Wednesday, 13 April 2011

David’s Research, and subsequently a trip to London

Spring is doing its very best to spring up 'round England, and the opening lines of the Canterbury Tales keep ringing in my head for the urge to wander in the lush countryside is very strong. David and I have been making the most of the good weather and longer hours, which means many more trips out of the house and out of Cambridge.

A few weeks ago we went to London. David had to work in the British Library, which left me free to meet up with my friend Hannah and explore more of the city. Hannah & I began at the BL by visiting their current exhibit on the English language. We got to see various medieval manuscripts (including Chaucer) and other old books, and at the end of it all we were able to participate in the project they're running to record English dialects. This consisted of speaking into a recording box and providing information on where we're from, then reading out the story of Mr Tickle. It was great fun, even if I did keep messing up the recording because I couldn't hear the instructions over the bad connection. No doubt the archivist will be thinking I am a bit moronic.

From the BL we went to the Victoria & Albert Museum, which is a museum of art & craftsmanship. That may sound boring but it's anything but—just various exhibits of wonderful works of art and descriptions of how they were made. We spent the majority of our time there in the jewelery exhibit, which had wondrous displays of diamond-encrusted tiaras, necklaces dripping with giant gemstones, and hideous creations which modern man seems to think are 'art'. We also browsed a bit of sculpture and had a delightful lunch at the sunken pool in the courtyard. The gift shop at the V&A comes highly recommended as it's full of great reproductions, and I was able to pick up some William Morris print coasters for the sitting room.

'Eve' at the V&A
From the V&A it was on to the Natural History Museum. Hannah knew of a side entrance so we could dodge the massive queue in and we had a good time learning all about sea mammals. She also forced me into the earthquake simulation room. Then, feeling quite museumed out, we trotted up the street to Harrods. Harrods is also like a museum, a museum full of really expensive items and full of 'visitors' that are short bald men with tall glamorous women hanging off them. The food market was great fun and I spotted some culinary items, like pomegranate molasses, that I've been looking for. We got lost in the ladies wear section but did have fun looking at the designer collections and pretending we could afford them. Needless to say, it was certainly an experience!

Awesome escalator at the NHM
Cheesy tourist shot
Hannah in the shoe department at Harrods, or, 'Gucci Shoes, we likes them'

 In the evening we met David and jaunted down to Slightly Foxed Bookstore. Following bookish plunder it was off to Byron Burger, because I was ready for another fix of North American style burgers and milkshakes. Yes, it is expensive, but it also the best burger I've found thus far in the UK.

The trip to London was part of the greater framework of David's Term of Loads of Research. He has four papers/lectures to give in the space of six weeks, so when he's not pausing to eat (and sometimes sleep) he's been working. I got to go along to the closing dinner for his first paper, and feasted on prosciutto, peccorino, and roasted squash salad; roast venison steak with peppers, green beans, & anna potatoes; chocolate fondant with ice cream; and copious amounts of wine. David was unaccompanied for his next jaunt, which was to Montreal. The temperature change got to him, as it was -10 there and quite sunny in Cambridge, but other than that, jet-lag, and an ant infestation in his [first] hotel room he had a great time. His paper went well, he met loads of nice people, and he got to meet up with one of his great aunts. She took him out for Montreal smoked meat and in honour of the experience he brought me a jar of the pickled red peppers they serve with it. He also brought home Montreal bagels (so good and made with honey water) and a giant tin of maple syrup.

Old Cathedral in Montreal

David was on the top floor in his hotel and got a great view of the city

Quoth the Raven...
We went away to Bristol the following weekend, but that trip was so full of adventures that it is a post in its own right. And now Cambridge is in the middle of a spell of excellent weather. Temperatures are hovering around 20ºC, the days are long, and we're getting blue skies morning and evening. We had our first picnic of the year the other day, having a nice supper along the banks of the Cam. Spring madness has gotten into David's blood and he has been planning his garden, which means that our flat has erupted into a greenhouse full of herbs, vegetables, and even a chestnut tree (he grew it from a conker he picked up in Ely last September). The air is fresh and the rooms are scented with the herbs. On Thursday we planted a batch of shallots and, if all goes well, they should be well grown by July. Our onions are taking off, the pepper plant is bearing fruit yet again, and we're winning our war against mud gnats and aphids. It is a good season.

1 comment:

  1. I love hearing about all your adventures and can't wait for the entries dedicated to your famillies trip overseas!!