28 June 2013

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, Unexpected

I was surprised how much I thoroughly enjoyed visiting
the Globe Theatre in London
(yep, even in the rain)

The theatre was exactly how I imagined
- in the round with an open-air thatched roof -

They are a little leery of thatched roofs in London
since much of the city burned down in 1666
due to those highly flammable sedge, straw or reed roofs
Therefore, the Globe has the only thatched roof in London today

The Globe is a modern reconstruction of the original theatre
which burned in 1613 due to a rogue ember
from a cannon used in the play 'Henry VIII'
Miraculously, no one died although the theatre was full

The current theatre opened in 1997

As the theatre is outdoors, performances run April through October
You can buy £5 standing tickets in the 'yard' or pricier seated ones
(standing tickets are uncovered)

We saw 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'
and it was utterly fantastic!!
The actors were hilarious and talked so comfortably in Shakespeare's English
that I understood the majority of it

I now understand why they say Shakespeare should be seen rather than read

We toured the Shakespeare exhibit
which demonstrated typical Elizabethan clothes,
including the corset and 'bum roll' to make hips look attractively larger
- think exaggerated muffin top :) -

It was fascinating to learn more about the printing press of the time

When the printer guy miscalculated how many lines fit onto a page,
he omitted punctuation, letters, sentences, and stage instructions
to make the text fit the page

To think of the changes of meaning due to the printing process!

There also were some 'bootlegged' copies of Shakespeare's work
which cause scholarly dispute as to which versions are the originals

In the photo, see the wooden cases on the left holding the block letters?
Capitalized letters were held in the 'upper case'
Lower case letters were organized in the 'lower case'
That's how those terms came to be

Ink was made from a mixture of walnut oil, soot, and turpentine

Moving on, we also toured The Rose Theatre

This theatre also made a huge impression on me

Although it doesn't look like much,
it is an archaeological site

When it was partially excavated, 
they started to notice the wooden beams were starting to crack

So as excavation funds dried up,
they decided to flood the site with water to preserve it from more damage

The water is constantly monitored

The red lights are in the water and 
indicate where the structure walls are located
Otherwise, the room is black except for a few lit placards

Totally unexpected

Also unexpected,
my daughter wanted to pick up a few Shakespeare books
in the library

via Amazon

I love how literature is so kid-friendly here

My last 'Great Un-Expectations' was this guy singing
at low-tide on the River Thames
- I've never seen that before -

As there was no hat nearby to drop money,
I imagine he was just doing it because he could

He'd make an interesting Shakespearean character :)
Perhaps thou art a Romeo with thy modern lute?

- photos by me -

*Although the performances are seasonal, the tour/exhibition is available all year. If you visit during the performance season, take a tour in the morning so you can see the theatre. Tour tickets can be purchased at the door, but buy performance tickets well in advance. For more info: www.shakespearesglobe.com

(An unsponsored post)

21 June 2013

I Spy

...the unusual and blooming Handkerchief Tree
(Davidia involucrata)

Ahhh, just loving summertime

- photo by me -

15 June 2013

Charles Darwin's Home

A few months ago
I visited Charles Darwin's home

You know when you learn so much
that you need to put the information
through a sieve to see what gives the biggest impression?

While walking in the footsteps of such an iconic scientist,
here's a few things I took away from my visit

1) Charles's father didn't want him to go on the Beagle voyage
out of parental fear of the unknown
(who can blame him?)

But look at what was accomplished by Mr Evolution

2) Charles had boundless curiosity,
including a passion for studying barnacles and earthworms
(who knew?)

While he was studying earthworms and plants at home,
his wife insisted she have a proper flower garden
that he had to leave alone

3) When Darwin received a particular Madagascar orchid from a friend,
Darwin predicted that there must be an unusual moth with a proboscis 14'' long to pollinate it

Sure enough, the Hawk Moth was discovered forty-one years later
- aka Xanthopan morganii praedicta ('praedicta' since Darwin predicted it) -
and is the sole pollinator of the orchid Agraecum sesquipedale

4) Darwin knew his theory of evolution would be very controversial
and kept his theory a secret 
until another naturalist formed the same idea

5) Darwin had 10 children 
and he was unwell much of the time
(possibly due to an illness he picked up on his travels)

Most of his children survived childhood 
and became quite successful in a variety of careers
(his grandmother was from the porcelain Wedgewood family)

I loved visiting Down House in Kent, where Darwin raised his family,
wrote, and conducted experiments and observations

Although I would not recommend it for younger children per se,
the inner child in you will connect with Darwin's youthful curiosity and energy
and appreciate his life story

- photos by me -
Visitor information: English Heritage
(an unsponsored post)

09 June 2013

Yellow Country Lanes

Right now
you may get lucky and find yourself driving by a field of rapeseed
in England

Like anticipating each holiday,
I always look forward to seeing this crop
before it is harvested for its vegetable oil
(known as Canola in North America)

Here is what it looks like from an airplane

Hello, 'yellow brick road'...

The word 'rape' in rapeseed comes from the Latin word 'rapum' meaning turnip
Turnips are in the Brassica family, along with cabbage, Brussels sprouts, rapeseed,
and mustard (which resembles rapeseed)

While fragrance is not rapeseed's forte,
visually, it will knock your socks off when growing en masse

Although there is no indication as such,
I've wondered if English singer-songwriter Sting was thinking of rapeseed
when he sang 'when we walked in fields of gold'

Sting, feel free to drop me a line to confirm :)

- photos by me -

02 June 2013

In Bloom

My camera was very busy last month for
we had three months of blooming crushed into just one month
due to the third coldest Spring on record

From camellias to primroses,
daffodils to tulips,

from rhododendrons to rapeseed fields,
bluebells to buttercups
- typically, each slowly savored -

Nature has been playing a game of 'catch up'...

providing an unusual display 
of overlapping blossoms
within the last 31 days

England is now humming with life
and has pretty much caught up with the season

The month of June enters
with its crazy long days of sunlight,
lavender and roses on the cusp of blooming

Ah, the adventures of living on a garden island...
Joy :)

- all photos by me -