Monday, June 04, 2007


I leave for London the day after tomorrow. At the moment I'm drawing up a research and writing plan: I need to figure out what to do with my first chapter, whether I want to toss it and rewrite it entirely with a new argument about the same old text, or whether there are salvageable bits; I need to finish researching and writing my final chapter.

But the reading rooms of the British library aren't open all night long and they're closed on Sundays. Plus it can take up to half a day to get the books I need and I can only look at manuscripts until 5pm.

So I'll have some time to do a little exploring. I've spent lots of time in London, but I always stayed out of the way in Crouch End with my family friends. This time I'll be in Bloomsbury. I don't feel as if I know London particularly well. It's so big. The only place in the UK I know really well is Oxford, and that's because I lived there for a year and then dated someone there for almost two years. But back to London: I'm planning on doing some London walks, and already have plans to see an Opera with my mom's best friend, visit family friends, catch up with Oxonians and catch Othello at the Globe. And a pilgrimage to Ormonde Jayne, my favorite perfumer, which has a tiny shop in the Royal Arcade between Albemarle and Old Bond street and makes otherwordly scents out of black hemlock and violet and coriander, and of course I'll hang out in Islington and the East End. But I was wondering if any of my loyal readers (do you still exist?) who have much more London knowledge than I do, might want to make some suggestions of places off the beaten path for me to explore whilst there. Am I missing anything great? What are your London secrets that you don't mind divulging? Where is the best curry? What's your favorite pub? Which parks are hidden and beautiful?


Pantagruelle said...

Gosh, I was only there for 11 days last time, so I don't really know any secret spots to hang out (although I'm probably returning in Aug/Sept for a conference, not that that helps you now). If you find any while you're there, I'd love to know about them. All I can really say is "have fun!", and I wish you lots of productive progress on your book at the BL. It sounds like a great trip!

Hilaire said...

I was pretty blown away by Highgate Cemetery. There are two halves of it. The one half - containing the graves of George Eliot and Karl Marx and others - is just open to the public for self-guided strolling. But it's the other half, the one where you have to take a little guided tour, that is so stunningly beautiful. You wouldn't think a cemetery could be so compelling (if you were me, at least), but this one is just such a gem. So, so, so beautiful, with its overgrowth and Victorian neo-gothic stuff and the amazing headstones. It is, I think, well worth the visit. (And when we were there, even though it was high season, we were the only two people on the tour...)

muse said...

Wow, thanks Hilaire! I do love me some purty cemeteries. Pere Lachaise in Paris is one of my favorites for overgrownedness.

faustus said...

Highgate cemetery is a wonderful suggestion: this area is one of the loveliest and most fascinating in the whole city. Why not follow this by wandering west to Hampstead Heath: head to the north of the Heath for the glories of Robert Adam's Kenwood House and the Iveagh Bequest, or southwest to Hampstead village for Fenton House and its superb collection of early keyboard instruments and porcelain. Both places are paradise for an early-modernist!
Looking forward to having you back in Britain ;-)

Bardiac said...

Have a great trip!