Science, the Sea, and Unemployment

Jet-setting overnight trip to Spain aside, it was a relatively quiet month by our standards!  Mini-adventures included dinner with friends, a brunch date or two with my ladies, video chats with nieces and nephews in Canada, and a day in Greenwich with T and his friends B & K (more visitors from Canada!).

Okay: a few words on Greenwich.  1 of the 2 friends who came to visit is actually from England, and one of HER friends, upon hearing that the 4 of us were spending the day in Greenwich, exclaimed something along the lines of “Ooh- that’s where time was invented!”  When our friend explained to her that this was not the case, she went very quiet, and then said with great disappointment: “Oh no.  I’ve been telling people that for years.”  We are still giggling about it two months later- including now, as I write this.  So, we went for brunch to get the day started, and then went to the National Maritime Museum.  B is really into the navy and we were all impressed by the incredible Lord Nelson exhibit.  Of course, while the guys oohed and aahed over the weaponry, I was gushing over the textiles.  My favourite textiles in no particular order: the trousers that Nelson was wearing and had to be cut out of after he was injured; an intricately embroidered fabric that belonged to his lover; a piece of the wool union flag from the ship Victory (from about 1805. After Nelson’s coffin was lowered into the crypt, one of the ship’s flags was supposed to be folded and placed on his coffin but instead, members of his crew tore it to pieces that they kept as mementos); and last but not least, the union flag from the Minotaur, one of few surviving flags from the Battle of Trafalgar.  I am always amazed by hundreds-of-years-old textiles, though I often don’t post them here because I feel like the pictures do such a disservice!

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We spent a Sunday at the Science museum,  where we enjoyed an impressive textiles collection, ranging from clothing and household items to medical advancements and sculptural textile art.  

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Upholstery coat- held together in places with plastic tags

I loved the “raw material to finished product” displays that laid out the entire process for several items, including a tencel machine-knitted top (tencel is a fibre that is made from wood cellulose).  (Scroll over the photos below for more detail- can you guess what they’re made of before you look?).

The Materials House deserves it’s own paragraph.  It is remarkable.  According to the Science Museum, the project was inspired by a plan to “create an object containing the greatest variety of materials possible.”  It is made of 213 layers, each layer made of 10 separate pieces, and a total of more than 2000 individual parts making up the piece.

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We also visited the robot exhibit- all I can say is wow.  There were beautiful automatons, advanced modern robots, and even a 19th century-design single-shuttle loom.  Textiles even fits into the robot exhibit! Woo!  We  enjoyed a good portion of the museum but not every floor when we were evacuated.  This was only days after the incident at Westminster so everyone was a bit on edge, but thankfully we found out later in the news that it was only a smoke alarm that had been falsely triggered.

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Built in 1939, but from an 1895 design. Made by the British Northrop Loom Company

There was one big change in March though: at the end of the month, just before Spring break, I gave my notice at work.  It was a really tough decision because I absolutely loved the staff and students and felt like I’d found a work home.. but unfortunately some things were being handled in a way that made me really uncomfortable (including, though not most notably, my being asked to work overtime which they approved and then refused to pay me for).  Also, my 2nd year of leave from work in Canada was very uncertain at this point and we had several trips coming up, so it felt like the best decision at the time.  On my final day, I spent lunch outside, dancing with and saying goodbye to the students.  They showered me with hugs, cards, and even flowers.  I am in constant awe of how attached we all become to one another in such a short time! But though I was the prep & planning cover teacher, I still felt that they were my students and it was a difficult goodbye. Their kind words will stay with me.

The tearful goodbyes were smoothed over by a show, the evening of my last day at Lathom: we saw Dreamgirls at the Savoy Theatre in West London. 

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Dinner at One New Change before the show- we took the chance to enjoy the rooftop view of St Pauls and the city

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Inside the Savoy and ready for the show!

Amber Riley (of Glee fame) brought the role of Effie to life on stage in a brilliant performance, and brought the house down with her powerful, magnificent, give-you-goosebumps, how-is-she-doing-this, soaring voice. Jennifer Hudson was in the audience that night (and late- which held up the show by more than half an hour; Amber’s performance made the wait worthwhile). Now THAT is how to end a month!

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