny? I should research this at some point.

I liked the Paradise exhibit and whee, a Monet Japanese bridge represents the exhibition. The MFA really does have the best Monet collection.

I recognized a couple Van Goghs and the Picasso Child With Dove from the MFA special exhibits, which made me feel cool (and filled with love for my favorite museum). I also liked Goya's Doña Isabel.

Crossed the Hungerford Foot Bridge and took a picture of Big Ben/Parliament since i felt like i should. And it was cloudy and misting, which is the classic British weather unlike the bright sun of so many of my pictures. Later i crossed London Bridge and saw the Tower Bridge (which is the bridge i always thought of when i heard "London Bridge") but it would have been a bitch to get to Tower Bridge (the nice pedestrian walkway along the Thames only goes so far) so i didn't bother.

Walking along the South Bank i was thinking that it was so early in the afternoon that i was going to die of boredom before Richard III because that was at 7:30 and my only remaining afternoon plan was the Tate Modern. I ended up having a fabulous time all afternoon, though.

The first street performer i met was dressed all in white with a white painted face and played with a white scarf. Putting money in the jar triggered action. S/he was really good and as well as donating money i took a picture. I also got a picture taken with said statue, so we now have photographic evidence that i actually went on this trip. :) There was a similar perfomer farther down whose jar explicitly said "Contributing money triggers movement" but i liked her less because while the first one was really playful and performative, this one did kinda the minimum and just rubbed me the wrong way. I also saw another costumed performer and some off-duty gorilla-suited guys. Above the aquarium is this thing were kids get put in the harnesses and bounce probably twenty or thirty feet up. That definitely got a picture.

Gabriel's Wharf is the only place along the whole section of the Thames that i was on where i ever got that salt/seaweed smell which reminded me of all the water places i've been before. Hmm.

I went to Southwark Cathedral, oldest gothic cathedral in London, and was underwhelmed. There were street performers who got more money from me that day. (In case of i haven't mentioned it, i love the "voluntary contribution" thing which is so prevalent over here.) There was an excavated part that which made me think of you, though.

I also passed the Golden Hinde which didn't really thrill me, as i did Old Ironsides back in junior high.

On the South Bank there was almost a mini skate park where i spent quite a while watching kids. Skateboards, bikes, inline skates. Some of them were really good but most of them were still learning. They were all probably about 10 or 12 years old. I was impressed.
"if there's ever anything i can do..."
"Just have fun on your trip in honor of me"
Back on the South Bank i saw "Albert and Friends Instant Circus." It opened with three kids in Viking costume on unicycles with "Ride of the Valkyries" playing in the background. :) Fun stuff.

I did eventually get to the Tate Modern, which had lots of videos i could sit down and watch (whee, after a long day of walking around).

The paintings are grouped by theme, so you get some really interesting groupings. I started with a large Monet water lily painting (not one of the best) across the room from a Jules Olitski painting which looked like one had taken the Monet painting and melted all the shapes into just the colors. Olitski said he would prefer ‘nothing but some colours sprayed into the air and staying there.’ I'm not a fan of the really abstract art like Pollock, or the Warhol/Lichtenstein type "art," but i do like the collage/found object art like in Trash Into Art. Looking at the art in Inner Worlds i started wondering if there was a time when "modern" art shifted to mean "abstract" art in the Pollock rather than the Dalí way, but there's Miró contemporaneous with Dalí and Magritte, so i don't know.

The "Cruel and Tender" 20th-century photography exhibit looked interesting, but not for £10. (There's also a really interesting Da Vinci exhibit at the Queen's Gallery called "The Divine and the Grotesque," but i am not paying £6.50 to see it.) At some point this weekend i realized what my deal is with money in Britain. When stuff seems reasonably priced, i pay it just like everyone else. It's just that i'm so damn cheap that most stuff seems expensive even though i'm thinking in American dollars like everyone else. I don't wanna pay 6USD for lunch, so i won't pay £6 for lunch. I'll pay £2.30 for a sandwich, though, even though i vaguely know i'm paying nearly 5USD for it. So it's not so much that i'm that much more aware of the conversion rate than everyone else in the program but that i'm much cheaper in general, so i end up thinking about the exchange rate more because i'm rationalizing spending money more than most people.

Standing in the yard before Richard III started, someone near me said she would feel uncomfortable being on stage before she was on stage, so to speak -- they only closed the curtains and the doors shortly before the play opened, so you could see them last-minute hair fixing and stuff. I started thinking about how at NHS at this time we would be doing "Talula" which got me thinking about how bizarre that would be if you did that as the cast of Cats or something -- "317th night, best night!" loses something i think ;)

During the interval someone mimicked "Oh dear, Richard the Third" (Baldrick in Black Adder I.1). Tee hee.

"You're a great person to stand behind. You don't move your head. Plus you're shorter than I am." The speaker got her Ph.D. at Christ Church last year and we had a lovely chat.

Oh, yeah, the performance itself. This isn't my favorite play, and i sometimes had difficulty telling the various lords apart (i always have that problem with large numbers of semi-distinct people), and i think they doubled some of the parts which was at times a bit confusing, but overall the performance was good. The Richard the Third character was excellent, and Buckingham... as Mandy would say, "yessir." (links: London Theatre Guide entry and Globe Theatre website)

I took a slightly different route back to Victoria (again took all the right directions) and enjoyed walking along the Thames lit up at night. There were a couple things i would have taken pictures of if i'd had any pictures left in my camera, but oh well. Walking back through the streets of London around 11:30 at night it was fairly dark and unpopulated, but i didn't feel unsafe and remembered how my grandmother always gets freaked out when she hears about me walking around after dark in my incredibly safe suburban home town and was amused. Got off at High Street in Oxford and OMG Oxford at 1:30 in the morning is way too creeptastic. Some college-ish-age guys drive by and yell "Hey, you dropped your [word i couldn't make out] card" and then a car drives by in the opposite direction and i swear they give me a thumbs up or something. Okay, college town, middle of the night on a Saturday, whatever. Then a car pulls up near me. I glance over thinking maybe it's the Trinity Porter heading home for the night or something. Nope, the middle-aged man in the car doesn't look at all familiar, so i keep walking. "C'mere," he calls, and i oblige because i really don't need some guy in a car angry with me in the middle of the night. He asks where i'm going and offers me a ride. I say i'm just going to Trinity, that i'm almost there and i'm fine. Thankfully he drives away. I shudder to think what my life would be like if i took rides from all the random people who offer them to me. I run across High Street and hear cat-calling whistles from behind me. I assume they're aimed at me because there's almost no one else around, but i don't really care and don't even turn around. Heading up Catte Street some guys says hi to me and i say hi back. He asks where Cowley Road is and i say i think it's abourt 10 minutes thataway, gesturing, and suggest maybe some pub's open and can give him better directions. He keeps talking to me and has a thick Middle-Eastern(?) accent so i can't quite understand all of what he says and give vague answers. When we get to Broad Street and begin to head in opposite directions he asks me, "Are you married? "No." "Do you want to have sex with me tonight?" "No." I kid you not. (Bus back from London the next night i end up with some Trinity kids, but there are 4 of them, so i end up sitting next to some Iranian guy who keeps asking me questions and i start fabricating a lie about being involved with some guy back in States, but thankfully it doesn't come to that.)

I would have made it the entire trip never calling home (i had to go downstairs and ask for the country code to call the U.S.) if it weren't for my brother's (16th) birthday. He has a permit, and my dad took him out driving and said he drove very well. Yay him.



Left for Ashdown Forest right after breakfast on Saturday. Wow it takes a long time (and quite a bit of money) to get there. An hour and a half or so to London from Oxford by bus (love the £7.50 student round trip). Walk to Charing Cross from Victoria. £10.40 round trip train ticket from a machine. Manage to find correct train. Well, mostly correct train anyway. Get off at Tonbridge to switch for Tunbridge Wells. Wait on train for about 15 minutes due to construction work on the platform or something. Wait 45 minutes at bus stop in Tunbridge Wells because bus to East Grinstead only comes once an hour. Pay £2.80 each way for 10 minute trip to Hartfield. Go to Pooh Corner shop [I definitely wanna check out the online tour thing at some point.]. One can drive to a car park, but obviously i didn't. I did the 40-minute walk, mostly on uneven ground (fields) and with lots of gate climbing. I was kinda underwhelmed by the bridge itself, though we now have more photographic evidence that i actually did stuff on this trip. I continued up to the car park but realized i would have to walk even farther to get to stuff like Christopher's Enchanted Place memorial and didn't quite know how to get there and it was 4pm and the last bus back to Tunbridge Wells left around 6:30. I got back to the bus station in time to get the 5:30, but walking back across the fields i realized my legs were so tired. I think they're still recovering from two days of being on my feet almost all the time.

I need to go to the National Portrait Gallery, because there are pictures of Christopher and Pooh. (I also want to read Christopher's biography, The Enchanted Places. Ooh, looking online he's written a bunch of stuff. Should reread all Milne's Pooh books and then all Christopher's books. They're out-of-print in the U.S., which is a bitch. Will see what i can about tracking them down through the glory that is libraries.)

The Pooh Corner store wasn't my favorite thing, but it has original style stuffed Pooh characters and lots of mounted copies of Shepard sketches, which were tempting, but i didn't even bother looking at the prices because i didn't want to carry them home. (And i thought of , but none of the Eeyore stuff leapt out at me.)

I keep envisioning how i'm gonna do my scrapbook/zine as i'm accumulating souvenirs and stories and stuff, and i'm so much more of a zine person because i'm so much more of a word person -- "less scrap, more book" :) And thanks to my brother on the family computer we can convert documents into PDFs so i could make a scrapbook sized zine, convert into PDF, upload onto the domain i'm gonna buy once i'm settled enough to actually do that, and then people can view it for free and in color and print it out if they so desire. (Is there anyway to encode active hyperlinks into PDF files? I don't think so, because aren't they read-only files? but one of my favorite things about logging this trip has been the ability to link to websites.) I'm slightly torn, though, because i really like half-sized zines (even though they're a bitch to assemble). Can't be perfect, though, i suppose.

I was going to write about the weirdness of postcards because that's been in my head all weekend, but, um, food now. Will start in on friendslist and e-mail/comments later -- who needs to do real work? ;)
Tags: art: museum: england, oxford summer seminar 2003, plays: attended, plays: shakespeare, shakespeare: richard iii, street art: performers, travel: adventures in public transit
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