Parks and Recreation

London has great parks, and when it is warm and sunny, people flock to them. Over the weekend I went to Greenwich, and yesterday I discovered Primrose Hill behind Regent’s Park.

My friends and I had planned on studying on Saturday, but the sun beckoned us outside. The three of us went to Greenwich, a town known for its maritime history, Greenwich Meridian, and Greenwich Mean Time. The town was the site of the Palace of Placentia from the 15th century, and was the birthplace of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. The palace turned into the Royal Naval Hospital for Sailors, before becoming the Royal Naval College in 1873. It remained so until 1988 when it came under the ownership of the Greenwich Foundation. Greenwich’s combination of museums, parks, eclectic cafes and restaurants make it a perfect weekend getaway.Xue_8_3 Xue_8_6

The Greenwich Royal Observatory is located on the prime meridian, on top of a hill in Greenwich Park. Going up to the hill provided breath-taking views of the London and the Thames. Once we got to the top, the people below looked like ants on a hill. The Meridian Line divides the East and West, and there is a green laser projecting from the Observatory into the sky that marks the prime meridian. GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) refers to the mean solar time at the Observatory, and is a global time standard. Later in the evening, we caught the sunset by the riverfront. The red clouds in the backdrop, silhouette of London’s skyline, and the sun’s reflection on the water made the scene perfect.Xue_8_2Xue_8_1 Xue_8_5

Yesterday, I discovered Primrose Hill behind Regent’s Park. The weather was just as good as Saturday’s, if not better. Regent’s Park is one of the Royal Parks in London, and a short walk from campus. The flowers are starting to blossom and I can’t wait until they are in their full glory. Standing on top of the hill provides clear views of central London. Needless to say, the real estate prices are sky-high. There are several notable residents in the neighborhood – Daniel Craig, Kate Hudson, Kate Moss, and Sienna Miller. Though I did not take pictures of anyone famous, I did take pictures of the amazing view.Xue_8_4

Also during the past week, a friend and I went to the recording of The Gambler, a BBC radio show about the comedian Tim FitzHigham’s bets from the 18th and 19th centuries. The BBC allows fans to apply online for free tickets to the recording of various shows. Tickets are given out in a lottery system. The BBC Radio Theatre is a 20-minute walk from campus. One of the best things about UCL is its location, but its location also makes everything expensive. The theatre has a modern look with brightly colored furniture, glass panels, bright lights, and spiral staircases. From where we stood, we could look down a floor below us. Even in the late evening, the floor was packed with journalists. The scene reminded me of a trading floor at a stock brokerage because each person had three computer screens and everyone was smartly dressed. At 7:30 pm, we saw the weatherman on the TVs around the atrium and in person across the floor in a recording studio at the same time. I found that highly amusing.

This was my first time at a show recording, and the process was interesting. Tim the comedian got on stage to welcome us. We were encouraged to be loud in our applauses and emphatic in our reactions. He read his script from a music stand. There were segments of the show that were prerecorded. Whenever a prerecorded section came up, a green light on a pole lit up onstage, and Tim would pause and sip water. In sections where he misspoke, Tim would immediately repeat that section. I assumed the editor would remove the mistakes. After he read the entire script, the editor came up on stage with several sections for Tim to read again. This is all part of the editing process to create the perfect recording of the show. Overall, the show was entertaining and it was a great opportunity to see the BBC office.