My weekend was dull, great, fascinating, sweaty - all kinds of things, all over the map. Let's begin, shall we?
It takes a damn long time to get to London from Lampeter. An hour bus ride. At least a 30 minute wait for the train. A 5 hour train ride with multiple switches. But on this Friday there was something wrong with a signal and so it took me two more hours to get where I was going. I had to make a change of train route and then a bus. I was so tired when I got to Roehampton that I skipped going up to Richmond Park. I got settled, had a cup of tea, then bused back to Putney in search of dinner and a walk on the Thames. I walked down the Putney embankment in the evening sun. Loads of people out, sitting and standing along the river, enjoying the evening out. It was beautiful. You can have an open container here so people were carrying out their drinks from the neighboring pub. It felt festive, like a summer evening should. I walked to end of the benches and sat. I like to sit cross-legged a lot. A bald guy with a motorcycle helmet walked past and asked if he could join me on my bench, then he asked if I was meditating. We ended up talking for two hours. He told me about growing up in Belfast, getting stabbed for being Catholic and alone in the wrong neighborhood. He told me about practicing tai chi and nonviolence. He couldn't be much older than me but he had three teenage boys, the first born when we was about 15. Crazy.
After that I was truly hungry and excused myself to go eat some sushi. I had scoped out a neighborhood sushi place on line. It had really good reviews. But boy was I underwhelmed. It wasn't bad sushi (that would have made me sick) but it didn't really taste like anything. I was really disappointed. I had been looking forward to sushi all week.
Then I bused back to my room at the uni, read my book and went to sleep.
Saturday, my birthday, was a true disappointment. The conference was so-so. I did some thinking, which will get a post all its own later, and met a really fabulous woman who is hoping to start her PhD work at Roehampton. She studied with Tina Beattie there as an undergrad and had wonderful things to say. She studies womanist theology (black feminist theology) and is very social justice minded. She's also a lesbian with a daughter, in a bi-racial relationship. She was fab. My main adviser, SB, was sick and couldn't be present. I couldn't call her because she was suffering severe laryngitis. We had planned to go out for dinner, but alas.
So, now it was birthday and I had no plans of any kind. And no friends. After the conference I was ravenous. I decided to head out and go into Richmond to eat somewhere nice and slightly upscale, and to walk along the Thames there. I had been there last time I was in London and remembered the stop I had got on and off. But...... turns out there must be clusters of high street stores that go together in every neighborhood, because I got off and later discovered that I was only halfway to Richmond. I spent an hour and half walking around trying to get my bearings, in 80 degree heat. The neighborhoods were lovely, but I was hot, sweaty, tired, and very very hungry. A yellow lambourghini passed me. Twice. Finally, as I was at my wits end, deep in some green upscale neighborhood I saw a restaurant tucked in among the houses: The Victoria
. Looked like my kind of place, but I passed it by because we just don't have loads of money for that sort of place. And then I stopped to think about it: I was lost and hot and hungry and it was my birthday dammit. So I went in.
This is like my dream place. A nice, but not fancy, place where everything is sourced and you can drink excellent wine and your kids can play in a tiny private playground at the back of the patio
. There were families at every table. I was the only person eating alone. Le sigh. The waiter, who must have been no older than 27 - if that - was very attractive and I was tempted to ask him what time he got off work. Really, really tempted. The last thing I wanted to do was go home and read my mediocre novel. But that's what I did.
Turns out I was in East Sheen. Thanks to Wikipedia I learned just now that Daniel Craig and Robert Pattinson live there. Of course, wikipedia also says that Robert P lives in nearby Barnes. Awesome. ETA: Simon Le Bon, Nick Clegg, and Sir Richard Branson live in Putney. Wikipedia is a goldmine of (dis)information!
Sunday was surprisingly much much better. I took the bus to the British Museum. It took an hour, but I got to see loads of things and get a feel for the lay of the city. Man, London is a spectacular city. I've always preferred British literature to American literature, but I'm only coming to terms with just how much of an Anglophile I am. I LOVE BRITAIN. And I would live in London in a heartbeat (assuming we had money. ouch is it expensive). It's so green, and I love the architecture.
The British Museum was wonderful. I saw nearly everything there. I did not pay 15 pounds for the Da Vinci drawings. The most crowded things were the Rosetta Stone and the Egyptian room. The mummies were neat, but didn't knock me over with awe. The Greek statues, mosaics and busts were spectacularly beautiful. The busts were exquisite. Damn, those Greeks could sculpt! The faces had so much personality; it was as is magic had captured their life and soul and frozen it for all eternity. And yet, there was something cold about the Greek stuff. The Greeks have never sung to me, and seeing this stuff first hand confirmed that.
What did bowl me over were the Assyrians. This too will get its own post. I am nearly rendered speechless by what I saw and felt. This will also cover the next me meme post: art.
That evening I bused back to Putney, walked around, then ate at Wagamama. Putney isn't so interesting or original. I walked down the Putney embankment and then..... kept going. Turns out there's a long green biking/running trail along the Thames that connect Putney with Barnes. It was great. I had to pee the entire time, but it was great. And then I spent the evening reading my boring book, which I'll review in its own post. In the morning I woke at 4.45, of my own accord, and then eventually made my way back to Lampeter. I arrived home to a little boy who has no more traces of babydom about him and a house which Adam said he'd tidied, but really is filthy.
And that's that.