Strawberries, Cream, and Tennis

Who knew 28,000 kilograms of English strawberries, 7,000 liters of cream, 300,000 cups of tea and coffee, and 25,000 bottles of champagne could be consumed in just two weeks? Not me! But there is only one place in which this is possible- Wimbledon! The world famous tennis tournament, known as Wimbledon, takes place over the course of two weeks at the All English Lawn and Tennis Club, and gives international spectators a taste of England. The Wimbledon tour was fantastic! It was so surreal to be standing right next to such famous grass- ha! No, but really it was a very fun and very educational trip! 

Image

They still had last year’s completed brackets up which was neat.

 Image

Image

Standing in the stadium of Court No. 1

Image

Court No. 18, home of last year’s famous forever and day long match.

 Image

Court No. 18

 Image

Image

It is to this roller to which Wimbledon owes its thanks as it was responsible for the Wimbledon we know today. Originally Wimbledon was a Badminton club, but when this machine failed to do its job one summer, the club did not have the money to have it fixed. So the (very) small club decided to try to fashion their courts into the courts of this newly popular game of lawn tennis. 

Image

The Press Conference room!

 Image

Center Court!  

 

London at Night

One night we were all working on homework, and Maddie asks out of the blue “Who wants to go on a night bus ride?!” Everyone laughed, but she was completely serious. So some of us did end up going on a night bus ride, and I am so glad we did. Amber, Maddie, and I became night bus regulars. We always went straight to the top and took the very front seats in front of the large glass window. It was almost always empty, so we had the upstairs to our selves to talk about whatever we wanted to talk about. Not only was it a chance to just ride around and talk, but it was so pretty to ride through central London and see all the building lit up. If you think London is pretty during the day (and trust me, it is!) it can be even prettier at night! We had our favorite routes, and we did try new routes to see new sites at night. However the number 6 was our bus! We knew we could always count on the N6 for a nice ride down Oxford Street, through Picadilly Circus right into Trafalgar Square. I loved riding down Oxford Street at night looking into all the store front windows. One night all the stores were changing out their window displays, and it was really neat to see the behind the scenes work that goes into all the elaborate displays of the big department stores. 

 

Image

Tower Bridge was one of my favorite, if not my very favorite, iconic London sights. 

Image
The Tower of London is also one of my favorites! More for what’s inside than what it actually looks like. 

Image

The National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery building is one of my favorites. There isn’t really much about Trafalgar’s Square I don’t like. 

Image

Big Ben and Parliament 

Image

The London Eye and the Aquarium

 

King's Cross Platform 9 3/4

Who could be in London and not go to Platform 9 3/4?! If only Muggles could get to the other side and head to Hogwarts!

Breakfast at Tiffany's

As you may remember, my flatmates and I decided to go to a chocolate tasting and showing of Breakfast at Tiffany’s for Valentine’s Day. Who doesn’t love Audrey?! A couple months later on one of our night bus rides we noticed the Tiffany & Co. in Sloane’s Square, and we decided we had to go have breakfast at Tiffany’s! We found a really good (and cheap!) cafe about half a block down from Tiffany’s; it ended up being the best donut I had eaten in London!

The Royal Museums of Greenwich

Greenwich proved to be a very refreshing adventure! Maddie and I both really wanted to go to Greenwich, and we knew our days were beginning to dwindle. So even though the forecast called for rain off and on all day (and let’s be real, when isn’t it in Britain?) we decided to go for it, and I am glad we did! It was nice to be out of the city for just a few hours and completely surrounded by green.

 

When we got off the DLR it was just a short walk to the Greenwich grounds. It was a nice walk, too- very different from walking through other boroughs in London. Almost all the shops were decorated in nautical themes, and the outfits in the windows were all very nautical- tons of navy blue (my very favorite!).

 

We wandered through the grounds of the Naval College Gardens right along the River Thames for a bit and then into some of the buildings on the grounds.

 Image

Just one of the many beautiful buildings on the grounds. 

Image

 

Image

This is the chapel on the grounds, and while we were visiting one of the string groups from the Greenwich Music Conservatory was practicing for an upcoming performance. It was beautiful! 

 

Image

The Painted Hall was very pretty in person; the pictures really don’t even begin to represent its true beauty.

 Image

The woodwork in the entrance to the Painted Hall was also very impressive.

Image

Stopping to take a picture of the London skyline on your way up to the Royal Observatory is a great way to disguise they fact that you need to catch your breath from the surprisingly deceiving hike up the hill to the observatory.  

  

The Royal Observatory is home to Greenwich Mean Time and the Prime Meridian. I don’t know about you, but I wondered why Greenwich was chosen as the location for longitude 0° 0′ 0” and the marker of time for the entire world. What makes them so special?! By the 1800s it was clear that somehow the world needed some way of keeping an official time as railroads become more and more important. In order to create accurate timetables, something needed to be done to keep all towns and villages on the same time. There were no national or international conventions to measure time prior to the late 1800s.  Greenwich also became home to the zero degree latitude line. England had been using Greenwich as her own sort of Prime Meridian to guide sailors since the late 1700s, but in 1884 forty-one delegates from twenty-five countries met and voted on the location of the Prime Meridian, and Greenwich was chosen as the US and the UK already used Greenwich as their Prime Meridian and making Greenwich the official Prime Meridian for the entire globe would upset the least amount of people.

 

Image

Giant, as in GIANT, telescope inside the top dome of the Royal Observatory.  

 

Image

Look mom! I’m in two hemispheres at once!  

Real Live Treasure Chest (For Nerds Anyway!)

 One of the places on my must see list was the British Library, and let me tell you, it did not disappoint! The British Library is a gold mine of literary treasures. My flatmates, Amber and Maddie, were just as excited as I was, so I didn’t feel like a complete nerd!

 

The library in general is just absolutely massive! It is home to 14 million books, 920,000 journal and newspaper titles, 58 million patents, 3 million sound recordings, and much more- heaven for anyone who loves anything written!

 

When you walk in there is a gift shop to the immediate left, but if you pass it and walk up a few steps you will find The Treasures of the British Library. They are housed in a vault like room with very dim lights and dark walls. It is really quite dramatic! Inside this vault like room is case after case filled with all kinds of treasures! When we first entered, I didn’t even know where to begin. I went quickly from one case to another, then I run over to Maddie or Amber to say did you see this, how about this, what about that?! Such a spaz! I did finally get a grip, and I went through the exhibit like any other normal person.

 

Pictures are not allowed inside The Treasures of the British Library exhibit in order to help preserve its contents, but let me share with you some of the treasures we saw.

 

            The Magna Carta – They had drafts as well as the final copy.

            Jane Austen’s writing desk and some of her journals!

            The first Bible printed on the printing press

            Some of the original copies of the lyrics of Beatles songs as they were being written

            Shakespeare’s first folio

            Handel’s music sheets were on display as well

 

The collection is organized by categories- dawn of printing, historical documents, illuminated manuscripts and printed books, literary manuscripts and printed books, Magna Carta and associated documents, maps, music, sacred texts, science, and Shakespeare and his contemporaries. The science section had documents containing drawings of Leonardo Da Vinci and others! It was really neat too such a variety of such famous documents all in one room!

 

The Treasures of the British Library are amazing; however, I was even more amazed by and captivated by the King’s Library. The British Library houses King George III’s massive collection of books, and when I say massive, I mean MASSIVE. I think the library in Beauty and the Beast was inspired by King George III’s library. His collection of books is amazing. King George III’s collection of books is one of the first things you see upon entering The British Library. It’s the kind of sight that when you see it, you can’t help but just stop and stare for a while. It is encased in a glass chamber that is climate controlled and can be seen on multiple levels of the library. I don’t know how many stories high it reaches.

 

I took several pictures, but like many things, the pictures just don’t do the real thing justice.

 

Image 

 

Image

 

 

The history of King George III’s library is pretty interesting, but even more interesting, in my opinion, are the books that belong to his collection. For more details on King George III’s library check out this page of the British Library’s website.

http://www.bl.uk/reshelp/findhelprestype/prbooks/georgeiiicoll/george3kingslibrary.html

Westminster Palace a.k.a. Parliament

After a very dramatic goodbye at Waterloo Station at 5am, I headed back home, showered, took a quick nap, and headed out with a few of my flatmates to meet Dr. Potts and his wife for a tour of Parliament. The tour was fantastic, and I absolutely loved it! Our guide was excellent; she was very knowledgeable and kept it interesting- no super boring and dull history lessons (which I really appreciated!).

For obvious and understandable reasons, pictures were not allowed in the majority of the Parliament building, but pictures were allowed in the Westminster Hall- for visitors, this is the part of the building in which they enter. The Westminster Hall is the oldest part of the Parliament building, as the rest of the building was rebuilt after a fire in 1834.

 

Image

Standing in Westminster Hall. The woodwork on the ceiling and stained glass work along the top of the walls were absolutely beautiful!

 

Image

This is just one of the stain glass windows. They are up so high it’s hard to get a really detailed picture!

 

Image

They are currently working on installing a new glass window at the opposite end of the hall from the one I posted a picture of, and this is the very middle section of the one that will be installed. The other eight (big) sections have not been done yet. This section is representative of The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

 

 

Facts I found interesting:

In the original Parliament building, the House of Lords and its chambers were all very elaborate, and the chambers of the House of Commons were much more simplistic and less formal. When the Parliament building we see today was being designed and rebuilt, the House of Commons was given the opportunity to choose whether or not they wanted very formal and elaborate chambers like the House of Lords or less formal and more simple chambers similar to what they had before the fire. The House of Lords decided they did not want to change the designs of their chambers, and today there is still a big difference in the style of the House of Lords and the House of Commons.

ANYONE, who is NOT an MP (Member of Parliament), no matter how important you may be, is not allowed to sit on the seats inside the chambers of the House of Lords and House of Commons. It is considered a very high honor to be a member of Parliament and to represent the people of Great Britain; therefore, MPs are the only ones allowed to sit down inside the House of Lords/House of Commons. And yes, there are guards to make sure nobody sits down on the seats!

The whole tour was very fascinating, and the building was gorgeous! For anyone interested in more information on Parliament or Westminster Palace (official name of the building) or pictures some pictures of the interior, I recommend checking out http://www.parliament.uk/education/  It is a great website!

 

 

Image

Standing outside the entrance- great view of Big Ben!