Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Cheers My London Love

Where does the time go? I swear it was just yesterday that I was flying into this beautiful city completely unaware of the adventure ahead of me. However, with all these riots going on, I'm a bit relieved to be heading out pretty soon. For my final hurrah post, I've decided to make a little list about the things I am going to miss about Britain and a list about what I'm excited for when I return to America.
Oh Britain, I will miss your...
  • Public Parks full of people enjoying the sunny day
  • Accents
  • Fun playgrounds that don't have liability worries
  • Free museums
  • Student Discounts everywhere
  • Mind the Gap reminders
  • Tube rides
  • Duvettes
  • No sales tax
  • Digestive/Hob nobs biscuts
  • The Homeless men selling "The Big Issue" and not begging
  • Bueno Bars and other delcious sweets
  • Abundance of Indian and other foreign foods
  • Markets
  • Cathedrals and random ruins in the wheatfields
  • Poppy fields
  • Public pathways that cross through cow pastures
  • Sheep!
  • Having a Broadway musical opportunity any night of the week
  • Clotted Cream and Lemon Curd
  • Elderflower drinks
  • Tradition
  • Fish and Chips
  • Rompers
  • Incredibly tame dogs
  • Delicious Yogurt
  • Muelslie
  • Crazy hats and headbands

Dear America, I am so excited for your...
  • Abundance of trash cans
  • drinking fountains
  • Public restrooms that don't cost money
  • Stores open after 5:00pm
  • Wider variety of products
  • Better customer service
  • Cheaper everything!
  • Eggs
  • Real mexican food
  • Driving a car
  • Good tasting tap water and no weird looks when you order a glass of tap water in the resturants
  • Less smoky atmosphere
  • Toliets that flush completely
  • French Toast
  • Being loud
  • Lemonade that isn't sprite
Transportation construction in the middle of the night and not the middle of the day

Thanks for joining me on my journey through Britain. I hope you at least enjoyed looking at the pictures. I am so excited to return to the States on Thursday just in time for my brother's wedding on Saturday. Nothing like a wedding to welcome you back home. I believe London will always have a special place in my heart. Hopefully, I'll find myself back in this city one day. Maybe I can take someone I love to tour these special places and London can become part of their heart as well. To all the Ladies and Gents out there - Cheers!
LAST BRITISH PHRASE - "Gobsmacked" = an expression of surprise

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A most Congenial Spot for Happily-Ever-Aftering...

We just returned from our week long tour down south. For those of you who caught my reference in my title already understand that one of the main themes of the week was King Arthur. I've been singing "Camelot" all week long. Our first stop...BATH
Jumping picture with one of the professor's daughters
We began by walking around the Royal Crescent, this rounded row of Georgian houses. We played Frisbee on the lawn and then a group of us relaxed and read Pride and Prejudice out loud. Jane Austen lived in Bath for a while, but she didn't really like the city that much. I on the other hand, quite loved it.
We like big buns and we cannot lie
As we walked around the town, we found ourselves in one of Bath's oldest houses - Sally Lunn's Bun house. Basically the short story is that Sally Lunn, a young French refugee, arrived in England in 1680  and began to bake a rich round and generous bread now known as the Sally Lunn Bun. This bun became a popular delicacy in Georgian England and has become world famous. Of course, we had to get one. I ate mine with a bit of Lemon Curd...YUM!
Then we were off to the Roman Baths. The Romans actually settled in Britain before the Saxons. These Roman baths were social as well as spiritual places. This specific bath connects to a spring that was thought to have healing powers. There's lots of history and information on this bath, but I'll spare you the details for now.
So the water hasn't been touched in a very long time, so that is why it looks so grossly green. However, I kind of find the color beautiful in some ways. This picture is for my sister Tammy. She showed me a picture of her at the baths and I chuckled because she was pulling a "model" pose. I decided I had to do one as well...here is my best Roman bathing pose.
One of the things Bath was known for was its supposedly healing mineral water. People would flock to Bath for the social scene and the chance to heal from illness. Sadly, the mineral water probably made them more sick to be honest. This belief in the water began with some Duke who noticed that the pigs with skin disease would roll in the muddy spring water and miraculously heal. He decided to try it himself, was cured, and decided to start the city of Bath. Oh the things people used to believe!

Our second stop was Glastonbury, where we toured the abbey that claims to have found the bodies of King Arthur and Guinevere. After this, we headed to the beautiful coastal town of Tintagel. We walked a 6 mile hike along the beautiful cliffs of Tintagel. It was breathtaking to say the very least. The salty air felt so welcome on my skin. I felt like Kierra Knightly in Pride and Prejudice, out on the cliff feeling the wind in my hair.

There is an old ruinous castle on one of these cliffs that people like to believe King Arthur could have lived in. The Arthurian legend does not have much historical evidence to it, but I don't know if that matters much. I believe it is the ideals of Arthur and his chivalrous knights that people cling to. I think people always need a hero like Arthur to believe in - he brings hope for peace.
Hanging off the cliff while walking around the castle ruins
Our next big adventure took us to STONEHENGE! Because we are a school tour, we were able to go before Stonehenge opens and walk right up to the rocks. This isn't allowed normally, so we felt pretty lucky. Stonehenge is mysterious to me - what were they trying to do with all these rocks? How did they transport them 150 miles? How is it that they've stayed preserved like this so long? I may never know.
After Stonehenge, we headed to the beautiful man made Stourhead gardens. These gardens are famous for the Apollo Temple, which they filmed the Proposal scene from the Kierra Knightly Pride and Prejudice in. Of course, we whipped out our copy of the book and read that scene out loud and envisioning the whole thing. The Gardens were truly lovely.

The Proposal Scene
After our trip to the Gardens, we caught a ferry to the ISLE OF WIGHT. Alfred Lord Tennyson, the poet, spent much of his time on this island. He would climb the downs, the grassy topped chalky cliffs overlooking the ocean, for pleasure and inspiration. These downs are now named Tennyson Downs and they are magnificent. Their chalky appearance sets them apart from the coastal cliffs of Tintagel.
We read a bit of Tennyson's poem about Ulysses and the Lotus Eaters. I kind of feel like Ulysses, journeying and stopping at beautiful islands and grand adventures. But, like Ulysses, I am beginning to realize my need to return home. This dream-like life that I have been living here in England has been my relaxation from reality. I've loved it. It is my lotus-eating experience, but dreams always lead to waking up. Reality and the real world waits for me to return with my new knowledge. My home and family are calling to me from across the ocean. I think i'm reading to finally go home.
Our last stop for this tour was Victoria and Albert's Osbourne House on the Isle of Wight. Of all the houses and castles i've seen over these last 8 weeks, if I had to choose one to live in, it would be this one. I think it is because it feels more homey in a lot of ways. It was a place for Victoria and Albert to spend time with their children away from the royal scene of London. I love the Victorian lovey-doveyness and ornate details. Sadly, I was not allowed to take pictures of the beautiful interior of the house. I go weak for a good romance and Victoria and Albert's is one of the best. The way I imagine their marriage is exactly how I hope my own marriage will be one day. They loved and adored each other so much. Here are two quotes from Victoria's journal that gives you a little peak into their relationship:
"It was with some emotion that I beheld Albert who is Beautiful"

"My dearest Albert put on my stockings for me. I went in and saw him shave; a great delight for me."

Please watch "The Young Victoria" if you get a chance...you'll go weak at the knees!