Good to the last drop

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Well, I'm home. I arrived late Saturday night and have spent the past few days trying to readjust to "normal" life - things like work and schedules and responsibilities. It's been hard to sit at a desk and read spreadsheets when each day of the past three weeks has held something new and exciting. It just feels so blah!

I really do miss London. It's a bit strange how quickly I became attached to it. I was there for less than a month, but during that time my neighborhood really did start to feel a bit like home. Leaving was hard, and I have to admit that I did shed a few tears as I took one last walk Saturday morning. I couldn't help it - I cry over everything!

I realized that I never talked about my final few days in the city so I'll have to give a brief summary now. On Wednesday, our final class day, we toured Buckingham Palace. It was beautiful and extravagant and everything you'd expect. My favorite part was Kate Middleton's wedding dress, which was displayed along with her shoes, jewelry, and reproductions of her bouquet and cake. All were absolutely breathtaking!

Most of our class left on Thursday, but I decided to stay a couple extra days in order to squeeze in everything I possibly could. I spent Thursday morning moving my things into a different flat, and then I went to the Victoria and Albert Museum that afternoon. That night, I FINALLY saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. I didn't realize it until I overheard a conversation while in line for my ticket, but I went to the theater where they do all of the London movie premiers. According to an employee at the ticket booth, the Queen even went there to see Cars 2 in 3D!

On Friday, I spent several hours at the Tower of London {which turned out to be one of my favorite experiences of the entire trip}, went to Greenwich to stand on the meridian line, and then saw Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty's Theater {which was FABULOUS!!}.

I got up bright and early Saturday morning to finish packing, take a walk and grab one last cup of tea. A taxi then picked me up at 8:30 and took me to the airport for a 1:00 flight home. The journey was thankfully uneventful - no problems at all, other than the fact that I left a library book on the plane. I hadn't lost a single thing on this entire trip until then! Still trying to track it down...

I spent a lot of time going back and forth as to whether or not I should take this class, and I'm so glad I finally decided to do it - it truly turned out to be one of the greatest, happiest, most glorious experiences of my life. I learned a lot not only about the world around me, but also about myself and what I'm capable of {like the fact that I really can read a map if I have to!}. I don't think I'll ever forget it.


More about Paris

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Because I haven't talked about Paris enough already, I decided to use it as the theme of my final multimedia project. To make it, I used a program called Animoto. The music is by McKenzie Stubbert and is titled Coquetry. It is included with the program.


Living like royalty

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Learned even more about Henry VIII and his six wives today, this time time by touring Hampton Court Palace where he lived from 1528 until his death in 1547. One interesting piece of information I learned was that there were once several carvings of an H (for Henry) and an A (for Anne Boleyn). After her execution, Henry ordered that all of the carvings be removed. One was missed however, and can still be seen today.

Check out these pictures from the palace and its beautiful gardens. More royal residences are on the agenda for tomorrow - this time the current queen's! :) :)

Park life

I've loved seeing the differences in how people live outside of the States, and if there's one thing I'll bring back home with me, it will be an appreciation for just sitting and being still. London has amazing parks, and you can stroll through them at any time of day and see people reading, eating, sun bathing and just relaxing in general. I tried it myself and found that it is quite an amazing way to spend a lunch hour.

Yesterday we visited Hyde Park, which is one of the largest parks in London, and Kensington Gardens which connects to it. Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park contain two memorials to Princess Diana. One of these is a playground which includes a huge wooden pirate ship, among other things that would delight any child, and you have to be with a kid to get in {a really good idea, if you ask me}. However, adults are welcome thirty minutes before the park officially opens and we took full advantage of that!

The second tribute is the Diana Memorial Fountain. What I assumed would be a fountain in the traditional sense actually turned out to be a sort of splash park. I was told that it was very controversial at first because the British people thought Diana deserved something grander, but I think she would have loved this. There were children playing and laughing everywhere.

We may not have immaculately kept, Royal parks at home but they are still beautiful and I definitely need to start taking advantage of them. But I may have to wait a month or two, as I heard it reached 106 degrees in Arkansas today!


I had two goals for my time in Paris. 1. to see the sites and 2. to really experience the city. While I wanted to do some of the touristy things, I also wanted to just stroll around, shop, and EAT! You know how you make mental lists of all the things you want to do in your life? Sitting at a sidewalk cafe in Paris has always been on mine and it's the thing that I was most looking forward to. So instead of packing my schedule with site-seeing, I picked a few things to do and spent the rest of my time just going with the flow.

On Saturday, we toured the Notre Dame which was absolutely beautiful. The church's construction took place from 1160 to 1395 and is often considered one of the premier examples of French-Gothic architecture. This is the fourth cathedral I've toured in the past few weeks and they never cease to amaze me. The Notre Dame was incredibly ornate, with more details than I could ever take in. But my favorite part was the views from atop the towers! I climbed several tight, twisting stone staircases to a halfway point that offered gorgeous views of the city. Then I climbed several more even tighter and twistier staircases to the top. The view was just incredible.

Later that day, we took in more views from atop the Arch de Triumph, which honors those who fought in the French Revolution. It is situated on the Champs-Elysees and I had flashbacks to high school French class where we learned about the street. This in turn produced more "am I really here" thoughts.

I spent the rest of the day eating chocolate and banana crepes by the river (MMMM!), browsing markets, and laying in lawns. I was exhausted by the time I got back to the hotel, but when the opportunity to go back to the Eiffel Tower arose, I had to take it. After all, who knows if/when I'd ever be back! I went with a big group, but two of my flatmates and I decided to stay longer than everyone else and we rode up the tower at about midnight - I don't think there could possibly be any any better place to be at 12am!

On Sunday, the first thing on my list was the Musee d'Orsay which houses an incredible collection of impressionist and post-impressionist art. Among its pieces are 43 Degas, 86 Monets, 81 Renoirs, 24 van Goghs, and 46 Pissarros. It was AMAZING and the most incredible museum I've ever been in! To be honest, I actually teared up a little bit. I'm not sure what it was - maybe because I wasn't expecting it and was taken off guard {I heard it was great, but I didn't know it was going to be THAT great}, or maybe it's just because I'd never seen so many incredible pieces all at once {I mean, there was an entire ROOM dedicated to Monets} but for some reason, I was incredibly overwhelmed. If someone could only go to one museum in Paris, I'd tell them to forget the Louvre and go here instead. Seriously.

The rest of my day was spent just hanging out, walking around and eating. The food in Paris is even more delicious than I imagined. The pastries, the bread, the cheeses - all so yummy!! I'm glad I did a lot of walking because otherwise I would have surely gained 20 pounds.

So those are the wonderful things about Paris. But there were some not so wonderful things about it, too. I had quite idyllic, romantic notions of the city and those turned out not to be true. Though Paris is definitely gorgeous, it's really rough around the edges. It's dirty {especially the metro stations} and smells pretty badly too. Plus, it's pretty scary at times. One of the first things I saw when getting off the train were members of the military walking around with machine guns. They were also stationed around the major tourist sites, and I know this should have made me feel safer, but it actually did the opposite.

Another odd thing about the tourist areas were these girls who would come up to you with clipboards wanting you to sign petitions. They wouldn't say anything, but would stick the clipboards in your face to get you to sign. The sheets said something about helping mute children in Africa, so I suppose this is why they wouldn't talk. A new girl would come up every few minutes, and sometimes they'd follow you and keep waving the stinking clipboard in your face. While we were in line for the Notre Dame, we started talking to a girl from Australia who has lived in Paris for several years. She said that if you sign the paper, the girls force you to give them money. Grr!

Also in the touristy areas were tons of guys with little Paris trinkets set out on small blankets. They were selling them for super cheap, like five for 1 euro, and you couldn't walk through an area without having ten guys come up to you wanting you to buy something. Apparently this is illegal because there are handles with drawstrings on both sides of the blanket and on more than one occasion I saw the guys grab the blankets and RUN! After looking around, I noticed police officers in the area.

I don't want to end this on a negative note because overall my time in Paris was INCREDIBLE, so I'll talk a little bit about the language barrier - which really was not at all bad. I was surprised to find that pretty much everyone could speak English, so communicating wasn't that difficult. I spoke as much French as I could, but when I exhausted my vocabulary, I could always get by. I was also really surprised that a lot of people actually thought I was French until I started to speak. I have no idea why, but I got that comment a lot. One guy even yelled at me from a bus {in french} "Hello, my beautiful French woman!"

Ooh la la!

An American in Paris

"There are only two places in the world where we can live happy: at home and in Paris" - Ernest Hemingway

I'm finding it hard to believe that I just spent a weekend in Paris! To tell you all about it, I'll write two separate blogs. One for Friday, our class day, and one for the rest of the weekend. C'est bien?

So, Friday. The day started with my alarm going off at 3:30am. This was not an accident - our class had a 4:30 meeting time for a 5:20 train. Ouch! But I was going to Paris, so seriously - how could I complain?

Because the tube isn't running that early, we walked about a half mile to St. Pancras Station which serves the Eurostar - a high-speed passenger train which connects London to Paris. I'm very jealous of Europeans and their trains - it's so easy to just hop across the continent! If I lived here, I think I'd want to visit a new country every month. "What - go to Germany for the weekend? Don't mind if I do!"

The train ride lasted about 2.5 hours and included passing through the Chunnel, which honestly wasn't as exciting as I thought it would be. Being able to say that I've done it is cool, but the actual experience wasn't anything to gush about. I'm not sure what I was expecting - glass walls where I'd see whales swimming past? Well, no - not exactly. :) But just...something. All well - c'est la vie!

Despite my disillusions about the Chunnel, Paris itself certainly did not disappoint. The day's jam-packed agenda included the Louvre, a bus tour, the Eiffel Tower, the Notre Dame, a boat ride and dinner. There are way too many things to talk about, so I'll just give you the highlights. If you want to know more, I will tell you in person. But be warned - I'll probably talk your ear off. :)

Louvre - Huge and overwhelming with more than 35,000 pieces of art in a space of 650,000 square feet. We didn't have much time here, but I managed to see some highlights - like the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo and the Victory of Samothrac. It was all incredible, and the building was like a piece of art itself.

Bus Tour - We got tickets for a "hop on/hop off" bus which took us all around the city and included an audio guide to point out the highlights. This was an excellent way to see see a lot in a short amount of time, and the view from the upper level was gorgeous. It was also a nice place to soak up the sun. :)

Eiffel Tower - I was surprised by how excited I was to see the Eiffel Tower. I just stood there in amazement and wondered how in the world I could be there. We didn't have time to go up, so I came back the next night to do it (more on that in the next post).

Notre Dame - Grand and gorgeous. Didn't have time to go in here either, but I made sure to come back the next day. Again, I'll talk about this in my next post.

Boat Ride - This may have been my favorite part of the day. I never imagined that I'd ever be floating down the Seine. It was more lovely than I could ever say.

Dinner - We enjoyed a four course, traditional dinner which was accompanied by some oh-so-French guitar and accordion music. The guitarist, whose name is Napoleon, was a HOOT! Also - I tried snails!! They were super chewy and not completely awful until I visualized what I was eating. Then I choked.

Friday was our only class day and we were given the option of returning to London or staying in Paris. Most of us opted to stay in Paris (of course!) so after dinner we navigated our way to the hotel. This took quite some time and involved a lot of walking back and forth. I think we caused quite a scene because at one point, some people sitting on a park bench started singing "America." Ha.

It was an incredible first day in the City of Light, and the rest of the weekend was as equally wonderful. More to come!

The British Library, at which I wonder if this is all but a dream

When I found out that we'd be visiting the British Library, I wasn't sure what to expect. As the national library for the UK, the BL is the second largest library in the world in terms of its holdings and is surpassed only by our Library of Congress. It is also a legal depository, meaning that it must receive a copy of everything printed in the country.

All of that's cool and everything, but is it as exciting as visiting Buckingham Palace or seeing Stonehenge? The answer, my friends, is an emphatic YES!! When visiting the library last Friday, I was completely shocked when we were lead into the very aptly named "Treasures Room" which holds things like handwritten manuscripts by Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Lewis Carroll, Charles Dickens, Virginia Wolfe, Rudyard Kipling and James Joyce. And handwritten compositions by Beethoven and Handel (!!!!!). And two of the four original Magna Cartas {they rotate them in and out, so I only saw one. But I did see another one in Salisbury the day before. :D} And hand-drawn maps dating back to the 13th century. Oh, and my favorites - tiny fragments of the Gospels and the oldest complete Bible that exists today. I couldn't stop wondering "Is this real? Am I really looking at this??"

Here's more information about some of the highlights. This was written by Rick Steves, who does a much better job at describing these treasures than I could:

The Codex Sinaiticus (c. A.D. 350)

The oldest complete "Bible" in existence (along with one in the Vatican), this is one of the first attempts to collect various books together into one authoritative anthology. It's in Greek, the language in which most of the New Testament was written. The Old Testament portions are Greek translations from the original Hebrew. This particular Bible, and the nearby Codex Alexandrus (A.D. 425), contain some books not included in most modern English Bibles. (Even today Catholic Bibles contain books not found in Protestant Bibles.)

Scripture Fragments

These accounts of Jesus of Nazareth are about as old as any in existence, but some weren't written down until several generations after Jesus' death. Today, Bible scholars pore diligently over every word in the New Testament, trying to separate Jesus' authentic words from those that seem to have been added later.

Lindisfarne Gospels (A.D. 698) and Other Illuminated Manuscripts

Throughout the Middle Ages, Bibles had to be reproduced by hand. This was a painstaking process, usually done by monks for a rich patron. This beautifully illustrated ("illuminated") collection of the four Gospels is the most magnificent of medieval British monk-uscripts. The text is in Latin, the language of scholars ever since the Roman Empire, but the illustrations — with elaborate tracery and interwoven decoration — mix Irish, classical, and even Byzantine forms. (Read an electronic copy using the "Turning the Pages" computer.)

These Gospels are a reminder that Christianity almost didn't make it in Europe. After the fall of Rome (which had established Christianity as the official religion), much of Europe reverted to its pagan ways. This was the time of Beowulf, when people worshiped woodland spirits and terrible Teutonic gods. It took dedicated Irish missionaries 500 years to reestablish the faith on the Continent. Lindisfarne, an obscure monastery of Irish monks on an island off the east coast of England, was one of the few beacons of light after the fall of Rome, tending the embers of civilization through the long night of the Dark Ages.

The Gutenberg Bible (c. 1455)

It looks like just another monk-made Latin manuscript, but it was the first book printed in Europe using movable type. Printing is one of the most revolutionary inventions in history.

Johann Gutenberg (c. 1397-1468), a German silversmith, devised a convenient way to reproduce written materials quickly, neatly and cheaply — by printing with movable type. You scratch each letter onto a separate metal block, then arrange them into words, ink them up, and press them onto paper. When one job was done you could reuse the same letters for a new one.

This simple idea had immediate and revolutionary consequences. Suddenly, the Bible was available for anyone to read, fueling the Protestant Reformation. Knowledge became cheap and accessible to a wide audience, not just the rich. Books became the "mass media" of Europe, linking people by a common set of ideas.

Leonardo da Vinci's Notebook

Books also spread secular knowledge. Renaissance men turned their attention away from heaven and toward the nuts and bolts of the material world around them. These pages from Leonardo's notebook show his powerful curiosity, his genius for invention, and his famous backward and inside-out handwriting, which makes sense only if you know Italian and have a mirror. Leonardo's restless mind ranged from how birds fly to mechanics to military fortifications to the "earthshine" reflecting onto the moon to an early helicopter.

Beowulf (c. 1000)

Ponder this first English literary masterpiece. This Anglo-Saxon epic poem, written in Old English (the earliest version of our language), almost makes the hieroglyphics on the Rosetta Stone look easy. The manuscript is from A.D. 1000, although the story itself dates to about 750. In this epic story, the young hero Beowulf defeats two half-human monsters threatening the kingdom. Beowulf symbolizes England's emergence from the chaos and barbarism of the Dark Ages.

The Canterbury Tales (c. 1410)

Six hundred years later, England was Christian but it was hardly the pious, predictable, Sunday-school world we might imagine. Geoffrey Chaucer's bawdy collection of stories, told by pilgrims on their way to Canterbury, gives us the full range of life's experiences — happy, sad, silly, sexy, and devout. (Late in life, Chaucer wrote an apology for those works of his "that tend toward sin.")

While most serious literature of the time was written in scholarly Latin, the stories in The Canterbury Tales were written in Middle English, the language that developed after the French invasion (1066) added a Norman twist to Old English.

The Shakespeare First Folio (1623)

Shakespeare wrote his plays to be performed, not read. He published a few, but as his reputation grew, unauthorized "bootleg" versions began to circulate. Some of these were written by actors who were trying (with faulty memories) to re-create plays they had appeared in years before. Publishers also put out different versions of his plays.

It wasn't until seven years after his death that this complete collection of Shakespeare's plays was published. The editors were friends and fellow actors.

The engraving of Shakespeare on the title page is one of only two portraits done during his lifetime. Is this what he really looked like? No one knows. The best answer probably comes from Ben Jonson, in the introduction on the facing page. Jonson concludes, "Reader, look not on his picture, but his book."


Steves, Rick (n.d). The British Library: A self-guided tour. Retrieved from

From London to Paris and back

Monday, August 01, 2011

What a whirlwind of a weekend! Paris was positively amazing, but before I talk about it I must catch up on my blogs from Wednesday's and Thursday's classes. Stay tuned!

Okay, fine. Here's a sneak peek:

Paris skyline, as seen from the Notre Dame

A night at the Globe

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Last Wednesday night, we saw an amazing performance at the Shakespeare Globe {I feel like I'm describing everything as amazing, but it truly all is!}. This open air theatre is a reconstruction of Shakespeare's 1614 performance venue and the plays are performed the same way they would have been 500 years ago - with no mics, no lighting effects, and with part of the audience standing in front of the stage.

The performance we saw actually wasn't one of Shakespeare's, but a newer play called Anne Boleyn. If it's been a while since you studied British history, Anne Boleyn was the second of Henry VIII's six wives and was beheaded for treason, adultery and witchcraft - all of which were likely false accusations. The performance wasn't only entertaining {funny, sad, thought provoking}, but also secretly educational...I learned more about the lives of Henry and Ann than I ever would have sought to on my own.

It seems like I'm picking up little nuggets of British history everywhere I go and am finding that the monarchy is actually really fascinating. Before going home, I'd really like to visit the Tower of London, which is where Anne Boleyn was executed {and where the crown jewels are kept!}. I also have a list of movies/TV shows to watch when I return. Among them, The Tudors, The Young Victoria, and The Madness of King George. I'm not sure, but I think I may be turning into an Anglophile.

But back to the Globe - if you ever find yourself in London during the summer, I HIGHLY recommend you seeing a show! So wonderful!

A beautiful day in the neighborhood

Join me for a day in my adopted neighborhood of Bloomsbury:

A breath of fresh air

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Today we traded in the hustle and bustle of London for the quiet serenity of the English countryside. This was exactly what I needed - after several days of projects and 1am meetings for a class I'm taking back home, I've been left completely exhausted and in desperate need of a breather!

Our bus arrived at 8:30 am and we embarked on a two hour journey to Stonehenge. On our way, we saw rolling hills and many a bouncing sheep. Our Scottish tour guide, Sean, told us that England has more sheep than any other country besides New Zealand. However, the official number varies because the people who count them keep falling asleep. Ba-dum-ching! This was just one of the zingers Sean had for us today - he was a hoot!

Stonehenge was amazing and mysterious and all of the things you'd expect. I really wish someone would just tell me how it was formed, and why. I mean, I like a good mystery just as much as anyone else does - but only when it's solved in the end. You can't just leave me hanging! We were told that the smaller, interior stones came all the way from Wales and the larger stones, each of weighs about 25 tons, came from a quarry about 25 miles away. How on earth were they moved? Well personally, I don't think it was done on earth at all. I think it was done by aliens. Yep, that is the only plausible explanation. :)

After exploring the mysteries of Stonehenge, we hopped back on the bus and took a 30 minute drive to Salisbury, a charming little city in Wiltshire. While we were there, we took a tour of Salisbury Cathedral, which is absolutely gorgeous and supposedly one of the best examples of early English architecture. It also holds the best-preserved of the four original copies of the Magna Carter.

After the tour, we were unleashed to explore the city for a couple hours. But I was exhausted, so I quickly ate lunch, walked around for a few minutes and then returned to the cathedral to take a nap on the lawn {people do this here - I wasn't just being a weirdo}. It was an absolutely beautiful, sunshiny afternoon and this was by far the best part of my day. Luckily, the church bells woke me up when it was time to leave - otherwise I'd probably still be there snoozing!

A few snapshots from my day in the country:

Writing postcards

We have a "photo focus" each day and today's was to tell a story in five pictures. Here's mine!


Sunday, July 24, 2011

I've had the chance to soak up loads of culture over the past week and a half. Like on Friday when I visited the British Museum, the holder of tens of thousands of worldly artifacts {including the Rosetta Stone!} or today when I visited the Museum of London, which traces the city's history back to prehistoric days. But to tell you the truth, I don't want to talk about London's abundant cultural opportunities. What I really want to talk about is its abundant shopping opportunities.

I've decided that London's biggest danger isn't the pick-pocketers, or the insane drivers, or the manic pigeons. It's the stores, and all of the wonderful things held inside, that can you get you into trouble! But surprisingly, I've been a very good girl so far. Before embarking on this journey, I gave myself a daily budget and I'm pleased to report that a day hasn't gone by when I've used it all. Well, until this past Saturday that is. Bright and early that morning, I met some of my classmates for a traditional English breakfast {which was, er...interesting to say the least} and then we headed to Notting Hill to visit Portobello Road. And oh my word, it's like that place was made for me. Each Saturday, there's a massive market that goes on for two miles. It's mostly antiques, but there are also fruits and vegetables, second-hand books, etc. Plus, there are tons of actual stores selling clothing, jewelry, and an assortment of other fun things. It was EXTREMELY crowded, but that didn't deter me. In the end, I bought a dress, a necklace and a bag {to carry all of my souvenirs home with me!}

Later that afternoon, I made my way back to the Covent Garden market since my first trip was unsuccessful {see previous post about my getting lost}. I stopped by Lush, a seller of handmade and organic bath and body products, and I think I bought more creams and lotions than I can use in a year. But the salespeople demonstrated the products on me and they made my skin so soft - how could I possibly resist?

And after today's class, I visited the Mecca of all shopping destinations - Harrods. This high-end department store is situated on five acres of land, has seven floors and over 1 million square feet of selling space! Their motto is Omnia Omnibus Ubique—All Things for All People, Everywhere and boy do they live up to it. I saw everything from chocolate truffles to seafood to puppies to pool tables for sale. All I bought were a few small gifts, but it was certainly fun to look at all of the mega-designer dresses {I'm talking seriously red-carpet worthy gowns} and do a little dreaming.

Here are a few pictures from Portobello Rd. I also spotted a library in Notting Hill and have decided that I'm going to get a job there. :)

London Underground

The London Underground {or the "tube" as the locals call it} is the world's oldest underground railway. And it amazes me. First of all, the stations are immaculate - which is pretty incredible considering the number of people who go through them every day. But even more astonishing is its complexity. The Underground's 11 lines serve all of Greater London, as well as a few outlying areas. There are 270 stations and the tracks total 253 miles, making it the second largest metro system in the world, after Shanghai's.

The first time I road the tube, I felt like I was about to go on a ride at Disney World. You know how you're waiting in line and you keep telling yourself that the end will be just around the corner? But then it just keeps going and going and going? That's how this feels. To actually get to the tracks, you have to go down escalators, run down stairs and navigate through a series of mazes. There's also a very amusement park feeling to the intercom announcements that remind passengers to "mind the gap" and "stay behind the yellow line."

If you'd like to go on a virtual tube ride, check out the video I made from a short trip between Holborn Station and Piccadilly Circus Station. It reminds me of one of those cheesy travel shows you'd find on PBS, and it was super fun to make. I especially enjoyed watching back the footage and seeing all of the odd looks I got!

A word of caution - if you suffer from motion sickness, this may not be for you.


Transport for London (n.d.) London underground. Retrieved from

Time out London (2007) London underground's history. Retrieved from

London in film

Friday, July 22, 2011

After you visit a city, isn't it funny how you start recognizing certain sites when they're featured in movies? I have a feeling that will be happening to me for quite a while after returning to the U.S.! Some of my favorite movies have been set in London, so for our podcast, I decided to count down my top five. There are so many choices, it was definitely hard to narrow down!


Internet movie database (n.d.) An education. Retrieved from

Internet movie database (n.d.) The king's speech. Retrieved from

Internet movie database (n.d.) Love actually. Retrieved from

Internet movie database (n.d.) My fair lady. Retrieved from

Internet movie database (n.d.) Sweeney Todd: The demon barber of fleet street. Retrieved from


This podcast features the song "Sprightly" available on GarageBand under fair use guidelines.

In wonderland

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Question: How do you get an (aspiring) librarian immensely, unabashedly excited?

Answer: Take her to Oxford, England for a day!

Step 1: Visit Oxford University's Bodleian Library, which was erected in the fifteenth century and is one of the oldest of such institutions in all of Europe today. Show her up to the library's original wing - a gothic-style hall that is full of books dating back hundreds of years - and for the first time since arriving in England, she will actually gasp.

Image via The Guardian

Step 2: Tour Christ Church, one of Oxford University's largest colleges which counts Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) on its list of past students and faculty members. Ask Stuart Fleming, the organization's darling assistant custodian, to point out the various inspirations for Dodgson's work, as well as a variety of locations used in the Harry Potter films, and she will officially be smitten.

Christ Church

Christ Church. This MASSIVE tree was Dodgson's inspiration
for the jabberwocky in his poem of the same name

While at Christ Church, Dodgson developed a close friendship with the dean, Henry Liddell,
as well as his wife and children. One of the dean's daughters, Alice Liddell, became Dodgson's
inspiration for the heroine in Alice in Wonderland. Her family's home was on on the other side of this tiny door and she would often peer through the keyhole into a garden that she was forbidden from entering.

Christ Church. Staircase used in the Harry Potter films

Christ Church. Dining hall used in the Harry Potter films

Step 3: Throw in some shopping in the town's quaint shops. Shopping is always good.

Step 4: Hop over to the Story Museum, a project that is just underway and has a planned opening of 2014. Explain the organization's vision and its plans for exhibitions, performances and creative activities - she will begin making mental plans for a return trip.

Step 5: Make sure she enjoys a dinner at The Eagle and Child, an Oxford pub where the Inklings, a literary group that included C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, regularly met to discuss their writings between 1933 and 1949.

And that is all it takes.