My Journal on a home exchange in London

Apr 19th, 2004, 01:55 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 569
Uncle Art, I am enjoying your posts and you're an inspiration as I sometimes think of a home exchange (I have a well-located small apartment in Manhattan).

I am sorry to hear of your health problems and I hope they are resolved soon and easily.

And I thought your comment about schoolgirls as 100%, or 1000%, non-offensive. (And I pride myself on being an easily offended New Yorker & feminist.)
Elizabeth is offline  
Apr 19th, 2004, 04:07 PM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 2,627
Thank you jody for taking the time to post step by step instructions to look at the photos. That was very kind of you.

tod - nice to put a place with a name. I appreciate your response.

FAMOUSUNCLEART Sorry to hear that you have been unwell. Hopefully you are much better. Your remarks regarding how the system works if you do become ill while in England will certainly be of help to many others on this board. I look forward to your next posting.

sue xx yy - The length of the skirts the two groups of young school girls was wearing is a sign of the times and it is their school uniform. I noted this as being reported by the original poster as to what he observed, nothing more.

The school uniform has not changed that much since I was at school in England except perhaps the length of the skirt.

SandyBrit is offline  
Apr 19th, 2004, 04:14 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 41,713
Liked alot, the photos, the report and would like alot for you to be well, each and every day.
Thank you
cigalechanta is offline  
Apr 19th, 2004, 04:34 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,460
I am really enjoying this trip report, I remember your previous tales of your stay in Amsterdam. Love the details and the humor. Hope you're feeling better.

Nikki is offline  
Apr 19th, 2004, 07:02 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,330
Hi Art,

I'm thoroughly enjoying your posts. It's fun to read about your experiences.

Remember if your trip report doesn't offend at least one person, you ain't had a vacation!
indytravel is offline  
Apr 19th, 2004, 07:32 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 41,713
tod, gare de Lyon is correct.
indy, you are so right;
They should see the short skirts on the young Japaneese girls.
cigalechanta is offline  
Apr 20th, 2004, 01:00 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 243
Hiya Gang:
I warn you this is a long one.
From the days when I was a Sea Scout (Yes I was) , I loved boats, and as a young man, I loved reading and a library even though I knew I could never read all the books.
I went to Kings Cross, a major railroad and governmental junction. I wanted to see the Museum of British Canals. My host suggested I also stop off and see the British Library. I went to the Library first since it was closest to the undeground spot.

There was a lot of constuction at the Kings Cross station and I could not find the Library. I had a map but it was difficult to figure out where it was and I decided I'd go to British Canal Museum, then I asked a construction man where the library was and he told me to walk up a bit and turn right.

I did and when I was past an old building--a government office--I saw a new building shining in the sun, a long slopping piazza, and dark red building and I knew it was the British Library. It was the beginning of a good relationship.

I went in expecting to see a library and to explore it. Inside, it was pure white, with an open atrium, the sun shinging through. Of course, I went to the information desk and asked what I should see. She told me that I might like the exhibition hall. I went up the marble steps into a darken room and the rest was startling.

Understand, gang, that you migh find what I about to describe as boring, but it was one of the most exciting experiences I've had. It was a hall of manuscripts as dark as the rest of the library was bright, not reprints but the originals!!
The first manuscript I saw was the First Folio of Shakespeare's plays (1623). I've seen pictures of it, but here I was standing in one of the few originals which exists. As an actor, yes I played in Shakespeare mostly comedy, comic roles but I am, like most writers and actors, in awe of the man. I won't milk this too much but I thought 'It was only one of many people read it, and after a time discarded it. ( I know only the rich had the money to buy books, but seeing one of the few was astounding)

I moved on to many others but I'll point out a few:

While he was in prison, Sir Thomas More's last letter to Henry Eight...this is after I saw the place he was killed in Canterbury Cathedral,

The printing of the first St James Bible...I noticed that at the end of the page, there was the first word of the following page..

Lewis Carrol original written copy of Alice In Wonderland with an illustration of Alice which I think he drew.

Virginia Wolf memories written a few months she died. There were no corrections in what she wrote and there was a sketch of...I don't know what.. a shape...a face..a bear.

Another was Charlatte Bronte story written in 1847, two full pages with no scratch outs, no corrections.

Original scores of music by Mozart and Beethoven and they were so damn neat.

And the Beatles in a special display with original lyrics written by John Lenon.

Another manuscript which surprized me was the Magna Carta. I always thought it would be as large as our Declaration of Indenence with John Hancocks huges signature becasue of what it meant to the British. It was slightly larger than the College Yearbook.

But, and this is important, the writing was small, tiny, very difficult to read.
I noticed this with other manuscripts but then I realized that paper was very expensive and they didn't want to waste the space. I found out how paper was made out of papyrus.

Then an exhibit of those monks who created illustrated bibles that one of the tools they used ws a magnifiying glass to write small. Had to save space.

All religions books were there the Quran (Koran) from 1399, Buddism, and a Golden Hagadah from Barcelona 1320

There were maps, stamps--the first stamps which the British used to replaced the defeated Germans in 1945 Also rack after rack of priceless stamp collections.

The most exciting part they had five pc's in which you see the original's and zoom in part of the text you wanted to exam. You touch the page it turned, and if you want to zoom in, you pressed a lens. I spent an hour reading Leondaro Da Vinci's works which were printing backwards. The pc had a button which acted as a mirror. Of course I don't Italian.

Okay, on last thing In Blackwells Herbal book tomatoes were described as Love Apples.

I got hungry when I watched a display of 18th century Cook Books

One last detail, there was a small cafe and one wall which must have been three stories high of books behind tinted glass. I assumed they were on some sort of automation. I sat there sipping my diet Coke and waiting for the books but they didn't .

I left there looking for the Museum of Canals. I really didnt want to walk a great deal but, as is my wont, I got lost. I stopped in some of the shops but nobody not only didnt know where it was but that it even existed.

Finally an English man who was a mirror image of me pointed out where it was. As bright and modern as the British Library was the museum was the opposite. It was as big as a clothing store in New York. I entered, and there was another mirror image of me behind the desk schmoosing with another gentleman.

I asked how much the admission.
He asked if I were a senior citizen.
I said I was twenty five but had a hard life.
We laughted.

The canal museum consited of a half of a canal boat, some pictures of the history of canals, a video tape of modern canal boats, and, outside the museum in the canal, about five or six canal boats.

It was refreshing and quiet pause after the British Library. I've seen Viking ships, Danish ships and these canal boatst sailors had a rough job.

I still love boats but I am beginning to feel that my Reader's Digest doesn't make it as an unique manuscript.

More later

Apr 20th, 2004, 01:56 AM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 9,922
Keep 'em coming, mate - I look forward to writing a travelogue as good as this when I'm a geezoid, in a year or two. And sue_xx_yy, you've missed the point entirely. The rest of us know that FAMOUSUNCLEART's alarm at the shortness of the schoolgirl's skirts was entirely occasioned by his concerns for their moral welfare. And they had nothing to do with his subsequent need to take advantage of the British national health service....
Neil_Oz is offline  
Apr 20th, 2004, 03:38 AM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 2,627

Your detail and recall is excellent and thank you for taking the time to post. This is so interesting.

Finally got to see your home photos and you obviously are a very talented person.

SandyBrit is offline  
Apr 20th, 2004, 04:36 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,714
Just wanted you to know I too am enjoying reading your posts. Glad you're feeling better.

I had a chance to look at your apt photos very briefly & my first reaction was that Ruth got the better deal! Your apt looks very well located while Holloway is not. Do you feel that way or are you just happy to be in London? I'm asking because many of us are intrigued with the idea of a home exchange.

By the way, I think security is just suspicious of solo travelers, not necssarily you.

How long is this exchange for?
mclaurie is offline  
Apr 20th, 2004, 04:46 AM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 17,144

This is all terrific. Please accept the following small points as attempts to help you get more out of your memories.

Thomas More (usually known to Brits as Sir Thomas More), formerly Chancellor of England, was executed, after a reasonable trial by the standards of the day for refusing to accept Henry 8's role as Head of the Church, at the Tower of London: Catholics regard him as their first martyr of the Reformation, and he was canonised in the 1930's. He has always been seen as an interesting historical figure, and rarely as an object of devotion, though the suburbs populated by the Irish diaspora are awash with St Thomas More secondary schools.

Thomas a Beckett, Archbishop of Canterbury, was murdered several centuries earlier at Canterbury Cathedral by a group of over-zealous fellow-diners with Henry 2, who claimed they were only obeying orders. After his death, he was almost immediately canonised, and his tomb became a spectacularly popular pilgrimage centre: it was his tomb the pilgrims in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales were on their way to He was decanonised by Henry 8 for being politically incorrect (he had, after all, been opposed to the king of the day). I'm not sure whether the Anglican church has ever de-decanonised him. As a result, most of the things in London named after St Thomas were first dedicated to the murdered archbishop, and subsequently became rededicated to Thomas the Apostle.

The best-known (and overwhelmingly best-written) English translation of the bible is the King James version, named after the king who commissioned it. St James wasn't connected with it.

The huge building just before the British Library is actually St Pancras station - or rather the hotel the proud burghers of Nottingham and Derby built over the station serving their cities. Faded, but occasionally glorious inside, it's lain unused for decades, but will probably be relaunched (and refurbed) when the Channelo Tunnel station opens.

The Whittington Hospital is named after Dick Whittington who, running away from London as an impoverished young lad (with his cat) in the 13th century stopped on Highgate Hill just where the hospital is today. He heard the bells of London chiming "Turn again, Whittington,
Thou worthy citizen, Turn again Whittington, Lord Mayor of London".

Deciding thirty sets of bells couldn't be wrong, he turned round, became wealthy and was Lord Mayor three times. And the hero of the pantomime about him that's part of the English Christmas ritual.

If you're still over here, there's a small cat statue outside the hospital commemorating the event.

Do look after your health, and thanks for a really great post. Enjoy the rest of your trip if it's stil going on

flanneruk is offline  
Apr 20th, 2004, 04:53 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 438

I ,too ,am thoroughly enjoying your travelogue . Please, sir, can I have some more?
Isn't the British Library a wonderful treat? I wandered over there on a dreary rainy morning ... took a wrong turn leaving Kings Cross and had to ask directions from one of the many construction workers .
I spent a couple of hours browsing in the library's Gallery, I was fascinated by the interactive Turning the Pages exhibit and all the original manuscripts.

starspinners is offline  
Apr 20th, 2004, 05:02 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 19,655
And just to amplify, the central display of books at the core of the British Library atrium isn't a stack for automatic distribution, it's the King's Library - the collection of George III which was the basis of the original British Museum library.
PatrickLondon is offline  
Apr 20th, 2004, 06:53 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,172
I am not sure how to get to your web pictures. I went to the site and even logged I am a bit slow with these things today
SiobhanP is offline  
Apr 20th, 2004, 07:27 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 7,205
FamousUncle, isn't that trusty Reader's Digest becoming a bit tattered at this point?
Betsy is offline  
Apr 20th, 2004, 07:53 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,712
Uncle Art! Long time no read. I was delighted to see another post/report from you. It's been much too long. How wonderful this one is. (Folks, you can click his name and read the Amsterdam report...) Anyway, looking forward to more and checking out your updated website.

And Becky, it's not the same Readers Digest. Remember, he left one on the train to share with others. Please pay attention.
Austin is offline  
Apr 20th, 2004, 08:08 AM
Posts: n/a
There is no limit to the ingenuity of the adolescent female.
School uniform is a very good idea in my opinion because it eliminates fashion competition and to a large extent masks differences in parental income.
Most of those girls in Canterbury will set off from home in demure skirts down to the knee and that's how they'll look in school. However, out of sight of parents and teachers, skirts will be swiftly tucked into waistbands to produce the fashionable pelmet look.
Boys also customise their uniforms. I remember passing a group of boys on their way to school. They were all immaculate with navy blazers, black leather shoes etc. However, each lad had the right-hand side of his shirt hanging out.
Apr 20th, 2004, 08:14 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,247
Sylvia, LOL!

It must be universal..I notice the girls going to the local Catholic school, when they get within a 1/2 block of the school, the skirts come down from panty line to above the knee!
jody is offline  
Apr 20th, 2004, 09:01 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 800
When the FAMOUSUNCLEART's family travels we believe in bringing lots of disposable reading material so we save all our NY Times magazines and Readers Digests. This way on the way home we have lots of room for our gifts RIGHT DAD?

PS I have to force him to post on Fodors since I think he is a great writer (I am not) so the feedback will engourage him! I think he has other trips that he hasn't posted so if you encourage him maybe he will post them. We are going to Sweden in June so be prepared.

SiobhanP, use this URL You can sign his guestbook.
yeadonite is offline  
Apr 20th, 2004, 09:19 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 243
Hiya Falanneruk, thanks for the information. I really think I and anybody who travels should brush up on history they going to. It's obvious that I did not. Again, I appreciate the comments. Thanks.

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 11:01 AM.