Monday, November 24, 2008

the one with pictures from Scotland

So here they are--pictures from Scotland. Trust me, you are glad I waited. If I hadn't, I would have missed all the great pictures on the train ride home...that and I didn't have my camera cord with me this past weekend...
To finish the weekend...dinner was a bit of a bust. They somehow forgot we had a reservation (even though our leader made the reservation that same day...) so that caused a bit of a problem. I got fish and chips with mushy peas, which seemed odd because it
was a bit more of a posh place. I wasn't expecting fish, chips and mushy peas to be on the menu. Everything was good, though, so I suppose that evened everything out.
Another four hour train ride...complete with naps and novel reading. This time, though, it was light out so I could see the Scottish country side. Wow. It's amazing. I'll let you decide for yourself though...
So here we go! This first picture is of Edinburgh Castle. It was beautiful. From the top of the tower, you can see for miles. It's really something to see...
This is the Castle, up close and personal.
This church was outside of my hotel window. It looked sad and abused, but it was still a church. And I loved that you can still tell what it is even though the years haven't been kind to it. I hope I can live a life that reflects that...that I never forget who I am and Whose I am.

So these next two pictures are the ones I took from the train. Aren't you glad you had to wait? This train ride home is, I am quite confidant, when I fell in love with Scotland. Wow. It has everything really. Town, city, country--you name it! And the hills...the beautiful hills with the snow...Before I keep going and rant and rave, I'll let the pictures do the talking...
We'll I hope you've enjoyed the visual smorgasbord (as Dr. Tom would say) of Scotland pictures. Somehow, time has again sneaked up on me and it is way past my bedtime. I keep reminding myself that even though my time here is almost up, I still have classes. You see how successful I've been with that. I'll just put this on my list of things to do over Christmas break: sleep.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

the post from Scotland

Hello from Scotland! Now before you all get excited, there are no pictures with this post. I've spoiled you, I know. But at least I'm updating, right?
Friday we took a four hour train ride to Edinburgh. That was fun...yeah.
This morning, after a delicious Scottish breakfast (which is very similar to an English breakfast--actually, it's the exact same thing just a different country) we went to see Edinburgh by bus tour. No, not an enclosed, warm bus tour. It was the kind with the double decker bus with a bit of the top open. Guess where we sat? Yup. In the freezing cold! It was really nice though. You couldn't feel your face or toes after a while, so it wasn't so bad.
After the tour, we went to Edinburgh Castle. It was sooo beautiful! (Oh and Dad, I have inherited your propensity to take FOREVER in museums/ tour-y places. Thank you, so much. :) )
After I spent a few hours there walking around in the freezing cold (not an exaggeration, by the way) I walked back through the Grassmarket to my hotel. For those who like places with a bit of an interesting history, they used to hang people in the Grassmarket. There is also a pub here called 'The Last Drop' which I found very clever.
Tonight is a GSE dinner, which is great for two reasons: I don't have to make it/ clean it up and it's 'free'. Meh. I've paid for it already so I'll enjoy myself. That means starters and maybe even dessert! And that shows you how much I eat when I cook for myself!
Well the gloves I'm wearing are getting in my way a I think I'll sign off here. Cheers from cold Scotland!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

the day trip to stonehenge & bath and other adventures

I like day trips, I really do. Spending an entire day without school work or having to worry about anything like that is really a nice break. BUT...(come on, you knew there had to be a 'but' in all of this!) no day can be a complete success when you need to be somewhere by 8.45 and haven't had enough coffee to make your eyes look awake. The streets of London were e.m.p.t.y when we left for Earl's Court to meet the crew. I mean no people, nothing. Weird.

One perk of the day was seeing the rooftops where they filmed the beginning of 'Marry Poppins' when she is flying over London. We got to Stonehenge after probably an hour and a half in a bus, and was suddenly struck by this thought: Gee. I thought it would be bigger. Didn't you?
Maybe this picture isn't the best since I might have used the zoom on my camera, but really, I felt slightly disappointed. And then I felt guilty about being disappointed. Then to combat the guilt, I listened to a lot of stuff on my audio guide about Stonehenge, barrows, and what the henge possibly was used for. Then I got was actually quite a vicious cycle. I shut up the guilty, disappointed whiner inside of me with a cup of hot coffee and a 'Stonehenge Rock Cake' so in the end, it all worked out.
We had quite a long trip into Bath, but it was completely worth it. Bath is such a beautiful town. It has a really homey feel to it, and I might like it more than Brighton. So for those of you looking to live here...well, take that into consideration while you plan.
Very similar to how Stonehenge was 'just a bunch of rocks', Bath was just a lot of hot water. (It was also interesting to see the signs that told you not to touch or drink the water, due to its contamination. much for their healing qualities.) The old stone work was beautiful and curious to learn that so many people would come just to hang out in a big bath because it 'might' cure them.

Behind the Baths was the Bath Abbey. I didn't get a chance to go in, but it was really quite beautiful, even from the outside. This picture is really neat because you see many different types of architecture in one place.
One thing that I actually found interesting this day was seeing a house where Jane Austen stayed when her father came to Bath. I visited the front of the house, number 4 Sydney Place. I went to the park right across the road from this house to the park where she and her sister would walk. It was really neat. I also visited the Jane Austen Center which was full of pictures of the original Mr. Darcy, dear Collin Firth.
We made one more stop on our way out of Bath. This is the Royal Crescent designed by John Wood, the Younger. Though it looks quite palatial, it is really 30 houses all joined together. According to Wikipedia (all the profs here swear by it), a lot of the houses have been turned into flats, and there is a Royal Crescent Hotel that occupies numbers 15 and 16. If you go to Wiki and look up the Royal Crescent, they have a really cool panoramic view of the Crescent, because there really is no way to put it all in one picture. It's huge.
I am sorry this post comes off a bit...jaded. I am started to tire of endless audio guides and huge museums of really old things. Even new museums, like the Tate Modern I'm tired of. Well, that is a bad example because the Tate Modern deals with a lot of well, modern, art and I find it to be a bit of rubbish.
Speaking of the Tate Modern, I had a curious thing happen to me on my way there yesterday. I was coming out of the St. Paul's Tube stop and decided to cut through the gardens at St. Paul's to save time. As I turn the corner to the garden, this squirrel (oh, sorry. Sonya this story is about a squirrel. You can stop reading if you want to, I won't mind.) races around the corner, walks/runs OVER my foot, pauses, then runs off as I shake it off of my foot. SERIOUSLY. A squirrel stepped on my foot. It was so weird! But that is one thing I've noticed here. The animals (birds and apparently squirrels too...) have no fear of people. They just come right up to you. And I suppose the Narnian squirrels like to step on humans feet.
It's a weekend in Scotland for me, which comes at a perfect time. I need this break! The next two weeks are going to be slow, but the last week is just packed with papers. I promise to work ahead on them, mum. Don't worry.
Off to finish one last essay for this week. Then I can take a break. Oh, but I have to do laundry before Scotland. Oh joy.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

the slightly successful saturday

Saturday I had grand plans. I had the day planned out and I was going to stick to it. Right. Well the plan was to take a walking tour (guided by yours truly) of Westminster. I would start at Westminster Abbey and end up at the National Gallery. I had a lunch packed, a book for reading on the Tube, my guide book and my camera. Oh and since it IS London, I grabbed my umbrella before I left. Well I got to Westminster and as I come out of the Tube stop, it's raining. Not just a light spring rain--oh no! That would have been too easy. No this was heavy, blowing, chill-you-to-the-bone, make-your-socks-wet rain. It was cascading down the steps outside of the Tube stop. Picture a waterfall. It was like that, minus the topical feel I'm sure most of you are imagining. Yeah. (You can't really tell in this picture, which is outside the Tube stop, but I promise you it was raining.)

Well I trudged (To trudge: the slow, weary, depressing yet determined walk of a man who has nothing left in life except the impulse to simply soldier on.) over to Westminster Abbey and found quite a queue as well as an admission price I was not expecting. Did I see the line for tickets paid with credit cards? Of course not! So I trudge back to the only cash point I could find, and by the time I made it back to the Abbey, they had closed for the day. So now my pants were soaked up to my knees, my back pack was wet, my jacket was wet, I was cold AND wet. And hungry. But I did snatch a picture before I walked, since by now the rain had slowed/stopped, back to the tube.
The next leg of my journey was inspired by a history professor I had at Alvernia last fall. This has nothing to do with that class, thank heaven. Dr. Silbey was in London working on his dissertation and posted this picture on his Facebook. I thought, since it was near-ish to where I would be, that I would try to find it. So with umbrella in one hand and my directions from Google maps in the other, I went looking for 1 Mandela Way, the home of this tank.
The tank was very (Ha. London speak for less than a half hour of walking between the two places) close to the Imperial War Museum, where Dr. Silbey worked on his dissertation. It was really quite amazing. Because I went on the day before Remembrance Day (like the Americans Veteran's Day), the Museum was packed with families and veterans, all wearing poppy's on their lapels. (Dr. Silbey, THIS is the part that reminded me of class and all that talk of patriotism. See, I tried to pay attention!)
After an hour of two (not nearly enough time to get through everything) in the museum, I started my walk home. Well, my walk at least to the Tube. By this time it had stopped raining, which was great. I was still a bit damp and cold from my days adventures, so I treated myself to a Toffee Nut Latte from Starbucks. It was one of their many holiday treats, and was served in a red cup--one more sign that Christmas is coming soon!

(Here's a picture of me in front of a flat building near the pretty tank)

Friday, November 7, 2008

the empty weekend and the song that goes like this...

Well, faithful readers (or maybe not so faithful readers), I bring you an update! Now, don't get all excited, because nothing much happened. I am sorry.
Last Friday I went to see Quantum of Solace on it's opening night here in London! Rachel and I got all dressed up and went down to Odeon for the new Bond flick. (Meagan, these pictures are for you!) The theater was simply amazing and totally not like any of the theaters back home.
This is inside (obviously). Our movie was up those stairs and to the right.
This is me and my delightful date, Rachel. Sunday was another wonderful day at St. Giles. Rachel came to church with me and after service we were both invited to a wonderful lunch at Mark and Inge's. I am getting spoiled :) They are the sweetest people! I don't know how they got all of that food cooked in such a tiny little kitchen, or how every week they are able to fit two more people at their already packed table. But they do it, and I am blessed every week!
I went to see a show this past Wednesday. LMU got tickets for the study abroad students to see Spamalot. Getting to the theatre was a bit of a chore. My roommate and I got off at a Tube station that was a bit of a walk away from the theatre and then it started to rain. Of course, no one had brought an umbrella so by the time we got to the theatre we were a bit damp around the edges. Something happened with our seats, and we got an upgrade. We had, I think, the best seats in the house. We weren't on level with the stage, but not in the balcony either. Perfect seats. It was a very funny show...and those songs get stuck in your head like a bad Disney Land ride.
This weekend is also a bit empty. I will be doing homework most of the time, and later today I'm going to go out and do some exploring. Oh, and grocery shopping. Drat.

Two bits of happy news before I sign off. I found Little Women on youtube. The ENTIRE movie! It was the one movie I wish I had brought with me, but now I have it online! It is the funniest movie. It makes me feel more at home.
Attention Twilight fans! Road trip to England for the 19 December release? Let me know!