As I settled in for the train ride from King’s Cross station to Durham, where the conference was being held, I noticed some beautiful/funny/strange/interesting things from the train window:
- The train tracks were lined the entire way, nearly three hours of relatively fast-moving train clackety-clack, with vast linear clumps of wild lavender, interspersed with purple and white butterfly bushes;
- A Wind Turbine farm, wind mills turning furiously in the north winds.
- Three nuclear power plants, (in the space of about 1 hour of train travel time) one of which had at least 12 cooling towers – The British, and Europeans in general, rely much more heavily on nuclear power than the U.S. does;
- A soggy looking bright green field with a banner strung between two poles, proudly announcing “British Soy Grown Here”;
- Another field of some low grass-like crop, with a little wooden desk sitting incongruously alone in the middle of the field;
- A sign on a storefront in one of the towns, saying “Pumpkin Smith” - what could that mean? They fix pumpkins? They make jack-o'-lanterns?;
- An ordinary-looking mundane storefront, with the ominous sign (in purple) reading “The FuneralCare Cooperative.” What next.
The Department of Geography at Durham University in its very own BUILDING! (photo source: ROBUST webpage of the Durham University Institute for Hazard, Risk, and Resilience.)
The London Museum provides a fascinating look at the history of what is now the City of London, going back to before the last Ice Age, through the Celts, Roman times, Anglo-Saxon, Norman, and so forth, up to the present. There’s a nice section of maps of the Thames River, showing how the course of the river was altered, quite drastically, by climate and environmental conditions over the past millennia. There was a whole room dedicated to Charles Booth’s poverty maps of London in the 19th century, wherein he categorized every street in the city as to its apparent socio-economic status. He (and his minions) actually walked every street in London with little notebooks, jotting down observations and little sketch maps. The room is papered with a large-scale facsimile of his maps, including the floor and ceiling, and there is an interactive computer embedded in one of the walls where you can zoom in on different sections of the city, pull up accompanying photos of the area, and read his neighborhood descriptions in the actual log book.
Detail of one of the Neighbourhood Maps
"How I Spent My Summer Vacation" continues in the next two posts:
"Hand-Drawn Map from the London Museum" http://geographer-at-large.blogspot.com/2011/07/hand-drawn-maps-at-london-museum.html
"My Visit to the Royal Geographical Society" http://geographer-at-large.blogspot.com/2011/07/my-visit-to-royal-geographical-society.html