Tag Archives: Third Place

Virtual Tours 1: The Titanic

Happy New Year, everyone!

With everything that hit the fan last year worldwide, I know that many of us have been missing the opportunities to go out and get some stimulation: Restaurants in many places are closed or reduced to take-away; concerts and theatre productions are cancelled until further notice; museums are closed; if shops are open, they may be closing earlier. For many of us, our “third place” has had to close its doors to us.

So I thought I’d take you along on virtual tours: Tours of factories to see how things are made, of museums, of beautiful places around the globe, of interesting architecture, of historical moments, or of quirky bits and bobs that make this world a colourful and interesting place.

To start off our tours, let’s take a walk-through on the Titanic, as it was before it let in the passengers for its maiden voyage. It embarked on that voyage on 10 April 1912, hit an iceberg on 14 April at 23:40, and 2 hours and 40 minutes later, on 15 April, finally sank forever. The final survivor of the sinking, Millvina Dean, aged two months at the time, died in 2009 at the age of 97. What I find interesting about her story is that her parents, from Branscombe, England, were planning to settle in Wichita, Kansas – where I was born and raised. Her father had relatives there, whom they were planning to join. They weren’t supposed to be aboard the Titanic, but due to a coal strike, they were transferred to the ill-fated ship. To read more of her story, please follow her link.

If Covid’s limitations were lifted right now, and if you had a spare £86,000 ($ 105, 030) burning a hole in your pocket, you could take a real tour of the Titanic and take part in diving expeditions. But barring those two factors, I’ve found a few simpler (and FREE!) alternatives (Just click on the images below each description):

This first link is a 22-minute tour; if you are easily seasick, I’d recommend pausing it occasionally.

This second link is for a slower and smoother version, at 116 minutes (1:56).

This third link is a fascinating documentary following the lives of some of the passengers aboard the Titanic, focusing on 14 from the same Irish village. Three survived to tell the tale.

I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did; I don’t know if “enjoy” is the right word in such a situation, but I hope it was at least a satisfying, intriguing glimpse into history. I’ve got slews more tours on the agenda, so buckle up!

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Filed under Articles, History, History Undusted, Links to External Articles, Snapshots in History, Virtual Tours

The Third Place

We humans are social beings; we crave, in varying degrees and in varying times, social interaction.  For extroverts that comes more frequently than for introverts; but at some point in time we all want to connect.  We each have what are known as physical “places” in our lives:  The first place is the private home; the second is often either the workplace or school; the third place is an environment in which we feel comfortable, “at home”, or refreshed in one way or another.  Some examples of third places are libraries, the barber’s or hair salon, Starbucks, pubs, public recreational centres, and restaurants that don’t breathe down your neck to order or clear your table.  The first two places are where we go because we need to, but the third is where we go because we choose to.

Bloomsbury Coffee House, London

Bloomsbury Coffee House, London; image credit – TripAdvisor.co.uk

Companies like Starbucks, or television shows like “Cheers” capitalize on this craving; they create an environment which feels like a home away from home, a place to slow down, to rest awhile, to read or write or study, and they attract people in droves.  In this cyber age we also have virtual places:  Facebook is the virtual equivalent to a pub, where people hang out and share their lives while friends are free to share and receive to whatever degree that suits them; in a way, it is essentially selfish:  We all have those friends who bask in the sunny parts of our lives, but shy away from our shadows; cyber platforms such as Facebook merely amplify that tendency.  Nevertheless, it provides a platform to connect with others with whom physical contact may be impossible; I have family abroad and friends in every time zone, and keeping up with them would be impossible without Skype and Facebook.

My third place varies:  We have a large flat with peaceful neighbours, so this introvert doesn’t necessarily need a third place on a regular basis; we have a library in our home, where I usually write, though I sometimes settle on our upstairs couch to work as well (just for a change).  When I go out, I go to a local restaurant during its slow hours, and I can unpack my laptop and work a few hours without a sideways glance from the personnel.  My favourite third place is actually in London; located in the cellar of the hotel (St. Athens Hotel, on Tavistock Place) I usually stay in while I’m there, Bloomsbury Coffee House is a friendly pocket-sized place with about twenty tables, and they are usually filled with students on laptops in work groups, and lone readers, writers and businessmen out for quiet breaks.  It’s dangerously close to (just around the corner from) London’s largest second-hand book store, Skoob Books.  The combination is irresistible.

Where is your favourite home-away-from-home place?  Where can you stretch your wings, sit back and relax, people-watch, read, write or simply contemplate the deeper things of life?  Let us know in the comments below, and inspire others with your ideas!

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Filed under Articles, Musings