Friday, July 20, 2007

More C.S. Lewis-July 19

This is looking toward the altar.

This is the altar.
This is the Narnia window next to Lewis' pew. Aslan is in the top left corner, winged horse top right, and various animals near the bottom. I've adjusted the contrast, brightness and mid tones hoping for a better view.

Headington Quarry Holy Trinity Church.

More C.S. Lewis-July 19

This is our C.S. Lewis tour bus and guide in Oxford. The three hour tour is directed by Ron Brind, boyhood friend to Lewis' step-sons, Dave and Doug. Ron bemoans the fact that most Brits, even Oxford Brits, think C.S. Lewis is "that bloke who wrote Alice In Wonderland." Ron is happy though that a healthy number of Americans know about C.S. Lewis. He says that 90% of his tour guests are Americans.

This is Lewis' church--Holy Trinity. That's Prof. Wright with her back to us, Ron, and library science student Mary. Inside Holy Trinity Church looking from the Altar.

Ron pointing to Lewis' pew.

Yours Truly in Lewis' pew.

Lewis' grave in the churchyard.

Library Gals-July 8

These are the wonderful library ladies I spoke about in the newspaper article. From left to right: Kathy, University of Kentucky from Flemingsburg; Nancy, University of Southern Mississippi from Louisiana; Libby, Florida State University from Sanibel, Florida; and Edie, Oklahoma University from Oklahoma.

They are very good at tolerating me.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Oxford's Eagle And Child Pub-July 10

Traveled early morn by train from Paddington Station to Oxford. The Brits have an excellent train system. Trains are clean, smooth, quiet and fast. The first part of the day was devoted to a guided tour of Oxford University's Bodleian Libary. I'll cover that in a separate post.

A bunch of us had lunch at The Eagle and Child Pub, locally known as the Bird and the Baby, on St. Giles Street. This is where C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and the rest of the Inklings would meet for lively discussions.

Fellow library science students Libby and Nancy join me for lunch.

These are some of the other library science students having lunch. This is looking toward the entrance. This is a view of the same group but from the opposite end looking toward the back of the pub.

There is a small memorial to Lewis, Tolkein and the other Inklings near the front of the pub where they sat. Here is a plaque. See the above Eagle and Child Pub link for a better picture of the memorial.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Trafalgar Square-July 20

Took a walk early this morn across the Golden Jubilee Bridge (Hungersford Bridge) to the north bank heading for Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly to buy some stuff for my Hadrian Wall hike later this month. Shop was still closed at 9 am so I did some sight seeing. This is Admiral Nelson at Trafalgar Square.

Great looking lions at the base of Nelson's column. Brits like lions posed like this because it conveys the message of the British Empire taming the rest of the world.
This is the National Portrait Gallery just behind Nelson's column at Trafalgars Square.
This is the bard at a pretty little park at Leicester Square. His scroll says "There is no darkness but ignorance."
My big feet stepping on Wordsworth on the south bank's river walk near the Eye of London. "Glide gently..." (click to enlarge picture to finish reading this lovely poetic tribute to the Thames.)

Rare Privilege: Granted Tour of St. Paul's Library-July 18

We are one lucky bunch of librarians! It's not every day someone is given a guided tour of St. Paul's library but our wonderfully connected British organizer was able to pull it off. This was a real treat. St. Paul's librarian first led us up narrow winding stairs and through ancient hallways to a room displaying rejected architectural models of Christopher Wren's vision for St. Paul's Cathedral. One rejected huge domed model looked very much like the present St. Paul's. Why was it rejected? Because 17th century English Protestants thought the new-fangled dome look too much like Catholic Rome's St. Peters. The British prefer spires on their churches. So how did the dome finally pass Protestant muster? Our guide said Wren pulled a sneaky fast one during construction of the dome by hiding it from view. Then viola--St. Peters clone on the Thames! Isn't English humor great?

We were then led into another room that houses St. Paul's library. I smelled, then saw, old books. This collection was a musty-smelling, leather-bound witness of St. Paul's, London and England. This collection, said our guide, belongs to the diocese. I asked our guide how the books were grouped (they don't use Dewey or Library of Congress) and heard him answer "Big books near bottom, smaller books on top." Did I mention our guide's name? It's Jo Wisdom. Great name for a librarian, don't you think?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Night On The Thames-July 16

These are some of the shots I took while walking along the Thames. I had to use the low-light setting on my digital camera and a tripod. The first three pictures are St. Paul's Cathedral. Be sure to click on the photos to get a bigger and better view of the shots.

This is Big Ben peeking through the Eye of London. I took this looking west from the Waterloo Bridge.
You can see the Eye of London to the left and Big Ben to the right. I walked across the Waterloo Bridge to the north bank to get this shot.

The Imperial War Museum-July 14

Walked to the Imperial War Museum southwest of my dorm. This museum is definitely a testosterone-rich place. And it's free. This is a must stop for anyone interested in things military. These are 15-inch guns taken from a WWI British warship. These bad boys could lob a 1,000+ shell 16 miles!
Can you guess what this is? Nope, it is not a diving bell. It's a WWII portable bomb shelter used by the British during the London Blitz.

There is a fabulous Falklands exhibit.

Care to guess why this little boat is significant? You guessed it! The Tamzine was the smallest boat used to transport British troops during WWII's Dunkirk evacuation.

"Power of Place"-July 16

Hello, this is Mike with a 6/22/2009 insert. The above images are my scanned Georgetown News-Graphic (KY) columns I wrote during my Summer 2007 British Studies adventure. Left-click the articles to enlarge them. I now return you to the year 2007 and the "Power of Place."

Visited the Museum of London, Monday morn, July 16. Took the Tube's Northern Line out of Waterloo Station north to Tottenham Station where we switched to the eastbound Central Line. Hopped off at the St. Paul's stop and hoofed it to the Museum where we were greeted by our tour guide. An engaging fellow, he explained the mission of the museum--to show the importance of place for the historical development of London. In a nutshell, "No Thames, No London." The museum's numerous outstanding displays span London's development from prehistoric time to the present showing the Thames as the focal point for this development. Our guide contrasted the London Museum with the older British Museum saying that the London Museum encourages public access to its collection. Visitors are welcome to physically handle things like flint cutting tools and pottery. Handling a replica of the prehistoric Fingertip Decorated Bowl is a "wow moment." The bowl reveals prehistoric fingertip indentations near the top. Some bright fellow decided to take molds of the indentations. The result? Replicas of an ancient lady's fingertips.

Do you know how the Thames got its name? I'm sure your answer was: "It comes from the Romans who called the river Tamesa 'the flowing one'." What was the ancient name for London? No doubt you correctly replied: "The ancient name was Londinium derived from the Latin 'Plowondia' meaning 'the place where the river flows'." Have you ever heard of an auroch? Of course you know that an auroch was a huge fierce cow that ancient Londoners hunted for food. It went extinct in England 1,000 years ago but it continued on in continental Europe through the 17th century.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Westminster Abbey and Parliament-July 13

Approaching the north entrance of Westminster Abbey. The twin towers are part of the more famous west entrance to the Abbey. This is a closer look of the north entrance. This is where I went in. No photography permitted inside. This is a common prohibition. Only Southwark Cathedral, London, allowed me to take photos inside but I had to fork over £2 for the privilege. It was worth it though.

We are waiting to enter the Parliament building. Handsome stonework.
Here is a handsome door in the Parliament waiting area. Notice the squares.
Close up square.

Big Ben and Westminster Abbey-July 13

This, of course, is Big Ben which is the most visible feature of the Parliament building. The London Eye is the ferris wheel contraption behind Big Ben. This view is looking southeast toward the Thames and King's college. Our dorm is close to the London Eye. I haven't made it into the Eye because it is too expensive.
Here we are waiting to get into the Parliament building. That's Mary in the blue jacket. She's our library science student from Albuquerque. We were given a guided tour of the House of Lords and the House of Commons.
This is one cool looking lion outside where we are waiting to get in.
This is the north entrace to Westminster Abbey. This is where I entered. There are many kings, queens and poets buried here. I could have spent all day in the Abbey. There is so much to see in this magnificent ancient building.
This is the west side of Westminster Abbey. This is where I exited.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Lords, MPs and Politics Across The Pond-Jly 13

Today we librarians again battled the Tube's horde to travel from nearby Waterloo Station, south of the Thames, to the north bank's Victoria Station for a guided tour of Parliament. Our guide, a former Royal Navy sailor, impressed us with his wit and knowledge of British government, statesmen and history. Our first stop was the House of Lords where we learned that many Brits are unhappy with some of the changes former Prime Minister Tony Blair made in the composition of that body. Before Blair's changes, membership in the House of Lords was limited to inherited-title-only Lords. After Blair's changes, membership was no longer limited to Lords. Life Peers were now eligible for membership. Women for the first time could join. Current membership is 760. This upper house, explained our guide, does not initiate legislation but is limited to amending, approving or disapproving legislation sent over by the elective House of Commons. Once every early November, in the House of Lords, the Queen gives her State of Parliament Address. This is the only time she is allowed in this chamber. The Queen's House of Lords throne is beautiful.

The House of Commons, said our guide, is an elective body. Members are elected for five-year terms. There are presently 660 Ministers of Parliament (MP) coming from the Labor and Conservative parties. The Prime Minister (PM) is an MP elected by members of the majority party. Prime Ministers are required
to meet at least 30 minutes a week before this lower house to field questions from any MP. According to our guide, this "grilling" many times rattles even the most confident PMs.

After the tour, I left the group to see Westminster Abbey across the street. This enormous church, begun in 1245 by King Henry III, is crammed with chapels, altars, memorials, tombs and stained glass windows. Buried here are Elizabeth I, 1553-1603, her half-sister Mary Tudor, 1516-1558, and Mary, Queen of Scots, 1542-1587. Geoffrey Chaucer, Charles Dickens, and Rudyard Kipling are buried in the Poets' corner.

A minor thrill at the end of my tour near the great west door was my discovery of a memorial dedicated to "John 'Longitude' Harrison, Clockmaker, 1693-1776."
Harrison is famous for inventing a precise and reliable marine clock. His invention was the answer to a centuries-old problem of finding one's longitude at sea. I had just finished for class Dava Sobel's Longitude which details Harrison's efforts. Fittingly, Harrison's memorial has a longitude line etched through his name.