Back in the USA

I made it back to Charleston safe and sound last Sunday, after a VERY LONG day of travel and lots of stress over possibly missing our connecting flight. There were lots of issues in Heathrow, but after that, we made it without a hitch. When I finally went to bed on Sunday night, I had been awake for almost 48 hours! Talk about a long day. I’ve been back from London for about a week now, and as per usual, I haven’t stayed in one place too long. I was in Chester for a few days, and then Mom and I left on Thursday morning to come to Atlanta, and then go to Panama City for a funeral, and made stops in Marianna and Tallahassee before coming back to Atlanta! I go back to work on Monday, and I’m not looking forward to that, but it’ll be good to be back in a routine after a month of living day-to-day. It’s definitely weird being back in America, but my transition has been much easier than it was last time. I think my visits with friends and family and having some down time has helped, plus my last minute road trip to Florida made for a fun weekend!

So what’s next for me? For the next nine months, I’ll be in Columbia, working and going to class at USC. I’ll be getting my Master’s in May, and then who knows what? I’m currently in the process of applying for a Fulbright Scholarship to study abroad again in…you guessed it, the United Kingdom! Never fear, I’m not going back to London, although I wish I could. I’ve applied for a grant to do a year-long postgraduate program at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland in their History department, and my study would be the History of the Book. Lots of people apply for Fulbrights ever year, so the chance of getting the scholarship is small, but you never know until you try! The application process lasts through March 2015, so stay tuned on that. I would love the chance to study in the UK again, and would be delighted to live in the Motherland for a whole year!

If I don’t get the Fulbright, I’ll be looking for archives jobs. I’ve been thinking a lot about where I’d like to live and work and all that good stuff, and I’ve narrowed it down to several cities that I’d be happy living in, including Charlotte, Savannah, Atlanta, Greenville, Boston, Charleston, and the Triangle Area. There are lots of cultural heritage institutions and universities in all of those cities, so I feel fairly confident that I’ll be able to find something between them all.

I’m so honored to know that all of you took the time out of your busy days and schedules to allow me to share my adventures with you! It was truly a magical experience, and I know I’ll be back someday soon. So until next time…Cheers!

XO Laura Douglass

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“I’m not sure what I’ll do, but—well, I want to go places and see people. I want my mind to grow. I want to live where things happen on a big scale.” -F. Scott Fitzgerald, “The Ice Palace”

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Going Out in Royal Style

f63e18856935629d726776ff816b1277This morning I was up bright and early to meet with my professors about my paper. We could meet them any time between 8 and 11, and since I’m going to Buckingham Palace this afternoon I decided to go as early as possible. I finished my meeting with them about 9:15, and headed to the Sir John Soane Museum in Holborn.  The Soane Museum is without a doubt the oddest museum I’ve ever been to. It’s a house museum displaying the varied collections of Sir John Soane, an English architect. They have a small Hogarth collection, which is why I visited. You can’t talk in the house and you have to carry your purse around in a plastic bag. My bag is quite heavy to carry in one hand, especially in a plastic bag. I was worried the whole time that the bag would rip but it made it through the museum. I got to the all the Hogarths which was good. Hogarth painted and engraved his progresses, and the original Rake’s Progress paintings are at the Soane Museum. There’s also another plate series called Election on display. Overall, it was a good visit, but such an odd place.

IMG_1977I needed to run some errands in the Holborn area anyway, so it was good that I was over there. I got the bright idea to go to My Old Dutch for lunch, because there’s one right across the street from Holborn station. It seemed like a fitting last lunch. How strange that it’s my last lunch! I got my standard Apple and Cinnamon with whipped cream and as usual My Old Dutch did not disappoint! It was delicious. With a pot of Earl Grey tea, it was a lovely little lunch. Bonus points for MOD because while I enjoyed my pancake, I was serenaded by the entire Ed Sheeran
+ CD. AND I sat across from some Duke undergrads studying abroad. I thoroughly enjoyed eavesdropping on their conversation about their night out at Boujis, a really high end club. Hilariously entertaining.

DSCN0388After my brunch lunch, I rode my ever faithful and beloved 19 bus to Green Park and took a leisurely stroll through the park before meeting Jade and Taylor in front of Buckingham Palace. I’ve been dreaming of the day I would visit the home of the Queen for as long as I can remember. The state rooms are only open for 2 months in the summer and weren’t supposed to open until August 2. But for whatever reason they decided to move the opening date up by a week, and I jumped at the chance to get a ticket. We chose to do the “Royal Day Out” tour, which included the Queen’s Gallery, the Royal Mews, and the State Apartment. As you can imagine it lasted all afternoon. I was on cloud nine seeing all of this stuff.

IMG_1979The Queen’s Gallery is her own art collection on display for the public. They do a special exhibition each summer while the Palace is open, and surprise surprise, guess what the exhibit was on? You guessed it, Hogarth. I think I definitely chose a good research topic, don’t you? They had one of his business cards, which was really neat to see. I didn’t know people had business cards way back in the 1700s. Some of the Hogarths in the exhibit were purchased by Queen Victoria, which made me so happy! The other paintings and sculptures in the permanent gallery were stunning. I could definitely camp out there for a couple of days. The Royal Mews are where the Horse Guard horses are kept when not in service. It’s also where all the royal coaches are kept! We had a blast looking at all of those. We got to see the carriage Queen Elizabeth rode to her coronation and wedding in. At the end, we got to see some real horses! Their names were Mary Tudor, Daniel, and Stevenson. Mary Tudor and Stevenson were both born in 1991!

8500043 GSC (Derry Moore)The last part of the Royal Day Out and the real highlight was the State Rooms of the palace. We toured all through, and each one was just as beautiful as the last. There were portraits of Queen Victoria everywhere, so I was thrilled about that. Lots of Prince Albert representation too! Just like in Kensington, it was so neat to walk through rooms that so many monarchs and royal family members have walked through, but especially my beloved Queen V, since she was the first monarch to live there. The exhibit this summer was called “Royal Childhood” and featured items from the childhoods of various royal family members, but mostly Prince Charles, Prince William, and Prince Harry. We saw artwork Prince Charles did as a young boy, Prince William and Harry’s personalized painted chairs, lots of great pictures of them growing up, and their toys. I think the highlight of the items we saw was Prince George’s christening gown. It was even more beautiful and intricate in person than I imagined. We also got to see the throne room, which was AWESOME. We couldn’t take pictures in the State Rooms, but I’ve snagged a few from the Internet for you.

IMG_2037After our Royal Day Out, we went to Fortnum and Mason to check out all the food and tea. We decided not to buy anything, but it was fun to look! I then headed to South Kensington to run a few last minute errands. I had some special treats to bring back with me…aka Ben’s Cookies. I couldn’t bear to part with them quite yet, so I got a tin to eat while I’m in a state of depression this next week. Taylor and I ate pasties for dinner in Jubilee Gardens, which is where we ate our first meal in London. Everything’s coming full circle! We walked along the South Bank back to the dorm and had a little while to relax before we met up with the rest of our class for one last hurrah. The other USC girls decided to stay behind to pack, but I headed out with the rest of the LIS people back to the South Bank. We walked to Gabriel’s Wharf and hung out there for a bit. It was low tide on the Thames, so we even walked down on the banks! My classmate Patrick took a rock for a souvenir. After that, we went to a local pub and had a few pints of Strongbow or beer before coming back to Stamford Street to finish our packing. I’ve made some really good friends on this trip, and it’s so sad to see them go!

I tried to enjoy this day as much as possible and use my time that I have left to the fullest. It’s been hard because I hate goodbyes, but I have kept the tears to a minimum. There will always be things left to do, because there’s too much to do in London, but that’s what next time is for. I leave the city at 3AM (10PM your time) to go to Heathrow, so the clock is ticking. Less than two hours!! I’m all packed and ready to go, and my suitcase doesn’t weigh over 50 pounds at this point so I’m good to go on that front. My carry on is pretty heavy with souvenirs and breakable mugs, but I’ll manage!

On a happier note, today is Mom and Dad’s 34th wedding anniversary, which is pretty amazing! I’m so proud to be their daughter! Happy Anniversary Doug and Susan! Love y’all and see you in a few hours!

XO Laura Douglas

“Good bye may seem forever. Farewell is like the end, but in my heart is the memory and there you will always be.” -Walt Disney

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London Love

IMG_1957After my morning and early afternoon of Hogarth research, I managed to pack in some more activity.  Taylor, Jessica, and Jade went to Leavesden Studios, aka the Making of Harry Potter tour this morning and got back to Stamford St about the same time as me. After we all dried out a little bit, we visited Primark on Oxford Street to find some last minute deals on clothes. We also trekked around London to find a Cath Kidston store that was open after 6. Cath Kidston is kind of like the Vera Bradley of England. She makes lots of printed bags and clothes and accessories. Floral prints and polka dots are her signature patterns. I love her stuff, and most of my IES friends have some sort of Cath accessory. We were successful in our search and found one off of Baker Street. Taylor was in the market for a teapot, and found a really cute single serve floral pot and got some matching spoons. I of course could not pass up an opportunity to grab some Cath souvenirs, so I got a big tea mug with a floral print and a lanyard to put my Carolina Card on for work. I don’t have to wear the ugly Gamecock one any more! We poked around some of the really cheesy London souvenir shops too, but didn’t find anything too wonderful.

IMG_1975Jade didn’t go with us on our shopping extravaganza, so we came back to Stamford Street to grab her and go to dinner. We decided to go to Giraffe on the South Bank, one of my favorite restaurants and occasional Hugh Grant sighting location. We all enjoyed our food and one of our last adventures on the South Bank, but sadly did not see Hugh Grant. After dinner, we of course wanted Flake cones, so we walked down to the London Eye to visit our usual ice cream truck. While we were eating our ice cream, we noticed that the sun was starting to set, and I snapped some photos of Charing Cross and Westminster with pink and orange clouds. The buildings and sky looked like a painting. It was like Big Ben wasnt even real. ‘t never ceases to amaze me how stunning London is.

IMG_1963We were walking back towards the dorm, and Taylor and I saw a swing ride that we HAD to ride on. It went up several hundred feet in the air and swung you all around the Jubilee Gardens. It’s part of Udderbelly Festival. We hopped on and had a great time, until we got stuck at the top for like 10 minutes. When we finally got back down, they told us we could stay on because we still had a ride left. The second time, it went much faster and it was almost a little scary, but we made it! If nothing else, it makes a good story. But it was awesome to see London from so high up! We’re all back at the dorm now working on blogs and our papers. We have to turn in our plans for our paper with a thesis and research questions tomorrow, so everyone is a little stressed. At least we don’t have exams though; all the other classes have a sit down exam to take from 8-11 tomorrow, and we’re free to traipse around as we please as long as we submit our plans. Pretty good deal!

IMG_1972Tomorrow is my last day in London, and I’m having a really hard time accepting that. I told myself before I came that it would be so much easier to leave than last time because I would only be here for a month, I wasn’t living in Chelsea, and I didn’t have Sara Ashley, Katie, and Jessica here with me. But I can say with total confidence that it’s definitely not easier this time around. If anything, it’s much much harder. I know I’ll be back, but it’s hard to say goodbye to a place that’s like your second home I’m trying to promise myself that I won’t cry on the way to the airport or on the plane, but I’m pretty sure that’s a promise I can’t keep. Even though my heart is breaking over leaving London, I am excited to see all of your lovely faces next week! Look for an update on my last day tomorrow! Cheers!

XO Laura Douglass

“You find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” -Doctor Samuel Johnson

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The Hogarth Day

IMG_1857Up to this point, I’ve pretty much successfully avoided doing research for my paper in my free time. Any Hogarth prints I’ve come across have been purely a coincidence or a result of a class visit, so I don’t really count that as research. Today I spent most of my day doing research for the paper I have to write for my summer class. I am writing about William Hogarth, the famous British painter and engraver, and his home, which is now a museum dedicated to his life and works. I’m discussing it as a historical home and as a house museum, because I find house museums fascinating. I have admired Hogarth as a social critic and an artist since my freshman year of college, so it would be the understatement of the year to say that I was so excited to visit his home for the first time. And it was everything I’d hoped it would be!

The Painter and his Pug 1745 by William Hogarth 1697-1764I’ll give you a little background on Hogarth before I tell you about me geeking out in his house. William Hogarth was born in 1697 in London to fairly poor parents. In fact, his father was in debtor’s prison for 5 years. He became an engraving apprentice as a teenager, and enjoyed practicing by sketching people and things he saw around London. He started his own business in 1720, and became well known in the arts community, and became a household name in England in the 1730’s. His hallmark was sketching and engraving scenes of London that commented on society and morality in a satirical way. He was one of the strongest social critics of his day, and the fact that he did it through art makes him even cooler. He was friends with many authors, so he also designed engravings for their books on a regular basis in addition to his other work. Most of these authors fall into the Restoration and 18th century British literature category, so many books that I read at Wofford had his engravings in the front. Hogarth died in 1764, but is still a very well known and admired British artist today. His works appear in almost every major museum in London, and several of them are commemorating the 250th anniversary of his death this year with exhibits dedicated to him. That’s why I’ve run into his work by accident so many times this month.

picksimg_popupI found out at about 10:30 last night that the Foundling Museum had an exhibit dedicated to Hogarth this summer, so I decided that I needed to go see that this morning. The Foundling Museum tells the story of the Foundling Hospital, which rescued and raised children who were orphaned or abandoned by their parents, usually for debt reasons. The hospital was started by Thomas Coram, a good friend of Hogarth’s. Hogarth was one of the founding Governors of the Foundling Hospital and remained very involved until his death. This connection means that the Foundling Museum has most of the original and early Hogarth work that the Hogarth House doesn’t have. The exhibit was called “Progress”, and they had four modern artists create their take on Hogarth’s “Rake’s Progress”. The artists were David Hockney, Grayson Perry, Jessie Brennan, and Yinka Shonibare. The photo above is one of Hockney’s plates. It was amazing to see their interpretations of the progress plates and it showed just how relevant Hogarth’s work is in modern society. My friend Jessica from my IES program did an internship at the Foundling Museum, so it was weird to be there without her! I forgot just how much Hogarth material they have in their collection. It was definitely a worthwhile visit.

chiswickAfter the Foundling Museum, I headed out to Chiswick to visit the Hogarths’ home. In Hogarth’s time, Chiswick was still a country village, separate from London, but today it’s one of the communities in the London borough of Hounslow. It’s very near Kew Gardens and Heathrow. I was honestly a little nervous about going because I’ve never been to Chiswick and didn’t have a whole lot of idea about how to get from the tube station to the house. Outside of the central city, the signage for places is not as good, so you really have to rely on maps and your innate sense of direction, however good that may be. But I knew I could do it, and I found it pretty easily! It’s on a really busy road, which is kind of funny since Hogarth moved there to get away from London. Everything in that area of Chiswick is named for him. Hogarth Lane, Hogarth’s Roundabout, Hogarth this and that. Chiswick as a whole is a really cute little community, and so full of life and color. It seemed like a really happy place to be, and it’s really not that far from central London for people who live there. I made it to the Hogarth House just after noon, which is when it opened so I was the first one there. Definitely an eager beaver! Or a previous Pryor. One of the two.

Hogarth family dining room

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Hogarth’s House. To walk on the same floors and look out the same windows that William Hogarth used to walk on and see was a true treat for me. There was also a lot of information available for me to use in my research paper, which was a big weight off of my shoulders. A lot was riding on this visit since I wanted to write my paper on the house. I wasn’t sure before I went that I would get enough information to write 7,000 words, and if that had been the case I would have been up a creek without a paddle, because time is running out to research in London. Thankfully it turned out in my favor, and I couldn’t be more excited to be writing my paper on such a cool museum. The furniture in the museum was commissioned by the William Hogarth Trust to be exact replicas of furniture Hogarth designed in his engravings. Now that’s some dedication right there. The house is two floors and packs a lot of art, furniture, and personal possessions into a small space. I also befriended the guy who was working at the front desk, and we chatted about Hogarth and the house, as well as vacation spots in America and whether he should visit Houston or not. It was a really fun time!

Before I knew it, it was almost 2 and I needed to head back into town. I thought about visiting the Hogarths’ church and seeing his grave, but the weather had other plans for me. While I was chatting away, the sky had turned really black and it was clearly going to rain. Guess who ran out the door without her umbrella this morning? That would be me. I decided not to go to the cemetery because it was in the opposite direction of the Tube. I tried to hurry as quickly as I could back to Turnham Green, but it was about a mile away and I only made it a quarter of the way before the heavens opened up. I found a tree to hide under for about 10 minutes until it slacked off enough for me to scurry to the station as quickly as possible. I was pretty drenched by the time I got there, so basically my worst nightmare. But y’all should be so proud of me…I didn’t panic! I guess that British “keep calm and carry on mentality is finally rubbing off on me. I had planned to go straight to the National Art Library to read more about Hogarth’s house, but since I was soaking wet, I didn’t think the librarians would welcome my presence among rare documents. I came back to Waterloo and dried off, and decided to save the remainder of my research for the morning and do some fun things for the rest of the day. Stay tuned!

XO Laura Douglass

“All the world is competent to judge my pictures except those who are of my profession.”  -William Hogarth

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I Dreamed A Dream

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IMG_1343_320x480Hey friends! It’s getting down to the final hours of my time in London, so I’m of course running around like a chicken with my head cut off. Today was the last day of class, and we had a late morning visit to the Royal Geographical Society, but I started my morning off early at the V&A. I was there bright and early…so early in fact that they weren’t even open yet. I wasn’t the only eager beaver though…I was amazed at how many people were waiting outside the museum for it to open. The V&A houses the National Art Library, which has lots of Hogarth engravings for me to look at for my paper. I also finally got to see the wedding dress exhibit, which was everything I had hoped for and more. My favorite dress was the Jenny Packham Rapunzel dress. Jenny Packham dresses Duchess Kate and other celebrities a lot, and I’m obsessed with her bridal collection. I’d seen this dress online before, but obviously never in person, so I was freaking out when I realized that I was seeing a Jenny Packham dress with my own two eyes. All the dresses were stunning, and I learned a lot about wedding traditions all over the world. It was amazing!

IMG_1842I met up with the rest of the class outside of the Royal Geographical Society. One of our professors, Dr. Welsh, is a fellow of RGS. We met with their librarian who talked to us about the history of the society and showed us some of their neatest artifacts. They have 2 million items in their collections, including 500,000 photos, 250,000 books, an archive, and a small artifact collection. We saw some exploration tools used in the earliest Everest expeditions. There was also a display on African exploration, and we learned about Henry Morton Stanley, one of the British men who explored central Africa. He was one of the first people to go to the Congo area, and suggested that England colonize it. The UK wasn’t interested, so he convinced King Leopold in Belgium to colonize it instead, and that’s when it became the Belgian Congo. Stanleyville is named after him. Pretty cool to make a connection to Daddydon all the way in London!

IMG_1845After the Royal Geographical Society, a few of my classmates and I went to Westminster Abbey to tour the church and cloisters. We got to see a little bit during our class visits, but I wanted to see the whole thing. We barely made it in time for the last tour entry, but we got in and saw everything in about an hour. It was so neat to see all the graves of notable figures I’ve learned about in school. We saw Queen Elizabeth’s grave, Mary Queen of Scots’ grave, and all the memorials to literary figures in Poet’s Corner. I think that was probably my favorite thing.

I saw Les Miserables tonight at the Queen’s Theatre. This was a spur of the moment decision last week, because I couldn’t leave London without seeing some sort of West End musical theatre production. I splurged a little on my seat and sat downstairs in the stalls, which was lovely. I was far enough back to where I could see the whole stage, but since I was on the floor, I didn’t have to lean forward to see what was going on like you have to in the nosebleed section. The musical itself was spectacular. I couldn’t have asked to see a better cast. They gave some of the best performances I’ve ever seen, and they were all so vocally talented! I got teary when Jean Valjean died, but I do that every time I watch the movie too. The musical in general is just really emotional, and I know I wasn’t the only one in the theatre crying. If you’ve never seen Les Mis on stage, make that a high priority of yours. It’s a wonderful show.

IMG_1846I walked back to the tube through Piccadilly Circus, and was reminded of how vibrant and colorful London is. Certain parts of the city really come alive at night. I just love walking around and seeing so much life and movement. My teary eyes from the play turned into teary eyes over London. I am definitely not ready to leave in 48 hours. I need more time! I’ll always need more time.

Tomorrow is a free day, but I’ll be doing research for a good chunk of it. I’m heading out to Chiswick to visit the Hogarth House Museum. Hogarth lived in central London for much of his life, specifically in Leicester Square, but moved out of the city to Chiswick for about 20 years before his death. His house there is a museum about his life and works, so I’m going to check it out for research. Should be a fun adventure!

I can’t let this post go by without wishing a very happy 5th birthday to one Mr. Mac Wilson! I hope you had a great day buddy! Can’t wait to see you when I get home 🙂

XO Laura Douglass

“There is nothing like a dream to create the future.” -Victor Hugo

Some Like It Hot (But Not Me)

London is currently experiencing a heat wave, and ever since we got back from Ireland, it’s been about 85 with 75% humidity. So it’s HOT compared to what I’m used to in London. I definitely did not pack enough clothes to suit that temperature. Most of the libraries we visit don’t have air conditioning. In fact, most places in London don’t, because they usually don’t need it. On top of that, we don’t have air conditioning in the dorms, and the windows only open a little bit, so it’s pretty hot all the time everywhere we go. I guess London is just trying to help prepare me for the hellish weather I’m coming back to in South Carolina. I appreciate the thought, but come back cool weather!

Hogarth engraving at the Musum of London

Today we had two class visits: the Museum of London and Middle Temple Law Library. I’ve been to the Museum of London what seems like a million times, so I wasn’t all that pumped about visiting. I would have rather gone somewhere I haven’t been before. We met with one of their archivists, who is from Canada originally. She talked to us about her experiences in different LIS jobs and how she got to where she is today. It was nice to hear about job searching and that sort of thing from a professional. She’s had some really interesting jobs! At the Museum of London, she mostly works with their business archive, so she does a lot of records managing. She’s moving to Boston at the end of the summer to work at Harvard. Must be an archivist thing to love Boston and London! We got to look around the MoL after our talk with Sarah, so I looked around for a little bit to make sure nothing had changed while I was gone. I was really excited to see that they’ve added some Hogarth things to the Georgian part of the exhibit. I was looking forward to playing with the Charles Booth Poverty Map, but it was closed today for maintenance, which was really disappointing. Oh well.

IMG_1808We had a big chunk of time between our morning and afternoon visits, so I walked from the museum back to St. Paul’s to see some book benches. Unfortunately people were sitting on all of them during lunchtime so I couldn’t take any pictures. I walked across the Millennium Bridge, past the Tate Modern and the Globe to Borough Market. I have a deep deep love for Borough Market…I used to eat there pretty much every Thursday. My standard was a vegetable pasty, fresh squeezed cran-apple juice, and a gingerbread cookie. That juice was my life last time, so I was on a mission to get that juice today. The people moved their stall, so it took a little longer than it should have, but I found it! I savored that juice like it was my last meal. Somehow I made it last all the way home. I also got my gingerbread man from the Cinnamon Tree Bakery, and it was as good as I remember. We met back up at the dorm for our afternoon visit and rode the bus back over the river to Middle Temple

Middle Temple Law Library

Middle Temple Law Library is the library for Middle Temple, one of the four Inns of Court in the British legal system. Every barrister has to belong to one of the four courts; Middle Temple, Inner Temple, Lincoln’s Inn, or Gray’s Inn. They all have separate buildings with libraries, dining halls, and meeting rooms across the street from the Royal Courts of Justice. Middle Temple has the largest library, and their focus is on EU and American Law. Their head librarian is also Canadian, and took us on a tour of the library and the inn. It was totally different from any other library/archive we’ve visited on this trip. So cool! The Inns have honorary members who are not members of the Bar, including Princess Diana, David Cameron, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, Boris Johnson, John Rutter, and Prince William. My favorite fun fact about Middle Temple is that it’s used in lots of movies and television shows. It’s the location for the final scene in Bridget Jones:Edge of Reason. I was pretty excited about that.

IMG_1834Paul and I went to Somerset House to see the Courtald Gallery today. They have lots of impressionist paintings, and I’d never been before. It was really nice! We saw some Monets, Manets, Renoirs, Degas, van Goghs, Gaugins, Seurats, and Cezannes. I love George Seurat, so it was cool to see such a variety of paintings. Somerset House is literally right across the river from our dorm, so we walked back over Waterloo Bridge and stopped by the South Bank book sale on our way back to look for treasures. We didn’t really find anything all that exciting though.

IMG_1836I went to Starbucks for another red berry yoghurt smoothie, and then some of my classmates (Paul, Farrah, Sarah) and I went to NANDO’S!!! It was a triumphant return for me. There’s a Nando’s 390 feet from our building, and I’ve been dying to go but haven’t made it until tonight. The temperature had finally cooled down by 7:30 to a manageable level, so we sat outside at this great table and got to people watch on Stamford Street. I got a 1/4 chicken with mash and garlic bread, and I was in heaven. Most delicious meal I’ve had since I’ve been here for sure. We hung out at Nando’s for quite a while, and I just got back about 30 minutes ago from hanging out with them. I don’t think I have laughed so much as I did tonight in years. It was a great time spent with new friends. I’m sad to leave them all in a few days!

Tomorrow is our last day of class…I can’t believe it! We’re going to the Royal Geographical Society, and then have the afternoon free to do and see what we want. Who knows what tomorrow will bring!

XO Laura Douglass

“What dreadful hot weather we have! It keeps me in a continual state of inelegance.” -Jane Austen

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For King and Country

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Part One

Hey friends! Tuesday was my first full day back in London, and I was determined to make the most of it. There was an optional library visit this morning that I decided to opt out of. Instead, I went to visit my very favorite museum, the Imperial War Museum. It’s the archive for material relating to Britain’s involvement in war, past and present. It’s been closed for months for a £40 million renovation of their downstairs gallery in celebration of the WWI Centenary that’s occurring later this year. It just reopened on Saturday, and I’ve been planning this return trip for what seems like years. I got there about 10:15, and the line was already way out the door. the IWM is kind of a hidden treasure of London, so there usually aren’t very many people there. But I guess since the gallery is all shiny and new, and it’s tourist season, that makes for a bigger crowd. Usually you could just walk through any gallery in any order, but since it was so busy they were giving out timed entry tickets.

BREEN79My time for the WWI Galleries wasn’t until 11:15, which gave me plenty of time to revisit my favorite gallery on the Holocaust. The IWM collection on the Holocaust isn’t one of the biggest or most notable in the world, but they have one of the best exhibits on the Holocaust that I’ve ever seen. It’s put together so intentionally and so carefully. You can tell that the exhibition team and curators put a ton of effort into making sure every little detail was right. I can only dream that I might put together an exhibit that intentional one day. They do a great job incorporating audio-visual aids to help tell the stories of individual victims; some who survived and some who didn’t. It’s very informative and thought provoking. There are three main pieces in the exhibit that really stick out to me: the first is a bed from one of the concentration camps that was used to perform cruel and inhumane experiments on those who were mentally ill and handicapped. Second, a wagon that was used to transport Jews from their homes to the concentration camps around Germany. The wagon isn’t whole anymore; they just have the roof, so you walk under the roof and the weight of the tragedy comes crashing down on you all at once. The third is a model of Auschwitz, the largest of the concentration camps. It shows you where they came in, where they slept, ate, and bathed, and where they were senselessly murdered. Human hatred seems to be a theme of my week. Anyway, it is a fabulous exhibit, one I would highly recommend to anyone coming to London.

IMG_1771I finished up in the Holocaust Gallery just in time for my entry into the WWI Gallery. There were so many people in there it was like sardines. Regardless, I was able to see everything in the gallery, which takes up the entire ground floor. It starts in 1914 and works around clockwise. The exhibit was incredibly well executed, not that I would expect anything less than perfection from IWM. I would do anything to be on their exhibition team! The gallery is perfect for all different ages…most of the material is geared toward adults, but they have a ton of interactive and hands on features that engage teenagers and children into the exhibit. War is such an important part of Britain’s history, and World War I was especially cruel to the UK. It is so important for anyone with an interest in the UK to understand and appreciate the military history of the country and its involvement in the World Wars. I think it’s great that they’re clearly targeting younger people to engage with the material in their collections in a fun way. I had fun playing with some of the interactive maps and digitized letters. My favorite thing in the gallery was a case on Siegfried Sassoon, an important British poet who wrote wartime poems. His poetry influence many people’s feelings about the war in the post-war period. I studied him in college with Dr. Chalmers, so I was excited to see original copies. There were also a lot of maps and items from Ypres, which I visited with Julian and Diane in 2012 for my History class. It was so cool to know that I had been there and seen where these battles took place.

IMG_1772Once I decided that I had perused around IWM sufficiently, I paid a visit the tea room to work on my blogs for a bit. I got a pot of earl grey tea and a blueberry muffin and set up camp in a cosy chair right by the window. It was the best earl grey I’ve ever had, and it was a perfect hour.

Part Two

After my wonderful morning at IWM, I headed to Westminster Abbey for the class tour of the Abbey Library. Westminster is probably one of the most well-known landmarks in London, and also one of its oldest churches. The church was founded in 960 as a monastery, and the library is housed in the former dormitories of the monks. The first librarian of the Abbey, William Camden was appointed in 1587, and there have been 33 librarians since. The library’s shelves were given by the Dean of Westminster Abbey, John Williams, in 1623, along with a book collection worth £2,000. That’s a lot by today’s standards. The collection obviously has a strong emphasis on theological studies, and most of the books are early printed books, printed before 1800. The library’s collection is closed, so they don’t acquire new books unless something amazing and undiscovered comes out of the woodwork. They have a modern special collection that focuses on Westminster Abbey in particular, as well as St. Margaret’s.

IMG_1785In addition to a book collection, the Westminster Abbey Library also has an archive, called muniments. They go back to the 10th century, which is absolutely amazing. Monks were very meticulous and kept great records. The library is just now creating an online catalogue, but they don’t really need one because they don’t have a lot of researchers coming in who don’t know what they’re looking for. They still use their card catalog system, which really warms my heart. Like many libraries in the UK, they shelve their books by size, not by classification, so it’s actually really important for them to use the card catalog because that gives them the shelf location for each book. Without it, it would be next to impossible to find anything. The Abbey library was really neat. I feel like that was definitely one of the places that I wouldn’t be able to visit on my own, so I was glad we got to see it as a group. We were able to walk around the Abbey a little bit after our tour, and it’s so beautiful! Some of my classmates and I are planning to go back for the full tour before we leave.

XO Laura Douglass

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” -Edmund Burke

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