The Natural History Museum, London was opened in 1881. It is the home to life and earth science specimens and has five main sections: Botany, Entomology, Mineralogy, Paleontology and Zoology. I have explored each of these 4 times now and can't seem to get enough. Well, all of them except for the Darwin Centre. For some reason I find it quite boring.
Some of the main iconic displays include: the 10 ton skeleton and model of the largest mammal, the blue whale; "Dippy" the 105 foot long replica Diplodocus carnegii skeleton which was given as a gift from the industrialist Andrew Carnegie. The original is at the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and "Archie" the 8 "metre" long giant squid which is being perserved somewhere (I have yet to see).
The building itself is exquisite. The terracotta "mouldings" by the English manufacturer Gibbs and Canning Limited adorn both the interior and exterior of the building representing the past and present diversity of nature. The central hall, also known as the Waterhouse Building, was designed by architect Alfred Waterhouse from Liverpool. Whether I am standing inside or outside I just stare in awe. It is certainly one of my favorite buildings here in London so far.
Love from London ~ KShare
The following are some pictures of where we currently live. Since being here, we have discovered that we are in one of the more expensive areas and have found bigger, nicer and cheaper properties a little further out. Come November we have hopes to relocate, but for now we are enjoying it where we are.
We are excited to find a place with room for our guests! Three trips to the States this year = everyone coming to visit us next year!
Love from London~ KShare
After a grueling 13+ hours at the mercy of Delta Airlines, an hour train ride, 5 flights of stairs and a walk to our flat with our luggage trailing behind, we finally arrived home! Thank you Delta for the luxurious seat 37D containing a complimentary pre-chewed, gum-smeared seat cushion, a dinner tray that conveniently provided both food and beverage to passenger 37E, a broken headrest and a faulty socket for the headphone jack. Luckily, found in "duty free" was a $22 Monster splitter that enabled me to tap into Beejay's socket and enjoy the second half of his movie. 8+ hours in the air with nothing to do but play angry birds and read...I think not!
Feeling a bit lethargic we arrived at our flat around 3PM on Monday afternoon after a glorious visit to the States enjoying great family, friends and the delightful Oklahoma sun. Immediately Beejay tackled some emails and I got into preparation mode, as I had a 9AM job assessment with the US Embassy the following morning.
Preface: IRS Taxpayer Specialist position, US Embassy, great pay, great benefits, and I qualified in more ways than you or I could ever understand. IRS? Really? Even writing it makes me uncomfortable.
My goal for the afternoon was to head out to Oxford Street, find myself some black heels to wear with my suit and locate the Embassy so that come morning I was ready to go. Beejay, the wonderful husband he is, decided to accompany me on this venture. So, worn and tired, the two of us arduously hiked back to the tube and got dropped off at shopping central, Oxford Street. After just three shops and six pairs of heels, I found exactly what I was looking for. We grabbed a quick bite to eat at KFC (Beejay was fading on me) and headed down the street towards the Embassy.
Then it began to rain. I think we were spoiled by the exceptional April and May blue skies. The sun was shimmering in the sky less than a half hour ago when we left our flat...so with no umbrella in hand, we navigated our way to the Embassy in our rain soaked sweatshirts, hoods pulled tautly over our heads, and Beejay fervently guarding my newly acquired shoes from the torrent. After just one wrong turn we found the entrance to the Embassy and scurried on home for some much needed R & R.
The Assessment: a day of excitement and a day of discovery
On Tuesday morning our alarm sounded. Surprisingly I was not the least bit tired considering the gradual progression of time delay I experienced throughout the week before. By 8AM (2 AM Central time) Beejay and I got up, got ready, and were out the door, giving me about an hour to arrive for my assessment.
I swiftly strutted down the street next to Beejay in my favorite black suit feeling like I was walking on air. I realized at that time how much I missed getting dressed up and going to work everyday. There is a certain level of dignity, independence, and confidence that comes along with the responsibility of working hard and proving yourself on a daily basis. Maybe I just need to dress up in a suit every morning, head out the door for a little walk, and then head back home ready to get the job done for the day! Hmmm...something to think about.
Anyway, I had a pair of dressy black flats on my feet prepared for what was to come, while my new heels stylishly poked out of the top of my purse. We hiked to the tube entrance and made our way underground to await the next arrival. The first train that passed through the station was completely packed. Beejay and I looked at each other, I looked at the clock and then glanced at the marquis displaying the next train's arrival time; 4 minutes. There was a silent understanding...we would wait.
At this point I was feeling a bit warm from our brisk morning walk. I felt a little bit of perspiration on my brow, and debated whether or not I should take off my suit jacket to cool down. I looked around me and all the other professionals were wearing their suit jackets. Some were standing down the line with their nose in a newspaper, others were sitting on the bench eating their last bit of breakfast, while others were just arriving, sipping on their fresh cups of coffee. Alas, our train had arrived. Though this one was no less packed than the one before, we squeezed our way through the crowd and claimed our little nook under a man's armpit in the back corner of the car. At each stop, the doors would open allowing the musky mechanical smell of commuting to flow through on a warm breeze. At times people would get off and allow you to re-situate your stance, only to be followed by yet another wave of people often bigger than that of before.
Finally, our first stop had come where we would be changing lines. We systematically pushed our way through the dense crowd of bacon-bringers to exit the train and began our hike through the underground in search of our next transport. Up the stairs, around the bends, through the walkways we went. Normally, a brisk walk is more than feasible through the station, but on this day, at this hour, and at this time we came to a dead stop. We gradually moved forward doing the slow tunnel shuffle.
After many bumps, pushes, heel stomps and two stops to put one of my shoes back on, we arrived at our overcrowded station to await our next train's arrival. At this station, we watched people pack into the train so tightly that a person standing on the platform pushed them all inside to allow the doors to close. We didn't make it into the first train, and even contemplated going our separate ways as there was no guarantee there would be space enough for two!
Luckily, there was. We found a spot in the hottest, air-deprived, personal space-invading car I have yet to experience. Ah, the Victoria line. One wrong move and I was sure to be groped. I began to smell the notorious malodorous aroma of the English. I then noticed right beside me was a sharp looking apathetic city boy in his mid-twenties standing motionless while sweat trickled down the sides of his face, coming to a rest on his suit collar. I took in my surroundings. A fitting representation of peak hours in the London underground.
I began to get a bit nervous at our next line switch. I looked at the clock and realized I had 10 minutes to get to my next stop and 10 minutes to walk to the Embassy. The time for our train came and went, and the station began to overflow. Then we heard the announcement. Someone had pulled the emergency alarm two stations down and it was currently under investigation. Once they have the all clear, the train will be on its way. They recommended alternate routes and told us they would keep us posted. Lovely. Just lovely. So we waited...
About 6 minutes later our train arrived. This time Beejay would see me off and take the train a few stops further to his next destination. We said our good-byes and out on Oxford Street I went. I looked at my clock. I had 6 minutes to complete a 10 minute walk. I had never been late to an interview, and I was not about to let this be my first. So I did the math, and ran. At this moment I became that girl; hair flying, arms flailing, legs in flight, and body weaving as I sprinted down the very busy Oxford Street, shopping central, in my nice black suit, done up face and nylons. Were people staring? Yes. Did I bump into a few shoulders? Yes. Did I almost run right into a girl doing the same thing from the oppositie direction? I did. Were people laughing and pointing? They might have been, but I had a purpose and I was not about to be late!
Approximately 5 minutes later I arrived at the corner of the Embassy building. I discretely took my heels out of my purse and swapped them with my flats, smoothed down my hair, straightened out my suit, and began to confidently stride forward, catching my breath along the way. I immediately went to the south entrance as instructed, to get clearance. I looked at my clock. 9AM. Perfect. They gave me my badge. I walked up the stairs to the entrance as instructed and stood there taking in another deep breath, trying to slow down my racing heart. I saw a woman and a man through the glass doors awaiting my arrival. I turned away from them at the top of the stairs to get my barrings, refocus, catch my breath and wipe the sweat that started to slowly trickle from my forehead. As I looked out at my surroundings I noticed two guards at the bottom of the stairs staring up at me, guns in hand, and dogs at their sides. Feeling slightly uncomfortable and amateurish, I turned back around and headed into the building.
I was welcomed by the woman I saw earlier through the glass door. She greeted me with a smile and we began to meander through the hallways. With every step we took, I could feel my face getting warmer and warmer. She took me up an elevator and into a little room. In this room, appropriately labeled "the assessment room" she asked me to take a seat in the chair by the computer. She began explaining that I would have a timed assignment. She gave me the instructions and pointed out my resources. Then it happened. Runners, you know this moment. As she continued to instruct me, my pores opened up and a deluge of water came pouring down my face. Something that I never experienced when trying to impress someone. It reminded me of those days when I was serving tables out on the Veranda at the Tannersville Inn in the hot summer sun. I always hoped I would get bigger tips since I had tangible evidence of working so hard. I'm not so sure it was working in my favor on this particular morning.
Before she started the timer, she slipped into the kitchen and brought me back a large glass of water, thankfully. I have no idea what was going on in her mind. Part of me wanted to explain myself, but excuses at an interview? Never a good thing. I didn't get the job, so it obviously didn't help my cause! But I did learn a few lessons: I will never schedule an interview during peak hours and I will be sure to give myself at least an hour of extra time.
I wish I could've gotten some pictures of ME to go with this one! Funny!
Love from London ~ KShare