Monday, July 25, 2011


I'm here, here in Shakespearelandia!

I got here this morning, and found my way to the nearest station, and then walked to where I'm staying. I've got a nice little place, which seems fine.

I did notice immediately, that a LOT of people smoke here. Maybe I just don't notice at home, but it's noticable here.

I didn't sleep a lot or well on the plane, but I did have my contacts out for a while. I wear hard contacts, and my eyes get itchy and nasty if they're in more than about 20 hours at a time.

I also tend to get a weird motion-sicky feeling after I've been driving, on a boat, or flying for more than about 10 hours.

Thus, I was tired, and I decided to nap for a bit. I woke up, feeling MUCH better, about 2pm, and went out to see what I could see. Happily, there's a "Big Bus" tour thing between my place and the station (so I'd seen it on the way here), so I took the advice I got before, bought myself a ticket, and hopped on. I just rode around and saw things and listened to the taped information for the full circle, which took about 3 hours. Happily, the weather was lovely, not too warm or cold, and not raining.

I was probably more excited than most to go by the Marble Gate, right near what used to by Tyburn (where they hanged folks in early modern England). I admit to being fascinated by the folks who got branded with a T so that they couldn't use benefit of clergy again.

I saw the Tower! Westmister Abbey! The Thames!

Speaking of the Thames. I'm guessing most people aren't as naive as I am, but I was an adult before I realized that "Thames" is pronounced "Tems." There are lots of other words that seem weirdly spelled to many Americans, Gloucester, Worcestershire, and so on.

So as I was riding the bus and listening, it took me more than a moment to connect what I saw as "Grosvenor" with what I heard as "Gruvner." I don't think I've ever said the word aloud, though, so I at least I wasn't publicly shamed. (Until now.)

I got myself some fish and chips on the way home (because I'm just that much of a tourist!). I have to say, if you haven't had more than a protein bar since the plane ride, then fish and chips tastes incredibly, wonderfully yummy!

I'm almost ready to head to bed again.


  1. I'm so happy that you're enjoying Shakespearelandia! What neighborhood are you in? how long are you staying? Depending on details, I might have a few suggsetions . . . I always stay in the Bloomsbury area, near Euston Station, so that's what I know best.

  2. Welcome to this side! As for pronunciation, it is a mystery (though Wikipedia helps a lot, now). After seeing what happened to Worcester and Bicester (i.e., "Bister"), I was wondering how to pronounce Cirencester.

    The answer? "Siren-sester"

    I give up.

  3. Don't forget Leicester Square for your list of silly pronunciations!

  4. And then there's Marylebone... and I suppose Pall Mall could have potential pronunciation problems too.

    It's funny, your observation about smoking. As a UK native I have noticed a massive decline since the ban on smoking indoors. You do see more people huddled outside offices and pubs, and maybe that gives the impression of lots of people smoking. But seriously if you had visited a pub 15 years ago you would have taken the smell of stale smoke back with you forever, it was that ubiquitous...

  5. The pronunciation that really impressed me was that Magdalene College at Oxford is pronounced "maudlin." Was is das?!

  6. Have a wonderful, wonderful time!

  7. Nothing like fat and salt. Yum, fish & chips! I'm with you on Marble Arch: every time I pass the marker for Tyburn at Marble Arch, I think about the victims...

  8. Oh, and blame "Tems" on George I: when I lived in New London it was the Thames, pronounced as spelled.

  9. Oh dear, how IS Pall Mall pronounced then?

    Oh Bardiac, I'm so envious and so so SO grateful that you're sharing your trip with us. I have never been, and while my England is more the land of Keats and Wordsworth, and secondarily, Johnson and the C18 coffeehouses, than Shakespeare, I fully intend to experience England through you as far as you'll let me!

    ("My England," you ask? From _84 Charing Cross Road_. Helene Hanff was told that everyone goes to England with preconceived notions. She wanted to go for "the England of English literature" to which the man responded, "It's there." I love that movie, no matter what Roger Ebert says.)

  10. Can;t wait to read more about your stay in London. We had a such a great time there last year. Don't forget to visit Borough hall market, St Martin in the fields cafe and concerts across from national gallery, the Churchill war museum. We were the wrong season to visit Petersham Gardens, but if you go there, do let us know.



  11. Yay -- glad your trip is off to a great start!

  12. Yay!!! I am so happy for you (and jealous!). I think my favorite things about London were going to the British Library and the British Museum. (It's astounding how much plunder there is in the latter.) I'm with you on the pronunciation, too. It's strange.

    I also had some excellent fish and chips in London. Oddly, though, I also had the best nachos in my life at a tiny hole-in-the-wall pub. But my best food advice is to stay away from bangers and mash. Yick. If you like German-style sausages, you'll be, uhm, puzzled by the texture of the bangers. Puzzled, at best. It's more like paté in a casing. Icky, icky.

    Anyway - enjoy! And share, share, share your experience. We'll all be living vicariously this semester!