Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Just a quick note to say, yes, we found a very nice Internet cafe with incredibly fast upload, so you can check out the new pictures that I've been holding off on -- including some romantic shots of Rach and Nick at Giverney, and our trip to the D-Day beaches.

Yesterday we spent a slow day at the British Library, and it was fabulous to see original manuscripts from so long ago.  It's hard to believe that copies have survived all these years, and I'm talking thousands of years in some cases, well, ok, hundreds.  First sticking in my mind in James Joyce's notebook, intense, penciled scrawls, crossed out, words written in every direction.  Then here is Lewis Carroll's original Alice in Wonderland, carefully printed by hand with delicate ink drawings illustrating the story which continues to entrance.   Surprisingly, we were fascinated by the story behind the Magna Carta, the continuing struggle between the land barons and King John over who had more power, but of course, King John did lose over the long term.  Despite a papal bull issued by Pope Innocent III, which invalidated the Magna Carta in under 10 weeks, the land barons, stubborn to the core, were able to have future kings reaffirm it, the real beginning of constitutional monarchy.  And, we were dazzled (as stamp collectors) to see the sheet of stamps issued under the Stamp Act which led to the American Revolution.  Ha!

My personal favorite is hard to decide.  Who could choose between the Lindesfarne Illuminated Bible and the original Beowulf, written about 1000 AD (only fragments, but still dazzling).   The British Museum has many materials online if you want to go see.  For now, we're off for another walk in the city, trying to  put all this history into perspective.

London weather is maybe 10 degrees cooler than home; the high has been 75 and we've had cooling wind and rain nearly every day -- the British have more words for describing cloudy weather than I think we have!

Good news from Corvallis -- Kara and Poul's baby arrived safely.    I hope all is well in your world.  Three weeks from today and we'll be home.  Yes, I'm definitely counting!

Hugs to all, Beth

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