Edinburgh!

Hey guys, I went to Scotland! It was the best. My lovely friend Erin is living in Edinburgh for two years while her husband does a master’s at the University of Edinburgh. They’ve been down to London, but I needed to get myself up to Scotland. Luckily, our friend Heather decided to take a trip out this way, so we coordinated a big adventure. I’ve long had an appreciation for Scotland for basically no reason (aside from how much I like to listen to Peter Capaldi swear at people), and I’m so so happy I finally got up there.

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New England Spring

Springtime in New England is always sort of a funny thing. It’s been known to snow in April, but also be boiling hot. I’ve always liked the northeast because I like having four full seasons of weather, but spring is a pain. I hear it’s really nice there now, but for the two weeks I was home…grumble.

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Parkland Walk, Outdoorsy London

It’s March in New England, and I’m in Connecticut without a winter coat. A silly oversight, rookie mistake, but I just didn’t want to travel with it. I’ve spent the past week trying out various old coats in my parent’s closet, to mostly hilarious results. It’s term break, so I’m home for a visit, and oh my gosh, I’m finally going to get around to writing about something I did weeks ago. Without further ado…

A few weeks ago, I finally picked up a copy of a book I’ve been meaning to get for a while. It’s called Tired of London, Tired of Life and it stems from this blog full not exactly ordinary things to do in London. The book covers a whole year, with one thing to do a day. Some of the things I’ve actually already done, some things I don’t think I’ll ever end up doing (either due to cost or interest level), but on the whole, there are some really great ideas. Because London’s had some beautiful weather lately, I was looking for something outdoors to do. I came across the Parkland Walk in my book and decided to head out for that.

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Catching up (…again)

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Oh hi there loyal blog readers (mom, Bethany, various people with names that start with E). Sorry I am so terrible! It’s just, well, I’ve been busy and London’s been so stupid beautiful that I haven’t really had the time. Look at how pretty it’s been! While everyone back home has been freezing and wandering snow drifts, it’s been downright pleasant over here. I didn’t want to rub it in, you know? Of course, if I lived in the southwest of this here country, I’d be a bit more waterlogged and grumpy. But here in London it’s been a very mild winter (honestly, I don’t think it ever even dipped below freezing? Maybe overnight?). I whine about being cold sometimes, but always have to check myself on that. It’s not cold here. I’d go on and tell you about how my nose is slightly sunburnt from spending too much time outside this weekend, but…oh, sorry.

That said, I admire how committed the British are to doing things outside, even when it’s not really appropriate. I remember a slightly warmer than usual day in November, and how people were sitting at tables outside cafes because it was ever so slightly warmer, but not actually warm enough to eat outside. I’ve twice had drinks outside recently, and while it was mostly fine, after about an hour or so, everyone started shivering, sort of waiting around for one person to boldly suggest we move indoors. Today was properly warm enough to not even need a jacket, though, so.

But yes, things have been busy. Had a dreaded science test, on which, I would like to excitedly proclaim, I got a 74%. That may not seem very good, but considering how I feel about science, I think it’s pretty great. We also had a preservation management test, which I could not actually bring myself to study for, and was only difficult because it consisted of 15 long-answer, hand-written questions. Took a while to get feeling back. And we had a big deadline for our technical logs of all our work and class notes from the first unit. This would not have been such a terrible thing, had we all kept on top of everything from the start, like we were told to. But…yeah, we didn’t. So that was FUN. I said I’d be more on top of things for next time, but we’ve had like 2 weeks of classes since the submission and I’m already behind again. Oops.

Have started a fancy work placement at a fancy museum here, which is exciting. And, if you didn’t catch it, fancy. It’s only been a few weeks but we’ve already learned a bunch, and it’s just nice to actually be in a lab somewhere, seeing what kind of work is being done, how a lab functions, etc. Plus there’s a nifty (and cheap) staff canteen and it’s possible our badges will get us into exhibits at other museums for free. We went to a wildlife photography exhibition at the museum across the street and just had to flash our badges to get waved through the line like super important fancy people. These are the kinds of perks I get most excited about, so I am probably in the right field. Still doing my other placement at UCL too, which means I now have no free weekdays. I am very happy about that. I am busy! I like being busy. Too much free time weirds me out. I feel like a real person when I have things to do.

I’ve also been watching a lot of rugby. It’s Six Nations time. Six Nations is a big rugby championship tournament between England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, France, and Italy. After my trip to Cardiff, and my purchase of a Welsh rugby scarf, I guess I’m supporting Wales. Scotland is my pity team, since they seem to be pretty terrible. I mostly understand the rules, I think? It’s fun to watch but I missed everything this weekend because IT WAS SO PRETTY OUT.

Anyway, just checking in. Things are good. Heading home for a brief spell in about two weeks. Worried about how cold it’ll be. Had some grumpy weeks a short while back (which resulted in going to Stratford-upon-Avon and hanging out with fun people to cheer me, which I was going to write about eons ago, but I never did soooorrrryyyy. Basically: went to Strats, had a grand time, you kids are the best), and I was all pumped up to go home and was listening to Simon and Garfunkel sing about America. I’m still excited to go visit and see lots of people, but I’d also really love to stay here. I’m having a lot of fun lately–exploring places, hanging out with people, being incredibly geeky about books with other people who are happy to be incredibly geeky about books (and art on paper!). I’m going into the studio early tomorrow to play with paste. That’s the level we’re talking about here. And it’s fantastic. I got to see some beautiful old Hebrew books from the 14th-16th century last week and tried to stay cool about how exciting it was–but then I realized I didn’t have to stay cool about it because everyone I was around would understand–maybe not for the Hebrew books, but we all have our things.

Here’s another picture of pretty London to make up for my absence. I took a wander through Russell Square on Friday on my way to meet some friends (at a delicious Polish bar with lots and lots of vodkas and pierogi) and people were everywhere and everyone was happy. I forget how much the weather can affect my mood. Hope you’re all staying warm! I must go attend to my sunburn.

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Cardiff!

Oh, hello there blog. I started writing about Cardiff like a million years ago, and then forgot to finish. But I’ve recently had some…complaints…about my lack of updating, so here we are. Really what happened was class started again and I got busy. And THEN my computer went crazy and crashed, so I’ve not had much patience for anything technological lately. But anyway, here is a long delayed post about Cardiff.

When Emily came to visit, we decided to get out of London for a few days. She’d already been here a couple times and done all the big touristy things you’re supposed to do in London, so we figured we might as well check out a different British city. And, because Emily is very obliging, we went to Cardiff. Because uh, Doctor Who and stuff.

There is, of course, more to Cardiff than Doctor Who. There’s a castle! A rugby stadium! Lots of cute arcades and streets for shopping! Museums! A silly little winter wonderland! And oh boy oh boy, we’d get to go to a whole new COUNTRY. So off we went to Cardiff.

Being silly Americans, we had NO IDEA transportation would be such an issue on Boxing Day. WHAT THE HELL IS BOXING DAY. We still have no idea. So we had to take a bus to Cardiff, which was hellish just because bus stations are some of the worst places on the face of the planet. I don’t remember Victoria Coach Station being so terrible the few times I’d been there before, so I’m going to blame Boxing Day and Megabus for making it terrible, and hope for better things if I have to go back there in the future.

ANYWAY, Cardiff. Cardiff is a lovely little city. And I mean little. When we arrived, we spent probably about an hour trying to figure out how to get to our hotel from the bus stop, whining about how far it was. Only to realize later on that oh, we’re just idiots that can’t read a map (and also one of us (ahem, me) was very hungry and tired and CRANKY), and actually everything in Cardiff is crazy close together and walkable. Once we got our bearings, it was all so much easier.

The first day, we didn’t do too much. We went to a Wagamama, because we both have a fondness for it and Emily hadn’t been to one yet on her trip. And the best part about going to Wagamama was that it was IN THE LIBRARY. Well, in the same building, anyway. So Cardiff was well on the way towards redemption after a cranky afternoon. We wandered about a bit after our dinner, checked out some arcades, but then called it a night to watch various panel shows and rest up for the next day.

Early(ish) the next morning, we set out on a walk to Cardiff Bay to go to the Doctor Who Experience. We estimated a bit wrong, so had lots of time to wander the area before our time slot at the Whosperience (I’ve decided to call it that). It was quite cold and windy and I’m sure I complained a lot, but once we were inside the Whosperience and there were small children dressed as the Doctor(s) (two brothers–one was 10 and the other 11), I felt better.

Now, I had fun at the Whosperience. But oh man. It is…silly. There’s an interactive bit, where you have to help the Doctor fight some aliens and whatnot that, to be honest, was pretty lame. I hope the kids liked it? I couldn’t tell. It was also horribly outdated, but in an effort to seem a bit cooler than I am, I won’t talk about that. I had more fun wandering around the exhibit part, with all the costumes and set pieces and props and whatnot. I thought there’d be more, though. But what was there was pretty fun. Some old TARDIS sets, allllllll the Doctor’s main costumes, and all sorts of baddies. I also got to be a Dalek, so that was PRETTY FUN. And then I bought a little plush Adipose and a new t-shirt, so. I’m the worst.

We spent the rest of the day eating and wandering around Cardiff, finding a lovely coffee spot in one of the arcades. I may or may not have bought some things in the big sales going on. We went to a fancy micro brewery place for dinner and sampled the local beer.

The next day, we did basically all the touristy things we could do. We went to Cardiff Castle and wandered for a while, had some delicious Welsh rarebit (basically cheesy bread), and went for a tour of Millennium Stadium, where I pretended I knew lots of things about rugby. We went to a pub called The Goat Major for a pint of Brains (the local brewery is called Brains, which I think is hilarious)–there is a Welsh regiment that, for some reason that I learned and now forgot, travels with a goat. So this is his pub. It was a good old man pub.

We also went to the silly winter wonderland thing by city hall, and went on this big 60 meter swing ride thing. I tried to take pictures from the top, so I have a lot of weird slanted pictures of Cardiff. We also went to the National Museum and saw some art, and tried to learn some things about Wales. I discovered Welsh Cakes, which are…delicious. We wandered through Bute Park, and took a last stroll through pretty much all the arcades, then got our train back to London. To Paddington Station. Where we met Paddington Bear. Hooray!

So, there’s a quick, sort of half-assed roundup of Cardiff. I’d say I promise to be better about updating this thing, but…yeah, not going to promise anything.

Happy New Year!

Welp, it’s 2014. Has been for a few days now. As class starts again Monday, I’m frantically trying to remember everything I learned in science last term. The break ended up being quite busy, with a few people visiting London and much to do. I did spend some time at the library, though! I like going to the British Library, it feels like I am doing Important Things. So at least that’s some kind of motivation.

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End of Term

The end of my first term here has come and gone, and I’ve barely written here about what it is I’m actually doing.

So! Conservation. Being back in school has been strange, especially since my first master’s degree was such a joke and required almost no work at all. The course here requires a fair bit of self-guidance. We’re told to read, but not what to read, so it’s in some ways a choose your own adventure course. But I feel like I’ve learned a lot so far! Towards the beginning of the term, we all picked a few items out of a big collection the school has hanging around. We didn’t quite realize it at that point, but I guess the items we picked up then will be with us for a while yet. Anytime we learn a new treatment, technique, etc., we try it out on these items. We’ve worked with various other scraps of text blocks too, things we’re completely free to mess up and destroy. On the other end of the spectrum, we’ve all got pieces from an activist’s archive. They wanted some stuff worked on, so we’re helping out with that. A little nerve-wracking to work with actual things, but we can take a long time to do it, and some of the stuff might not require a whole lot of scary work.

We’ve mostly learned about cleaning, humidifying, and washing so far. We’ve also done a lot of examination/identification/documentation. Instead of going into any kind of detail that will make no sense, here are some pictures of things!

First up, a bit of examination type things and some mechanical surface cleaning…

Then we moved on to humidification and washing…

And here is a bit of a print I was working on. It had a gross backing on it, and after a bit of washing, the adhesive loosened enough for me to get it off. But then, because adhesive had been entirely covering the back (the verso) of the print, there was still all kinds of gross residue. So I had to spend some time scraping away at that, and when that didn’t completely work, I had to apply a poultice to the adhesive areas, which sort of activated the adhesive again and allowed me to scrape it off a bit more. A little gross looking, and sort of tedious, but pretty satisfying once it was done.

We have class Monday-Wednesday, and towards the end of the term, we were given work placements. Along with five others (spread over two days), I go over to University College London one day a week to work in their conservation space. We do pretty much whatever they need us to do. Surface cleaning, small repairs, making some boxes, whatever they have. It’s been really nice going there and just being sort of thrown in the mix, working on various things. If it’s something we haven’t covered in class, someone will give us a quick lesson on what we need to do and then let us loose. Which can be a little bit scary! These are real things we’re working on! Not just some random objects from a dusty old collection. We were allowed to take pictures of things for our technical logs for class, but we can’t go around showing the fancy things we’re working on over the internet. But I made this box, and I see no reason why I can’t show you that.

There is also science, which is sad for me, but it’s only once a week so it’s not terrible. I was doing well for a little while! I understood things. Then somewhere things took a turn and I got lost and I really need to spend some time over the break doing a bit of revision, as they say here. We also have preservation management classes, which is a bit of a snooze at times, but still important. Learning about regulations and such. But part of that class is going on visits to museums and archives, which has been great. We’ve been to three so far, and it’s fun to see different conservation labs and learn about how different institutions deal with problems. Also, London Metropolitan Archive has a fancy box making machine like they do at LOC, and the guy there gave us nifty souvenir boxes to keep. That may not sound exciting, but IT IS.

So, that’s school. Otherwise, I’ve been working at the fancy new JCC in north London. It’s ok. I don’t work very much, just usher for cinema and arts events whenever they have shifts open. It’s pretty disorganized? Sometimes it’s fun, but sometimes the events are boring, and other times they mess things up and people (customers) yell at you. It’d be nice to find some other place to work? That is maybe more regular? The other ushers I generally work with are nice, though! And the pay is pretty good for what it is. Not much to tell you on that front, really. It’s work. I dunno, still looking around.

I spent today at the library trying to wrap my mind around some science and figure out what I’m going to write about for an essay we have due in January. Was mildly successful on both points, but I’ve still got a ways to go. I’ve been spending time doing some touristy things, and my sister gets in on Sunday for a week and a bit of fun. Back to class before you know it! Oh noooo….