Friday, July 09, 2004

Just settling into London. Perhaps the big achievement was getting a library card and library books. Yesterday, we spent 5-1/2 hours at the British Museum, exploring just 4 out of 75 rooms. Today, we move into a small 1 bedroom apartment. This means I have a kitchen again and can cook meals -- breakfast, lunch and dinner. English breakfasts are OK, think lots of bread, tea and breakfast meats, but other meals tend to be quite expensive. We've been mostly eating sandwiches. But with a kitchen, all the possibilities open up again. And we have our own space -- room for books, papers sprawled all over, all the comforts of home.

Yesterday at the British Museum, we took 2 50 minute introductions to special collections, both early medieval stuff. We saw artifacts from burials of the Picts, the Anglo Saxons, and other peoples before the Norman invasion of 1066. Imagine a giant cauldron as the center for feasting. They used these giant meat hooks to serve up chunks of meat -- meat (that is beef, not lamb or pig), was considered the greatest delicacy. Let's not talk about veggies. Bread, beer and meat were the main staples. Warriors were buried with their battle armour. Women too had these short daggers, rings, distaff stuff. Celtic swirls and designs, water birds, ravens, and gemstones, mostly coral and occasionally cloisonne (spelling?) embellished their garments and gear. The very wealthy had gold thread woven in. But they were a hardy people, as tall as we are today, though their lives were short, 45 was considered elderly. Whish, what does that make us? Wine was imported from Italy! This is back in the 300s. Trade routes were established even before the Romans, who pulled out of Britain in 410. Actually the Roman Empire didn't end with a bang, Rome just stopped sending support and withdrew its legions. That was enough for the Anglo-Saxons to move into the power vacuum, intermarry, and the rest is history.

Ah, the French bakery down the street is calling. Hot tea and fresh bread. Later, I may make a chicken pasta to celebrate the kitchen. All the news from home is good. Kara as yet has not had the baby. Rachel and Nick are somewhere on the road, perhaps camping. Pam and Bill are also on the road, long drive to Michigan. Susie and Brian are recovering from graduation parties, and the Scrabble ladies still meet about every other week to hone their skills. I send good wishes to all.


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