Tag Archives: England

Travel: August 17 & 18, 2018: Swansea Beach and Browsing Bristol

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August 17

Friday was another rest day. It was my last in Wales, so we ran a few errands, ending up in yet a few more bookstores, since I had nearly finished the book that I had brought with me and knew that I had three plane flights between me and home.

I went out to the beach that night on my own, just to enjoy being near the water while I could be.

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View towards the Mumbles

August 18

The next day we took a bus out of the country to Bristol, England. I had a cheap jumper flight from Bristol to Dublin, where I was going to spend the night in the airport before flying to Charlotte, NC.

The night before our trip, I had discovered that Bristol is home to a cat café, You&Meow, so that was where we headed first, using the phone for directions. We managed to get ourselves let in without an appointment and enjoyed delicious drinks while the cats played and stalked and lounged around the room. One of the younger kittens really seemed intrigued by our shoes. The rule of the cat café is that you can’t pick up any of the cats; the cats have to come to you or be resting comfortably when you approach them. The atmosphere of the café resembles that of a spa.

 

After that, we let ourselves loose in the city. While in the city, I had my eyes peeled. Bristol is Banksy’s hometown, but I didn’t spot any of his work in the wild, not that I recognized. We found the aquarium and the amusements of Anchor Square, but we decided that we didn’t want to pay the aquarium entrance fee.

The city hosts a series of locks and canals and, you probably know by now, I enjoy being near the water. I got to ogle tall ships at dock here too. I had heard rumor that visitors could climb into the rigging on the SS Great Britain, but we were already a ways from the bus station, on the wrong side of the lock to reach her, and didn’t want to wander too far. We turned back inland when our path seemed to dead-end.

 

After wandering a ways and picking up takeaway for lunch, we ended up at the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery because museum entry is free in the UK.

We whiled away the rest of our time in its exhibits: Egyptian artifacts, dinosaurs fossils, rocks and gemstones, pottery from around the world but especially from Bristol, paintings including La Belle Dame sans Merci, taxidermy including a tiger shot by King George V and a Tasmanian tiger too, and a Romani caravan built in 1900 and in use until maybe 1953. And yes, there is a Banksy piece in the hall.

I don’t have a lot of photos from inside the museum, although photography is allowed.  I was too busy ogling the collection and reading the plaques.

 

Bristol is another city I should have researched more before visiting. On the bus to the airport I started spotting old, crumbling castles, and looking at maps, I spy things sites that I think would have been interesting to see.

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This is the trail more or less that my sister and I took across Great Britain.  I couldn’t get GoogleMaps to let me include our Irish travels in the same map.  That map is here.

And speaking of doing better research, I should have read the fine print for RyanAir. My jumper flight ticket was fairly inexpensive, but then I ended up having to paying a fee because I missed the email reminder that I had to check in online to avoid a £55 airport check-in fee, and I was struggling to get my phone or the airport computers to connect to wi-fi to be able to check in online while in the airport, so I missed the window to check in online at all. Learn from my mistakes.

I had also assumed that once I got to Dublin I would be able to check in and pass through security and get to my gate and wait out the night there. I foolishly didn’t realize that airports close overnight, even though flights get into the airport late. I had had a reservation for a bed in a hostel in Dublin that I decided to cancel because I didn’t want to have to deal while sleep deprived with the stress of getting to the hostel (you might remember that my sister and I struggled a little to find the right way to get to Dublin from the airport) then getting to the airport on time the next morning.

I think I was foolish.  I think I ought to have kept the reservation.  But there’s no turning back the clock after a thing is done, and my worst fears might have come true had I kept it.

As it was I couldn’t check in at the airport until the next morning, so I stayed in the lobby. Only one convenience store was open to get anything to eat or drink. I slept a little bit on the bench of a fancier restaurant in the airport lobby. It was not dark. It was not quiet.  I didn’t sleep well. I hardly slept.

After checking in, there was another hour or so wait until security was open, so I could not immediately go through that line either.

I made it back to the US though, safe and sound, and on the plane that I had intended to be on. I landed just before a torrential, summer rainstorm that sparked this odd rainbow that barely bridged the highway.  What is was promising, I’m not sure, but it seemed significant, and I took its photo for the friend who was driving me back home.

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And that’s it, all. I’m home now, back in the US, and not sure what my next adventure might be.

What have been some of your greatest adventures?  Where should I go next?

All photographs are mine.  Click to see them larger.  Map created using GoogleMaps.

Book Review: Multiculturalism in All in a Day

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I have had so many requests since I started working at Barnes & Noble for multicultural children’s books, and the honest and sad truth is that there are really only a few and fewer that we keep on the shelves, so I was excited to come across All in a Day, which all but defines multicultural. It tracks eight different characters in eight different countries through a 24-hour cycle. In an attempt to weave the depictions together, a ninth character, who is stranded on an uncharted island, is introduced as the narrative voice. He calls out to the other eight, describing what they are doing at a given point and pleading for rescue from the island where he has been shipwrecked. There’s no explanation for how these messages are transmitted or received.

This book is the product of ten author/illustrators, including such famous names as Eric Carle, the Dillions, Raymond Briggs (others I assume are well known too, though I don’t recognize their works). Each character is done by a different illustrator from a different country. Theoretically, cultural and art school differences are apparent in the illustrations alone, but the average days of these characters more clearly explore cultural differences, where the British boy sleeps in a bed and the Japanese girl sleeps on a mattress on the floor beside her parents, the American boy is sent to bed while his parents celebrate the New Year while the Chinese boy stays awake to set off firecrackers and watch the fireworks. The illustrators compare dreams too, specifically those of a Kenyan boy and the Russian.

The sparse text can be difficult to follow, particularly as the narrative character is set out of line of the others and is the most washed-out, making him difficult to see, and it almost assumes some prior knowledge of the cultures, which I found difficult. The characters are not labeled with their names but with their countries and the current time and can only really be labeled by the narrator who will mention either their country or what they are doing. Not all of them are named on the first pages either, so there are strangers whose lives the reader is following, some of them strangers almost through the whole of the book. This is a book I had to read twice to grasp, and I would have liked to have read more and with more focus when I could digest the book. Its illustrations are its main feature and I think would benefit from some thorough exploration.

In the back of the book are two pages of further explanation and facts for older readers, which I didn’t get to read. These included explanations of how the earth’s rotation creates daytime and night and some information about how timezones work.

This will not be my first choice for a multicultural book (it reminds me of Mirror by Jeannie Baker, which I think is easier to follow, though maybe because that covers only two cultures, and I do not know that Baker has the intimate knowledge of both cultures that these illustrators have with the cultures that they are depicting), but I do certainly appreciate how many cultures the authors capture in a brief 32 pages and the narrator’s attempt at a humorous and cohesive narrative.

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Anno, Mitsumasa.  All in a Day.  Illus. Gian Calvi, Leo Dillon, Diane Dillon, Ron Brooks, Eric Carle, Raymond Briggs, Akiko Hayashi, Zhu Chengliang, Nicolai Ye. Popov.  New York: Puffin-Penguin, 1999.  First published 1990.

This review is not endorsed by Mitsumasa Anno, any of the illustrators, Puffin Books, or Penguin Group.  It is an independent, honest review by a reader.