Sunday, September 30, 2018

Portsmouth Maritime Folk Festival

I went up to NH for my mom's birthday, and we went to the local metropolis for a maritime folk festival.  It was a spectacular day.

We stopped in briefly to a cafe/bookstore called "Book & Bar," but we figured out before we ordered anything that there was to be poetry, rather than music, in that venue.  A pity, since I'd have liked to browse their collection...

The theme continues! (Yes, we ate there once)

We got a late start, so we saw just two acts, the Vox Hunters and the Johnson Girls.

The Vox Hunters are a duo from Rhode Island.  The fiddler had unfortunately been stung on the left hand by a bee earlier that morning -- he was icing it again after the close of their set -- but the show must go on, as they say.

The Vox Hunters at the John Paul Jones House

I found "Ocean Burial" particularly moving -- especially the line "It matters not, I've oft been told, where the body lies when the heart gets cold."

Loved this version of Yankee Doodle:

The Johnson Girls had a lovely blend of voices, and it was interesting to hear them tackle various traditional songs that offer a male perspective, as well as others that focus on the women left behind.

We also attended a sing-along in a somewhat unfortunately named bar ("Portsmouth Gaslight"), where there were a large number of musicians up front by the windows and a seemingly well-informed audience -- or perhaps I should say, an audience apparently well-versed in the lyrics of many maritime folk songs.

My brother and the girls met us at home in the later afternoon; my sister-in-law couldn't make it, but sent a delicious cake.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Oxford Day 2

This is the last of 12 posts about my 2018 UK Trip (Glasgow + West Highland Way + Oxford)
UK 2018 Trip Navigation: [First Post

I wasn't sure I had the right place when I arrived at Somerville College, given the sign forbidding "visitors" and saying the place is only open to (if I recall correctly) residents and guests. Was there perhaps a separate B&B building where they house members of the public?  But it turns out I was actually deemed a "guest" so that all worked out well.

The room was ye olde basic dormitory, with three guests sharing a bathroom down the hall.  The breakfast was a simple buffet in the cafeteria (again typical of dorms), but it was fun to eat it at the long tables overlooking the courtyard in wood-paneled dining room.

My only complaint about the accommodations was a little window on the courtyard that didn't latch properly; it rattled incessantly through the windy night.  (Though I was mildly relieved to realize it wasn't people upstairs banging away for hours on end.)
Somerville College courtyard

Mary Somerville

I tried a different route to the Bodleian for my second visit.  It took me through this little graveyard...

... where homeless people camp out.  In addition to the tents, there were liquor bottles strewn about.

Overall, I was surprised by the number of vagrants or panhandlers I saw in Oxford.

a cup of cappuccino while waiting for the Tolkien exhibit to open

more gargoyles

the forbidden courtyard of another college...

After the Tolkien exhibit, I went across the street to the Museum of the History of Science.

skull netsuke
("toggle securing a silk cord used to carry a purse
or other item when wearing traditional Japanese dress")

three skeleton netsuke

"Ingenious devices: Mathematicians and designers enjoyed the challenge
of arranging sundials on all sorts of surfaces and geometrical solids"
(here: octahedron and star)

sundial within a bowl (1810)

"the first commercially manufactured calculating machine" (France, 1820)

"The pinnacle of mechanical miniaturization was achieved by the fully-featured Curta calculator,
which performs multiplication and division as well as addition and subtraction."

"By effectively cutting up a long scale and arranging it on a cylinder,
greater precision could be achieved [than with a regular slide rule."

"Doubt that the sun doth move": Armillary Sphere, Italian?, c. 1580

Pocket Sundial - "An Elizabethan instrument is a very rare find, but it is also unusual that
we know the identity of the original owner."

Fit for a queen: Astrolabe for Elizabeth I
(London, 1559)

Mathematical aide-mémoire, English c. 1665
"This tiny silver medallion is a unique witness to
17th-century mathematical and commercial culture.
On this side it shows solutions to quadratic equations[.]
On the reverse is a table for calculations of interest."

Pottermania in Oxford!

I picked up a seaweed salad and some dosa on the way to the train station, then rode back up to Glasgow without incident.

Red and white roses say....

...welcome to Lancashire!

UK 2018 Trip Navigation: [First Post

Monday, September 17, 2018

A Whirlwind Trip to Oxford

One of 12 posts about my 2018 UK Trip (Glasgow + West Highland Way + Oxford)
UK 2018 Trip Navigation:  [First Post[Next Post]

I took the train down from Glasgow for an overnight trip to Oxford.  We were quite late leaving GCT; apparently, the scheduled train manager didn't show up, so they finally commandeered someone else who'd arrived early for her shift.  I was hoping we'd make up time en route, but we didn't.  And eventually we were so late that they stopped holding the connecting train for us and instead made an unscheduled stop at a totally different station.  It was a little stressful, esp. since I didn't know if they would honor my completely wrong ticket.  (Not to mention that I'd lost the benefit of my reserved seats!)  Fortunately, they did not even check my ticket at that phase.  I got to Oxford an hour late, so I caught a taxi directly to the Bodleian to use my timed Tolkien ticket.

a view from the train: farmhouse

a view from the train: walled pastures
After the exhibit, I checked in to the guest quarters at Somerville College (the wonderful suggestion of Kat Sas), then set out to wander around the streets for a bit.  The light was gorgeous.

Oxford shimmering in late-afternoon sunlight

moon and contrails over Cornmarket Street

As evening fell, I timed the walk from the Bodleian to the train station to make sure I'd allow enough time to get back the next day.
Since it was a there-and-back-again walk, I paid particular attention to the restaurants and picked out a Thai place to favor with my patronage.

UK 2018 Trip Navigation:  [First Post[Next Post]