Archive for the ‘Royal Institute’ Category

U3A Visit to the Royal Institute

U3A visit to the Royal Institute.

 

Three of us from Whittlesey U3A visited the R. I. in London Jeff Moreland his wife Jackie and myself. We travelled from Whittlesey to Peterborough by bus, (unfortunately too early in the morning to use our bus passes). We then walked from the bus to train station and after a wait onto a train to London, Kings Cross.

Whilst on the train we discussed the complexity of ordering train tickets online and the difficulties of navigating the pricing structures. We all agreed that a Nationalised rail service might well be a return to sanity.

On arrival at Kings Cross we tried the House of Illustration, my idea,  in Granary Square. It was about a ten minute walk, probably not so long when you know the way, we weren’t impressed with the current exhibitions, just two of the three galleries were open.

We then made our way back to Kings Cross to try the underground to Green Park, again the ticketing proved a bit of a head ache until Jeff and Jackie found they could use their contactless debit cards to pay at the barriers. Before they had been made aware of this they were quoted £25 one way. In a rare moment of forward planning I had bought myself an Oyster Card on the same day I bought my train ticket. Jeff had sorted out the line we needed and we were quickly at Green Park. We walked to Albermarle Street, found the RI and had a quick “recce”. The cafe was a bit crowded but after a quick look round we found a pub for a sandwich and a cuppa. The Ritz was close by but we decided against mixing with the riff raff, it can attract.

The Faraday Museum in the basement of the Royal Institute is very interesting and well worth a visit there is a lift down to the cafe which is also in the basement.

The lecture hall in the RI is very cosy and although the Christmas lectures on television give an insight into its’ intimacy, they also give an impression of more space than then really is, particularly in the demonstration area.

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The Lecture Theatre at the RI

Following an introduction by Pam Jones, (Chairman of The Third Age Trust) the lectures started.

The lectures were varied and interesting the programme started with Alison Fairbrass  with her lecture; New technology for monitoring London’s wildlife.

Alison’s area of interest centred on the movement of bats, monitoring them acoustically using specialist sound recording devices and software. She mentioned the problems of collecting large amounts of data, then being able to analyse the information and understand the results. There was a lively question and answer session at the end.

The lecture was very interesting but as the theatre was warm and stuffy I nearly dozed off at one point. During the tea break following the second lecture, we discussed what it would have been like attending lectures at the RI in an earlier time. In years gone by, nearly everyone smoked, probably mainly pipes at that, with the theatre lit only with candles and oil lamps, it would have made the warm and stuffy we experienced seem like a breath of fresh air.

The second lecture was given by Chiara Ambrosio with the title; What does art have to do with science?

The lecturer had a strangely strong Italian accent for someone who claimed to be born and raised in Oxford, it did cross my mind that Ms. Ambrosio was actually Italian and this could possibly be a ruse to ensure she is able to remain in the UK after Brexit. The lecture explored the historic relationship between art and science. How art was used to represent scientific thought and how often artistic interpretation had taken precedent over accuracy. In the question and answer session literature was touched on as being part of the arts, science fiction was mentioned, I have heard it described elsewhere as science prediction, rather than science fiction.

After tea and biscuits we had the last lecture, I noticed that there were empty seats after the break that had previously been occupied. It would be interesting to find out why.

This lecture was delivered by Chris Darby, the subject Cryptography. Mr. Darby explained the nature of encryption, how it was used to protect information or data and how it could be circumvented. As with all the lecture subjects that afternoon, they were just the briefest of glimpses into subjects of great interest and depth. This particular subject probably touched more of us directly, more immediately then any of the others, our data and privacy are now at greater risk from theft and misuse than ever before.

There was a closing speech from Pam Jones and we extricated ourselves from the rather snug seating.  Walked back to Green park station and made our way back on the now more crowded and cosy underground to Kings Cross.

We decided to eat at Kings Cross as we had a long wait for the train,  Jeff managed to locate a pie and pasty outlet, a noted area of interest for him. After demolishing the pasties Jeff and I had a walk round outside, leaving Jackie to guard the bags.

We had  a look at St. Pancras station, the view inside is stunning, the sheer size of the arched canopy is awe inspiring.

St Pancras Station

St. Pancras Station

Dominating the platform just through the entrance is a huge bronze statue of a soldier embracing his wife or girlfriend in an act of farewell. It is a beautiful work of art, easily accessible and not requiring any interpretation, it captures perfectly for me at least  the sadness and poignancy of the moment of parting.

St Pancras Statue

 The statue at St Pancras

We returned to Kings Cross and rejoined Jackie. I had a little bit of a look round the station and saw an item of real interest Platform 9¾.

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Platform 9¾

There was quite a queue at Platform 9¾ I didn’t actually see anyone make it through the wall though.

We caught the 7.10 train back to Peterborough, the announcement board left a lot to be desired the platform number was only posted a few minutes before the train was due to depart, leading to a rush for the train which left swiftly how the really disabled would have coped is anyone’s guess. This just reinforced our collective view of the shambolic state of our railways, (steps off soap box). We arrived back at Peterborough and were chauffeured back to Whittlesey by my daughter Naomi. All in all a great day out with excellent company.

 

 

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