DAY 2 (May 21, 2014)
It’s funny (mostly just to me) the things I remember and don’t remember from my first trip overseas. For an example (and the most eye opening that first morning), I didn’t realize (and more than likely, just plain forgot) that the sun starts to rise at 4:50 A.M.
Not only that, but the birds start to actually chirp at that forsaken hour as well.
For reference, in the midwest, the sun starts to come over the horizon around 6:30 – 7:30 A.M. depending on the time of year and of course, your location. I’m not exactly used to being woken up by the birds at 4:50.
So, just imagine my roommates and my surprise when we woke up to birds chirping and the sun rising and thinking we were running behind! I’m pretty sure I said ‘you’re fucking kidding me’ when told the time and promptly rolled over to fall back asleep.
I’m…not exactly a morning person.
Thankfully, we were able to sleep another three hours before starting our first long day.
The first stop on the agenda (after a much needed tea / coffee stop) was St. Bride Library.
St. Bride is a foundation, museum, theater and community for those working and living in the western part of the city. Not only that, but they also have the only library in the UK entirely dedicated to the history of printing and publishing.
For a group of graphic design students, you can imagine it was pretty much the holy grail of original documents, wood and metal type and nearly anything and everything you can think of (and even those things you don’t think of).
I learned more about Eric Gill (typographer, sculptor and printmaker) on that visit than I ever have. We got to see some original sketches of Gill Sans as it was being worked on and for a lover and admirer of hand-lettering and type design, it was pretty awesome to see!
Being in the printing lab that they still use and hold workshops in was just fantastic. I honestly wish we could have used some of that type they had! Next time!
Is it just me or do the boxes in the very last photo make anyone else think of boxes of wands from Ollivanders Wand Shop in Harry Potter? Just me?
After St. Bride, we made our way across the city, stopping off at Pret a Manger for a quick lunch. Having one of the best sandwiches I can remember having (or maybe I was just really hungry) it quickly became one of my favorite places to grab something to quick to eat or to grab some tea. It made me think of what would happen if Quik Trip and Panera Bread got together and had a baby but with healthier options. And more tea.
They’re not just a UK chain either, you can find them throughout certain parts of New York, Chicago, Boston and the Washington D.C. area. Honestly? Their sea salt dark chocolate bar sold me.
After that, we made our way to the Sir John Soane’s Museum, after getting lost and taking some detours along the way. Sir John Soane’s Museum is the house and museum of the architect John Soane from the 19th Century. I have to admit, the museum wasn’t my favorite. It felt cramped and full of THINGS EVERYWHERE. It perhaps didn’t help that I don’t know much about him and there wasn’t a clear way of making your way through the house in a logical arrangement.
The second floor was more open and less cramped than both the first and basement floors. Frankly, beyond the simply gorgeous architecture of the home itself and the fact that there was a sarcophagus in the basement, I wasn’t that impressed.
I would probably have appreciated it more had I known more about him but it ultimately was just a miss for me.
Once our group was done touring the museum, we made our way across the street to Lincoln’s Inn Fields Park. I think we enjoyed hanging out on the grass, laying around, more than we did anything else that afternoon.
What else do you expect with a bunch of Kansans? We got to hang out, talk and people watch while the rest of the group went inside the museum.
After a little r&r at the park, we were off to the next and final museum of the day, RIBA (The Royal Institute of British Architects).
The one thing I loved about this museum was the way their exhibits were designed and laid out. As a designer and a person who works in a museum herself, it’s one thing I always notice even if I’m not consciously doing it.
Their use of color, layout, and visitor response was interesting and well thought out. To be honest? After leaving RIBA to explore a bit of London (and picking up make up from different drug stores – hello Boots), I couldn’t help but start to think of a career in exhibition design and what that would take. It’s a perfect blend of design and in a museum setting. More on that another day.
After that, some of us split up to do different things. Some went to go see about the London Eye experience, other’s went back to the flat and my group went off to shop. As we soon realized though, whenever we wanted to find places to shop, we ended up finding more restaurants. Whenever we wanted to find restaurants, we ended up finding more places to shop.
Either way, it was still fun to explore a bit of London before navigating the tube on our own for the first time and finding our way back to the flat for some dinner. There wasn’t much else that evening an evening run to Tesco for dessert where it started raining. It teaches me to always have my rain coat handy.
By the time we got home for the evening, we were completely soaked. All in all, it was a pretty fitting way of ending our first full day in London.