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California Dreamin’ – not really

Today, it as not about California dreamin but dreaming about the rest of my life. And not so much dreaming but pondering, investigating, and wondering about the future. Turns out that the decision as to whether I come here for school may be a lot more about what could happen after school than the actual schooling itself.

This school, West Dean Colleg, is an amazing opportunity. It would be a very intense year long course ending up with a Master’s degree in restoration/conservation of clocks. There is simply nowhere else in the world that does anything like this. I would do a significant degree of academic work as well as hands on and end up doing a paper on a research project.

The lead instructor is a great guy, spent most of the day with him. We see life (actually clocks) in pretty much the same way. His interests and focus is very well aligned with mine. I won’t bore you with the details about that. I would also have exposure and contacts with several key people that specialize in particular skills, like gilding for example. London area is really a significant world center for clocks. After all this is where Greenwich is.

So my day consisted of a lot of talking and questions about the school with the lead instructor. The students were not at school today because they are still on a two week Easter break. It was nice because it was quieter, low key, and the instructor was not too busy with other things – I felt like I had a lot of his personal attention. He gave me a small project to do- test my basic skills. I had to file a square on a round pin – the pin was about 3/8 in in diameter. Then I had to mark out and begin to cut out a clock wheel. Part of this was that the wheel needed to have a square hole in the center that fit the pin.

It worked out OK – he said that I had the best skills he had seen of anyone that had come in for an interview to join the program, claiming to have some fabrication skills. So, that’s good.

After lunch, I walked around the grounds a bit – really pretty – big fields right in front of the school with sheep enjoying their lunch. Daffodils are coming up in the “lawn” – looks very cool. And the weather was a little cool as well. The sun has peeked out from time to time but the wind was crisp. Didn’t damp my spirits however. There are also very nice gardens in the property, both vegetable and otherwise. Much of the food we ate was grown on the property. This is a 6400 acre estate!

I will try to figure out how to make a photo gallery so that if you are interested, you can look at a few more photos. I took a 360 degree movie out in front of the school as well. If it works out, you might be able to hear some sheep baaing. We’ll see about that.

So tonite I am staying at a B&B in Chichester, a small town about 15 min south of the school. This is an old town that had a wall built all the way around it. Quite a bit of the wall still exists but the town has spilt over the walls by several blocks. Still small enough to walk around in about 45 minutes. Of course, even for a small town, there is this huge cathedral in the middle of town – a still operating church. The church building is in pretty decent shape but the unattached bell tower is not doing so well – still holding up the bells which are still rung on a regular basis – twice a week. Bell ringing, for those that don’t know, is a pretty big deal over here. And you thought clocks were obscure!

Had a very nice dinner at a place in the center of town called Bill’s. I guess I wasn’t up for the pub experience tonight. I did have the fish and chips though – not bad!



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    • Hil on 17-Apr-2013 at 3:21 am

    Wow, Dad, this school sounds absolutely idyllic. Can’t wait for more pictures. Sorry to hear about your iPad

    • Heath on 17-Apr-2013 at 12:14 am

    Keep the posts coming, Dad!! Loving them!!

    • Tim on 16-Apr-2013 at 11:48 pm

    So excited to be reading this! When you say that going to this school will impact not just your time here but your future, are you talking about the opportunities this degree will afford you like jobs?

    Also none of us are surprised your skill level exceeds anything they’ve seen. Just saying…


    1. Yes Tim, I am talking about jobs. The instructor here said there are so many good projects on really great clocks, unfortunately he is talking specifically about England. However he did say that Bonhams in New York couldn’t find someone to fix a clock that they wanted to auction so they sent it to West Dean and one of the students restored it. So, there must be good work in the US too. Just have to be connected well.

    • Mike Schmidt on 16-Apr-2013 at 10:08 pm

    My wife Beverly are really enjoyimg traveling along with you. Your blogs are very enjoyable and so well written.
    You are having a great time and so that is how it should be for you. You have erned it. I like your descriptions of the English countryside and sights.
    Please stay on the left side of the road. 🙂

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