Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Weekend in London and day trips

So far I have found the train system in the United Kingdom to be easy, well connected and with frequent services – well worth the price of the tickets. This weekend I visited London and stayed at a cheap hostel in the Southwark district, just a short walk from Elephant and Castle underground station and past what looked like an ugly and decrepit social housing estate – even worse than Park Hill! Fortunately, the hostel was clean and modern. That evening I went out to experience the famous London nightlife, which unfortunately got the better of me. London – 1, Angela – 0! I found the tube system in London to be a bit of a nightmare. It appears overcrowding is a 24/7 issue, not just at peak hours. The pace and size of London is overwhelming but I found the buses to be an easy option for getting around whilst taking in the city at a slower pace. After struggling with the public transport, I finally found The Crystal but unfortunately I missed half of the exhibition. The parts that I saw were impressive but I would like to have heard more about the role of rural and regional areas in the future which cities are dependent on for resources.

On the way to York, we made a stopover in Leeds where I enjoyed lunch at a chic café in a grand arcade, reminiscent of those in Melbourne. The train museum in York was quite impressive however I was more interested in the city’s other famous export – chocolate! After stuffing myself silly, I left York early to watch Australian singer-songwriter, Matt Corby performing at the iconic venue, The Leadmill. My expectations of The Leadmill were set high after Trevor Hoagan’s morning lecture and I was excited to step foot into Sheffield’s premier cultural institution. It was to my disappointment to discover that The Leadmill was nothing special. The staff were rude, the seating was limited and the floor was sticky. Matt Corby however was phenomenal!

Unfortunately, all of this frolicking about and trying to get the most out of the trip has left me exhausted and sick. The sunshine finally revealed itself for the first time on Tuesday, which I relished knowing it would probably not last long. Since York I seemed to have developed a mild chocolate addiction, which has seen sales at Sainsbury’s skyrocket this week!

The megalomaniacal town planner in me can’t help but admire Henry Lever AKA King of Port Sunlight. However some aspects of his persona such as his staunch support for British Colonialism are deplorable. The long bus trip (I must have adapted to English travelling time standards!) to the town was worthwhile. Amongst the Lever family’s private collection at the Lady Lever Art Gallery is the work of re-Raphaelite artist John Everett Millais. The paintings stood out to me and seemed to capture the romance of the English countryside beautifully. I have found myself quite smitten with the cottages and fields in the countryside – such a difference to the arid landscape of home. However I have gained more appreciation of the space and privacy of life in rural Australia. Liverpool was a disappointment because I found myself caught in a labyrinth of shopping malls and did not see anything culturally or historically significant there. My brief interaction with the locals left a positive impression though.

The group presentation seems to be coming together nicely however my group is having issues with communication. It is difficult to organise a meeting after such long and exhausting days. Sheffield and Liberty Works is starting to feel like home and I always look forward to returning to my flat each evening.

- Angela Plazzer (Bachelor of Urban, Rural and Environmental Planning)

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