Saturday, May 17, 2014

The V&A Museum of Childhood

I find that my pace of life here is different.  Part of it is that it's summer, so we don't have as many appointments and obligations, and part of it is that we're in a new city without our old routines.  We've both discovered that we're more productive at the BL than we were with our academic work back home.  And it's an amazing feeling to be tied to a library for one's work, the way I am this summer - with few exceptions for tasks like organizing my notes or looking up the next day's books in the online catalog, I can't bring my work home with me.  The BL doesn't let you check books out; when I leave for the day, my work is done too.  That's a rare feeling for an academic, because our work lives have a tendency to spill out into the rest of our lives too.

Consequently, when I'm not there working, the pace of my life is a lot slower.  I'm not guilty over not continuing to work.  I don't have rehearsals, and I don't have music to learn (a bummer, true - I'm really going to miss singing this summer).  It doesn't stress me out that my daily commute is nearly an hour in each direction, because that time on a train isn't eating up valuable work time.  The BL doesn't even open until fairly late in the morning, and we arrive even later than its opening time of 9:30 am because we wait until after peak hours on the underground to start our commute.  So we have slow mornings, and I have plenty of time to wash dishes by hand (there's no dishwasher in this flat) and fold laundry (a constant task, because the washing machine also dries but as a result only does really tiny loads at a time).  We spend evenings seeing bits of London or watching television together (or often, both).  And if this weekend is any indication, our weekends this summer will be fairly slow-paced too.  It's very restful (which is important, because London is not a restful city!)

This morning, all we really did was our trip to the grocery store.  It's quite a production - we walk a few blocks to the underground station, then take it just to the next stop, across the Thames.  A few blocks on that end and there's the grocery store, and we have to be careful about our purchases because we have to carry all of them back with us.  Thus grocery shopping takes a lot of time - but it's glorious because we HAVE that time and can afford to spend it to do routine tasks like this.  This morning, we even passed a small produce market on the street, and we stopped on our return to the tube station to buy some bananas and mushrooms.

In case you're wondering: English cheddar cheese is awesome; English milk and London tap water both taste different, but I'll get used to it; it's really sad not to have our pantry with its baking supplies and spices, because we're not really equipped here to make even our normal repertoire of homemade bread (him) and scones (me).

In the afternoon, we waffled about which museum we wanted to visit before deciding on the V&A's (that's Victoria and Albert) Museum of Childhood because it currently has a cool exhibit of diaries throughout the ages that we didn't want to miss.  We both had a lot of fun examining all the displays of toys, oohing and aahing over cool toys we didn't have growing up and swapping stories about the ones we did experience.

I totally had one of these

Husband said he loved Paddington Bear even more than Winnie the Pooh when he was growing up

Of course we found the sci-fi cabinet!

I had to take a photo of Dogtanian for a dear friend!

Midway through our visit, we stopped for smoothies and a cookie at their little cafe in the middle of the building.
We thought the museum had a neat railway station vibe to it.

These are some of the diaries from their exhibit, "The Great Diary Project."  This collection goes all the way back to diaries of the eighteenth century...and though the specifics are different, it was fascinating to see how young people have maintained a lot of the same concerns.


  1. I am loving living vicariously through your UK adventures. And by adventures, I mean all the minutiae of daily life. Sure the V&A is wonderful--one of my favorite places in London--but I love to hear about your housekeeping details even more. Once you have exhausted the V&A, and if you are ever over near the Royal Academy of Music or Wigmore Hall, check out the Wallace Collection over near Marleybone High Street. It is well off the tourist beaten path but not too far off the literal path. I think I have already suggested some of this to you so forgive my repetition if I have.

    1. That's sweet of you. And thank you for the recommendations! You may have mentioned them before, but now that we're here it's really nice to be reminded. There's so much to do here in London that it's wonderful to have a friend who has experienced London before help narrow the options down. I can't wait to see the music things (especially being a musician myself!) I'm just bummed that so many of the concerts I'd love to see (Dido and Aeneas!) are outside our budget.