Monday, September 15, 2008

Her tour to the Lakes was now the object of her happiest thoughts

The Lake District was my destination for last week. My cousin's had booked a holiday up there, and there was a spare room where they were staying, so I decided a pre-research holiday was in order. We took the scenic route up, driving past Chatsworth (I couldn't see it... just the gates and the grounds, but if filled me with a warm Pride and Prejudice feeling). Unfortunately my chances of meeting Darcy were dashed as we continued on to the Lakes. We drove through some beautiful countryside on the way to Buxton, it was stunning, before arriving at the bottom of the Lakes and our accommodation. After such a long drive we only managed a bit of dinner and then a pint which was nice.

Tuesday was set to be a miserable day, so we didn't set out on a grand walk, but went shopping and wandering around villages including Hawskhead and Ambleside. It was a bit grim and we couldn't see much, but there were some lovely quaint little villages.

Wednesday we heading back into the Lakes, to Grasmere, to walk up Helm Crag, or the Lion and the Lamb as it is known. Despite this plan, we chose the wrong path and walked several miles in the wrong direction, and once we found the right path it was too late to walk up Helm Crag. I was secretly pleased, as though my cousin assured me it was an easy walk, it looked pretty mountainy to me. At Grasmere there is the most delicious smelling Gingerbread shop, which sells amazing gingerbread, well worth going for. The landscape was truly wonderful and stunningly beautiful, I can see how Wordsworth and the like were inspired by it. I felt quite like I was in the Magic Far Away tree and was humming both the Pride and Prejudice theme and the sound of Music, though my creative genius did not kick in and I didn't write any poems. Next time perhaps.

Thursday did some more village jumping, went to Arnside and to a gorgeous little smoking house at the docks which had some delicious looking things in it. We came back with smoked haddock, smoked wild salmon and smoked garlic.

Friday we had planned to drive home across the Yorkshire Dales, and I had been reading Wuthering Heights in preparation, but alas we didn't end up going that way, so Wuthering Heights was locationally in vain, perhaps I should have read Wordsworth or Beatrix Potter instead.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

From the other table, where the conference was eagerly carrying on

I have been a little slack in my blogging though I have been busy, and then went on holiday for a few days, but more on that later.

Last week was the conference that had been a major factor in getting me over to the UK when I did. It was at the University of Northampton, which though a bit difficult to get to, was nice enough. I arrived the day before the conference and as the conference organiser had suggested it, went to dinner with some of the other delegates who had also arrived early. We went to a lovely Indian place, the food was delicious and the service excellent. There were a few Aussies there, one girl who was studying at Glasgow and a couple from Melbourne over for the conference. There was another fellow who was from a place about 20 minutes from where I was born in Northern Ireland, and he was lovely, it is funny how small a world it is. (What made the world even smaller was that there was another Australian girl at the conference who not only went to my uni as an undergrad, but had my supervisor!) It was a great night, though probably a bit late and a pint too many for the night before the conference, and so I was exhausted the next day, though thankfully my paper was not until the Friday.

Thursday went well, there were some very interesting papers, particularly interesting to me were the ones on masculinity and the key note speaker was excellent. Spent most of the time with my new Northern Irish friend and at dinner was at a table with him, an academic from Tasmania, a fellow from New Mexico who studies at Exeter, a Gallic speaking Scot from the Highlands of Polish descent and an English Lady. I was pleased with my efforts of talking to people and socialising, which I think was greatly assisted by the first night's proceedings. Even though the actual conference was very interesting, the most interesting thing I learnt that day was that Bob Geldof has Napoleon's penis, he bought it from a collector in California years ago. The things you learn at history conferences!

Friday also went well, my paper went well, and there was a very interesting paper given on Marine's which held my interest very well indeed. The key note was a bit arrogant, but good all the same, all in all it was a good day. I was sad to be leaving, truth be told, and doubly sad as we don't have the same conference scene at home an I can see where I am missing out in terms of getting my work out there, as well as networking and keeping in touch with what others are doing. I wonder if what I am able to produce from Australia will be able to compete with British/European works. I went back to the Indian place with the Australian couple, which was nice and a great improvement on the 1/3 a packet of pringles I was planning on for dinner.

All in all it was a good experience, I met some nice people and learnt some interesting things, mainly that Bob Geldof owns Napoleon's penis.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

In the gallery up stairs you will see a finer, larger picture of him than this.

It will be a week tomorrow since I arrived in the UK. After taking a few days to get over the jet lag and to regain my bearings I did some work on my conference paper and then headed to London. First stop, Trafalgar Square. Now I have been there before, but I really do like it there, I don't know if it is just the giant Nelson , or that a whole square is dedicated to something I enjoy and am interested in, but it seems like a good sort of place to me. After subtly taking Nelson's picture with Nelson, I went to the National Gallery which was one thing I was dissapointed not to have done last time. It was very good, though I didn't have that long. I saw all the 'famous' ones plus a few of my favourite artists and all the 18th C ones. I then met up with a friend I went to school with and we went to the Natural History Museum, which, while good, was not really my thing and it was crazily hot there too. Nelson had his picture taken out the front, but he wasn't allowed out in the museum, as I didn't want my friend to think I was mental.

Today I went to the National Army Museum, which was very well done, though not as good as the Maritime Museum. It didn't take me long there so I made it the the National Portait Gallery, which was great! The Tudor section was good with several paintings of Queen Elizabeth and the wives of Henry which were good to see. The 18th C section was my favourite and it was good that I recognised a lot of the people without reading their captions. Emma and Nelson were together on the wall, which was nice, and Jane Austen was in the next room. The little sketch by Cassandra Austen really is very small but it was good to see it. It was also good to see Virginia Woolf.

The rest of the week is taken up with my conference and next week I go to the Lakes! Despite all this activity I am looking forward to getting to Ireland to see my Nana & relations and then getting back home. 1 week down, c. 19 to go.