Churchill Trust U.K and British Museum

The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust in the United Kingdom I was lucky to meet with Major General Jamie Balfour CBE, Director General at the offices of the Trust here in London. Getting there was my first major challenge as it meant not only buying a ticket and getting on "the tube", but also changing stations midway through the journey (which was a little daunting). I must say, if you just get in among the crowd and allow yourself to be carried along by the throng, how easy it is to navigate the system! To be perfectly honest, I hardly had to think about it and any queries I had I just asked one of the very helpful people at the ticket box and was given simple instructions about platforms, directions and changes. I was stunned by how many trains come and go so regularly. I think the longest I waited on a platform was 3 minutes (a bit different from home). It was also really easy to get a seat! Even if there wasn't one when I first got in, by the first stop I was sitting comfortably reading my book like a local!

Jamie was very welcoming and informative, advising me that he had been visited by Mike White (a fellow 2008 Fellow) only a week before. The U.K Fellowship program works a little differently from the Australian program, but I was interested to know about the achievements of some of the past U.K recipients.

After leaving the Trust offices, I headed to the British Museum (another couple of trains, but I was really getting the hang of it by now)........boy, I really should have allocated a week to look around the museum alone! What an amazing collection of gigantic things, statues, columns, tombs from Egypt, Greece, Asia........all over the place really. I had to elbow people out of the way to get a good look at the Rosetta Stone, but it was just as awesome as I had always imagined. I think I took about 360 photos at the Museum alone, but interestingly the building itself is equally as impressive as the exhibits. It's a bizarre feeling walking around among treasures from antiquity, it makes you feel so small and insignificant and yet at the same time so much a part of EVERYTHING! I guess that's the "unified field" for you!

I must admit, I did show my ignorance (quite proudly) by asking one of the information people where the English history displays were (seeing I'd walked for miles and seemed to be getting no closer to anything from iron age, dark age or medieval Britain). The lady said "oh you're looking fro room 46", and I guess I was! So I made my way, back through the noisy throngs of school kids, up the great marble staircase and wondered thru Roman Britain, Iron and Bronze Age and Medieval Britain (of course I did it all out of order........I'm not too good at following signs), looking at jewellery, pottery and ceramics, weapons etc. until I came across a small case that contained a real gem. It was the wax death mask of Oliver Cromwell! I must have stood there for ages, just looking at was so amazing, I just kept waiting for the eyes to open and for him to say, "Welcome to the British Museum madam".

After I tore myself away from Mr. Cromwell, I went down and walked through the Living and Dying exhibition which displayed ritual clothing and accouterments used by diverse historic and contemporary communities to celebrate life and memorialise those who have died (see I am keeping on message!)

By this time my feet were blistered, my shoulders were aching, so it was off to the pub for dinner and then home to bed, ready for another day of exploration and education.

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