Monday, January 30, 2017

Last Two Days


We have now entered into the last two days in Manchester. I am heartbroken, but will soldier on. 

Sunday was spent in appreciation of the beauty that is this city. The weather was fantastic: clear and sunny, so it was the perfect opportunity to take pictures. 

As a result of it being our last weekend day, Emma and I decided to sleep in a little. We had a lazy morning and then decided to go to Fig & Sparrow for our final coffee shop experience. Kait is also in Manchester this weekend, so she came with us. Our goal of the morning was to fine tune our presentations and get some travel journaling done. 

My final cup of tea from Fig & Sparrow

Monday marks our last full day in Manchester. We had class in the morning, everyone presented on their research topics. All of the presentations were so interesting, and really reflected the range of the topics we have studied this month. There was everything from computer science, to the suffrage movement, to art history. It was so interesting seeing all of the things that interest the class. 

This week marks Chinese New Year, and the whole city is decorated with paper lanterns. We were walking past the town hall today, and the whole square was filled with them. I loved seeing them all, the bright red was such a contrast to the building itself. 

City Hall 

Tonight we are having our final dinner (the students are treating the professors). It is giving us the opportunity to thank them for all of their work this month, and a time to celebrate each other.

On our way back from dinner, we saw the end of a protest against the #muslimban. It was really moving to see people so separate from the US take such a strong stand for what they believe in. It really affirmed my beliefs about common human decency.

We are leaving for the airport in 45 minutes, so I will now sign off the in Manchester section of the blog. I am so incredibly grateful for the opportunity I had to go on this trip! It has been absolutely life changing, and I wouldn't change a thing about it.


Sunday, January 29, 2017

Slums and War (A Look into the Darker Part of Manchester's Past)


This weekend most of the group is in Dublin (there are actually only three of us still in Manchester right now). Each weekend the professors offer an optional excursion, the past two weeks I wasn't able to attend so I really wanted to go on this last one. This week's excursion was a small walking tour of Angel Meadow, which was the largest slum in Industrial Manchester; and it wasn't until after World War II that urban renewal truly came to the area. 

It was a really heartbreaking tour. While most of the evidence that Angel Meadow was a slum has been removed, after all of the reading for this class it really isn't that hard to imagine the conditions faced by those that live there. One of the most poignant parts of the tour was our stop at the Angel Meadow cemetery. It is now a park, but before the urban renewal it was a burial ground. Bodies were not given individual grave sites, they were shoved into mass graves and then the grave sites were paved over. There are stories of children using skulls as soccer balls because there was nothing else for them to play with in the community. It is stories like this that really bring home how terrible the conditions were in Manchester.

In connection to our class reading, we were able to see the street that a character lived on in Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell. It is just another example of the great literary history available in Manchester, everyday I am faced with something that challenges or heightens my understanding of our coursework. There is no better way to learn. 

On a much lighter note, we went to an Italian restaurant near the hotel for dinner and it was fabulous! There was live music while we were eating (with lots of Frank Sinatra, my favorite). After dinner we came back to the hotel and started watching A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix. I highly recommend it (much better than the movie version). 

On Saturday Emma and I decided to go back to Salford because we wanted to return to the Imperial War Museum. I'm really glad that we went back because there was so much more to the museum than we saw the first time. There are two exhibitions at the museum, and both are absolutely fantastic! The first traces the history of war from World War I to the present day. It is absolutely fascinating to see how the experience of war has shaped the UK. The museum also plays a short film about the experience of children in war that is absolutely heartbreaking. 

Imperial War Museum

The second exhibit is "Fashion on the Ration." It details how rationing during World War II changed the fashion industry. The exhibit was filled with examples of how fashion, and clothing production itself, were changed by the coupon ration system that was used during WWII. Being able to see the transition of women into wearing pants more regularly was amazing, especially considering how little we think of it now. 

Quote from the Fashion on the Ration Exhibit

After the museum Emma and I had lunch, and on the way back to the MetroLink station stumbled on a small farmer's market. It was a really great find! They had some absolutely amazing desserts, which I was a huge fan of. 

At 6:45 pm we decided that we should probably eat dinner. After a fruitless search (every place we went to was full), Pizza Express became our only hope. We got takeaway pizza and returned to the hotel to continue watching A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix, it was the perfect end to the day. 


Friday, January 27, 2017

Milling Around the Mill (and Other Excursions)


On Wednesday we toured Quarry Bank Mill, one of the two working cotton mills in the UK. Built in 1784 it is the oldest mill in continual use. It was also the subject of the Channel 4 series The Mill. You may remember that we watched the first episode at the professors' flats a few weeks ago to get a sense of the conditions of the working class. It was really amazing to recognize the buildings as we were walking around. 

A view of the mill

I couldn't fit the whole mill building into one frame, but here is most of it

The tour was all self-guided, which allowed for us to take it at our own pace. We began the tour in the mill building itself. It opened with an exhibit on the work women performed in the mill, and in their personal lives. In essence, it was showing how women were undervalued for doing as much (if not more) work than the men. 

Quarry Bank Mill is still operational, so as you go through the building there are docents exhibiting how machines work and answering questions. They trace the transition from the cottage industry of the cotton industry to the industrial industry. It was fascinating to see the impact that industrialization had on the production of cloth. Being able to witness that transition really enhanced my understanding of the process of production.

The mill has floors full of machinery, and you can even go see the wheel that powers the building. Its pretty crazy to come to terms with the scale of something that we have been studying. In class the topics seem so abstract because we can't see what we are talking about, but the mill really made the class feel real. 

The tour of Quarry Bank Mill isn't just the tour of the mill; there are also extensive grounds, a garden, the mill owner's house, the apprentice house, and the workers' village (Styal Village). Styal Village is not open for tours (as the buildings are now expensive houses) but you are able to walk around the outside of the houses. It was amazing to gain a better understanding of the living conditions in Manchester (although Styal Village had much better conditions than the city). 

The grounds of Quarry Bank Mill

Here is a view of the mill that was last seen 200 years ago before the grounds became overgrown

We were able to take a guided tour of the Apprentice House. I think this was my favorite part of the tour. The Apprentice House is where the child workers lived. There were up to 90 children living in the house with two supervisors. They worked, on average, 12 hour days and then had to go back and do chores. They had one free day a week (Sunday) but it was filled with schooling and Church. From a modern perspective the conditions the children were living in was terrible, but it was actually some of the best housing children could receive. Most of the child workers came from workhouses, where they had been abandoned by their families. The docent explained how children had to pass the medical test to be able to work (it was incredibly easy to pass) and then they worked for 9 years as apprentices in the mill. Most children then signed on to work in the mill after reaching age 18, so the conditions must not have been terrible, at least that is the reasoning the docent gave us. 

This is the Apprentice House

This is one of the dormitory rooms. Children slept 2 to a bed, and there were up to 90 children in the house.

We continued our historical explorations on Thursday with a visit to the Pankhurst House. We visited a few weeks ago, but were unable to tour; so it was decided that we needed to return. 

This is the outside of the Pankhurst Centre (interesting fun fact Emmeline, Sylvia, and Christabel Pankhurst are all listed on the plaque, but Adela Pankhurst is not)

I really enjoyed the tour, even though Emma and I have already researched the family extensively. It was kind of a bummer because they basically went through our entire presentation (not that it will make us change our presentation, it is just helping us adapt what we will be talking about). It was really amazing to visit again, I don't think I will ever recover from the fact that I stood where suffrage started. 

After the tour Emma and I went to the archives at the People's History Museum to continue our research. All of the information they had for us was on microfilm, so we learned how to use a microfilm machine. It was pretty crazy using a machine that I've only read about. The sources we were using were records of The Suffragette a newspaper edited by Christabel Pankhurst and distributed by the Women's Social and Political Union (founded by Emmeline Pankhurst). The material we were looking at was fascinating! It helped us decide how we wanted to present our research, and really gave me pause after recognizing the similarities between the early 1900s and today (particularly the struggles faced by women). 

As part of our Farewell to Manchester efforts, Emma and I are trying to go to all of our favorite places. This quite obviously meant another stop at Caffe Nero! (I'm actually writing from Caffe Nero right now). 

As this trip winds down I'm trying to be more present in the moment, and thankful for the experiences I was able to have in Manchester. If I have learned nothing else on this trip (and I have learned a lot), it is that I am committed to living abroad at some point in my life.


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Piering into the Past


Class has started again! It is always fun to see everybody after all the weekend adventures. This past weekend we had people visit Paris, Brussels, and Manchester. The story swapping when we are all together is always great!

Monday marks the beginning of our last full week in Manchester. Honestly, just writing that sentence makes me sad, this whole experience has been absolutely amazing. 

We started off the week with a tour of Wigan, a town in the Greater Manchester Area. The tour was given by Chris McAllister, a retired civil engineer and the husband of Dr. Annemarie McCallister who gave one of our first tours. We are reading George Orwell's The Road to Wigan Pier for class this week, so it was really fascinating to see some of the places he writes about in the novel. 

Leeds and Liverpool Canal in Wigan

We took the train from Manchester to Wigan (about 30 minutes) and began our walking tour. One of the best parts about this trip has been experiencing other cities near Manchester, and Wigan did not disappoint  Our tour focused on the industrialization of Wigan, and the effect that de-industrialization has has on the city. We also got to see a few sites that pertain to George Orwell. There is a small monument to him in the city (and when I say small I mean it, Orwell is not well liked by Wigan). We also got to see Wigan Pier (not at all impressive, which was kind of surprising). 

The Orwell monument in Wigan (our tour guide told us that it was a fight to even establish it)

The Orwell Pub in Wigan

Wigan Pier is the tiny white building in the background (pretty impressive, right?)

After a pub lunch in Wigan, and a quick train ride back, class was over for the day. A few of us went out shopping, and just walking  around Manchester. It was so much fun just hanging out, it is definitely going to be weird not being with these people 24/7.

Tuesday was our last day of classroom discussion. We discussed Orwell's The Road to Wigan Pier and the social and political environment around the novel. Discussion went really well, it was really cool to see how much we have learned about industrialization

The afternoon was spent researching for our final projects. A large group of us went to the Central Library to make use of their reading room (it was a fantastic change of location). After researching for a few hours we split into smaller groups and adventured around. I went out with a group to an Italian restaurant near the hotel. I got Gnocchi al Pomodoro (gnocchi in tomato sauce). It was amazing! 

We also had our final meeting at the professors' flat today. We watched Fame in the Spur, a film from 1947. It is a thinly veiled satire about Labour Prime Minister Ramsay McDonald, and really focuses on political careerism. The film also delves into the suffrage movement a little bit, I found the representation really striking (and definitely in line with the research I have been doing). I really enjoyed the film!

This trip is quickly coming to an end, but we are determined to make these last few days as wonderful as the first!


Sunday, January 22, 2017

Merry Times at the Maritime Museum


This weekend has been incredible! Emma and I decided to return to Liverpool and continue our exploration of music history. 

We were originally supposed to go to the Lake District this weekend, but it didn't end up working out. Instead, we went back to Liverpool and take the city at our own pace. 

Art in the sidewalk outside of the Liverpool Lime Street train station

The train from Manchester to Liverpool is only about 45 minutes long, but I still managed to fall asleep. We got into Liverpool and immediately regretted our jacket choices (the forecast called for sun, it was cloudy and cold). We decided to soldier on, and went to find lunch. We found a place to eat, but there was a Liverpool football match so everything was busy. In the end, we decided on going Caffe Nero (anybody surprised?). After a quick lunch and a fantastic strawberry hot chocolate we went over to the Merseyside Maritime Museum. 

View of the docks on the way to the Merseyside Maritime Museum

I am so glad we were able to go through the museum again, it is absolutely incredible! Last time we went we were only able to go through one floor (out of three!), so we wanted to make sure that we could see everything we were interested in. 

There is an amazing exhibit about the sinking of the Titanic, and the links the ship had to Liverpool. It was an incredibly moving exhibit, they had recordings of the messages sent from the Titanic to other ships and it was just heartbreaking to hear. On the floor below there is an exhibit on the sinking of the Lusitania and Liverpool's role in the war efforts. It was a really interesting shift in perspective to consider the war from a place that is more visibly effected than the US. 

The museums in the UK have been absolutely incredible. Most of them are free and it is a really refreshing change to be somewhere that values education in such a way that makes access to information easier. 

After the museum we went back to The Cavern Club to see some music and get some souvenirs for family members. We had to pay to enter the club, and once we entered it was super busy (a result of it being Saturday I'm sure). It was definitely worth it though. The music was great, and I'm really glad to have the experience. 

Inside of The Cavern Club

We ended up leaving Liverpool in the late afternoon and getting back to Manchester just in time for dinner. We went to a little Mexican restaurant near the hotel, and then to the frozen yogurt place someone pointed out to us (it has been a dangerous discovery). Most of the group went out to a movie, but it was a thriller (not my favorite) so I didn't go. I did some homework and hung out in the room, which was really relaxing. 

Sunday turned out to be a pretty relaxed day. Emma and I went back to Fig&Sparrow to study. I've found that studying in a coffee shop is actually very nice. After studying walked around Manchester some more and went to the movie theater to see Lion (I highly recommend it). 

Chili Lime Brownie from Fig&Sparrow (this photo doesn't have a purpose, the food was just delicious)

Here is my first experience at Fig&Sparrow (it was amazing)

I can't believe that the trip is almost over. Hopefully this last week is just as amazing as the last three have been. 


Friday, January 20, 2017

A Day in the Life


Thursday was the 50th anniversary of "A Day in the Life" being recorded. What a great day to take the Beatles tour!

We started the day by taking the bus into Liverpool, and our first stop was St. Peter’s Church where John Lennon and Paul McCartney met. We got to walk around the churchyard, and saw the grave of Eleanor Rigby and Father Mackenzie (although McCartney says he came up with the names they are real people whose graves he saw as a child). 

St. Peter's Church

Eleanor Rigby's grave

After the church we drove by Strawberry Field, which used to be a Salvation Army home for children. We then drove around Liverpool and saw both Lennon and McCartney’s childhood homes. You can’t go into either without being part of a tour from the National Trust, which is very unfortunate. Apparently the people who used to own Lennon’s house wouldn’t let anybody in, including Yoko Ono! McCartney’s house is in the middle of a suburban street which for some reason struck me as very funny. It seems very out of place as a landmark, and I feel so bad for the neighbors who must just be stormed by fans. 

Strawberry Field*

Lennon's childhood home*

McCartney's childhood home

After McCartney’s house we went to Penny Lane. We stood on the roundabout that is mentioned in the song and our tour guide read us the lyrics while pointing out all of the landmarks that are mentioned in the song. He then played “Penny Lane” for us (as well as other songs at the specific venues they mention). 

Here is the barbershop mentioned in "Penny Lane"

Penny Lane

We also got to see the statue of Eleanor Rigby near Matthew Street (basically Beatles mecca). There were tons of Beatles stores and then we went to The Cavern Club. As far as I can remember, our tour guide told us that the Beatles played there 290 times. It isn’t the original venue anymore, but the modern club consists of about 75% of the original space. When we went downstairs there was someone playing “Pinball Wizard”. It was absolutely fantastic!

Statue of Eleanor Rigby

The Cavern Club

Outside of The Cavern Club they have a statue of John Lennon, a wall with all the #1 singles produced by Liverpool musicians, and a huge wall with the names of everyone who has performed in The Cavern Club. It was insane to be surrounded by that much music history!

After the Beatles tour, and a quick stop at Albert Dock, we went to the Merseyside Maritime Museum. It was one of the best museums I have been to. We focused on the International Slavery Museum; it was absolutely unbelievable. The museum examined the slave trade as it related to Liverpool (it was a hub of the trade) and the legacy that slavery has left on the world. It emphasizes the fact that slavery still exists in the world; it is not something that has been solved. It was especially difficult to look at the artifacts in the museum and realize that they had been used to imprison human beings.

Albert Dock

Albert Dock

Royal Liver Buildings

Friday was a really relaxing day. Most of the group went to Paris for the weekend, so there are only 7 students in Manchester at the moment. A few of us spent the morning in a little cafe called Fig and Sparrow. It was really cute, and in a different area of town than we normally go to (so a double win in my mind). 

After the cafe we just walked around Manchester doing a little bit of sightseeing. We didn't really do anything spectacular, but it was really nice to spend more time just walking around the city. Everything seems much closer together now that we are more familiar with the city. 

Tonight the group is going out to an Indian Restaurant for dinner (very exciting because there isn't a ton of Indian food in Alaska). This weekend is shaping up to very relaxing, exactly what is needed after three busy weeks in Manchester. 


*(Photo credit Kait Dawson)

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Libraries Are the Coolest Things Ever (and Other Musings From the Halfway Mark)


Monday was the first day back with the whole group after a weekend full of travel. It was really cool to meet up with everybody and exchange stories about the weekend, and everything that we have done. Three day weekends feel so much longer here! I think it is because every experience we have is a new one.

We started the day with a quick tour of Manchester Central Library. It is very near to our hotel, just a quick three minute walk, and has some incredible facilities. We saw the interactive exhibit about Manchester, and then went up to the reading room. It is absolutely amazing (floor to ceiling walls of books). The reading room also has great acoustics, if you drop something you can hear it echo across the room. Our professors took great joy in showing us that feature, and I have to admit it was pretty great. Here is a photo to show just what the reading room is like:

Not a great photo, but imagine a huge round room like this

After the library we went to Manchester Art Gallery. We were there to look at art made by the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. There was some really beautiful work by Ford Maddox Brown, William Holman Hunt, and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. There was a painting displayed there that was once slashed by suffragists in an attempt to gain media coverage. I might not agree with that ploy, but you can't argue that it isn't effective. 

To continue the art theme, we took a tram into Salford to see The Lowry, a museum and media space that has a huge exhibit of L.S. Lowry's art. It was absolutely incredible! I hadn't seen any of his work before, and I was absolutely blown away. His style is amazing, I highly recommend looking it up. 

Here I am in front of The Lowry

We were given the afternoon free in order for us to work on research projects. Emma and I deferred that a little bit so that we could go to the Imperial War Museum. It was fascinating. The museum traces the UK's involvement in wars since the outbreak of World War I. In the section of the museum focusing on World War II they showed news footage of Manchester after it was bombed. It really took my breath away to see the destruction in a place that I now find so familiar.  The museum also had a exhibit entitled "Fashion on the Ration" detailing fashion on the home front during the 1940s. We weren't able to go through the exhibit today, but I want to go back and see it. 

The outside of the Imperial War Museum

I really loved this poem

Right now we are sitting in Caffe Nero (what a shock) and working on schoolwork. Emma is reading for our class discussion and I am working on the blog (as soon as I'm done I'll start research for our presentation). 

Tuesday was our class discussion of Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell. Mary Barton is classified as a "condition of England novel." The novel details the story of a working class family and their struggle for greater recognition in the mill society. The political atmosphere the novel centers around is also very interesting, it describes the union delegation to Parliament and the Chartist movement. I find it really interesting that Elizabeth Gaskell and Friedrich Engels are talking about the same events, and that by using a different style and addressing their works to different audiences they enable greater segments of the population to understand the conditions of the working class.

After class discussion a few of us went out to Wagamama's for lunch. There is a virus going around the group, and we decided to get some soup to try and kill the virus. I don't really know if it worked, but the food was pretty good. 

We also toured the John Rylands Library. It was absolutely incredible! As soon as we walked up the stairs and into the library we were hit by the best smell ever, that of old books. The library was commissioned by John Rylands' widow after his death, and took 10 years to complete. Every part of the building was made to her specifications, including the locks. 

The library has an incredible collection (including two First Folios)! It also has a fragment of the gospel of John found in Egypt in 1920, it is the oldest known written record of the New Testament. It wasn't identified until 1935, and is now displayed in one of the galleries. It was absolutely breathtaking to see something that  old. I just cannot believe it has survived for that long. 

We were only in the library for a small amount of time, and I doubt we even scratched the surface. I am really looking forward to going back and conducting some research. I can hardly imagine the wealth of information the library holds. 

Here is a glimpse into the Historical Reading Room (one of our professors wrote a book here)

After our library tour Emma and I did a little bit of shopping at Primark and grabbed a quick dinner at BarBurrito. The whole group is doing something tonight, so we are about to go hang out together. 

Wednesday was one of the easier days we have had thus far in the class. We had a free morning to do research, so Emma and I traipsed over to Central Library. We ended up doing our research in the music archives (mostly because we needed outlets for computers). The research was absolutely fascinating! I can't believe some of the stuff the family did, it is incredible (and a little concerning). 

After our morning research session, we took part in our second tour with Ed Glinert. This tour focused on Marx and Engels in Manchester. It was incredibly interesting, but unfortunately most of the buildings they would have been in are no longer in existence. 

St. Anne's Square

My favorite part of the tour was Chetham's Library. It is the oldest library of continual use in the UK! It was built in the 1400s, and is now the site of Chetham School of Music (a very prestigious school). The library itself is unbelievable! We saw a bookcase made out of a bed that Bonny Prince Charlie slept in, sat around a table with chairs that Charles Dickens sat on, and saw the desk where Marx and Engels wrote the Communist Manifesto. All of the books are behind bars, or chained to the shelves (the aesthetic was fantastic). We were only there a short amount of time, but I could have stayed there for hours. 

This is the whole group sitting where Marx and Engels wrote The Communist Manifesto

Outside of the library

Bookcase made from the bed where Bonnie Prince Charlie slept

Chained books

Room with Dickens' chair

Hallway of books

Tonight we have an optional dinner at our professors' house. They are screening the first episode of The Mill so that we gain a better understanding of the conditions of the working class. 

Wednesday officially marks our halfway point of being in Manchester. I can hardly believe that! It simultaneously feels like we have been here forever and for no time at all. It is really incredible to think about all the experiences we have had, and how many more are to come. 


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Madeline and Allison Take London (I Mean, She Lives Here Year Round, But You Get It)


Guess what? I’m not in Manchester (well actually I will be by the time you are reading this). I am in London visiting my friend Allison. She is a grad student at London School of Economics, and is very graciously letting me stay in her flat. I haven’t been homesick on this trip, but I can’t stress enough how lovely it is to be with someone who knows exactly where I am from and is able to have conversation about very specific Alaska things. It is so crazy to think that two students from Palmer High School are in London!

I left Manchester on Thursday at 2:55 pm. I had to walk from the hotel to the train station, which are on opposite sides of City Center, and just barely made it on the train. I sat down in my seat with 5 minutes before departure. Needless to say, that was extremely stressful. I arrived in London at about 5 pm, Allison was waiting for me at the station so I didn’t have to try and navigate London by myself (thank goodness). The station itself was super busy, the line to the underground was crazy long so we decided to take a bus to LSE and then take the tube from there.

The bus was incredibly busy too, and to make matters worse the weather was terrible. It was a really odd mix of snow and rain, which makes me think it had something to do with two Alaskans being together. The tube station we went to was in Skyfall, I’ve never seen the movie, but apparently its culturally significant. We then walked across Tower Bridge to Allison’s flat. It was so cool (both literally and figuratively, the slush rain was pretty bad).

Tower Bridge at night

After getting settled in the flat we went out to dinner at a Wetherspoon’s pub, and then came back for a cup of tea and bed. The student housing for LSE provided us with a mattress so I don’t have to sleep directly on the ground! Hooray!

Friday morning, we woke up to snow (real honest to goodness snow). Naturally by the time we got out the door the snow had turned to sleet again, but it was really pretty while it lasted!

While waiting to meet up with the bigger group from Manchester, Allison and I walked around Central London and explored the touristy spots. I got to see Big Ben (and hear it chime which is good because it’s going under repairs soon), walk along the Thames, see the Palace of Westminster, The Globe Theater, and Westminster Abbey. Basically I lived every Anglophile’s dream. In the midst of all the tourist experiences Allison gave me a tour of LSE. It was really great to see a school like that up close, and even better to have a personalized tour. She also “made” me navigate us around the Tube. Luckily, she told me when I was doing it wrong, otherwise who knows where we would have ended up.

Here I am in front of The Globe

Palace of Westminster

View from one of the LSE buildings

We caught up with the rest of the group outside Westminster Abbey, and after a quick discussion of plans separated so they could find their Airbnb. Allison and I opted to let them do their own thing for the rest of the day and went to the National Portrait Gallery.

The Gallery was one of my absolute favorites! (I know this exclamation is beginning to sound repetitive). They have portraits dating back all the way to the Tudors. I geeked out pretty hard, I spent about 2 ½ hours exploring. I cannot believe how much stuff was in there! It was a really great experience observing British History in a different form.

After the Portrait Gallery we decided to go to the Museum Tavern. This tavern is right next to the British Museum. Marx and Engels spent time there, and so we absolutely had to go. It was a tiny little place, but it was great!

All in all, we walked about 12 miles in a day. I didn’t feel sore at all until I sat down, so I’m expecting Saturday to be pretty rough.

Walking around Saturday was not the worst! I can definitely feel it in my hips, but I was ready to go in the morning. I was supposed to meet up with the bigger group, but we weren’t able to make it work.

Allison and I decided to start the day at Maltby Market. We got breakfast at this tiny little bakery, it was amazing. I got a spinach and cheese croissant that was absolutely incredible. After breakfast we walked around for a bit before deciding to head to the British Museum. Allison had to work on a paper, so I went around the museum by myself.

The British Museum is huge! I was immediately overwhelmed upon entering, but after a few minutes catching my bearings I was able to figure it out. I didn’t see all the museum had to offer, because that is a crazy undertaking, but I did see all the stuff I wanted to.

Entrance to the British Museum

I started with the Egyptian exhibit. It opens on the Rosetta Stone. I cannot believe that I actually got to see that in person! Honestly, it was quite a bit smaller than I imagined, but then I remembered that it is just a fragment of the original artifact. I also went through the exhibits on Greece (which had some pretty great stone carvings), Assyria, Europe through the ages, The Enlightenment (a giant library room), and the North America Exhibit (just for pure amusement). It is so crazy to think that they have all of these artifacts, and probably more, in one concentrated area. I loved the museum, but I did have one critique (if that is the right word). They don’t have very clear information by the artifacts about where they were taken from. It felt a little bit like they are ignoring the effects colonialism had on the cultures they are displaying.

After the museum we decided to go on a sort of literary walking tour. They have these blue plaques all over the place that show a place has historical significance. We went to a neighborhood that was filled with these plaques. We saw where Charles Dickens, Virginia Woolf, Mary and Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Millicent Fawcett lived. It is so crazy to think that those buildings are still standing, and people still use them. During our literary tour we also found this incredible bookstore. It was mostly second hand, but it had tons of material (I’m talking floor to ceiling shelves of books). I managed to limit myself to two, even though it was incredibly difficult. Maybe I need to start giving myself a limit before I enter such a dangerous place.

Home of Dame Millicent Fawcett

Virginia Woolf worked here!

The home of Mary Shelley and Percy Bysshe Shelley (we read his poem "The Masque of Anarchy")

On the subject of dangerous places, I tried to tour the Tower of London. The gates closed a minute after I got there, and it was only going to open for 30 minutes (when they recommend 3 hours for the tour) so I ended up not going. I did get some pretty fantastic pictures on the walk back to Allison’s flat, so that made it all worth it.

Up close and personal with the Tower of London

The Tower of London from across the Thames

I just got this app on my phones that tells me how many steps/miles I’ve walked in a day. According to the app, which I actually believe, I walked 22,251 steps (which equals 9.86 miles) in one day. It doesn’t feel that bad now, but I bet as soon as my daily walking becomes less my body is going to rebel. How fun is that?

Sunday was much more relaxed. It was one of Allison's flatmate's birthdays so we had brunch. It was so nice to talk to other grad students; it really helped me get a feel for LSE.

We went to the Tate Modern, an art gallery, before I left. It was really cool, even though I don't really know that much about modern art. I got to see one of Monet's water lily paintings that was absolutely beautiful.

After the Tate Modern I had to head to the train station so I could get back to Manchester. Allison escorted me to the tube station, and then I was off. All of her lessons about how the tube works payed off and I didn't get lost once. I felt very accomplished figuring it out alone (although she did tell me exactly where to go). I spent the train back to Manchester reading, and after getting back Emma and I went out to dinner. 

This weekend was absolutely amazing, and I cannot wait for the next week!