10:55 PM

Productive and Popular

Posted by Melody

I got up at 8:15am and started getting dressed for breakfast. I went down around 8:40am thinking that I would find myself in the middle of the breakfast crowd. I actually found the hotel’s front door to be locked, but they gave us a key, so I just let myself in. Once in, I realized that I was one of the very first people to come down to breakfast. I ordered a fried egg with the full breakfast, minus the tomato, and coffee.

After breakfast, I went back to the room to pack up my stuff for the library. It was not as cold this morning as it was last night. When I checked my iPod last night right before I hopped into bed, it said that Cambridge was at 26°. It did not feel exactly that low, but I knew it was colder than I was used to. I arrive at the library just a few minutes after 10am (opening time), lock up my bike, and go in.

I go up to the second floor to the silent study areas, which is also where they keep the music scores and listenings, and find myself a spot with a sunny view. I finished the second British History paper in no time. The source paper was a bit to read, but not all that bad.

After the paper, I took a few minutes to eat an apple and play one game of Tetris on my iPod. I know, I am such a nerd. Then it was back into homework, this time Blake’s “Songs Of Innocence and Songs Of Experience.”

I left the library in search of a place to eat. I rode around on my bike all around Cambridge for about an hour just for fun and landed myself in the pub called "The Cow." I have been there before and I knew it was a cool place, so I just chained up my bike and went in. I ordered the chicken burger with burbon BBQ sauce. There was a small salad that came with it, so that was cool. While I was sitting on my nettie updating the blog and eating, they started the Sunday night pub quiz. These two girls (Meg and Isabelle) were having a hard time, so I told them to come over and I would help them out since I knew a lot of the answers. I met their two friends shortly after that.

We exchanged numbers and made plans to hang out sometime soon. I have got to go now, but before I leave...

Lorry - Truck, like a U-Haul truck
Articulated Truck - Transfer truck/Semi
Van - Not a minivan, but one of those like florists use.
I should jug you! - I should take this pitcher and knock it across your head!
Wheelie bin - Trashcan

...yeah, that's it for now.

Cheerio poppets!

10:54 PM

Laundry & Library

Posted by Melody

I get up around 7:30pm and go to breakfast. I got some yogurt and mixed it into the corn flakes. I went back to the room and packed up my dirty laundry to make my first trip ever to the Laundromat. Two weeks worth fit in my backpack, so I was very happy. I went to the Co-op (Co-operative Foods; a grocery/convenience store) to get laundry soap and dryer sheets. I got these tablet things that are in their own little packets. Score! No mess laundry FTW (for the win)! I noticed today that I have little bungee cord things on my bike where I can put stuff, so I tied up my bag, put it under the bungee cord things, and made my way to the laundry place.

I got there and things were simple enough. I threw my entire load of dirty laundry in, put it on cold (since I had 2-3 whites), put my money (3 pounds) in the slide thing, and voila…it started. I get my nettie (the nickname for the little netbook) out and start doing some homework while the laundry was in. It finished in no time and was ready for the dryer. The dryer was 20p, which I thought was cheap, but then I understood why it was so. It only ran for maybe 5 minutes on 20p. I put in about 5 more 20p coins and it was almost done, but I decided that was all I was going to spend and started folding my laundry.

I went back to the hotel to put my stuff up, checked my e-mail, and headed back out to the street where the church is to see if I could find a coffee shop that had free wi-fi. I found a Subway first, so I stopped in there since I was hungry anyway. I got the Spicy Italian with pepperjack cheese (they call it “peppered cheese”) and BBQ sauce. I know it sounds weird, but it’s good. I made it a meal, for a pound more, so I could get a drink and a cookie too. I found the prompts I needed on the internet there and went to the library to write my paper for British History class.

I managed to get one of the two British History papers finished. I packed up my stuff and went to the loo before heading back to the hotel. When I got back, I jumped straight into bed.

Goodnight poppets!

1:02 PM

Leaving Bath & Stonehenge

Posted by Melody

I got up out of bed at 7:30am this morning and started packing my stuff. Today is the day that I leave the city of Bath and go back to Cambridge. I really like the city of Bath because there are places to go and nice shops to browse through. I guess we can say that I will miss the breakfast too. For my final breakfast in Bath, I had an egg, orange segments, dried apricots, brie cheese, potatoes, and a cheese & fruit Danish. After breakfast, I went to Waitrose (a grocery store) to get a sandwich for today’s lunch, and then got on the bus.

So, here we are off to Stonehenge. On the way to Stonehenge, I saw these guys out in the field with flags waving them around. I found out later that they were about to go pheasant hunting. They shoot the birds and then the dogs retrieve them. I do not quite understand it, but I guess that is because I am not a hunter.

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We arrived at Stonehenge and started on our way to see it. We received audio guides to aid us along our way. I just cycled through each one while walking slowly. It was freezing cold outside. I do not think it would have been all that bad had the wind not been blowing constantly at a crazy rate. Toward the end of the trail, it started sleeting. I walked back to the bus so I would not turn into an icicle. Everyone loaded up and we went along our way to Cambridge. It took about 3 or more hours to get back. Today has been a very long day. I woke up sort of early, hauled around my heavy stuff two times, and got bitterly cold at Stonehenge. I was tired to say the least, so I took a nap. That nap turned into an all night's sleep. Oops!

Goodnight poppets!

4:01 PM

Wells Cathedral

Posted by Melody

I get up around 8am this morning and head down to breakfast. I had the usual and then we all loaded up for Wells Cathedral. We had Steven with us again today. No classroom lectures this time, just Steven himself. At first glance of Wells Cathedral, I could not help but notice the two huge towers and the pointed arches of the three entrances. Upon a closer and further study, I found statues of various Biblical figures, especially that of Christ and the Virgin Mary. Steven then took us around to the street of houses beside of the bishop's quarters. When we came back across the street, we got to see one of England's oldest working clocks in action.

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Steven took us inside and out to the cemetery. He showed us the yew tree there and told us that they were often found in the inner courts of the church to protect them from deer and other animals nibbling on them. The importance of this tree rested in the fact that the heartwood from the sacred yew was fashioned to make arrows. I found it interesting that churches, icons for peace and love, would be the home to something used for violence.

It reminded me of the question my Christian Ethics professor once posed to us. In light of the church shootings that happened around that time, he asked us what were our thoughts on a pastor packing heat to protect the members of the church. My immediate reaction was very negative, but I allowed myself to think about it. I am still, to this day, somewhat mixed about that question. The religious side of me says that I should exercise my faith in God to protect me, not that of man...and that any church worth their salt would exercise that same unconditional faith. The logical side of me says that I want a tangible image of protection. I lean more toward the religious side because my faith means nothing if I do not believe the basic teachings of it. This is not a Christian Ethics class though, so let us continue...

Steven let us have a few minutes to explore the church. Once inside, the expansive nave led my eyes to the scissor arches (two pointed arches lined up vertically where the points meet) at front and center. The inner walls closest to the pews are not really walls, but are columns of pointed arches. Looking up to find where the illumination of the nave was sourced, I was surprised to find that the illumination was from the extensive use of stained glass in the upper levels of the nave, not electricity. Illuminating the back of the church was a huge stained glass depiction of different Biblical stories. Wells Cathedral was a very impressive sight to behold. I went around the corner of one hallway and found a display of misericords like those Mrs. Janet showed us at Ely Cathedral.

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Steven then rounded us all up to see the working of the interior clock. It was sort of hard to read, so I did not know when to start taking video. I found a video of it on YouTube though, which I embedded below.

The last thing Steven showed us was the room around the chapter house. We all sang a few hymns together in there. It sounded just like what we did at Ely Cathedral, but around only a 2-3 second reverb. We then had a few minutes to finish exploring, go to the gift shop, and get back on the bus. On the way out, I had to do a double-take because I thought I saw a cat laying beside one of the heaters...and it was. I went over to pet him and he was just loving the attention.

Louis the cathedral cat, as I later found out, loved to have his belly stroked. I have a way with animals apparently. When I started to walk away and go to the gift shop, Louis followed me in there and got in his little basket (which had a "Not for sale" sign on it). A picture is worth a million words...

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When we got back to Bath, some of the girls and I went to the fashion museum (thanks to Steven for the tickets!). They had a display for the outfit of the year. It was very interesting to see the styles of each year and how fashion has evolved. There were more displays about youth and adult clothes from most of the ages, and they had try on areas! We girls tried on the corsets and hoop skirts, then took a picture of all of us in them. It was hilarious. We tried on hats, then got to design our own clothes.

After the fashion museum, we went to a local coffee shop named "Same Same But Different." I think it's a spoof off of a movie, but either way...they had really good coffee and they made their own sugar cubes in both brown and white! Of course, I had to be creative and take pictures...

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I went back to the hotel and took a nap until dinner. After dinner, I went out with a couple of people from the group. We all decided to go to the Royal Crescent since I had not seen it yet. It took us forever to find it, but it was really cool when we did, especially since it was night. We find our way back to the hotel and rested for the bus ride back to Cambridge tomorrow.

11:48 PM

Roman Conquest & Tintern Abbey

Posted by Melody

I woke up at 8am to get ready for the day. Lauren, Katie, and I ran out the door for Waitrose (a grocery store) so we could get lunch for the day. We have a really quick breakfast. I love the breakfast buffet here. I had coffee, a fried egg, a piece of whole wheat bread, orange segments, and brie cheese. Yeah I know, total double take, right?! Brie is my favorite cheese of all that I have tried in my life. Feta is probably my second. We had to eat quickly since the bus was due to leave in just a couple of minutes.

I get on the bus and noticed that we have Steven with us again today. We were on our way to Caerleon to see the Roman structures. Random fact, if a town here ends in “–chester”, then that means there was once a Roman settlement there.

We arrived and looked at the amphitheater. There were 2 main entrances with a few side entrances. Steven showed us where the royal box might have been, with the shrine to whatever pagan gods the king might have liked.

We all had the chance to explore a bit before we were off to the other side of the road to the Roman barracks. Steven showed us where they made their food in the ovens, showed us the layout of the rooms that would have held 8 people each, and then showed us the centurion’s house. The centurion was like a general(?) in our terms, the guy who led the whole camp. Let’s put it this way, the centurion’s house was huge. It took up the same amount of area that would have been space for 8-10 rooms.

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I asked Steven what he meant by the ground level shifting. In that time, dilapidated buildings would be abandoned and left to fall down. When they did, the Romans would just compact the remains and build on top of it. We explored a few minutes before loading up the bus for Caerwent.

When we arrived in Caerwent, we went around and Steven showed us the various town roads and crossings. Around the bend, we walked to the old council buildings and places where they would hold town hall meetings. There was a chapel beside of the town hall building that had a pretty effective layout to it. From there, we walked a longer distance to see the outside of the town walls with the various bastions, some still mostly intact.

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We got back on the bus and headed toward Chepstow to see the castle there. We walked around the edge of the castle to see different things before going inside to do some exploring. Once inside, I went up Martin’s tower to see the view. It was gorgeous, and so I figured you should see it too…

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The castle was built in various phases, but they always had little slits in the wall so archers could safely fend off attackers. There were also things called “murder holes” that was also there to help keep attackers at bay. Murder holes are holes in the archway at the gate where hot boiling oil, water, rocks, etc. would be dropped down onto attackers. Yeah, now imagine how bad someone holding that knowledge would freak out if a water droplet hit them on the head. Now imagine that person being me, yeah…good times.

Eventually, we were off to Tintern Abbey. Steven gave us a short introduction to what we were seeing then had us to walk around. The whole place was gorgeous. At one point, we stood there as Stacy read the poem written by Wordsworth called “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey”. It was sort of surreal listening to his words standing in the place where he first thought them. I tried to bring myself back to the time monks lived there, and I recalled some Gregorian chant in my head as I walked around.

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We arrive back in Bath and we go to our rooms to chill until dinner. I took a nap. I woke up about 15 minutes before dinner was to begin, so I jumped up and got ready. I had the red snapper with crab mashed potatoes and sugar snap beans.

Desserts were then served. I had the chocolate fondant with ice cream. One of the people I was sitting with had the pear tart, and they let me have a bite of it. It was better than the chocolate fondant, but saying that is like a sin in the life of a chocoholic, so I am going to have to go wash my mouth out with chocolate now.

I caught up on some work back in the room and went to bed.

Cheerio poppets!

10:46 PM

Mayor of Bath & The Roman Baths

Posted by Melody

I woke up at 7am and, even with makeup on, and leave the room around 8:40am. Oh my wow, I have to tell you about breakfast! Keep in mind this is a buffet. So get this, they have a traditional English breakfast, all sorts of fruit, all sorts of breads, and cheese! What’s so exciting about that? They have brie, real brie, my favorite cheese, on the buffet. All of my excitement made me creative. I made myself an egg and brie English muffin with different cut up fruit on the side. I ordered coffee to go with it, but the waiter gave me decaf for some unknown reason. I eat up and we all met in the front lobby to walk down to meet Steven at the mayor's parlor.

Andy led the way and got us there. Steven showed us around one of the ballrooms with many lovely pictures, ornamentation, and pretty chandeliers. He then took us to show us the council chamber area. Very ornate and business like. Then, we got to meet the mayor of Bath! We come in and he was there at the door greeting us and shaking our hands. He said, "Good afternoon." I replied, "Good afternoon, Mr. Mayor. Thank you for having us today." After all the group came in and was greeted, we were invited to have at the orange juice and biscuits (we call them cookies in the US).

We all stood around and listened as the mayor's assistant/secretary/whoever told us about the various things we were seeing. She explained that the medal worn around the mayor's neck dated many many years and he has to have guards go with him where ever he may be. The mayor here does not work like a mayor in the US. The mayor here is seen as less political than if he was in the council. They then showed us the visitor's books where many famous people have signed. Most recently, Nicholas Cage. People, I kid you not, I got a little giddy when she mentioned that we were going to be able to sign the same book that one of my favorite actors has signed. She also showed us where the queen had signed her name.

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Then the mayor started talking to us. Can I just say that he is the most adorable little old man ever. He was so happy and friendly. The mayor was more than happy to take pictures with all the group and each individual.

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We go down to the area of the Roman baths, beside of Bath Abbey, and walk in with Steven. He takes us around to a conference-type room where he had a projector set up to give us a lecture. He told us all about the Roman Baths and the Roman conquest. I was extremely interested in the subject and what Steven was telling us. He lectured for an hour, let us have a break, and then lectured another hour.

We were allowed to get lunch at that time. I went to this cute little pasty (pronounced with a short ‘a’ instead of a long one) shop called Greggs that had meal and dessert pastries for under 2 pounds! I got a chicken and bacon lattice. I walked back over to the Baths building to eat there since that was where the group was meeting.

Andy led us in as a group to get us through and ready to go around. We received our audio guides and were let loose. I noticed that there were numbers available to listen to Bill Bryson’s thoughts on the different parts to the Baths. I love his writings, thanks to Dr. Barnett for introducing me to them, so I listened to them all. It was really interesting. I was amazed at all the Romans could do and the innovations that they had come up with to make their lives as pleasant as they could be.

For instance, there was this one room where the floors (in the Roman’s time) would have been so hot that you could not walk on it without shoes. Now we can see that they did this by building little towering stacks of brick, much like we would build to help hold up floor joists, except in greater frequency. In the next room over, they would build great fires and allow that heat to pass under the floor.

At the peak of its time, there were many different baths to get in. There were various hot baths and a cold bath. After being in the hot baths for a while, the Romans would jump into the cold bath for a refreshing cool down. I did something like that when I was a kid. I would get into the hot tub until I was good and warm, then I would run and jump into the pool. I thought it was the coolest thing ever to do, no pun intended. Standing there at the grand bath, I wished for a moment that I could have lived in that time and see the place as it was in its glory days.

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At the end of my tour, I went to the pump room and sampled the water. They pump it up there and filter it and likewise. The water didn't taste bad, but it was no where tasting good either. After the baths, we were allowed to have the rest of the afternoon free.

9:45 PM

Avebury & Long Barrow

Posted by Melody

After breakfast this morning, the group loaded up and headed out to Avebury to see the stone circle. We met up with Dr. Steven Byrd today. He took us into this repurposed set of stables where he gave us a lecture about the circle before we were to see it. We then walked around and saw the circle. We went through a gate and looked over another (very scenic) area to see the ditch that was built by the Romans. Then we circled around on the chalk pathway (which is the makeup of the ground in the area) to see another part of the site. We loaded up onto the bus and went to our next stop to see Silbury Hill and the Long Barrow Burial Mound.

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Silbury Hill is a huge mound of dirt. No one knows why it was put there or what it was for. Steven said that they speculated it was used as some sort of a boundary, marker, or sign of some sort. We hiked up the huge and long hill to the Long Barrow burial mound. Steven said that the mound looked to be much larger than the burial area itself actually was. He said that people tried to dig in the other part of the mound and just found dirt. The burial area itself was laid out sort of like a clover. The area had 5 rooms in it. We were allowed to go in and, of course, the bodies buried there had been taken out.

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We come back down the hill and get on the bus to go back to the hotel. Pretty much it. I was beat.

Cheerio poppets!

7:39 PM

Cambridge To America And Back

Posted by Melody

My alarm went off this morning at 7am, but I rolled out of the bed at 7:30am. I got ready and went to breakfast around 8am. I finished breakfast rather quickly and made a day pack for the day's activities before coming down to the bus.

The bus we have for this week is really nice. Imagine a normal charter bus with like...super comfy seats. Alright, now flip every other row around starting at the front to where all the chairs are facing each other, then add a table. In the back, there's a couple of small fridges and other little random stuff as part of the kitchen. There's a bathroom. Oh, and there's power outlets so we can do work (or journals...haha!) on the bus without our laptops dying. Yeah, it's a nice one.

We had Mrs. Janet (that's what I liked to call her) with us again today, except we had her for the full day this time. Our first stop was the ancient monument in Cambridge called the Castle Mound. It's this giant hill that held Cambridge Castle during the 17th century, but the mound is all that's left of the castle. There's a spiral staircase going to the top so you can look at the view. I could see a lot of Cambridge from the top. It was really nice. With all of the rain recently, they have been having some problems with erosion. There were signs everywhere strictly saying to stay to the footpath. We stayed there for about 10 minutes.

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Our next stop was the American Cemetery about 3 miles West of Cambridge. Mrs. Janet told us many interesting things about this site. A little over 30 acres was given to the American government by the University of Cambridge to honor our fallen heroes, so it's a bit of America in the heart of England. That's how I was technically in America today. The cemetery holds over 3,000 of our fallen, but there's still 5,127 names written in the Tablet of the Missing. When remains are found, a rosette is put beside the name of that soldier. It's so sad to think that there are still bodies of our soldiers somewhere out there in the world that do not have a proper final resting place. I cannot even begin to imagine the feelings of the thousands of families left without closure. God Bless our brave men and women who give their lives so that we may have life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

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The group had about 30 minutes to explore the memorial. During that time, we all went into the chapel-type building to look around. The picture above of the planes coming out of Cambridge was part of the display in there. That was the last picture taken on my camera before it died. Mrs. Janet suggested that it would be honorable and appropriate if we were to sing our National Anthem. That explains the (last) video (before my camera died) below...

Then we were off to Ely (I keep pronouncing it 'Eli' instead of 'Eely'), which is north of Cambridge. There we stopped of at a hotel who had lunch ready for us. I had the spinach and goat cheese pasta bake with a side salad and creme brulee. I had lemonade to drink, but it wasn't lemonade as we think of it in America. It was like the way that Sprite was meant to taste but never knew how, carbonation and all. The only difference (other than it tasting better) was that it had slightly more of a lime flavor to it.

Mrs. Janet sat beside of me and our end of the table was watching her eat so we could learn how to be good little posers. I'm not quite as dexterous as she is, but I'm doing good considering that I have been eating with the fork in my right hand all my life. Flattered that we were trying to be good little posers, she tried to eat like we normally do. Her only complaint was that she kept having to switch hands to cut and to eat. Our question to her was how she managed to eat peas without scooping. She said that she normally ate peas with a little honey so that they would stick to the fork. She said it made them taste a little funny, but it worked. I think I'll stick to scooping, Mrs. Janet.

Right beside of the hotel was the Ely Cathedral. Janet took half of us on a tour (the other half was doing the roof part first) and pointed out all kinds of things to us that we wouldn't have noticed had she not. In the foyer of the cathedral is this pattern thing on the floor. She told us it was a maze and said to try it out. Some of the students stayed on the sidelines, but not me. I'm here to get the most (wholesome) experience possible. It was so funny, we were following each other giggling all the way through it. People stopped on the outside of the pattern and watched us crazy Americans go through the maze. The maze is a symbol of the Christian journey to stay on the straight and narrow to Heaven, which is the finish of the maze in the middle. When we walked along to continue our tour by the lovely Mrs. Janet, we noticed people starting to do the maze for themselves.

Mrs. Janet told us at one point that rich people, who wanted to get out of purgatory (place inbetween death and Heaven where you stay as long as needed to pay for your sins) early, would build little bitty chapels and then pay the priests to say prayers for them. The statues in one of the little chapels were unable to be completed because King Henry VIII took over the area and demolished all pagan statues...except one. In the Lady Chapel, which is there in remembrance of Mary, is the green god...the god of fertility. For obvious superstition, no one wanted to destroy it. We sang "Amazing Grace" in that chapel to check out the reverb...at least 5 seconds. It was amazing! It was so angelic to hear the blend of sound.

In the choir area, Mrs. Janet showed us a cool thing about the seats. If you lift it up, you see a seat sort of shaped like what your bottom would cover if you were sitting on a saddle of a horse about to slide off the side. She went into the order of services for monks, like matins, vespers, etc. Pretty much, monks would have to get up every few hours to pray. They could lift their seat to reveal the other one to rest their bottom on, but if they went to sleep, they would slide off.

The cathedral was painted when it was first built. The removing of the paint was another thing Louie did. A disaster happened not too long after it was completed (which took 80 some years), a terrible storm came and blew over the octagon tower in the center of the cross. If you don't know, cathedrals of that day were shaped like a cross.

Next, Mrs. Janet handed us off to John so he could take us on the roof tour. He started off by showing us a model of how the roof is held up. The giant timbers holding the whole structure into the wall to this day are the original ones. Kind of freaky, but I wasn't scared. The spiral staircases going up each level kept getting more cramped and even smaller. We got to the level before the roof and John opened up the painted panels in the octagon for us. We poked our heads through and started waving at everyone hundreds of feet below us. The looks on most people's faces were looks of amazement and wonder as to how we were up there. I located our group sitting toward the back with Mrs. Janet during their tour and started waving. They saw me and everyone started waving, even Mrs. Janet. It was so cool!

John comes back around and closes the panels so we could get to the roof. The last spiral staircase going to the roof had rope as a railing. The steps were so small that I sidestepped and my foot had more width than the step did. We get to the top and it was just amazing! Again, my camera died so I didn't get to capture this awesomeness for you. Someone took a couple of pictures of me up there so I could post it for you, but they haven't uploaded their pictures yet to give to me. If I come back later and post them to this entry, I will let you know.

We come back down from the roof and go through the gift shop. I wanted to buy this one table...everything on it. Take a wild guess what it had on it. Got your answer? Alright, so the table was covered with music nerd stuff.

Oh, something different here that I haven't told you about yet. Get this, people here use pot holder mittens that are joined together. Imagine two pot holder mittens on your hands, then put about 2 feet of material connecting them. It's so cool. There was some of those on the table and they said "Too hot to Handel!"

They had "note" cards, tea towels with humorous definitions for different score markings (dynamics, tempo, etc.), another set of humorous tea towels containing funny-but-true choral rehearsal jokes, the circle of sharps/flats as little tabs you could snap off and use for bookmarks, and all sorts of other funny musical stuff like that. I seriously wanted to be like, "You all can just pack up this table and ship it to my house now." When I finally pried myself away from the music nerd table, I got caught in the dog lover's area. On the cover of this little book that could fit in the palm of your hand was...none other than a Scottish Terrier puppy! I melted! I miss my little Alf.

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Wouldn't you miss that cutie pie too? Next was evensong at 4pm. Mrs. Janet had reserved us seats beside of the boys choir. There was a guy from Nashville there whose cousin went to Lee, and I knew who she was. It was a common liturgical service. It was nice and I especially loved the boys choir. When it was over, we loaded up the bus and came back to the hotel.

When we came back, I decided to catch up on some sleep since we are leaving for Bath tomorrow. That's why this entry has been posted late. I would be up to date, but the hotel we are staying at does not have internet. Thanks for your continued readership and support.

Cheerio poppets!

11:22 PM

Ride On

Posted by Melody

I had such high hopes and plans for my free day, but I got up this morning at 7am and felt really nauseous. I decided to sleep it off, not because I was tired or anything, I just did not want to take medicine that would make me drowsy. I figured that it would take a couple of hours to pass anyway. I woke up at 4pm, fit as a fiddle, and ready to get some things accomplished. Right, just a couple of hours.

I went to the annex to eat a sandwich, since I missed both breakfast and lunch. After that, I hopped onto my bike and headed to the library. I get to what I thought was the library about 10-15 minutes later, but it was really a multi-purpose building for the university. I found myself a classroom on the 3rd floor and settled.

I was really thirsty for some reason, so I took a study break and went to the hall. There was not a water fountain anywhere. In the bathroom, I found a separate faucet with a sign above it simply stating "drinking water." There were no cups in sight, so there I was doing this whole cup my hands thing. A funny sight indeed! For someone like me who usually does not like tap water, this water actually tastes clearer than water I have had from tap in America. It is not as clean and crisp as water from my Brita pitcher, but I cannot even begin to imagine how water from here would taste after run through the Brita pitcher. Like I said, I was thirsty. It sounds like I still am.

I get back into the classroom and started to organize my thoughts. My brain felt like I dumped a million different color post-its into a big pile and put it into a tornado. I pulled out my planner and the assignment calendars for all of my classes, then started to put all of the dues dates for the entire trip into that planner. I also made a short list of a few things I needed mom and dad to mail me. Finally, organizational peace.

I decided to dive into some of C.S. Lewis' non-fiction material, namely Mere Christianity. It is hard sometimes trying to follow his thinking processes because I do not always catch at first when he switches from his thoughts to his analogies. I enjoyed the reading though. I especially enjoyed his references to sheet music and the piano in terms of talking about human nature. I have to admit that I have never read any of his writings before, but I am enjoying the opportunity to do so now.

I left the library shortly after 11pm and came back to the hotel. Tomorrow, I will be in America for only a few minutes before visiting the Ely Cathedral here in England. I will share with you how that works tomorrow.

Cheerio poppets!

7:39 PM

Don't Stop Me Now

Posted by Melody

My alarm went off this morning at 7am sharp. I had the cheese toast for breakfast today with yogurt and coffee. The cheese toast was amazing. After breakfast, I went to the annex to fix my lunch for the day.

I was kind of dreading the bike ride to the church this morning because rain was in the forecast all day. It was rainy, but the rain had stopped just long enough to ride my bike over to the church. I get to the church around 10:30am and I was eager to help out, and I was especially happy because I was dry.

The center leader welcomed me and basically told me to hang out because they had it covered at that point. I noticed yesterday that they had a piano in the corner of the room, so I asked if he minded if I played it. I only have all of 2 pieces somewhat memorized, but hey...I love playing the piano for enjoyment. I play for a little while until some of the people there for the lunch started to walk in.

I floated around talking to different people. There were a couple of funny characters in the group, namely Bruce and David. Oh my, they loved to laugh and loved to make others around them do so as well. They asked me a lot of questions about the United States and my trip here. They were fascinated with my answers about America, and both expressed how they would love to go there sometime. These two comedians also kept using the phrase, "...that would make a person bent!" In the way that they kept using the phrase, I concluded that bent = crazy.

Lunch was ready to be served. I helped take the plates around until everyone was served, and then the church let us sit down and have lunch too. That was really nice of them. We had like a lamb stew with carrots, broccoli, and roasted potatoes on the side. Hands down, it was the best thing I have eaten so far while in Cambridge. Then I helped them pass out the dessert, homemade treacle pie with homemade whipped cream. It was so amazing! I had no clue what treacle was, so I asked one of the ladies I was sitting with. She explained to me that it was a molasses-type thick syrup. The pie looked like cushaw pie, balanced with the sourness of what I thought was rhubarb (later I found out the sour was lemon juice), and had the sweet warmness of "molasses". Everyone cleared their plates, and I helped take the dirty dishes back to the kitchen.

The lunch crowd left and we started our two-hour CS Lewis class. After class, we had a few hours of free time to study. I put my earbuds in and worked on various stuff. Everyone starts packing up to leave about 30 minutes before the center was set to close. I pack up my stuff to go and right before I was about to head out the door, a small group of four asked me to go with them to dinner. We rode around on our bikes for quite a while before finally deciding to park them around the market square and walk to a place to eat. It was raining the whole time we were on our bikes, but the rain and I have made peace.

Pub called The Cow

Near Marks & Spencers was a pub called "The Cow" on Corn Exchange Street. The atmosphere there was really nice. All around the pub was artwork for sale from local artists. They had an awesome menu. I had the 6" Fiorentina. The crust of the pizza was not like pizza crust in America. It was like a fluffy pita round with all the toppings on it and garnished with wild rocket leaves.

We all bike back to the hotel and do some studying in the annex for a while, and then I went upstairs to go to sleep.

Cheerio poppets!

7:22 PM

I Want To Ride My Bicycle

Posted by Melody

The title today is from a song by one of my favorite bands, can you name them without Googling it?

For breakfast this morning, I ordered the fried eggs and the full breakfast with yogurt, grapefruit juice, whole wheat toast, and coffee. Right after she placed my order, Chase comes in and orders the cheese toast. I meant to get that because it looks really good and super cheesy. I can't wait to try it in the morning!

Alright, so funny story. When I asked the lady taking my order if she could have the chef bust the yolk of my egg, she first did not realize what I meant by "bust it". Then I started saying a bunch of different synonyms so she would understand me. I finally found one that meshed with UK egg vocabulary. All was well with the world, and I did not have to die a little inside at the sight of a runny egg. Then she noticed how I pronounced the "L" in yolk. I guess British people say "yoke."

After breakfast, we all sat around and had tea (or coffee) with our conversation. I put brown sugar in my tea because it makes it warmer tasting. I have no clue why or how, it just does.

Andy told us to get our backpacks because he was going to give us our bikes. The kid in me has been long awaiting these bike assignments. I follow a lady's blog who posts about European fashion all the time. In every picture of a bike and a lady, there is a basket, and sometimes a little dog. Therefore, I was secretly hoping that our bikes had baskets on them, but they did not. I actually did a quick little search later in the day, torture I know, for bicycle baskets so I could see how much they were. While browsing, I came upon the most adorable picture with the cutest little bicycle basket...

An owner with his westie donning a beautiful bicycle basket...

Alf would look stunning in a bicycle basket. The plaid pattern and black Scottish Terriers just go together. Even the Scottie cookies from yesterday seemed to think so as well.

As I was anxiously waiting on Andy to come in and give us our bike assignments, I decided to pack my sandwich for lunch. Andy finally comes into the annex and tells us to go out and get a bike. Everyone chose their bike and we started ringing the bells and playing around. I have a very high pitched bell, pitched on C (ah, the curse of the music major to make something musical out of everything), which I took every opportunity to ring...many many times.

Andy told us to ride around the hotel until the tech guys came to install our Dongles. Dongle = mobile broadband. Some of the more adventurous students went to the main road and rode around. I went to the sidewalk bike lane and rode around the block a few times. I was so happy. I have not been on a bike for over 7 years, so this was a special treat for me. I think it is a safe bet to say that I was definitely the most enthused about getting a bike.

Tech guys came and we all loaded up into the annex. We sat there while they dealt with the school laptops to install the software needed to run the things. I got a little bored just sitting there, so I added some thoughts to my outline for my thesis. Once the installation was finished, we had a short break for lunch.

I went upstairs and took a nap because I kind of did not sleep all night...or any of it for that matter. I figured that an hour would help me reset enough to where I could understand where I was going on a bike. I woke up and hopped on my bike to go down the road with the group to the church where we are attending our classes. Biking was so much easier than I thought. The vast majority of the roads here are level. There was one hill coming up the subway ramp that was just a little bitty bit breathtaking, but I just switched to a lower gear and kept on a truckin'.

I think the thing that scared me the most today about biking on the road was that the double decked buses took up the entire lane; minus the double yellow lines that we were on. I could literally feel the wind from the buses and cars. It was startling me on the inside, but I was a calm, cool cucumber on the outside.

We get to the church and lock all of our bikes up together. Today was a free study day. Mainly the point of coming to the church today was to give us an orientation on how to come before actual real classes started. We stayed from 2pm until 6pm. I realized that we all have a lot of work to do before we leave this weekend for one of our many side excursions.

I talked to Andy about the various aspects to my thesis and the observation part of it. I did some research on possible schools and local teacher training colleges in the area that I could go observe and interview for my thesis. I typed an e-mail up to send to the teacher training schools and passed it forward to my primary supervisor so she could check it over. She was originally from England, so she understands how to talk and interact with the British culture more than I.

Curse of the music major? It is true. While we were all reading, we think a lot of people were playing Jumanji upstairs above us. They were stomping very rhythmically in a steady two-beat pattern, and the vibrations of something in the room was taking on a triplet pattern with every beat. Only music majors would notice something like that.

I had my first bite of lunch around 4:30pm. Most of the group soon left after that to get something to eat. Dr. Stephenson was leaving for the hotel, so I decided to go back with her...especially since it was dark outside. It really wasn't all that bad of a ride. I actually really liked it. I figured out tonight why they told us to bring a small flashlight. The headlight on the front of our bikes is meant to be more of a "I'm here" type thing, instead of actually lighting up paths. Carrying a flashlight...more of a reason to have a basket! The dream never dies.

I noticed when I got back that there is a hospitality tray in our room. We have a water boiler, instant coffee, teabags, brown and cane sugar, Splenda, little creamers (it says whole milk on the package), and little cups and saucers. I fixed myself some tea and I am now sipping on it. Warms a soul right up chipper I say. Hehe!

I am getting up around 7am tomorrow to get ready to go volunteer at the church. They have lunches on Friday for people with mental health issues. It is a good thing all around.

Goodnight poppets!

10:14 PM

Meeting Janet and Getting Lost

Posted by Melody

Check out the fun trivia question on the left-hand column. Guess your answer and make sure to check back on the February 1st blog entry for the revealing of the correct answer!

I got up this morning at 7am. I tried to toss through it, but I couldn't...so I just got up and got dressed to head out to breakfast.

Here, we order off of a menu and we are served for breakfast. I had a fried egg, grilled mushrooms, baked beans(my parents must be shocked at those two words), bacon (like Canadian), and whole wheat toast. Then they brought coffee to me.

They brought out a serving of kippers for everyone to try. Kippers is a type of bony smoked fish. It's really really good! I loved the flavor, but I felt that it was a touch too salty. The bones are not noticeable at all. I know "bones" and "not noticeable" is contradictory, but really...trust me, I never noticed.

We had a meeting shortly after in the annex. Andy handed out our money allotment for the week (in UK currency of course) and talked about the itinerary for the day. We set off to meet Janet at the bridge over the Cam (Cam is the name of a river). Here's the tour in short...


This is Janet...

One of the many colleges...

Janet showed us many things in Cambridge...

Crazy grasshopper clock

...like this crazy grasshopper on a clock. I think my Uncle Don or Uncle Bill would appreciate this best because they would easily find the humor in it.

After the tour, we were given maps and the opportunity to explore Cambridge on our own. I walked around solo in the market. They had albums, jewelry, flowers, lots of fruit and vegetables, and even an open-air fish market. I have never seen one of those in real life, so I looked at all the crazy fish lying there with sharp teeth and beady eyes. The man attending the booth probably wondered what an American girl was finding so interesting in fish.

The group decided to go to The Eagle, a famous pub in Cambridge. There is a window in the top floor that must never be shut, it's even written into the agreement, because it is a memorial to a lady who was burned to death while sleeping when a candle tipped over onto her bedding. It was at The Eagle where Crick and Watson announced they had found "the secret of life," which was DNA. Here was also where airmen from both the US and UK forces burned their names and dates into the wall. This picture is the burning right above where I was sitting.

I had the fish and chips for 6 and something pounds (which equaled to $11.50). It was an entire fish minus the head and tail (and bones) battered and fried. Chips do not mean the same thing here as it does in the US. Chips are what we call french fries. Crisps are what we call chips.

Marks & Spencers

I left there to go to Marks & Spencer's (a grocery store) to pick up some stuff to make sandwiches with so I wouldn't have to keep spending all my money at the pubs. While roaming through the store, I found something that made me a tad homesick...Alf cookies!

Alf cookies!

I found a loaf of bread, then asked a lady where I could find the deli meat. She was so nice! She helped me find the meat and cheese I wanted without complaining or grumbling at all. Instead, she was genuinely HAPPY to help me! She even went to the counter with me to checkout my stuff since she was giving me a special deal on the meat. So helpful! I made sure to say thanks like a billion times for her help.

I left there and took a look at my map of Cambridge. I thought I knew where I was on the map, and I found the road I would be going to, but I walked into the tourist building just to make sure. The lady drew me a little line on my map leading me to my road and I was on my way. I stopped a couple of places along the way to check out the shops. I stopped in a stationery place and, OF COURSE, a chocolate place. The chocolates looked amazing and I wanted to buy some so badly, but I thought I should save my money in case I needed it for something more of an emergency than chocolate. I must go wash out my mouth now. I mean seriously, look at the color of this blog background.

Right outside of the chocolate place was my first sighting of rising bollards! Since parts of Cambridge is very pedestrian friendly, some streets have these metal poles that shoot up from the ground unless the vehicle is an authorized bus or taxi.

Unauthorized vehicles going over these things get speared!

I finally found my way back to the bed & breakfast. I put my groceries in the mini-fridge in the annex and went upstairs since my iPod died right as I went to text dad. I hooked up lappy and charged the iPod. I've been stuck to the lappy every since. I took naps and such while typing this journal, but I'm so glad I finally got this little bugger finished.

Cheerio poppets!

7:32 PM

First Day In Cambridge

Posted by Melody

Sunrise above the clouds

I was awakened around 7:30am by the lights and the wonderful sounds of breakfast coming down the aisle. My box had a thing of berry yogurt, a cinnamon crumb cake, granola, orange juice, and stuff to mix for coffee. Thank the Lord they had coffee!

I fill out my landing card to go through the UK border, and then run to the loo. (haha!) Since there was such a line and the plane would be landing shortly, the guy told me to go to the first class bathroom. It was a little more spacious and had all the pretty smelling soaps and stuff. I get back to my seat and get ready for landing. A few minutes later, we sunk beneath the snowy looking clouds into London’s Heath Row airport.

I didn’t get this mess, but the border people had their knickers (haha!) in a bunch because there were so many of us. Dr. Stephenson finally went to the counter to our rescue and straightened it out. So, when it was my turn, the lady commented on how lucky I was to go on a trip with the college and said to have fun.

We then went to the baggage claim area. I finally get mine and we all go through customs. I have to say I was expecting more at customs than a simple walk through.

We run run Rudolph to the other side of the airport until we find Andy. Everyone gets on the bus and off we go on the road to Cambridge.

I wanted to watch Andy drive and talk to him, so I pulled down the little staff seat thing and we talked until we were in Cambridge. He parked us in front of the hotel (in the middle of the road) and told us to hurry and get the bags off.

We put our suitcases in the foyer until after we were served lunch. Lunch consisted of soup, a big roll, and (for me) chocolate cake. Yum yum! Then the ladies came around and served us coffee. Oh my goodness I love this staff already!

Next were room assignments and the handing out of keys. So we go to our proper room and claim beds. I was trying to get my phone to work, but I was having trouble for some reason. I found that my adapters work. Both laptops just need adapters (and not voltage converters in addition) to work, same with my cell phone charger.

The view from my room

I took a walk around the block by myself to see what things were like. I was afraid of being run over! They drive on the left-hand side. I would stand at an intersection for a moment and try to flip-flop in my mind the rules, then run for my life across the street.

I get back and go into the annex to text everyone that I'm still alive. We had dinner at 5:30pm and it was amazing. Everything was so natural and wholesome. We had chicken breast with gravy, carrots, mashed potatoes, and cooked cabbage. SO GOOD! For dessert, we were given a rhubarb dish. It was rhubarb with like a crumb cake, but in cobbler style. SO GOOD! Like, you wouldn't believe it! I used to hate rhubarb, but not now! Not like that! With our dessert, we had a spot of tea. (haha!)

It's 7:30pm here and I want to get some good sleep, so I'm going to wrap up.

Cheerio poppets!

9:50 PM

Departing Atlanta

Posted by Melody

Got up this morning around 7am. I resorted my luggage by putting most of my clothes in my duffel bag so that my suitcase would not exceed the weight limits and make me pay extra.

Mom and Dad left the house around 10:45am to head my way. We load up the car and we drive to The Spot for a final lunch together for at least 3 months. I had a cheeseburger with an orange crush milkshake. I found out that mom sent her first text today. I would’ve saved it and put it here, but I didn’t know that she never sent a text before. I know it had “yay” in it and she signed “mom” at the end. Haha!

We go over to Lee and I check my mailbox. Nothing but 2 flyers, which is extremely odd for me. I noticed what might be the explanation for that. They had a sign over the mailbox in the back that said very simply, “Cambridge.”

During the wait for the bus, Erica called me and we did this whole "I haven’t seen you in 20 years" kind of run hug. It was hilarious, complete with arm waving and all. We talked for a little while, but then she had to run to the MRC to get back to work.

The bus came and I was one of the very first people to load up my stuff. I claimed myself a seat on the bus; second row back on the passenger side. I came back out and introduced the parents to the people who hold my life in their hands. Joslyn came by and said goodbye, as did Crystal. I said my goodbyes to the parents and loaded up in the bus. I found it funny how dad followed the bus in my truck until we split off.

The bus ride was quiet for me for the most part. Beth did a little trivia game with the group. Earlier last semester, the group filled out an index card with an interesting fact about themselves. Our job was to guess which card was whose. I found out two interesting things about myself during that game, apparently I have shot guns since I was 12 and I am extremely OCD. Of course they guessed me for the musical ones, but as it ended up...I never filled out one. I just told them that my name meant "song of the morning" and left it at that.

We get to the airport and go to the British Airways counter. It takes a long time for them to even start checking our group in.

The group comes together after finally being registered and we all walk to the food court area. I had forgotten about this, but they have live piano music going on in there. That was the only positive thing about the food court. It’s just too high to eat there, so I didn’t. They have about 10 unsecured wireless connections and none of them would let me on. I charged my phone and the little netbook (I’m seriously going to have to come up with a nickname for this thing), texted dad, and left to go to Concourse E.

The status board of our flight

I just sit and text back and forth with Ashley and dad. Dad called and we chatted for a while about the trip, the plane, and just other silly random stuff. I texted some more until finally (around 8:10pm) they started boarding us on the plane. I sent out a final text message and got on the plane.

The plane was a Boeing 777 (haha, great numbers!) with 3 rows of 3 seats each. I was in seat 35B. That meant that I was in the middle of the row on the left side of the plane. Since there were only two of us, Brittany and myself, I asked her if she would mind to trade me seats so I could have window. I didn't get window time long though because they made us close the blinds for some unknown reason.

Dinner was served shortly after. I had tortellini in a marinara sauce with a roll and some kind of weird lentil salad. Then for dessert, there was berry cake with a square of chocolate. The chocolate was cool because it had this minty flavor and it was like a Nestle Crunch. Instead of rice, the crunch was sugar crystals.

Now is the time that I tell you about a little friend (a tad younger than my age) I made while at the Atlanta International Airport. His name is Sam. Sam is from the Oxford area of England. He was visiting a friend in the US for a little while and was on his way back home. He got the lovely pleasure of getting stuck behind our group of 20 people (including the 2 professors in that number). He wasn’t too bored though since we’re from the south and feel as if we need to entertain everyone. He was hooked on our southern charm. Everywhere we went, Sam came along as if he was one of the group members. I think he felt a little lonely being by himself and all.


Sam sat in the extra seat in my row. While the drink cart was coming around, he managed to get his hands on 6 little bitty bottles of Jack. He drank all 6 within a 30 minute period and went to get 3 more for his bag. I didn’t judge because I know that they have a different culture than we do. I wouldn’t have judged anyways. Judging is wrong. He didn't bother us or anyone around us. Sam was a funny drunk.

We three chatted it up all night. I would chime in with random questions every now and then about the culture…

What do they call the equivalent to our…

- Interstate: beltway/motorway
- Potato chips: crisps
- French Fries: chips
- …you get the picture…

He asked us a few questions too. For example, why weren’t we getting stark raving drunk on the plane like him? We go to a Christian college and there we sign a community covenant to not drink, do drugs, or have sex. Poor thing was blown out of the water by that…and expressed his condolences. Haha!

Then we got a little deeper into the conversation. He would rather have kids before marriage because he thinks that a marriage is all for the kids. He wanted to wait until he was, at least, in his 30s before getting married so he could enjoy his 20s and be prepared by that time to be a husband and hopefully have the financial preparation to go along with it.

Everyone on the plane was very soon fast asleep…except me. Sam occasionally woke up to shoot the idea at me of sneaking into first class, and if he should do it or not. I said, “If you want to, that’s your business, but if I were you…I would stay right there and go back to sleep.” He was very accepting of that and did so. After sleeping only 5 hours last night, my body was still awake. Every hour or so, I would ask the attendant for water/cranberry juice or a snack of some sort. I finally got to sleep around 5am (London time from this point forward in all entries until I get back to the US, unless marked otherwise).

Cheerio poppets!