Saturday 7 April 2018

Weeknote: 7/4

I have been putting off the second sleeve but today I finally broke the back of it. I am to the point where the yellow cuff point begins. If I can encourage myself to knit in the evenings this week, it might be a FO post next weekend.

Going to:
I've been all over the place this past week.

I started in Italy, on the last day of the ski trip, packing and leaving, travelling through France, taking the ferry out of Dunkirk after a long and boring wait, entertained by Carl and Reece, our bickering drivers who left us at Cobham, and finally home. This marks ski trip number 10 that I have organised. I am now a total pro at sleeping on coaches.

On Monday I went to work out with Jenny and we did arms for the first time in months.

On Tuesday, I took the National Express to London. I stayed in an AirBnB near Covent Garden and followed the tourist trail for three days. Highlights:

The Charles I exhibition at the Royal Academy. Included portraits of him and art collected by him and his wife, Henrietta Maria. This included some miniatures of the Tudor court that have become ubiquitous, at least for students of the Tudors, which I quite enjoyed looking at.

The Tower of London. Traitors' Gate and the spot where Anne Boleyn, Lady Jane Grey and the Earl of Essex were executed. The Crown Jewels - a long queue, but worth seeing.

Rather creepily, that woodwork at the top was installed for Anne Boleyn's coronation, and then 4 years later she was rowed through this gate to her execution. 

St Dunstans-in-the-East, a derelict church with a lovely garden near the Tower of London. I happened to walk past it. Founded in Saxon times. Destroyed by the Great Fire, its own rebuilding and the Blitz. I think it has earned its peaceful existence.

The Mithraeum. A hidden treasure. An ancient Roman temple revealed by WW2 bombing and restored underneath a large city office block. It's free and a quick visit, but stunningly presented: we entered in the dark; the room was then flooded with light smoke and strong downlights created an echo of how the walls would have formed the space.

A wander through Postman's Park, full of plaques commemorating heroic deeds - mostly small children flinging themselves into big waters to save friends and family.

On was the way there I came across part of the original Roman city wall. It astonishes me that I lived in London for four years, studied history in it, yet remained oblivious to these sites.

Charterhouse, near the Barbican. Site of the demise of the Carthusians during Henry VIII's reign - a particularly brutal episode immortalised in a set of woodcuts that often pop up, without adequate provenance, to demonstrate medieval torture and execution. It has a plague skeleton and a very nice cafe.

I attempted to go to Westminster Abbey on Thursday, but the queue was an hour long and there was a sign saying no large backpacks, so I just hung around in the sunshine, had some lunch and got the bus home.

I also squeezed in dinner with university friend Burhan and school friend Sarah. Burhan reminded me we've known each other nearly half our lives, which made me feel old, but Sarah and I concluded that we could have said the same at the age of 10 (having met when we were 5) so it's clearly not an indication of age.

I spent Friday at school, Doing All The Things, and went knitting today. I am almost ready to go back to work. Almost.

Some more about the Tudors, of course, with all the touring. They get everywhere.

Of the new Penguin monarch biographies. There was an epic display of them in the Piccadilly Waterstones. I tweeted about it and acclaimed historian Helen Castor tweeted back, followed me and we had a conversation. Amazing.

Some good London haunts: I had breakfast at Balthazar on Covent Garden, which is undoubtedly a tourist trap but served lovely eggs and seemed to be crawling with business people. Sarah and I ate at Champagne Charlie's which has an excellent wine list. I had tawny port for the first time. It was very tasty.

I also went to Fortnum and Mason for the first time and spent far too much in their chocolate department. Had to chuckle at their plastic bag sign. "We don't charge for our plastic bags as their composition means they are not considered disposable." They feel pretty plastic to me. Pretty sure that's just code for, "We're the Queen's grocer so you can do one."

On Friday night I made turkey tetrazzini for dinner, from this recipe. Considering how ordinary the ingredients are, it was surprisingly tasty. I didn't have any parmesan or cream cheese, so I substituted with iberico and le roule, thus using up almost the last of the Christmas cheese. Go me.

Entertained by:
I've been trying to read Fire and Fury which I picked up on the way to skiing, but it's not very well written and I can't get into it. I've also been trying to read Talking to my Daughter about the Economy, by Yanis Varoufakis, which was supposed to be my book club Easter read (I picked book club as my wellbeing activity for inset day because they cancelled Airhop), but it might be a bit simplistic because I can't get into that either.

The book winner of the week is Why I'm not longer talking to white people about race, by Reni Eddo-Lodge. Here's an extract. It's very readable and is giving me a better understanding of the struggles my students face. It is also making me think about privilege in all its forms.

It's been a relaxing week off and I feel rested, but I can't help but feel a sense of foreboding about the next few months. Big, big work to do, and lots of it. I tried to cheer myself up by booking a summer holiday with Mr Z, but it just creates a deadline where there was not previously one.

Ah well. Let's get the hatches battened. Onwards.