I'm in London for what was supposed to be a leisurely two weeks of research: time to do what I needed to do while also enjoying the city and seeing some friends. My research agenda is straightforward, and I thought I'd budgeted for any surprises: I'm just double-checking my transcription of a few different manuscripts of the text I'm co-editing. I figured I needed a maximum of four days at the smaller archive that holds the more important manuscript, and less than that at the British Library.
Today was my first day at the smaller archive. I've worked there before and I'd arranged my visit months in advance, in consultation with the head librarian. A week ago I checked back in with her to confirm. She said that she'd be on vacation but that the archivist would have the manuscript ready when I arrived.
It was good day. I went at about the pace I expected, and figured that if I continued working that steadily and came in a bit earlier each morning, I could get done in two more days. When I returned the manuscript to the archivist, I mentioned--just by way of making conversation--that I was hopeful I'd be done by closing time on Monday.
Oh, the archivist said. No one's here next week. We're all on vacation.