Saturday, January 10, 2015

Sketches from England, Sept 2014

I visited England with my friend Ezra from September 7-19, 2014. I wasn't originally planning to travel to the UK last year as I was hoping to visit Melbourne and Sydney. However when my aunt who lives in Cambridge came to Singapore to visit, she invited me over, so I decided to take up the invitation, and for half a year I planned and looked forward to the trip.

Unlike my earlier trips, I didn't manage to do much sketching. Spending 2 weeks in Cambridge, London, and Derbyshire with a tight itinerary didn't give me much time to stop and sketch, and since I'm not a fast sketcher, stopping to sketch would mean giving up time to see many more things. In a place like London where there's so much to see, and where I spent so much to travel to, I left my sketchbook in my bag on most occasions in favour of my camera. The bulk of my sketches were done in places where photography isn't allowed, such as the British Library and places of worship like Westminster Abbey and St. Paul's Cathedral. Even so those sketches were relatively quick and messy in pencil.

Sketching is a great way to experience places you travel to, but travel isn't all about sketching. Travel, for me, is education - learning about different lands, cultures, people, the way they think and work and play, the values they uphold. Perhaps my little photography project on this trip Totoro Goes to England says something about a visitor from a vastly different culture (in this case Totoro, a Japanese cartoon character and mascot) visiting a foreign land; and perhaps it is also fitting that Totoro got lost in London 2 days before we headed north to Derbyshire. For some of my friends, you don't really experience a place until you get lost in it.

Ezra and I stayed with my aunt in Cambridge and took the train down to London for a week. With a TravelCard, it was very affordable, since accommodations were already covered and the 1-week pass covered all 6 zones for public transport in London. The first 2 days were spent in Cambridge, the next 6 days were day trips to London, then we drove up to Derbyshire and spent 2 nights in my aunt's Lodge there before returning to Cambridge. We spent one last day in London where we rented a tiny room for a night before taking the express train from Paddington to Heathrow and flying home.

Without further ado, here are my sketches from the trip, and some photographs.


Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2014

Aunt Dolly made us dinner with greens from her backyard

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2014
Going punting on the backs! That's Charles Darwin's house on the left.

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2014
King's College from the River Cam

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2014


Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2014

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2014
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mathematical_Bridge

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2014

Visiting with Aunt Sarah and Uncle Andrew

First day in London, we arrived at King's Cross Station,
where a whole queue of people were waiting to take photos here

Met up with Anne, who was studying there. She took us around for the day


Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2014

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2014
I made Anne and Ezra wait while I did these few sketches and copied the text

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2014

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2014

Met up with Alicia, who was there for a conference

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2014
Alicia and Anne enjoying their Ben's Cookies!

All this food for just 10 pounds at Covent Garden!

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2014
Natural History Museum

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2014

Met my friend Jacqui for dinner. She took us for some Ethiopian food!

Westminster Abbey, an old gothic abbey, and a very significant
part of English heritage.

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2014
Photography is only allowed outside the main church
building, so I did some sketches inside

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2014
Next to the statue of Sir Stamford Raffles, founder of Singapore,
is one of William Wilberforce, the great abolitionist. There are countless statues
and tombs of great people in churches like Westminster Abbey and St Paul's Cathedral

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2014
William Wilberforce's epitaph, and a sketch of the organ gallery from the Nave

There are way too many photos of so many places that I took during this trip that it would be quite unrealistic to even give a sample of each of the locations we visited. I won't be uploading them here for brevity's sake, but I'll put up the last set of sketches which I did at St Paul's Cathedral and some shots of the building itself.

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2014
It is hard to show the grandeur of a building such as St Paul's Cathedral


Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2014

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2014

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2014

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2014

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2014

Copyright © Favian Ee  Sept 2014
St Paul's as seen from the Millenium Bridge, which was built but closed
when I first visited London in 2001

England is a place rich in history and culture. I could probably live there if I wanted to, since I work in an industry that is well-established in London, but maybe I prefer to be a tourist than a resident at this point in time...

What made this trip to England really special was not just the place, but the family and friends we caught up with while we were there, some of whom I hadn't seen in many years. Even if we spent only a few hours with some of them, it was good to catch up and find out how they were doing. It was a privilege to be able to stay with my aunt and to be brought around by residents of the places we visited. To quote a famous sage,

The Master said, “Is it not pleasant to learn with a constant perseverance and application?
“Is it not delightful to have friends coming from distant quarters?
“Is he not a man of complete virtue, who feels no discomposure though men may take no note of him?”
- Confucius, Analects

Each trip is an opportunity for education, if we keep our eyes and ears open, if we put our pen and pencil to paper, capturing memories in pictures and words. I wish i had made time to reflect on my trip after I returned, for there were many thoughts, but I had to hit the ground running when I returned to the office after the weekend even while I fought off jetlag with lots of coffee. But thank God for sketches, and thank God for photographs, for when memory finally fails, I may still have these.

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