Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

Entries Tagged as 'Mara'

So Soane So Soon

September 4th, 2009 · 1 Comment

After stepping off the Holborn tube stop, we followed the signs to the Sir John Museum and almost passed it on the street. It fits in so well with its neighboring houses that we nearly passed it. The only difference between the museum and the neighboring homes were two signs, one by the door and one on the gate. It’s set in a picturesque neighborhood across from Lincoln Inn Fields. The museum is a monument to Sir John, a premier British architect, from Sir John, a premier British architect. Sir John decided that instead of leaving his home and belongings to his children, he would create a museum that would house his eclectic collection of sculptures, paintings, and tchockes. While interesting and brief, the museum was almost confusing in layout and design of exhibitions. We understand that the layout is based on the three houses that he combined to create his home, but the exhibitions seemed to be crammed into whatever corner they might fit. Example, large stone sculptures over two stories tall in a hole in the ground floor to the basement. It was just a bit confusing trying to understand the collections left by Sir John, while at the same time being surprised by how the exhibitions were presented. Many times, we found ourselves considering how the exhibition fit into a particular room instead of how that part of the collection reflected on Sir John. Also the museum wasn’t so much a reflection on Sir John’s work rather than a convenient way to showcase his eccentricities in the form of artifacts from places other than Britain. The collections themselves were not very well presented and there was very little in the way of an explanation. The only guide was a 2 quid pamphlet offered at the main door; unfortunately we are cheap college students, so we went without the pamphlet to find our own path. Normally forging your own path in a museum is enjoyable, but within such a small and poorly laid out museum it was more of a hardship than a joy. We enjoyed the architecture of the house and that a piece of such beautiful architecture and love is so well maintained and that it was so beautifully repaired after sustaining enemy fire in 1941. However, except for its brevity, it just wasn’t the museum for us.

Tags: Kimberly · Mara · Uncategorized

Fish and chips versus tofu and veggies

August 26th, 2009 · No Comments

Today was an interesting contrast in English History, with one site having become completely commercialized and the other having remained protected. We began the day in Westminster. Even though it is one of the sites in London that is synonymous with the city it does not suffer from commercialization or due to the number of tourists. Yes, there were numerous individuals wandering through with the audio tours and other tour groups besides our own, but they did not hinder our experience in the abbey. Beyond that, every hour on the hour we were asked to observe a moment of silence for either prayer or contemplation. It was a simple and effective way to remind everyone within the abbey that they were in a sacred place. We could appreciate the tourist attraction of Westminster, while still noting that it was a church with more meaning than just beautiful architecture and memorials. Westminster Abbey is an essential part of what London has become today. They have managed to share a beautiful piece of history while maintaining its integrity and historical accuracy.

tower and westminster 025

The Tower of London in comparison has become a commercialized tourist attraction. It was similar to taking a history-lite course. The entire site had been turned into recreations and tourist traps. There were multiple gift shops, hawking imitation, jewelry and mock swords. It seemed that most people wanted to see either the Crown Jewels or the Bloody Tower, by far two of the most famous attractions within the Tower of London. The most informative part of the Tower were the sporadic movies shown throughout the various towers and exhibitions, however they were made difficult to view due to their placement in crowded rooms with a heavy traffic flow. It seems to be a shame that not all the historical sites of London can be as protected as Westminster Abbey. We found the Tower of London to be somewhat of a disappointment and that we spent more time waiting to view small exhibits (the Bloody Tower) than we did actually learning from the site. We were most interested in the Bloody Tower and Crown Jewel collection which turned out to be two of the smallest exhibits in the entire castle while having the longest lines. Honestly, it seemed that we gained more from wandering along the walls and through the grounds of the Tower instead of the actual exhibits.

tower and westminster 092

Tags: Kimberly · Mara · Uncategorized

National Secrets

August 25th, 2009 · 1 Comment

Yesterday I toured the Docklands Museum and was fascinated with the exhibit on slavery and the response that many museum-goers had to that particular exhibit. I found the museum overall to be both interesting and informative and that it filled a major hole in the historical sense since the Thames is integral to the economy of both city of London and the nation as a whole. The slavery exhibit included several examples of artwork that highlighted the enslaved Africans place in society. The museum housed multiple paintings depicting the slaves as an accessory or a barometer to measure a family’s wealth. After viewing the included artwork I remembered that we had the possibility of touring the National gallery the next day and I decided to look for paintings of a comparable theme to see how the Gallery would handle the similar works.

I was surprised however that in all of the paintings that there were no paintings that included enslaved Africans within the painting. Out of the hundred of paintings that detailed religious aspects of life, the nobility, and the popular myths there was not one acknowledged the existence of slavery in European world. I understand that the gallery is predominately for fine art owned by the British Government, but I do not believe that this was something unintentionally overlooked. Especially during the period that it was fashionable to own a slave and was considered a sign of wealth and class. I just found it interesting that one of the most prestigious art museums in London would gloss over such an important aspect of British history.

Tags: Mara · Museums

August 24th, 2009 · 1 Comment

I am excited about this coming year, but I also feel like I am an incoming freshman again.I’m hoping that I will love England and UAE as much as I love my time at Dickinson. It’s also strange to think that we won’t be on campus again for an entire year. I’m not so scared about the cooking part, I love to cook and do it a lot, but I am concerned about keeping in touch with my frieds from school and home. Many of them are also going abroad and I can’t wait to travel and see them.

This whole visa process is very nerve-wracking and I rally would like just to get it over with, but noooooo, it is a very long drawn out, and incredibly dramatic procedure. I just keep waiting for something to go wrong, so if there is anything that is making me truly nervous about our upcoming adventure its the whole visa ordeal. I understand the necessity of it, but its still makes me feel like I’m banging my head against a wall.

I love horseback riding and really would like to ride in Norwich. I heard that British trainers are much sterner than their American counterparts so we will see how that goes! I have also been skiing since I was four and I definately want to try some skiing on the Alps. I also want to make an effort to try something new, something I wouldn’t think of doing if I was at home or at Dickinson.

I see this next year as full of opportunities and I want to try as many of them as I can. I want to explore England and Europe as much as possible and really immerse myself in the culture because this is a chance for all of us to something great.

Tags: Mara · Uncategorized

Down the British Rabbit Hole

August 24th, 2009 · 1 Comment

Up until the day we left the US, we could go to our 24 hour grocery markets, convenience stores, and cafes. It never crossed our minds that this would change. We thought that the 24 hour 7 days a week mentality was an attribute of the modern world, not one that would be characteristic of the United States. So yesterday it was startling to find all the stores and restaurants, excluding pubs and Starbucks, closing by 6 pm. Six o’clock on a Sunday evening back home typically would translate to dinner with the family and all preparations for the coming week. This would include trips to the grocery store, gas stations and other last minute errands. Here, though, it seems that Sunday is still more so a day of rest, especially in the sense of shops and restaurants having shorter hours. Back home Sunday is the day of catch-up, which requires shops and restaurants to remain open.


At six o’clock after our walking tour of Bloomsbury, we attempted to go to Tesco’s to purchase some pasta and bread to cook our own dinner. Unfortunately, they were closed and upon further investigation we found the only places to still be open were the pubs and Starbucks. Over our dinner at the Marlborough Arms, we discussed how a chain store like Tesco’s back home would have longer hours on a Sunday. It made us realize that the perception of time is something that is different here. Perception of time is something we have been thinking a lot about since we visited the observatory and Prime Meridian at Greenwich and had to start considering time differences in talking to our families.

Something that wasn’t a consideration other than making sure we got to our classes and appointments on time has become a huge part of our daily lives and now we’re dictated by time and how it is perceived by the British.

On a side note, cookies for whoever understands the reference.

Tags: Kimberly · Mara · Uncategorized

Walthamstow Market: A Tourist Free Attraction

August 22nd, 2009 · 6 Comments

Walthamstow Market

Walthamstow Market

This morning Megan, Mara, and Campbell set off for the Walthamstow Market in the center of Walthamstow Central. Walthamstow Market is the longest consecutive market in the city while by no means the largest. After exiting the train, we were immediately confronted by a large open grass field and a jumbo sized television screen in the center of the square. While this would mostly likely reflect a wealthy upscale neighborhood, the market itself targeted a more middle class to lower class clientele.  The majority of people within the market were locals who knew to carry cloth bags or small carts to carry their purchases. This particular market did not cater to tourists, and many of customers were also regulars at produce stalls and small markets. Most items were priced no higher than 8 pounds. The merchants ranged from Cockney to Afro-Caribbean to Middle Eastern. The customers were mainly older women accompanied by young children or older husbands. The market itself is one wide street with stores along both sides and then a center aisle lined with stalls.

Market Stands

Market Stands

The stalls housed “fruit and veg” stands, leather goods, key cutters, clothing, toys, house wares, and fabric. Several of the stalls carried the exact same goods.  There was a noticeable difference between the beginning of the street and the end of the market. Towards the front, closest to the bus and train stations, the quality of produce was better and the people running the stalls were mostly white British and then as we walked to the end of the market it became more ethnic. As we progressed, we began to notice the store fronts lining the market were not very well maintained. In the market itself there were a few cafes and food stands, including a rotisserie chicken stand, but the real food was found at the International Food Festival held at the forefront of the market.

Megan rides the kiddie rocket

Megan rides the kiddie rocket

The food ranged from Asian to German to Latin American, and after sampling goods from several stalls, we found that all the food offered there was exceptional. There were homemade breads and nice cheeses, as well as authentic sausage and even paella. The festival also had several children’s rides, including carousels, rocket ships, and a moon bounce. Megan found the rocket ships to be particularly exciting. The food festival attracted a number of families and couples, and for the first time since arriving in Walthamstow we discovered tourists among the locals.

If you would like to view more photos of the Walthamstow Market or the International Food Festival, please view our slide show:  http://s644.photobucket.com/albums/uu163/mliberty2011/Walthamstow%20Market%20Place/?albumview=slideshow

Tags: Campbell · Mara · Markets · Megan

St Pauls

August 21st, 2009 · No Comments

We took the tube in London for the first time. After getting our new phones we caught the Central Line from Tottenham Court Station  to St Paul. We wandered around the church and than found the City of London where we walked around the financial and business district before catching the bus back to Tottenham Court Road. We picked the St Paul Cathedral as our monument which was under construction and found that most people in the area were wearing suits and walking very quickly and with purpose. 

The stores in the area were very expensive and the banks were in incredible old building with amazing architecture. The people in the walking in the area were not very friendly but the people that worked in the storefronts were happy to talk. The area was not too busy when we visited since the majority of people in the area were working in the buildings we passed. One thing that was interesting was the number of historical plaques on the buildings. Thomas Beckett was born in one of the buildings in the City of London, and many other buildings had plaques along a similar theme. As we were walking along the street we came across a bus that was headed to Tottenham Court Road so we hopped on and ended our first excursion in the city of London!

Tags: Andrew F · Mara · Uncategorized