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!


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