June 27, 2011
Today is hot. Hot for London, that is. I met with my classes for the first time in London today, and despite the heat and noise, I think we’re off to a great start.
The flight on Thursday night went without a hitch. It was long and uncomfortable, but in my experience all international flights in coach are. I sat next to Hugo Broadshoulders, so that didn’t make my cramped seat next to the windowless wall any more spacious. He decided even before I sat down that the armrest we shared belonged to him. I don’t think his arm moved the whole trip, even through his snoring.
We arrived at Heathrow more or less on-time Friday morning. The customs official who welcomed me was training a new recruit, so I think he decided to be ultra-pedantic. He was dubious about my teaching in his country for five weeks without a signed note from the Queen, so he took my passport, very nicely apologized for the inconvenience (“I see all your students have already gone through.”), and had me wait while he “spoke to his manager about this unusual situation.” I was nice; what else could I do? He came back in about ten minutes, lectured me further about getting the proper permits next time, and sent me through. Welcome to the UK.
Despite those entertaining and now laughable snags, the rest of the weekend was a blast. I had a bit of trouble getting my (jailbroken) iPhone to work with Orange, but after switching to a T-Mobile SIM, I’m now uploading photos and checking in with the best of them.
A group of us saw Mark off on Friday night. It’s a shame he had to leave so early; now I only have Todd to make fun of. Seriously, Mark’s a great guy, and we all were sad to see him go. We had a couple of pints and an meal at a little Indian restaurant in Hampstead. Sorry, but I can never recall the name, even though I’ve been there three times.
On Saturday, and thanks to Greg, we saw Harold Pinter’s Betrayal, with Kristin Scott Thomas. The play was excellent, but I don’t see why every character named Jerry in western literature is always either oblivious or an oaf. And sometimes both. Anyway, the performances were stellar and the play was thought-provoking and visceral. If you can do it, do it. Thanks, again, Greg, for scoring us great tickets.
Sunday was the program’s trip to Hampton Court. It was warm, but an otherwise beautiful outing. Here are a couple of snaps.
I have been here two times previously, and I was anxious to go again to see if I could experience it again in a unique way as a photographer. I’m not sure if I was successful with that goal, but I had a good time none the less. It was a warm day, and I didn’t want to carry a lot of equipment, so I opted for a gripless 5D and a 50mm f/1.4. It was light and efficient: a great combination. I didn’t take as many photos as I did last time, but I captured a couple of good scenes.
I think Todd and Jennifer are going to be my main models this year. I hope they don’t mind.
After a very busy weekend with little time to prepare, I was a bit worried about teaching today, but I think things went well. It was hot and noisy, but the students seemed prepared and as enthusiastic as I would expect on the first day. Tomorrow is the first field trip to the National Gallery and Westminster. Even though the forecast predicts rain, it should still be a great time.
At least it will be cooler.