World's Fair

O.K. It’s been a while since I last posted, but I do have a good excuse. I’ve been on the road with my family for the past 5 weeks, and have just settled in London. I’m here because I am about to start a half year sabbatical, and to give you a sense of where I’m working, here are a few picture hints (note that it’s not, as my Son thought for a while, Hogwarts).

Here’s the “foyer” (img link):

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Here are a few of my “office” buddies, just down the hall (well, several halls actually). (img link)

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And it’s also a place where I can have a chat with Charles Darwin himself (he’s in the white chair). (img link)

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In case you haven’t guess the answer yet, I’m doing a sabbatical at London’s Natural History Museum. Right now, I’m meeting all sorts of people to see if there are projects I can help out with, as well as dabble a little in my own biodiversity project brought from home (the PHYLO project). I’m also in a “writing” kind of mood, so am looking for ideas (let me know if you have any worth following up on – especially if it relates to biodiversity).

Anyway, even though I’ve just started, my family and I have already been in the UK for about 3 weeks traveling and taking in the sights of various cities. From these travels (which included places like Bath, Stratford Upon Avon, Canterbury, Snowdon), I’ve noted a few things and here is a short list of things observed.

1. That there are a lot of churches and cathedrals in England. Some interesting questions from my kids have arisen from this fact. Such as when Hannah saw a crucifix and asked: “What is the matter with THAT guy?”

2. That there is no unfunny way for a Canadian to say “Swift ‘Alf” with a British accent (a swift half is half a pint).

3. Cheddar cheese is WAY better here.

4. But not on everything. Case in point – a packet of ramen noodles actually had this suggest serving tip. “When noodles are cooked, place on toast, add grated cheese and chunks of ham, then grill until it is gooey delicious.” (Truly, I am at a lost for words).

5. Them English folk drive fast. Plus, when you’re on those tiny country roads with 6 to 7 foot hedges all around, the experience is not unlike the bike scene from Star Wars Return of the Jedi.

6. With a B&B visitation schedule that involved 6 out of 7 straight days, I can say with certainty, that it will be a long time before I can even look at an English Breakfast. Even thinking about it is making me gag a little.

7. People look at me funny when I bring my own mug to the coffee shop. But on the bright side, people don’t look at me funny when I add a ton of sugar (I like my coffee sweet).

8. And finally: I’m working on a hypothesis that when a Canadian Scienceblogger moves to England, a significant chunk of scienceblogs self implodes. Probably just correlative, but you never know (still not sure what has transpired, but will probably be catching up over the next few weeks).

Comments

  1. #1 Doctorjedi
    July 27, 2010

    As someone who has been living in england for almost seven years, I cannot conceive how u can say such things about the english breakfast. To enjoy a true english breakfast, you have to start preperations from the previous night. As in u need atleast 5-6 pints inside of you before you can truly enjoy the english breakfast the next morning.

    You are welcome

  2. #2 stripey_cat
    July 27, 2010

    Full fry-ups are also very appealing when you’re going to be out walking or similar all day, and lunch is a mysterious beast no-one sees. And then another fry-up for supper when you get in. With plenty of decent bitter (served at cellar temperature, not chilled hard).

  3. #3 Gray Gaffer
    July 27, 2010

    As a youngster living in London, I used to spend a lot of time at the Nat His and Sci Museums. Can you check something out for me – somewhere up on the 4th floor (?) of the Science Museum there is a passageway through to the Nat His Museum. Is it still open? There (used to be)/(is) no sign for it, I found it just by random walks.

    If they are still being held, go attend a Faraday Lecture at the Royal Society. It was at one of those I saw brilliant demos of liquid N and O doing nasty things to innocent aluminum rings and cotton. Amongst other fun and memorable stuff. Nothing like really doing things to get their viscerality.

    Breakfast. Ah, the memories! But beware, Brit food can be very tasty but is so easy to mess up it usually is. And if you like real Cheddar, try real Cheshire too. With Branston Pickle. Ploughman’s Lunch at a good pub. Do not, ever, eat heated/’melted’ english cheese, except in a fondue made by a master chef.

  4. #4 Gray Gaffer
    July 27, 2010

    Talking about strange stuff on stuff – try a sandwich made with Golden Shred orange Marmalade spread over Cheddar cheese. Not toasted.

    You may also be surprised to discover you like Marmite. Or not.

  5. #5 David Ng
    July 28, 2010

    Will have to try the “pints the night before” strategy, and for the record – Marmite is already in the kitchen cupboard!

  6. #6 Andrew Dodds
    July 28, 2010

    My daily commute involves those single track country lanes. You can tell when other experienced drivers are coming the other way, because you can mutually adjust your speeds to arrive at a passing place at the same time. This maximizes fuel economy by minimizing braking, with the additional benefit of scaring the living daylights out of any passengers. Especially passengers who are used to roads wide enough for two cars.

  7. #7 Chrisj
    July 30, 2010

    Gaffer: They closed off the passage when they started charging for entrance to the museums a few years ago. I suspect (but don’t know for sure) that it wasn’t reopened when free entry reappeared more recently – I’ve not had a chance to investigate!

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