Travel

london • wellcome collection & british library

Last London post today, guys!! I know online content creation (not that I’m a ~content creator~* trying to be the next Chiara Ferragni or anything, but like…are we not all content creators on the interwebz?) focuses so much on speed and getting shit out immediately, so I feel a bit guilty for taking so long to finish this/do this. But I read an article from the New York Times where the author consumed his news through print newspapers rather than, say, Facebook or the News app on his phone, and it got me thinking that perhaps speed is not of the utmost importance. Sitting here and looking at these London photos a year later allows me some more thought and care with these posts, in a way that I think could easily be lost if I were rushing to meet a deadline – especially because this is a hobby blog and not a business blog. My point, I guess, is that I feel gross for dragging out my London posts, but maybe I shouldn’t; maybe it’s actually a good thing..?

But I digress! Today we are heading to two more museums: the Wellcome Collection (a science museum, but, ah, how do I say this – a cooler one than regular science museums, like Regina George’s cool mom) and the British Library (not technically a museum, but like, I didn’t go there to borrow books, I went there to stare at the Magna Carta).

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So this is the Wellcome Collection, so-called because it’s Henry Wellcome’s collection of stuff. He was a 19th century pharmaceutical entrepreneur and a big collector of medical artifacts and artwork. The Wellcome Collection explores the connection between medicine, science, art, and life, and is thus a hell of a lot more interesting for someone like me, who gets a bit bored and confused walking through all the engines or pendulums or whatever at the Science Museum.

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Take this one! It’s the human genome printed into books, filling up a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf. Presented like this, it’s a really powerful way to have someone understand the sheer length and scope of our genome, the work that had to go into figuring it out, etc etc etc. If someone told me that the human genome is made up of 3,234.83 mega-basepairs per haploid, 6,469.66 mega-basepairs per diploid, I would not even come close to comprehending that.

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The back wall you can see behind the tilted red cuboid (more on that in a bit) is comprised of little slots for notecards. The tables have colored pencils and notecards that you can use to add to that wall! The notecards prompt you with a word bank and some details about your name, age, and where you’re from, so you have a bit of guidance. I think I picked the word “woman” and drew a bunch of ladiez and wrote some feminist quote and put it up there.

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This is the reading room upstairs. There are bits and bobs to look at, books to read, interactive things (like a touch-screen showing the human body), tables to sit at with your laptop if you’re so inclined, comfy chairs to sit on, and they have a lot of events here, too! When my family went, there was a crafting event going on where you could make a human organ out of, like, felt and sequins, and you could make that into a brooch or just keep it as is. SO UP MY ALLEY, Y’ALL!! I made an anatomically correct heart and my mom made an eyeball, I think. The volunteer leading it told us that they have something like that just about every week! Such a great way to go out and have an activity that doesn’t cost any money in expensive London.

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Oh, and they mail postcards for free here!! They have a selection of postcards and a little mailbox which they will supposedly post for you, free of charge, to anywhere in the world. My brother and I were super skeptical about this claim, lol, but we mailed a postcard to our address in the US and sure enough, it got here. (I don’t know what happened to the post cards I mailed to friends in SoCal or Turkey, though. So may be hit or miss.)

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My dad worked a few streets away from these food stalls, so he came here to eat all the time and they’re all so good with a great variety of food, from Indian to Korean to Japanese and whatnot. It’s on the intersection of Tottenham Court Road and Torrington Place, opposite the Habitat furniture store and a Costa coffeeshop.

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This was my dad’s favorite stall and my recommendation for this place – they serve fish and coffee/baked goods. It is so. good. And that means a lot coming from me, because I hate 99% of all the fish I consume. The first time my dad and my brother took me here I was reluctant to try it and I whined and moaned about it, “Can’t I get pasta from the Italian store? I don’t even like fish, I know I’ll dislike this, what’s the point in spending £7 on something I already know I won’t like?”, and then I took a bite and I was annoyed that all my whinging was for naught, lol. They were like, “So? Do you like it?” And I was like “….Yes. BUT I’M NOT HAPPY ABOUT IT!”

Point is, they’re very good. I think we got the bass (I don’t even know fish names, y’all, but it was the white fish) and then you can customize the sauce you get with it. I always went with Teriyaki, my mom would get no sauce, and my dad and brother would get the spicy hot sauce. On nice weather days it’s nice to sit there or walk to a nearby square or park to eat, but on rainy days like this you kind of need to just stuff it under your jacket and run for shelter before digging in.

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OK, this is one of those things that I really, intensely enjoy in a way that I’m not sure if other people do too – regular stores in different countries! The big tourist attractions are good and all, but going to Tesco or Waterstone’s or Costa instead of Target or Barnes & Noble’s or Peet’s is so interesting to me. It’s an entirely different way of seeing the foreign culture, because the ~locals~* probably don’t go to Times Square or the Eiffel Tower but they definitely buy groceries and coffee, you know what I mean?

Anyway, Waterstone’s is a bookstore and it’s amazing because 1) bookstore and 2) bookstore. The Gower Street location always seemed to have events going on featuring authors and book clubs or whatever else and I wish I had made it out to one of them. Yet another perk of living in a city – so many things going on! So many cool people going to read their book to you!

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AND HERE, the British Library!! I don’t read many books nowadays (I don’t make time for it, and I hate when people are like “oh I simply am too busy and don’t have the time!” because, like, no, you probably have time, you’re choosing not to spend that time on books) but I still really love books and libraries and the written word and all that. The British Library is a sight to behold if you like books; a pilgrimage, of sorts.

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The library features a gift store (museum gift shops! Always the best), a few cafés and restaurants, desks and seats at which you can work, private reading rooms for research that you need a library card to access, and a room displaying their most prized pieces. The ‘Treasures of the British Library’ collection is always on and always free and it hosts shit like original compositions from Mozart and The Beatles, the Magna Carta, Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks, and more! Not to sound like an infomercial or anything, but THERE’S EVEN MORE!! The Library has a full calendar of events, many of which are free and many of which are so cool it’d be worth paying the ££ to see a master mapmaker or whatever teach you about maps.

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The places to work and study are so nice, but I’m constantly baffled at how you actually acquire a seat. It’s always so packed, so you’d have to get there as soon as the library opens or prowl around waiting for a spot to open up and then pounce on that shit like nobody’s business. I think I’ve been able to get a seat once out of twenty visits, and it did feel very inspirational – I’m working in the hallowed halls of the British Library, a sanctuary for books and art and everything I love!! But also I’m very drained from the act of acquiring this seat, lol.

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OK, that is the end of my London photos! It really has been a year since these photos were taken, since I left in June of 2017, which feels wild. What a time that was. So full of great museums and expensive food and a lot of depressed crying in bed.

As always, thanks for reading, fronds 🙂

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