Woke up and dressed at what felt like dawn in order to make the narrow and early 8 AM – 9 AM weekdays breakfast window. Collected materials and supplies for the first day, and met everyone at the Paul Mellon Centre for our introduction to the beautiful house the centre calls home, located in the posh Bedford Square business area. The structural walls of the centre and most of the ornamental plastering have been left in tact, so one can imagine what the original house might have looked like. Centre director Martin Postle (recently of the Tate Britain) and Viv Redhead, the coordinator for and resident expert of the program, dispensed information and tips, and then released us for a two-hour lunch break. I went to Pret a Manger, an English chain that sells pretty darn tasty fresh sandwiches, fruit, and desserts for a price that is reasonable even when converted into American. After eating, I sat in the sunshine outside Bedford Square on a giant wooden sculpture that resembled an octopus. The octopus featured many square arms planted at sitting-height… none of which were completely level. As a result, I shifted my weight around awkwardly, watching men in suits and women in heels pass in the strides of the hyper-professional.
The return to the centre meant the first architecture class, in which Professor Sandy Isenstadt outlined some background and things to look for, and we all presented buildings of interest we had chosen. My architectural stunner was Denver International Airport, which is, after all, just plain neat to look at, and one girl spoke about the new Denver Art Museum. Clearly Denver is pretty important. We were also briefed on our Thursday field trip to Lloyds of London, which looks simply incredible. “Smart business attire” is recommended. Wonder how smart I’ll be.
After class we had a small “Welcome Session 2/Session 1 is Going Away” party featuring fruit, sandwiches, cakes, and some sort of diluted non-alcoholic cordial, all served in the ornate and very green library room. The return to Hughes Parry by way of a grocery for utensils was punctuated by heavy but charming English rain. Back home, a lot of indecision led to a slightly long-faced concession to patronize a very local pub, an experience that was charming if low key in the end. Cassie, Marjorie and I decided it was a “training pub” – a good place to experiment with libations and check out the scene before arriving at a pub that meant business. Whatever that might mean. At home Cassie and I tried to put together an itinerary of places to go and see, but that proved difficult. National Gallery or National Portrait Gallery? Llandudno or Cardiff? Paris or Rome? Bath or Budapest (flights to the latter from 17 pounds)? I think we’ve outlined through to this Friday. From there things are vying to make it into our schedule. There’s just not enough time.
Especially since there's... you know... SCHOOL.