Monday, February 23, 2009

T-Minus One to London

For the next sixteen days or so I'm going to turn this blog into a travelogue or diary of what went on during that particular day during my travels in England. I've been sharing my blog url with family and friends in the hope that this will be a fun way to share my experiences in London and Portsmouth. I hope you enjoy the ride and will feel free to share comments along the way. You might have a favorite site that you'd like me to see; send it my way. Each evening I'll be planning my "attack" for the next day and would be delighted to get your feedback and suggestions on places I should visit.

At the same time its fair to say that this trip is not totally "free-form." I've been thinking about this trip since before I sent in my application for a staff development grant and have a number of activities planned already. Indeed, I've been thinking about this trip since I missed out on the chance to attend the unveiling ceremony for the Holmes statue in London some years ago. My thanks, again, to the staff at Portsmouth who have been very helpful in putting together a meaningful and productive itinerary during my week on the south coast. And my thanks to Phil at the Campus Club for his suggestions related to my accommodation in London. My supervisor, Kris, has been very supportive of helping make this trip a reality. My friend and brother in the faith, Bryce, has been a wonderful help and given me some great ideas. Also, it feels good to be able to get away for a couple of weeks knowing that the office will be in good hands through the work of my colleague, Jean, and our student assistants. Thank you, all (and others not named), for making this trip possible!

All right, I'll step away from the Oscar-like thank yous and give you some sense of what's ahead. I spent a good chunk of today trying to tie up as many loose ends as I could at work, touch base or get notes to everyone I needed to talk with or, in other words, nail down as much as I could and make sure the work continues while I'm gone. I'll be finishing off a few other projects at home tonight and think about getting around to packing. Generally, it doesn't take me too long to get my bags together; I might even leave that for the morning (depending on what else needs doing tonight). I'd really like to finish off my taxes before leaving; I'm close, so that will be one of the main priorities tonight. Thank goodness (and the IRS) for e-filing. My aunt gave me a little note case for Christmas; its been getting a good workout today as I've been jotting down little reminders (e.g. don't forget the cord for downloading pictures from the camera; make sure your ATM will work in England. And don't forget your passport!)

My flight leaves late in the day tomorrow. I'll spend the morning finishing off anything here at home, have lunch, and then get to the airport. I arrive early Wednesday morning at Heathrow. I'm planning on taking the Tube into the City and then walking a short distance to where I'm staying. Check-in isn't until 2pm, but I'm going to see if I can get in early or else drop my stuff off for storage and come back later and get settled. After that, unencumbered by my bags, I'm going to go walkabout, scouting out the area and maybe make my way over to Baker Street. I'll stop back at my digs, take a short break, and then head to St. Paul's for an Ash Wednesday service. After that I'll probably look for something to eat, head back to my room, update this blog, check e-mail, and do a little work on my Facebook page. By then I'm sure I'll be ready for sleep.

On Thursday I have an appointment in the morning at the British Library with a colleague who used to work here at the University. She's setting up my visitor's pass and I'll have a chance to meet some of her colleagues from the Rare Books department, find out about a digitizing project she's been working on, and get a behind-the-scenes look at the Library. In the afternoon I'll wander west to Marylebone and get my first look at the Doyle Collection. Thanks, Kimberly and Catherine for these opportunities on Thursday!

Well, that's how the first couple of days are shaping up. Time to get to the taxes and the other odds and ends here at home. Oh, and since my wife is working tomorrow, I need to call my sister and see if she can take me to the airport. Or my folks if my sister is busy. Here's to family (at home, work, and play).

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