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An Educational Day in London

One of the things I love about London is that there is just so much here to see. Today I had planned to walk to the National Gallery at Trafalgar Square. But I got distracted…

Diagram of an ice well On the way though, I ran across the London Canal Museum. The building used to be an ice house that was originally built to store ice from Norway, which is what I was curious about seeing. I also learned a bit about the canal boat industry that was interesting (horses used until 1950, etc.). When we went on our canal boat trip in Yorkshire the other year, we noticed that there were worn out spots on bridge supports from ropes tied between the boat and the horses pulling the boat. Today at the London Canal museum, I learned that the ropes were made from cotton so they could sink when meeting or passing other boats, thus allowing the boats to go over the rope. By doing this though, the ropes would get sand and dirt embedded in them from sinking to the bottom of the canal. These gritty ropes would then easily grind down the edges of the bridge supports when the horse would walk around them.

Street performer with a long rope and a little girl in Covent Garden After leaving the canal museum, the British Library was on the way so I decided to go to see Robert Scott’s diary that I missed when I was there a couple of weeks ago. (Alan told me about it) Click here to see the last thing he ever wrote, highlighted by a cool feature of Microsoft’s Bing search product. :-) I also took the time to look at “A Dictionary of the English Language” written by Samuel Johnson. He made the comment to a friend trying to decide to move to London; something along the lines of “to grow tired of living in London means you’ve grown tired of living.” After leaving the library, I went through Covent Garden and saw an entertaining street performer (pictured) swing a very long rope that a little girl tried to hang on to. It doesn’t sound funny, but it was good to watch.

Venice - The Grand Canal with S. Simeone Piccolo by Canaletto I then finally made my way to The National Gallery where I came across a few paintings of Venice (among thousands of other paintings). The ones of the canals in Venice by Canaletto and Guardi really grabbed my attention. The one pictured here is by Canaletto.

So today I learned about the canal boat industry, the early ice industry, the most influential English dictionary, saw Robert Scott’s last hand-written words, and saw some good 18th century paintings. That’s not bad for a day of walking! 

  1. Mike
    October 21, 2009 at 2:43 am

    very cool, i think trish and i walked around the national gallery. if that’s the one by trafalger square.

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