I really enjoyed Antwerp. Sometimes, when you go places for conferences (especially academic ones), you can end up far away from the city you are in, or so insanely busy that you rarely see more than whatever happens to be in between the hotel and the venue.
Antwerp was a great location for a conference. The university it was held at is absolutely gorgeous (more pictures of that later), and the city itself is nicely navigable on foot, even for me (I can get lost on a straight line). There were also weird and wonderful things around nearly every corner from a printing museum (with the world’s oldest printing press!) to this bizarre combination of sculpture and science they had out on a side street. I couldn’t resist photographing it, but I really should have videoed. There was steam shooting out bits and propellers spinning and just generally a lot of movement that the still photo doesn’t really capture well. It does look like something out of Scott Westerfeld’s steampunk adventures doesn’t it? It is almost too easy to imagine that it’s just one moment away from lifting up one of those spidery legs and skittering off down the street. Continue reading
I’ve taken this same picture three or four times over the past fifteen years or so. In fact, I probably have some sort of before renovation-during renovation-after renovation series I could do with them. The first time I took this picture was way before digital cameras, and the print is lost somewhere in an album I’m sure is gathering dust in an attic, but the second time I took it, I blew it up and framed it, loving the geometric patterns in the glass and the way it seemed to branch out across the (blue and sunny!) sky–oddly enough, it was sunny the day I went to London this month, so I was able to take another daylight enhanced version of my “I visited the British Museum” picture. Many of the rooms in the British Museum are built to let in as much sunlight as possible, so, on days like this one, walking through it feels like some sort of sun-dappled journey through history. Â Plus, because so many of the pieces are photography-friendly, you can spend the day taking pictures of giant statues glaring at you, or lions that look poised to eat you, or that Elgin marble horse head that just looks…angry. I was planning on popping into the Tate Modern as well, but I ended up spending well, hours, wandering around the British Museum, so had to skip that and head straight for the Simon and Schuster Bloggers’ Event instead.
Although I normally just take the Tube everywhere, it was such a nice day (and I had enough time) that I thought it would be better to walk. I’m now at the point where the little triangle of London between Euston/St Pancras Stations, the main touristy bit, and the Simon and Schuster offices feels nearly familiar. That doesn’t mean I didn’t constantly reference my A to Z (love that thing) as I was walking, familiarity doesn’t trump my ability to get lost while travelling in a straight line, after all. I feel that I should admit that I went the wrong way once (coming up out of a tube station), but my keen sense of where a Starbucks might be (t’other way) quickly, if randomly, put me back on the correct path.
Not that I’m claiming the weather is my fault (either way–it’s been cold, but at least sunny, for a bit now. Â Although it appears to be heading towards cold and rainy again). Nope, today my fault was the riding. Specifically, the jumping.
I hadn’t really jumped in awhile, and I was starting to feel rusty, so I’ve been trying to schedule in some jumping lessons at the riding school. Â The first few went okay. Â The session with the grids went really well, and the second session with a sort of mini course went fine, but today I was riding a different horse and just…lost my ability to steer.
It’s so frustrating, because I know that I sometimes I just lose my ability to really jump well (mostly only in stadium, why I think it is so much more terrifying to jump the jumps that will actually collapse is beyond understanding), and today was one of those days. I am definitely out of shape, which was part of it; the horse I was on was definitely bigger moving than many I ride normally, and he could perhaps (for my sake at least) have used a bit that was a tiny bit firmer than the loose link snaffle he had on, but the issues we had were 100% my fault. I kept basically steering the poor horse around the jump. Â Because I was focussing on us having a perfect approach, I got all worked up about not being exactly straight and forgot that the most important part about jumping is to actually, perhaps, jump.
Argh. I did fix it a tiny bit at the end.
So, I promise to do better next time. Luckily, I usually only ride like an idiot one lesson at a time, so here’s hoping I got that out of the way.
To make myself feel better, I blasted Lily Allen all the way home. With a slight foray into Janis Joplin’s “Bobby McGee”. Oh well, you have to find what works for you, right?