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.

More Time to Play?

An update on going to some more plays in the best theater city in the world .... I've already written about seeing ''Macbeth'' with my class in Stratford-upon-Avon, and ''Gaslight'' at the nearby Old Vic. I also was fortunate to see one of my favorite actors, David Suchet, (''Hercule Poirot'' on PBS!) in ''The Last Confession.'' The Daily Telegraph says it's a ''brilliant tale of venom in the Vatican.'' Katrina, I wonder what everyone would think about it at your alma mater, Bishop Verot High School?!!! (It makes me want to do some research on Pope John Paul I.) I also saw Somerset Maugham's ''The Letter,'' with Jenny Seagrove and Anthony Andrews. Just a coincidence, but all four plays that I saw happened to be mysterious thriller types!

Back 'Home' to London

On Monday morning, July 30, I said goodbye to Pat and Bert after they drove me to the famous Roman city of Bath, which is about half an hour from their home. (What a great section of England they live in!) I finally got to take a self-guided tour of the remains of the marvelous baths, which is another excursion that my sister Ceci took in 1988 and I had never done. The audio tour is one of the best I've listened to anywhere, and there is now even a new alternative audio tour -- author Bill Bryson gives his ''take'' on this astounding place. (


I took the train at 4 p.m. from the Bath Spa station right to Waterloo in less than three hours. Hard to believe I was back for our final week! As usual, things are really hoppin' in the big city. This replica of the Taj Mahal has been erected in Trafalgar Square as part of an India Festival. (

Nearby is the much-talked-about statue of pregnant, disabled artist Alison Lapper. According to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the statue ''is meant to be a tribute to motherhood and people with disabilities. The 13-tonne statue was inspired by artist Alison Lapper who was born with no arms and shortened legs due to a congenital disorder. Lapper posed naked for sculptor Marc Quinn when she was eight months' pregnant.'' London will hold its 2007 Disability Rights Festival in the square on Sept. 1

Coddled in the Cotswolds

On Friday morning, July 27, I flew from Dublin to Bristol, England, and was met by my wonderful friends Pat and Bert Gough. (They spend winters staying next door to me in Florida.) It was so great to have my mini-break with friends in their beautifully restored cottage, and to wash my clothes, have home cooking, and even be treated to a birthday cake! (Yes, on Saturday, July 28, I turned 29 again ... well, maybe it is 39...) I just love the Cotswolds, which I have read about forever but had never seen. One evening I had delicious fish and chips with Pat and Bert and their son Simon, and his children Jessica and Nick. I also had a diet-busting Christmas pudding for dessert, which Pat and Bert happened to have in their cupboard! (It was a gift that I don't think anyone else had wanted to eat.)


Pat and Bert's little village has about 600 people and is near Chipping Sodbury (where J.K. Rowling was born. No blue plaque on any house there yet, however!) Pat and I walked down the street to see their ancient village church, called St. James the Elder. Every morning I woke up to the sound of people riding by on their horses! Much of it really takes one back in time... Pat and Bert (actually Bert was the extremely energetic chauffeur) also drove me all over the place and we saw some of the flooding which recently devastated much of Gloucestershire (though luckily not Horton). They sure have a nice retirement -- part of the time in Florida and the rest of the time in their Cotswolds cottage!

Dublin for a Day

Ultra-cheap airline RyanAir more than ''encouraged'' me to fly over to Dublin, even though my mini-break schedule allowed me to stay there for just a day. (I had already made plans to visit my friends in the Cotswolds.) On Thursday morning, July 26, Kathy, Edie, Nancy and I flew to a much rainier and colder city than we had experienced thus far! Kathy and I booked a room at the Tulip Inn near the airport, to be able to leave the next morning. (Edie and Nancy booked a room in a castle outside the city, as they were staying longer in Ireland.)


The four of us took the Dublin Sightseeing City Tour in the afternoon, and the 90-minute bus ride gave me a good feel for the city, even though I kept falling asleep! That evening, Kathy and I saw ''Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix'' and walked around the city a bit more. We stopped by the centrally located but still sort of controversial ''Spire of Dublin.'' (It is officially called the ''Monument of Light'' but apparently has lots of nicknames....) The stainless steel monument was supposed to have been finished for the millenium but was not completed until 2003, and is 120 meters (393 feet) high. Of course I got really dizzy looking up at it!

More Explorations Around Edinburgh

Edie and I continued our explorations around Edinburgh, including visiting the enormous National Museum of Scotland, which is embarking upon a 15-year renovation plan! (Most of the museums and libraries we visited throughout the U.K. seem to be undergoing refurbishment and/or expansion!) The Scottish museum currently has a world-class exhibit (through Oct. 28, 2007) called ''Weaving Words: The Art of Anna S. King.'' The talented fiber artist even experiments with handmade paper and tiny books, in addition to weaving with feathers and buttons.


Scotland is naturally proud of its recent devolution from England, and I really like the new Parliament building that is at the bottom of the Royal Mile across from Holyrood House. Some people might not find it to their taste, but architect Enric Miralles said he wanted it to ''sit in the land'' and have stones from the old brewery and other buildings previously on the site. (The photo above shows part of Parliament at right, across from the Queen's Gallery, which is connected to Holyrood House.)

Exploring Edinburgh


It is astonishing how much there is to do in Edinburgh, especially considering that it is the capital of a country with only 5 million inhabitants. During our free time, Edie and I went on a tour of the royal yacht Britannia, which was decommissioned in 1997 and is now set up as a charitable trust in Edinburgh's port of Leith. The Scotsman says it is ''Scotland's favorite day trip'' and I can see why -- it is fascinating for those with royalty and/or nautical interests. (This photo shows me by the bar in the royal family's sun lounge.)

National Library and Archives of Scotland


Monday, July 23, was an exciting day because our group attended fascinating lecture/tours at the National Library of Scotland in the morning, and at the National Archives in the afternoon. (Photo shows a hanging sculpture in the library lobby.) And both times we were treated with wonderful Scottish hospitality of tea and biscuits. The big news at the National Library (which takes in about 8,000 items per week!) is that the John Murray Archive has just opened. It features a changing line-up of ''the writers and thinkers of John Murray's publishing firm (who) shaped the modern world through their works of literature, science, exploration, and politics.'' Currently included are Byron, Isabella Bird Bishop, Darwin, Disraeli, David Livingstone, Robert Peel, and Sir Walter Scott. According to our personable guide, senior curator David McClay, one Darwin manuscript in the Murray collection is worth £100,000!


The National Archives of Scotland is undergoing a massive digitization project and is already up to 7 million documents. It is working with the Genealogical Society of Utah. The archives owns records dating back to the 12th century, and its holdings take up 70 km of space! Included are sasines (land registry), Church of Scotland records, Poor Relief registers, and wills and testaments. We saw some very interesting items, including a scroll from the 1400's that first mentions (in Latin) the sale of whisky. I also realized from a 19th century cookery book that a Cox's Orange Pippin refers to the apple variety.

Thursday, 2 August 2007

Literary Connections Throughout the City

In the city, it's a treat to come upon the Greyfriars Bobby statue, which was erected in 1981. Wikipedia says: ''Bobby belonged to night watchman John Gray, and they were inseparable for about two years. Gray died of TB in 1858 and was buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard. ... Bobby, who survived Gray by 14 years, spent the rest of his life sitting on his master's grave. A more realistic account has it that he spent a great deal of time at the grave, but left regularly for meals at a restaurant beside the graveyard, and may have spent colder winters in nearby houses.'' (

Several of us also stopped in at The Elephant House, which urges its patrons to ''experience the same atmosphere that J.K. Rowling did as she mulled over a coffee writing her first Harry Potter novel.'' I can't wait to see what future best-selling tomes my colleagues are penning, as you can see in this photo!

On Wednesday morning, July 25, our class went to the Writers' Museum (pictured above) on the historic Royal Mile. It has quite comprehensive exhibits on ''three of Scotland's best-known writers'': Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, and Robert Louis Stevenson. There is also space for temporary exhibits and I was thrilled to see that the current one is on mystery writer and Edinburgh native Ian Rankin. It is called ''Rankin & Rebus: Partners in Crime. Celebrating 20 Years of Inspector Rebus.'' (I have seen lots of the shows on PBS and now I realize there is only one problem: I have a whole new series of books that I'll just HAVE to read!)

Academic Activities and Adventures


We had three days and four nights in Edinburgh, and the days were made up of a combination of scheduled academic activities and free time and/or research time. My classmates and I explored Princes Street and much of the central city. Its skyline is, of course, dominated by the famous castle and the Walter Scott monument, which are shown above. And yes, the sound of bagpipes often wafts throughout the city! This photo of a bagpiper came out a little dark as it was a bit cloudy, but for the most part, the weather was just as lovely and sunny as it had been during our weeks in London.

Edifying Edinburgh: July 22-26


Edinburgh was a terrific choice for our group's out-of-London trip! I hadn't been there since January of 1975, and had sort of forgotten that it is definitely one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. We rode up in a brand-new, luxury coach and watched DVDs as the English countryside turned into Scotland. Our spacious dorms were at the University of Edinburgh, just a mile or so from the center of the city at the base of Arthur's Seat (a craig or mini-mountain). We were treated to delicious Scottish breakfasts each morning -- including salmon, baked beans, tomatoes, and porridge. (This photo shows Edie and Nancy at the border, where our bus driver kindly made a quick stop.)

Saturday, 21 July 2007

Upcoming Week July 22 to 28


Well, we're halfway through our program and tomorrow (Sunday, July 22) classes disperse to far-flung spots in Europe to continue their studies! Our group will leave on a coach (bus) at 9 a.m. for Edinburgh. We'll stay in university dorms and our professors aren't sure about computer access. Hmmm... guess we may have to find some Internet caf├ęs. That's one thing that's sure changed since I was last in the ''Athens of the North'' at age 18!


On Monday, July 23, we'll visit the National Library of Scotland and then the National Archives. Tuesday is a research day and I may go to the Natural History Museum. On Wednesday, the Writers' Museum is on the agenda. Then it's our mini-break, and four of us bought cheap RyanAir tickets to Dublin for Thursday, July 26. I'll just stay a day and a night, because on Friday, July 27, I'm flying to Bristol, England. My friends, part-time Sanibel Island snowbird neighbors Pat and Bert Gough, are going to meet me at the airport. I'll finally get to see their town of Chipping Sodbury, which I've heard so much about! (Including the fact that it's the birthplace of J.K.Rowling!) Speaking of births ... my birthday is Saturday the 28th, and I know I'm awfully fortunate to be able to celebrate it on ''This royal throne of kings, this scepter'd isle ... This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England''!

Odds 'n' Ends on July 20 & 21


Friday, July 20 was a day for catching up!! -- On sleep, reading, studying, and doing this blog! Of course lots of my classmates went out Friday evening to see the ''Harry Hoopla'' at Waterstone's bookshop in Piccadilly. About 7,000 people stood in a half-mile long queue to wait until one minute past midnight for their copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. And many of the fans had been waiting there with sleeping bags for two days! (But that wasn't for me -- I was perfectly happy to see the spectacle vicariously on my friends' cameras, on TV, and in the newspapers.) This morning (Saturday, July 21), I went into W. H. Smith's at Waterloo Station and it is selling two versions of the book -- a colorfully illustrated cover for children and a mostly black cover for adults!


This afternoon (Saturday, July 21) Edie and I took the tube to Wimbldon. (We actually had to walk for about 20 minutes from the nearest tube stop, and most of it was in the rain! Pretty fitting for Wimbledon, I thought.) It's another place I can cross off my list that I have always wanted to see. We didn't have much time to go through the whole museum but we got the gist of the place. It was renovated in November 2006, and also has a snazzy store. Visitors can pay extra to take a tour although we just sort of peeked around the fences, etc... The whole place is pretty gigantic.

Oxford on My Own

On Thursday afternoon, July 19, after finishing our guided tour of the Bodleian Library, we had Oxford on our own. Several of us first had lunch at the Eagle and Child pub, which was the favorite pub of C.S. Lewis and Tolkien and the other ''Inklings.'' Then I set out to walk around the city, passing by several of the colleges, including Christ Church (the Cathedral and House). Most of my time was spent at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History and the next-door Pitt Rivers Museum of Anthropology and World Archaeology.
( and (


The Victorian Gothic-style Museum of Natural History opened to the public in 1860 and was ''designed as a cathedral to science.'' Last year, a newspaper chose it and the Pitt Rivers as the most ''family friendly'' museums in the U.K., and I can see why! Hundreds of children were running around enjoying well-designed exhibits on fossils, animals, rocks and minerals, and insects. I was a bit disappointed in the mollusk exhibit upstairs. Museum education specialist Chris Jarvis said it hadn't been updated. (Dad, you'd like this huge chunk of pyrite that lots of kids were running by, yelling: ''Fool's Gold! Fool's Gold!'' Photo above shows me by the museum's inevitable statue of Linnaeus.)


Chris kindly gave me a copy of the little paperback he recently wrote and illustrated, titled The Life and Times of Carl Linnaeus. The museum gave them out during its fun-filled Linnaeus celebration this past May 31 and June 1. I love the ''Mnemonic for Remembering our System of Classification'' that Chris uses in his book (for Kingdom - Phylum - Order- Family - Genus - and Species): Kissing Pigs Often Feels Gooey (and) Slimey!!!

The Pitt Rivers Museum was founded in 1884 and it now contains more than half a million artefacts. Favorites include Bast, the Egyptian cat god; an Egyptian mummy, and shrunken heads. (Photo at right shows a Pacific Islander chieftain dress of abalone shell.) After the Pitt Rivers, I fast-walked to the Ashmolean Museum, which is the world's first university museum. It opened in 1683 and the current building is now undergoing a major renovation. Before heading to the train station in the early evening, I just had time to see the ground floor, which includes classical Rome and Greece; ancient Egypt; English pottery, and European porcelain.

'Historic Heart of the University of Oxford'

Early in the morning of Thursday, July 19, our class took the tube from Waterloo to Paddington Station to get an express train to Oxford. (It was fun to see the statue of Paddington Bear in the station. A nearby vendors sells -- what else -- the famous books, and also stuffed Paddington toys! He reminded us that next year is the 50th anniversary of Michael Bond's beloved series and said the author plans to come out with a 12th Paddington book.) Carrie Willis, a cyber classmate of mine from Florida State, is shown in the photo at right next to the Paddington statue!


Within an hour we were at the Oxford Station, and then all walked to the Bodleian Library, ''the historic heart of the university.'' It is the main research library of Oxford and has nearly 8 million items and its combined buildings have 2,482 seats. We divided into two groups and ours had a very knowledgable young tour leader named Matthew. The tour began in the Divinity School, which was built from 1472-1488 and used as the university's first exam school. It is also where the infirmary scenes were filmed in the Harry Potter films! (Shown in photo at left.)

We then toured the Proscholium, which was built in 1610-1612 below Sir Thomas Bodley's first extension of his library, according to Next was the much-photographed (no pun intended!) Radcliffe Camera, called ''camera'' because it is the Latin word for ''room.'' It became integrated with the Bodleian in the 1860s. The Clarendon Building (1712-1715) is used for administrative offices. We did tour the stacks underneath the New Bodleian Library, which was built from 1936 to 1940, with the lion's share of funding coming from the Rockefeller Foundation.


The average time to deliver book orders from the New Library stacks to a Reading Room is three hours. But the Bodleian is running out of space and the library's new director, American Sarah Thomas, is planning to move much of the colleciton off site. Ms. Thomas, who had been at Cornell University, started at the Bodleian this past February, and is its first woman director.

Friday, 20 July 2007

We Walked for Miles and Miles!

Wednesday, July 16, was a ''research day'' and my classmate Kathy Watson, who is from Kentucky, and I decided to take the train from nearby Waterloo station to Windsor and Eton. Kathy particularly wanted to go because the tiny hamlet of Dorney is near Windsor, and Dorney is where author Susan Cooper grew up. (Kathy is doing her project on Cooper's award-winning Dark Is Rising series.) We were thinking of renting bikes in Windsor to ride to Dorney...


Windsor Castle and Eton College are both places that I have wanted to see for ages and ages, but somehow did not make it there during my other visits to England. So once again I have such a good feeling of accomplishment about this trip! It was well worth the long queue especially to see Queen Mary's dollhouse, of course, as all the guidebooks will attest. It was a gorgeous day and we spent more time at the castle than we planned. Eton features prominently in so many English books; I am glad that I can now picture it!
( and (


When we got to the bike rental place about 4 p.m, we found out it closes at 6 p.m. and decided that wasn't enough time to get to keep the bikes. So we walked about four or five miles through fields to see Dorney (not much to see, must admit!). On the way back, we took the Thames footpath and saw the Eton College rowing lake where Olympic rowing will take place in 2012! (Photo above shows the rowing centre.) I also got stabbed in the fingers by stinging nettles and poor Kathy, who wore shorts, got an allergic reaction on her legs from walking through straw! (Photo at top shows Kathy in the field of straw!) But it still was a fabulous day and we felt that ''good kind'' of exhaustion on the hourlong train ride back ''home.''

Spiritual, Special, and Surreal Tuesday, July 17


On Tuesday morning, July 17, our class was privileged to have a private tour of the library at St. Paul's Cathedral by librarian Joseph Wisdom (yes, that's his real name!) We met at the west door and Joe pointed out a bas relief of an open book atop the doorway, which he said symbolizes that ''the word of God is preached here.'' We then climbed a narrow, enclosed staircase to where the ''BBC camerman stands.'' The first room we entered houses the ''Great Model'' of the cathedral, made of oak and plaster in 1673-74, that was proposed by Sir Christopher Wren after the Great Fire of 1666. It was rejected as ''looking too much like Rome'' but Wren actually pretty much had his way and the final cathedral looks an awful lot like the original model!

An old, musty smell hit us as soon as we entered the library, which contains liturgies, bibles, and books and manuscripts on theology, canon law, civil law, travel, various Latin and Greek subjects, and even numismatics. The library is now open to ''anyone who can make good use of it'' and Joe works there two and a half days a week, along with a few volunteers. Cathedral archives and diocesan records are held in the Guildhall Library, however. Hundreds of the cathedral's books have tape on the spine, holding it together, yet Joe says the textblock is often sound. He showed us a Bodleian Library (Oxford Univ.) catalogue from 1674, with interleaved pages so notations could be added.


Tuesday at 2:30 p.m., I met a group of people from the Linnean Society, including librarians Gina and Lynda, at the staff entrance to the Natural History Museum in South Kensington. The museum library's head of cataloguing, Diane Tough (yes, that's her real name!), took us to the Rare Books Room of the General and Zoology Library. It is the site of ''Linnaeus 300: A Celebration of the Tercentenary of Carl Linnaeus'' from May through July 2007. The display features material owned by the museum. It is open to museum staff, learned societies, librarians, and in the case of this exhibit, invited guests from the fields of biolgoy, botany, and zoology. (The room is not big enough or secure enough to invite the general public.)

Diane and four colleagues worked hard to curate the display, which ''is a celebration of Linnaeus' monumental achievement at 'creating order out of chaos.' '' I saw the museum's own copy of the first edition of Systema Naturae! There was information on Linnaeus' ''apostles,'' rare books resting on foam book ''cradles,'' botanical and malacological illustrations, and a contemporary poster of Linnaeus done in the ''Chuck Close'' style (see photo at top), to names just a few of the special items.


Months ago, I read that an exhibit titled ''Surreal Things'' would run from March 29 to July 22 at the Victoria and Albert Museum. And since the V & A is next door to the Natural History Museum in South Kensington, I popped right over after viewing the Linnaeus display. ''Surreal Things'' is an astonishing show and I am so lucky to have been in London for it! (It next goes to Rotterdam, and then to the Guggenheim in Bilbao in 2008.)

The exhibit features two of Salvador Dali and Edward James's famous Lobster Telephones (in white and orange)! It has a wheelbarrow covered in satin by Oscar Dominguez, many familiar paintings by Joan Miro, a Bed-Cage by Max Ernst, incredible dresses by the legendary Elsa Schiapparelli, and even Dali's Ruby Lips Brooch with pearl teeth!!!! And oh, yes, it also has the famous Mae West Lips Sofa by Dali and James! I just wish the exhibit were staying longer so all of my classmates could have time to see it.

Lot More Linnaeus on Monday, July 16!

On Monday morning, July 16, our class had a lecture and tour at the Museum of London. However, that was the only time that Linnean Society librarian Gina Douglas and deputy librarian Lynda Brooks (in photo above) had available for me to interview them for my main project. So Dr. Welsh and Miss Wright kindly let me opt out of the class plan, and fortunately Katrina and I had spent quite a bit of time at the Museum of London this past Christmas!

I spent several hours at the Linnean Library, and it was a very worthwhile day as I began to visualize the ''bones'' of my required long paper. Lynda also gave me a tour of the building and I saw the well-known portrait of Darwin, who first announced his theory of evolution at a Linnean Society meeting. (Best of all, Gina and Lynda invited me to meet them at the Natural History Museum the next afternoon, for a private tour of the not-for-the-public Linnean exhibit in the Natural History Museum Library's Rare Books Room.)


After interviewing the librarians, I popped across the doorway of the Linnean Society into one of the other ''learned societies'' at Burlington House -- The Geological Society of London. There, just for me, the receptionist unveiled ''The Map That Changed the World.'' Simon Winchester's best-selling book of the same name was on our class reading list. That's how I learned about William Smith's extraordinary 1815 map of 'England and Wales with part of Scotland.' While doing research, I found out that a full size replica is on display in the Dept. of Earth Sciences at the Univ. of New Hampshire, my alma mater! (Note to my old UNH roommate Andrea Held: I bet you didn't realize how important that map was while you worked in the Earth Sciences Library during the summer of 1977?!)


Monday evening, several of my classmates and I walked to the legendary Old Vic Theatre just a short distance from our dorm. We were thrilled to get last-minute tickets to 'Gaslight'! I've been following Kevin Spacey's tenure these past few years as the Old Vic's artistic director, and am rooting for his success. If Monday night's performance is any indication, he is on the right track! 'Gaslight' is a Victorian thriller and the program says it was first staged in 1938, and won Ingrid Bergman an Oscar for her role in the film version. This production starts Rosamund Pike and she was terrific.

He Doesn't Care What I'm Wearing


Sunday, July 15, was a ''catch-up'' day, as I first did laundry at our dorm. In the afternoon, I went to the Natural History Museum, hoping to see ''gallery character'' Linnaeus explaining ''how he developed a brilliant idea for naming all living things,'' according to a museum brochure. Unfortunately, I missed him by half an hour and won't be here when he's on view again. I then traveled to the Finchley Road tube to walk around leafy, luxurious Hampstead in northwest London. It was a bittersweet evening because I went to the Hampstead Campus of King's College on Kidderpore Avenue, where Ceci (my late sister) lived during her Tufts University London Abroad program from January to May 1988. At that time it was called Westfield College; about 15 years ago it was taken over by King's College.


Any time is always a fascinating time to be in London, but it seems like the summer of 2007 is an unusually interesting and exciting time! Since early May, a total of 31 life-size casts of and by British sculptor Antony Gormley have been set up on London rooftops and walkways! They are part of his latest work, ''Event Horizon.'' According to information from the Hayward Gallery on the South Bank, the sculptures ''all look towards the gallery,'' where there is also an exhibition of Gormley's work, ''Blind Light,'' on view until Aug. 19. (Apparently when they first were set up, London police received many phone calls from panicked citizens thinking they saw people about to commit suicide.) My friends have taken these photos of me and Antony a few different times when I have been ''walking by him'' (actually, one of his 31 selves) on Waterloo Bridge!

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Saturday Afternoon, July 14, at Canterbury

Magnificent Canterbury Cathedral was our tour bus destination on Saturday afternoon! Pamphlets note it is ''the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion and the Seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury'' (even though he actually lives in London). Of course it is also infamous because it is where archbishop Thomas Becket was murdered in 1170.


The additional information that the brochures explain is that it costs £12,000 a day to run the cathedral (more than $24,000 in U.S. dollars at the abysmal exchange rate we have right now!) Because the cathedral ''receives minimal external funding,'' it is now charging admission to enter to look around (not to worship). In addition, it currently has a £50 million campaign under way to raise funds to ''conserve the fabric of the cathedral,'' ''support the music'' and ''develop the experience.'' My £5 student fee will be a drop in the bucket, but every little bit helps. (Apparently, when the cathedral tried to just ''suggest'' admission, it averaged only about 12 pence per person!!!)

After touring the cathedral, I walked out the back past the library (it was closed at the time) and then saw two picture-perfect wedding receptions under way on the grounds. The cathedral lawns sort of morph into the grounds of King's College, one of the oldest schools in the world. I also loved walking around the surrounding streets of the ancient town, passing through the beautiful arch (photo at left) and thinking of Chaucer and his Canterbury Tales. (Edie and Mary are in the photo at right.)

Saturday Morning, July 14, at Dover Castle


My good luck continued and a seat became available at the last minute for the Saturday, July 14, bus trip to Dover and Canterbury. Even though I've been to London many times, I'm finally seeing several places I had never visited. Now I can check off that I've seen the white cliffs of Dover and its ancient castle! There was a lot of climbing involved on this trip, but the views (not quite to France) were worth it! (Glad we didn't get lost in the medieval tunnels, too!) A falconry show was going on but when I got to the tent, the birds were still inside. It is a great place for a family outing, and there were darling children all over the place. (A photo above shows Edie and Mary with the English Channel behind them, and Mary in one of the tunnels.)

Little Bit More Linnaeus!

On the afternoon of Friday, July, 13, after our tour of Parliament, Edie Daniel (a classmate from Oklahoma) and I tried to visit Westminster Abbey but the last tour had closed 15 minutes earlier. On a whim, we went to Piccadilly to find Burlington House, which is the home of the Linnean Society. (It also houses the Royal Academy of Arts, and four other ''learned societies.'')

It was my good fortune that the Linnean Society was open until 6 p.m. Librarian and archivist Gina Douglas and Deputy Librarian Lynda Brooks invited me and Edie to look around! (I also set up my interview with them for Monday morning, July 16. That was the best time for both of them, although I will have to miss our class trip to the Museum of London.)


Burlington House is a Palladian mansion and entering the library seemed to take us back in time! Yet right away, Edie noticed the library's innovative serials table. It has an accompanying drawing that shows where to find current journals on the table. For example, Australian ones go in a certain place, etc... We also played around a bit with the library's computer, but I will find out a lot more information on Monday!

Fun on Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th of July was a lucky day, actually, because our class had a guided tour inside Parliament! It is also known as the Palace of Westminster, and the Queen is allowed to visit only once a year (usually in November) to give her speech. All of the myriad facts and figures swimming around in my head about Parliament were regaled in full detail by our elderly guide, Gerald Burke, who had been for many years a sergeant-at-arms in Parliament. We toured the House of Commons (part of which was bombed in WWII) and the House of Lords. In The Members' Lobby, there are statues of many ex-Prime Ministers. A recent addition is Maggie Thatcher and Mr. Burke told us that at the unveiling, she joked that she didn't like it because it wasn't made of iron!


After our tour, I toured a temporary exhibit in huge Westminster Hall, which was built in 1097 and is the oldest part of the palace. The free exhibit, which runs through Sept. 23, is ''The British Slave Trade: Abolition, Parliament, and People.'' It marks the ''1807-2007 Bicentenary of the British Parliamentary Aboliton of the Slave Trade.'' A pamphlet notes that the exhibit ''examines the pressures and voices both at home and abroad which influenced Parliament, and eventually led to the passing of the Act to abolish Britain's slave trade in 1807.''

There is a disturbing section at the end of the exhibit on modern-day slavery. It made me think of my friend Nola Theiss, the former mayor of my hometown of Sanibel Island, and other women on Sanibel and in Southwest Florida. They are working tirelessly to help eradicate human trafficking, a horror not unknown to Florida even in this millenium.

Seaman Schepps Exhibit in Somerset House

As soon as I got to London, I was thrilled to see posters all over announcing that the New York Museum of Arts & Design now has its acclaimed exhibit about jeweler Seaman Schepps in the Gilbert Collection at Somerset House, through Aug. 27. I am so glad I went to see it on Thursday afternoon, July 12, after our tour of the British Library. As Schepps' daughter Patricia Vaill says, ''Daddy's jewelry was something outrageous''!
I just adore his stuff because he uses ''an astonishing diversity of materials such as seashells, exotic woods, and rock crystal.'' Some of the pieces on view had been made for
the Duchess of Windsor, Doris Duke, Miss America Jinx
Falkenberg, and publisher Alfred A. Knopf's wife, to name
just a few of Schepps' high-profile society clients.
Afterward, I toured the main part of the Gilbert Collection.
There are more than 800 pieces of art, including exquisite micromosaics, all donated by Sir Arthur Gilbert before his death in 2001. Gilbert had been born in London and made his fortune in California real estate.