We went to Dublin and London last month. It had been 2 years since we'd visited Jason's family and friends; high time we hopped the pond.
Celebrating Jason's birthday in Dublin included a great meal and some pub time with old friends, and a brunch with lots of family. Dublin is always fun.
Padraig and I caught a jazz performance at a pub by another friend's band. And Obama shilled suits in a store window.
In London, we caught up with few more old friends and family members, including Felicia and her fiancee Chris. We'd first met Felicia in Cambodia.
Spending some time wandering around near our hotel in 7 Dials, I found some great design book and tchotchke stores.
I also perused the Enlightenment Hall at the British Museum. It's a grand, library-like hall filled with objects from private collections of curiosities. The commentary and contextualization of the objects is particularly interesting because it helps you understand how these objects were perceived, and why they were collected, at that time. Though many of the Western-centric ideas now seem misguided or just plain wrong, it's neat to see how people were trying too make sense of the world around them. The objects are grouped in sections like "Religion," "Art," or "Trade," with objects as diverse as Easter Island bird man cult objects; astrolabes; several hundred year old naturalistic paintings of South American plants; dinosaur bones; magic amulets; and ancient Egyptian wooden (!) boxes painted with hieroglyphs. In a way, the Enlightenment Hall was also a trip down memory lane; we'd seen reference to many of the objects and art forms on our 9 month trip around the Pacific.
A Wedgwood anti-slavery plaque was among the collection. Coincidentally, I'd recently read about the plaque in a New York Times book review; Charles Darwin and Josiah Wedgwood were both abolitionists (as well as friends), and that Wedgwood had created this plaque to help the abolitionist cause.
There was also an exhibit on Babylon, where one could see lion and dragon tiles from the Ishtar gate, up close and personal. They're stunningly beautiful. I'd been wanting to see them for a long time. The rest of the exhibit was interesting, though it seemed like there were more objects and artwork about later perceptions of Babylon, rather than actual facts and artifacts from Babylon itself. Maybe I'd gotten a little weary of historical perspectives after several hours in the Enlightenment Room.