So I’ve gotten extremely busy the last couple of days trying to explore the city and fit in all of my required assignments, but I’m going to try and update semi-regularly from now on, once a week at the very least.
Hmm… I guess I should catch up from Wednesday.
Wednesday was our first day trip. We went to Stonehenge and Bath and it didn’t disappoint. They were amazing. Driving to Stonehenge is an interesting experience because you’re out in the English countryside, tiny farm after tiny farm, where it’s so green your eyes hurt, and then all of the sudden Stonehenge is in front of you. It’s not even a kilometer from the road either. It’s a bit smaller than one generally pictures it, but amazing all the same as it sits there in the middle of a field–not ostentatious at all, and yet you can feel that it’s important as you stand there and gape. If any of you are in London ever, it’s definitely worth the hour and a half drive.
Bath, is a completely different experience altogether. Most of the city is preserved in the neoclassical style, the way it was at it’s height when Jane Austen and many others would have visited there. It has it’s own majesty about it. Many of the original Roman baths are preserved, I know the water is running through the same man made channels it did in 100 AD or something. And then I was also able to tour Number 1 Crescent Road where there is a museum showing what a rented flat would have looked like in the Regency time period. Also, I went to the Jane Austen Centre that they set up in one of her previous residences as well as have a traditional English “tea” (hot chocolate) in the Pump Room. The exact same one that is mentioned in several of Austen’s novels and was probably used when the queen came into town. So Wednesday was basically awesome.
Thursday I explored the southwark (pronounced suth-uck) area (or south of the Thames) where Shakespeare’s Globe is, and he lived for parts of his life. For a lot of London’s history it’s been a bit of a bad neighborhood, but recently they’ve added the city government buildings, the London eye, and a theatre district and it’s become a centre for modern art. It’s basically become my favorite part of London (that I’ve seen so far). But part of that is probably because there was a Thames festival Saturday, which I went to, it was a ton of fun.
That night (Thursday) the programme went to a mystery play called “39 Steps” that was ingenious. There were only 4(ish) people in the cast, the lead stayed the same, but the other three actors had to play several characters each and the switches and the staging was hysterical. Everyone was laughing for the whole two hours. I did learn something about Britian though: they don’t have air conditioning in most of their buildings. The theatre was boiling when everyone got in and there was no air conditioning at all. It was really a weird thing for me, coming from a desert and all. But it’ll be cold here soon enough and no one will have use of air conditioning anyway, so I don’t think it’ll matter much.
Friday we went to the Houses of Parliament otherwise known as the Palace of Westminster where the House of Commons and the House of Lords operate. There was a fire in the 1800s and most of the building burnt (and was rebuilt by Queen Victoria), but there was one hall that was saved. And it just happens to be the hall where Braveheart was tried and sentenced to death and the dead body of Cromwell was tried for treason. It was built by William the Conqueror’s son and additions done by Edward the Confessor.
The whole thing is utterly fascination. All of the little detains and tradition that are a part of their culture. The House of Commons was destroyed during the bombings in WWII, but Winston Churchill had it rebuilt and I got to walk through the same doors as he did when he was Prime Minister. It was brilliant.
Other than Houses of Parliament and the Thames festival, Friday and Saturday were both pretty uneventful. Mostly I’ve stayed home and read and done homework because I have a project due on Tuesday. But once it and the one the following week are done, I won’t have to worry as much for the rest of the semester.
Well, I’ll keep you posted as more happens, I know I won’t post between Wednesday and Friday because I’ll be in the West of England. But I know I have several Field Studies to post so you can read those if you really want to know what’s going on over here.