London: The British Museum and Platform 9 3/4

Since my last post, as you may be expecting, we went to London to visit the British Museum, following our ‘mini-trip’ the day before.

Arriving at Waterloo with copies of one of London's free  papers 'Metro'  Photo: J Beddington

Arriving at Waterloo with copies of one of London’s free papers ‘Metro’
Photo: J Beddington

We arrived at Waterloo, and took the tube

Photo: J Beddington

Photo: J Beddington

to King’s Cross, where we joined the line and got to take photos entering Platform 9 ¾ for the Hogwarts Express.

Photo: J Beddington

Photo: J Beddington

Please keep your luggae and personal belongings with you at all times. Photo: J Beddington

Please keep your luggae and personal belongings with you at all times.
Photo: J Beddington

Plenty of time! Photo: J Beddington

Plenty of time!
Photo: J Beddington

Almost missing the train! Photo: J Beddington

Almost missing the train!
Photo: J Beddington

What! No sorting hat! Photo: J Beddington

What! No sorting hat!
Photo: J Beddington

It was a beautiful day and we walked from Kings Cross to the British Museum. On our way we passed: the Victorian Splendour of St Pancras;

Photo: J Beddington

Photo: J Beddington

the bibliophile’s heaven of the British Library;

Photo: J Beddington

Photo: J Beddington

a crescent of regency town houses, (or Victorian houses on Regency lots?) (mostly converted to offices or hotels);

Photo: J Beddington

Photo: J Beddington

a couple of London’s leafy garden squares including Russell Square; University College London; and SOAS.

Photo: J Beddington

Photo: J Beddington

After all of this we got to the British Museum, where we promptly had lunch, because we could do that sitting down.

Since the British Museum does have something for everyone we then spit up. I went through the Middle Eastern Galleries and Visited the Viking Exhibit which was fantastic but somewhat spoiled by being so overcrowded, The Japanese rooms, Roman and Anglo Saxon Brittan and the Money Galleries were also visited. And, due to the layout of the museum several other galleries were walked through. So a highly cultured few hours were spent by all.

From the British Museum we went to take in Oxford Street and do a little bit of shopping before heading back to Waterloo for the train home. This time the favourite shops were Topshop, H&M & Primark, (all of which are huge). While Uni Quo was a known to be a UK high street brand, but everyone was surprised to find Muji shops here, as well.

We walked along Oxford Street, past Liberty in its distinctive Tudor style building,

Photo: J Beddington

Photo: J Beddington

down Carnaby Street

Photo: J Beddington

Photo: J Beddington

to the bottom of Regent Street

Photo; J Beddington

Photo; J Beddington

and Piccadilly Circus, were we saw the statue of Eros that was put back up backwards. We rounded out our walking tour by heading over to Leicester Square, where many of the UK’s film premieres are held.

From Leicester Square we headed back to Waterloo and Home to Winchester.

Photo; J Beddington

Photo; J Beddington

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Walking through history in Winchester

This week we’ve had two trips for the Bridge programme. The first was a fairly small one, and a practice or rehearsal for the second.

The students decided that they wanted to visit the British Museum  this week, to learn a little more about British History, of course you can do much more there than just learn about British History. We focused on reading descriptions and understanding explanations that you are likely to find in a museum or gallery.

We then put this into practice in the Winchester City Museum.

Being so close and a lovely day we walked, from the University

Photo: J Beddington Wysteria blosom in the sun, see it was a lovely day.

Photo: J Beddington
Wisteria blossom in the sun, see it was a lovely day.

We walked down Cannon Street.

Photo: J Beddington

Photo: J Beddington

At one time it was the first street outside the city walls where in only a couple of hundred meters there were two bakeries, (One traditional painted sign can still be seen)

Photo J Beddington

Photo J Beddington

seven pubs and several rooming houses, some with poor reputations. There are now no shops or bakeries and only one pub, all the rest of the buildings are private homes, and it’s a ‘desirable address’.

Photo: J Beddington Many medival city gates would have had Churches near or even on them. This was to enable travelers to pray and give thanks for safe journeys.

Photo: J Beddington
Many medieval city gates would have had Churches near or even on them. This was to enable travelers to pray and give thanks for safe journeys.

We then went through Kings Gate, yes that is a church on top of the gate, St Swithen’s-on-Kings Gate,  and the Cathedral Close, which is still locked every evening

Photo J Beddington

Photo J Beddington

A wall in the Cathedral Close, this type of mixed brick and stone constructions was imported by the Romans making for stronger walls. Photo: J Beddington

A wall in the Cathedral Close, this type of mixed brick and stone constructions was imported by the Romans making for stronger walls. Photo: J Beddington

Finally we arrived at the Museum.

Photo: J Beddington

Photo: J Beddington

Just outside the museum is this interactive light sculpture, if you text message one of the words at the base to it the lights and their patterns change.

Photo J Beddington

Photo J Beddington

There we learned about the history and development of Winchester from the Iron Age  through Roman  

Pictured here Romano-British underfloor heating or a hypocaust. Photo: J Beddington

Pictured here Romano-British underfloor heating or a hypocaust. Photo: J Beddington

and Anglo Saxon and finally Edwardian periods. Finally we finished our trip at the Butter Cross with its statue of King Alfred.

The High-street had its regular Wednesday Market and several Buskers playing music gave it a festival atmosphere.

Lulworth Cove

This is our first guest blog.

Last week Laura and Peter co-lead an excursion to the beautiful Lulworth Cove.

Here’s Laura’s take on the day.

 

On Friday, we visited Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door in Dorset. The small village had some spectacular views and wonderful walks.

Photo - Laura Pavlou

 

Photo – Laura Pavlou

When we arrived there Peter and myself left everyone to walk down the path towards the cove. The path down to the cove is filled with small restaurants, ice cream parlours, a fishmongers, and places to buy all the seaside essentials – buckets and spades. Unfortunately, the tree that collects lost buckets, spades and money for charity had blown down in the storms over winter. Although the tree was no longer there the views in the cove made up for the disappointment. The cove was lovely and quiet and there was a few dogs who were more than happy to run in and out of the freezing water.

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I did not walk the mile over the hill to Durdle Door but walked over the smaller hills. Once everyone had returned we stopped for some fish and chips before we came home and had some mushy peas!

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Our last stop for the day was the pub back in Winchester. We had a drink and some nachos and had a good old chitchat with everybody!

Ten and a half tips for exams.

Boo!

Ok that might be the only word in the English Language scarier than ‘exam’. But, we are in exam season and no matter how you feel about them exams can be frightening and stressful for many if not most.

The word ‘exam’ is an example of what linguists call a clipping, it is a short form of examination. Other clippings include ‘bro’ for ‘brother’ and ‘telly’ for ‘television’. The reason I find this interesting is that clippings tend to be more common in informal, casual or friendly contexts, not what most people would associate with an exam.

Here’s a few ideas about how to make sure you do as well as you can on the exams.

1 – Get enough sleep; plenty of sleep is even better. More and more exams require higher level thinking and reasoning, and this is nearly impossible to do when you exhaust yourself by staying awake for a week before the exam. Even if the exam only requires the production of memorised factual information, your memory also works better if you’re well rested, how often do you find no matter how hard you try you just can’t remember the name of that writer/book etc. only to find you know it the next morning. If you can go over your notes just before sleeping that’s fantastic. We tend to recall things well when we revise before sleeping, on the other hand even if you have the time this might damage a nervous student’s sleep with stress.

2 – For similar reasons, eat and drink sensibly. Remember the old idiom food for thought? If you skip meals to study more you deprive your brain of nutrients that it needs to operate at peak efficiency, similarly if you eat poorly you’ll find that higher order of thought more challenging. If you normally have a coffee in the morning don’t skip it, but don’t drink 6 either, if nothing else you’ll need to use the bathroom and that will cost you time in the room. Both of these first two factors are perhaps especially important for spoken exams, more on this later.

3 – That brings me nicely to time. Most exams have an element of time management in them. The tasks are not by themselves that difficult what is more difficult is to do them all well enough quickly enough. Clock watching can distract you and eat valuable time but you do need to keep the time in mind. For argument’s sake say there are 3 essay questions and you have an hour to write them you probably want to plan to spend about 15-17 minutes writing each one, (allowing yourself some time for overrun and some time for checking, editing and proofreading at the end).
4 – Find out (as much as you can) about how the exam is set up, where it will be, etc. Will the exam be in a room you know well or in a building you’ve never even visited before? The more comfortable you are in a situation the more you should be able to focus on the exam and the questions. If possible spend some time sitting in the room, perhaps even studying for the exam, (there are suggestions that this may improve your recall as you will associate the subject with the room).

Creative Commons attribution information. Testing times. ©comedy_nose via Flickr

Creative Commons attribution information. Testing times. ©comedy_nose via Flickr

5 – This is not to say that you shouldn’t study, and how you study depends on a range of factors including: what you are studying; how you study best; what the exam will ask you to do etc. Research shows us that what psychologists call knowledge mobilisation, (many teachers may know this as schema activation) helps enormously in response to questions, in the depth of analysis in answers, and a range of other factors. In short being familiar with the topic will make the exam (subjectively) easier; this according to some theorists, may be the most important feature of study.

Image by Chris Devers on Flickr; shared under a Creative Commons License

Image by Chris Devers on Flickr; shared under a Creative Commons License

6 – Be prepared, do you have to use pen or pencil? Have a couple of each of the tools you will need. If you are using pencils, have several sharp ones and a fairly fresh separate rubber (or eraser for the Americans) you don’t want to waste time sharpening pencils or using a tiny pencil-top eraser if you can avoid it. If you are using pen and you need to correct something a simple line through it will work; there’s no need to obliterate a slip from the page with 30ml or more of ink.

7 – Know the exam format, and the types of tasks you’ll be asked. There is a saying about familiarity breeding contempt. However, the more familiar with the type of questions you will be asked you are the more appropriate you answers are likely to be.

8 – That said, read the instructions carefully. According to some reports as many as 1 in every 6 or 7 exam questions are poorly answered not because of the quality of the response per se but because the answer does not directly or appropriately answer the question asked. So don’t assume you know what a question is asking, read and analyse the questions that are actually on the page not the ones you think will be there.

9 – Be confident in what you know, (again doubly important for speaking exams where how confidently and readily you answer may affect the mark more). This is a psychological factor that can be really difficult to control or even affect, but if you can be confident even about a certain amount of knowledge/aptitude/ability, even if only for some parts of the exam, this will reduce your stress levels for dealing with those parts you can do. If there are parts that are more of a stretch for you it is easier to cope with stress for short periods than for long, and the impact of stress on performance typically increases as the duration of the stress increases.

10 – Take breaks, stretch your legs, get some fresh air and top up your water-glass, even have a snack. Nobody works well when they take no breaks. So remember to take them. Have a sandwich with a friend, (just don’t go for that long walk and a coffee, that turns into drinks with them afterwards). Little and often is the trick here.

Lastly, and this brings me to number 10.5. What are you doing right now? Are you on Facebook? Twitter? Should you be studying? now maybe? Are you really still within that 5 minute break? Use your time wisely, so send this link to your friends https://eltsuwinchester.wordpress.com/2014/05/12/ten-and-a-half-tips-for-exams/ then stop procrastinating and get back to those books.

Following the Titanic Trail.

Yesterday, yes we’re getting faster at these posts, the Bridge group went to Southampton to follow the Titanic Trail. While perhaps best known these days for the film of the same name the Titanic’s first or ‘maiden’ voyage sailed into history, taking just a few days, in April 1912, over 100 years ago.

Photo: James Beddington

Photo: James Beddington

Because the ship sailed from Southampton, and various members of the ship’s company had links and connections to the port city, (over two thirds of the crew were local), there are a number of specific and general memorials around the city, as well as several buildings and establishments that can trace a connection to the ship. The Titanic trail is a path around these.

Photo: James Beddington

Photo: James Beddington

Southampton is located on a peninsula of land between the Test and Itchen rivers, which join in the Solent this is protected from the worst of the storms by the Isle of Wight: it is a natural port centre.

Photo: James Beddington

Photo: James Beddington

The trail starts, and ends, with some of the more specific memorials, to the postal workers, to the musicians and concluding with the Gatti memorial to the restaurant workers on board. This bookends some more general memorials; such as the one in the Holy Rood church, and the plaque at Gate 4 where everyone boarded the ship, (berth 43/44). There are also several buildings from the Sailor’s Home, where many of the crew spent their last night ashore, to the Grand hotel, now apartments where several of the first class passengers spent theirs. To the old railway terminus, now a casino as there’s no longer a passenger line to the docks, and the former offices of the White Star Line, where relatives of those on board came for information, in Canute Chambers.

Photo: James Beddington

Photo: James Beddington

It’s actually near this spot, although where exactly can’t be said for certain, that King Canute got his feet wet. While he’s remembered for being foolish and arrogant, his point in ordering the sea to stop was to prove to his courtiers that while he was king there were limits on royal powers and the authority of any one man.

Another thing that you can easily see walking round Southampton is the mix of old and new, sometimes jarringly cheek by jowl, other times more harmoniously mixed. One of the best examples of this must be the way that the medieval city walls survive better here than almost any other city in Britain, perhaps especially surprising considering how badly damaged the city was by bombs and fires in the early 1940s.

Photo: James Beddington

Photo: James Beddington

We had lunch in West Quay (remember say ‘key’), one of the largest shopping centres near-by. The two most popular shops for fashion were ZARA and Holister, but I buy most of my new clothes in Blacks so some fashion just misses me.

We rounded out the day by going to the Sea City Museum, where we visited the excellent Titanic exhibition. This really helped to understand the realities of life on board the ship, the course of events in and following the sinking.

Photo: James Beddington

Photo: James Beddington

A few general observations: while in Southampton, the city maps are as you are facing, not as it most common with maps here with north at the top.

We also encountered lots of new words from our guide book, and around the city.

‘Rood’ is a medieval word for wood; now archaic and only used in connection with churches/holy relics. As in the ruins of Holy Rood Church.

Photo: James Beddington

Photo: James Beddington

Sailors can also be referred to as seamen, or seafarers.

A fried egg sandwich can be called a ‘banjo’, especially in informal military dialects– because as the yellow yolk spills out of the sandwich you may look like you are playing a banjo, as you try to avoid staining your clothes.

Perish is another word for die.

Unveiled – means to show publicly for the first time.

Whilst – means at the same time as (but it’s becoming rarer and rarer, so can sound old fashioned now)

Prior – means before (quite formal in modern usage)

-side (specifically dockside) but we also talked about seaside and roadside we often use -side as a suffix to identify the liminal space or even boundary between two different places.

This morning we added ‘as the crow flies’ meaning the direct route, that you could find between two places on a map with a ruler or piece of string. This acknowledges that it is rarely possible to walk or drive this route.

 

Beaulieu Motor Museum

Last week, sorry this is a slow post, the Bridge programme went to Beaulieu (sounding more like BEW-Lee) which is the UK’s national motor museum, a one-time abbey (from the 11th century, now sadly in ruins) and later a grand country residence (the Palace House originally built in the 13th century <<as a gate house to the monastery!>> became the residence of the noble Montague family in 1534) before the museum was started (in the 1950s) with a collection of five cars, all of them red.

The day was typically English in weather as well as location.

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You can see here the sensible precautions taken in light of our weather. Waterproof shoes, jackets and even umbrellas are ‘must-haves’ for the UK.

One of the most popular parts of the trip was the ‘Harry-Potter-ness’ of the house. You can see the dining room here; note the vaulted ceiling, and the crest on the back of each chair.

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Another favourite turned out to be the café run by Leith’s one of the most famous catering schools in the UK. Coffees, cakes and hot chocolates, were enjoyed by all, a traditional fish and chips or watercress risoto provided more substantial sustinance.

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All in all it was a very varied day, with lots to see and do. It was also a successful trip from a language point of view as the students: bought tickets; asked for directions; ordered food and drinks & asked questions of the tour guides.