I can best describe the feeling I get from this city as inspiration. There are 3000 years of history to be found in London – everywhere I look and every corner I turn brings some new fascinating discovery. The city is a mix of new and old – the gutting of London by German bombers during WWII provided an opportunity to rebuild large stretches of the city. The bombs did not hit every building, though, and so quite often one will find a centuries-old building next to a modern building in the latest style. This process of regeneration and preservation often leads to interesting finds – remains of the original Roman settlement turn up in the most unexpected places (a Roman ship was recently found at a construction site, far away from where the Thames flows). For me, however, it is inspiring to see how the British have been able to blend these two very opposite processes to create something truly unique.
Friday was fairly uneventful. We had class early, after which the group split up and sort of went our own way. Most of us were planning on visiting the Tate Modern, a free art gallery on the south bank of the Thames, built in an old power generation plant. As the afternoon wore on, the number of us wanting to go dwindled. A few of us eventually did mobilize and headed down late in the afternoon. We stopped by the Camel and Artichoke, a pub by the Tate, mostly because of the name but also because a few of us are not big fans of modern art. After an hour or so at the Tate we headed back to the flat.
Saturday was a recovery day for most everyone in the flat. We had gone out to a club the night before for some drinks and live music, so a few of the flat mates were still feeling the effects on Saturday. Around noon I decided I wanted to see some more of the city, so I headed over to Regent Park and explored Sherlock Holmes’ neighborhood. I had a nice walk through the park and the area even though I couldn’t find Sherlock’s residence (to be honest I wasn’t trying that hard.) After a couple hours of wandering it was back to the flat to rest up and try to get some reading done for class. We spent the rest of Saturday lazing about. A couple of the flat mates decided to bake pies to celebrate the anniversary of one of us being cancer free – as good of a reason as any to celebrate. Later in the evening we stopped by Gary’s for a quick chat and to relax a bit. The rest of the evening was uneventful.
Sunday morning we headed to a small farmer’s market in Marylebone. We picked up some ingredients for a picnic to Hampstead Heath, which is the tallest point in London. Unfortunately it was a windy day, so we canceled the picnic part of the plan, though we didn’t give up on the adventure. We explored the Heath, getting lost in the woods a couple of times, and it was a nice Sunday afternoon. In the evening a few of us went down to the Hammersmith area, which is a posh neighborhood on the Thames. We chatted a bit over ales while looking out over the river as the sun set in the background – as perfect an evening as I can think of.
Monday was a busy day, with two classes and a meeting at the Hansard Society. I managed to get away for a bit to do some shopping, something I don’t usually do. I found some pretty sweet t-shirts at a Japanese store for cheap, so I was pretty excited. After coffee at the Hansard Society in late afternoon, it was back to the flat to rest up for Tuesday, when most of the flat mates would begin their internships.
I spent Tuesday wrapping up some work from back home as all of the flat mates ventured out on their first day in Parliament. It was sort of surreal to be in the flat alone after a week and a half of constant interaction. It was also a very productive time for me as I finished the final draft of a paper I’ve been working on for the better part of two years. In the afternoon I ventured over to the post office to send it off to my advisor back in the states. I then headed to Leicester Square to meet up with a friend from my days in Peru. It was fun to catch up and relive some of our time there. Unfortunately I had to cut the meet up short to get back to the flat for “family dinner” (hamburger noodle bake, which was awesome). I caught up with all the mates and their first day at work, we planned a trip to Dublin, and then went to visit Gary to get some tips on what to do in Ireland. All in all a good day.
And that catches you up with my life in London. I’ve spent most of today doing class work and writing this post, so it has been fairly uneventful. The rest of this week looks like more of the same, and then we’re off to Edinburgh next week for a visit to the Scottish Parliament. I’m really looking forward to seeing a bit of Scotland!