A Yank's View of England Part 9
|Thursday - May 11th
Back during the planning for this trip, Helen had told me about Chris' teacher, Mr. Borrows, at St Cuthbert's Primary School, Great Glen, and how creative he was. She asked me if I would be willing to come in to his class one day while I was in England and do a "Science Lesson", escpecially as Chris was keen to show off his American friend in "Show and Tell". I thought about it for a bit, considered all the materials that I could pull together by way of preparation, and said "Sure, that would be fun." That was the last I heard of it. Well, one thing I've now learned about Helen is that once something's set up, there's no need to prattle on about it. So one day during the trip as we discussed things coming up to do, she said " and Thursday morning you're doing your Science Lesson for Chris' class." G_U_L_P! Well, so much for a slick, prepared presentation. Thought long and hard about this one, and decided to punt and go with what I know, Nuclear Engineering. Now this is a class of 8-9 year-old kids who obviously haven't studied calculus yet, so keep it simple. I started out telling them a bit about me and my family, what brought me to England, and what I've observed as differences between our two countries. Then I told them a bit about what I do as a nuclear engineer at Westinghouse. Then I said I would describe a nuclear power plant and how it worked, taking them with me on a tour using my words and their imaginations. I even got to introduce the mass defect in fission and Einstein's famous E=mc² mass - energy relationship that accounts for the tremendous energy potential of nuclear fission (or fusion).
So how did it go you ask? Brilliantly!! They were a wonderful class; attentive, polite, and full of excellent questions. One example I used ran smack into a cultural barrier. I wanted to relate a steam turbine to a child's pinwheel held in the steam jet from a whistling tea kettle. They don't have 'em!! All of their tea kettles are electric and open spout! Interesting! And the most fun part was the Q&A session. Not a single question on the nuke stuff. They all wanted to know about America; animals, what kids did, what the schools were like, etc. It was great! I could have stayed all day, but Mr. B had other lessons to teach, so we said goodbye and headed off to the Abbey Pumping Station.
The Abbey Pumping Station was built between November 1887 and May 1891 to pump the sewage from a city population in Leicester which had grown by more than 100,000 in 80 years.
At the heart of the station are the four Woolf Compound Rotative Beam Engines, two storeys tall, 21 foot diameter flywheels, gorgeous polished mahogany lagging on the cylinders, and acres of polished steel and brass. Add the ornate columns, fancy paint, elaborate pinstriping, and lovely wrought iron beams and railings, and you are reminded of the incredible beauty of machinery in Victorian England. It would be amazing to be on the upper floor watching the four beams in operation like seesaws on steroids. And they pumped shit! Amazing. The main exhibit hall was originally the boiler room. Only one (of the original eight) Lancashire boiler remains. Steam for the six-times-a-year the engines are under steam is provided by a single Cochran boiler that dates to 1925.
The permanent exhibit "Flushed with Pride" looks at the science and history of Leicester's public health, including, obviously, sewage! The display contains a history of water use from Roman time to the present day and has exhibits on everything from "Night Soil Men" to "Washing Pegs". On the way out Helen paid her respects to a bloke using the outdoor public convenience.
The exhibit area includes a nice Crossley engine belted to a pump jack as well as several nice smaller steam engines and other equipment. Note the outboard support bearing on this engine and the lovely wood lagging on the cylinder.
I think this is a Park cigarette advert, but I really like it better THIS way. 8-)
On the way home for lunch, we made a brief stop at the Roman Jewry Wall. Lunch was Marmite & peanut butter and Marmite & cheese sandwiches and pork pie. YUM!
In the afternoon Jim & Helen actually needed to get some WORK done. After all, French Brothers Insulation does need to continue in business even with a visiting Yank running about. So I took this opportunity to read a bit and wander around taking pictures of the French homestead and some of surrounding Kibworth Harcourt. I'll include those pics at the end of this trip report along with the unusual road signs. I did notice that the recycle bin was overflowing with empties which meant two things to add to tomorrow's trip plan. Head for the tip to dump the empties and head for the grocery store to restock the beer fridge!! 8-))
For dinner we went back to the Royal Oak pub in Great Glen. We were joined by Jim's mum and dad (Jan and Ron), and Jim's older brother Jon, wife Julia, and daughter Siobhan. For me the dinner choice was easy; steak and kidney pie. Or as Ron puts it in Cockney rhyming slang; Kate and Sidney or Snake and Pygmy. After dinner, as promised, the pub owner, Richard, teaches me how to pull a pint of real ale. Richard shows me how it's done. I can see I'm going to have an audience for my efforts. I don't remember the story he told me before I started, but it was obviously funny as Hell! Now it's my turn. Hey this ain't so tough. The fans (Siobhan, Chris, and Tom) seem to agree. To mark the occasion of my training, Richard gave me a great collection of bar towels (that now decorate MY bar), and several Guinness glasses. We finished off the evening with a few pints of Guinness for desert. We are L2R, Jon, Ron, me, and Jim.
Postscript on the dinner: If you are EVER offered "mushy peas" avoid them like the plague! Combined with Guinness, well, the next morning is practically lethal.
Next up is shopping in Leicester Market & Sainsbury's, Foxton Locks, and a day in Wales.
Arnie's UK Tour
|Rushden Cavalcade||Twycross Zoo||Peter Forbes'|
|Country Towns||Stoke Goldington||Roland Craven|
|Stoke Bruerne||Southern England||Local Attractions|
|Canals & Wales||Last Few Days|