It started off a little cloudy but it turned out to be a great day! We met for breakfast and a class discussion in Russell Square. Dr. Firenze read from the beginning of Bleak House to help paint a picture (Dickens style) of Victorian London:
“London. Michaelmas Term lately over, and the Lord Chancellor sitting in Lincoln’s Inn Hall. Implacable November weather. As much mud in the streets as if the waters had but newly retired from the face of the earth, and it would not be wonderful to meet a Megalosaurus, forty feet long or so, waddling like an elephantine lizard up Holborn Hill. Smoke lowering down from chimney-pots, making a soft black drizzle, with flakes of soot in it as big as full-grown snow-flakes — gone into mourning, one might imagine, for the death of the sun. Dogs, undistinguishable in mire. Horses, scarcely better; splashed to their very blinkers. Foot passengers, jostling one another’s umbrellas in a general infection of ill-temper, and losing their foot-hold at street-corners, where tens of thousands of other foot passengers have been slipping and sliding since the day broke (if the day ever broke), adding new deposits to the crust upon crust of mud, sticking at those points tenaciously to the pavement, and accumulating at compound interest.”
Lucky for us, the sun came out and “our” London is not quite so muddy as the one Dickens described. After that we took the tube to the British Museum of Natural History. We had a private behind the scenes tour of the Darwin Center. We visited the “Spirit Room” and saw some of the many specimens in the museum’s collection. We also saw some type specimens collected by Charles Darwin himself. After our time at the museum we went to Borough Market for lunch…everything from grilled cheese to goat’s milk ice cream to a vegan bacon cheeseburger! We then had a bit of free time this afternoon to give everyone a chance to check out some other things in London that we will not see as part of our class. One group went to Kew Gardens, another to the Tower of London, and others visited some other local attractions. Tomorrow is another busy day for us with a walking tour and a performance of Hamlet at Shakespeare’s Globe. We hope the weather cooperates. Right now there is a lot of rain in the forecast. Good night from London!