Having lived in the library for the past 6 months, I am proud to say that I have finally finished my undergraduate degree and am thus now free to do nice things, such as updating my blog…
Unfortunately I have not been on any trips outside the UK these past 6 months, but I have made a few trips around the UK. Here are the highlights:
As Trips-Officer of the Royal Holloway Classical Society, I have been fortunate enough to use my job title as an excuse to visit some of the ancient gems that Britain has to offer. The first on my list was the Roman Baths in, you know, Bath. Having been impressed by the ruins of Brading Roman Villa during my volunteer placement there a couple of summers ago, I was intrigued to see what the big-shot Bath had to offer.
Our trip to Bath started late one November afternoon, and we arrived late in the evening just as the day-time outlets were closing and the night scene was rearing to go. Some clever budgeting and and a keen eye for a bargain meant I was able to spoil my society with 10 jugs of cocktails, but this was just the warm up. The night included a pub-crawl style adventure through the Georgian streets, drinking jam jar cocktails, showcasing our very own adaptation of the famous dirty-dancing lift, and some unfortunate racism towards one of out members from a local. The night ended in an Irish Pub, followed by hummus & chips, and I believe a tipped-over motorcycle…
We spent the night in Bath’s YMCA. It was clean enough, but for the price (£23pn for a bunk bed, shared bathroom, and breakfast) I was not overwhelmed. We were up bright and early to visit Baths, and were greeted with beautiful sunshine for the entire day. The Baths were pretty impressive; they cost about £11.75 for a student (£13.50 for an adult) and include an audio guide free of charge. As I have spent most of the past 5 years with my head well and truly buried in Greek History, I still find it pretty unbelievable that the Romans actually founded cities in England and spent some time colonising here. Ruins are ruins, so I won’t go into much detail; essentially it’s all pretty beautiful and but the spring water honestly tasted foul.
For the rest of the day we swanned about doing a spot of Christmas shopping. Unfortunately our trip coincided with a rugby match and the opening of the Christmas Markets; the city-centre was heaving, to the point where it just was not enjoyable to endure. We were all exhausted by the end, and ended the evening with a classy meal at Nando’s before heading home.Overall, Bath is an absolutely stunning city that I would highly recommend to any Brit or tourist, just check the calender and avoid the busy Christmas period like the plague.
Oxford Ashmolean 2/2/2014
Oxford as a city is (in my opinion) beautiful, but obnoxious and claustrophobic. I both love the patchwork buildings on broad street, loathe the constant crowds that infiltrate the high street 7 days a week, and I find the colleges overbearing and thus intimidating. Something I cannot find fault with however (as a visitor, not a historian) is the Oxford Ashmolean Museum. I decided to take the society there this February to show them something they may not have had to opportunity to visit before; unfortunately a heavy social to night before meant only 2 members came to meet me at the station so the trip turned into a sort-of private tour… The skies were blue so we went ahead anyway.
We started the day with some student-friendly tesco cuisine, before heading into the museum. From Hellenistic Egyptian sarcophagi to ancient-Chinese pottery, the museum had something for everyone. As with all museums, my favourite bit was the gift shop, but this time for a totally respectable reason. Ancient Afghanistan: Forging Civilisations along the Silk Road was in stock and turned out to be the book that saved my dissertation. Having lost my two companions I treated myself to a soya mocha in the underground cafe. As a tourist the museum was satisfying, as a historian it was nothing new.
The rest of the day included a short walk around a few of the city-centre colleges, a trip to Blackwells, and lunch in the Eagle & Child (that pub where J. R. R. Tolkein and C. S. Lewis used to meet). The food was absolutely delicious; vegetarian pub food is usually unimpressive, but their vegetarian Wellington was deeelightful. Although I was initially disappointed with the turnout, the day out was rather pleasant regardless
London Museum TOUR 22/2/2014
Although my university degree has taught me time and time again to think otherwise, I do love a good museum trip. Whatever city, about whatever subject or period, it pleasures me to spend an afternoon strolling through corridors surrounded by beautiful memorabilia of the past. So I decided to take the society into London for a day visiting something old (The British Museum), something new (to them, the John Soane Museum), and something… with a blue cockerel outside it (The National Gallery). Again, I can’t be arsed to bore you with the details of what lay inside the former and the latter, but the John Soane museum is worth detailing (briefly). To put bluntly: the John Soane museum exhibits a house stuck in the early 19th century, home to a world-class hoarder of expensive and historic relics whose lack of a catalogue makes it a historians nightmare. It is bizarre and mysterious, and definitely worth a visit if you’re bored and near Bedford Square.The rest of the day involved a stroll around the familiar rooms of the British Museum, and a power walk through the National Gallery before Isabel and I finally decided it was time we head home.
I must say, I think I have now exhausted the BM and National for what their worth, and probably won’t visit them for some years (unless there is an exhibition I’m dying to see). We walked back to London Waterloo, through the delightfully buzzing South Bank, and I picked up my usual M&S dinner and somehow managed to subdue my craving for a coffee and jumped on the earliest train.
So that’s what I’ve been up to these past few months. My next trip will me the my Showcase as Trips-Officer: the Classical Society’s 25-strong trip to the Budapest on the 16th June. It is going to be my first and last student holiday with friends; it will also be my first independent trip to eastern Europe (not counting my skiing holiday to Bansko, Bulgaria) which is exciting. I am anticipating lots of drunken adventures, blisters, and typical society drama.
Watch this space!