Saturday, 18 August 2007

August 5, 2007: "Th-th-th-that's All Folks!"

Early Sunday morning, August 5, several buses left our dorm, at staggered intervals, to head to Gatwick Airport. After going through extra-vigilant security checks (and only one carry-on bag allowed), I boarded my Continental flight to Newark, where I had a layover for several hours. Then it was home to Fort Myers ... and time to close this Summer 2007 chapter of London Libby! What a terrific month of wonderful friends and professors, and a learning adventure par excellence. Woops -- that's French -- but I think it'll do, don't you?

Our Final Night Together ... 'Til We Meet Again!

Slugs and Lettuce and Mad Hatters

Hard to believe that Saturday, August 4, 2007, was our last full day in London! For a final celebration, all of the "mature" students (except we couldn't find "old-as-dirt Mike" to invite him) decided to go out to dinner. We (Edie, Mary, me, Nancy, and Kathy -- as shown in the photo above) walked down Stamford Street past one of the funniest-named pub chains on the planet -- "The Slug and Lettuce" ( -- to a lovely hotel/restaurant that we all wished we'd found earlier -- the Mad Hatter Hotel. ( It was a fitting place to toast a most successful London adventure!

Pssst! This Is One of the Best Bookshops in London!

On Friday morning, August 3, we visited the final library on our itinerary: the Guildhall Library, which is also part of the City of London Libraries. Its printed books offer an "unrivalled collection of books on London history, topography and genealogy;" and it also has a Prints and Maps section, and Manuscripts. Best of all, the Guildhall Library Bookshop has one of the finest selection of books on London history, geography, literature, and culture that I have ever seen anywhere! (


At that super bookshop, I treated myself to a pocket paperback titled What's in a Name? The origins of station names on the London Underground and Docklands Light Rail by Cyril M. Harris. Since I'm actually finishing the last couple of days of this blog back home in Florida, I have to note that I've already had such fun learning about the names of the myriad tube stops we used all month! (The author used 43 sources, some dating as far back as 1918. So if anyone wants to know the origin of any of your favorite tube stop names, and can't find it easily with search engines or in print, please email me at and I will tell you what Mr. Harris says!)


On Friday about 4:30 p.m., the entire University of Southern Mississippi British Studies Program participants trouped their way over to a King's College auditorium at the Strand campus, for our practicum and symposium. The two-hour "wrap-up" session included short presentations by the instructors and student(s), giving highlights of what each group did during the month abroad. Miss Wright and Dr. Welsh announced our class members and their individual projects. I felt honored to have been asked by my classmates to talk for a few minutes about mine, so I showed some of the many, many exhibit notices and handouts I've collected throughout England and Scotland during this big-deal 300th birthday summer for my buddy Linnaeus!

'Hop in to Barbican Children's Library'

The title above comes from a button (adorned with a kangaroo reading a book!) that we got as a gift from the Children's Library at the City of London Barbican Library, which we visited on Thursday morning, August 2. Library director John Lake and four colleagues graciously treated us to tea and biscuits, told us about the history of the libraries of the City of London Corporation, explained its use of RFID technology, and toured us through the general section, children's section, and the amazing Music Library (which has a practice piano!) I'm also very impressed by the changing public art exhibitions and the tremendous amount of free information available by the customer services desk in the entrance lobby. If I ever had a chance to live in London, I think I might want to choose to live in the City, especially because I am now so enamored of its library system! (The photo above shows our University of Southern Mississippi British Studies Summer Program instructors, Miss Wright and Dr. Welsh, in front of the entrance to the Barbican Library.)

Saturday, 4 August 2007

Grand Time in Greenwich!

Wednesday, Aug. 1 (Yikes! August already!), we sailed down the Thames on a comfortable commuter boat to Greenwich. Our tour of the Caird Library in the National Maritime Museum was far better than anyone expected, I think! It contains more than 100,000 sea charts and maps from medieval times onward. We also got to see several artificats from its priceless Titanic archives, which were bequeathed by author Walter Lord (He wrote A Night to Remember). This photo is from a Titanic memorial garden on the grounds of the museum. I visited the famous Painted Hall, which is ''one of the finest banqueting rooms in Europe.'' It took artist Sir James Thornhill 19 years to paint, and he was basically paid peanuts for it...


I hiked 10 minutes up the hill to the Royal Observatory to have this obligatory photo taken of me astride the Prime Meridian of the World! Then, in the Time Galleries, I saw John Harrison's famous marine chronometers, as chronicled in Dava Sobel's Longitude. An added bonus is that the view of London is absolutely superb from up there!

I Love London Libraries!

From Tuesday, July 31, to Friday, Aug. 3, we went on a whirlwind tour of London libraries! On Tuesday afternoon, we were treated to an itinerary addition: a very special behind-the-scenes look at the art library at the Victoria & Albert Museum. Two lively young librarians named Jen and Jenny took us under their wing, and we explored the magnificant old building (also undergoing renovations! Surprise! Surprise!) and also looked at selections from their unique book-art collection. This photo shows Mike, Meredith, Nancy, and Kathy looking at some of the custom-made books.