London, days 2+3.

Day 2

Russell Hotel. Where I would've stayed if I'd been smarter (ie. richer).

So to clarify, the reason that I’m here in London is to conduct research for my senior thesis that I will be writing this coming semester. Granted I had no idea that I’d be here at all, I didn’t even know that I’d be going anywhere outside of Moffit Library. But on a whim I applied to a couple of research grants (having written several proposals, mind you) and *poof* *poof* *poof* I was on a plane to London. None of this really hit me until the first night I was in London when, alone in a slightly overheated dorm room I laid on the stiff mattress and wondered, ‘Now what exactly am I supposed to be researching anyway…’  Just kidding. Kinda.

Anyway, day 2 was a bit difficult as I adjusted to London and all of its quirks. My first stop was to the British Library Newspaper Depot in Colindale. The main British Library is actually quite close to my lodgings, but of course where I needed to be was somewhere in the London boonies where the snow was thicker, people less friendly (not that they were excessively nice to begin with), and the road had no crosswalk.

The gate that leads into the library. Excessive security for such a harmless little place.

I don’t know if it’s because I don’t look scholarly enough or what, but whenever I go into these research facilities, the staff always seem to give me such a skeptical eye. Anyway, I just about blew my eyeballs out staring at the electronic copies of the newspapers I needed. I think this is about the same amount of unbearableness as an office job—zoom in, zoom out. click. type type type. print. repeat. repeatx100. I decided then that I would never ever go into any type of graduate research if it ended up being all like that. (Luckily the next few days were better.)

I was feeling rather snarky after leaving the library, for after all the hard work my eyeballs did, I didn’t get as much material as I had hoped. So I decided to go eat. Scones. Wandering around the area of my town, I found a little tea house called Patisserie Valerie. Although the place was filled with couples and small groups, I sauntered in and sat myself down and ordered a cream tea set (I pot of tea with cream, two scones, butter, jam. For about £6. Not bad! Screw the watercress sandwiches, all I want are scones.)

Quite a good spread, and very filling as well. Who knows how much butter is put into those scones..

Having no one to talk to, I naturally just people-watched  the entire time I was there. With all the lovey dovey couples around me, I felt like the place could’ve been the setting for Madam Puddifoot’s Tea Shop (where Harry Potter and Cho Chang had their date, and Cho started bawling). It was funny and a little sickening at the same time, but the toasted scones were quite good.

Afterwards, I went to Waitrose again (it’s become a daily thing now, go home and then go buy random stuff at Waitrose). I think the reason that Waitrose seems so exciting to me (other than being so pretty) is that the ‘grocery shopping’ culture in Europe is a bit different than in the US. I have a feeling that people here go shopping every night, or every two nights, to buy fresh goods, and they spend their time looking at food and chatting. It’s a social event rather than a necessity (of course this isn’t true for everyone). Whereas in the US we only go once every two weeks, and even then it’s after dragging our feet for a while. In any case, I bought apricots, grapes, pita bread, and fresh-squeezed orange juice. Delicious.

I had to sneak to the back of the sotre to take this photo, since I already got caught and told not to photograph the day before.

Day 3

Since the Victora & Albert Museum didn’t open until 10 am, I decided to use this morning to explore Russell Square, the area next to my lodgings. It’s about a 5 minnute walk from where I am, and as soon as I cross the underground tube station it seems like another world. Businessmen and lucurious looking women are jostling with one another to cross the street the fastest, double-decker buses spew out nasty smelling clouds of smoke, girls in fur jackets ride by on bicycles, and people glare at me as I consistently block their paths as I try to get a good photo. Hotel Russell (the first photo in the post) looks like the fanciest place in the area. It’s much larger and grander than the picture looks.

Cafe after you enter Russell Square Park. Very cute, small, and quiet looking. I will be getting breakfast there before I leave...

Russell Square Park was covered with snow, but the ugly pock-marked kind where the whiteness has been ruined by too many muddy bootprints. So I didn’t stay too long. This small path way (photo from yesterday) leads to a central square where there are benches in a circle shape, and I could imagine familes feeding breadcrumbs to fat pigeons in the summer.

By the side of the circle there was this odd looking sculture made of recycled objects. It’s a superhero that was designed by primary school children from the area and meant to encourage people to recycle. I liked it because it gave the soggy looking park a nice pop of color.

A couple of French tourists stared at this statue for a very long time.

The V&A opened at 10 and I got there just as the doors were creaking open. Being limited on time, I only visited the Fashion Gallery, the sculpture gallery, and the photo gallery. The Fashion section has a really cool section on new British talent, where the designs and final pieces of some London Fashion College students are displayed.

Entrance to the fashion gallery. Each silhoutte represents a different period of fashion.

Showcased designs from college grads. Not really my style, but I know of others who would appreciate.

It’s all about the ideas, the way they’re made tangible through images and words. Lots of people have passions, but not many do anything about it.

I felt like I should've been running around with Nic Cage in National Treasure.

Then I got tied so I went to eat lunch at the very nice remodeled cafe. It was excellent. But at this point I was starting to feel really sick, my throat hurt, my head ached, and odly enough, my teeth felt numb.

Can't remember what this was called, but the outside is a pastry crust and inside was carmelized onions, red pepper, and I think some kind of salami-ish type thing on the top.

It was a really ornate lunchroom cafe, to say the least.

Really. Stained glass windows in the lunch hall?!

Really? Stained glass windows in the lunch room?

Then I spent the next four hours in the Prints Reading Room calling up various archived photographs to study and copy (via my dslr. obviously no photocopying or fre electronic images, so my camera was there to make up the difference).

I can't show you the phtographs, due to copyright issues, but this was my worktable.

Afterwards, I was feeling super sick and uncomfortable, but I thought to myself, good grief, I’m in London, I can’t just be sick when I’m not researching. I couldn’t decide where to go, and recalled my mom telling me to visit Harrods, the largest and fanciest mall in the world. At the time I had told her, ‘of course not, I’m not going to be that tourist. How lame.’ SO off I went to Harrods.

Yea yea, it's like Disneyland for the rich and snooty.

Upon entering Harrods, I’m greeting with the screams and yells in dozens of languages of the crazy shoppers running around trying to get the best of the Harrods after Christmas sale. And then I thought, so HERE’S where all the Asian people are hiding. Seriously. So many fobs in that store. After about 10 minutes I couldn’t stand it and left. Puh-lease. Half the people there were probably only buying things to have bought something at Harrods, and then to later be able to claim they had shopped there.

On the way home, I passed by another nice cafe with delicious looking baked goods…

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~ by robinlam on January 13, 2010.

One Response to “London, days 2+3.”

  1. i like that you took a pic of your groceries even after being scolded the day before 🙂 Was getting scolded by a British accent as cool as it seems? xP
    dude i hope you get well soon, woman!! ❤

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