Sunday, May 14, 2017

Arrival

After a relatively uneventful flight, I landed at Heathrow around 8am and made record time getting through the airport, thanks to the automated e-passport gates for EU passport holders. It was a little strange not having to speak to an immigration officer at passport control and instead having the system run a quick face-recognition check. It makes me wish we could implement something similar in the US for citizens so we wouldn't have to deal with the long lines that plague our major airports.

 My home for the next several weeks is in Kentish Town, in the London Borough of Camden. In the 1800s as the Industrial Revolution brought more efficient means of moving goods and people, the area saw big pieces of land bought up for building railways. With the new ease of public transportation, Kentish Town became a popular resort for people to escape some of the smog and congestion of the city. Not everyone felt the same about the area though, with Frankenstein author Mary Shelley calling it an "odious swamp".

Fast forward to nowadays and it is a busy mix of shops, pubs, and some legendary music venues. A few blocks from my house is the Bull and Gate. Originally the ‘Boulogne Gate’ coaching Inn, it has history dating back to 1840. The current building was built in 1871 and some misunderstandings of the name had it renamed Bull & Gate. For 30 years its music night, Timebox, helped to launch the careers of Blur, PJ Harvey, Coldplay, and more. Unfortunately, it stopped running as a music venue in 2013 and was converted into a pub, but it is nice that the history is being preserved.

This area also has some lovely painted homes, such as these a couple streets over from me. I channeled a bit of She and Hem taking multiple photos of the buildings, as three kids on bikes practiced wheelies in the street. 




Down my street is Our Lady of Help of Christians church. Built in 1867, it was originally a Methodist church which became known locally as the "Methodist Cathedral" on account of it being uncharacteristically large and formal. In the 1960s, a nearby Catholic church had outgrown its building and after some negotiations, the Methodists and Catholics agreed to switch buildings and it was consecrated at a mass in September 1979.


 After a quick trip to the shops to pick up toilet paper, hand soap, and other essentials, I had a quick shower and nap. Luckily none of my housemates were home at the time or else I'm sure they would have been a little annoyed by my hitting the snooze button repeatedly for over an hour.  Around 2pm I forced myself up in order to head out to get a UK sim card so our staff and students would be able to better reach me.

Once stop down from Kentish Town on the Northern Line is Camden, famous for its market. On Sundays from 3pm-5:30pm you can only exit or change lines at Camden station in order to ease congestion. Luckily, it would only be about a mile walk home. I picked up my sim and took some time to wander, checking out a little bit of Camden Stable's Market. It was hard to enjoy at the time because it was so overwhelmingly crowded, so I'll post more about the place later once I'm able to return on a less hectic day to take some photos and actually try some of the amazing food stalls. I did end up next to the Amy Winehouse statue, created in 2014 by British sculptor Scott Eaton.

Outside the main market areas, it is calmer and I took a leisurely route home in order to admire some of the street art. The first two images are the work of Chilean artist Otto Schade, one of which is another tribute to Amy Winehouse. He is now based in London, so I'll definitely be on the lookout for other works by him.








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