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Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Me and the Gherkin...

Posted from Randi Art

I was in the middle of browsing the philosophy books at Foyles Bookshop in London yesterday when I received a call from Randi announcing her posting of this picture. She was very excited about how well the colorizing worked on this photo -- and rightly so. She's captured everything down to the very orange color of the Queen's University Belfast bag I was carrying.

The trip to London started with a 6:30 a.m. EasyJet flight from Belfast International to London Luton (yes, I was up at 4:30!), and ended with a 8:15 p.m. Flybe flight to Belfast City (yes, we have two airports!) from London Gatwick (finally got home about a little after 10 p.m.). The meeting I had was scheduled for 11 a.m., and so I had plenty of time to get there once I landed and caught the train to the city. The train station at King's Cross is really one big construction site, and of course I walked out the wrong door and so was completely disoriented and began walking in the wrong direction. With time to spare, I wasn't very anxious about getting lost. It's the wandering around that I really enjoy when I'm in London, because you never know what you're going to see as you turn the next corner -- as was the case with the Gherkin citing in the picture.

The meeting itself lasted until a little after 2 p.m., and I immediately headed off for Charing Cross Road and the area well known for its bookstores. Foyles is a particularly interesting store, and Londoners talk about the old days when you would wander into a place that what seemed in total disarray (it truly warranted the name "bookshop" back them). I'm told that not more than three or four years ago (but I suspect more than that many years), perhaps in reaction to the Borders superstore opened across the street, Foyles got its act together and made itself more "shoppable". While those who tell me about the old Foyles do so with a bit of "in the good old days" tone, I for one am quite pleased with the result. This is an interesting bookstore that rates several notches above its commercial superstore competitors, at least for an academic like me. It doesn't quite have the informal messiness and diversity of titles that you find in a place like Labyrinth Books (located near the Columbia University campus in Manhattan -- my favorite place to spend hours looking around to different titles), and comes closest to being a large version of the Harvard Book Store in Cambridge (not to be confused with the Barnes & Noble outlet that calls itself the Harvard Coop Bookstore -- good for what it is, but still very much a BN store. After an hour or so rummaging through the political theory shelves in Foyles, I spent still another hour in the philosophy section. And so went my afternoon in London before heading off to Victoria Station for the train to Gatwick.

All in all, very interesting day in London. Although my only view of the Gherkin came this morning when I looked at Randi's post...

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