Behind on Updates

I know I haven’t updated in a long while…things have been pretty hectic. My internship culminated today in our Open Conservation Day event that I coordinated, and I can honestly say it was a great success. We had 28 people come out to a rural heritage site and they truly enjoyed themselves and learned a great deal from everything we had to offer. Lots of people were saying they appreciated the event, and thought it was really fabulous that they were allowed to go up on the scaffolding with the conservators and look at the wallpaintings up close.

I will write about this and the last few days more at a later time. Tonight I’m exhausted, and mentally preparing myself for the long journey home. Tomorrow I take a morning train to London, and then I have the rest of the day to myself in the city. I’m planning on going to  the National Portrait Gallery and the British Museum…you know…museum graduate student stuff. 🙂

And then I will crash early and get ready for the atrociously long day that will follow starting Sunday morning.

At the moment I’m having very mixed feelings. I got legitimately teary-eyed when I gave Neil and Sarah my thank you preset for housing me these last eight weeks. I gave them a gift certificate to their favorite Indian take-away place here in Glastonbury. I felt it was the least I could do. They’ve been so gracious and so welcoming…the experience wouldn’t have been the same without them.

I’ve gotten rather attached to this place, and were it not so far from my family, I could easily see myself being happy here on my own. But I am also very much looking forward to seeing my family…and my doggy…and then kicking some major butt in my last semester and graduating on-time in December.

For now I say goodnight…



A fairly quiet few days

The last day I updated with Tuesday, which means I have four days to cover. Not much happened in those four days though. Wednesday and Thursday were usual working days in Pewsey, and I got a lot of promotional work done for our event next Friday, along with continuing work on the policy documents. Friday morning I took an 8:10 train from Pewsey to Westbury, and from Westbury to Bristol. I spent the morning and early afternoon in the regional office there, printing things out and getting some things laminated for our Open Day next Friday. Emma, the office manager/administrator there was super nice and took me out to lunch at this indoor market in Bristol called St Nicholas Market, and then gave me a short walking tour of the old parts of Bristol.

Last time I was in Bristol I had just injured my foot that morning, so it was nice not to be limping around the city. However, that said, I definitely need to get the toe checked out when I’m back at UF. It’s still sticking up and if it broke, then it’s healed badly…sigh. After our walking tour and a bit of ice cream I headed out to the bus station and took the bus back to Glastonbury via Wells. Sarah and Neil has taken the kids out for the day, so I went out for dinner on my own at the Hundred Monkeys…and because my student loans have nicely cushioned my bank account, I treated myself to a nice steak. 🙂

Today I slept in, had breakfast with Neil, Sarah and the boys, and then headed out to Wells. I had the intention of staying there for a few hours, but after I made my rounds through the market and spent some time inside the Cathedral, I felt a migraine starting to come on. It’s completely based in all the tension I’m currently carrying in my shoulders…I’m in desperate need of a massage, and I know my mom will take care of that the night I get home. So I went back to Glastonbury, and took a short nap and then a hot shower. The weather today has been rain on and off, sunshine occasionally peeking through the clouds, and a good amount of gusty wind to remind you that summer is pretty much over here.

I have a week left. Tomorrow is a day off, and Monday is a bank holiday, but I’ll be working on computer things most of the day. Monday evening I head back to Pewsey to finish out my work at Inglesham. Tuesday I’ll be at the church, Wednesday is work at “home”, Thursday is prepping for our event and Friday is our Open Conservation Day that I’ve been coordinating. I’ve sent out several promotional emails, and a press release, as well as had it advertised on the CCT Facebook and Twitter pages…so hopefully the turn out will be decent. The event will run from 11:00-2:00pm and then I’ll head back to Glastonbury with Neil for one last night. Saturday morning it’s an early train to London, checking in to my hotel and then visiting the National Portrait Gallery and the British Museum before crashing for an early night. My flight leaves at 10am on Sunday morning, so I’ll be leaving for the airport around 7am, latest. And I’m pretty sure I’m going to splurge and take a taxi from my hotel to the airport, because I have absolutely no desire to drag my suitcase, backpack and second bag on the Tube. I want my return journey to be as stress-free as possible. So if I need to spend £60 on a taxi ride…I will happily do so.

So, that’s pretty much it. Time is running out, and there is work piling up for me in Gainesville. Some of the first things I’ll be doing in Gainesville though, are getting a massage at southwest rec center, and then downing a few margaritas at Mexico Lindo for my birthday with some friends.

Cheerio for now!

My Day at Downton Abbey…I mean, Highclere Castle

Today I went to Highclere Castle, which is better known these days as the main set for Downton Abbey. Admittedly, I would never have known about the castle, if not for the show…and I would venture to say probably 80% of the visitors there today were in the same boat. I would say that overall I had a good experience, but I do have some criticisms of the site and the way it’s set up for visitors. Fair warning, this is a long entry…and there is a lot of venting involved from a slightly angered Museum Studies graduate student. 🙂

Plung below the cut if you dare!

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In the footsteps of Jane Austen – A Day in Bath

Today was one of the best days of this whole journey. I’ve really enjoyed all the places I’ve visited, but Bath is definitely in the top five. For those who want a brief history, open a new tab and check out the comprehensive Wikipedia article here.
I took the bus from Glastonbury to Wells, and then from Wells to Bath. The whole journey took about an hour and twenty minutes, but it was through some pretty great landscape, so I didn’t mind. And the weather was cool enough today, that the bus wasn’t a sweat box like it was when I took the bus to Bristol a few weeks ago.

So I arrived at the bus station in Bath just before noon, and headed toward the center of town through the pedestrian district. The city has a lovely old feel, architecturally, and reminded me a lot of Munich. My first destination was The Roman Baths, which is what the city was named after. The whole temple/bath area has been made into a museum and very much an interactive experience. I would say the majority of the visitors used the free audio guide (probably because it was free…). I actually skipped the audio guide, because I don’t really like them…but the labels were informative enough to understand everything without it.

The visit includes the main Roman bath, several rooms of artifacts, and one very cool interactive wall where the remnants of an old Roman pediment frieze were hung on the wall, and then a projection of what the whole thing would have looked like was superimposed over it periodically…sort of a before and after type thing. And then you finally get down to the ground level of the baths, and you can walk around. Signs tell you not to touch the water. I did. Haha. It’s not like I drank it. Anyway, the whole Roman Bath experience was pretty good, and then I headed to lunch before Bath Abbey was actually closed for a wedding until 2pm.  Here are some pictures of the Roman Baths:

So I went for lunch in The Pump Room which is part of the whole Roman Baths building. It’s a gorgeous space to eat, and I had the butternut/sweet potato soup with some bread, and a pot of tea. They have crystal chandeliers and someone was playing the piano. My waiter was Italian, and I made the mistake of telling him I’d taken one semester of Italian and of course he made me practice. Hah. It was pretty bad. As usual, (like with my German) I understand SO much more than I can actually say. But he was nice and I tipped him well. Here’s a picture of the dining room:

After lunch I headed over to the Abbey, now that the wedding was over. And let me just say…I would kill to get married in a place like that. hahaha. But that’s a long way off anyway. So, Bath Abbey is gorgeous. The real jewel of this Abbey is the East Window, which features 50 stories of the life of Jesus in stained glass. And also the ceiling, which is reminescent of Westminster Abbey, is pretty great as well.

I took many more pictures but they’ll have to wait until I get back to Florida. I walked around the Abbey for a while, made my donation and lit two candles, and then browsed the gift shop before heading out. After the Abbey, I took a walk further up town to the Jane Austen Center. I had every intention of going through the exhibit, but they require you to sit through a twenty minute introductory talk…and a HUGE group of Asian tourists (nothing agaisnt Asians ya’ll), and there was no AC so I decided to just check out the gift shop and then move on. Plus it was already getting later in the day I needed to catch the 4:20 bus home. So I dropped £20 in the gift shop, and then walked further on to The Royal Crescent. This is just an architectural feature of the city where all the rich folks used to stay when they’d come to bathe in the healing waters, but it’s cool to look at.

And then I started slowly making my way back to the bus station. I stopped at a cafe along the way and picked up a pastry and browsed a few nick-nack shops. I stopped and listened to a street musician for about ten minutes, because he was so good. He was a young guy, who played violin, but used (and I don’t know the proper name for the technology haha) some gadget that would record what he played and loop it live, so he would play over his own looping…if that makes sense. Haha. So essentially he would play a base melody, and then another and loop it over each other, and play live over that. It was really great to listen to and I happily threw £2 in his violin case before heading off.

The bus ride back went pretty quickly, and I enjoyed the scenic landscapes out the window. When I got off the bus in Wells I ran across the street to Tesco and got my stuff for dinner and then hopped on the bus to Glastonbury. I met a man on the bus from New Zealand, who asked me which stop to get off at in Glastonbury. I told him to get off at the same stop as me and that I’d give him a quick explanation of where things were. He was very thankful. I told him I’d always wanted to go to New Zealand and said, ” I know you probably get it a lot, but ever since I saw Lord of the Rings I knew I had to go.” And he chuckled and said, “Yeah I was on set for one bit of that. It’s great. Go to Wellington, that’s a great location.” I know it’s not uncommon for Wellington locals to have been involved, because it was such a huge production, but that was still pretty cool. And I’ve found that New Zealanders are really proud of the movies that have been made in their country, where as whenever I talk to an English person about this movie or that movie that was filmed there, they tend to gripe about what an awful adaptation it was…or how horrible Keira Knightely is, or how stupid it was that they cast an American to play an English girl, etc etc. So, I was glad that the New Zealander I met was pleasant. I found out his name was Paul when we got off the bus, and I showed him how to get to the Tor, and where the best food was and then headed home.

I’m having a lovely steak and salad dinner, and then I’m going to watch some TV and crash in bed. Neil and Sarah get back tomorrow and I have to go back to Pewsey in the evening. I’m not really looking forward to that…but it’s all part of the deal I suppose. I have a busy week ahead of me…so the time should go by pretty quickly. Two weeks left! And then back to the real world. 🙂

Cheerio for now!



Retail Therapy

Yesterday was not a productive day. I just couldn’t get my ducks in a row and produce anything…I did absolutely minimal work. In my defense, the renovation workers were making a lot of noise, and there were some terrible fumes from one of them using a heatgun to strip old paint off the molding in a bay window…that gave me a headache and I retreated upstairs into my room. Trouble is, unless I’ve forced myself to sit at a desk, I’m really unproductive.

But I made it  through the day and when they left at 5pm, I made a spur of the moment decision to take the bus to the town over, called Street. I wasn’t going to go until Saturday but I was going absolutely stir crazy. They have an outdoor shopping mall called Clark’s Village. Now, I think an outdoor mall in England is totally silly given the weather, but I was prepared with my umbrella when it started to rain again. I needed to find a bigger carry-on bag and I did…it’s a woven bag that looks like a beach bag but it zips up and it was only….£6! Can’t beat that. And I finally found a Union Jack flag for Bonnie and Colin, and it was on sale post-Olympics for £2. So two very good deals there. I roamed around for a bit longer, ended up in the GAP outlet store but reminded myself that even though I really liked this one dress, I needed to save room in my luggage for other things.

I took the bus back around 7pm, and then got Indian take-away for dinner. By the way, I have to add that the English term take-away makes so much more sense than the American take-out…doesn’t it? Or maybe they’re equally logical…who knows. I piled my plate high with veggie kurma and garlic naan and watched a TV while I ate. I found myself watching A Cinderella Story…not to be confused with Cinderella Story (the Russell Crowe boxing movie)…this one was the high-school lovey dovey movie with Hilary Duff and it made me realize how long it’s actually been since I was in high school. Hilary Duff is only a year older than me, and the fact that she’s married and just had a baby blows my mind. What happened to Lizzy McGuire? I think the fact that I’ll (hopefully) have a Masters by the end of December doesn’t seem real. I feel like I just graduated high school in a way….even my undergraduate graduation never really sunk in. Probably because I just kept on at UF and nothing really changed. But big big changes are on the horizon in the next 6 months, so hopefully those will sink in. Hah.

Today I’m working on reformatting the CCT Conservation Policy and its appendicies…fun stuff! But I think after giving me free accomodations for my whole stay, it’s the least I can do, to do a bit of mundane administrative work. The weather is supposed to be much better tomorrow, and I think I may go to Bath.

That’s all for now. Cheerio!


A relaxing weekend

I’m about to sit down to watch the Closing Ceremony for the 2012 Olympic Games, and this will be a great way to end a very relaxing weekend. I got back to Glastonbury on Friday evening. We had Indian take-away for dinner and then Dr R’s friend Derek took puppy Tess home with him for the week. So while I’m housesitting for Dr R this week, I don’t have to worry about the puppy…just two cats that don’t seem to get along very well. 🙂

Saturday morning I got my last detailed briefing on my work for the week from Dr R and then he headed out to London to meet up with Sarah and the kids. Once he left I took a walk down to the bakery and did my usual of picking up a muffin and taking it to the Abbey where I got a pot of tea out in the grassy park. After grocery shopping I put my walking shoes on and headed up the Tor. This was the first time I made the hike up since I hurt my toe almost three weeks ago. While I’m here, Dr R said I can borrow any lenses he has that I don’t, so I took the wide angle lens up the Tor with me and got some really great shots.

For dinner I made myself a nice salad with fresh tomatoes, avocado and mozzerella. And then I went to bed fairly early after writing some postcards for friends. I slept in this morning and got up around 10am and had a leisurely breakfast before catching the bus to Wells. I went to Wells because I wanted to see the cathedral again but also because they have a bigger variety of stores on their High Street. On my way to the cathedral I found a great kitchen store and was able to get my hands on something Mom has been looking for for ages but can’t seem to find the States. So I got her a present, and I got Vanessa a present too. I’m glad I went back to the cathedral, especially with the wide angle lens because I got some great photos I couldn’t have gotten otherwise. Here is a sneak peek at two of them.

I had lunch at the cafe inside the cathedral and then shopped around a bit more before taking the bus back to Glastonbury. I had a bit of a headache by the time I got back, and took a short nap before Skyping first with Mom and then with Michael. After that I set about making lentil soup for dinner, and then just watching a bit of TV and relaxing on the couch. And now of course, my eyes are glued to the TV screen for the closing ceremonies, and I only wish I was in London to celebrate with everyone else. 🙂

Tomorrow it’s back to work on computer stuff. But in general, this will be a lowkey work because I won’t be going out on site at all. But that’s okay with me. I have plenty to do from the computer.

Cheerio for now!

I think the CCT needs a Collection’s Manager

It’s hard for me to believe that I’ve been over here for over a month. I have just over three weeks left, and I am pretty sure the time will go by much more quickly than I’m prepared for. By the end though I’ll have quite a binder full of internship stuff, because I’ve had such a variety of things to do. I’m going to write a short proposal for the director here to emphasize their need for a kind of collections manager. The inventory I just finished of the church at Inglesham was the first since 1990, and some churches have never had one done. So I think there needs to be someone who goes to all the churches and creates an inventory for them and then puts that into an overall CCT database. Some church’s keyholders have stuff at their homes even…old silver objects that aren’t accounted for and books and candlesticks, etc. so I think it only makes sense that there be one person whose sole job is to wrap their brain around what all these 340 churches have. It’s a three-year project at least, I would say.

And also, the presence of a collection’s manager could justify the existence of an off-site storage area. As much as I love the local keyholders that watch over the church when CCT reps aren’t there, they may not know what to do with old silver objects and old books….so those could go to a central place, and then objects like The Cameley Head (mentioned many entries ago) would have a designated home.

I would also argue that the person hired doesn’t necessarily need to know church architecture like the back of their hand. In my short time here I’ve picked up just about enough terminology to understand and communicate what object I’m talking about, and where in the church it’s located. It’s really not rocket science to learn the difference between the North Aisle, the Lady Chapel, the Chancel and the Nave (plus a few more I won’t bore you with).

But anyway…this was just a thought I had finishing up the inventory yesterday afternoon. I was originally supposed to be at the church  today but I was told last night that there wouldn’t be many photo opportunities, so I’m not going in today. But I’ll go in tomorrow. This gives me today to transcribe the interviews I recorded with the other interns last night…and get to work on the articles for the local papers. Trying to raise local awareness of not just the CCT, but the fact that there is an on-going project running at Inglesham that deserves as much media attention as it can possibly get.

So for now I’m sitting out on the porch with my feet up and enjoying the temporary sunshine while I work on transcribing the interviews I did of the girls last night. What would make it perfect would be having Bella here…I really miss that silly dog. 🙂



Don’t worry Mom, Vanessa, Dad, etc…I kinda miss you guys, too. 🙂 24 days to go!

Week’s getting better

Monday was a pretty bad day. But yesterday and today have been pretty decent. Yesterday I was on-site at the church, finishing the photos for the inventory, and also taking photos of the girls in a photo-op that Jane set up with them mixing mortar for wall fillings. Not that it’ll ever come in handy, but now know how to make 1:4 ratio slate-lime mortar mixture. Hah.

We stopped at the grocery store on the way home and then Debs made dinner for the four of us. We had good dinner conversation over glasses of wine and I didn’t feel nearly as isolated as I did on Monday. I stayed up late, catching up with friends via chat on Facebook and went to bed just before 2am. I got up this morning at 7am with the girls, had breakfast and after they left went back to bed. I got up two hours later and started working on the computer. I sent a final draft of my 8-page regional newsletter to the West Regional direction, Colin, and he’s going to look through it tonight. Dr R really loves the newsetter and says it’s better than any of their paid marketing officers have ever produced…so that was a nice ego-boost.

I’ve continued working on the inventory but haven’t finished it like I wanted to because several small tasks kept popping up in my inbox from various people at head office in London. So hopefully I’ll find the motivation to work past 5pm to finish the inventory so far as I can until I stop by the church’s keyholder’s house and assess what he has stored there…mostly silver objects I think.

I had a minor panic attack yesterday when I started getting emails about the Fall semester. Graduate office send me stuff about my assistantship appointment, which led to an email about my thesis committee, and that was compounded with an email from Jeff at the Florida Museum of Natural History asking me when I could start working again. It looks like I’ll be hitting the ground running come Monday Sept 10th. I also had a very minor personal crisis, but all is well now. So what started out as a bad week is turning out to be not so bad.

I head back to the church tomorrow, so hopefully I can find enough to do while I’m there so I’m not bored out of my mind for the last few hours. And then Friday after work I’m headed back to Glastonbury…which of course makes me very happy. 🙂 I think if I had a home away from home, it would be in Glastonbury. Love it there.

I think it’s tea time out on the porch…so cheerio for now! 🙂

I miss having a separate washer and dryer!

One thing that is really common over here in England is a machine that is both a washer and a dryer…but I swear that whenever I try to use it as a dryer it just steams my clothes rather than drying them. So I’ll be happy when I’m back in the states and can dry my clothes in a seperate machine. I would hang my clothes outside but….ding ding ding…it’s raining again! 🙂

I had a minor moment this morning when I hastily posted a ranting entry on this blog…I’ve since taken it down. If you did get a chance to read it, I’m glad you did. But for the sake of good appearances I’ve moved it to another personal blog where bad language wouldn’t be as frowned upon. In a nutshell, the three other girls here let me know that they’d be going to dinner this evening after work without me…and that just set off a load of PMS induced ranting and raving. But I’m better now.

I’ve had a very productive day doing computer work. The newsletter is nearly finished…just a few more tweaks here and there. I have the bulk of the inventory of the church done as well, and will finish taking the photos at the church tomorrow. My plan is to be at the church tomorrow and Wednesday, and then not again until I get back from Glastonbury on the 2oth. I am going to spend only the minimal amount of time necessary at the church, and try to get all the computer work done as soon as possible. The west regional director Colin, has a few extra tasks he’d like me to try and do before I leave, in which case I may be able to justify a few days in Bristol while I’m in Glastonbury next week.

So I’m having dinner alone tonight, and probably watching even more of the Olympics because there is nothing else on TV right now. And then going to bed early so I can be fresh and productive again tomorrow.

That’s all for now folks. Unfortunately it’s been a boring and uneventful day!

Plans for the rest of the internship:

Yesterday was a good day, even if it started out pretty badly. I  think I woke up on the wrong side of the bed, but either way I was feeling particularly sensitive. So when we got to the church and Jane informed me it was not practical to run me an extension cord for my laptop because they had spent all of Thursday rerunning the cords up the scaffolding, I walked outside and sat in the church yard for about a half hour and cried. She hadn’t been particularly rude about it, but I think just the stress of  the week, and the general feeling of not being wanted at the church, has gotten to me. But I pulled myself together, decided to handwrite what I could, and waited for Dr. R and Sarah to get to the church. Luckily for me, they were two hours early and I got to leave early.

They had a chat with Jane and expressed very clearly what my role in the whole matter is (that being that I represent The Trust when they’re not on site), so hopefully there won’t be anymore misunderstandings in the future. I got to leave with Dr R and Sarah around 3:00 and headed back to Glastonbury. I’ll be here for the weekend, and…very good news, I’ll be here next week, too. So I’ll go back to Pewsey on Sunday night, spend Monday-Friday in Pewsey working at the church, and then I’m basically coming back to Glastonbury and housesitting for Dr R and Sarah while they’re on holiday in Portugal. I think I’ll be much more efficient in my work by being here, and it’ll give me a chance to go back to the Bristol office if I really want to. I can definitely finish the work I need to be at the church for by this coming Friday, and then I’ll be working on the more administrative stuff the week after. I’m helping reformat their policies…so I get to rekindle all that good policy-related stuff I learned in Museum Ethics in the spring term. 🙂

So the plan for the next few weeks:
Today-August 5th: Glastonbury
August 6th – August 10th: Pewsey (Finish inventory at the church including up-to-date photos of all features and fixtures, finish interviewing conservation interns about their experiences for articles I’m writing, complete as many visitor surveys as possible and advertise for Open Conservation Day on August 31st)
August 11th- August 18th: Glastonbury (Reformat CCT Policies, and write 2 articles on project at Inglesham)
August 19th – August 31st: Pewsey (Continue visitor surveys, prepare for Open Conservation Day, and do research on interpreting rural heritage sites)
Evening of August 31st: Back to Glastonbury with Dr R
September 1st: Train to London
September 2nd: Airport to fly home!

Writing it out like that makes it seems like much less time between me and going home, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For today and tomorrow, I’m going to do a bit of work while it’s rainy so I can justify taking Tuesday off to do some site-seeing without too many tourists, like on the weekends. I’ll probably head over to Highclere Castle, aka where they film Downton Abbey! 🙂

That’s all for now. Toodles!