Saturday, May 20, 2017

Food for thought

On Friday morning we met the students at their housing and walked them to the British Museum. Since we have a large group, we had hired two guides and my group had the same guide who led us around Westminster on Wednesday. I wore my map dress and he asked if I have a dress for every possible occasion and I said pretty much.
"Kitchen vegetables?" he asked.
"Yes, a skirt with London and a skirt with Paris"
"Oh I give up!"

The British Museum was established in 1753 when physician Hans Sloane bequeathed his 71,000 object collection to King George II, for the nation of Britain, for the sum of £20,000. Its creation is important in that it was the first museum to be owned by the nation, not a king or the church, and with the aim of collecting everything. Some of the collections grew so large that they are now their own museums, such as the National Library and the National History Museum.

The Queen Elizabeth II Great Court
We only had two hours, which is barely enough to scratch the surface of all there is to see in the museum. First we saw the Rosetta Stone, but I didn't try to crowd around it for a picture because there were way too many people.

To its left of the Rosetta Stone is the statue of Ramesses II, which was acquired by the museum in 1817 and inspired Percy Bysshe Shelley (husband of Mary Shelley, writer of Frankenstein) to write his famous poem Ozymandias, which is a Greek interpretation of a name for Ramsesses II. 
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:

And on the pedestal these words appear:
'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

All of the Egyptian art is very interesting and there is a large collection of mummies, including these mummified cats.
Reconstruction of the Nereid Monument
 The Museum has one of the world's largest collections of items from Greek and Roman history, including many pieces from the Parthenon, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus (one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world), and the Temple of Athena Nike. 

The British Museum has had to deal with a lot of controversy regarding many of these pieces because some people feel that the items should be returned to the countries where they came from. But, the Museum's stance is that they are trustees and these items that were given to their care and were done so before national or global laws were in force prohibiting the sale of artifacts. In some ways, keeping them in a stable country like the U.K. is for their own safety, as the museum holds many priceless pieces from countries like Syria, Iraq, etc. where we have seen the recent destruction of history by ISIS and other forces. 

One of the more interesting British history pieces is the Lindow Man. Yes, that is a real body, found in 1984 in a peat bog at Lindow Moss. He died sometime between 2 BC and 119 AD and the body shows signs of a violent death, but some factors make scientists believe it is possible he was killed for in a ritualistic sacrifice. 

After the Museum, we took the students on the Tube to have lunch at Borough Market. 
The market is one of the oldest and largest food markets in London and was first referenced in 1276, although the market claims it dates back to at least 1014.

It is a great place to find a variety of high quality, specialty foods all in one place.
Samples? Don't mind if I do!!

 My first purchase was some fresh gnocchi and pesto from La Tua Pasta, which were light, fluffy, and delicious.
 My colleague and I then walked to Gelatoria 3Bis across the street for dessert.
This is a waffle cone with hardened chocolate lining the inside, a scoop of salted caramel, a scoop of stracciatella, and espresso poured over it.

I decided I needed something healthy to go along with it and went back into the market for a juice, full of wheatgrass, apple and lemon.

Next we took the students back to our office so they could have class time next door.

In the evening, I met up with a colleague from Salamanca, who happened to be in town with some of her students. A U.K. colleague recommended Spaghetti House, a local, family-owned chain. Since I did not have any work commitments today, I opted for the "free flowing prosecco menu" which had 3 courses and unlimited prosecco (although they didn't come around very often for refills, probably for the best). 

I had a wonderful time catching up and hope that one day I can make it to Salamanca myself. 


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