Sunday, June 30, 2013 the Underworld

Track 6/30: The Clash: "London Calling"
Alright, I cheated a bit on the inspiration for today's track, alas it was the title of my London Alive walking tour number two: London Calling! 


The psychology professor, Dr. Seefeldt, led a group to Camden to tour the alternative side of London, an area that was home to many famous rock bands and venues that hosted them. One such venue was The Music Machine which is now KOKO. It was huge on the punk scene in the late 70's, and a few notable occurrences are that the Sex Pistols and The Clash shared a stage here, and this is where Bon Scott of AC/DC was drinking before he died ( choking on his own vomit). Another important venue is Roundhouse which is a converted Victorian engine shed and now hosts performing arts. It has a rich rock history, having offered the first all-night rave (where Pink Floyd performed), and other artists to perform there include The Doors, Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones...the list goes on. (Disclaimer: it was terribly difficult to photograph in Camden as it was highly populated, with bustling crowds on the sidewalks, and the pace of the tour was rather quick.)
  Camden takes its anti-establishment sentiment seriously, and for many years the Devonshire Arms, a Camden Pub, had a very strict 'Goth Only' policy, and none were admitted that did not meet this dress code. While we didn't enter any goth stores, we did go into Cyberdog within The Stables Market. Cyberdog is rave central, and it's THE place to go to buy any clothing that flashes, glows, or otherwise makes the wearer appear to originate from another galaxy. While the store is already in a basement, there is also a sub-basement which you must be over 18 to descend to, and I'll skip the details on the finds down there, but it is an experience unlike any other. Even if you're not on the hunt for a fiber optic Judy Jetson dress, I recommend at least breaching the threshold of Cyberdog, as the two neon-clad rave-dancing females above your head on little balconies are quite entertaining.

There is so much to see at the market, but even the walk back to the tube provides some interesting sites, as apparently English dogs aren't 'hot,' they're 'posh,' and man, did I always wonder where all those reject pots you come across end up, and now I know - thanks Camden!

While Camden is one cool town, I'm not sure I'd want to live there, as I'm weary of any place where pianos walk off by themselves:

For dinner, our destination was The Coal Hole on the Strand, a pub I discovered online that resides where the coal cellar for the Savoy Hotel next door used to be. The Coal Hole is also notable in the world of music, but for a far different genre, as Gilbert & Sullivan frequented the pub and performed here! The food was delicious, I partook in a chicken and mushroom pie and sticky toffee pudding for dessert! (Hey, I did a lot of walking.) Fun fact: the road in front of the Savoy is the only one in London where you drive on the right side of the road!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Slowly but Surely

Track 6/29: Broken Bells: "Vaporize"

Maybe it's the presence of that giant clock looming over everything, but one thing is certain: London time is quicker than anywhere else! Perhaps it's the collective energy of all the people and vehicles constantly in transit, or it could be just the adrenaline of the people fearing getting hit BY the transit as these bus drivers seem to be trained by NYC cab drivers. Regardless, it's certainly difficult not having a handle on where you're going and how to get there in the midst of such perpetual motion.

We began our day meeting as a class (just the library graduate students) to go over our schedule for the month and have an opportunity to ask some questions. There are 17 of us from 9 different states so it makes for a diverse bunch. There are so many exciting things to look forward to, but you'll have to come back to read about these adventures! Unfortunately, we then had to attend a program-wide orientation which was definitely designed for undergraduates and stressed points such as 'don't drink too much,' 'be respectful,' and 'you're here to learn.' The theme of the program director's lecture (delivered televangelist sermon style) was: "Running the gauntlet of feeling your wanderlust" - actual quote. I'll let you work out your own feelings on the meaning and accuracy of this phrase.

Following a jaunt to a local bakery for "lunch" (I use the term loosely... but my brownie had cranberries in it, so... fruit) we joined up for our first of two London Alive walking tours. I signed up for a historic pubs walk that happened to be with our library professor, Dr. Welsh. We set out riverside in Gabriel's Wharf on our journey to cross the Thames. We then traversed Blackfriars Bridge en route to Fleet Street which historically was British press headquarters, but they've moved off to Canary Wharf now.
The Old Cock Tavern, Fleet Street

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, Fleet Street

There are numerous notable pubs on Fleet Street, and many have a literary tie-in, such as The Old Cock Tavern and Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese which were both frequented by Charles Dickens (also Tennyson at The Old Cock and Voltaire at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese). Some have plain facades while others are quite charming, and then some of the carvings are downright bizarre...
The George, Strand
Temple Bar

Fleet Street becomes the Strand at Temple Bar. While the London metropolitan area is quite large, the City of London is only about a square mile, the boundaries of which are marked by statues.

Somerset House is on the Strand where there once was a Tudor palace, but now the site is home to many things such as art exhibits, government uses up until recently, and one wing is utilized by King's College.

Somerset House

A walk over the Waterloo Bridge delivered us back to our residence on Stamford Street. From there it was time to independently discover some shops around the neighborhood and procure some dinner.

London Alive tour number two is tomorrow, and it's a wild one!

Slowly but surely I'm becoming a bit more acclimated to the time, the pace and the surroundings, but there's a long way to go yet.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Where am I, and what day is this exactly?

I've decided that in keeping with what I actually find a silly trend in novels: throughout my blog for this program each post will build up a playlist reflecting my thoughts/feelings/inspiration during this experience.

I’M HERE! It was quite an ordeal to come this far, however. I’ve gotten approximately 4 hours total sleep since Wednesday morning when the scramble to finish up trip preparations began, and since then I’ve endured a commute into Queens, a delayed flight causing me to wait at the gate an extra hour & half, as well another extra hour+ just sitting on the runway during a lightning storm previous to the over 7 hour flight, during which I felt quite queasy (not helped at all by watching Oz the Great and Powerful - wow, was that a bad movie…), followed by transport to the dorm through London traffic which was close to an hour.

But alas, I am in the UK. This residence hall is smack on the Thames, and the walk to the London Eye is mere minutes. We all checked in this morning/afternoon and got settled, and then our class met up at 4 pm to do a neighborhood tour. We strolled around the South Bank, ate a bit of pizza, bought Oyster cards, then practiced taking the tube by going to Leicester Square, and finally circled back toward our dorm at King's College.

I stopped at Sainsbury’s to nab a few groceries for breakfast and such, but perhaps yogurt and cereal were not the best choices seeing as I don’t have a spoon… or a bowl… I limited myself to one Cadbury bar this evening, although I wanted to gorge on every single wondrous-looking kind they had. The McDonald’s here all have signs for a McFlurry with Cadbury Flake pieces in them too (--- damn you lactose intolerance!!!).

It was rather pleasant weather today, about 65 degrees F and drizzling on and off – my ideal conditions! It is supposed to warm up a little this weekend, oh well; at least it’ll make for some better snapshots. I do plan to take more and better quality pictures than these throughout this trip, but photography was just far beyond my mental and physical capabilities in this state of exhaustion!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


As the departure date grows ever nearer for my adventures abroad I wanted to get this blog up and running.

In about two weeks I will be going to the UK for a month to participate in USM's British Studies Program to explore British libraries, museums and archives and earn the remaining six credits to complete my Master's in Library Science!

This will be the spot to catch my daily updates on what I'll be seeing and experiencing.

For now, I would like to share some musings regarding a couple of my favorite books that I've processed at work this week:

Bear Hunting for Kids

Bear Hunting: For Kids
by Matt Chandler 

Clearly this book is a guide for what could only be considered a constructive and perfectly appropriate hobby for children. Kids love teddy bears; why not grab your rifle and set out after the real deal? I may have to have a chat with my parents to discuss what I now can only see as a limited childhood, as I was never given the opportunity for bear hunting.

 ...If the kiddie stuff isn't your style and you want to bag a more passionate, adult bear...

Beast Behaving Badly
by Shelly Laurenston

The leading man in this novel, Bo Novikov, is 'half polar bear, half lion, pure alpha male...' and based on the cover art he looks remarkably human. I have a hunch he'd make an excellent hockey player what with his comfort with cold weather, and with his 'seven-plus' foot height as reported on the back cover, he'd be quite an enforcer. I'm not real clear on how the math and biology work out to be half polar bear, half lion and also all man, but I'm sure this is a fascinating read incorporating evolutionary genetics and animal behavior studies. Now, there are some negative reviews of this book, as apparently the inter-species mating rituals are not well documented. 'cmoonlight' on said:  "Blayne kept Bo in the "friend zone" WAY TOO LONG! It was almost like she didn't have any romantic thoughts about him one minute, then she is all over him the next... he didn't really act like he WANTED her until later in the book." Well, there you have it.

If you would like to check out the aforementioned titles, head to your local library!