A Victorian Education

Once again, it has been awhile since I last wrote. I had just gotten back from Berlin, and had a few days off before new classes started. It had been a rough few weeks as I got the flu, was stuck in my room reading, and still jumped into a full on week of 9-5 lectures for my special option ‘world arts/museum ethnography’. Then I had a matter of a week to write my 3,800 word essay on repatriation and museums. The highlight out of this mess was visiting the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, which is essentially a museum of a museum. It’s stuck in the early 20th century and consists of cases crammed full of the weird and wonderful, like a puffer fish helmet, or the ever popular shrunken heads.

Inside the Pitt Rivers Museum

While I was working on my essay, we were also beginning our final taught module, on communication, media and exhibitions. This includes a group project creating an exhibit out of several random objects and our burnt-out imaginations. At the end of this month, each group will be installing their exhibit in one of the display cases around the museum studies building. With eight people in a group, you can appreciate that it’s difficult to come to consensus, but I suppose this is what real work will be like. After completing the exhibition installation, we then each need to write some long-winded essay on our process, before being set free for a month of vacation, and preparing for the dissertation period beginning in May.

I realize that most of what I’m talking about is school-related, but it’s not ‘all work and no play’. That is if by ‘play’, you think hiking and museum trips! Last weekend, I went on a long 6 hour hike with a few friends in the Peak District National Park (google it). It was full of beautiful scenery, but I spent two days just recovering from the effort. Yesterday I went with the ‘Museum Society’ to Ironbridge Gorge, and the Blists Hill Victorian Town, where we traded our money in for farthings and shillings, and explored the streets, shops and houses to our hearts’ content. Ironbridge Gorge happens to be a UNESCO world heritage site, as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution and home to the world’s first iron bridge!

Thanks for reading, and hopefully next time I will know my summer internship placement, as well as my dissertation topic, and a few more other weekend trips to talk about.

A bit of atmosphere in the Peak District


Singing songs in the Victorian public house!

CS Hike The Peak District

I went on another hike last weekend with a few British couchsurfers. The destination this time was the Peak District National Park, and we were fewer in number because it was going to be a more intense hike… I thought I’d have no problem. I got picked up at 8:30am on a Sunday morning and we were on our way by 9am. The Peak District is north of Leicester by about 60 miles (near Sheffield), and when we arrived I checked my watch as we started off about 11am.

We began hiking along a ridge, walking through the clouds, which was rather atmospheric. I was doing ok so far, and keeping up. As we descended down a ways, my friends were having trouble deciding where we were, as we were still wrapped in so much fog. We began making our way across a bog, and I came to the realization that the boots I got for Christmas are definitely not waterproof. My spirits definitely began to sink into the mud…

We took our first break about 1pm, which is when the skies began to clear, and I discovered we were on the opposite side of the valley from our starting point. Somewhere off to our left was our goal of a pub lunch, and more than halfway to go on our route back to the car. Keep going! The scenery got prettier but short legs make for twice as many steps. Around 3pm we were making our descent into the village (pub lunch!), and I discovered it was just as painful as the ascent: I felt like a mountain goat, and didn’t have much energy left.

Finally made it to the pub! The ‘Old Nag’s Head’ has supposedly been in the town of Edale since 1577, and the sign on the door said ‘Families, dogs and muddy boots all welcome here!’ I learned that the Peak District was only the beginning point of a trail leading all the way up to Scotland called the ‘Pennine Way’. I contemplated my aching body over a beer and lamb burger before my friends told me the bad news: we had to climb back up to get to the car! In reality it was only an hours walk, and we made it back by 5pm, with a definite feeling of accomplishment. We drove back to Leicester in relative silence.

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