Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Bridge over CAM...

Phoebe and I took and spontaneous trip to Cambridge!!! By spontaneous, I mean that we thought of it the night before and made it happen... normally our day trips take much planning. This was also our first tour outside of London together that was not led by Susanna with the rest of the RoHo internationals. Phoebe and I were determined to be our own tour guides and make up fascinating facts about the University if we couldn't find real ones. But Cambridge did not disappoint and it had all the makings of a good day tour: History, old buildings, street markets, an old Cathedral, and of course, King Henry VIII.
We arrived at Cambridge around lunch time but decided to combine lunch and dinner to save money, so we just moved on to the different colleges. I will admit I felt very smart at Cambridge... not as smart as at Oxford, but Cambridge is a baby compared to Oxford. But Cambridge is celebrating it's 800th year, so we'll give it something.

This is a very cool clock... it was given to Cambridge by Stephen Hawkins or something cool like that... instead of having hands to tell the time, the lights simply flash around the outer edge to tell the time. I like the dragon on the top.
On our way to tour one of the campuses, we passed my the Cambridge Bookshop... it was moment... so many textbooks come from here.
Our first stop was King's College Chapel, which is pretty cool - I have seen my fair share of old churches on this trip, this one is pretty cool.
The chapel also offered a little exhibit about the War of the Roses, which I have become quite interested in since coming here... Here is a who's who of the war
This is where Henry VIII comes in... he was the product of the War of the Roses and was King when King's College was finished being built.
Courtyard of King's College
More pretty Cambridge places

This bridge is said to be the first bridge built without using nuts and bolts... it's called the mathematical bridge.
St John's College was next on the list...
St John's also has the Bridge of Sighs, seen behind me in the picture below
Phoebe and I also got very rebellious and dared to take pictures on the grass when no one was around... that'll show them and their silly signs!
There was also this random part of a stair in the middle of the lawn, so we sat on it.
Now on to Trinity College... they boast of a library built be Christopher Wren, which I am of course a fan of... and also this is where Sir Isaac Newton studied and where there is an apple tree grown from a seed from one of the apples that dropped an apple on top of Newton's head... did you follow that?
Christopher Wren's library
Also in Cambridge we partook in some street fair shopping, I bought a Cambridge Tshirt from one of the gift shops and also had delicious pizza, which I had been craving all day. Then we headed back home and I showed Phoebe Evita because she had never seen it... so good!

Monday, March 30, 2009

A trip to Hull...

March 26 - March 30 I visited Northern England yet again... specifically Hull an the home of John and Ann. I got in touch with them months ago through a mutual friend back in Phoenix - Barb. They are so lovely and it was an amazing weekend.
I made the journey by train all by myself and always feel so empowered doing things like that all on my own. I even got to finish my book The Eyre Affair - VERY good and entertaining!! I made it to Hull by 2:30pm where John and Ann met me at the station. We then headed to their house and had some lunch and a very relaxing afternoon of chatting and then some more reading (I started "The Constant Princess" by Phillipa Gregory - the author of "The Other Boleyn Girl"). They had invited friends over for dinner and it was so lovely to just sit back and enjoy their conversation. We also had the most delicious food! Ann is an INCREDIBLE cook and they even had a cheese course before dessert - very French - and you know me and cheese!
They house was so lovely and I instantly felt right at home. I especially appreciated the queen sized bed and down comforter and the bathroom which had the shower, sink, AND toilet all in the same room!

The second day I was there we went to Whitby up on the Northern coast of England. The drive was spectacular and I enjoyed every moment of the beautiful scenery, the moors, and the north sea. It even rained a little which was lovely because I really like driving in the rain! (It did luckily stop raining when we got to Whitby - because I love driving in it, not walking in it. Here is one of the pics from the beautiful drive.

We arrived at Whitby around lunch time and John and Ann insisted we eat at the Magpie... apparently people come from across the nation for their fish and chips and since I had not partook in the English traditional meal since January, I was excited! Without fail there was a line in front of the restaurant to get in.

After the delicious lunch (where I also discovered my new favorite cider here - Woodpecker) we walked around the town of Whitby. This town is known for many things one of which is James Cook, who discovered Australia. You can see the ship in the harbor as a symbol of him.

And a big whale bone...
The North Sea
Whitby also should sound familiar to you Bram Stoker fans because it is mentioned in Dracula... Whitby Abbey is mentioned in the story. It is very nice if you like ruins... which you ALL know I do.

Whitby needless to say was sunny and beautiful! It wasn't very warm and in fact dangerously windy, but it was SO nice.
Another thing Whitby is known for is Jet... the black stone (where the saying "Jet Black" comes from). The stone came into popularity when Queen Victoria became a widow... she only wore black jewelry. I was admiring all the necklaces in the windows of the shop and before I know it Ann walks up to me with a box that had a beautiful necklace in it!!! I was so touched!!
The rest of the day was pretty lazy, a delicious dinner and then bed.
Saturday morning was a tour of Hull in mostly the wind and rain. Hull is a very lovely town with old buildings and town squares and all the wonderfulness! They are a port town on the River Hull (the City's full name is Kingston Upon Hull).

Hull is also unique in that it is not apart of the England phone service and therefore does not have the iconic red phone booths... instead it has cream phone booths

More beautiful buildings

This is a room in the "Ye Ol' Whitey Heart" where the British Civil War began. It is called the Plotting room

Then John and Ann's son and his girlfriend came a stayed the night. We went to a wonderful pub in the countryside north of Beverly where I had delicious duck legs (I seriously had the best food this weekend). We drove around for a while, tried to stop in Beverly but it was too cold and windy to walk around and the church was closed that Ann wanted to take us to, so we just drove back to the house and hung out.
On Sunday I went with John and Ann to church and then to tour more of Hull. One of Hull's favorite son's is William Wilberforce who fought for the end of Slavery in britain... the movie Amazing Grace is about him.
The museum was very powerful and was all about the history of Slavery in Britain and how awful it was.
Next door to the Wilberforce house was the transport museum which has old antique vehicles, carriages, trains, and bikes. It was a fun museum with lots of cool stuff to climb all over.
Outside the museum was a beautiful garden dedicated to Ghandi... no idea why, he really has little to do with Hull, but the sun was shining and it was actually warm and I got 20 blissful minutes of sitting feeling the warmth on my cheeks while John and Ann went into the gift shop. It was heavenly feeling to actually feel my skin get some color.

The rest of the day I just got to sit and relax and chat with Ann... she does local theater and she told me all about the pantomimes she has acted in, directed, and written. It was so lovely getting to talk with her.
Monday I left to come back to school. I felt fully refreshed and relaxed from my weekend!!

Thanks John and Ann for taking care of me... you will never know how much it meant to me to feel so comfortable and welcome in your home!! A picture of me with John, Ann, and their son's girlfriend Tracy.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Hull for the weekend...

I am leaving tomorrow morning for Kingston upon Hull (better known as Hull)! I am way excited about this weekend. I am going up to visit friends of friends as previously mentioned and now that classes are done and Royal Holloway student population is thinning as they all leave to go home for Easter Holiday, I am anxious to be getting out and away from Founder's Hall. I am most excited about being in a house, with home cooked food for a couple days. I am also VERY excited to be seeing yet another part of England... I know, you didn't think it was possible for any bit of England left to be discovered after my extensive travels, but there is. Hull in a coastal town in the north east of England! I am also very excited to meet John and Ann.

In other news I bought my plan ticket to Frankfurt Germany to visit Matt and Sylvia! I will be there April 17th - April 26th! I am so excited to get to travel around a bit of Germany and we are even taking a holiday at Edelweiss Resort in Garmish, Germany in Bavaria... it is absolutely gorgeous!!! The Resort even offers a 3 country driving tour, so while I'm there I'll be able to get my passport stamped in Italy, Austra, and Switzerland too! Now that I have the tickets paid for I can start making a list of all the places I want to see in southern Germany!

And to not leave you without some picture... this is me last night all dressed up to go to the theater. The dress is from Primark which is the greatest store ever!!

Phoebe and I saw the campus production of the musical Jekyll & Hyde... it was awful. The production quality was abysmal and the singing was mediocre (except for the girl playing Lucy - she was very talented). The theater was also ghastly! It was hardly bigger than a classroom and had folding chairs and NO STAGE!!! there was just a line in the floor where the actors couldn't cross. I heard though that years and years ago Judi Dench offered to donate money to the school for them to build a proper auditorium... Royal Holloway instead informed her that they wanted to use the money to build a Japanese Theater instead. She pulled the funds, Royal Holloway still built the Japanese Theater and it current lies unused and vacant... because that was the stupidest idea in the whole world!!! I SORRY when Dame Judi Dench gives you money and tells you to build an auditorium, you build an auditorium!!! Stupid Royal Holloway!!!!

Anyway... I should get to packing for my trip!

Monday, March 23, 2009


YAY! I just got my schedule for my exams tonight... don't ask me why they took their bloody sweet time getting it out. How hard is it to schedule exams? aren't they the same every year?? I just don't get it. But regardless of the stupidity of waiting until the last week of the term to get us this schedule, it is here and it is beautiful. I will basically have 2.5 weeks of exams right at the beginning of the exam term (which lasts for 7 weeks)!!!! My first exam is on May 1st, second exam is May 7th, and my last exam is May 12th. I will basically be studying a lot those weeks too to prepare for the exams, but all will be well. Then May 13th I will be FREE!!! Phoebe and I keep adding countries to our list of travel places. Tonight at dinner we laughed our heads off because we couldn't for the life of us remember Belgium was or if it was a country or a city - I kept saying over and over again "Brussels, Belgium... no Belgium, Brussels... no wait" trying to figure out which sounded right. HAHA. Belgium is in between France and the Netherlands and is in fact the country while Brussels is a city in Belgium... needless to say we determined that we didn't deserve to go there if we couldn't remember what it was. haha. But right now the list of destinations is as follows:

*Belgium (okay we're still going)
*South of France somewhere

That is quite a long list and of course that list is before I have actually checked into any flight prices or train prices or hostel prices or anything... it's just a wish list.
But our plan is to make two arcs around Europe (northern and southern)... the first arc will begin around May 17th then we'll return in time for the Summer Ball 2009 at RoHo for the end of the year celebration. Then the second arc will begin June 7th and go till June 19th or 20th... But don't quote be on this because again nothing is settled... I may end up staying longer if I need to. I'll probably be settling more plans tomorrow and wednesday.

Also tomorrow and wednesday I am planning on purchasing my tickets to Germany to visit Matt and Sylvia! I am SO excited to be going into Europe finally and even more excited to get to hang out more with my cousins! We had so much fun in London!

Also this coming weekend I will be going up to Hull, England for a few days! My friend Barb has some friends who live up there and I have been in touch with them for the last couple of months. John and Anne are so sweet and I can't wait to meet them properly on thursday! Hull is in Northern England and right on the coast. I am just excited to be away from Founders for a spell and in an actual home! It'll be marvelously relaxing.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Stratford upon Avon...

This last saturday was out last tour with Proscenium Tours! I was so sad to be done, because these tours have been amazing... but it was a great last trip. This one was simple day trip to Warwick Castle and Stratfor upon Avon, the hometown and final resting place of the bard himself - William Shakespeare!!

Our first stop was Warwick Castle. Warwick Castle was once the home of the Earl of Warwick, a key player in the War of the Roses. Since then every Earl of Warwick has lived in the Castle until the middle of this century when it was turned into somewhat of a Renaissance Fair of sorts. A great place to take small children... but also fun for adults

Inside the Castle there were exhibits contributed by Madame Tussaud's wax museum... We couldn't help ourselves from taking silly pictures with them

Quick nap time in the drawing room
And of course they had dress up for us!!!

We hiked up along the castle wall to the tall tours to catch the sweet views
And we found a sword in a stone... alas we could not pull it out. I guess I am not meant to be King of Britain
And a little taste of spring in the gardens
the stocks
After Warwick Castle we grabbed lunch and Phoebe and I got delicious pastries from a street market for the bus ride!!! One of mine was shaped like a swan

After Warwick Castle we moved on to enjoy the sights of Stratford Upon Avon. Shakespeare was born here and also chose to die and be buried here. Although he could have been buried in Poets Corner in Wesminster Abbey, we felt Stratford was a better place. As a result Stratford is a town filled with Shakespeare tributes. Almost every shop and tea room is named for a Shakespeare play or character.
This is the church where Shakespeare has his final resting place...
Shakespeare is buried here along with his wife Anne Hathaway and some of his descendants. Unfortunately for the Shakespeare family he only had daughters so the Shakespeare name died with him... and his line all together stopped with his great grand-daughter.
Shakespeare also placed a curse on his grave to any man who would dare mess with his bones.
This house is an original Tudor style house... it was the home of Shakespeare's daughter Susannah who married a doctor. Funny story - back in ye olden Shakespeare times, when one had a sore throat they would go to the doctor. The remedy was to hold your mouth open as the doctor held a frog over your open mouth and allowed it to secret a liquid into you throat. This would coat the throat and allow you to clear the scratchiness... this is where the saying "frog in your throat" came from. Disgusting!
This is the spot where Shakespeare house once stood... this is the house he owned when he died. A man who owned the home after him was so tired of people constantly visiting, standing out in front, and knocking on his door to request a trimming from Shakespeare's famous mulberry bush, that he burned it down... burned his own house down. The people in the town were so upset by this, they ran him out of town. Now there is a beautiful garden here instead.
The garden also has statues all over depicting some of Shakespeare's famous plays. They are artistic and abstract and so we had fun running around guessing which play it was without looking at the name.
Shakespeare's birth place

I didn't get any souvenirs from here... I feel like I have my fill of Shakespeare stuff already from the Globe Theater.
Lovely day though. I will miss these tours and miss Susannah, our tour guide, who is awesome and has been with us on every tour aside from Scotland. She is a wealth of information and she's fun as well!

Hope you enjoyed Stratford!