– bring forth May flowers.

As you may have noticed I’m three days late with my blog post, but this post has a lot information and it took me quite a while to write it all down. I hope you can forgive me and at least there is a new one in just three days time. But for now, time for a new countdown:

ONLY 20 DAYS LEFT!

In less than 3 weeks I’m going to be back home and finished with my year. It’s weird to think that I only have less than a month left.
Luckily I did a lot of sightseeing in May so I don’t need to fit all of it in this three weeks.
May started with a trip to visit friends outside of London, but I’m writing about the bigger trips in separate blog posts. However I’ll let you know when I skip a date to save it for another time.

On Saturday, 6th May, I met with Lea at 10am near Charing Cross Station. We then took the Tube to Lambeth North to visit the Garden Museum, but sadly it was still closed, even though the internet told us something different. Walking around Archbishop’s Park and past Lambeth Palace without finding the right entrance, we gave up and instead went to Southbank.
An announcement in Time Out London’s magazine really caught our eyes and we wanted to check it out:

Bosch’s Giant Dishwasher:
Stand under 2000 litres of recycled water and remain completely dry at Bosch’s giant dishwasher installation this weekend. It’s sure to cause serious envy for those who do the washing up by hand.’

It took us a bit of time until we found it, but it was quite funny. Like you can see in the pictures it was a box like installation. There was water falling from the ceiling and you could walk through. When you moved normally and not to hasty, the water would stop in that area you where walking. It’s quite a weird feeling to walk through as you don’t really expect it to stop but it does and you stay completely dry.

From the giant dishwasher we moved on and took the tube from Southwark to Tottenham Court Road to go to Primark for a short visit.
After we were finished at Primark and it was time for lunch, we searched for the closest Nando’s to enjoy a good lunch.
When we were finished with our lunch we were looking for something new to do and walked from Tottenham Court Road to Leicester Square and then to the National Portrait Gallery, which is around the corner of the National Gallery on Trafalgar Square.

Entering the National Portrait Gallery, we were greeted by a statue hanging from the ceiling which was quite familiar to me, as I just saw many more of the same statue as part of a big art installation on a beach the weekend before.
The first part of the Gallery were rather old portraits, but still quite interesting. However the further we went through the Gallery the newer the portraits got. Obviously there are also quite a few royal portraits and sculptures.

Within the modern portraits we found a portrait of British Olympic diver Tom Daley, HRH Prince Philipp Duke of Edinburgh, HM Queen Elizabeth II, Diana Princess of Wales, Dame Maggie Smith, HRH Catherine Duchess of Cambridge and Beatles’ Paul McCartney.

When we went back downstairs, we visited a separate exhibition room which shows the newest portrait the Gallery has: Ed Sheeran!
The portrait, which was made by Colin Davidson in 2016, is the first painted portrait of Ed Sheeran and shows him in a moment of quiet introspection. The artist commented on the drawing that ‘there is a youthful aspect to it but also something experienced beyond his years’.
I completely agree with Davidson and have to admit that this portrait is most likely my favourite in the whole Gallery.

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Ed Sheeran by Colin Davidson (2016)

After we were finished at the National Portrait Gallery, we went to the close by Covent Garden to enjoy a hot chocolate at the ‘Whittard of Chelsea Covent Garden Tea Bar’. This time I tried the Creme Brûlée hot Chocolate which was more than delicious.
Around 6.30pm I was back home to have a rest.

The next morning, 7th May, Lea and I met once again, but this time in South Kensington. This weekend was the summer festival of the Imperial College. They use it as a type of open house thing to inform people about what they do and also to give an insight in science.
Around 2pm we left the College and got on our way towards Kensington Palace. As it was no big detour we decided to walk past The Royal Albert Hall and The Albert Memorial.
When we arrived at Kensington Palace around 2.30pm we bought tickets and started our journey through the palace.

It started with the King’s staircase, which is quite pompous featuring an impressive painting on the ceiling. It was drawn by architect and artist William Kent in 1727 for King George I.
After the King’s staircase came the King’s Gallery and the Cupola Room. Both had interesting drawings and designs on the walls as well. King George II and Queen Caroline used Kensington rather for entertaining than for official business. The Cupola Room is the room where all the entertaining took place. The musician Händel often brought his troupe of Italian opera singers, who then sung operas at the Palace they just performed in London’s West End.

In the Queen’s Bedroom we learned how the House of Stuart came to an end. A year after Queen Anne’s son William had died, she had a stroke and died herself. She didn’t left an heir, which would’ve made James II’s son the new king, but the parliament prevented this by drawing up the Act of Succession after William’s death. This also made any other Catholic ineligible to claim the throne.
Parliament had to consider the claims of over fifty family members throughout Europe to finally choose Sophia, Electress of Hanover, and her heirs. With Sophia’s son King George I the time of the House of Stuart was over and the ‘Hanoverian’ dynasty began.

Kensington Palace was bought by King William and Queen Mary in the summer of 1689. The same year as they were crowned as joint monarchs, after arriving in England just the year before. They were invited by the Parliament in 1688 to take the throne in place of Catholic King James II, Mary’s father. William, ruler of Netherlands, and Mary arrived by sea at Torbay and were welcomed into the country. King James II and his family fled in the night to France. This event became known as the ‘Glorious Revolution’.
After this house in the green suburbs was bought, they command the royal architect Sir Christopher Wren to rebuild and extend it to the Palace we know today. The rooms upstairs were designed for Queen Mary to overlook her Gardens, which were designed in the Dutch style.

After we walked downstairs via the Queen’s Staircase, we queued up for the Diana exhibition. ‘Diana – Her Fashion Story’ shows various outfits Diana wore to track her evolution as a princess, trendsetter and humanitarian.
Diana, Princess of Wales combined the allure of royalty with the fascination of international celebrity and quickly learned how to craft her public image carefully.


“Whenever the Princess discussed her clothes with me, part of it was always, ‘What message will I be giving out if I wear this?’ For her, that became the real language of clothes.”
 – Jasper Conran, Fashion Designer

In the exhibition we could see a choice of clothes Diana once wore. Some designs on the wall proved that she often looked over the designs to make a comment on what to change or to let the designer know that she doesn’t like the design at all.

When we left Kensington Palace we also went for a walk through the Garden that was made for Queen Mary. This year the gardeners created a White Garden to mark 20 years since Diana’s death. Diana lived at Kensington Palace for 15 years and enjoyed the Garden, quite often she would even stop to talk to the gardeners.
After we spent the afternoon at Kensington Palace we got on our way back to South Kensington. Shortly past 5pm I got on my home after a long day out.

On Tuesday, 9th May, we were out again to visit Madame Tussaud’s. But I’m gonna write about this in an extra post.

The next time Lea and I met was on Sunday, 14th May. This time we met at Earl’s Court Station on the Westbound platform. The destination for the day was Richmond. When we arrived around 12.30pm we tried to find our way to Richmond Park. I said tried, because we got lost more than once on the way there and it took us around an hour to get there. But when we finally made it we were baffled. It’s truly an amazing place.
However the greatest thing about it is that’s so close to this big city. There is this big quiet place surrounded by a city full of live.  Even though I read about it, I was still quite surprised to see that the animals in the park are free to roam around and you can get so close to them.

After a lunch break and walking around the park for around 2 hours, we were so tired that we decided to head to Fulham to have a rest. Around 4pm we arrived in Fulham and I showed Lea the area where I live until Camilla was there to join us. Even though it was Camilla’s birthday, we just went for a drink at Caffé Nero, as she got her present on Tuesday already.
We had a fun time together and this afternoon really brought us closer.

The following week was full of new things as well. On Monday I first got in contact with a Fidget Spinner, only to find out later on that they’re the new must have and there is a big hype going around the whole world. On Tuesday, 16th May, Lea, Camilla and I met at St Paul’s Cathedral to visit the Museum of London. This time we were joined by another german girl called Jara.
Jara and Lea met up a few times and she kept Lea company every time I couldn’t. We arrived at the museum shortly to 11am and started our way through it.

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Fidget Spinner!

The Museum shows the history of London from the glorious and grisly past to its modern life today. On the journey through the Museum we learned about how the romans built the first city in the river Thames and we even where able to see parts of the ancient city wall that was built by the Romans over 2000 years ago. Especially for Lea and me this really was a reminder of our own city that was built by romans.
We also learned how London had to suffer through the Great Fire and the Great Plague in 1666.

The Olympic Games in 2012 are also widely featured in the Museum of London. In their collectives exhibition are quite a few items showcased. These range from sports clothes to medals. But the biggest part regarding Olympia 2012 is the room about the Cauldron and the Ceremonies.
The London 2012 Cauldron is  a representation of the extraordinary togetherness that the Games symbolise and was revealed at midnight on 27th July 2012. It is made up of 204 individually crafted copper pieces, each representing one of the competing nations. The copper pieces were designed to be on stems which rose up fitting the pace and choreography to come together as one. Each stem carried a fragment of the Olympic flame, only burning as one when they finally and perfectly nestled together.
During the closing ceremonies the cauldron unfold and released its copper elements. All of them had been inscribed with the name of a competing nation and they got to take their own copper piece back home.

However it was also quite interesting to walk through the reconstructed street from a Victorian London. Another interesting part leading us through the Museum was a time line that featured all the important facts happening in the world and in London throughout the years.

Timeline 1650 – 2010
A few of the world events, London firsts and milestones that have shaped the capital’s life over the last 360 years.

1652 – The Manchu Dynasty rules most of China
1666‘The Great Fire of London’ – Fire breaks out in Pudding Lane and devastates four fifths of the City of London.
1675 – The Royal Observatory – The Royal Observatory was founded, home of Greenwich Mean Time and the Prime Meridian Line.
1988‘The Glorious Revolution’ – King James II is overthrown and William of Orange and his wife Mary ascend the throne.
1708 – St Paul’s Cathedral – Designed by Sir Christopher Wren, St Paul’s is finally rebuilt after its destruction in the Great Fire.
– By 1714 there are more than 500 coffee houses in London. –
1733‘Flying Shuttle’ – John Kay, the inventor of the ‘Flying Shuttle’, patents a shuttle used for weaving woolen and linen cloth.
1759 – The first accurate Chronometer – John Harrison’s watch H4 solves the ‘longitude problem’, allowing sailors to navigate accurately at sea.
  – British rule in India begins. –
1774 – The Royal Society of Arts building – Robert Adam designs a building for the society that encourages the arts, manufactures and commerce.
1780‘The Gordon Riots’ – Violent anti-Catholic riots erupt across London. Prisons and the Bank of England are attacked.
1784‘London balloon flight’ – Vincenzo Lunardi launches the first hot-air balloon, carrying passengers from Moorfields.
1789‘Equiano’s autobiography’ – Olaudah Equiano campaigns to end the slave trade in his bestselling book, published in London.
 – The slave trade abolished throughout the British Empire –
1831 – The electic dynamo – The physicist Michael Faraday invents the dynamo, the first electrical generator.
1837 – Euston railway station – London’s first mainline station opens, the terminus of the London and Birmingham Railway.
1840 – The Penny Black stamp – The world’s first postage stamp, invented by Rowland Hill, is issued by the Post Office.
1848‘Mass Chartist demonstrations’ – Working-class men gather on Kennington Common hoping to gain the vote and secure political reform.
1851‘The Great Exhibition opens’ – A vast temporary glass building in Hyde Park displays products from all nations.
 – Russia, Britain and France at war –
1858‘The ‘Great Stink’’ – Failing drainage turns the River Thames into a deadly, stinking sewer.
1863 – The world’s first underground railway – On its opening day the Metropolitan line carries 30 000 passengers between Paddington and Farringdon.
1868 – St Pancras railway station opens – The Midland Railway opens a grand London passenger terminus on the Euston Road.
1878 – London’s first electric street lamps – The Thames Embankment becomes London’s first public area to be lit by electric power.
1688‘The Jack the Ripper murders’ The murder of prostitutes in the East End focuses attention on one of London’s poorest areas.
– New Zealand gives women the vote –
1894 – Tower Bridge completed – After eight years of construction Tower Bridge opens, creating a new London landmark.
1898 – First London escalator installed – Harrods store installs London’s first escalator. Nervous shoppers are offered smelling salts.
– By the 1890s one third of Londoners lived in poverty. –
1901‘The Death of Queen Victoria’ – After a 63 year reign Queen Victoria dies, aged 81. She is succeeded by her son Edward VII.
1906 – The luxury Ritz Hotel opens – César Ritz, Parisian hotelier and former manager of The Savoy, opens a luxury hotel in Piccadilly.
1908‘London Olympic Games’ – More than 3000 competitors from 21 nations compete in London’s first Olympic Games.
– World War I breaks out in Europe –
1918‘Votes for women secured’ – Eight million women over the age of 30 are given the vote in parliamentary elections.
1919 – Hammersmith Palais opens – An American-style luxury dance hall opens for business at Hammersmith.
1922 – First London radio station – The British Broadcasting Company begins regular radio broadcasts from Marconi House in the Strand.
1923 ‘Wembley Stadium opens’ – Bolton Wanderers beat West Ham United in the first FA Cup final to be held at the new Wembley Stadium.
1928 – The ‘Talkies’ come to London – Londoners see their first films with sound, including ‘The Jazz Singer’ at the Piccadilly Theatre.
  – The Wall Street Crash shakes economies around the world –
1933 – First automatic traffic lights – The new traffic controls are installed at Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly, London’s busiest road junctions.
1943 – Battersea Power Station opens – The completion of London’s giant power station gives the capital a striking new landmark.
  – By 1939 one fifth of the British population lived in London. –
1940‘London devastated by the Blitz’ in the second year of World War II Londoners endure 11 weeks of intensive aerial bombing.
1944 – Flying bombs fall on London – V1 ‘Doodlebug’ bombs descend on the capital with an ominous, whirring sound.
1945 – The end of World War II – Celebrations across the capital as Londoners welcome peace after six years of war.
  – India and Pakistan become independent nations –
1948‘The Olympic Games’ – The first post-war Olympic Games are held in London. 59 nations compete for medals.
  – By the 1950s women outnumber men in London offices. –
1951 – Royal Festival Hall opened – The Royal Festival Hall opens on 3 May 1951 as part of the Festival of Britain.
1952 – Commercial travel by jet – The world’s first commercial passenger jet flight takes off from Heathrow, bound for Cape Town.
1952‘Smog stifles London’ – Thousands die from respiratory diseases caused by air pollution in the Great Smog of 1952.
1956 – The first Routemaster bus – A new type of London bus, ‘The Routemaster’, enters service on London’s streets.
  – Yuri Gagarin, a Russian, is the first man in space –
1965 – The Post Office Tower – At 159 metres, the Post Office Tower (now called the B.T. Tower) becomes London’s tallest building.
1971 – D-Day: Decimalisation day – On 15th February 1971 the whole of Britain switches to a decimal currency system.
1973‘More IRA bomb campaigns’ – The Irish Republican Army steps up its bombing campaign. Explosions rock central London.
1982 – The Thames Barrier completed – The Thames Barrier gives London a state-of-the-art flood defence system. The cost is £500 million.
1985 – Mobile phone systems launch – Launch of ‘Callnet’ and Vodafone, Britain’s first mobile phone services. Early phones are costly.
  – The 1987 hurricane is London’s worst storm since 1703. –
1994‘Direct trains to Paris’ – The Channel Tunnel, also known as the ‘Chunnel’, links London and Paris by rail.
  – First pages appear on the World Wide Web –
2012‘London strikes Olympic gold’ – London hosts the best Olympic and Paralympic Games ever. Londoners celebrate.

Around 1.45pm we said goodbye and got on our way back home. But on Friday we met once again, just this time without Camilla as she had to work.
We met around 10.45am at Warwick Avenue to then walk to an area called Little Venice. Sadly the weather wasn’t so nice and therefore the experience wasn’t as nice as it could’ve been, but I’m still happy I saw this amazing part of London. From there we walked through Paddington Station to Hyde Park.

We first went to see the Italian Gardens with the Italian fountains, from there we walked towards the Peter Pan statue and then to Kensington Gardens. It’s quite hard to say when you’re in Hyde Park and when in Kensington Gardens, as there is no division between the two of them. However our next stop was the Serpentine Gallery which is part of Kensington Gardens.

In a 1930s tea pavilion the Serpentine Gallery is housed. It seeks out avant-Garde artworks of today and each year assign a notable architect with the construction of a temporary pavilion. After summer is over the pavilion is dismantled and sold to cover the expenses. A 5-10 minutes walk from the Serpentine Gallery is the Serpentine-Sackler Gallery. Attached to the building of the Serpentine-Sackler Gallery is a restaurant called the Magazine. The building of the restaurant was designed by the world-famous architect Zaha Hadid.

From the Serpentine-Sackler Gallery we walked to the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain. Visitors of the Memorial Fountain are invited to sit on the side and paddle their hands and feet in the water, but a sign at the entrance kindly asks visitors to not walk on the Memorial or in the water.
As this is a Memorial and therefore a quiet place, the sign also remembers visitors to take their ball games and loud plays to different areas of the park.
The Memorial Fountain was constructed using Cornish Granite and expresses Diana’s spirit and love of children. ‘Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain opened by Her Majesty The Queen on 6th July 2004’ is the inscription on one side of the fountain.

As it was already quite late and we all had to get back to work, we walked from the Memorial Fountain to South Kensington Station, where we all got our separate ways home after a quick lunch at Starbucks.

On Saturday, 20th May, we all met once again to visit the Tate Britain. Therefore we took the tube to Pimlico where we met around 12.45pm.
As the pictures at Tate Britain are sorted into a time line, we tried to follow this time line from the beginning to the end. On the way to the beginning we walked past a few modern objects hanging in the big halls of Tate Britain.

However the Gallery not only leads through the time with their displayed pictures, but also with a time line of the Gallery’s history:

1600-1750 – Early collectors, usually noble families, concentrate on Old Masters or commission family portraits by European artists active in Britain such as Anthony van Dyck.
1768 – Collecting British art, to represent the emerging national school, takes off after the founding of the Royal Academy of Arts and the establishment of its annual exhibitions, which become fashionable events.
1780s – The 3rd Earl of Egremont, patron of JMW Turner and many other British artists, forms a private gallery at his country property of Petworth House, Sussex (now managed by The National Trust).
1790s – Sir John Leicester creates galleries at Tabley, Cheshire, and Hill Street, Mayfair, the latter open to the public from 1806, including Turner’s Shipwreck.
1808 – The Department of Prints and Drawings is founded at The British Museum. Home of the national collection of prints and drawings, today it has over 30 000 drawings and watercolours by British artists as well as over one million British prints.
1823 – Sir John Leicester (now Lord De Tabley) offers to sell his collection to the nation for a Gallery of British Art. The government refuses and the collection is sold.
Turner, who envisages a posthumous Turner Gallery to ‘keep my pictures together’ and meanwhile maintains his own collection, buys back his Shipwreck.
1824 – The government buys the collection of John Julius Angerstein to found a gallery. Mainly Old Masters, it includes David Wilkie’s Village Holiday. Angerstein’s house, 100 Pall Mall, houses the new National Gallery until a dedicated building is constructed.
1827 – Sir George Beaumont presents pictures to the nation, including works by Thomas Gainsborough, Richard Wilson and David Walkie. These join the National Gallery in Pall Mall.
1838 – The National Gallery opens in Trafalgar Square, with the Royal Academy adjacent to it until 1868. It will collect Old Master and British paintings.
1840 – The sculptor Sir Francis Chantrey bequeaths a fund to collect modern British art. Administered by the Royal Academy, the fund buys its first work in 1877. It will be the main purchase grant for the Tate Gallery when it is established in 1897.
1847 – Robert Vernon gives 157 British pictures to the nation, including the first Turner to go on public display. For lack of space, most other pictures remain at his Pall Mall house or are shown at Marlborough House and the South Kensington Museum (known as the Victoria and Albert Museum).
1852 – Turner’s Sun Rising through Vapour and Dido Building Carthage; or the Rise of the Carthaginian Empire are hung in the National Gallery with two paintings by Claude Lorrain in accordance with the wished of Turner, who had died in 1851.
1854 – The Turner Bequest, including nearly 300 paintings, is accepted by the nation. Selections are shown at the South Kensington Museum until 1876.
1857 – John Sheepshanks presents 236 British pictures to the South Kensington Museum.
1876 – The National Gallery is enlarged, allowing the display of more Turner and Vernon bequest pictures.
The National Gallery occasionally buys modern British pictures, such as Pegwell Bay, Kenta Recollection of October 5th 1858 by William Dyce, The Derby Day by William Powell Frith and Ecce Ancilla Domini! (The Annunciation) by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, but remains mainly an Old Master collection. It is increasingly short of space.
1889 – Henry Tate offers 60 modern British pictures to the nation. These are rejected but he offers to fund a new gallery to house them, causing national debate.
1897 – 21st July The National Gallrey of British Art (already popularly dubbed the ‘Tate Gallery’) opens on Millbank, on the site of a former prison. The Tate’s pictures, including Ophelia by John Everett Millais are hung and some British pictures are lent by the National Gallery, which retains overall control. The Tate will be steered towards ‘British modern art’ (artists born after 1790 or 1800) while the National Gallery retains ‘supreme glories’ of 18th century painting.
The artist GF Watts donates 18 paintings to the newly established Tate Gallery, later adding further paintings and a sculpture.
1903 – The Art Fund is launched, becoming Britain’s leading charity for the purchase of art for the nation’s collections. The first work acquired by the Tate with its support is James Abbott McNeill Whistler’s Nocturne: Blue and GoldOld Battersea Bridge, purchased in 1905.
1906 – Unfinished studio works by Turner, newly restored, are shown for the first time.
1910 – A new Turner wing, funded by the art dealer Joseph Duveen, opens.
The Contemporary Art Society is founded to promote modern art in public museums and galleries.
1915 – A Director and dedicated Trustees are appointed at the Tate Gallery, independent of the National Gallery, charged to collect historic British and modern foreign art.
1918 – The Tate’s Director forms a consortium to buy works by William Blake for public collections in Britain and the Empire. 20 illustrations to Dante’s Divine Comedy come to the Tate.
1919 – More than 200 British pictures are transferred from the National Gallery to the Tate.
1920 – The Tate is designated ‘The National Gallery, Millbank’.
1926 – Galleries devoted to modern art, foreign art and Sargent (featuring family portraits by the artist given by the art dealer Asher Wertheimer) are funded by Sir Joseph Duveen.
1927 – Duveen presents Stanley Spencer’s Resurrection, Cookham and funds Rex Whistler’s murals, Pursuit of Rare Meats, in the refreshment room.
1928 – A Thames flood damages many works, including works on paper from the Turner Bequest.
1932 – The name ‘Tate Gallery’ becomes official for the first time.
1934 – The British Council is established with official responsibility ‘for cultural and social relations between the United Kingdom and people of other lands’. It forms its own collection now totalling over 8000 works of British art.
1939 – More previously unseen Turners, found stored at the National Gallery, are shown.
1939 – 45 – During the war, the Tate Gallery is closed and suffers extensive bomb damage. But acquisitions continue, including, in 1945, John Martin’s apocalyptic triptych The Last Judgement.
1946 – The Tate receives its own purchase grant of £2000 from the government.
The Arts Council Collection is formed collecting works by modern British artists and continues to acquire work by emerging British artists, with over 7500 works.
1949 – The National Gallery contributes 19th century British pictures to the new Tate displays but also reclaims Hogarth’s Marriage a la Mode.
1955 – The Tate and National Galleries are separated by law, leading to further, limited transfers of pictures. In the following decades the Tate extends its remit, building a comprehensive collection of British art from 1545 to the present while the National shows selected highlights.
1958 – The Friends of the Tate Gallery (now Tate Members) is founded to support purchases for the collection, the first being Henry Moore’s sculpture King and Queen, acquired in 1959.
1970 – Alistar McAlpine (later Lord McAlpine of West Green) presents to Tate 60 recent sculptures by contemporary British artists.
1974 – The Yale Center for British Art opens in New Haven, USA, displaying Paul Mellon’s important collection of British art, gifted to Yale University in 1966.
1975 – The Tate’s emerging modern print collection is enhanced by gifts from Rose and Chris Prater, founders of Kelpra Studio, who give the Tate a copy of every print they have produced, and from The Curwen Studio.
1980 – The Tate acquires a group of works by British and foreign artists from EJ Power, a former Trustee.
The National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) is established. Major works acquired by the Tate with its support include John Constable’s The Opening of Waterloo Bridge (‘Whitehall Stairs, June 18th, 1817’).
1982 – The Patrons of New Art is established to support acquisitions of contemporary art by artists of international repute. The Patrons’ Special Purchase Fund acquires work by younger artists, many previously unrepresented in the Tate collection.
1986 – The Patrons of British Art is formed to acquire British art from the 16th century to the present. Among works presented are paintings by William Blake, Spencer Gore, Thomas Lawrence and CRW Nevinson, ad sculptures by Thomas Woolner.
1987 – The Clore Gallery opens, bringing together the majority of the paintings and all the original works on paper from the Turner Bequest. The building is funded by Sir Charles Clore and designed by James Stirling.
1992 – The Heritage Lottery Fund is formed to distribute funds to cultural causes. It has since supported many major acquisitions, from the Oppé Collection of watercolours to sculpture by Jacob Epstein and drawings by Francis Bacon.
1996 – Janet Wolfson de Botton presents 60 contemporary works to the Tate.
With the assistance of the National Lottery through the National Heritage Memorial Fund, Tate acquires the collection of Paul Oppé, consisting of over 3000 watercolours and drawings by British artists.
2000 – Tate Modern opens at Bankside displaying international art from 1900. The Tate Gallery returns to its original role as the national gallery of British art. Renamed ‘Tate Britain’ it displays British art from 1545 to the present day.
2008 – Simon Sainsbury bequeaths a number of British and international works.
Anthony d’Offay makes the gift of ARTIST ROOMS, a collection of British and international contemporary art.

We got to see so many drawings of so many talented artists, but there were two paintings that really stood out to me. While the one picture was an amazing drawing of a fascinating landscape by John Martin (‘The Plains of Heaven’ 1851-1853), the other one, a drawing by John Singer Sargent, shows no other than Impressionist Claude Monet drawing one of his Masterpieces himself (‘Claude Monet Painting by the Edge of a wood’ 1885).
Before we left, we took the chance to see an arts in movement performance. 8 artists ‘painted’ a picture by making movements and noises and bringing everything together one after another until they reached a big final.
It was quite interesting and definitely a type of art for me.

After this performance we were finished at Tate Britain and went back to the Tube Station. As the day was far from over we quickly had to decide what we could do next. Our new destination was Regent’s Park. Neither of us had been here before and we all thought it might be worth to take a look.
We had good weather and the sun would make an appearance from time to time which made the experience even better. The Park is full of green areas and flowerbeds with some fountains in between. Inside this already beautiful park is the Inner Circle and within this gated part of the Park are the Queen Mary’s Gardens.

The Queen Mary’s Gardens are by far the most beautiful free Gardens I’ve seen so far. This big Garden is separated into many different parts. We first went to the Rose Gardens. Here you can see many different kinds of roses and each kind has their one special name like ‘Remember Me’ or ‘Keep Smiling’. In the middle of the Rose Gardens is a big circular area with a flowerbed in the middle and different ones around it. In the outer circle are many benches were you can sit down and enjoy this natural beauty.

We decided to have a seat ourselves and indulge in our lunch snack. But clearly we didn’t thought about the animals and soon were attacked by a squirrel! Yes squirrel. These Rat like animals that everyone thinks so highly of because of their sweet and fluffy tail. You can tell that I was the one who had been attacked as I got over my adoration for those animals.

After our lunch has been so rudely interrupted, we moved on and soon came to a bridge to cross over a small pond that sits in the middle of the garden. We then followed the way along the pond and came to the Japanese Garden in Regent’s Park. This Garden had some similar features to the one I saw with Camilla, like the Waterfall or  a Japanese stone lantern. But the best part of this area is the small island that lies within the pond and is accessible from one side. By now Lea had unpacked her big camera and we started taking pictures for fun, but I’ve got to say, I quite like them!

After our photo session we tried to find our way back out of the Queen Mary’s Gardens and then also back out of Regent’s Park. We exited the Park close to Baker Street. As Sherlock Holmes supposedly used to live here, we decided to go by his old address and visited the Museums shop.

Following our trip to Tate Britain on Saturday, Lea and I met on Monday, 22nd May to visit Tate Modern. Even though I’ve been here before, I wanted to come back to take another look and especially because there were a few new artworks.

I once again fawned over Claude Monet’s Water-Lilies and a few of Marc Rothko’s works of art. An interesting new artwork is ‘Monochrome Till Receipt’ from 1999 by Ceal Floyer. When you first look at it you start thinking why a till receipt is exhibited in an art gallery. But after reading the information for it and taking another look, I finally understood what it is really about. This receipt is not just any receipt, but the artist draw a picture by buying only white things.

I was quite surprised though to see a work of art of one of my favourite artists in the world: Niki de Saint Phalle. Sadly it wasn’t one of her world-famous sculptures called ‘Nana’, but one of her older pieces. ‘Shooting Picture’ (1961) is one of her ‘tirages’. These pictures were prepared by filling polythene bags with paint and enclosing them within layers of plaster against a blackboard. To draw the picture she then shot at the painting and the picture started ‘bleeding’ with paint. This Shooting Picture in particular was not shot by Niki herself, but by the artists Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns.
Of course I also got to enjoy some of Andy Warhol’s pictures as well and also the radio Tower ‘Babel’ by Cildo Meireles.

Behind the Tate Modern power station Building is the Switch House building. In this building are a few more exhibition rooms. One of these rooms features art with the topic city and a big rubber ‘carpet’ lies in the middle of the room. But this ‘carpet’ isn’t just a carpet, it’s a precisely detailed map of Beirut embossed into rubber made by Marwan Rechmaoui. Visitors are permitted to walk over the map and engage with the artist’s representation.

In another part of the building various sculptures and artworks are shown. One of those is ‘Spider’ (1994) by Louise Bourgeois. This large-scale bronze spider represents the spider as the strong mother: a protector, creator and repairer. This idea comes mainly from a poem the artist wrote for her mother in which she compares the mother to a spider. In a smaller room adjoin to this one, is another one of Louise Bourgeoise spiders. ‘Spider I’ (1995) is smaller than the first one and belongs to a series of spider sculptures.

The last thing we went to see was the London Skyline. In Switch House you can take a lift up to the 10th Floor. The 10th Floor is mostly open and you can walk around the house to take a look from every side on London’s beautiful Skyline.
However that was not the last I’ve done in May, on the last weekend we did two sightseeing days were we went from one attraction to the next and this post is already quite long so I’m going to spare that for a different time.

Thank you for reading and now that you got an idea on how much we’ve done in May, you might understand why it took me so long to write it (6180 words!).
Hope you enjoyed reading about our adventures, especially because there are sooo many more to come.

Love,
Vicky! Xx

February – Chapter 2 of 12 – or in my case Chapter 7 of 12

Time is still flying and more days have passed. The countdown goes on:

ONLY 45 DAYS LEFT!

However are there not only just 45 Days left, but there are also just a few weekends left.
But these 45 Days are perfect to look back on what I’ve experienced so far and share all the adventures with you that I haven’t shared yet.

After January comes February and the February was just as eventful as the month before. It started with finishing my english School and taking my final exam just a few days later on the first Saturday of the month, the 4th February.
As the exam started rather early, I had to get out of the house early as well and started my journey to the exam school shortly past 8am.

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Learning and preparing for my Cambridge Advanced Exam

While my language school is in North London, the Exam was taking place in a language School in Wimbledon, which is 15 minutes on the Tube south to where I live. I got lucky to live in this area now, otherwise it would’ve taken me more than an hour to get there.
When I arrived at 8.30am I had to bring all my things in a different room and was only allowed to take something to write and to drink with me in the exam room. Our things were then locked in without access to it until after the written part of the Exam.

We first started with the ‘Use of English’ and ‘Reading’ part of the Exam. After the 1 1/2 hours, we had a little break where we could leave the Exam room for a little snack. After the 5-10 minute break we had to be back in and soon were able to start the ‘Writing’ part of the Exam. I didn’t like the options we had at all and tried my best to write something. However we are only allowed to write a certain amount of words and therefore I was finished rather early and had to wait another 20 minutes till the 1 1/2 hours we had for this task were over.

The last part of the written Exam was the ‘Listening’. This part is part of the written Exam because we have  to listen to a few recordings and then answer questions or fill in missing words on our question sheets. For this task you normally have around 45 minutes, but that really depends on the recording and how much time they give you to copy your answers from the sheet of notes to the question sheet.

When we finished this last part the written Exam was over and we had a longer break until the ‘Speaking’ Exam. While other people went to Wimbledon centre to buy some food, I came prepared and had some snacks with me and just waited at the other location for my exam time. Luckily I wasn’t the only one and soon found a nice guy who was also waiting there and we started to chat with each other. He was really nice and after I was finished with my Speaking Exam I waited for him to be finished to then take the Tube back home together.

Sadly I only had a few stations and therefore had to say goodbye rather early. After this rather stressful morning I thought I’ve owned myself a treat and made arrangements to meet with Charlotte to go to the Cinema to watch Sing! The Movie was great fun and we enjoyed singing along to all the good songs. When the movie was over it was still rather early and we decided to go for dinner to Nando’s.
After we finished our delicious dinner it was around 9pm, but we were both so tired that we decided to call it a night already.

The next day I planned on going to the big Au Pair meeting by the Facebook group Oh!Pairs. They were founded by ex-Au Pairs and their local friends years ago and take in every Au Pair, no matter if they have an agency or not. Together they organise meet ups in London and day trips to some other places. The meet-up started at 2pm and officially ended at 6pm and I left at 6.30pm because I was still too tired and still felt the leftovers of my cold from the weekend from three weeks ago.

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The big Oh!Pairs meeting in London’s Zoo Bar at Leicester Square

On Tuesday after my big exam I decided to go back to the language school for one last time to tell my teachers about the exam and to get my schools certificate that I indeed attended language school and graduated on a CPE Level. I really liked this school and the teachers there, so I decided I can’t come empty-handed and surprised them with a little chocolate treat as a goodbye gift.

After a small break I was back just in time to see the last two days of London Fashion Week. As the tickets for one of the shows are obviously too expensive, I was more than happy to learn that there is actually an open showhouse at Somerset House for free. The International Fashion Showcase 2017 presented by Mercedes-Benz was set under the theme Global / Local and showcased designs from all over the world. The exhibited designers weren’t world-famous ones, but it was still interesting to get a feeling for fashion from all over the world. However, I sometimes really had to ask myself who in the world would wear this!

At the end of February Max came to visit me again. Good thing is that this time nothing happened and we actually had the chance to enjoy our time together for the whole time of his stay. Although I had to work on one of the days, we still managed to do a lot.
Because I had to babysit on Saturday night he decided to take a flight to London on Saturday evening and we met directly on Sunday morning, 26th February. As we were a bit planless, we spontaneously decided to go to Camden Town. After walking around Camden for a little bit and giving Max a feeling of this particular part of London, we went back to central London and went for a shopping Spree on Oxford Street.

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Camden Market Hall

Later that day we went to his hotel for a little break and decided to eat dinner at the hotels pub as we were too lazy to go somewhere else. Around 10pm I took the Tube back home and went to bed straight away. But not without setting an alarm for 1.15am to be wide awake when the Oscars start. I woke up without any problems and managed to watch all of the Oscars with giving my eyes a little rest in every commercial break. As soon as the little mistake was discovered and the Oscar for the best movie was handed to the right cast, I went back to sleep for the last 2 hours that were left of my night.

Funnily I got out of bed better than I ever did. I actually felt full of energy and ready to start the day. After helping getting the boys ready, Max and I met again to originally visit the Tower of London, but then had to change the schedule, because the weather was too horrible. The alternative was then to visit the Science Museum which is also worth a visit. I especially liked that there are so many ‘hands on’ parts where you can really explore and learn. But also the ‘Flight’ and ‘Making the Modern World’ exhibitions interested me.

However the ‘Winton Gallery’ was my highlight of the whole visit. It was designed by the late architect Zaha Hadid and is part of the Mathematics exhibition which examines the fundamental role mathematicians have played in building the world we live in. Sadly it wasn’t the exhibition itself that got me so excited but just the plain Gallery.

After our visit to the Museum it was time for me to head home again, because I had to work and help collecting the boys. However on our way back home from L’s playdate it started to hail and we were caught in the middle of this horrible weather. I was more than glad to finally be back home and being able to change out of my wet clothes.
After we had dinner and the boys were on their way to bed I said goodbye and got on my way to meet Max in Fulham, where we then went to Nando’s for our last dinner together.

I’m gonna write a different time about Max’s last day here in London, as we went to see the Tower of London. But we had a great time together and I was glad when I said goodbye that afternoon that nothing happened this time and I for once could let him go back home without any ‘damages’…

The rest of the month was rather eventless. Although I’ve spent a lot of my time doing fun stuff with the boys that month. One Friday I’ve baked a cake with L. which was a lot of fun. And on another day H. and I built his marble run down the steps. This was so funny and brought them so much joy that we had to move it from the main stairs to the ones leading up to my room, as I’m the only one using them. However this marble run stayed for a whole week and I had to take a video of it to be able to fix it or better, built it all over again one day.

Even though the February is the shortest month we have, I still managed to put a lot of fun and activities in it.
See you in 5 days for the next countdown.

Love,
Vicky! Xx

P.S.: I’m heartbroken that I once again feel the need to put a small message at the end of one of my posts. But I’m even more heartbroken about the recent events here in London. Luckily I was nowhere close to London Bridge when the horrific event happened.
All my love goes out to the victims, their friends and family and everyone suffering from the aftermath of Saturday nights events.
I’m still shocked about what happened and hope that the end of this horrible time is near. STAY SAFE!
#LondonBridge #BoroughMarket #WeStandTogether

The Countdown starts…

Time really flies! And even more so now that I’m starting my final months here in London. The big Countdown starts today:

ONLY 50 DAYS LEFT!

I wanted to take this as an opportunity to start with my blog again. Because there is a lot of catching up to do, I want to try to upload one post every 5 Days to mark the Countdown until I come back to Germany. I’ll try to sort the posts into the last 5 months, but sometimes I’ll take a few days out to write about them more in detail.

In January the new year started rather relaxed, as the family and I have just been on holidays. All the saved up energy was then spent on school, because not only the boys had to get back to school, but me as well.
I didn’t start with lessons until later that month, but I went back to school on the 10th January in the morning to do a part of a mock exam and register for the Final Exam.

On Tuesday, 24th January I started my last two weeks of lessons before the exam. The following Thursdays and the Tuesday after I had to take part in the lessons. However I went back there for another day for a mock exam and stayed longer one day for a mock speaking exam.

Going to school took a lot of energy out of me as I had to go all the way from Southwest London to North London during traffic times. Therefore I had to leave the house around 8.15am to be at School around 9.30am. Luckily both the school and my host family helped me a lot and let me leave earlier or didn’t said anything when I’ve been a few minutes late.
Having to travel through London during the morning peak times really make you feel like a Londoner instead of a tourist.

 

But apart from starting with school again, I also had to start finding friends again. Living in the new area makes it quite impossible to keep in touch with my old friends here, especially because we just grew apart.
Luckily my host family could help me and my host mum set me up with the Au Pair of one of her friends.

Charlotte and I met for the first time on the 9th January for a nice coffee in the morning before we had to go back to work. Following that coffee meeting we decided to go to Harrod’s big January Sale on Sunday 16th January. Taking the bus there together, we met at 2pm and strolled around Harrods while chatting and getting to know each other.

Even though we planned to meet each other soon again, we didn’t managed to until later that month. Therefore I went back to the Victoria & Albert Museum on my own. I really wanted to see the Undressed exhibition about underwear and there was still so much of the Museum that I haven’t seen.
Early on Tuesday, 17th January, morning I got ready and left as soon as I was finished to be able to spent as much time as possible at the Museum.

This time I went to see the modern design departments, where I saw the Panton Chair, the Bookshelf by the Memphis Group and the Corbusier Lounger. I knew all three furniture designs back from school.
While being at the Museum I even had the chance to enjoy the architectural features of the building itself, especially the entrance.

The weekend after was the worst weekend so far. During the week H started to show the first signs of the flu and by Friday H, L, the parents and I all felt a bit sick as well. V was the only one of the boys who was still able to go to school. Luckily my host mum let me spent as much time in my bed as possible. But in the afternoon she had to leave to Holland for a get together weekend with her college friends and therefore left me and the boys alone until my host father was back from work.

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Struck by the flu!

As the boys all had a cold they were rather easy to handle, but my cold was getting worse as well and when I was finally finished for the day I had a little fever and went straight to bed. The next morning wasn’t any better and again I was quite lucky, because my host father let me stay in bed instead of asking for help. On Sunday I still wasn’t back to normal, but I could feel that I was getting better. On Monday my host mum gave me more hours off, as the boys stayed home as well and I needed to recover for my first day back at school on Tuesday.
Hopefully I can finish my year without another breakdown like this.

Not quite back to normal, but with the need to finally get out of the house again, I made plans with one of the male Au Pairs, Louis from my old agency. We both hadn’t seen Fantastic Beasts yet and decided to go see the movie together.
However the cinema didn’t start until 5pm, so we went to the Tate Modern before.

So Louis and I met around 12.30pm at Victoria Station and took the tube to Blackfriars together. From there we walked over the Millennium Bridge to the Tate Modern.
The Tate Modern Gallery houses a vast modern international collection from 1900 onwards. The house of the gallery was originally a power station and was built by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott after World War II. The building’s chimney is nearly 100 metres high and the Gallery has been extended by another building in form of a twisted pyramid designed by Herzog & de Meuron.

After visiting a few of the free exhibitions we went for a little lunch at Nando’s at London Bridge and then took the Tube to Leicester Square.
We made reservations to watch Fantastic Beasts and where to find them’ at the Odeon Studios. The Odeon Cinema on Leicester Square is the cinema where all the London movie premieres take place. But apart from the big cinema, they also have a few small studio rooms. These cinemas are really small and only fit around 20-30 people and the seats are all situated on the same level. But these studio rooms are still really good and give you a good cinematic experience.
When the movie was finished, we went for a small evening snack at Burger King and then both got on our ways home.

The next day it was the Chinese New Year. This was quite the opportunity for me and Charlotte to meet again. Therefore I headed to central london for around 3pm on Sunday, 29th January.
Together we walked through Soho and entered China Town, which was full of the typical chinese lanterns and other decorations.
Sadly the weather wasn’t on our side and the crowd was a bit too much, so we decided to go to the cinema instead.
This time we went to the Vue cinema on Leicester Square. As we both desperately wanted to see ‘La La Land’, we quickly decided on that movie and enjoyed the nice experience.

As soon as January has started it was finished again and February was there. But that’s another story, for another day.

Hope everyone had a nice January themselves and more snow than we had.

Love,
Vicky! Xx

 

8th December: On the move 

When it was about time to leave my host family, I started a journey into the unknown. So far I hadn’t found a new family and I could only stay in London for a number of days. Even though I already found great friends who offered me their couch or spare bed, they too had to work (as an Aupair) or I was taking over their living room. But first things first.

After I packed all my things on Monday and Tuesday and brought most of my things to a friend’s house, I just had my suitcase and backpack left. On Wednesday I finished packing my last few items and cleaned my room one last time before my host mum was back at 9am and then brought me to the Tube Station.
From there I took the tube to Finchley Central, which is just a short 5 minutes journey and then walked from the Station to the language school. When I arrived at the school I had to carry my suitcase up to the office, where I could leave it until school finished.

Since my class was doing another mock exam I joined in, even though I already took on my break. After we all finished I went home with Benedetta. Because I still had to carry my suitcase with me it took us way longer than it normally would. When we finally arrived, she showed me her room and prepared lunch: nice, Italian pasta!
After lunch we had to collect the boy she’s looking after from school. Luckily he could have a friend over for a playdate and was therefore entertained and we could just sit next to them and chat for a bit.

Later that day, when the friend had left and his parents were back, Benedetta and I decided to head out for dinner. So we left the house around 8pm and walked along the High Road to see if we can find somewhere nice to eat. In the end we ended up all the way in North Finchley at Il Tocco D’Artista again.
Because we both weren’t that hungry, we decided to just share a Pizza. While we were eating Enrico showed up to join us. Since we knew we had to get up quite early the next morning, we soon headed home again and went to sleep at 11.30pm – finally.

Luckily Benedetta let me sleep for a little bit longer, while she got up to get the boy ready for school. I soon joined her downstairs and we then brought him to school together.

Around 10am we walked with my suitcase in tow to the High Road and went to a Café called Tintico, where we then stayed for over two hours. Next we went to the language school where Enrico just started his lunch break and went with him to Tesco. He then went back to the school to eat and Benedetta also decided to go home to eat. So I decided to start walking to North Finchley where I had to catch the bus to the next location. But I then met Emma in front of the language school and quickly decided to do the listening part of the mock exam from the day before.

At 2pm, I was finished and finally got on my way to North Finchley.
When I arrived I went to Aldi to buy myself something for lunch and then took the bus to Wood Green, where I then had to change to another bus to the area where Blessing lives.
Around 3.30pm I finally arrived at Blessings place and could relax for a bit. But I also played with her two still quite young children. Even though her daughter is quite shy around new people, she was already comfortable enough to be picked up by me the same evening.

After dinner I talked to a longtime friend of my german family called Andrew, to make plans for me to go stay with him and his family until I found something new. Since he doesn’t live in London, but in Lincolnshire I had to travel there either by bus or train. So I planned to book a ticket the next day, because it already was too late.

I was so tired that I went to bed quite early that day, just to be awake shortly after 8am the next morning. The good thing was that I didn’t need to do anything that day so I just stayed in bed the whole day or watched some television with her children. I even did a nap in the afternoon between 3.15-4.45pm.
At 5pm Blessing was back from work and we finally booked my bus ticket to Lincolnshire.
After Nando’s for dinner we all went to bed early again. Especially me, because I had to get up early the next morning in order for me to catch my bus.

The easiest and cheapest way for me to travel was to use a MegaBus+. This means that the first part of the journey is done by train (+) and the second part by bus (MegaBus).
My train was due to leave at 9.15am on Saturday morning, the 22th October, at St. Pancras Station.
So I had to get up at 7am to leave the house at 8am. Luckily there was a bus to Wood Green just arriving when I came to the bus stop. In Wood Green I took the Piccadilly Line to King’s Cross/St. Pancras, where I arrived at 8.45am at King’s Cross Station. From there I had to walk to the East Midlands Train Platform in St. Pancras Station and get my ticket from one of the staff members for East Midlands Train.

At 9am we were asked to board the train so we can leave at 9.15am on time.
When we arrived at East Midlands Parkway Station at 10.40am, we had 10 minutes to go outside of the Station to change for the MegaBus.
We again could leave on time and were on our way to Scunthorpe at 10.50am. Because everything went so smoothly, we arrived 3 minutes earlier in Scunthorpe, instead of the planned 12.20pm. After Andrew had picked me up, we drove directly to Sheffield, where one of his sisters would celebrate her Wedding anniversary.

When we arrived in Sheffield, we first went to pick up Hannah, his oldest daughter, from her MegaBus arriving point and then drove to his sisters place.
The party was really nice and I was happy to finally meet this sister and her family, since I got to meet his other sister back in 2011, when they both came to Trier to visit us.
I enjoyed to listen to all their stories, especially about my grandparents, who back in the days started this long friendship with Andrews parents.

But it all had to come to an end and we left around 7.30pm to bring Hannah back to the train station and then drove home ourselves. I was so happy to finally be able to rest a bit and sleep in “my own room” again. It obviously isn’t my own room, but I didn’t had to share it with anyone and it wasn’t the living room either. (Thank you Beccy for letting me sleep in your room!)

These few days were really stressful and I was quite happy to calm down and settle for at least a week. That’s what I thought. I never thought that I would actually stay there for nearly a month. Even though I’m very thankful and really glad that they took me in, I also feel quite sorry that I had to bother them for such a long time!

I can’t say thank you often enough, so here is another one: THANK YOU!

Love,
Vicky! Xx

Going to Jail

After the eventful sunday in Dublin, the Monday started much more relaxed.

At 10.30 am my host family, the boy’s cousin and I left home to drive to Kilmainham Gaol, where we arrived at 11.15 am. My host mother had booked a guided tour in advance, because they are always booked out for tours on the same day.

Our guided Tour was supposed to start at 11.30 am, so we walked around and read a bit of information about the building.

They startet building it in 1786 and it was opened in 1796 to replace the earlier prison.
The prisons before were usually disorderly places. All prisoners were held together and the conditions were unhealthy. After the prison reform movement (1727-1790) everything changed. Therefor Kilmainham Gaol has single cells and facilities for hygiene and health.

We also learned that the prison nowadays symbolises the tradition of militant and constitutional nationalism from the Rebellion of 1798 to the Irish Civil War of 1922-1923.
Not only the leaders of the Rebellions of 1798, 1803, 1848, 1867 and 1916 were detained and some of them even executed, but also all the political prisoners were held in Kilmainham Gaol. The first political prisoner was Henry Joy McCracken.
However, as a county gaol, the political prisoners weren’t the only ones. Kilmainham Gaol held thousands of ordinary men, women and children.
It was also used to house those prisoners, who were sentenced to be sent to Australia. From 1800-1850 over 4000 prisoners were transported to Australia via Kilmainham Gaol.

As the time had arrived we started the tour. The first stop was the small Chapel. In there, they showed us a short slide show while the tour guide said some things.
For example did he told us that one of the leader of the Easter Rising, Joseph Plunkett married Grade Gifford in this Chapel the night before he was executed.

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The Chapel of Kilmainham Gaol

The next part of the tour was the West Wing where we could see all the prison cells.
This part of the prison is quite dark and cold, you wouldn’t want to live here. But they had a big problem with overcrowding from 1800-1860, because many people committed crimes to gain entry to the gaol in hope to get food on a regular basis. With the overcrowding there were now up to five prisoners in a cell which was built for only one. Problems such as diseases and poor health and hygiene started to rise and that there was no full separation between adults and children or between the genders.
We were also told that there were a lot of children held in Kilmainham Gaol. The youngest has been only 11 years of age. Children who had to stay longer than two weeks even got school lessons.

Afterwards we went to see the prison cell of Charles Stewart Parnell. Because he was a rather rich prisoner, he had his own room which he was allowed to furnish and keep his own possessions. He was also allowed to interact freely with any visitor.

We then finally went to the East Wing. When I first entered it I was gobsmacked. The Room was so big and bright.
I said to my host father that I think the room looks awesome. He looked at me with a funny expression and said that it’s not supposed to look awesome, it’s a prison after all. But that’s the thing, it looks nothing like a prison.

The East Wing was built in 1861 and opened a year later. It reflects the very different ideas of the Victorian age. They believed that the prison architecture is crucial to reform the inmates.
The use of light was deliberate to inspire the inmates to turn better. The form, called Panopticon, allows the observation of all the 96 cells from one central viewing point.
Underneath are four cellar-level isolation cells, which were used for dark and solitary confinement. After the new East Wing was built only the male prisoners moved there, the female had to stay in the dark and cold cells in the West Wing.
The East Wing will still be used today, not as a prison, but as a concert/theatre hall, to use the great acoustic you have in there.

After the East Wing we went back outside to the activity yards. All inmates were allocated one hour of outdoor activity per day.
But they were separated for their exercises. The ones waiting for their transportation to Australia or for their execution shared a yard and the ones who has been sent to prison temporary, occupied the other one. The women were in a smaller yard nearby. The children were also nearby, but had their own separated small yard.

Going through a gate in the wall, we went to the probably cruelest place on the grounds of Kilmainham Gaol: the Stonebreakers’ Yard.

After 1910 Kilmainham gaol was closed as a prison to save money and were given to the military, the british army. So after the 1916 Easter Rising the british army opened it for hundreds of men and women, who were part of the rebellion.
The leaders of the Rising were sentenced to death and 14 men were executed by a firing squad in the Stonebreakers’ Yard of Kilmainham Gaol between the 3rd and the 12th of May 1916. Seven of them were signatories of the proclamation. In the yard are two crosses, a name plate and the Irish flag to commemorate those who have been executed here.

During the War of Independence (1919-1921) the british government used the prison to hold members of the Irish Republican Army captured.
When the Civil War started in June 1922 Kilmainham Gaol was taken over by the Free State Army who detained and sentenced male and female political Republican prisoners. The Civil War ended in May 1923, but the last prisoner was not released until 1924.
Kilmainham Gaol was officially closed in 1924 to never be opened again as a prison by the Minister of Justice of the Irish Free State.

From the Stonebreakers’ Yard we went back inside through the main entrance. Above the door are five monstrous interwoven shapes. They have been called dragons, demons, serpents and a hydra. They should represent the five worst crimes: murder, rape, theft, treason and piracy.

The tour then ended and we took a look at the exhibition.
In 1960 the Restoration Committee was established and they restored Kilmainham Gaol so it could be reopened as a museum for the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising in 1966. It was opened by Eamon de Valera, at that time the president of Ireland (1959-1973), but also the last prisoner of Kilmainham Gaol.
In the exhibition they showed the process of the restoration, but also artefacts of the time of the Easter Rising and the times before and after that event.

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One of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic showcased in the Exhibition of Kilmainham Gaol

Around 12.30pm we left Kilmainham Gaol and went to a café/bistro across the street to have a little snack to satisfy our stomachs until we could stuff them with lunch at Nando’s one hour later. After Nando’s we went back home where I played with N. outside until D. and her husband (B.) asked me if I want to come with them to the beach to take Trixie for a walk.

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My first Nando’s lunch!

At the beach B. and Trixie took the lead while D. and I followed, deep in conversation. The beach is really nice! Especially because it’s so close to the city centre.

When we came back at 5.30pm we had to get ready, because we would all go out for dinner at 6.15pm.
We once again drove to the beach, but this time a different part, as we went to Howth Harbour.
Some of us went for a walk through the harbour, while the others waited for our table.

We had dinner at Crabby Jo’s. After a bowl of spicy buffalo wings as a starter, I had Gambas Tempura & Chips for my main course. For dessert we had a 99.

After dinner the ‘children’ went for another walk. This time we actually went into the sea. Because it was low tide we could easily walk quite a distance through the now empty sea.

We were back home at 10pm and the boys went straight next door to D.’s house to sleep.
My host parents and I stayed downstairs in the living room with the grandparents for a bit. On the TV was a show on called ‘Rose of Tralee‘ which is a very famous irish TV show. But I’d learn much more about it the following days, when we actually went to Tralee.

That was my second day in Ireland!
Only four days left! 😦

Vicky xx