Tag Archives: university

Bristol bucket list: SS Great Britain

When I was 17 and choosing which universities to apply for, location was a major factor. Having grown up in London, the thought of going to a small academic backwater or remote concrete campus filled me with dread. Bristol, it seemed, had everything. Small enough to walk (almost) everywhere, but big enough to never be bored, it has been the perfect home for the last four years. But now, faced with graduation and an uncertain future ahead, I will soon be moving back to London to live with my family, and will be leaving my beloved Bristol behind.

When I was trapped in my house over Easter madly typing up my dissertation, I swore to myself that I would try and make the most of my final term at Bristol. For some people, this means trying to get drunk in clubs on the Triangle, but for me it meant enjoying the other things the city had to offer, revisiting favourite haunts and discovering new places, especially those I’d always meant to check out but had never got round to.

The SS Great Britain was one such place that I’d always planned to visit eventually. A few weeks ago, my friend Jon got in touch to say he had a spare ticket to visit the boat as part of the Museums at Night festival and so off we went to visit Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s famous ship.

IMG_0135I’d heard great things about the SS Great Britain -most notably that my brother, who ‘hates’ history, actually enjoyed his visit with my dad – and she didn’t fail to impress.

We started off underneath the boat. Although she looks like she is fully submerged in water, the bottom of the boat is in fact dry, and a glass platform, covered in a few inches of water, gives the illusion of the boat floating. Walking beneath the water to look at the ship’s propeller was bizarre and brilliant.


The huge propeller


Underwater but dry

The ship’s history is long and complex and to understand it best, it is well worth paying the (somewhat hefty) entrance fee to the ship and its adjoining museum. The Great Britain was launched in 1843, and for a long time was the biggest passenger ship in the world. She was also used as a quarantine ship and warehouse before being rescued and returned to Bristol.

Today the ship is a lively museum, telling the story of not just the ship, but of the people who built and used her. The adjoining museum building is organised as a timeline, taking you through what happened from the ship being built right up to her being rescued from the Falkland Islands and returned to her home in Bristol. On board, you can wander through the various rooms and cabins on the ship. Walking through these rooms, you are transported back to a different time and place, thanks to both the careful dressing of each area, and the smells permeating through the ship. This multi-sensorial approach was great for helping us forget that we were in a museum, although it wasn’t exactly pleasant. The room that was used for storing fish smelt like a fishmongers in hot weather, while we had to run straight out of the hull where the animals were kept due to the overwhelming pong of manure.





In the dining room, a lady played old time tunes on the piano, while another trio of musicians played among the cramped cabins in the first class area. We poked our heads into the tiny rooms, which got smaller and more uncomfortable the further down into the boat we went, and visited the ship’s barber, doctor and other miscellaneous characters.

When we finally emerged onto the top deck, the sun was beginning to set. The flags that cover the riggings fluttered in the evening breeze and we watched steampunks wander around, occasionally getting stopped for photos.





Because we visited as part of Museum’s at Night, our tickets only cost us £1 each (a complete bargain!) Regular tickets cost £12.95 for adults (or £10.95 for students), and they allow you to return as many times as you like within the space of a year. I left wishing I hadn’t left it so late to visit, as I would have liked to go back again in a few months’ time.

More info here http://www.ssgreatbritain.org

Have you visited the SS Great Britain? What did you think? Where else should I add to my bucket list?



Filed under Adventures, Archaeology, History, Outings

I have a new blog!


In an attempt to trick myself into thinking that the dreaded ‘D’ word might be fun, I have set up a blog to keep track of all the research I am doing for my dissertation. I think that by forcing myself to blog at least twice a week, there might a bigger chance of me actually handing in 12,000 words of something decent come April 2013. I also hope that it will solve the common ‘what are you doing your dissertation on?’ question, as my current answer, ‘I’m-looking-at-the-changing-attitudes-towards-First-World-War-memorials-in-the-run-up-to-the-centenary-of-the-outbreak-of-the-War’, isn’t very catchy and has the habit of sending people into temporary comas. So here it is: www.rememberedinstone.wordpress.com

I plan to change the name once I think of something better, as I am increasingly finding that a lot of WWI memorials are not made of stone, and that many of them have been forgotten, or at least ignored. If you have any suggestions, please whack them in the comment box below. As for the topic: I want to know how people in modern Britain feel about First World War memorials. In just a couple of years, we will mark the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War, but I wonder how many people really care? Several organisations have already set up 2014 projects to help fund conservation of memorials, but I’m also beginning to find that there are people out there keen to honour the dead who aren’t getting the help they require. Then there are the people that aren’t recorded in the newspapers: the apathetic. Those people who walk past war memorials every day without realising they are there, who probably haven’t held a minute’s silence on the 11th of November since they left school, but who may still be somewhat perturbed by the notion of a rock star’s step-son swinging from the Cenotaph. Another group of people I am keen to talk to are the people who see war memorials as a source of income: the metal thieves. So if you think you might be interested, head over to my new blog, and please let me know if you hear any war memorial news in your area (maybe your grandma lays a wreath at her father’s memorial every November, or perhaps you have a friend who was recently arrested for pissing on a war memorial?). I will attempt to keep this blog updated (as I have completely failed to do over the last three months) but it might prove a bit tricky between editing my university newspaper, working on my dissertation and other uni work and attempting to keep at least a portion of my sanity intact.

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Filed under Archaeology, History

Bully Brown and the Bigoted Woman

One of the most valuable things I learnt in the seven years I spent in an all-girls school was the art of bitching. Rarely were any of the comments my friends and I made intended to be hurtful, and were generally facetious, throwaway remarks. Bitching was regarded a bit of a hobby, or used to let off steam during tense periods.

There are three main rules to successful bitching

1) Trust your fellow bitches

2) Don’t slag people off too often

3) Bitch out of hearing-distance of the bitch-ee

If only dear Gordon Brown had considered the third rule more carefully yesterday, when, after meeting ‘life-long Labour voter’ Gillian Duffy in Rochdale, he bitched to his minions that she was a ‘bigot’. This would have been fine and, in my opinion, a perfectly normal way to vent after dealing with an irritating person, if only he hadn’t been wearing a Sky News microphone. Ouch. Rather than Sky editing this out, they decided to release it, and then play it back to Mrs Duffy who was expectedly crestfallen. Had he used an expletive to describe her, I don’t think the story would have been so wide spread. ‘Bigot’ and ‘bigotsgate’ can both be said before the watershed and published on the front pages of the newspapers.

After being alerted to his blunder, Brown apologised live on BBC Radio 2, rang Mrs Duffy, went round to Mrs Duffy’s house and later emailed Labour party members apologising for fucking up the campaign. After spending 40 minutes inside Mrs Duffy’s home, he emerged from her front door, smiling like he’d just done a big shit, saying that he’d cleared up all the ‘misunderstandings’ and learning about Mrs Duffy’s delightful family. What this means is that he spent 10 minutes grovelling, and was then subjected to flicking through her family’s photo albums for another half hour. Personally I would’ve made him hoover the house and wash the dishes, but then I know that Eastern Europeans come from, er, Eastern Europe.

I do feel sorry for Gillian Duffy, not only because she got called a bigot by the most powerful man in Britain, but because the entire world’s press descended onto her driveway, and then called her an ‘old woman’ (is 66 really that old?)

Reporters outside Duffy's front door in Rochdale

Tonight is the last leaders’ debate. I’m hoping Dimbleby will make it slightly more interesting than the last two, although I’m not sure the format allows for it to be as interesting as Question Time can be. Tomorrow I’ll be sending off my postal vote, which arrived along with my flat mates’ this week.

Our postal votes. And yes, the Cameron on Jo's ballot paper is THAT Cameron. He's standing against the Monster Raving Loony Party in Oxfordshire.

Now I have to return to my dizzying work load, after recovering from being forced to spend two hours out in the rain today, drawing a diagram of a wall. Why oh why am I doing this degree?!

P.S. i’ve just rediscovered this video. Which makes me love Gordy even more. Can Vivienne Westwood please make him superhero costume (Crap Man, perhaps?)

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Filed under Politics