Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A gleaming Big Ben

After three attempts in the dark room, I found the right time interval to develop my first photo. The Salisbury cottages sat in a neat line, with a sprawling oak tree in the background. My three-hour photo class flew by Monday morning. I developed a roll, learned how to magnify and print photos and downloaded my digital images. Although there is an instant gratification to digital photography, processing film in the dark room allows an unexpected aspect of artistic control. But, I admit, it's nice to have options.

The rest of Monday and Tuesday flew by with lots of bits of mundane London living: laundry, grocery shopping, homework and sloshing through cold rain (apparently this has been one of London's chilliest winters in years). I managed to use our oven, with its Celsius temperature measurements, to cook dinner for myself and two friends Tuesday night. Everything's different in London.

A sunny London morning and a canceled nine o'clock class provided my friend and I the perfect opportunity to take a walk along the Thames and pay a visit to Big Ben. We grabbed a pint of blackberries from a fruit stand on our block and stopped for a cup of tea at a cafe on the embankment. As we continued our stroll, the regal clock tower gleamed in the sunlight -- thus far, a rare sight in London's abundance of clouds.

After wandering through a bookstore and finding a cup of soup for lunch, I made my way over to Westminster Abbey for the day's architecture lecture. For two hours I learned about the building's interesting history and eclectic mix of Gothic style. We saw the tombs of Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Geoffrey Chaucher, George Frideric Handel, Queen Elizabeth I, Queen Mary I, Edward the Confessor and several others. If visiting when its cold, I would advise dressing warm -- our professor said the lecture would be mostly indoors. I failed to realize that the inside of a huge stone mammoth hardly counts as "inside."

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