clocks form the British Museum

So one of the many many museums that Kate and I went to was the British Museum. It was almost an afterthought. I knew it was full of treasure but we’d been to a lot of great “stuff in jars” museums and had eaten a lot of food and were feeling pretty pleased with everything but we were done with the Wellcome’s amazing reading room and Forensics Exhibit (it’s like they’d known we were coming) and had some extra time. And speaking of time, the little brochure that you get when you enter the museum suggests some places you can go to chill out if the museum is crowdy and a little suffocating, places that are … less popular. One of these places was the clock and time exhibit. Which … what? It was the best thing! There is something about being in a room full of timepieces that just makes me all shivery and delighted.

So that was the end of the trip. The beginning was the Club Class upgrade as I’d mentioned. In-between we kept a little list of places we’d been. Here is that list with some annotations. Here is a set of 90 photos of the trip, somewhat representative, except for most of the museums.

  • TESCO – the place we were staying was right near a giant supermarket. We went there often.
  • Bloomsbury (Lamb Pub) – met up with my friend Deb and her friends as they were on their way to a conference in Manchester.
  • St Paul’s Cathedral – accidentally walked in right before an evening choral recital, lovely
  • Crystal Palace – no palace is there anymore but it’s a great post-apocalyptic seeming big empty space in the middle of London.
  • Crystal Palace Dinosaurs – worth it! Thanks TimeOut London for the suggestion
  • Tube – love it
  • Overground – love it
  • Horniman Museum & Gardens – sort of a fusty old “things in glass cases” place but had a wonderful garden area and we enjoyed looking at bad taxidermy
  • Hunterian Museum at RCS – very best things in jars museum. I am so sorry there were no photos allowed
  • RCS Library – lovely, did not look super busy.
  • Canada Water Library – this was right near us and a good place to get internet before we got our phones hooked up
  • Soane’s Museum – everyone suggested this, it was a good suggestion
  • Operating Theater Museum and Herb Garrett – possibly the only museum we paid for, but totally worth it for being weird and quirky (and photos allowed!)
  • Victoria and Albert Museum (& Cafe) – Very nice museum, very nice cafe.
  • Spitalfields (Water Poet) – funky neighborhood with crazy packed bar to start off the MeFi Meetup
  • Shoreditch – where we wound up for dinner at an Indian place that was terrific
  • Art Gallery thing – Jan ran into a friend in the street wo had just come out of a gallery and told us to pop in. We did, it was … interesting.
  • British Museum (& Cafe) – more museums! More cafes! More clocks!
  • Wellcome Collection & Forensic Exhibit – totally up Kate’s alley and I enjoyed it as well. It’s nice to go to an exhibit that you feel like you know something about “Hey, the body farm!”
  • Wellcome Reading Room – the best reading room I’ve been in, hands down, ever.
  • Emirates Air Line (Gondola) – a much better deal than the London Eye and with a view that was pretty excellent
  • Picadilly Circus – wandered in here by accident one evening after dinner and showed up just in time to see Critical Mass ride through, totally charming

I’m still a bit laid out with sinus crud but very happy to have been away and very happy to be home.

empty! full!


Sometimes I think I have a tapeworm, eating like I do. This weekend I helped cook a 5 lb. hunk of lamb, went out for BBQ at Blue Ribbon BBQ and wrapped it all up with a carne asada burrito. It was a delicious meaty weekend which is just what I tend to be looking for at about this time in February. The flip side to this is that I spent the rest of the weekend running up and down stairs carrying heavy objects.

My sister is moving in a few short weeks. I’m that friend who will always help you move. I’m not so great at being the second person hefting the hide-a-bed, but I’m really great at taking whatever shamehole you have been putting off dealing with and turning it into a few labeled boxfulls and a bag of trash. I’m often modest about most of my abilities but I think I excel at this. This weekend I helped deal with Mount Laundry, the Poison Closet, the dreadful Neglected Closet and a few other miscellaneous spaces. Each time I managed to empty something out — I put aside the ticking timer when Kate had a rather strong reaction to the ticking sound, I find its urgency a little motivating — I put a sticker on it as shown above. Apparently the stickers are a little tough to remove, sorry about that.

I drove home to Vermont today with a car full of stuff. One of the magical qualities of my car is that things placed into the back of it simply … disappear. This is good for people who need to get rid of clothes or old computers. This time my sisters’ disappearing stuff is actually mostly winding up in my house. I took home a few bags of clothes (seriously doubling the bulk of my everyday wardrobe), a fold up spare bed, a few things to eBay, a fruity teacup with my birth month on it, a typing table with a little lamp on it, some placemats, some bubblegum and a great big bookshelf. People keep talking about the recession and I know it’s true objectively, but it’s been a bountiful few months for me.

Happy Birthday Kate

We touched it!

It’s my sister Kate’s birthday today. I was thinking yesterday “Oh I should invite her up sometime…” and I had completely forgotten that we had spent TWO WHOLE WEEKS together about two weeks ago. She’s a fun companion. She’s a loyal friend. She’s a snappy dresser. She has a great sense of humor. She’s the city mouse to my country mouse and it’s fun to have her around, or be around her generally. Happy birthday Kate, I hope it’s a good one!

Aussie details – nitty gritty boring to all but the most OCD

So, I’m getting to the point that I can reliably wake up before noon and this makes me happy. I wasn’t always able to do this before I left even, so there is improvement. I like to keep track of minute details of my trips. The good news is that Kate does too. This is just one more reason we are great travelling companions. We have a color-coded Excel spreadsheet of all of our trip expenses. I’d offer to email it to you, but I think Kate may not want people to know how much she spent on her Koala Glamour Shot.

I know that a lot of people dont go to Australia because it’s spendy and time-consuming to even get there, but I figured I’d toss out some numbers about our trip in case they help anyone think that a trip like this would be within their reach. Really, you should do it. Some things were expensive, relatively speaking, in Australia: internet, fancy coffee, soda; many other things weren’t: lodging, library cards and food.

I booked the whole trip via It turned out to be cheaper for the sort of trip we were taking [flying into one Australian city and flying out of another] to fly out of Boston and back into Manchester New Hampshire. The tickets were $1800 each. Not chump change, but in a dollars-per-mile, not crazy either. We flew the overseas part of the trip via Qantas who is really the only airline I would consider making that trip with, though I have heard that Air New Zealand is also sort of great. They gave us socks, toothbrushes, late-night cocoa, early morning apples, popsicles and just generally didn’t act like they were going broke just ferrying us around which is how I feel when I usually fly US airlines. You can’t pick your seats beforehand though, which is nervewracking. However, I mentioned that I have tinnitus and really wanted to be far from the engine noise and both times we wound up seated together someplace nice.

My inside-the-country tickets were purchased online direct from Virgin Blue while they were having a sale. We got from Perth to Adelaide and then from Melbourne to Sydney for something like $500 US for both of us. This includes the fact that I mistakenly booked one of the flights a month early and had to change my reservations (which I could do online, simply and easily). All of my travel was reimbursed by the people I was working for which was nice. However, they paid me via wire transfers which all wound up $25 under due to fees (I realized this once I got home) leaving me $50 under for the trip. Annoying, but how do you fix that? The exchange rate is about 80 cents US to $1 AUS.

We stayed various ways and places. One of the groups put us up in the Hilton early on, then we stayed with a friend, then we stayed in caravan parks and hotels on the road trip, then we stayed at a YWCA Hotel in Sydney. Quality and prices varied a lot, but we found that we could find a nice place that slept three for between $90-120 US. Of course internet would cost anywhere from $30AUS/day to $10AUS/hour to not being available at all. New amazing discovery was which is a powerful search engine for finding last minute deals. When we were in a jam we actually used it to make Sunday night reservations at 9:30 pm on that same night and it worked great.

My biggest non-usual expense was postcard and stamps and internet. Kate paid more for birthday presents for our Mom and the aforementioned Koala shot, but all told, I think I spent less than $50/day, total and Kate spent even less. We got some holiday money from our folks which allayed some of that, and stayed with friends and travelled cheaply, but we didn’t share rooms with backpackers we didn’t know, and didn’t eat rice and beans for any meals.

The bigger expense is really the time. It was 30+ hours from door to door both ways. On the way there it was more like 38 for me because I took a bus to get to the airport. I’m never one of those people who says “well my time is valuable!” when people want help or when meeting runs long. On the other hand, you really have to be ready to hunker down and wait for a trip like this. The major part too is the week after wuzzy-headedness that is just now starting to really go away for me. I’m going to sleep before sunrise now but it took a while for that to really work. Here are a few other notes and numbers from the trip.

Number of new library cards: 2
Number of credit cards blocked because I used them in Australia: 2 (aka all of them)
Number of bags I brought: 2 (same as in November)
Boxes of chocolate I was given: 2
Number of MetaFilter meetups I went to: 2
Number of librarian get-togethers I went to: 3
Number of libraries I went to: 8-10 (do rest stop libraries count?)
Tins of syrup I brought with me: 3
Number that were tasted by the customs guy: 1