From Londonhua WIKI
I completed two milestones on theater towards my depth and a breadth project on photography. I had previously completed two theater classes at WPI and had various AP HUA transfer credit. My projects deepened my knowledge on the workings of theater, how the "Twelfth Night" by William Shakespeare has been adapted to different times and audiences, and the role of photojournalism in society and the artistic community. Furthermore, I gained invaluable cultural insight while living in London. I experienced everything from the local grocery stores and public transportation to the resilience of the people in the face of tragedies.
- 1 Justine Roy
- 2 Overview
- 3 Milestone 1
- 4 Milestone 2
- 5 Milestone 3
- 6 Activity Journal
- 6.1 5/8/17 - Westminster Abbey & Tower of London
- 6.2 5/9/17 - St. Paul's Cathedral & Evensong
- 6.3 5/10/17 - The British Museum
- 6.4 5/11/17 - Natural History Museum
- 6.5 5/12/17 - The National Gallery
- 6.6 5/13/17 - "Twelfth Night" at the National Theater
- 6.7 5/15/17 - Klyne Concert
- 6.8 5/16/17 - Tate Britain
- 6.9 5/17/17 - Victoria and Albert Museum & Royal Opera House Backstage Tour
- 6.10 5/18/17 - Tate Modern & National Theater Backstage Tour & Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Part 1
- 6.11 5/19/17 - Museum of London & Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Part 2
- 6.12 5/20/17 - Bletchley Park & "Twelfth Night" at The Globe
- 6.13 5/21/17 - Flea Market & Street Art Tour
- 6.14 5/22/17 - Imperial War Museum
- 6.15 5/23/17 - Museum of London Docklands & Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio Tour
- 6.16 5/24/17 - The Horniman Museum
- 6.17 5/25/17 - Hampton Court Palace
- 6.18 5/26/17 - Van Gogh Museum & Anne Frank House
- 6.19 5/27/17 - Countryside Bike Tour & A'DAM Toren
- 6.20 5/28/17 - Grand Holland Tour & Canal Cruise
- 6.21 5/30/17 - The Wallace Collection
- 6.22 5/31/17 - Science Museum Lates: Robot Takeover
- 6.23 6/1/17 - London Science Museum
- 6.24 6/2/17 - Stratford-upon-Avon
- 6.25 6/3/17 - St. James's Park & Draught's Board Game Cafe
- 6.26 6/6/17 - "Romeo and Juliet"
- 6.27 6/7/17 - Speedy's Cafe
- 6.28 6/8/17 - Stonehenge & Bath
- 6.29 6/9/17 - Cereal Killer Cafe & "The Play That Goes Wrong"
- 6.30 6/10/17 - Jack the Ripper Tour
- 6.31 6/11/17 - Harry Potter Walking Tour
- 6.32 6/12/17 - Windsor Castle
- 6.33 6/13/17 - Primark
- 6.34 6/14/17 - Circle Line Tour
- 6.35 6/15/17 - Platform 9 3/4 & Primrose Hill
- 6.36 6/16/17 - God's Own Junkyard & Box Park & Camden Market
- 6.37 6/17/17 - Trooping the Colour
- 6.38 6/18/17 - Art Market
- 6.39 6/19/17 - Improv Show
- 6.40 6/21/17 - Rolling Bridge & Abbey Road
- 6.41 6/22/17 - Science Museum & Primrose Hill
- 6.42 6/23/17 - Prime Meridian & Leather Lane Market
- 6.43 Goodbye
- 7 Gallery
- 8 My Complete Contributions
Theater Beyond the Actors
Objective: I investigated different technologies and methods used in theater. I used that knowledge to design an alternate set for "The Play that Goes Wrong" based on the methods and technology I learned about.
This milestone furthered my knowledge about the technical side of theater beyond my theater workshop course. In the course I heard and read about the history of theater technology and some practices. This milestone had me focusing more on those concepts as I had to write an overview of the scenic and promotional departments as well as analyze real examples of their work and attempt to produce my own work. While the WPI course had a good deal of theory, this milestone let me see the practice. I attended three backstage tours of major theaters in the area. These gave me insight into how theaters were being run and the actual process each theater used. I saw where costumes, sets and props are made in the theaters and heard accounts about the processes. I also attended seven theatrical performances. At these performances I saw many of the theories I learned about in use, often for the first time, such as a revolving stage. Working on the deliverable demonstrated the greatest lesson of just how complicated the design process is. When I faced difficulties in creating a set that would be visible to the entire audience, I discovered just how clever the original set designers of "The Play That Goes Wrong" were. What was perceived and accepted as just a rear wall was actually not flat. This demonstrated to me that the design process really requires the designer to think outside of the box.
Photographs Worth a Thousand Words
Objective: Current social, political and cultural conditions influence art and the media just as those outlets affect those very conditions and the people who view them. I looked at examples of this relationship and captured my own photos that convey what I learned about the current conditions in London and my experiences with them.
I previously had little knowledge on the subject of photography. Through my research, I came to focus on photojournalism as its purpose is to make a statement. I learned that photojournalism, while important for communicating about the world we live in, is largely neglected by the artistic community. Photography has slowly been gaining acceptance as an art form since mid to late twentieth century. However, there is still little analytical material on photojournalism from an artistic perspective. The photographs primarily serve as visual examples of a condition but are not analyzed for their composition or implied meanings. Instead, my studies focused more on the lives of notable photographers of photojournalism such as Bill Brandt, Roger Mayne, and Jo Spence. To better understand the context of the photographs I studied, I also sought out information on the history of England and the cultural movements reflected in the photographs.
Perspectives on "Twelfth Night"
Objective: My goal was to analyze various theatrical interpretations of William Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night", both modern and historic, and viewers' perspectives on them. Using this knowledge I created my own interpretation of how the play should be performed.
This project introduced me to the play "Twelfth Night" by William Shakespeare and the endless possibilities of how such shows can be reimagined. "Twelfth Night" is a romantic comedy featuring twins separated by a shipwreck, disguised genders and hidden emotions. There are countless possibilities of how the show can be interpreted. Historically, it was a comedy for the viewers. However, over time people have generally looked for some of the darker elements that Shakespeare includes in the show. While most performances focus on the comedy, the audience responds to the show best when the deeper emotions of the characters are brought forth. Furthermore, while Olivia or Viola would be the suspected star of the show, Malvolio is consistently the favorite character. His, or in some cases her, character steals the show. This character has been imagined as varying forms of strict and uptight as well as being changed into a female, Malvolia. The tone of performances has ranged from spoof to dramatic, dark comedy. The setting has grown to incorporate modern elements sometimes mixed with Elizabethan ones. While there is not necessarily a formula that can be used to create a perfect performance based on audience responses, we found that the show should balance the comedy with the drama, include some modern elements but also remain true to its origin.
The activity journal represents an ongoing log of reflections gained through each and every project activity on the calendar.
5/8/17 - Westminster Abbey & Tower of London
The first stop of the day was Westminster Abbey and it came as a surprise. I am not entirely sure what I was expecting, but what I saw surpassed it. It is gorgeous and impressive. The Gothic architecture was captivating and put off a sense of power. While the sight was astounding, I am not convinced on the functionality of the space. We were told that it fits 2000 people for the royal weddings and fit around 8,000 for the last coronation but I can't imagine that sight lines are very good. With all the platforms and walls dividing the space as well as inward facing seats, it is not entirely clear to me how the audience is supposed to be or where the action takes place. I was also surprised by some of the people honored in the abbey. I was not expecting to see Americans represented there. I really respect the fact that the dean was so open to honoring so many different people. For example, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was honored for his cooperation with Winston Churchill. In addition, I loved that there are two engineers and multiple scientists represented. I was not sure if I should be proud or a bit scared that I recognized parts of the math depicted on Isaac Newton's Memorial. I appreciate how Darwin is recognized in the church despite the controversy over his theory of evolution contradicting the story of creation and being agnostic since his contributions through science greatly contributed to human understanding. One of the most powerful memorials for me is The Tomb of the Unknown Warrior. I've been to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington but hearing the story that inspired these graves was powerful. I also love the tradition started by one of the queens to place their wedding flowers on the grave to pay their respects. I think it is amazing and a testament to what unites us all as humans that the US presented a Congressional Medal of Honor to the Unknown Soldier. Overall, the experience felt quite rewarding.
The second stop was the Tower of London. My favorite part was the reenactors that we saw when walking along one of the walls. They were reenacting a siege on the Tower with the visitors. It was very lively and I wish I had seen more of it. The Crown Jewels were, of course, incredible. I can't even imagine how much all of the crowns, dishes and scepters must be worth. It's no wonder that they use 2000 kg security doors. I don't think I've ever seen anything so sparkly with so many real jewels as those crowns. Less glamorous but equally as fascinating was the Torture in the Tower. I learned of a torture device that is new to me called the scavenger's daughter. Instead of pulling a person apart, it compresses them while folded up in a ball. No less gruesome but even more interesting is Bloody Tower. While the tower itself was not too impressive, it has an intriguing story. This story of the "Little Princes" caught my attention with its unsolved murder mystery. Another mystery to me is why the people used to like to sleep sitting up as one exhibit claims. So far my theories include that they sat up to avoid lying on the pillows as the sample pillows that we felt seemed quite hard. In general, the Tower appeared to do a good job of preserving and presenting the past in a fun and interactive manner.
5/9/17 - St. Paul's Cathedral & Evensong
I started off my day going to St. Paul's Cathedral. It was impressive and beautiful, as was Westminster Abbey. My favorite part was Whispering Gallery. I was impressed I made it up all those stairs but I was even more impressed by the view. Seeing the paintings on the dome makes you appreciate even more just how detailed they are and how much time it must have taken. I would never have the patience for that. It is also incredible how small the church seems from up there. Looking up, the space is huge. Looking down, it doesn't seem like much. It's incredible how much perspective can change the situation. That lesson is relevant to my photography milestone. Photographs can be similarly manipulated to invoke different emotional responses and perceptions. I also enjoyed the modern art. The sculpture of the cross with the cityscape was quite interesting. I'm also intrigued about the photographs with the rising waters and kinda wish they were mentioned in the digital tour. My favorite bit of art was "Martyrs". I appreciated the modern twist on art. The mosaics were also stunning. I enjoyed how they sparkled a bit from the tiles being laid in at angles. Lastly, I think the history of the church being bombed during the Blitz was cool. That's a unique piece of history that it holds and it is great how they rallied after what had happened.
Later that day I went to Evensong at Westminster Abbey. As I expected, the space was not the most functional. There was a TV so all the attendees sitting on the sides could see. Aside from that, the service was beautiful though not family friendly. The choir's voices were amazing. I am interested in who actually participated in the choir. The other day we had been told that it was boys aged 7-13. However, there were definitely men in the choir. I'm not sure if they were some of the professors and only the older, more trained boys participate. I am very glad I went. It was good to be apart of such a significant event. I would definitely recommend it to others.
5/10/17 - The British Museum
The British Museum was massive. There were so many exhibits and artifacts. Despite spending at least three hours there, I'm not sure that I saw it all. There were several topics of interest in the Mesopotamia exhibit. The Great Pit of Death showcased the jewelry the women wore and it was beautiful. That was also where I first discovered that they were not squeamish with displaying a crushed head. That continued to be a trend as there was another crushed head with a helmet on and several preserved corpses. While I found them very interesting, I was a bit surprised that they'd have such graphic material out. In addition, there was a case displaying the Royal Game of Ur which they once played. I find such artifacts interesting as it humanizes the past. It helps me feel more connected to the past societies and that they are less foreign. On the topic of games, they had out an elaborate chess board. One fact they gave was that playing chess was used to practice battle strategy. That I knew. A fact that surprised me a bit was that the church banned chess for many years. Additionally, chess was used as a bit of a battle of wits between men and women and acted as a sort of flirting. I found that last fact to be pretty amusing. I appreciate though that it put men and women on even ground. Throughout the museum they also had up info panels describing how the subject of different artifacts relates to LGBT rights and history. Having just been in a show that raised awareness for that community, I found some of those facts quite interesting. It seems that there was not this huge stigma until the time of Christianity. Before that, many forms of homosexuality was accepted, though not all. The idea of gender fluidity and having different characteristics was often accounted for in mythologies. Lastly, there were some really cool artifacts in general. As a fencer, I loved seeing various swords and weapons. I was definitely not expecting to have seen an antique grenade launcher though, so that was pretty awesome. I really enjoyed the exhibit on clocks and watches. This is probably due to the engineering that goes into designing a clock. The mechanical systems are quite interesting and the idea of the rolling ball clock was fascinating. I loved the creativity that went into them.
5/11/17 - Natural History Museum
I enjoyed the Natural History Museum and that it was science oriented. The first exhibit I saw was on evolution. My favorite part of it was the facial reconstructions of skulls from throughout evolution. It really helped give a better image of what people used to look like as a skull only shows me so much. After that, I saw a bunch of fossils. I was impressed by how a woman, Mary Anning, is credited for finding some of the best fossils in their collection. She first found fossils when she was eleven years old and then went on to find many more, gaining respect from those in the field. I thought this was very impressive for a woman of the early 1800s. The minerals exhibit surprised me with how much I enjoyed it. I had not expected much from an exhibit on fancy rocks. However, I was quickly captivated by the various shapes and patterns the crystals took on. The last exhibits I saw were fun because they were more hands on. The volcanoes and earthquakes exhibit even had an earthquake simulator. The Restless Surface exhibit had lots of small demonstrations depicting how Earth's surface changes over time due to erosion. While the exhibits covered a lot of information I have learned before, it was fun to learn some new facts, get hands on and refresh my memory.
5/12/17 - The National Gallery
I thought The National Gallery was alright. I'm not very interested in art so I was not too interested in it. There were a few artists I was interested in though. Foremost, I was interested in seeing Vincent Van Gogh's work since he was featured in an episode of Doctor Who. Therefore, I really wanted to see Sunflowers and was glad that I got to. In addition, I wanted to see the exhibit on Claude Monet because I used to read the book "Linnea in Monet's Garden" when I was a kid. Unfortunately, I could not find his art as several rooms were closed for improvements. In addition, I looked at the art of several Spanish artists I studied in high school including El Greco and Francisco de Goya. Afterwards, looking at the Wiki I noticed how an episode of Doctor Who had the Doctor and Clara there. I think it's really exciting that I probably was in the same room as Doctor Who was filmed in.
5/13/17 - "Twelfth Night" at the National Theater
Seeing "Twelfth Night" at the National Theater was my first activity towards any of my milestones. The show was amazing and not how I had envisioned the show. When reading a script, there is a lot left to the readers imagination. In books, authors describe the setting and what characters are wearing or feeling. In a script the reader only has the dialogue to go off of. Sometimes there are stage directions but William Shakespeare does not often include them. I now see just how little context was provided in "Twelfth Night" and how much was left to interpretation. This is where National Theater's Production of "Twelfth Night" surprised me. For starters, they included elements from many time periods. In the beginning, older model cars are driven on stage. The interior decorating of the house is modern. Many of the costumes are modern but also incorporate in old elements such as the ruff. I also did not expect Count Orsino to be introduced boxing. The creativity continued to impress me with the set. The scenic department did an amazing job. Many of the elements used, I had recently learned of in my theater workshop class last term. The revolving stage was really impressive. There was a wedge that could be spun around the center axis. This wedge could then also be split into multiple sections to create a variety of scenes. There were also two trap doors used to reveal a fountain and a hot tub. While I did not pick up on any fancy lighting, it was used quite effectively. For example, scenes that occurred out on the street at night had just a wash at the front of the stage, with dark shadows against the building walls. Another creative liberty that was taken was quite a bit of gender swapping. The clown, Malvolio and Fabian were all modified to be female roles. Overall, the performance was quite fun and I enjoyed it. However, that was not true for everyone. On my way out, I heard a few people expressing how they felt some scenes, such as the scene at the Elephant were overdone. That scene was set in a modern style club or bar. It seems that some people might have preferred a more traditional production of the show.
5/15/17 - Klyne Concert
I'm really glad we found this concert as it was really good and we all enjoyed it. The venue was small but nice. The music of Klyne, the main act, is considered to be electronic pop and the group is Dutch. While I had never heard of them before, it turns out that they are growing in popularity and actually have some following according to Spotify. This was pretty evident in the crowd at the concert. I could hear some people singing along and people would cheer as some songs began. The music was both chill but also fun and upbeat. The opening act, Oleka, was also pretty decent. Their sound was good but needed to work on acoustics. The sound got a bit mashed together and the volumes were at extremes. The singer was also hard to understand as he seemed to mumble a bit. However, I enjoyed them overall despite that. They are a small local band from southeast London. In conclusion, I am going to continue listening to Klyne on Spotify as I enjoyed their music and I believe the others might as well. I think it's cool that I will be able to go back home with more music that I like that is foreign. It is kind of like a free souvenir that does not take up space and I can continually enjoy.
5/16/17 - Tate Britain
While the focus for the day is the Tate Britain art museum, it is packed with much more fun activities. The day did start off at Tate Britain. The museum was varying degrees of entertaining. I enjoyed the modern art. I find the vibrant colors, geometric shapes and patterns appealing. The video art was interesting. The first one I saw was "Together". It seemed very strange to see people dressed in work clothes, with big smiles, pretending to beat each other up. I also really enjoyed "Dream English Kid" as it was interesting to have such common items and experiences emphasized. It reminds me a bit of the 5 gum slogan, "stimulate your senses". Additionally, though not modern art, "The Annunciation" by Arthur Hacker stood out to me for its style. While most of the image is pastel and has soft lines, the face of Mary is quite vivid, bold and stands out. "Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose" by John Singer Sargent is also very beautiful and peaceful. I also learned how the font Gills Sans was invented. It was based on an inscription in stone by Eric Gill. After the museum, we visited MI6 which I loved because I am a huge fan of spy books and movies. We also visited a park and then made the 3.4 mile walk back as it was nice out so we wanted to enjoy the weather and get to see more of London. On that walk, I discovered that David Tennant was performing in a show and, being the huge Doctor Who fan that I am, decided to go see it with a few others at night. The show was "Don Juan in Soho". It was both fun and useful for my theater technology milestone. The show made lots of use of projections, both static and moving. Being a compact theater, we were able to get a decent look at the lighting, sound and projections set up. Lighting was also used quite a bit to indicate tone and shifts in it. There were also some special effects with the set. At one point, David Tennant's character and the statue are in a chariot that flies. In order to achieve this the chariot was on a large lever arm that was attached to a rolling platform. This allowed the crew to manually move both the chariots height and location. Another larger effect was at the end of the show when the side walls on the stage swung out, providing a wider scene. A ceiling that slanted down to the back heightened that effect while focusing attention on the actors. That ceiling was additionally used for projections. To finish out this amazing day, I got a picture with David Tennant and his autograph.
5/17/17 - Victoria and Albert Museum & Royal Opera House Backstage Tour
The day began with a trip to the Victoria and Albert Museum which was massive. In the end, I only saw a fraction of the museum. The Prix Pictet: Space exhibit was pretty interesting. Since it was photography, I was hoping it would be a bit more related to my milestone than it was. While the purpose of the exhibit was sustainability there were no photographs particularly relating to issues in the U.K. Regardless, there were some really interesting photos. I liked the concept behind Mandy Barker's work. Benny Lam's work was quite revealing. I did not realize the conditions were that bad. It makes my small freshman dorm room seem significantly larger. Sohei Nishino's dioramas were fun to look out and a really creative idea. I also appreciate the pictures of Mars by Thomas Ruff just because it involved science. There was also a print that I found interesting by Yuri Avvakumov. The art was printed onto newspaper. It reminded me of some art I've seen on Etsy where the artist printed their work onto dictionary pages. I think it's a really fun idea. The fashion exhibit was also interesting. For one, I cannot believe how wide women's dresses used to be. They appear completely dysfunctional and annoying. They would have had to turn sideways to fit through doorways. Additionally, It always confuses me how people can call many those clothes fashion because they honestly typically look ridiculous and awful. To me, fashion should be what people actually wear and find attractive and trendy. Fashion should be appealing not appalling. There was also finally an exhibit related to one of my theater milestones. The exhibit actually dealt with the production process and some of the tech work that goes into it. I will probably be returning there to get more information and pictures for my milestone. After the museum I continued work on that milestone by going on my first backstage tour. The tour was of the Royal Opera House. We learned a variety of information about the theater and their production process. One of the most significant things we learned was about their system for changing the set between shows. Their wagon system that was developed by Rolls Royce allows a crew of about 25 people to change sets in 20 minutes. To put that in perspective, partial strike for the showcase which had limited set took over 50 people about an hour and a half. They are also only one of two theaters to have that system.
5/18/17 - Tate Modern & National Theater Backstage Tour & Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Part 1
I could spend all day at the Tate Modern. While I think I did get to see everything available for free, I am not certain because it turned out to be larger than I initially thought. I loved the art there. I very much enjoy modern art. I love all the geometric shapes and typically find it quite visually appealing. I could have spent quite a bit of time looking at some of the works there. One of my favorite rooms was the one based around optical illusions including Ambiguous Structure No.92. The video How Not to be Seen was also quite entertaining. Beyond aesthetics, there were some works that I also found their messages to be very interesting. Lorna Simpson had very intriguing pieces that address identity, racism and sexism. After that, I ate at Borough Market which was a really neat experience and the food was amazing. A bit later in the day I went on a backstage tour at the National Theater. The tour gave me lots of material for my theater technology capstone again. The most impressive aspect of the theater is the drum under the Olivier theater that is used for the revolving stage, storage and two stage lifts that is five stories deep. I also appreciate how the entire design of the building was based around wanting to make theater accessible to all people who are interested, not just the wealthy and elite. Lastly, I saw Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Part 1. The effects and transitions were amazing. A revolving stage was used quite a bit. Characters were flown around the stage. Effective lighting and careful timing led to some flawless transitions. There even appeared to be some pyrotechnics for when spells were cast. Projections were also used quite a bit. Most notably, projections and/or lighting was used to create a warped and kind of pulsing appearance to the stage at times.
5/19/17 - Museum of London & Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Part 2
The Museum of London was alright. It was pretty much straight up history and I'm not a history person so I was not really into it. My favorite exhibit was probably the Victorian Walk because it was an immersive experience. The London 2012 Cauldron was kinda cool to look at as well. In addition, I thought the present day exhibits were interesting. I like how they incorporated visitors into their projects and sought the voice of the people to be expressed. Overall, this was probably my least favorite museum we have visited. At night I saw Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Part 2. Again, I still think it felt a bit unnatural. The plot was a bit cliche as was some of the behavior of the characters. Most of the time the characters did not really feel like themselves and some, particularly Ron, did not do him justice. Instead he was made to seem foolish. Nonetheless, I still feel that it was worthwhile and the themes were strong. The effects continued to be amazing. There was quite a bit more pyrotechnics in the second half. There were lots of streams of fire when spells were being cast and the patronus was created by lighting a wire frame on fire. I am glad I got to see that installment of the Harry Potter universe.
5/20/17 - Bletchley Park & "Twelfth Night" at The Globe
I started the day off with a fantastic trip to Bletchley park. I went because I've seen the movie, "The Imitation Game" twice now and absolutely love it. The park did not disappoint. There were a standard, museum type buildings in blocks B and C. They had a lot of information and, in block B, they had a recreation of one of the bombes that Alan Turing created. That machine is incredible. There was also a recreation of one of the machines that the British designed to check and decipher the intercepted messages. They had a sample menu so as that people could try checking a stop as the operators once did. I still cannot believe what the people who worked there were able to achieve and the technology that came out of it. I can't stop thinking what an amazing place it must have been to work at. According to the testimonies of people who were there the conditions were pretty awful. There were hardly any days off, the work was monotonous and the heat was often stifling. However, they also took care of their employees very well. They made sure that there was lots of entertainment to keep their spirits up including lots of theater and a fencing club. In addition, they got to know that their work was making a huge difference. They were saving lives by breaking puzzles which is just fun to begin with. Beyond the museum style buildings several buildings were also preserved for visitors. The mansion had multiple rooms staged as they had been as well as some of the huts. The huts were particularly interesting as, not only were they where important work was actually done, but they had interactive displays that taught about the cipher breaking process. These were both fun and educational. They would walk you through the process that the code breakers went through. One demonstrated all the inner workings of an enigma machine. While I know "The Imitation Game" might not be entirely factual as some people might not like, I am glad it inspired of me to learn more as it is all very fascinating. At night I saw my second performance of "Twelfth Night" for my capstone. This version was put on at The Globe. I could not get into this performance as much as the other one but it was still good. They had a very different style than the other version. The Globe took on more of a spoof style similar to a Mel Brook's movie. In contrast, the National Theater performance stayed more realistic despite its modifications. The Globe's performance also made it quite a bit more musical. I think in some ways this detracted from parts of the show as the script was changed and a bunch of it lost in the songs. In addition, the role of the clown was much less clear. While there's much more to discuss, I'll save that for my milestone.
5/21/17 - Flea Market & Street Art Tour
In the morning we went to a flea market. It wasn't quite like the flea markets I'm used to. Back home it's mainly like a collective garage sale and has a bunch of antiques. Here there were a lot of people selling clothing, some that was home made as well as some other crafts and food. In the afternoon we went on a street art walking tour. The tour was pretty cool. Our guide did an excellent job. I knew art tends to have a story to it and he did an excellent job of describing the stories behind the art we saw. We learned about the backgrounds of the artists, politics and cultural movements. I thought the story of the street art war was really fascinating. I like how there is a whole culture and community behind the art. That is what makes the art truly interesting.
5/22/17 - Imperial War Museum
I did not expect to enjoy the Imperial War Museum but was pleasantly surprised. Walking up to the museum I thought the park it was situated in would be the highlight. However, upon walking in I was shocked to see planes and rockets hanging from the ceiling, war tanks and an SUV hanging over the edge of a balcony. Fortunately, the spectacle did not end there. The exhibits were excellent. They were packed with artifacts and actually interesting information. Not only were there facts but also personal accounts and stories. Interactive displays helped convey the information. I first went through the World War I exhibit. Countless uniforms were displayed. I enjoyed one display that demonstrated war time jobs by having people complete simple tasks on the screen related to the jobs. There was a child's game from the time that people could play. There was even a recreation of what the trenches were like that people could walk through. The rest of the exhibits were similarly engaging. On the second floor there were artifacts such as a single person bomb shelter from World War II. I had expected to only like the Secret War exhibit at best because I am interested in espionage but the entire museum was very engaging.
5/23/17 - Museum of London Docklands & Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio Tour
As with the main Museum of London, the Museum of London Docklands was small and not that interesting. It was marginally better than the Museum of London as it had a nice atmosphere but the information did not relate to any of our milestones or present itself interestingly. The most interesting part of it to me was its location in Canary Warf as multiple Doctor Who episodes took place there. The next most interesting part was the recreation of the sailors' town as it was an immersive experience. I learned a bit about the life of sailors. While many of them would lose all their money once on shore before sobering up to alcohol and prostitutes, others left their money with surrogate wives while they were at seas. Later on I went to the Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio tour which was absolutely fantastic and worth every penny. It was incredible seeing the sets, props and costumes. My favorite part was Diagon Alley. Unlike many of the other sets, it was completely immersive and felt real. While many of the rooms were only parts of the set or never actually a complete room, Diagon Alley had you completely surrounded by the set. The model of Hogwarts was also incredible. The amount of detail on such a relatively small scale and even within the castle was unbelievable. It is crazy how the VFX team is able to blend and layer footage of the model with footage of the actors to create a believable scene. Unfortunately my phone died half way through so I only have photos from the first half. The experience was amazing though and even Mary, who has not seen or read any Harry Potter, loved it. I would totally recommend the tour to everyone.
Sculpture in Canary Wharf
5/24/17 - The Horniman Museum
The Horniman Museum was pleasant though smaller than expected. The website mentioned it had multiple components including a zoo, aquarium and garden. While that might have been true, they were a robot zoo that required another ticket, a pitiful aquarium that also required another ticket and a garden that actually was quite nice. The natural history exhibit was a tad traumatizing. I had not be expecting to see the heads of dogs on display, dissected cats, or the skeleton of a baby. While these specimens might have been of scientific interest, the dog heads were a harsh contrast against the living dog that sat beside me on the bus trip there. The music exhibit was a bit interesting. I learned that a carpenters saw can be used as an instrument. The musician bends the blade different amounts to create different pitches and uses a violin bow on the flat edge of the saw. The gardens outside were quite nice to walk through especially since the weather was so nice. There was also a good view of London in the distance featuring St. Paul's Cathedral, The Shard and The Walkie Talkie.
5/25/17 - Hampton Court Palace
I could have spent all day at Hampton Court Palace. The place was massive. The gardens were lovely. There were so many gardens and they were huge. If it were not so far away I'd just spend a day relaxing in the gardens. Perhaps the best garden was the Magic Garden. It contained a medieval themed playground with some pretty awesome slides. In all seriousness though, the view of the Privy Garden from William III's Apartments was impressive. My favorite part of the visit was the interactive performance. The performance presented the story of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn as actors guided spectators through the palace. The performance was engaging and brought the history instead of just reading information cards.
5/26/17 - Van Gogh Museum & Anne Frank House
This was my first day in Amsterdam. We started it off at The Avocado Show, a restaurant serving all avocado dishes that was absolutely delicious. I had the Avo Rose which was toasted Dutch bread with filet americain and avocado on top. I'm not much of an avocado person but it was amazing. Next was the Van Gogh Museum. Ever since seeing the Doctor Who episode with Vincent Van Gogh I was interested in him. The museum was fantastic. I never realized how much diversity there was in his art and how many styles he tried out. He started off wanting to be a peasant painter and evolved into a master of colors. I learned to appreciate his use of colors and lines. Many of his pieces are quite fascinating when you take the time to really look at them. In the afternoon we visited the flower market, cow museum and cheese museum. The cheese tasting was great. There were so many good cheeses. A collective favorite seemed to be the pesto cheese. We then went to the Anne Frank House. While there was not much to see in the house itself as the Nazi's had emptied it out, the story was quite powerful. The half hour presentation in the beginning was a great preface to seeing the house. It's incredible to think the impact this young girl had on the world. That day I also discovered stroopwafels, poffertjes and the waffles from Spar, the local supermarket. They were amazing and I need to find the recipes as I will miss them. In addition, they eat fries a lot and like to use mayonnaise as a dipping sauce which is actually a bit better than it sounds.
5/27/17 - Countryside Bike Tour & A'DAM Toren
The morning was spent just meandering the city and getting some amazing food at a market. I'm still not sure what most of it was but it was delicious and only €5. The focus of the day was a bike tour into the countryside. The tour proved just how long it had been since I last rode a bike. It had been at least four years and I was a bit wobblier than I expected for the first few minutes. While riding in the city with all the traffic was a bit stressful at first, riding through the countryside was so much fun. I was a bit jealous of all the people in their boats on the Amstel River but was having my own fun. The farm we stopped at was really interesting. After getting to see the cows, the owner explained the cheese making process for us accompanied by more cheese tasting. This cheese was even better and I could easily eat an entire wheel of it if given the chance. The clog demonstration was also fascinating. After explaining the process, he showed us a clog being cut on the lathe and then being hallowed out. I learned that clogs are good for your feet as they provide good arch support and some farmers still wear them for that reason. Different designs also have different purposes. Plain clogs are for farming. Yellow clogs are for women. The dark blue clogs are for men to wear to church and when dressing formal. The house clogs, natural color with engraved patterns, are for when you get married. Needless to say, I very much enjoyed the tour. That night we went up the A'DAM Toren tower where we got a fantastic view of the city. Some people went on the largest swing which swings out over the edge of the building. Our food discovery for that day included bitterballen which was very good.
5/28/17 - Grand Holland Tour & Canal Cruise
Our last real day in Amsterdam was filled with a tour of Holland. Our first stop was in the Hague. It is quite interesting because it is where all of the politics takes place but it is not the capital. Instead, Amsterdam is the capital. This had to do with politcs and the public image of the different cities. The city was generally attractive but nothing too impressive, though we mainly only saw it from the bus. The next stop was Madurodam, a scale replica of all the major sights in Holland. The detail and extent of it was incredible. Many of the models were also interactive which was fun. For example, I controlled the replica wind turbines. After that we went to Delft and saw the old pottery factory. It was interesting to see one of the painters at work. I also never realized that they created ensembles for fashion week. I find it amusing that there was a dress designed using shopping bags like one I bought. Next we went up the Euromast. Despite the sketchy structure and stability of the building, nothing went wrong. The view was fantastic. Our last stop of the tour was in Rotterdam at the cube houses. I loved the eccentric architecture. After the tour, we went on a canal cruise. While I wish I could have been really boating and not just sheltered in a slow boat, it was nice to be on the water. It gave a great perspective of the streets, revealing a new beauty that could not really been seen or appreciated while walking along. Our food discovery for the day was beef croquettes which was just as excellent as all of the other foods.
5/30/17 - The Wallace Collection
The Wallace Collection was alright but nothing too exciting. It was another ornate building with lots of art that was not in a style that interested me. While there were a few paintings of dogs and horses, most were portraits or of cherubs. Portraits are not interesting as they are just an illustration of some person. There was an armory though which was pretty great as I love swords and armor. While it was not as awesome as Higgins Armory once was, it was a change of pace from all the art. The best part was the area where we could try on replica armor. Afterwords I stopped by 221B Baker Street and visited the Beatles store checking off two more things I had to do before leaving London.
5/31/17 - Science Museum Lates: Robot Takeover
The Robot Takeover themed night at the London Science Museum was absolutely amazing and so much fun! Upon arriving there, we made robot heads out of paper, LEDs, button batteries and copper tape. They are super cute though the typical problem of getting good contact between the tape and LEDs was an issue. My robot currently has only one eye that lights up but it is an easy fix. Next, I visited the robotics exhibit. I loved seeing all of the robots and learned a bit about their origins. Apparently robots can be traced back to clocks which then evolved into animatronic displays. These were mainly used for religious purposes at first and then for enterainment and personal use. Think along the lines of the animatronic display in Shrek. A bunch of the new information on robotics I was already familiar with such as the efforts towards walking robots and social robots. However, I did get to see some of my favorite robots such as Nao and robots that I've learned about such as Baxter. I just absolutely love what can be done with robots and the work that goes into them. Next I was able to create a screen printed robot poster for free so yay free souvenirs. After that I got to program YuMi, an industrial robot from ABB robotics. The robot can be programmed through a user friendly interface that allows them to move the robot to different configurations, record the positions and then play the sequence back. I also saw some people using a flight simulation suit. Combined with a VR headset, it allows a person to fly a drone as if they themselves were flying. The suit even includes haptic feedback. Next we checked out the Beam robot. Beam is a telecommunications robot. Essentially, it is a monitor used for video conferencing on a mobile platform. This one provided users with multiple views for navigating and intuitive controls. The robot is driven using the arrow keys on a keyboards. Visual feedback on the screen allows the user to predict the path the robot will take. The robot we used was located in the companies engineering department. We got to spend about half an hour talking with the engineers there. We discussed everything from the merits of the robot to the best and hardest parts of engineering. It was so much fun to talk to different engineers. After that I saw some 3D printed prosthetics. Work was being done to add touch sensors that could provide haptic feedback. The demonstration provided this feedback in the form of status lights and beeping. However, it sounded like current working models use pressure. There were thoughts about switching to vibration as people become numb to the pressure feedback after some time. Right next to that booth was a third year student's project on soft, inflatable robotics. I was able to spend some time hearing from him about the field and discussing our interests in robotics. We discussed the NASA robotics challenge for a while after he asked if I'd heard of it and responded about how I got to volunteer at it. Overall, the themed night was amazing. I only wish it went on for an entire weekend so I could see all of it. There were over 40 talks, exhibits and activities to do. I only got to see a small portion of them. I cannot wait to return to actually see the museum itself in the morning.
6/1/17 - London Science Museum
The London Science Museum is absolutely fantastic! It is great for all ages. Many museums are either boring and dry or otherwise dumbed down for children. The London Science Museum effectively caters to all ages. The exhibits contain plenty of information to be learned that is not a simple regurgitation of topics covered in school. This information is explained in a way such that a wide range of ages and backgrounds can understand it. The museum is certainly visually appealing. The displays easily catch visitors' attention. Walking through the museum a visitor will see planes and rockets suspended above them. It is captivating. The museum also features many interactive exhibits. The Atmosphere, Who am I, and Engineer your Future exhibits feature numerous interactive displays with videos and games that pertain to the content of the exhibit. I loved seeing displays on technology and what has been achieved. I followed the progression of the steam engine in the Energy Hall. The space exhibit was also phenomenal. I wish my sister could go see it since her goal is to be an astronaut. The exhibit is packed with information on space travel, artefacts and recreations. It was quite inspiring. I easily could have spent all day in the museum but needed lunch so I am looking forward to returning yet another time to see even more of the museum.
6/2/17 - Stratford-upon-Avon
I was a wall. Specifically, I was a wall with a chink in it separating the lovers Pyramus and Thisbe. My trip to Stratford-upon-Avon featured multiple stops. I began at the Royal Shakespeare Company as part of my theater technology milestone. First I went up in their tower to enjoy a view of the town. The town is absolutely adorable as is the case with many places over here in Europe. Many of the buildings were old and quaint and there were cute shops. The view over the town was pleasant and I could see out to the countryside beyond. Next was my tour of The Other Place, Royal Shakespeare Company's studio theater, rehearsal space and costume shop. The tour was designed to explore the process of a show going from the script to the stage. While it was not quite as detailed as other tours had been, it was a fascinating look into their space. The highlight was probably the costume storage room we saw. It is incredible what the costumes department is able to fabricate. I also appreciate the work done in the studio theater to help promote rising playwrights. It reminds me of New Voices at WPI. I would love to see one of those performances but unfortunately it is a bit far away and I've seen many shows already. After the tour, I visited the exhibit on what goes into their performances. It was small but charming and entertaining. Many old and iconic costumes were on display. Naturally, the costume David Tennant wore in "As You Like It" was my favorite. The exhibit offered visitors the chance to try out some different costumes digitally and even be the star in a part of "Hamlet". That concluded my visit with the Royal Shakespeare Company and I continued on to Shakespeare's birthplace. The museum leading in had some neat art in it that was inspired by Shakespeare. His childhood home was very cute. It was there that I became a wall. There were two actors putting on parts of Shakespeare's works. When a visitor suggested the play of Pyramus and Thisbe from "A Midsummer Night's Dream" they requested volunteers. I took the opportunity and was assigned the role of the wall. It was quite an honor and probably the highlight of the day. After that we saw Shakespeare's house he bought and the house of his son-in-law. They were equally charming homes with beautiful gardens. It was inspiring to visit these sites and it left me wanting to watch more Shakespeare. It was a great day and another experience to check off on the bucket list.
6/3/17 - St. James's Park & Draught's Board Game Cafe
It was a pretty cool day. I spent the afternoon helping Victoria with her milestone. She taught me some fun self defense and how to use a dagger. It was really cool and I'm glad I volunteered to help. We then walked around with Trinity so she could get pictures of Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and Big Ben for her milestone. For dinner we went to Draught's which is a board game cafe. We tried out two new games. Spyfall was fun though a bit confusing at first. Codenames turned out to be really fun and I would definitely recommend it. That was followed by Scrabble and one of the longest games of Uno. The game must have lasted upwards of an hour and only ended because we agreed to stop picking up new cards. The place was really fun and a great place to hang out at night.
6/6/17 - "Romeo and Juliet"
The day began with some work at the cafe Look Mum No Hands. The place doubles as a bike repair shop and had a good aesthetic and atmosphere. Following that, I got some cookie dough from a new cookie dough cafe called Naked Dough. I got the hazelnut and chocolate flavors. So far I have had the hazelnut flavor and it is excellent and dangerously addicting. That night I saw "Romeo and Juliet" at The Globe. The show was very modernized and different than a person would expect. The Montagues and Capulets all had white face makeup. There was a smattering of R&B and dubstep music. While I generally liked how Romeo was portrayed, I was not a fan of Juliet. The actress was easily three times Juliet's age and while she might have tried to bring youth to the character, it didn't work. The actor, however, seemed to have some swagger and energy reminiscent of David Tennant which I found interesting. The actors also were unafraid of breaking character. At one point, Mercutio accidentally flung a bat onto the upper level stage. The actress stopped to ask for it back then shrugged and continued on. In addition, there was some gender swapping that was unclear. Mercutio was played by a female. While she often wore a skirt and there were some interactions that appeared to suggest a sexual attraction and jealousy of other females, Mercutio still seemed to be referred to as a male. As with the performance of "Twelfth Night", The Globe does not seem to do as well at bringing forth the meaning of the lines as the National Theater did. When watching the performance of "Twelfth Night" at the National Theater the lines simply seemed to make sense. At both of the performances I've seen at The Globe, it has taken quite a bit more focus to extract real meaning from what the characters are saying. Overall, the performance was fun though not most people's cup of tea.
6/7/17 - Speedy's Cafe
The highlight of the day was visiting Speedy's Cafe where BBC's "Sherlock" is filmed. It was a small cafe but lived up to it's name of being speedy. While there I took care of another item on my must do list and had fish and chips. The meal was pretty good. The best part was, of course, being at such an iconic place. Despite its ties to "Sherlock" it still seemed quite a humble cafe for the locals.
6/8/17 - Stonehenge & Bath
This tour was fantastic and probably the only time I'll ever ride in a Mercedes-Benz. Seriously, many of the coach buses over here are made by these high end car companies. The one we were in was Mercedes-Benz and super nice. Not the seat belt buckles though. Those got stuck quite frequently. The quality of our tour guide, however, was all around excellent. He was lots of fun and joked around a lot. On the way out of London we drove through Chelsea and South Kensington which make up a rich area of London. Chelsea is also where the book character Alex Rider is from. It is interesting to see what a literally rich background the character was given. I also think the hospital that Alex stays at in "Ark Angel" is based on Cromwell Hospital which we drove by. That hospital is private and for the rich and famous as was the one in the book. Our first stop for the day was Stonehenge. Despite the gloomy weather it was a good experience. I think the most amazing part was how the stones were notched to lock them together. The next stop was Bath. Places like Bath have absolutely captured my heart. It is gorgeous there. All of the buildings are old limestone structures. There is so much character and charm. Despite the hype, the King's Bath itself was not overly impressive to see but still neat. The trip would not have been complete if I had not seen it. After that there was a secret stop that must not be named. That stop, while maintaining confidentiality, appealed to my inner nerd and was just magical. I'm glad I got to see it as it is on the list of places I just have to see while I'm over here for obvious reasons and I'll leave it at that. Overall, today's trip was one of the better adventures I've been on though there's a lot of competition.
6/9/17 - Cereal Killer Cafe & "The Play That Goes Wrong"
In the morning I finally went to Cereal Killer Cafe. The cafe was in one of those featured videos on Facebook so I had to go given the chance. The cafe itself is super fun. There is a lot of retro and cereal themed decorations. It is colorful and happy. I got "The Lion King" cereal bowl. It contained lion cereal, coco caramel shreddies, Rolos and caramel milk and was quite excellent. Afterwards, we walked around and saw some more street art. The talent of the street artists amazes me. There are some really captivating pieces of street art and they can have some very good messages. One example of this is "MasterPeace" by Shok-1 that seeks to promote peace while utilizing a punny name. That night I saw "The Play That Goes Wrong" at the Duchess Theater. The show was hysterical and seemed like so much fun to put on. Before the show even starts, the cast is amongst the audience acting. They look for a lost dog actor and seek helping repairing the stage. Throughout the show actors forget their lines and are given the wrong ones, there a multiple sub ins for a role when the actress is knocked out, actors cannot pronounce words and the set literally falls apart. I would definitely recommend this show to anyone looking to have a fun time. This performance was also important to our milestone. This is the show that we will be creating our own version of. One of my thoughts is to make our set appear to be high school quality. Despite the portrayed theater company being small and low budget, the set overall looks high quality though it does fall apart. Therefore, one of my thoughts is to bring out the amateur quality of the theater company.
6/10/17 - Jack the Ripper Tour
The Jack the Ripper walking tour through Strawberry Tours was fantastic. The tour guide was very well informed and gave us a very immersive experience. It is incredible to me how people had much of a life in the East End during the 19th century when the killings took place. The area was described as very dark since a fog mixed with all of the pollution was often present. During those times people would have to feel their way along the roads, many were only arms width wide, to navigate. At least 10% of women were prostitutes. Sewage ran through the streets. Disease was rampant. People would work day to day just to be able to buy a spot, even just leaning against a rope, in a dosshouse to sleep. The life expectancy was about 55 years but it amazes me that it was even that high. Despite all that, the stories of these victims made them seem like normal, everyday people. They had lives and friends. I think just surviving through that time is an incredible feat in itself. I had not really known anything about Jack the Ripper before, but the tour guide really captured my interest in the mystery of what happened.
6/11/17 - Harry Potter Walking Tour
While this tour was not as good as the other Strawberry Tours, it was still a good time. We visited Trafalgar Square where the opening of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part 2" took place, the Ministry of Defense that served as the Ministry of Magic, other film sites and the inspiration for Diagon Alley. My favorite story from tour was how Daniel Radcliffe completely bought out all seats for the show he was in at the time when the fans begged him to come to opening night for "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part 2". It reminds me of Dean Kamen's story of when he bought the helicopter company. While it was not my favorite tour, it was still of good value.
6/12/17 - Windsor Castle
The highlight of Windsor Castle was the changing of the guard. You have to have respect for these people for serving their country and then they go through this ceremony on a regular basis. The entire ceremony supposedly lasts 45 minutes. That is a long time to stand so still and disciplined. The entire thing is very impressive to watch. At times they did this shuffle kind of like penguins which was a bit amusing but the precision that goes into all of the ceremony is incredible. Most of them had to form rows and were then very precisely adjusted to be in exactly the right position with proper posture. Aside from that, the castle itself was gorgeous. The stonework and architecture is beautiful. I loved the chapel as it was elegant but not overdone with bright colors. The apartments were quite similar to those at Hampton Court Palace and others that we've seen, but still impressive. The Queen's Ball Room had a pleasant color scheme using a bright blue. In addition, there was quite a bit of weaponry and armor that I appreciated.
6/13/17 - Primark
Since I don't want to forget any of my experiences, this is the day I went to Primark. We were getting make up for our theater milestone. Primark is a popular cheap clothing store. Many shirts are around 6 pounds. Tank top dresses were only 3 pounds. Camis are 1.99 pounds. It would be easy to completely reinvent your wardrobe with just 100 pounds.
6/14/17 - Circle Line Tour
After the presentation meeting for the day, we rode Circle Line all the way around the circle. We could not make it out to Hammersmith because that portion of the line was closed but we made it all the way around the namesake. At each stop we dashed off and took quick selfies with the roundels. It was then a rush to get back on the train before it left. Once or twice I leapt through the doors just before they closed. I felt kind of like a spy at those times. It was quite an adventure and we learned that it only takes about an hour to make it all the way around the circle in the Circle Line.
6/15/17 - Platform 9 3/4 & Primrose Hill
To start the day, I got to Platform 9 3/4 bright and early to beat the crowd. While it might be called Platform 9 3/4 it is not even a platform. It is a sign on the wall next to a Harry Potter shop in King's Cross. Apparently there was an issue with too many people going to the real Platform 9 3/4 so they renumbered the platforms and put a sign elsewhere in the station. Regardless, I would have needed a train ticket to get out to the platforms. I can still say, though, that I have been to Platform 9 3/4 and the set version as well at Leavesden. At night we went up on Primrose Hill in Regent's Park to see the sunset. The view across the city was fantastic. Pretty much all of the major sights could be seen including the London Eye, Walkie Talkie, St. Paul's Cathedral and the Shard.
6/16/17 - God's Own Junkyard & Box Park & Camden Market
I can never say enough how amazing I believe London is. Taking the bus I to God's Own Junkyard I saw quite a few sights. While they are probably generally unremarkable, I find them all incredible. I absolutely love London and all these buildings and streets, no matter how average, all make the city what it is. It is incredible the different characters associated with the different areas. Some areas are a bit more modernized and fit my customary idea of a city but yet still seem homey. Other areas have more historic charm. God's Own Junkyard was a really cool place and I would recommend it to anyone just for the experience. The first thing I noticed when arriving was the giant cow because my sister loves cows. The next thing I noticed was the TARDIS which meant the place instantly got my approval. The signs were really fun to look at. Some were inspirational, others were less tasteful. It was fun to look for ones that came from music lyrics. I saw a little robot and a Statue of Liberty holding a fencing foil. The place had something for everyone to enjoy. Next stop was Box Park. I took the overground for the first time to get there. Box Park is a cluster of shops and restaurants in storage/shipping boxes that are lined up together. The place was very trendy. While there we got a chocolate freakshake from Soft Serve Society. After that we hit up Camden Market. While I arrived resolved not to spend any money, it is impossible there. Not only is there a wide selection of mouthwatering foods, the merchandise ranges from your typical London souvenirs that you can get on any street side to one of a kind, homemade trinkets. I gave in and bought a pair of earrings made out of a circuit board that I think are absolutely amazing. I also discovered this fun art series called the Unusual Superheroes Collection by Michael Kozlov which is really fun. I suppose I should be proud that I only spent 6 pounds there. Throughout the day I also got to see more incredible artwork.
6/17/17 - Trooping the Colour
Trooping the Colour is the parade for the Queen's birthday. To see it, we got up at 4:30 am to arrive at Buckingham Palace at 6. Waking up that early paid off because we got an excellent spot right on the edge where we could see everything. There were so many horses for cavalry and bands. Most importantly, we saw all of the royal family. They rode by right in front of us. We also befriended a very friendly bobby. It was worth waking up awfully early and getting quite sunburnt.
6/18/17 - Art Market
I am definitely going to miss all of the markets all over London. There are so many with everything from unique foods and produce to hand made goods. I love being able to grab a container of berries for a pound when out walking somewhere. This market, however, was an art market. It always impresses me the talent that people can have. Walking down the street with all of the art hung on the fence I really appreciated the concept that the value of art is how it makes you feel. There were many beach scenes with light, bright blues seamlessly blended together. Looking at them I could feel the calm and peacefulness emanating from them. They also made me really want to go to the beach. Another artist had scenes taking place in vibrant, unusually colored forests. The color combinations and lighting effects made them appear magical. Some abstract artists captured their subjects and distorted them in various ways that captured the eye with bright colors. One artist created surrealistic works similar to Salvador Dalí but with more vibrancy and modern elements. The art represented at this market was quite remarkable. Afterwards we got macaroon ice cream sandwiches which were pretty great. Using macaroons as the cookie part really made the sandwich.
6/19/17 - Improv Show
At night I saw the most fantastic improv show. It was located above a pub at Angel Comedy. The improve group was called "Shoot from the Hip". They were comprised of two guys and did phenomenal. Every game was well done. I was laughing the whole time. The last skit of the night had them trying to recreate a couple from the audience's first date. The guy and the girl were each given a tambourine and whistle. When they got a part of the date right, one of the couple would whistle. When a detail was wrong they would hit the tambourine. Before long, the couple was disagreeing on the details which concluded in the girl having both instruments and making all of the calls. In another sketch they would randomly insert quotes written on papers by the audience. I had submitted the Doctor Who quote "You can't even sink the Titanic!" and it was pretty great. Another game had them acting out a scene and we would randomly have them switch genres when they said change. The scene was between a tax accountant and their client. Before the first change, a girl in the audience shouted out for them to switch genres. One of the earlier skits was called change. While the scene was going on, if one person was bored of what the other did, they could say "change" and the other person would have to change what they said/did. That was probably the funniest game as the guys would have to constantly change what they said making them more ridiculous each time. They had some political jokes and some about British culture. Perhaps the best was something along the lines of their best oysters being their cards. The show didn't have any weak points and I was laughing the entire time. I would definitely recommend their shows.
6/21/17 - Rolling Bridge & Abbey Road
My trip started off at the Beatles store so I could get a gift on behalf of my sister. That store is pretty incredible with how much Beatles stuff is there. The atmosphere is also nice as they play Beatles music. Then I made the hot walk over the rolling bridge at Merchant square. Keep in mind that it was about 90 degrees outside and sunny. Google maps also directed me slightly the wrong way. I did eventually find the bridge though and it turned out to just be a small footbridge. It was still pretty neat looking. I was also disappointed when I discovered that if I arrived two hours earlier, I could have gone paddle boarding for half an hour for free. I love paddle boarding and, if I were in London another week, would totally go the following week. Merchant Square itself was a really cute area on this small waterway. There were patios out over the water and fountains. The next stop was Abbey Road. Google maps may or may not have taken me through the projects of the area. A bunch of the buildings were labeled estate buildings and, according to the tour guide from the Stonehenge trip, one meaning of estate is the equivalent of our projects. However, the area was still well kept with small green yards amidst the apartments. Abbey Road itself was interesting for the fact that people would stand out in the middle of the road to take photographs of each other crossing the street. Most importantly I can now saw that I've been to and crossed Abbey Road.
6/22/17 - Science Museum & Primrose Hill
I was so glad I got to make it back to the Science Museum one last time. This time I primarily saw the materials exhibit and flight exhibit. In the materials exhibit was some cool art featuring different materials. There was a sculpture called the Materials House meant to showcase the greatest variety of materials. As part of that I learned that wood cement exists. I also learned about motorcycling suits and how there is one that monitors the riders body 800 times a second and can deploy airbags if needed. I saw some cool space technology including an electromagnetic levitator used for running tests. In the Flight exhibit I got to see some planes, both old and new. There was also a cross section view of a British Airways plane which I thought was interesting. After that I got to quickly a few other exhibits. I loved how many old computers and computing devices there are there. I walked back from the museum to enjoy the weather and appreciate the wealth of the Kensington area. At night I went back to Primrose Hill to see another sunset. While it was cloudy so the sunset was less remarkable, it was still a really fun, pleasant time.
6/23/17 - Prime Meridian & Leather Lane Market
It was funny because, until it had been mentioned a few days prior, I hadn't really realized that I could just go visit the Prime Meridian while in London. I am glad that I did find out. While I did not actually see the exhibit, I did get to stand straddling the Prime Meridian. I got to check off another important milestone for visiting London. Being up on a hill I also bet that it has a great view for sunsets. It certainly had a good view of the city. The bus rides turned out to be quite interesting. I saw yet another side of London. It was not as nice as the rest of the city yet still as nice as the nicer areas of Worcester. It seems like even the poorer areas of the city are well kept and not trashy. I also found it interesting how it is almost as if there are direct equivalents of US stores in London. For example, I found stores that appeared to be equivalents to Lowe's and Home Depot. Each of these stores had very similar appearances, logos and color schemes to each respective store. I also discovered that there is Spar in London apparently. (Spar is the grocery store we went to in Amsterdam.) There was also another funny coincidence. In Waterbury, Home Depot is right next to PetSmart and not too far from Toys "R" Us. The store that appeared to be an equivalent to Home Depot was also right next to a pet store and right down the road from a Toys "R" Us. For lunch I got the Baby got Mac sandwich from Grill my Cheese. It was heavenly. I'm going to miss these food markets. I wish there were some in my area back home. For dinner I helped prepare home made Greek food, garlic bread and cinnamon sugar pretzels. Everything was amazing. It made my top three meals accompanied by my lunch at The Eagle and the chicken shawarma wrap from King of Falafel. I'm going to have to find more interesting restaurants back home such as these.
Over the past seven weeks, London has become a home for me. I know the streets. I know the transportation system. I know the nuances in pricing and variety at the nearby Sainsbury's Local, Tesco Express, and Waitrose. I love every aspect of being here (except maybe the terribly annoying lock on our door and hardly functional wifi in the flat) and I'm going to miss it all so much. I'll miss the common sights of the streets and the beauty of them all. I love all of the old architecture. There is such a seamless blend of the new and old. I'll miss the ability to wake up and just decide to go to Abbey Road, Hyde Park or other iconic landmarks. I'll miss that many museums are free. I absolutely love the science museum. Visiting three times over the seven weeks still wasn't enough. I'll miss the "lates" held at museums where you could get in for free or reduced prices and there were additional activities. I think that is definitely something that should happen back home. Another thing we should have is more food variety and markets. In London I could walk five minutes from my flat and get local, Vietnamese, Chinese, Italian, or other Mediterranean foods as well as a wide array of market foods. I will also miss the amazing three pound meal deals at Tesco and Sainsbury's. I'm going to miss that in a town where my food options can just about be summed up by pizza, pizza, hamburgers or pizza. I will have to make a point of finding more interesting restaurants in the area as my palate has expanded. Just as I'll miss the diversity of the food, I'll miss the diversity of the city. Different areas and boroughs have such different and unique cultures. They have different architecture and atmospheres. Regardless, throughout the city there was always the feeling of community and home. It never felt like a large, looming, intimidating city. I'll miss the street art because I learned quite a bit about it thanks to Olivia and Emily and it is quite fun. Being able to go to West End shows whenever I felt like it was really awesome. I had never really seen theater on that scale and caliber and it was an incredible experience. I love theater and I got to see so much of it. I saw seven shows in just seven weeks. It was especially cool that I could see such iconic actors there such as when I got to see David Tennant (will never get over that). I'm certainly going to miss my independence while here. While it did not make a difference, just the fact that I was considered of age and had a valid ID was just cool to experience. In London I got to be considered an adult. I also loved the freedom of mobility. I loved the tube just because it is kind of iconic. I love seeing the train cars bend as it goes around turns. It would remind me of a snake or worm. I loved sitting in the first row on the top level of buses. Those seats had an excellent view for taking in the city. I especially loved walking everywhere. I will miss the walks to and from the British Library and the Leicester Square. I became so familiar with many roads and I loved the exercise. It is strange to think how walking one mile in London get you really far. Walking one mile back home might not even get me into town. It's sad that I won't be able to continue walking everywhere like I had been. I find it amusing how I practically just woke up from a walk one day to casually walk an entire mile for a half hour meeting. Lastly, though there are probably still things missing here, I am going to miss the terminology. I will miss being told to "mind the gap" and queueing or throwing my garbage in a bin. Don't be surprised if I adapt some of these terms. I just want to hold onto parts of this culture I grew to love. I can only hope to someday return. Until then, goodbye London.
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