Richmond's Own (but unowned) Website

 
 
Today I also skipped breakfast and elected to eat my chocolate muffin from last night. Today’s academic session was entitled “Progress and Sustainability,” so we got to talk about the environment, climate change, responsibility, possible futures, and how this relates to citizenship.
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Richmond Park! Looks like countryside
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Richmond Park - horseback riders!
We went to Richmond Park today (cool name!), which was beautiful! It looked exactly what I thought English countryside would look like – though very close to the metropolis of London. It’s a royal park, and historically, it was hunting grounds, and places like Roehampton would be akin to hunters’ lodges. There isn’t hunting today, but I believe it is one of the largest parks in at least London, maybe in a greater area too. It was beautiful! Trees, some rolling hills, a stream, tall grass, some people riding on horseback.  And to complete the whole mood, it was raining too. We walked by the projects/socialized housing in Roehampton, where Dave explained that when they were built post war, the architectural idea was for them to be connected to nature, so they have a view over the park – though physically getting from there to the park involves quite a walk (there was talk of putting a gate so the residents could directly enjoy access to the green space in the park, but it has gotten stalled). We talked about issues of sustainability, and climate change. We discussed skepticism of science, as well as how the general perceives (or doesn’t perceive) the effects of climate change, and how the political power of countries can affect that.  It started to rain quite hard – I wish I had my umbrella, I only had my semi water resistant rain jacket since I had read “light rain” on the weather website.

We took shelter in a little café, where some of us got coffee, or other snacks and we continued our discussion there. We took an online quiz about our own sustainability practices, and discussed why we thought our numbers were what they were (how many earths we’re using), and how we can lower our numbers. We continued our conversation on how climate change affects different countries, and what governments can do about it. We also discussed new forms of “green technology” and looked at how environmentally friendly they really are, as well as the role of corporations and oil companies, and the use (or lack of use) of social/environmental responsibility.  We walked back to Roehampton in the rain, and upon arrival were told we’d be speaking with Spanish teachers.

The Spanish teachers were in the UK for a while, also learning, they were from Spain, and we got to talk with them, which was a fun experience – I got to use my Spanish too! (A little bit at least – Katie’s vocabulary range is better than mine! But one teacher said I speak well!) The teachers are here to learn more English I believe, to better work with English speaking students. We talked a little bit about America, and our own courses of study, and we went to the Froebel diner to eat lunch with them, which was nice. I’m glad we had the chance to talk with them! There were some scheduling miscommunications at the beginning, but it all worked out well.  Lunch was quite good as well, roast chicken with peas and carrots, roasted (fingerling – they didn’t say that though) potatoes, and Yorkshire pudding, which was all quite delicious!
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Young new tree growing strong!
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garden plots
After lunch, we went on a Roehampton outing with Jonathan (the Environmental Initiatives Manager, or something similar to a position like that), and Tessa (from the education department, but also an environmental champion).  We got to see some of the different areas around Roehampton that are helping to contribute to environmentally friendly solutions. We saw beehives with honeybees – some of the most important insects to pollinate our food! We saw LED lamps on the paths, some bat houses for local bat species to come live in, and some of the species of water fowl in the lake were named for us. We went into the forest where there was an old orchard on the Roehampton estate (if you can call it that?) from a long time ago, and they were hoping to restore the apple orchard in the future. There were apples on the ground and trees, but it was very overgrown. We then walked by the stone wall – there’s a door there I’ve been seeing whenever we passed it, and it turns out that it’s the refrigerator – or ice shed, from back before electricity, and whoever lived in Grove House had to keep meat and other things cold! The ice shed was built into the rock to keep it cool. We walked further and saw a new orchard – less than a dozen trees, but they’re trees that the students take care of, which helps to promote environmental sustainability, and show people little steps they can take. MP Justine Greening had apparently come to help open the orchard, and planted one of the trees herself! They were apple trees from 2010, and they seem to be growing nicely. We also got to walk by a community garden in Roehampton, where many vegetables were being grown – some plots were a bit overgrown, but others were nice – there was corn, tomatoes, carrots, onions, and much more! Of course it’s not enough to feed the whole school, but again the idea is to expose more people to sustainability and show them what steps they can do to help the environment. We made our way into the forest, into a circle clearing cut out (and some people had some nasty experiences with nettles!), where we talked about different possible futures – basically there are 3 basic  routes for society to take – 1) society collapses, and there’s nothing we can do about it, 2)technological and scientific fixes will be discovered that will save the environment, 3)we adapt and evolve, changing our political, social, economic, etc structures to live within this new paradigm. We got to read “future newspapers” from 2027 about these different possible routes we could take, and it was quite fun – the stories were interesting, and they even had ads for movies in the future!

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Helena Bonham Carter
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Alan Rickman
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slightly blurred Daniel Radcliffe
In the afternoon and evening, we went into London – today was Ahren’s birthday! I went with Katie, Stephanie, Ahren, Tom, and Alexis. First, we stopped at Trafalgar square for the Harry Potter premiere! It was crazy! There were so many people! There was a traffic diversion (detour), and police kept yelling at people to get out of the street! There were people on the steps of buildings across the street from Trafalgar Square. You needed tickets to get close (I think, we would’ve never made it up there anyways), and it seemed to have several layers of fencings. But from our vantage point, we could see into Trafalgar Square a bit, from up on the side of the Square, and saw half of the huge screen they put up (the other half covered by trees and a lamppost – and with the help of 16x zoom of cameras, could see the stage. Though I had to hold my camera high up to get over all the other people! We saw a little bit of the premiere on Nicole’s laptop earlier, but it was amazing to actually be there! While we there, we were able to see (albeit a bit far off) Emma Watson, Helana Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, and Daniel Radcliffe! It was amazing to actually be there! And every time an actor was shown on the screen, the crowd went wild! (Though I think a few times, people just wanted to cheer!)

After that, we went to try to find a Thai restaurant in Soho. But my google maps directions had us closer to Goodge Street – we found our way, thanks to a bike rent map thing (and the maps they have all over London, which are super helpful – even though we have a good idea of where stuff is, it’s nice to have those maps!) – though I had a run in (literally) with a pole while looking at my tube map. I fought a pole and lost! A bit of blood on my fist – they definitely do not have smooth poles like in the US! Interesting cultural difference, theirs are much bumpier…well it was interesting to find that out. In the end, we didn’t have time to go to the Thai restaurant, because the line was too long, but Ahren found this crepe place, which was quite good! I had a savory ham, cheese, spinach crepe which I enjoyed.

After that, we walked over to Ahren’s birthday event, The Comedy Store, to listen to some comedic standups. It was great fun! There were jokes – many sexual, but also about Boris Johnson (crazy mayor of London), marriage, men and women, audience members (including one who sold rather…interesting products…), Americans, and much more. In all, there were 6 comedians, plus the MC who also did comedians in between the other acts. It was great fun!

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Southbank and Thames at night - London is beautiful at night!
Afterwards, we took the tube to the Southbank at night, which was absolutely beautiful! We took a lot of pictures of the Thames at night. We went to the other side of the bridge between the Embankment and Southbank, so we could look at the Eye and Parliament, which were stunning at night! I’m glad we got to go there. It was peaceful, and I put my camera away for a couple minutes, to enjoy the ambience. It was a nice time, there weren’t too many people, but enough to not feel empty.

We came back, Katie and I played our roles as leading wheel on a tricycle, and got back to Roehampton. Adam was still awake, “kept the porch light on,” and even came and opened the door for us! Speaking of Adam, I got to be Adam today, being the directions person leading the way (or appearing to know where we were going!) around London. It was a successful day, and a lot of fun!

 


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