It is a while since I updated you on how things are going here in London - as distinct from rambling on about sights and experiences that have taken my fancy. As January 2011 nears its close, we come to the five months mark: yes, it's five months since I left home, joking lightly about surviving 'the northern winter'. Ha! Not so easy in practice. Here's how things look today:
Today it was 1 degree at lunch time. However, on the plus side, there was no rain. In fact, there never is much rain to speak of. I am also conscious that the weather is positively benign compared to what is going on over in Boston or New York at the moment. Actually, I don't mind the temperatures (London has had a - relatively - mild January); and as I said, the rain doesn't amount to much. There is rarely any wind (except yesterday). But the DARK - that is another matter. I do nothing but complain about it. I feel like I am living underground. Even outdoors. All I can say is, everyone must be very happy when Spring arrives. Stop me if I've said this before...
|The Birkbeck Philosophy Department|
The Philosophy Course:
Demanding and absorbing. I have slaved over my four essays for Term I, which are due in a couple of weeks. I think that Birkbeck's policy of providing pre-submission consultations with tutors is absolutely fabulous (you learn how to improve without having to flunk first) and I have taken full advantage of it. Term II is already at Week 4 of 10 weeks, and will soon be over. That will be it for classes. Didn't take long, did it? Then I have four more essays to write for Term II, and a Dissertation due in July. Then I bite my nails to see if the results are sufficient to go on. But meanwhile I am learning a great deal. A very great deal, from some top-notch faculty; and some pretty smart fellow students too.
The Student Life:
Weeellll....I haven't worn high heeled shoes in months and am not sure I could without practice. My jewellery and smart clothes are mothballed, and the cosiest clothes get worn repeatedly. It's no fashion show. Although this morning I did have a presentation to do on the subject of Trade Marks, and I embraced the moment to haul out a decent jacket and the pearls. It felt very familiar (in case you're wondering,the Trade Mark talk went along fine too).
I love exploring and discovering new bits of the city. My 'beat' is around Bloomsbury and down to Covent Garden and The Strand, with side trips to Belgravia when Spanish lessons are on, or Oxford Street to shop at John Lewis. This is actually quite a small circuit - you could walk form one end to the other in half an hour. I have big plans to venture further afield - to Borough Market to buy fresh fruit and vegetables; to Regent's Park to walk on grass; to more museums to see the treasures; and to take some of those guide-book led walks around the backstreets of Charles Dickens and Sherlock Holmes and so on...as soon as the sun comes out!
One avowed aim of this enterprise was to travel in Europe - now so enticingly close. In the early months I accomplished much in this regard, partly because classes hadn't begun, and then because Evan came to visit. Then I was off home to Sydney over Christmas. I feel that I should get re-focussed on this important travel aim, and to that end, I am off on a ski week holiday next week to Megève in the French Alps. Now before you point out (quite rightly) that I don't ski, let me explain that I will be joining a group of friends, that Megève has a reputation of being very lovely even without skiing, that I plan to stay at a spa and read novels, and that it may well be LIGHT! With any luck. In other travel plans, I am thinking of visiting Southern Italy in April, during Term break. I was considering Egypt, but the newspaper reports of trouble on the streets has relegated that destination to the back burner.
The station remains an interesting and eccentric place to live, and I enjoy it very much. The flat is feeling very homelike, and is warm and cosy. My 'bunkie' Brigitta comes to stay for a couple of nights most weeks, which is very nice. Veronique now cleans things, which is also nice. I am excited about the hotel opening soon - there will be lots of facilities to be taken advantage of, and the unveiling of the grand old Victorian staircase will be an event in itself. I have found the local businesses that I like to patronise, and the people in the shops, cafes and restaurants around here know me now. If only the flat was not quite so dark....
I have absolutely pigged out on opera and theatre since I arrived in London, both here and abroad. It is such a privilege to take advantage of two great opera houses, and literally dozens of theatres. I need to book up a few things for the coming months, and get over to Paris! When summer comes....it will come, won't it?....there will be Glyndebourne. It is a cornucopia, and I am wallowing.
I am totally privileged to have known and met so many great friends here in London. This blog post is dedicated to you all: you know who you are. Muchas gracias, mis amigos.
Miss you all very very much. 'Nuff said.