The Barbican Center

It’s worth a visit.

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London, England. October 2014.

Whether you are a visitor or a new resident of London, if you have any interest in the arts, The Barbican is one place to look into. This venue deals in the art and cultural industries, including theater, film, and music, along with a full calendar of events.

With their user friendly website, you can easily pick events that are relevant to your interests and buy your tickets with no hassle. Whether you are looking for entertainment for a few people or looking at a group event, this site is a great place to get together with people and enjoy yourself.

Location-wise, the Barbican is really easy to get to walking, biking, driving, or using public transport, and the best ways to get there are listed on the website. If you wanted more exposure to art than this site offers, The Museum of London is a quick walk away, making both locations an easy and enjoyable day-trip in the city.

The Barbican houses not only entertainment but three in-house restaurants for visitors’ convenience as well as other establishments in the surrounding areas.

While most things at the Barbican are not free, you should look at the price sections for the deals you can find. Prices vary from event to event as well as for students, age groups, and for various membership groups.

If you are age 16-25, you can sign up for a FREE Young Barbican membership with reduced prices for most events between 5-15 pounds and admits a friend for the same price, including the waved booking fee. Signing up is easy and quick and saves you a lot. One membership and you can go to the cinema for 5 pound—that’s cheaper than any rate I’ve found elsewhere, and it’s a quality deal for a quality experience.

I truly recommend looking at all the deals and events here. London is a place that is filled with chances to experience arts and culture and the Barbican is one of the great places you can go to experience these ventures.

So go on and have fun! Next week, we’ll be talking holidays, but until then,

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

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The Barbican Center

It’s Cold, It’s Wet, It’s London…

Yes, this is a post about the weather.

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A Nicer Day. Kensington Palace Garden, London, England. October, 2014.

On a morning that wasn’t just wet but pouring (the walk from the bus into the tube station we were meeting in wasn’t far but I was more than happy to have a hot to save my face—my pant legs were less lucky….), a friend I was meeting for tea asked me, ‘What is the leading topic of conversation in the UK?’

The answer isn’t hard: The Weather.

One of the interesting things I’ve found living in London these first  couple of months is that the weather is crazy (which I knew going in), but it’s also practically a past time. In some ways, this is a lot like Los Angeles. We also get a kick out of talking about the weather; there, it’s because of how perfect it generally is. That’s what I find interesting about the topic in London. It’s more than just small talk that can be tuned out, skipped over, or ignored for more interesting small talk: It’s an actual topic.

But I won’t bore you with the details of talking about talking about weather… that was a strange sentence.

Instead, let’s talk about dealing with this weather when it comes along (which is all the time now).

When it’s cold and wet out, whether it’s where you live or when traveling, the practical truth is you don’t really want to do much. There are people everywhere who talk about loving the wet and cold but even those enthusiasts eventually want to just come back inside! (I know quite a few who like it BECAUSE they can just stay inside!)

If you are traveling or living somewhere new like me, however, staying in, while tempting, isn’t really the experience you came out for, is it?

This is a lesson I’ve been learning these past weeks as the London I was expecting suddenly appeared on the horizon. You can unintentionally stay in for days when you don’t have to go out for work or classes or pre-booked appointments, but what is the point of going to a new place if you only see the four walls of your room? Exactly: none.

So what to do?

Invest in layers, a coat, a hat, some boots, and some gloves and go out anyway. Maybe these aren’t days for long walks in the park (though that could be interesting), but there are tons of places to go where you can still see the sites while weathering the weather!

Museums—art, history, science, and a full range of other topics— are generally free, have tons to do and see, (usually) have places to grab food, and are dry. And who knows, on the way home, you can grab some tea or coffee and have a talk about the weather!

Another friend from the states emailed me saying: ‘weather is half the experience’ so go out there and get it while you have the chance, right?

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

It’s Cold, It’s Wet, It’s London…

Guy Fawkes Day and the Cellphone Debacle…

And the week had been going so well.

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Guy Fawkes Fireworks. Picture Credit to my friend, Anna. Southwark Park, London, England. November 2014.

This post was meant to talk exclusively about Guy Fawkes Day and what we did featuring slow motion footage of the fireworks and fire dancers (I discovered the slow motion ability on my iphone), however, that footage was lost when said phone decided it wanted to take a swim this week. In that light, this week will have a split focus.

Let’s start with the more enjoyable half first.

Guy Fawkes Day, for those who don’t know, is a day and/or night of revelry on November 5th that commemorates the foiled attempt of a group of conspirators to blow up Parliament in 1605 (though in a more modern context, some have subverted the meaning to celebrate those who tried to fight the authority). This boils down to a night of bonfires (though these have been outlawed in many areas) and firework shows which can be found all over London and beyond the whole week around the 5th (the real night of celebration is the 5th obviously).

I went to one of the free shows with a group of friends at Southwark Park. Coming from London Bridge was crazy. It’s about a half an hour walk, depending on your speed, which ended up being the best option. However, not knowing this, we took the tube and ended up smashed in with more people than any of those cars should carry (and yes, cars, not carriages if BBC’s Sherlock is to be believed!). So packed in like sardines, we made our way to the park about an hour before the festivities began.

The park was packed with people, booths of food, carnival rides, and fire dancers/performers on stages throughout the park. The food smelled great but, with the length of the lines, we opted to eat later and watched the fire performers who equally thrilled and freaked out my friend and I as they performed stunts that would have had anyone else lit on fire rather that playing with it.

Once the fireworks began, we were amazed. They were perfectly choreographed with the music and, halfway behind the crowd, we still felt directly under the explosions. Anna, who supplied this week’s picture, is a fellow American who agreed that the show, while short, rivaled (if not surpassed) any display found in America on the Fourth of July. The timing of every firework to the chosen music was better than I had ever seen. I don’t know the difference in laws for distance from fireworks at home and here, but it was amazing how close we felt. The only drawback I could see was how quickly it ended. There was never a stop like you’d see in the US between songs (appearing more like scenes), but our shows tend to go on longer or have a pause before we give everything we have to light up the sky for a finale. There was nothing like that here, but it was beautiful.

Once it’s over (again, much more quickly than I expected), you’ll find that despite the warning that exiting right away and all at once will be slow and all together not recommended, that’s exactly what happens. We did not heed the warning, but my advice is to wait. The food booths, rides, and fire dancers are all around and able to be used/ watched after the fireworks end, and if you try to go directly after the show’s finished, you end up packed in a crowd trying to leave the park. It took us half an hour at the least just to exit the park. Then if you’re trying to take the tube back home, you have to remember that many of those people you were just cramped in with are also going to be fighting for a space in the same car as you are to get back home.

Seriously, it’s better to take in the festivities a bit longer until the crowd dies down and then head out.

Like I said, we didn’t wait to leave the park, but we did choose not to endure the tube. Instead, we walked home, which isn’t a bad walk if you are used to walking around the city. Plus, walking down one of the smaller roads as you navigate away from the crowds, we did get to glimpse crowd gathered around an illicit bonfire, making it feel much more like the holiday I’d expected (with a tradition that one doesn’t experience just going to a place like Disneyland or Fourth of July in America).

All in all, it was a great night.

Then, I did something stupid: I dropped my phone in a toilet.

For anyone who has ever done this, it is not too bad if you are in a place where you can take care of the problem right away. But, of course, I wasn’t. I was at school between classes with no way to take the phone apart to dry it out and no access to rice to begin pulling out any moisture right away. I wasn’t even able to get the screen to where I could tell if it was powered down or not.

With all these factors, my phone is fried (I tried to salvage it with rice for 24 hours but it was much too late).

But this is why my family invests in an insurance provider that covers everything including water damage! I mailed my phone home to the US (which is way too expensive for us student types, by the way!), ordered a cheap music player, dug out the old UK phone my friend/boss gave me before I moved out here (this thing is pre-flip phone, just to give you an idea of what I’m working with. If you lose your only phone and are waiting or insurance to get it fixed or replace it, these are cheap emergency pay by month phones you can pick up for your basic phone and texting needs!), and am about to head out to buy a watch and alarm clock.

Because that’s what we don’t think about until we’ve somehow misplaced/lost/destroyed things like our high-tech phones. That phone was my camera, my truly portable computer (both of these features I won’t be replacing before I get my phone back), my alarm clock, my watch, my phone, my map and navigation system, my portable notebook and password keeper, and my music system. That’s a lot to lose in one trip to the bathroom.

But c’est la vie, right? Replace what you can that you can not only afford, but that will still be useful once you do have your new replacement phone and just roll with the punches. For now, I’ll be going old school and doing a whole lot of planning before I leave the house without a quick searching (cellphone) safety net!

Well, I’ve got to go run errands and get ready for a nerdy night of Doctor Who, which I might tell you about next week, but until then,

I’m Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Guy Fawkes Day and the Cellphone Debacle…

Local things to do…

Never seen that in the tour books!

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Science Museum Lates. Science Museum, London, England. October 2014.

Okay, some tour books will give you the skinny on local goings-on, all-year long, but, for the most part, they’re written to give information on how to get from one tourist stop to the next and which ones you just HAVE to visit.

In an earlier post, I talked about how to research local events when traveling (from local blogs or talking to people when you are out and about). This week, I’m focusing on just one of those sources.

This week I learned about (and went to my first) “Museum Lates” at London’s Science Museum. This is an adults only night event that takes place near the end of most months, featuring fun and educational talks, smaller events, and activities that center around the month’s given theme. This month was food and drink and we went to a lecture on whether we wash our hands too much (answer: no; most of us need to wash better and more!) and another on how much what your past-generations’ feeding habits have shaped you (answer: they’re still researching but it looks like a lot.). They also had stationary bikes you could ride which would power a blender to make your own yogurt smoothie and a table of proven “sex food” (go early or there will be no more chocolate!).

All in all, the event was successful (my friends loved that they walked away with containers of free yogurt as a goodie-bag, as well. When you are paying for grad school, we take all the handouts we can get!). Looking back at what was offered and the time we had, however, I’ve got some tips on how to make the most of your time:

  1. Go to the site and download or look at the offered programs, including the time they take place. If you want to go to talks, you’ll quickly discover that your time gets eaten away quickly, so knowing what is offered before you get there (and your “must dos”), will let you see and do everything you really want.
  2. Don’t put things off until the end of the night. When they say that they are ending an event at a specific time, they will end it then. They aren’t posting the time they cut off the cue. I really wanted to make my own yogurt smoothie but they had closed the line because they had to be sure that they’d finish and clean up before closing—no exceptions.
  3. Queue for talks. Don’t show up right at the time the lecture is scheduled to start and expect to get in. Space is limited in almost all the lectures and they give stickers that number the people in line (don’t just have someone save your space!) – once they’re out of stickers, you’re out. They’ll sometimes make an exception, but not for many. You will also probably sit on the floor at some point so think ahead clothing-wise. If they say they’ll be starting the queue in a few minutes, don’t walk away; they’ll probably start sooner than they say they will if people are showing up.
  4. Get to the museum before the start of the Late. There is a queue to get in (this seems like a major British past time, doesn’t it?), but it moved quickly and I haven’t seen people get turned away because of capacity. If you get in the queue early, you get in faster and you can see more of the museum and all the special programs offered.

The Lates get busy but they are great fun, and, with a little pre-planning, you’re sure to see much more.

Did I mention you can buy alcohol? It is, after all, all adults.

And for more upcoming local fanfare, a friend posted this local blog on social media, perfectly timed for this post, so check it out if you’re here in London or planning to be anytime from now to early December. Even if you’re not, it’s a good place to keep your eye on.

Until next week, have a very festive and safe Guy Fawkes Day and week!

Cheers!

I’m Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Local things to do…