Lucy goes around the world in 88 days: Day 71 & 72

Day 71: Saturday 6th September
Today Miss Hannaford and I travelled by high speed train from Venice train station to Rome Terminus called Roma Termini. The trip is 3.5 hours long but because we were travelling first class, we had extra comfy seats, free tea and coffee and a great folding table so Miss Hannaford could keep working on her research.

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The train got up to 249km/h! It was super fast but we still could enjoy the Italian country side.

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So we are now in Rome and we will go sightseeing tomorrow!

Day 72: Sunday 7th September
Today Miss Hannaford and I started our sightseeing around Rome by catching a hop on hop off tourist bus. We started with a complete circuit of Rome going past the Colosseum,
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Then going past Altare della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland) it is also more famously known as the Wedding Cake because it is white and many many layers!

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After the wedding cake, the next sight was Castel Sant’Angelo- Castle of the Angel- a really big castle right in the middle of Rome, next to the River Tiber- the main river through Rome.

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The next sight was of St Peter’s Square and the Basilica of St Peter- the largest Christian church in the world and home of the Pope.

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After completing the full circuit on the bus, Miss Hannaford and I decided to stay on the bus until it got to the Colosseum and get off then to explore the Colosseum up close. When you get off the bus the first thing you pass is the Arch of Constantine which was built in 315AD. It is a triumphal arch in that the Roman Army would perform a huge triumph parade though the major streets of Ancient Rome showing the people the spoils of war. The parade would go under all the triumphal arches in Rome to acknowledge past triumphs and if the victory was important enough, the story of the victory would decorate a new triumphal arch.

This arch was perfectly replicated in the 1963 moive Cleopatra. Cleopatra, the last Queen of Egypt entered Rome in a huge parade showing the Romans the treasures of Egypt and she herself arrived on a huge sphinx that just fitted under the arch.

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After walking past the arch, we joined a tour and went inside the Colosseum! The Colosseum was just like our modern stadiums. In the colosseum people would watch in the morning hunters fighting bears, lions, tigers, rhinoceros from all over the empire. Sometimes the animal would win and kill the hunter, but the goal was to kill these ferocious animals before the crowds. In the afternoon, the Gladiators would fight but not always to the death, sometimes the crowd and the Emperor would spare the life of the loser if he had fought well. In the photos you can see where some of the floor has been rebuit and under the floor were the cages where the animals were kept and the gladiators prepared to fight.

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After our visit to the Colosseum, the next stop was a visit to the Palatine Hill, or Hill of the Palace and the Ancient Roman Forum right next to the Colosseum. The Palatine Hill is where the Emperors of Rome built their palaces. They are now ruins but the Palatine Hill does give an excellent overview of the Roman Forum.

The Forum was where everything happened in Ancient Rome on a daily basis. It was where you did your food and clothing shopping, it was where the goverment met, it was where most of the temples were located, it was where all the dentists and doctors were. It was also where everyone went to take a bath in public so they could get the latest gossip (men and women’s baths were separate). This explains why the forum is so big! Until not long ago- the forum was covered in meters of soil because of the erosion of the surrounding hills. It took 2000 years to cover up the forum until archaeologists started to excavate the forum. In one of the photos, you will see a green door halfway up a wall with no stairs to it. That is how high the soil got when it buried the forum.

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It has been a very interesting first day in Rome!
– Lucy

Lucy goes around the world in 88 days: Day 69 & 70

Day 69: Thursday 4th September
Today Miss Hannaford and I explored more of the back streets of Venice starting from the Train Station near Ferrovia vapparetto stop through the back streets, across the Cannaregio Canal to the Cannaregio district. Miss Hannaford had heard that there was a local puppet maker in the area but after wandering around the streets using the directions we were given, we could not find the workshop but we had a very nice walk.

Day 70: Friday 5th September
Today was our last day in Venice. The first thing we did was to get ready to travel to Rome tomorrow by getting washing done and making sure we had all the right train tickets for the next few train trips. I wanted to go to the top of the Campanile (the orange bell tower and symbol of Venice) and Miss Hannaford wanted to find another puppet shop that she had heard was near Saint Mark’s Square. Instead of catching the Vaporetto, MIss Hannaford and I walked through the back streets and bridges of Venice to St Mark’s Square and we paid €8 to catch the elevator to the top of the Campanile. What an amazing view of all of Venice and the Lagoon! Venice is made up of 180 tiny islands which explains why there are so many bridges and canals but the strange thing is that from the top of the Campanile, you can’t see any of the bridges or canals!

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After we came down from the Campanile, we watched the big clock chime 5pm. It is hard to see in the video Miss Hannaford shot, but the figures on the top of the clock tower actually move to strike the bell.
Here is Miss Hannaford’s video

Here is another video showing the figures moving more clearly.

Miss Hannaford did find the puppet shop but sadly it was closed but she took some nice pictures of the marionette puppets.

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So tomorrow we are off to Rome on the high speed train and in the middle of next week we are traveling to Charleville Meziere in Northern France using the French high speed trains!

– Lucy

Lucy goes around the world in 88 days: Day 68

Day 68: Wednesday 3rd September
I have really been looking forward to today. Our first exciting activity was a ride in one of Venice’s famous black gondolas! We travelled through many of the hidden canals of Venice from the Ferrovia Vaparetto stop to very close to Saint Mark’s Square. The canals of Venice are just like the streets people drive on so traffic jams happen when too many gondolas, water taxi’s and local peoples small boats all try to go around the corners of the canals at the same time from different directions.

The gondola is richly decorated with gold decoration and we noticed the seahorse sculptures on the sides of the gondola. The seahorses look like real horses but their back legs look like the tail of a fish! Gondola’s have no motor or propeller to make it go through the water. A gondolier (the person who rows the gondola), rows the gondola using just one oar, standing up and facing the way the gondola is going. You have to be very strong to row a gondola!

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After the Gondola trip the tour arrived in the most famous part of Venice- Saint Mark’s Square. The most famous buildings of Venice can be found around the square- St Mark’s Basillica, The Doge’s Palace and the Campanile- the huge orange bell tower opposite the basilica and the palace. St Mark is the patron saint of Venice and it is believed that his bones are inside the basillica. St Mark is represented in history and in the Bible by a lion with wings so the symbol of Venice is the Lion with wings and you see the lion everywhere!

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After visiting St Mark’s, the next famous building we visited was the Doge’s Palace next door. The Doge is the name given to the man who was elected to a role similar to President of Venice since for over 1000 years, Venice was an independent country from Italy. The Doge was elected from among the heads of all the important families of Venice. All the other family heads became the rest of the governing council of Venice and we saw the great big council chamber where they all met similar to our own Houses of Parliament.

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During the tour, we walked across the Bridge of Sighs from the Palace of the Doge into the Prison of the city. We got to see the tiny doors into the cells where 15-20 prisoners were kept in each cell.

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The last activity of the day was a water taxi tour of the Grand Canal starting at St Mark’s square and finishing at St Mark’s Square. Along the way we saw many old buildings that used to belong to the really rich families of Venice but many are now hotels. One of the really interesting things we saw was the ambulance boats next to the hospital. As mentioned previously, the canals of Venice are the streets of Venice and everyone gets around by boat including the Ambulance!

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It was a really interesting day
– Lucy

Lucy goes around the world in 88 days: Day 67

Day 67: Tuesday 2nd September
Today we visited the island of Murano to the north of Venice.

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Our journey started by walking through the narrow streets and small squares to the north of the hotel to get to the Vaporetto stop opposite Murano Island. Walking through the streets and crossing all the small canals you realise that the canals are the main streets of Venice. You see delivery boats bringing goods and supplies to shops and restaurants or collecting household rubbish like a garbage truck does back home.

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While we waited for the vaporetto, you could see the Italian Alps in the distance! They are really big mountains and we could not quite tell if we could see snow on the top or if it was sunlight!

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On the way to Murano, the first stop of the Vaporetto was Cimitero San Michele which is the cemetery island of Venice. It is a very interesting place in that people are buried on the island for only 10 years, then their bones are removed to a special crypt called an ossuary on the mainland because there is no land available in Venice for permanent burials.

Murano has it’s own grand canal and Miss Hannaford and I got off the Vaparetto at the Museo stop. Miss Hannaford wanted to find one of the glass blowing factories that demonstrate how glass ornaments and vases are made. We wandered around the island and we eventually found a factory that offered demonstrations.

First thing we saw was a vase being blown by a glass master artist

Next we saw the master create a Ferrari Horse in less than 1 minute from molten ball of glass in the furnance to finished horse!

While we were on Murano, we found a huge glass sculpture that is called a comet glass star. It was made for a christmas celebration on Murano and each of the blue glass tubes is hand blown and they are all more than 1 metre long.

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All of the shops have beautiful examples of glass art including jewellery, lampshades, small sculptures and very big sculptures. One of the last sculptures we saw was an enormous eagle all made from hand made glass on a really tall glass stand! The whole sculpture was more than 2 metres tall and the wing span of the eagle was more than 1.5m wide!

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It was a really interesting visit to the island of Murano- can’t wait to see what we do tomorrow!
– Lucy

Lucy goes around the world in 88 days: Day 65 & 66

Day 65: Sunday 31st August
Today it was another travelling day this time from London by plane to Venice. Miss Hannaford and I left the hotel at 8:30am to catch a red London double decker bus to Victoria Station. It was then a 30 minute train ride to Gatwick Airport. The flight was due to leave at 2pm but it was it delayed by an hour. The flight was 1.5 hours but you have to take into account that Venice is an hour ahead of London so we had to adjust our watches to 5:30pm.

Once you get out of the airport, you catch a vaparetto or water bus from Marco Polo airport to Venice and you get off at a water stop closest to the hotel so in our case- we got off the water bus at the famous Rialto bridge. One of the really challenging thing for tourists with luggage are all the bridges over the canals to get to the hotel. There are no ramps to pull luggage over so if you have heavy suitcases it can be really tiring to pull the cases up and over the bridges. We finally got to our hotel in Venice at 7:30pm so it was a very long day of travelling.
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Here is a video of our arrival in Venice by Vaparetto

Day 66: Monday 1st September
The thing that Miss Hannaford has always loved about Venice for nearly 20 years is the tradition of Mask making and the festival called Carnivale that is held every February/ March. Venice is famous for its ornate papier mache masks that start as wearable half face masks so that it is possible to speak, eat and drink, to enormous masks that are used as wall decorations. One of the oldest mask workshops is Cá Manca in the Dorsoduro region of Venice. Miss Hannaford has studied in the past about how Venetian masks were made and was able to talk to the mask makers about the materials they use in particular the type of paper they use. She was so excited to be given a sample of the actual paper that is used to bring home! She also painted her own mask in their workshop then they allowed me to try on several masks and take photos!

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A really great start to our week in Venice!
– Lucy

Lucy goes around the world in 88 days: Days 63 & 64

Day 63: Friday 29th August
Today is our last day in Stoke on Trent in the Midlands of England. We spent the day getting ready for travelling to Europe and I spent some of the day catching up on the blog posts. Miss Hannaford is really going to miss Stoke on Trent- she has made so many fantastic discoveries at the museum but we are both looking forward to new adventures in Europe and we are also starting to look forward to returning home.

Day 64: Saturday 30th August
Today Miss Hannaford and I travelled by train back to London for the last time on this trip. We are only in London for 1 night before we fly to Venice tomorrow. Since we had one last afternoon in London, Miss Hannaford and I went to visit the sights we hadn’t quite gotten to yet. The first place we visited was Cleopatra’s Needle, a real sandstone Egyptian obelisk from Egypt. The obelisk is flanked by 2 big bronze sphinxes and all the park benches either side of the obelisk also have female sphinxes on the ends of each bench.

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After visiting Cleopatra’s Needle our next stop was Paddington Station. This is another place Miss Hannaford has always wanted to visit since she was a child because another of her favourite story books and also one of her favourite children’s tv programs as a little girl was The Adventures of Paddington Bear. Paddington Bear got his name because he was found at Paddington Station wearing a hat and dufflecoat which had the label- “Please look after this bear- Thankyou.” Miss Hannaford’s first ever glove puppet of Paddington Bear came from Paddington Station- she was age 6 and she still has that puppet!

So I had my photo with Paddington Bear in the Paddington Bear shop.

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Our next and last activity here in the United Kingdom was to go and visit the Sherlock Holmes Museum at 221B Baker Street. Sherlock Holmes is a fictious famous detective who with his friend Dr Watson would solve crimes in Victorian England using science, logic and the famous phrase- “it’s elementary my dear..(name)…..”. This museum has been created to match the home of Sherlock Holmes exactly as it is described in the books by Arthur Conan Doyle. Miss Hannaford’s favourite story is the Hound of the Baskervilles but she prefers the movies made from the stories starring Basil Rathbone as she grew up watching them with her mother every Sunday afternoon when she was a small child.

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Miss Hannaford and I have both really enjoyed our visit to the United Kingdom and our next stop is Italy!

– Lucy

Lucy goes around the World in 88 days: Day 60 to 62

Day 60: Tuesday 26th August
Miss Hannaford kept working on her research at the Wedgwood archive today. She discovered some really interesting secrets of how different ceramic companies used to make moulds of antique vases and then make clay copies of those vases. It means that the early ceramic companies like Wedgwood copied vases using moulding and casting almost like they used a photocopier to make exact copies.

Day 61: Wednesday 27th August
Today Miss Hannaford was still researching in the Wedgwood archive but when she took a break, we went to the ‘have a go studio’ and the staff there had prepared a special surprise for her. She was given the opportunity to put an Egyptian decoration on a Wedgwood pot! The pot will be later fired in the kiln and sent to Miss Hannaford in the mail.

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When Miss Hannaford finished making her pot, we were given the opportunity to watch one of the Wedgwood craftsmen use a lathe to carve chopstick rests out of a rod of clay.

Day 62: Thursday 28th August
Today was Miss Hannaford’s last day at the Wedgwood Museum. She was given the very rare privilege of seeing behind the scenes at the museum at some of the oldest and rarest pieces of Wedgwood including several pieces that were early experiments for the pieces Miss Hannaford now has in her collection.

After the tour, Miss Hannaford had the opportunity to try another kind of Wedgwood decorating- using transfer pictures printed on a special plastic that will stick onto the pottery when it is fired in the kiln. All dinner plates and cups that have the exactly the same picture on them are decorated using this special plastic. Here is a picture of the old way the image was put onto plates before the invention of the plastic. The paper backing would be soaked off once the picture was on the plate.

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Here is the Elephant Miss Hannaford decorated- the colours will change a bit once it is fired in the kiln and the yellow plastic burns away.

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Miss Hannaford has learnt so much at the Wedgwood Museum archive that it is going to take some time to sort all the details out before she can finish her writing and research for her book.

Lucy goes around the world in 88 days: Day 59

Day 59: Monday 25th August
Today is a Bank Holiday here in England which means it is a Public Holiday for everybody and the archive where Miss Hannaford is researching is closed for the day. It is also the last week of summer school holidays for UK students- their new school year will start next week. It is very cold and rainy today- very much like Sydney so Miss Hannaford decided that we will go and visit the Gladstone Pottery Museum which is not far away from our hotel.

The Gladstone Pottery Museum is unlike every other museum we have visited during the last 2 months. Gladstone is the last surviving complete “Potbank” in the world. Before electricity, pottery was fired by using coal fired kilns. The kiln itself was kept in a special building called a bottle oven.
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Gladstone Potbank was first opened in 1774 and it is called a pot bank because of the number of bottle oven kilns it has- it has a bank of kilns. The last time pottery was fired in the bottle kilns was in 1964. This type of kiln is not used any more because burning coal is very dirty and very bad for the environment and people’s health. All the machinery at Gladstone is run by a single steam engine- just like a steam train just without the wheels!
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In the next room, you can see one of the machines that is controlled by the steam engine- the clay slip mixing machine where clay is mixed with water to make it runny so it can be poured into moulds.
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A really interesting room was the room where all the Saggars are made. Saggars are special clay containers that the pottery was put inside when it was fired in the kiln to keep it clean from the soot of the coal. Saggars were made in 2 parts- one man made the walls of the saggar but the man who made the base of the saggar has the most interesting job title- the Saggar bottom knocker. The saggar was shaped using the special wooden blocks you can see in these photos.
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When the pottery was put inside the Saggar, another man called the ‘Placer’ would carry the 25kg Saggar on his head to the kiln and it would be stacked to the roof of the kiln- you can see what that looked like in these photos:
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Here is a tour inside the bottle oven so you can see the actual kiln with Saggars inside!

Once the kiln was full, the door would be bricked up and the man in charge of supervising the firing- called the ‘Fireman’ would stay with the kiln for 3 full days day and night shovelling coal into the firemouths around the kiln. The temperature of the kiln and that space around it got to over 1200 degrees celsius! Being the fireman was a very dangerous job and it was even more dangerous for the men who took the blistering hot saggars out of the kiln. Burns, lung and eye damage were very common among the men who had the horrible job of entering the hot kiln and removing the saggars and taking the pottery out of the saggars!
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Some of the other very interesting rooms we saw was the mould making room, the room where real gold is mixed by machine in an oil to make a special paint that is painted onto ceramics as well as the room where different minerals and oxides are mixed together to make the colours that are painted onto ceramics.

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There are 2 exhibitions at Gladstone Pottery Museum apart from the factory display. One exhbition is about how tiles are made around the world and through history. It was really interesting to see the old fashioned press that is used to make tiles!

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It was really cool to see one of the special tiles that were used on the Space Shuttle!

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The other really interesting exhibition is the ‘Flushed with Pride’ exhibition all about the history of toilets! The exhibition starts with a recreation including the smell of an old fashioned street before the creation of sewers!

Here are some photos of the very unusual toilets!

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After the exhibition, Miss Hannaford went and painted her own little clay miniture bottle oven.

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It was a really interesting day!
– Lucy

Lucy goes around the world in 88 days: Day 57 & 58

Day 57: Saturday 23rd August
For Miss Hannaford and I, today was our last Harry Potter day. It meant we had to get up really early again to get the 6am train to London and it took 4 hours to get there! The first thing Miss Hannaford wanted to do was to go to a really big park in London called Hampstead Heath which meant we got to catch another red double decker London bus and of course we sat upstairs!

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Hampstead Heath is a really big park and it has a really big hill. The heath has lots of park benches you can sit on especially at the top of the hill and many of the benches are dedicated to loved ones who have died but at the very top of the hill facing the skyline of London, is a bench dedicated to the memory of the original Muppet Head Builder Donald Sahlin and the person who invented the Muppets- Jim Henson. This bench is almost a twin of the bench we sat on in Central Park in New York!
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Once we finished on Hampstead Heath, we caught the bus and then the underground train to Temple Station. This was our tour meeting place for the Harry Potter film locations bus tour in the afternoon. Since we got to the meeting point nice and early, we went to sit on a bench next to the Thames river and Miss Hannaford noticed that our bench had a Female Sphinx on the end of the bench! It was such a coincidence since Miss Hannaford is doing research about Egypt and has seen so many drawings of Sphinxes both male and female!
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The tour visited many places the walking tour went to but we also visited several new locations including Lambeth Bridge where the Knight bus squeezed between 2 double decker buses in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
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The next new location was Claremont Square that was sort of used for the scene outside Grimmauld Place in Order of the Phoenix. The local council and water authority did not want the filmmakers in Claremont Square so the set design team used a special camera to film a 360 picture of the sqaure and its buildings so they could use a life size picture and a real set to recreate Claremont Square exactly without disrupting the lives of the people who actually live in those houses.

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The last new location was Kings Cross Station and Platform 9 3/4. The real platform 9 and 10 does not look like the film because JK Rowling confused the platform at Kings Cross with the platform 9/10 at Euston station which does have arches down the middle to act as a barrier to platform 9 3/4. For filming, the real Hogwarts Express was brought to platform 3/4 at Kings Cross. Since Kings Cross is a real station, tourists are not alowed on platform 9/10 or 3/4 unless they are traveling on a train, so a wall has been built just outside platforms 9/10 and Harry’s trolley with trunk and Hedwig’s cage are embedded into the wall so you can have a picture taken! The queue was very long so Miss Hannaford and I went into the Platform 9 3/4 shop next door to buy some special souvenirs.
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Outside Kings Cross Station is a giant Hedwig Cage with a swing so you can sit on “a perch” and pretend to be Hedwig!

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Day 58: Sunday 24th August
Today was another rest day at the hotel. Miss Hannaford kept working on her research- sorting out her notes and I watched a few very interesting TV movies including one called Death comes to Pemberly. It is sort of a sequel to the famous Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen- with a murder mystery to solve.

The summer here in England is the same as our winter in Australia! Very cold and it rains every day! So it is perfect weather for staying inside!

We only have 1 more week here in England before we travel to Italy but Misd Hannaford has organised some interesting outings and activities for us to go on or do during the week.

– Lucy

Lucy goes around the world in 88 days: Day 54, 55 & 56

Day 54- 56, Wednesday- Friday, 20-22 August
Miss Hannaford has been making really interesting discoveries at the Wedgwood Museum the last 3 days. She has found hidden Egyptian Sphinxes on some of Wedgwood’s most famous sculptures that no one else who has researched Egyptian style Wedgwood has ever found!

While she has been working hard in the museum, we keep hearing really loud noises from outside, so I went to investigate and found huge munching machines pulling down the old Wedgwood factory building next door! One of the machines is very similar to a Tyrannosaurus Rex with a big jaw that reaches up and cuts straight through brick, metal beams and roofing sheets and throws them down onto the ground for a bulldozer to move into huge piles. I have seen big trucks full of building rubble go past the room where Miss Hannaford is working but now I know how the building is being demolished.

Here is a video of the T-Rex muncher pulling the building apart.

The very next day after I took that video even more of the building was gone- can you see what the T-Rex pulled down next?

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Here are some other photos of the old factory demolition that we have taken over the last few weeks while we have been at the museum. You can see how quickly that T- Rex machine eats through a big building!

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– Lucy