The suspense is over: I am ready to spill my little news. So… For those of you who’ve not already heard, I am going to London next month!!! My fabulous little university has decided to pay my way over for a week-long research trip! They are covering airfare and lodgings, leaving me to cover food and in-country travel expenses. I am so unbelievably stoked…
Dr. Estes, former head of the history department and my senior seminar research mentor, has arranged this little jaunt for me using department funding! Obviously, the rest of the department had to agree, which is just amazing to me… What’s more, they have decided to send my good friend and fellow history-geek Julie over there, too! She’s going on the following week. I have no idea where they’re finding all of this financial generosity, the budgets having been trimmed a bit this year because of all of the construction on campus, but I’m not complaining!
It does get weirder, though… He’s not even expecting me to get much done in the way of research! He’s mostly trying to get Julie and I to “feel” the country before we start to write about it. Consequently, I will spend many many hours wandering the streets of London and taking it all in–the sights and sounds and people. Of course, I would not be me if I didn’t try to get some real work done; I’m working on a list of documents that I’d like to see at the British Library. There are a number of William Pitt’s documents that I’d like to see with my own eyes, rather than on microfiche.
As it stands, the plan is for me to fly out on the evening of the 24th, hence the announcement above that this site will be down–why run the server and all of these electrical gadgets if I’m not going to be on the machine for a week? I’ll arrive in London the afternoon of the 25th after an exhausting non-stop flight across the Atlantic! Wow… I’m so terrified that I’m actually looking forward to it! *grin*
I’ll stay in London (more or less) until the 31st, when friend-Julie arrives in town. We will then hop a train together headed north. We’ll stop in Oxford for a few hours and look around and then hop the train again that afternoon and head for Edinburgh! Holy shit! I’m really going to Scotland! Scotland! I’m glad I’ll have someone to talk to, because I’ll be a bouncing giddy laughing happy little freak all the way up! *grin*
We’ll spend the night in a hostel in Edinburgh and look around for a while the next day. Obviously, we’ll see the castle and sit in at least one non-touristy pub and listen to the locals. There’s just too much to see in one day, so I’m not going to plan anything beyond that; I’ll just see whither the Fates carry me. Later that day we’ll hop a train back to London and I’ll find somewhere to crash for the night. I fly out very early the next day, so the trip ends on a stressful note! *grin* If I miss that flight, I’m stuck! As I’ll have no money left, I can’t miss that flight!
During my week in London, I’ll make at least one day-long excursion, out to the ancient city of Bath. There, I will attempt to find one of the homes of Pitt the Elder (if it still exists) and take the stagnant waters that generations somehow found to be curative. Pitt spent a lot of time in that water, so it’s a nice way to get a feel for the man and his world, especially as Bath also has some of the best-preserved 18th century streets to wander along. Then there’re all of the Roman ruins… you just know I’ll be all over that stuff! Wow… to actually touch buildings that went up two millennia ago…
Since I’ll have an extra day on my Britrail Flexipass™ left over, I will most likely take one other trip somewhere, but I’ve not decided where to yet. I may choose to spend more time in Oxford before Julie arrives (and actually have time to see the Bodleian, since we’ll be in too much of a rush to browse shelves), or maybe spend an afternoon in Southampton dreaming about the lost Atlantic liners, or maybe even run up the coast to York; I have plenty of time to decide.
It’s the time in London that’s going to take the most planning. I’m going to pick a different district each day, set out early, and walk it until the sun goes down. I’ll see museums and libraries and parks and houses and cathedrals and government offices (and, of course, a different pub every day; I’ll grab a pint and sit listening for a couple of hours). I’m going to bring along a new journal book to scribble notes and impressions and mad poetry in, and I’m trying to find a way to get ‘hold of a digital camera to store some visual memories.
I’m going to look at my pop’s new camera when I see him on Sunday, and if it’s as slick as he’s saying it is, I’ll try to scare up the cash to buy one. His model is pretty inexpensive, but with the memory sticks, carrying case, rechargeable batteries (and charger), and power converter, it’s likely to creep close to $300. I’d also love to have a tripod so that I can get good night-time shots without blurring lights. *sigh* Hard to afford, but I haven’t owned a camera for about a decade, so I think I’m due to get one again.
I’d also like to find a working portable CD player (mine is dead), and Julie says that they’ve gotten very cheap lately. I’ll have some long flights and I’d like to take along some KAOS volumes to make the time pass quickly.
Whilst in London, I’m going to spend a few hours browsing used book stores. London appears to have scads and scads of them! I’m hoping to find some of the more expensive English histories that I’ll want for my paper research over there, rather than having to order them from Barnes and paying through the nose. I figure that if anywhere in the world is going to have used OUP books in English history, it’ll be London! *grin*
Finally, it appears likely that I’ll be able to meet my Italian pen-pal, as she was aleady planning to be in London in July with her mother, showing her the city! Nice co-incidence, eh? It will be nice to finally put a face and voice on her letters, and I’m definitely looking forward to it. We’ll pick a day some time in my week there and she can show me the spots she likes and we’ll talk and talk; even after writing to someone for a while, you find that you still won’t know them well enough until you’ve spent a day actually talking to them!
If I manage to get a camera, I’ll make a travelogue section for the Web site and you all can see where I was. Imagine: I’ll actually break my self-imposed rule against large graphics and photographs on my Web site! Wow! A page with more than just text on it! How very scandalous… I may lose my membership in the Retro-Dorks and Neo-Luddites Club for excessive and inconspicuous flamboyance…
Welp, I guess that’s about it. I should get back to work now. Oh, one other piece of Cosmic Weirdness first. Apparently, I will be flying to London at the same time that friend-Mindy is flying back from Italy! If I had the maths skills, I’d try to plot approximately where we’d pass one another in mid-air and drink a toast. Instead, I’ll just sleep through it, completely oblivious, just like anyone else would in such a situation. Still, it was the thought that counted, right?
All right, there’s nothing else to see here. Go away.
“The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” -Augustine of Hippo