November 28, 2005
The Final Connection
In my first blog on the 20th, I wrote that our Sunday excursions were designed to reveal connections between the past and present. Today, my last blog, I also write about connections: we connected with the city of London and the town of Dorchester, but most important during the eight days we spent together, we connected with each other—connections which I hope will last the rest of our lives.
We are on the crowded US Air plane over Greenland returning to the U.S. I am assuming that we are all here, since I didn’t do a head check on the plane. Before I provide my wrap-up blog, I want to describe an interesting Thursday afternoon event that we all experienced: an unplanned “do something on your own and have fun” event. After Wednesday’s long day traveling to and from Dorchester, England, I felt we needed to break our routine and tight schedule, so I told everyone to take Thursday afternoon off and go wherever he or she wished in London. Here are the results in our own words and in one sentence.
Tobey Herzog: After a brisk morning walk on Hampstead Heath with the students, I spent the afternoon at Selfridges (large department store); an antique market searching for antique prints; a first-edition book store where I often find British first-editions of American lit about the Vietnam War; and the famous Hamley’s toy store on Regent Street.
Peggy Herzog: Attended a morning service at St. Paul’s celebrating Thanksgiving for the American community in London where I saw Wabash trustee John Fox (small world) and then had lunch with British friends at a very “posh” restaurant near Covent Garden.
Ross McKee: Went shopping in Covent Garden, but then had a lovely duck and fig salad in Hampstead before the shops were cleaned out.
Jeana Rogers: I went to Wimbledon and visited the Lawn Tennis Club where I took a tour and saw Center Court, Court 1, players’ areas, and the Visitor Center.
Ian Cubie: I had lunch at the McDonalds of fish and chip places but don’t remember the name, and then went to Hamley’s.
Sam Clark: This afternoon I enjoyed a traditional British meal of chicken & mushroom pie and a pint of Adam’s Broadside Ale, and after that I took home Europe’s football frenzy by buying a Chelsea scarf.
Nick Pompeo: I went with some of the guys and ate lunch at the Holly Bush (pub in Hampstead, and afterwards we bought crepes and went shopping in Covent Garden.
Wayne Lewis: After wrestling with a pint of prawns at the Holly Bush, I had a ham & cheese crepe and shopped in Covent Garden for a few hours.
Jon Reidy: I dined at Nicholson’s near Piccadilly Circus, downing a serving of traditional fish & chips (among other things) and then toured Baker Street and then did some shopping at Covent Garden.
Greg Gravenstreter: I had a wonderful time at the Tower Bridge, despite all the wind, and then I gave into consumerism and bought some “cool” London gear.
Ben Donathen: I couldn’t find the University of London, so I ended up wandering Russell Square, but I did find some other college and a surgeons’ school and then ended up buying some Irish whiskey and lamenting my day.
Marty Brown: I encountered cultural discrimination at Hampstead, and soon after I ate a delicious crepe.
Joe Herzog: I started the morning in Greenwich and moved on to 3 libraries, 1 dance academy, and the Thames Barrier, and ended up at the Swan [Greenwich] accompanied by a pint of Guinness and my architectural research.
So that’s a summary of our Thursday afternoon activities before we went to Cosmoba in the Russell Square area, just off Southhampton Row, where we had a three-course Italian dinner to celebrate Thanksgiving. Now, two and a half days later, all of us are returning with, I hope, a better sense of connections: authors Dickens and Hardy connected to places, spaces, culture, and history of rural and urban Victorian England; Victorian England connected to modern-day England; and all of us connected with each other. Our trips yesterday (Friday) to the Tate Britain to see paintings by J.M.W. Turner, John Constable, the Pre-Raphaelites, and other 19th-century artists and in the afternoon to the Tate Modern to marvel at the building’s architecture and art reinforced many of these connections. Perhaps an image during yesterday’s contemporary architecture tour led by Joe Herzog best reinforced the Victorian-contemporary London connection—Sir Norman Foster's futuristic glass and steel building shaped like a pickle juxtaposed with and adjacent to an 18th-century neo-Gothic church.
As a result of our time in London, we have come to appreciate the perspicacity of Samuel Johnson’s observation that “when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.” We are tired, but not tired of London. Experiencing London, as well as the countryside, is a life-long avocation. I hope all of the students will return to England at some point in their life to pursue post-seminar studies in all areas that we have briefly explored.
Finally, I want to say thanks.
Thanks to the students for their promptness in the mornings, their enthusiasm, questions, curiosity, and good humor. Their blog entries, site reports, and photographs have added so much to an already rich experience. I have been impressed with the cohesiveness of the group and their willingness to include everyone in their nightly activities, which because of my “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy I know nothing about.
Thanks to Joe Herzog for his stimulating and thoughtful mini-course on the form and function of architecture. He brings passion, artistic skills, and practical experience to the subject. I also want to thank him for serving as the “unofficial Dean of Students” for the students as he provided them with everything from career counseling to the intricacies of Pub etiquette.
Thanks to Peggy Herzog for arranging our Thanksgiving dinner, providing helpful shopping tips and motherly advice, and keeping me on track.
A special thanks to Jeana Rogers who was an ideal travel companion and, by far, the hardest working member of our group. Her technology and expertise took this immersion trip (a repeat of 2003) to a new level of participant involvement, archival record, and connections—within our group and with the Wabash community. She worked tirelessly to keep the words and images flowing.
Thanks to Wabash College for giving us this experience. It was, by all measurements, very successful.
Finally, thanks to all of you who connected with our blog and traveled with us on your “free” Thanksgiving Break trip to London.
Now, I am going to get some sleep.
Professor Tobey C. Herzog
November 27, 2005
Saturday and getting Home
Saturday was travel day. We left the hotel at 7:30 a.m. (2:30 a.m. Indiana time). After a 30 minute train ride to Gatwick we had about an hour and a half at the airport before boarding. We took turns watching the pile of luggage while others went off to spend the last of their pounds at the duty free shops. We boarded about noon for our eight hour flight. In Philadelphia we had to go through customs, claiming and rechecking bags.
We had some time to rest before boarding the oven (no air conditioning) for an hour and forty five minute flight to our final destination.
We arrived in Indianapolis about 20 minutes early. We boarded the vans to head home after a long week. Our van had some very tired people on it. It was almost 9:00 p.m. Indiana time but our bodies, still on London time, thought it was 2:00 a.m.
We arrive on campus about 9:30 p.m. and each headed our separate ways. I had to track down one of the guys who accidentally took my luggage instead of his own. I wasn't letting that bag go far, it had chocolate in it!
I've heard for years how important immersion trips are to College. Honestly, I've wondered how important it really was to a class. Did the students really get engaged by what they saw and experienced or did they just think "cool, we get to go to London"? Well, let me tell you from my point of view after this experience, the students do immerse themselves. They soak up every moment of the experience. They ask intelligent questions and they learn in a unique way.
I learned things on this trip too. I am grateful for the opportunity to document this trip and look forward to reviewing the 1100 or so pictures we took and the seven hours of video. Watch your email for opportunities to see some of these pictures and video.
A big thank you to the students and especially Professor Tobey Herzog, his wife Peggy and son Joe. They made the trip a great experience for everyone. One word of advice to you. If Professor Herzog ever asked you to go for a walk with him, make sure you have your best runners on!!
November 25, 2005
Throughout our week here in London, one of the things we have heard most often is the famous phrase “Mind the gap,” the train conductors’ incessant reminder to make sure that people getting on or off the train remember not to step in the space between the train and the platform. With this phrase ringing in my ears, I have realized that this trip has made quite a few gaps visible, both literally and figuratively.
For example, in our walks around the city, we are constantly reminded of the gap between the past and the present; buildings that several centuries old stand next to brand new construction sites all over the city. We have talked time and time again about the gap between the nature of the country and the city. This idea was reinforced by our trip by train to Dorchester, but it was especially driven home by our trek through Hampstead Heath yesterday. The Heath was originally a haven of natural landscapes outside of the city of London, but has since been swallowed up as the city has grown around it. Yet the Heath is still an oasis of natural beauty and escape from the bustle of the city.
We have been reminded of cultural gaps, as well. Although the vast majority of the people we have encountered in England have been extremely polite and kind, over the course of the week we have also encountered some resentment toward Americans, and some of us were even denied entrance into a pub for lunch because of this cultural discrimination. These cultural gaps are also visible on every street corner—every time we cross the street, we can hear at least four or five different languages being spoken by people of at least three or four different ethnicities. It is truly a different experience from life in Indiana.
We have encountered several other gaps, as well. Perhaps the most important has been the physical one. Even as we traveled around the Hampstead area yesterday, taking in various sights, including Professor Herzog’s favorite pub, the Holly Bush, the home of Robert Louis Stevenson, the home of John Keats, the graves of various important Londoners, the Heath, and a small stand where we were able to buy some genuine (and delicious) crÈpes, we all remembered the gap between us and our homes on Thanksgiving Day. On a day for remembering what it is we celebrate and are grateful for in our lives, we were foreigners in another country, our loved ones across the ocean.
But that’s not all there is to this trip. As Professor Herzog is so fond of pointing out to us as we visit each new place, this is not a trip about gaps, but about connections. Though the past and the present might seem irreconcilably separated by the facades of the buildings, we have learned more and more about how the past has influenced the present and informed the buildings of today. We have begun to realize how the city and the country interacted even as they appeared to be separate entities. We have seen evidence of how people from so many backgrounds can come together to form a global city like London. And, though we had our afternoon free to explore London as we pleased yesterday, when we all (the students, the Herzogs, and Jeana Rogers) gathered together at a delicious Italian restaurant to share a Thanksgiving dinner together, we remembered that though we have an ocean between us, the people we care about are not all that far removed from us at all. We all hope that our friends and loved ones know we all thought of them and wished them a happy holiday.
With one day left in London, I have had an incredible, spectacular time, but I am ready to come home and share my experiences with the people I care about, and I am sure many of my peers feel the same. We have all learned not only to mind the gap, but now we hope we know how to close it a little better.
Art, Architecture, and Our Final Day in London…..
As was the case with much of our trip, today was much about witnessing connections, connections of time, place, and people. We began our day in the 19th century, our time period of primary focus, at London’s Tate British art museum. Here we viewed a sizable collection of works by J.M.W. Turner, a seminal Victorian artistic figure. The number of works on display and the sizable amount of museum space devoted to this single artist is demonstrative of the importance the British assign to this native son. As far as personal highlights go, I found the pieces of the pre-Raphaelites impressive as an artistic endeavor, if not entirely aesthetically pleasing.
I believe some of the highlights of the trip for most of the students has been Joe Herzog’s architectural tours, and this afternoon’s survey of modern London architecture proved to be no different. Architecture is something few, if any of us, possess even a passing knowledge of. †Every insight or lesson or connection Joe can make for us is therefore wholly new and intriguing. It certainly is a field of unexpected depth, and I think that most of us have been surprised by the level of potential connection and reflection quality architecture possesses in regards to it’s contemporary time, place, and people. Highlights of this afternoon’s tour would have to include the Swiss-Re building and Lloyd’s of London, which, like the work of the pre-Raphaelites, is admirable and inspiring as a work of innovation and vision even if it is not entirely aesthetically pleasing.
Looking back at our week in London, I think that for many of us, this trip will serve as a fitting capstone to our academic life at Wabash. Our aims for this journey were ambitious, but I doubt that anybody would say this trip was anything but an overwhelming success. We have experienced a culture and a country and a people about as fully as we possibly could in the span of seven days, and we will all come away with memories and experiences that will stay with us for a very, very long time.
As we all reflect on our time abroad, and look forward to returning to the homeland and our loved ones, we can say this: London is a special place. It has enlightened us. †It has affected us. †London’s rare atmosphere is an experience all it’s own. And we have breathed deep of it.
This morning the group walked to Hampstead. Hampstead is the one of the most popular places to live in London and as a result many of the houses in the area are very large. The more personal highlights of the Hampstead tour were the several flats throughout the area in which Dr. Herzog and his family had resided in the past. As in almost every other portion of London, Hampstead is full of buildings and other such sites that are important to think about when trying to understand London’s history. Among such important historical sites were the houses of John Constable and John Keats.† Also interesting was the tomb of Constable that can be found at a nearby Anglican Church. These sites were really great, but the real highlight of the morning was our walk through the famous Hampstead Heath. This extensive park was the primary lazy-afternoon destination to some of London’s most important artists. Keats and Constable both took inspiration from the natural beauty and the peaceful-community feel of the heath. The view of London from the high point of the Heath was amazing. One of the more unfortunate characteristics of London is its tendency to be quite expensive. Hampstead was of course no different. Imagine flats as pricy as Manhattan apartments and town houses and small estates beyond the flats in expense.
This afternoon we were given time to ourselves as a reward for being such great guys in Dorchester yesterday. Some stayed in Hampstead for a while and then went shopping or site-seeing. Fish-n-chips were my lunch today. Not exactly what I had expected, but it filled me up. After lunch I went to Hamleys, the world’s greatest toy store, which is located on Regent Street, one of the most notorious shopping districts in London. It was incredible, but seven floors of pure childish entertainment can really get to you after a while. After Hamley’s I used the Tube to roam around some unexplored parts of the city. There is nothing new to report there. And last of all, I can’t forget that it is a holiday.† I wish for all a happy Thanksgivin
November 23, 2005
Today we left the bustling streets of London to explore the world of Thomas Hardy. We took the Eurorail to Dorchester, England bright and early this morning. On the way there we saw sights we have yet to see thus far during our experience in England: fields and rural countryside. Like on any typical English morning they were covered in fog; you could barely make out that they were fields. Once in Dorchester, we walked along the Frome River. It was not like a “river” in the typical sense; it was more like a creek by American standards. Still, the meandering “river” created many picturesque sights throughout the land.We headed back into the small town to view old pubs and the Corn Exchange. After all of this we headed into the countryside to experience the landscape that Hardy utilizes in all his works: farms. We were able to walk on a public path between private plots of land. We passed sheep, cattle, and horses; my favorite sight on the path was The Three Bear Cottage. Its thatched roof had still been conserved after all the years since its creation.† After getting sidetracked in an open pasture and dodging cow pies, we finally made our way to Stinsford Church. This church’s graveyard contains the dismembered heart of Thomas Hardy. The medieval Gothic architecture and its small size made the church a unique experience. With mud on our shoes we trudged back to the train station to return to London.
As Sam has already summarized our day, this paragraph will be more of a personal reflection of yours truly. Unfortunately, my blog day came on the day of reckoning in comparison with the rest of our week. After getting my first blog wish of seeing the “dingy” parts of London was fulfilled in the wee hours of the morning, I thought the worst was behind me. But alas, I decided to eat lunch today. When people make fun of British cuisine, my lunch basically sums up everything that could suck about the food. My foolish decision to even order from this place proves that the school should require mental stability testing before letting a student off campus, let alone out of the country. While I will be sure to include a picture of this pitiful excuse for food, my words are required for full explanation.†
My raspberry milkshake included no ice cream from what I could tell. It was warm and just looked like someone shook-up the milk with the syrup. As though this wasn’t bad enough, my “sandwich” consisted of brie, chicken, and pear…pear…on a sandwich. To summarize, I would have been better off chewing on a bar of soap. Other than that the day was terrific, as you will no doubt see from the pictures.
November 22, 2005
The English 497 Class at The Old Curiosity Shop (a tradition)
Our day today consisted of two things: museums and architecture.
We hit the New British Library (which along with having every a copy of every published book has many original pieces of text, where Marty and I looked for original transcripts of Beowulf. We also saw the incredibly small print of the Magna Carta. Earlier we spent a decent amount of time in the British Museum which houses the Rosetta stone. I’m not going to lie, it was pretty sweet. Earlier still (because for some reason I’m going in reverse order) we visited the Sir John Soane museum. The highlight there was the Howgarth paintings. The museum was essentially a house and I found it to have some lighting problems, especially in the basement. Please forgive my complete randomness with which I type. Though I am an English major, the topic of 'what did you do today' doesn’t come up much in class writing assignments.
The architecture walk in the afternoon was interesting. Joey Herzog (the Prof's son) kept us entertained with his knowledge. From the Prince Albert memorial to today’s tour he’s added a perspective that this tour (at least for those of us who don't particularly know Victorian architecture, which, face it, is all of us) had needed. A lot of our time on these walks consists of us students staring at all the ridiculously lavish and large buildings. It only makes sense that we have someone there to help us make sense of it.
In my pictures, I tried to include the other students as much as possible. Sam gave me heck because I kept pointing the camera at people instead of buildings, but I figured the people who are looking at the pictures would rather see us then what we visited.
We are in utter awe at how early everything here closes. With all the bars and grocery stores and bars and bars (man there are a lot), we can’t believe how much of a struggle it has been to find ones open passed midnight. Luckily, we’ve found one tonight that is open relatively late and has a 1pound/pint deal. Sweet, thanks are to Marty.
Tomorrow the weather turns against us. The temperature is supposed to head south and there's a good possibility for rain/snow. I think we are all looking forward to Dorset. After being bombarded with city buildings, it should be nice to see the countryside
I’m sure what Nick says will be more cohesive then what I’ve expounded so make sure you check out what he says.
Day 3 on our trip to London helped us grasp the grandeur of Victorian London, while also understanding the magnificence of modern day London. Of course this involved a lot of walking. Before the day began, I had never heard of Sir John Soane, but after visiting his museum, I have become a great admirer of his collection of art. His personal collection beats what most museums have in the way of ancient sculpturs and paintings. He epitomized in my eyes the type of man that you read about in books, sort of cut from the same mold as Leonardo DaVinci, the ultimate Renaissance man. My first impression on seeing his massive collection of artifacts, artwork, and books was that I couldn’t understand the need for such a magnitude of works, but upon further discussion and observation it became obvious that Sir John Soane was just a product of the Victorian Age and its interest in the classical periods.
This day has had a more profound effect on me personally than the rest except for maybe my first day of seeing London. This is mainly because I was able to combine all of my areas of interest. From the British Museum to the British Library and Sir John Soane’s Museum, I was not only able to examine Victorian England a little more closely, but I was also able to incorporate my other major, Latin, and such interests as religion and my undying interest in the Beatles. I can die happy now that I’ve seen the Elgin† Marbles, the Rosetta Stone, a Gutenberg Bible, and handwritten lyrics by the Beatles. However, I would prefer to live and be happy at the same time.
The modern architecture walk that Joe Herzog led in the afternoon did a wonderful job of incorporating our understanding of the past with the way the city of London has changed, be it for practical reasons or aesthetic. I particularly enjoyed his explanation of how Prince Charles has made himself the “one man Gestapo over architecture in London.” Seriously though, his explanation of the post-modern architecture of the British Library and how it arose out of a rebellion against the architecture of the 50’s and 60’s. He did a great job of explaining to us how the architecture, structure , and layout of buildings have changed for practical reasons. Furthermore, his insight on the layout of All Souls Church and the need for a circular front due to the shape of the corner on which it resides. It was an insightful walk and discussion on a topic I really don’t know much about.
Overall my impression of the day was completely positive. I’ll be praying tonight that the beautiful weather we have been having holds up. And just in case you don’t believe me about the magnitude of walking, here is a picture of three of the guys stretching at the end of the walk.
Ben, Jon, and Ross stretching out the muscles after a long two days of walking.
November 21, 2005
Indianapolis Colts 45, London Bengals 37. Looks like the Colts are 10-0. We were able to catch the game in a sports pub last night thanks to the guidance of Jon Arbuckle, a Wally who is studying abroad. I say London Bengals because everyone at the bar where we watched the game seemed to be cheering for the Bungles.
This morning, we shook off our drowsiness and the pints of the night before and ventured out into London. Today can be summed up in a single word: long. Which is fitting, since it was “Dickens Day” of our trip, and his novels can be summed up using the same adjective I just used above. To start our trip, we visited St. Paul’s Cathedral. Then, to get ourselves into a Dickensian/ Victorian mood, we stopped by the Museum of London and wandered through the Victorian section of the museum. The best part of the museum was a to-scale model of the Crystal Palace. By seeing this model, we were able to get an idea of just how massive Albert’s grand idea was.
Next up was the Embankment, the area where we had lunch and started our Dickens tour. The Embankment is an area that was reclaimed from the Thames River so that The Strand (the east-west road just north of the Thames) could be relieved of its burden of being the nearest street to the Thames. After our Dickens tour, which was administered by Dr. Herzog at a lightning fast pace (IM teams beware of Dr. Herzog on the fast break this year), we visited the Dicken’s museum. Unfortunately, most of us were quite tired at this point, but we still read lots of information about Dickens’ life while being surrounded by Dickensian memorabilia ranging from his shaving supplies to promotional posters for his public readings.
The most interesting aspect of London that we discovered today is how many churches there are in central London. Although St. Paul’s dwarfs the others, there seemed to be a different church around every corner. Each one had its own unique quirks. All in all, it was a tiring but enjoyable day. I can’t decide what will better cure my aching feet… a pint or a pillow… I guess I will find out after the play tonight.
“Where are we going?"
For Monday that question was answered with more walking in the streets of London. Today’s journey was a long one, full of walking. The kind of day we had was appropriate of what was planned. It was the day of the “Dickens Tour.” The day started with a trip to Saint Paul’s Cathedral. The class was informed about the history of the cathedral and the history behind the building of it. The walk continued to the Museum of London. †This museum held a lot of the history of the city and it was fascinating to see how London has progressed through the years. I walked the museum with Greg and we had an interesting time walking the streets of 19th century Victorian London. He used the first public facility and I ordered a pint. The class then proceeded to Embankment where we stopped for a bite to eat The Chic Chic sandwich was fabulous, consisting of Cajun chicken, Chinese chicken, and chicken mayonnaise. The class was then given a tour of by Doctor Herzog of some of the places that Dickens had been at during his lifetime. The tour ended with a stop at the Dickens Museum and with sore feet or limbs. Before today I thought I had walked distances with the Army, man was I proven wrong. The best part of London is the sites. You can take so many pictures in just one day, over a hundred to be exact (that’s how many I took). The day will end with a show called “The Woman in White.”As a theater minor I look forward to how the night will proceed. I look forward to the rest of this week and what the city of London holds for a boy from Indiana.
More pictures tomorrow! We're resting our feet for another day of walking London.