The British Museum

4th March 2013

 

Today we made a quick visit to the British Museum; the plan had been to spend the entire day there but the cloakrooms were full so one of our party had to stay outside with our luggage. After two hours they were rather cold so we got some food in the café (more on that later) and went elsewhere.

I had also planned to see the Ice Age Art exhibition, but it was £10 for a ticket and I ran out of cash on Sunday (I blame that expensive pub meal we had). So instead we took a visit to the temporary exhibits and Room 1 – The Enlightenment, both of which are on the right hand side of the Great Court. Firstly we however we had to get through a shop. I was terrified I’d break something. It was a very distracting shop; quill pens and Folio Society books. Oh the travelling writing desks! I nearly died there and then.

In the temporary exhibits I was principally interested in the Sutton Hoo Hoard, some of which are on display here while their permanent home is being refurbished, and other Anglo-Saxon items, such as the Frank’s Casket and various excavation finds. I confess I spent five minutes staring at the Casket. I’ve waited a long time to see these things.

The quality of items displayed, in the entire exhibit, is impressive and the arrangement of the displays themselves is good. There is room to move and space to stand and stare. Which I did, with my face pressed to the glass.

I did manage to see a little of the ‘Ice Age Art’ in this gallery, one or two items and a replica of the ‘Lion Man’ were left to entice visitors to the full exhibit.

Having fully explored this room we moved on to ‘Enlightenment Room 1: Discovering the world in the 18th century’. This is an overwhelming room, in terms of its scale and contents, and we spent an hour and a half slowly exploring it. Books behind glass line the walls, interspersed with archaeological artefacts and natural treasures. Down the centre of the room cases display further items and explanatory boards, while statuary punctuates the room. So very few of the figures managed to keep their genitalia for some reason and caused some discussion between my companion and myself.

Of particular interest was the copy of the Rosetta Stone (the original is in room 4 and we didn’t get to see it). We spent time touching the copy and I explained to my companion a little of the Stone’s history and how it had been essential to early Egyptologists in the interpretation and translation of hieroglyphs. (As we moved on a tour guide with a large group followed us to the Stone and told them the same things but in a more irritating tone. There’s a reason I rarely go on guided tours; I dislike being talked to as though I was an uneducated moron.)

The room’s layout and the separation of the displays in to different aspects of the Enlightenment allow the visitor to comprehend the excitement and discoveries of the Eighteenth century at leisure.

The few hours I spent in the British Museum fangirling over old books and whalebone boxes were very enjoyable, and the staff, from observation, helpful and knowledgeable.

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We also ate at the museum, and since I couldn’t say much about the V & A’s café I have something to say about the British Museum’s.

It was expensive – £4.50 for a cheese and tomato baguette, £2.00 for a can on lemonade, £2.00 for a scone with butter and jam (actually that was quite reasonable – it was a nice scone). While the food was very tasty it was still a bit of a shock to find my small dinner came to £9.00. I had considered a hot meal but it was ridiculously priced and somewhat fussy – it was about £9.00 for a pie and another £2.00 if you wanted veg with it.

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Next time I plan to go in the middle of my trip to London so I don’t have the hassle of where to keep my luggage, and I’ll take a picnic in my backpack and eat outside.

Rose

The V&A: Part 2

3rd March 2013

Screening of ‘The Recruiting Officer’

 

On the afternoon of our visit to the V&A there was a screening of ‘The Recruiting Officer’ (1706, George Farquhar) in the Hoehhauser Auditorium. It was one of a series of plays recorded and screened as part of the V & A’s National Video Archive of Performance screening’s programme. This particular play was recorded at the Donmar Warehouse in 2012 and was directed by Josie Rourke.

Tobias Menzies plays Captain Plume, the rakish, lovelorn and somewhat misunderstood recruiting officer of the play’s title. He’s sent to Shrewsbury with his sergeant, Kite (Mackenzie Crook) to drum up a company of men. He’s in love with his benefactor’s daughter (Justice Balance – Gawn Grainger, Silvia – Nancy Carroll) but despairs of ever getting her.

Meanwhile, the captain’s friend Mr. Worthy (Nicholas Burns) is in love with Silvia’s cousin Melinda, who since inheriting £20,000 has become haughty and too high for him. Into this group comes Captain Brazen (Mark Gatiss) to cause a stir by courting Melinda.

With double-crossing servants, cross-dressing daughter’s, conniving sergeants, musical townsmen and jokes about syphilis the play amuses and yet still remains poignant as disputes are resolved and the men go off to war.

Firstly let me say that I had no expectations of this play. I went because it was the centre piece of our group’s plans for the day (we followed it up with a visit to The Queen’s Head, Kensington – nice food, bit expensive, very busy/noisy/small). I knew nothing about the plot, the playwright or the majority of the cast.

That all being said, I enjoyed it immensely and left with the intention of seeking out a copy of the play to read (which is exactly what I shall do, just as soon as I’ve got all the blog posts from last weekend online – Gutenberg Project here I come). The cast were all excellent, the comic scenes played perfectly and the more emotional scenes tugged at heartstrings (the woman two seats away from me cried and I couldn’t help singing along to ‘Over the Hills’). The 143 minutes passed quickly. Particular highlights were Mark Gatiss’s portrayal of Captain Brazen, witty and cheeky, passing his cane to an audience member during his ‘fight’ with Captain Plume, and Katheryn Drysdale’s ‘Lucy’ is very funny as she attempts to catch herself a captain and rise from Melinda’s maid to a Captain’s lady. All the cast were great. I really enjoyed the music that laced the play; it acted as a unifying force as the action moves away from the trials and tribulations of recruiting men for the war effort, to the complicated love lives of the characters and then back to war.

I would have loved to have seen it on stage, but the recording was excellent. There was a moment just before the interval where there was a technical problem, but that was quickly fixed and didn’t mar enjoyment of the screening overall. I would certainly like to be able to get a DVD of the recording, although I don’t think that they are available. The staff members at the auditorium were friendly and helpful, and engaged with and informed the audience in a cheerful manner.

The remaining screenings are

  • Butley by Simon Gray 10th March
  • Tusk Tusk by Polly Stenham 17th March
  • A View from The Bridge by Arthur Miller 24th March

All start at 14:00 – see the V & A website for details

www.vam.ac.uk/whatson

Take a look at the V&A’s website, it’s quite interesting,

Bye for now,

Rose

I’ve got to an internet connection

WARNING! WARNING!

I have an internet connection and I know how to use it.

There will be six blog entries up in very quick succession. They are mostly about the places I went on my trip to London. I seriously need to get internet at home, it would make life a lot easier. So I have to thank my daddy for the use of his WiFi before I throw the posts at you all: thank you, love you (and your internet).

I hope you enjoy reading my few thoughts,

Rose.

More stuff to write…I say that like it’s a chore.

There are few advantages to working for an agency in a fish factory. One of them is that when I want a day off I take it. Major disadvantage is that fairly regular work is nonexistent and I spend a good 50% of the year broke. This time of year usually. Normally I read a lot of magazines and books to stave off the boredom and forget about the fact that I’m skint.

However this year it just so happens that I have a shed load of things to write about. What with going off on little adventures (another reason I’m broke, I have terrible timing) and then coming home to scribble about them. And now, I’ve finished a new book (finally made that choice yesterday) to add to the list. I’m probably going to get everything written up today and tomorrow and then get to an internet connection to get everything online.

Using the app on my phone is great but I can’t really see how it looks and I like to use it just to make quick posts and do a bit of editing rather than writing long post. Also my thumbs hurt if I write more than a couple of hundred words. So now I’m going again. Lots to do, and places to be in a few hours.

Bye.

Rose

There will be a flurry of posts soon.

Once I get to an internet connection there will be a flurry of posts about my trip to London. Right now I’m still too exhausted to try to write, so I’m going to read instead. Trying to decide between two of the books I bought yesterday at the British Library. Do I read ‘The Horologicon’ by Mark Forsyth or ‘Happily ever after’ by Susannah Fullerton? Either way, I’ll probably be entertained.

The V&A Museum: part 1

Today we’re visiting the Victoria and Albert Museum. I’ve only had a couple of hours to wander around. Choices, choices, where to go first?

I chose to visit the exhibits from China, Japan, and Korea. The exhibits were well designed and artifacts well chosen to illustrate the periods and cultures highlighted. I especially loved the textiles on display.

Next I visited the 3rd floor with the religious silverware and stained glass. This was fascinating. And busy.

After a detour through one of the small shops dotted about the Museum (I only bought 1 book – honestly) I visited the fashion exhibit.

All through the museum there are areas to explore and study.

There is a pleasant garden in the centre of the museum with a large water feature in which paddling is allowed but clothes mustn’t be removed. It’s probably a relaxing place to sit in the summer but in March it’s far too chilly, although we did briefly consider a paddle.

I wish I had had more time; I could have done with an entire day to see everything.

The Museum was fairly busy but didn’t feel crowded. The staff were friendly, even when inspecting my bag. The suggested donation of £3 is more than fair considering the size and quality of the Museum and its exhibits. The shops are a bit expensive though.

I didn’t eat in the Cafe but other members of my group have given me there opinion on the Cafe: it’s too bloody expensive. Nice but ‘too gourmet for my tastes’ according to one. And another said ‘I nearly fainted at the price of a can of coke’. Another said that their ham and cheese baguette had mustard in and it wasn’t mentioned on the menu.

So that’s my review of the V & A Museum.

Well, London’s fun.

Hello, it’s been a while I know, but I’ve had stuff going on that’s been getting in the way of any writing. I’m in London this weekend. Got here yesterday, I’m still adjusting to how different it is from home.

We’re spending the weekend visiting museums. The first we’ve been to is The Sherlock Holmes Museum in Baker Street. I really liked it.

It was quite busy and it’s very small, being housed in a terrace as it is, but it has some interesting artifacts. The wax figures illustrating various characters and stories were creepy but diverting. I got distracted by a beadwork tray mat and a sampler from 1826. I don’t think they were meant to be noticed but I was inspecting everything closely, while people were taking photographs.

There are displays of books, pipes, weapons, anything and everything relating to the Sherlock Holmes stories and the museum is sent up as 221B is described in the books.

I’d definitely recommend going if you’re interested in the books or tv adaptations. Or even if you just want to see a Victorian house. It’s £6 (£4 for kids) to enter and really easy to get to (Baker Street is on the Jubilee Line).

Time to go, getting ready for today’s adventures. Bye.

Rose