November 23, 2015
Gary Hartfield

Week 5

I’m becoming an old hand at commuting London style. I first tried the “tube” which may not be as bad as a commuter train in China, but was more crowded than the green line after the State Fair. So I changed to surface commuting via bus. Now the London bus system is very efficient…when their running I’m told (haven’t experienced a shutdown yet). It’s a short walk from the apartment to the bus stop and a short walk from the bus stop to the office. It’s also a 2.3 mile walk which is very pleasant going through Hyde Park and walking past Buckingham Palace. I rang the bell, but the Queen discourages drop-ins. Some good advice from Clint Pickett, the past Xchange to London, take an umbrella with you everywhere, no matter what the weather says.

I’m going to take a moment to explain London commuting for those of you who haven’t experienced it. What can I say….to this small town Texas boy, managed chaos at best? My first week riding the bus I would watch out the front window and cringe every block of the trip. Between busses, trucks (lorries), cars, motorcycles, bicycle commuters and pedestrians, of which there isn’t enough room on the road for any one group let alone all of them at once, I found myself getting off the bus anxious. There is even the occasional string of horses being ridden on the street to an exercise run in Hyde Park, the clopping of hooves on the pavement is very retro. I resorted to watching the shops go by to a much more calming effect.

All of you who ride motorcycles or ride bikes to work will be interested to know that those two groups are allowed to pass the others on the road on the right hand side, left hand side, or between traffic on the centerline or in the lane with oncoming traffic. There is even an area at signal lights marked on the pavement at the head of all the other vehicles designated for two wheels to gather after everyone else stops. They weave in and out of cars and busses to get to the front. Mix that with pedestrians crossing the street at will, with or without traffic and you see what could happen.

Walkers in London walk with a purpose. They walk fast and are looking at their phone or the ground and seem to pay no heed to other pedestrians. Add to that all of the tourists who are standing around gawking, like me, and those who are out of their depth, like me, and you can see why I called it managed chaos.

I am amazed with all this going on how it still manages to flow and everyone gets where they are going with a modicum of efficiency. For all of you from large walkable metropolitan cities you probably experience this every day and think “that is nothing, you should have my commute”.

Since I drive 42 miles to work every day I know what congestion is, however, not to the extent as London with thousands of people going in all directions at once, in virtually every form of conveyance.

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To be honest though, it is invigorating and exciting to be part of it. A very dynamic city that has seen it all and excelled.

My wife and I love history, me more than she, and art, she more than me, and we find that we are unable to make it through a museum in one visit. The collections are so vast and comprehensive that you can get brain overload. One great thing is that most if not all of the museums are free admission to the public. A great gift from the Government to make the history of the world and the great art of the world accessible to all people.

Here is a photo of the Prince Consort Albert memorial from his wife Queen Victoria…..I do believe his wife and the people loved him.

 princeconsortalbert2

The Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A), has so many interesting artifacts from all time periods that it spans 5000 years of art and covers 12.5 acres. We have spent two days here and haven’t covered half of it yet.

The British Museum has antiquities from 3000BC, items from the city Ur, and items all the way through to the 1400’s, at least that’s as far as we’ve made it, yet. The guide book promises more to come.

Getting to know my London colleagues has been a pleasure. They have been very helpful in getting me acclimated to the office and working on a project. My new friend is a metric conversion calculator. That gives me some understanding of areas, distances and sizes.

 

 

I will leave you with some images of London.

 armory1 big ben richmond park

Armory at the Tower of London                       Big Ben "of course"                    Yes, this is a 2,200 acre park in London

 

my work ststion british museum natural history british museum

My work space in London...1 meter...39"                        British Museum on Natural History          British Museum

 

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