Richmond's Own (but unowned) Website

 
 
First an addition to yesterday – I mentioned that there were a lot of elderly people on the tube to Kensington Olympia, but offered no explanation – there was a 50+ convention! Thought I’d just explain that! And now on to today…

Today was a long and busy day! We woke up around 7 to go to breakfast (regular croissants – it’s interesting when you realize if you hit a croissant with a spoon and it chips…it’s probably been in the oven too long. Which sparked a discussion on the quality of the breakfast food.) 8 of us (Stephanie, Ahren, and Tom went to Oxford, Katie slept in today) went into the city to go to the Victoria and Albert museum. We got on the bus, and at the next stop, dozens of French and Spanish summer camp kids at Roehampton kids got on the bus. Gee, isn’t it annoying when a bunch of international students come get on the bus at the same time (and I haven't even said anything yet about those pesky Fulbright American students!)!

We got to the station, and there was a cool underground passageway (subway they call it – just a foot tunnel) to the museum (as well as the Natural History, Science Museums, and the Royal Albert Hall). So I thought the Victoria & Albert Museum was just mostly fashion stuff – but there was so much more! I was very pleased and excited (except the strange guy in the bathroom) – I had a great time there actually! We all split up into different groups so we could do our own things. I started off in the China room – there was some Chinese art, tapestries and rugs, some jade, and some more modern art pieces (see the exploding chair!) which were cool to look at.
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An "exploding" Chinese chair, "frozen" in midair
After that, I went to look at the photography gallery, which was a guy who took a lot of photos of South Africa, which were interesting to look at and see the stories and lives of people during Apartheid. After that, I wandered my way into the Plasters room – which blew my mind! There were these enormous huge buildings and statues of plaster inside the building – they were exquisitely detailed and were gigantic! The scale was amazing, I was pleasantly surprised from that wandering.
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The people on the bottom give a sense of the scale of the plaster - this is taken from the balcony. It's super impressive being on the bottom looking up, but this gives a better sense of scale.
I walked through the Medieval and Renaissance area – there were some cool building fronts (like a huge spiral staircase made of wood), and a harpsichord – I saw one at Cornell when I visited before I decided to go there, and so I recognized this one pretty soon, which was cool! I then took a glass elevator up 1 floor (because it was a glass elevator!) I went up to the theater arts area. There was one really cool exhibit, which was called “Five Truths” – taking the crazy Ophelia scene from Hamlet (unfortunately I haven’t read it yet…), directed in 5 different styles, and displayed on 10 screens (2 per each style, from 2 different camera angles), and played at the same time. It was strange, to hear dialogue spoken differently, using different props, different sounds, some camera angles straight into the face, some camera angles distorted and looking creepy. It was a bit of a trippy experience! But I thought it was very interesting, and artistically amazing! I walked through the rest of the theatre exhibit – I looked at models of various stages for famous plays which was really cool to see (love models!), and strolled past the costumes.

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Old wooden spiral staircase
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Set models!
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Cool staircase in the Jewelry Gallery
Kelsey recommended the jewelry room, so I did a quick stroll. It was pretty cool, though I saw a lot of men sitting on the benches! And many woman up at the glass displays! But the room itself looked cool and modern, with a blue lit spiral staircase in the middle. I walked by some landscape paintings of England and Europe too, which were beautiful to see! I then walked up to the glasswork area – there were amazing things, going back to Venetian times, showing vases, cups, a model boat, glass horns, rolling pins, and bells (the sign said that they were quite impractical!) and many other glass objects.

Last I went into the architecture room – it was amazing, I loved it! I could have spent all my time there! There were many models, representing many styles. Tudor, more contemporary, showing how buildings are built to climate (and to being environmentally friendly), models of the Reading Room at the British Museum, Parliament, Gatwick Airport, and many more. It was amazing to see all the styles!
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Glass boat!
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Architecture - model of a middle school
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Model of a "green" housing community
Afterwards, we all went outside to eat our packed lunches (guess my sandwich…tuna again!) on the benches out in front of the museum. And had some Jurassic Park moments with swarming pigeons! Swatting them away from our bench (me and Adam) – those tricky beasts then tried to sneak around the back of us between the bench and the wall. And then Kevin threw a crumb at them – and they went berserk! Crazy pigeons.  We started walking down the street toward Harrods! We got across the street, and the skies opened up and started pouring heavy rain down – just like Edinburgh rain!

We got into Harrods (slightly wet) – it was an amazing place, and a huge department store! I feel like it’s only the super rich and tourists who go in there! But it was almost like being in Las Vegas – each room is themed differently (and very richly!), and there’s an Egyptian themed escalator bank (Luxor!) There were so many people there, but it was crazy! Saw 27,000 pound rugs. And gold cannons you could put on your office desk for decorations. Adam, Brendan, and I went to the toys section! There were lots of legos, and A LOT of Hornby model trains! (HO scale!) – I think it rekindled my interest in model trains! When I get time (and space and money) I’d love to set up a model train system – probably based on British trains, not so much American ones – which I noticed Hornby seems to have mostly British trains (while the ones I have at home are US trains). We also went through the bookstore and DVD area (admiring the Star Trek, Stargate and West Wing DVDs with Adam!), and we even went into the Harrod’s Gift Shop (yes, they have their own gift shop!).

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Harrods!
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Food shopping at Harrods - fancy decor!
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Looking down the Egyptian escalator (see the column on the left)
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Model trains!!!
After Harrod’s, we took the tube to Oxford Street – the girls went to buy clothing. In the tube station, Adam and I finally got to see the Star Trek ad we missed the other day (the tube came before we could read it) – looks like The Next Generation is coming to tv here soon. Adam, Brendan, Kevin and I went to buy some souvenirs. After that, Adam, Brendan and I continued walking around – it was raining a little, but water dripped onto us as we walked under scaffolding – which was an interesting (and not so nicely wet) experience. We wandered and decided to go to Grosvenor Square – current home of the US Embassy! (they’re moving down to Battersea soon). We saw the FDR memorial, and a memorial to WWII Pilots (sponsored by William Randolph Hearst – I don’t know, that seems to lessen its sincerity a bit to me. That’d be like saying welcome to the Tostitos Washington Monument! Maybe it was just generosity though). Then the US Embassy – with a huge gate in front of it! But it was nice, in front, they had the flags of all the states flying on flagpoles (saw California!), and on the roof there was a giant eagle perched wings spread out, in front of a waving American flag. It was nice to see – the 3 of us did a nice humming of the national anthem as we walked by. Yay America! Though the eagle was pretty intimidating (or a symbol of American power perhaps?). We also went by statues of Eisenhower and Reagan.

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Star Trek ad!
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Top of the US Embassy in the UK!
We walked around some more, tried to find Berkeley Square, but failed, so we just walked around – saw some nice buildings though. We then stopped at a Costa Coffee (like Starbucks) – I got an iced mocha, but the drinks ended up taking a while, and weren’t going to be able to walk back in time to get to the meeting point, so we ended up taking the tube for 2 stops – but it was pretty fun, running through the tube station (or at least a brisk walk), running to get to the train as we heard it approaching the platform when we were still in the corridors. We made it only about 4 minutes late, and that pretty much counts for on time. Afterwards, we all took (a very crowded) tube back, running a bit again, and took the train back to Barnes.

We had our last dinner here (said bye to the cafeteria staff too). It was hamburgers, roasted potatoes, corn, and muffins – the exact same dinner as our first night – full circles can be strange. We had a good time talking and eating.  After dinner, we did some personal things, I started packing (mostly folding clothes…and singing), but all came out together to play UNO. We played real UNO – the ones the last for hours, because no one gives up, and we all try to destroy each other! Though I thought it was a rather anti-Hobbesian ideal – our “every man for himself” mentality, yet there was some common good of not wanting the person with the least cards to win, so we all kept each other in check, not descending into chaos. Though I suppose I may be looking too deeply into a game of UNO. But there were points when one person’s hand of cards was as much as the entire deck of shuffled cards in the middle. It got bad to point where we had to do a “1 card amnesty” to discard a card from the hand to try to increase the size of the deck. It was fun because we also started singing – starting off with 90s songs, then Don’t Stop Believing and Mamma Mia and then spent a long time on Disney songs. It was a lot of fun to play and sing! In the end, Adam “won” because we had to say no more shuffling the deck and no more drawing cards because it was taking too long! We were going to play Tension, but decided we were all too tired.

So I finished as much packing as I could, and wrote a super long blog entry! 1 more day – I still can’t believe this is coming to an end – I plan to enjoy the next 36 hours as much as possible!

 


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