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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