1:08 PM

Oopsie Mamushka & Hard Rock

Posted by Melody

I got up early this morning so I could get ready to go to Westminster. I went down to breakfast and had pretty much what I did yesterday. After breakfast and the group meeting, I was off to Westminster for the 10:30am service. I got there and sat down. A lady and her husband behind me noticed that I did not pick up a program (I did not notice where they were), and so the lady offered me hers since they could share. The service started and, since it was a liturgical service, I just observed what everyone else was doing so I could do whatever too. I came to this specific service because I knew the choir was going to be singing most of it. The choir was wonderful. It is obvious that they have high standards when it comes to music. After the service, I looked around the chapel and took notice of how gorgeous it was.

I got on the underground and headed off toward the theatre where Lion King was to see if I could get a ticket. They had a full house, so I just started exploring since I did not have anything to do until a while later. I walked down various streets to see what I could see...and what did I find? One of my new favorite stores! Radley of London. I do not know if I have said this before, but the reason that Radley is my new favorite store is due to the fact that they use a Scottish Terrier for their logo. An added bonus, they sell stuff I can use!

Radley of London


After stopping in the Radley store, I went off to nearby Covent Garden. Covent Garden is an area, partly open-air market full of stores, food, and buskers. Here is where I made my first visit to Lush. Lush is really popular with the girls on the trip because it is sort of like a homemade Bath & Body Works.

While walking through the market, I heard what sounded like a string orchestra playing a piece by Mozart. I followed my ears and found a string quintet playing. They were so good that I got a video of them...



I stayed in the market until almost 3:30pm. I headed back to the hotel to freshen up and meet the group to go to Hard Rock Cafe. Andy and half of the group went, which was nice since it was easier to navigate and talk to everyone. Andy got us the big combo appetizer. I had one of the spicy wings. They make no joke about it, when it says spicy...it means spicy. Haha! I had the twisted mac & cheese for the first time ever. It was really good. After dinner, all of the group, minus Brittany and myself, went back to the hotel. The two of us were interested in looking around the Hard Rock Cafe shop and seeing the vault. I got myself a cool looking deep pink t-shirt. I think it seriously is my new favorite t-shirt.

Brittany and I did get to go down to the vault. The building itself was chosen for the store because it used to be the royal bank where Queen Elizabeth kept her valuables. It had a lot of stuff from some of my favorite people/bands like: Madonna, Sting, Freddie Mercury, Gene Simmons, Little Richard, John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, and so many others. I was absolutely thrilled. There is a picture that turned out better than the others (low lighting situation) which I will share with you. It is John Lennon's lyrics for "Instant Karma" with tons of scribbles and changes on it...

Instant Karma by John Lennon


We came out of the vault and store and headed back to the hotel via underground. I will miss you London underground...with all your warnings about minding the gap, staying clear of the closing doors, and when the train is approaching...




New word of the day: hire purchase = buying on credit


Cheerio poppets!

1:08 PM

Phantom Of The Opera!

Posted by Melody

I woke up early this morning and went to breakfast because I had a busy day ahead of me. The breakfast here at the Hesperia is really good. I had mixed fruit, fresh pineapple, kiwi, a fried egg, baked beans, toast, a couple of cheeses that come in little round packages, and coffee. The English know how to do breakfast right!

I went off to the center of town where the famous Harrod's department store was located. I made a stop in H&M on my way and tried on a pretty blue dress and put a cute little suit thing over it. Since I did not bring over any dresses or skirts, I have been feeling sort of blah. This fixed that...

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us


After H&M, I went into Harrod's. I knew this place was huge and had a lot of stuff, but I did not realize just HOW true that really was. I mean, literally, everything that I could ever think of to wear or that I would want in a home, they had it. I walked through all the levels just in sheer amazement. Could you imagine my excitement when I found out that they sold pianos?! Well, the exclamation point might give you the hint of a little of the excitement...just a little though. Right beside of the musical instruments section was the home therapy(?) section. They had this cool chair that was like a relaxation pod. I cannot remember the name of it (and Google is not helping me), but it had a screen with a stereo and all sorts of stuff. Pretty spiffy.

Alright, wait for it...wait for it. I GOT TO SEE THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA TODAY IN LONDON! Excitement!! This was THE play that I knew I could not leave London without seeing. I even got my picture with my tickets in front of the sign...

Ahhhh! Phantom of the Opera!


Of course I had to let you all see and share in my excitement...



I sat on the 2nd level and could see everything except the very tip of the right side of the stage toward the front, but that was okay because they did not do a whole lot over there. My seat also afforded me the view of the keyboardists. The singing was great and so was the acting. Wow, just...wow...Phantom Of The Opera in London!

After the play was over, I went to Cool Britania and got myself a mug with a map of the underground on it. I really wanted to get a full poster and then frame it so I could hang it up, but the mug covered all the stops that I had been on...so I thought that was the better of the two if I had to choose one.

I eventually headed back to the hotel so I could rest up enough to feel like getting up to go to Westminster's morning service.


New word of the day: fortnight = two weeks


Cheerio poppets!

10:07 PM

British Museum And Les Miserables

Posted by Melody

I went to the British Museum today. They had a lot of cool stuff there from all different cultures but I feel a little bad because to get it all in one day, I had to sort of just keep walking and glancing at things instead of actually reading everything. They had this exhibit in the main room of all the pills an average person takes in their lifetime. They had two people, both a male and a female, and their life stories...along with what happened and why they had to take what. The pills were sown into filament and it looked really cool. Looking at that exhibit made me think about how much we go through in our life and how our bodies have to take us through it all. Interesting indeed.

Central pavilion of the British History Museum

Me and the central pavilion


I went to this one area with all sorts of cool things from different places like Greece, Rome, and Egypt. I found some little terracotta figurines of zebras, from the Boeotian city of Tanagra, so I knew I had to take a picture for mom. She loves all sorts of exotic animals like that. To be honest, she just loves all animals...except skunks. My dear little Alf was a curious little Scottish Terrier puppy and thought he could play with a skunk. Oh that night. By the way, tomato juice does not work. We used some sort of combination of Dawn dishwashing liquid, hydrogen peroxide, and I cannot remember what else. It took washing him down a few times, but he was eventually clean...and his brindle was showing through.

Figurines of people riding zebras


I did not forget about dad, of course. I found a little baboon for him. I never knew why, but dad likes all monkey-type animals (orangutans, monkeys, gorillas, etc). This little glazed stone baboon, fashioned after the Egyptian god Thoth, is from Naucratis in Egypt.

Baboon


Then I found something that I did not realize until looking for pictures for the blog just now...a terracotta vase with a person playing the lyre! The mindset when I took this picture was more for a creative shot than the subject itself. Under the vase is two pictures of what I thought was a "viola da braccio" (thank you music history), but is actually a medieval citole. The first picture is of the whole instrument. The second picture is to show you the detail on the side of it. Very intricate!

Terracotta vase with a person playing the lyre

Medieval citole

Side detail on medieval citole


The British History Museum also had an extensive collection of clocks and watches. For example, they had this really cool clock that was set in a ship.

Automated clock in the form of a


Another cool clock was the rolling ball clock. As you will see in the video below, the ball zigzags back and forth across the horizontal plane until it reaches the end. At the end, it hits a metal piece that shifts the angle of the plane; thus making the ball roll back. Over the period of a year, the ball is said to roll over 2500 miles! Here is the video for you to see yourself...



After the British Museum, I stopped into a little cafe and had my FIRST Cadbury's hot chocolate. I decided to get a brie, chicken, and tomato panini as well. I know the two does not sound all that great ordered together, but that does not mean I put them together. Haha!

I came back to the hotel and worked on some homework before getting ready for "Les Miserables." London truly is a great city. There just SO much to do here! The weather has been very nice to me. It rained for a couple of hours on the first day, but it has only been 5 minute "mist" drizzles for the other days.

"Les Miserables" was amazing. I watched the anniversary video in my high school chorus class about 4-5 years ago (have I really been out of high school for THAT long?!), but it was nothing...NOTHING like being there in person. They had me totally intrigued. I also feel like I understood more to it seeing it in person. After the play, I went around to Cinnabon and had a "chocobon" RIGHT OUT OF THE OVEN! Oh my goodness, I cannot even begin to describe how yummy that was. Upon reading this paragraph, I am sure that my best friend is now contemplating on going to get her a Cinnabon. Haha!

I left and came back to the hotel for bed. It was late when the play let out anyway. I ended staying up for a little while finishing up the paper I had to do over Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night", then it was time for bed. Oh glorious sleep!


New word of the day: sleeping policemen = speedbumps


Cheerio poppets!

10:31 PM

Lady In London

Posted by Melody

I started packing my stuff for London this morning. I went to breakfast around 7:45am. We were then told that instead of having our luggage down at 10:30am, we would have to be out at 10am so the hotel could do bed linen changes. After breakfast, I came back to the room and slept until 9:40am. I got up and took my stuff down. The bus was not due until 11:30am. I went inside the hotel to have a place to sit down. I just sat there and updated my iPod and texted with dad.

I got on the bus at 11:25am and we left for London about 7 minutes later. Our bus driver was a Scottish guy named Harry. He was an interesting driver. We talked all the way to the hotel. He pointed out stuff to me and told me some cool places to visit while in London.

We finally make it to the awesome Hesperia hotel beside of Victoria Station. Literally, I walked across the street and the entrance for the station was right there. Being so close to the underground is helpful because I can now officially navigate the underground...all by myself! Well, at least zones 1 and 2...because that was all my pass covered. London is not as scary as I thought it would be. The people in London are friendly and it is not all that hard to find where I am going. Of course, having a map in my hands helps with that too. Haha! I rested for a bit and then got ready to go see Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" performed by members of the Royal Shakespeare Company. All 20 of us (including the 'adults' in that number) headed off to Victoria Station and managed to make our way to Piccadilly Square.

We had a little over an hour to get some dinner before the show, so Amber, Brittany, and myself found a place to eat. On the way there and back, we stopped by where the world premiere of Tim Burton's "Alice In Wonderland" was at to see if we could see anyone important. We did not, but it was nice to know that we were in the same city as some big name actors and actresses.

We found our seats and started looking around. The stage was set up nicely. I loved the lighting coming from this one tall archway. It looked like real, soft sunshine coming through. The show started with this guy walking around the stage fanning incense everywhere while a few string musicians played. This is the play with the opening line that says, "If music be the food of love, then play on." It was really good. The second half of it was a lot more entertaining than the first. After the play, I found my way back to the hotel. It was not hard at all really. The underground is well signed and not hard to follow at all. I relaxed for the rest of the evening until it was bedtime.


New word of the day: afters = dessert


Cheerio poppets!

8:22 PM

The Castle

Posted by Melody

I woke up this morning around 11am and spent the majority of my day doing homework. I drank some coffee and decided to get out to get some dinner at The Castle, a nearby pub. I got there and ordered a brie and cranberry sandwich. I sat there after I was finished eating and worked on a little homework until they started getting a little busy.

I went to the library to finish working on homework. Right as I had finished a portion of one of my assignments in great detail, I went to save it and the laptop shut off. Well, I got it going again and realized that I had lost the portion I just spent hours on. I sort of lost the will to redo it, so I decided to leave it for tomorrow...and watch Bill O'Reilly instead.

New word of the day: accumulator = battery


Cheerio poppets!

9:42 PM

Taking Care Of Business

Posted by Melody

I woke up this morning at 7am and went to breakfast at 8:15am. Drew sat down at the table I was at and we started discussing the midterm. I asked him if we could review and study together for the midterm later. He said that would be fine and we made plans to meet in an hour or so. I went back to the room and tried to finalize my answers for the midterm. We met and studied for about an hour. It really helped me because I like hearing different views on things. He said some things that I had not considered, but definitely wanted to include in my answers. I headed back up to the room to got ready to leave for class. I biked to the church and waited on the midterm to start.

It took me about a little over an hour to finish the all essay midterm. When I did, I loaded up and went to the library. After that midterm, I was drained and was about to fall asleep at my little study carrel. I introduced myself to the guy sitting across from me and asked him if he knew of any nearby coffee places. Then I asked him if he would like to help me find one, and he was cool with that. It was raining outside and I did not have an umbrella with me since I had come into town on my bike. Actually, I do not have an umbrella here anyways. Manuel was really nice and shared his umbrella with me. *sings* You can stand under my umbrella, ella, ella, ay, ay, ay..." Haha!

We got this bright idea to go into an Indian restaurant to get coffee. It actually did not turn out to be so bad. The atmosphere was pretty cool and we got to sit on a comfy couch. We talked for hours over my mocha and his coke. We left and went to his hostel to meet up with his friends. We all...Manuel, me, Matthias, Julian, Marina, Nichol (the Italian guy who doesn't have a Facebook), and Andre set off to a nearby pub called The Avery. We find a table and go order. I ordered potato skins. Back at the table, all of us were getting our cultural fix for the day. All of us were asking all kinds of questions to each other. They were really super fun people and I learned a lot from them. It was getting pretty late, so we started getting our stuff together.

Manuel got my iPod from me so he could put his name on it to find him on Facebook. When I looked at his name, I realized that I had been "technically" talking about him all night. Part of our conversation centered around how we both liked driving manual cars. That is all I am going to say about that. It became our inside joke. We all left and walked back to the front of their hostel where we talked for a little bit and then I let the group in on the joke. They thought it was hilarious too.

I end up back at the hotel around 2:15am. Then I found that I was locked out of the room. The lock on the door had been kind of loose for the entire trip, but not to the point where it caused any trouble. Now, of all times, it decides to cause trouble. I did eventually get into the room.

New word of the day: argy-bargy = argument


Cheerio poppets!

8:21 PM

Clogged Drains, Clogged Arteries

Posted by Melody

My alarm went off at 7am and I went to breakfast at 8:15am. I got back to the room and finished up my British History paper. Funny story, I used a word in my paper that I did not realize I knew! Quell. I looked it up in the dictionary on my iPod and found that I had used it in precisely the proper context. Thank you Reading Blaster-Vocabulary (ages 9-12 version) and PSAT vocabulary cards!

I hopped into the shower and had to finish in a RUSH! The drain was apparently clogged and water was rapidly filling the stand-up shower. I finished up and called reception. Shortly after I finished drying my hair, Julie had come to the room to fix the shower. She pulls the drain out and shows me the culprit...hair. Ewwww!

I worked on some stuff for a while and then decided to go to The Cow for dinner. I had the butternut squash pasta. It came in a medium sized dish and was baked with cheese (clogged arteries...haha!); plus there were two bread sticks and a side salad. It was good. I left for the library and got some studying done.

New word of the day: baps = a burger with both the top and bottom buns


Cheerio poppets!

11:21 PM

Chris Saved My Academic Bum!

Posted by Melody

For your information: My mom texted me last night saying that some of the family had been sending e-mails that would not go through. I am sure this is not happening to just my family, so if you have sent me an e-mail to which it did not go through, or there was no reply, please know that I am sorry and it was not that I was ignoring your e-mail. I love getting e-mail from you all! It is like a little bit of Christmas morning when I check my e-mail and see your encouraging and loving messages. Please check that you are sending it to cambridgeonthetrot@googlemail.com. Send some e-mails my way and let us see if it is working now. Thanks for being a faithful reader of my blog! Your support is really appreciated!

I woke up at 8:30am this morning and went to breakfast shortly after. I ended up getting two fried eggs and the full breakfast, minus the tomato (they break me out for some reason). I come back from breakfast, brought my homework up to date, then I got ready for Matt's birthday at Henry's. I had the carbonara (a pasta dish) for dinner, then the mint chocolate fondant (think a souffle looking lava cake) and a mocha for dessert.

I got back to the hotel and got a hold of Chris to help me fix my lappy. I went downstairs and unhooked the monitor from the school desktop computer and hooked it into my lappy. I felt so geeky having three screens (one not working, of course) looking at me, using lappy like I normally would, but looking at another monitor. Chris had me to download a program called TightVNC. It is a (V)isual (N)etwork (C)lient, and server, that uses the tightest bandwidth compressor. It is just like a remote desktop. It is genius, really. Chris saved my academic bum! I am really glad that Chris and I were able to work around the problem enough to where I do not have to panic about my lappy until I get back to the States.

New word of the day: prawns = shrimp


Cheerio poppets!

10:26 PM

Startling Laundry Day

Posted by Melody

I woke up at 8am this morning and went to breakfast. I have missed the breakfast here at the hotel. After breakfast, I gathered my laundry (from the last 2 weeks) together and went to the laundromat. I had enough whites to justify doing two loads. My whites sparkled when I pulled them out of the wash. I did some work while waiting on the loads to wash and dry. Got a lot accomplished. I need to do laundry more often! Haha!

I got back to the hotel with my freshly washed clothes and folded them back into the suitcase. I sat on my bed doing more work when all of a sudden, I heard something the equivalent to a transformer blowing up. That is what I assumed it was, and then went back to work. A couple of minutes later, I heard another explosion...then another...and another...and another. I wondered what in the world was going on, but thought it might be the construction crew doing something out back. I took a break and went on Facebook.

Plastered all over my news feed was the group posting about a car explosion outside. I run outside to see it for myself and, no joke, a car really did explode. I have never seen anything like this in my life, so I got my camera and took a picture.

Aftermath of explosion...


From what I was told, it was the radiator. The guy pulled in with it smoking, he went inside to get some water for it, it burst into flames while he was inside, he comes out to his car on fire...plus the fence and car beside of it as well (the blue one behind the car in this picture). As far as I know, no one got hurt. I felt so sorry for everyone involved. I hope they all have insurance. The owners of the blue car did not know about their car until late in the evening because they had left early in the morning. I would be totally freaked out if that had happened to me.

It was about time for dinner, so Brittney and I went to The Waterman. I had never been there before, so I was excited to try out a new place. She said the lasagna was really good, so I tried it. It was good, and cheesy too! A few minutes later, Lord and Lady Stephenson walk in for dinner. They saw our lasagna and decided to get that for themselves. We walk back to the hotel. I fixed myself a cup of tea so I could be in the relaxed mindset enough to be thoughtful on my homework.

New word of the day: hurly-burly = thunderstorm


Cheerio poppets!

10:41 PM

Techno Babble

Posted by Melody

I slept in until 3pm due to not sleeping very well. I went to the library around 5pm. I took my laptop with me to upload the pictures I have taken the past few days to the blog. Well, that did not work out as planned. Apparently, my laptop screen is refusing to work. I know the laptop itself works because I blindly logged-in and it did so. This is a royal pain in the bum. I guess I should have expected something like this since the laptop is over 7 years old, but I wish it would have held off another month until I got back to the States. All of my work is there for my thesis paper and all of my other coursework.

I am going to see if the IT desk at the library has a cord where I can hook my laptop to another monitor. If I can do that, I will load all of my stuff to the school computer and send my laptop off to the States to be fixed. I just hope that HP still makes the replacement parts for my display. When the charging jack got worn out a year or so ago, they had to replace the entire motherboard to fix the problem (because my laptop motherboard is not one of those where you can just remove and replace a bad section), and there were no new motherboards. The place ended up having to send my laptop to HP to have their people repair my motherboard.

I could fix this problem myself if I wanted to because all I would have to do is get the replacement part. It would involve taking about half of my laptop apart to fix, but I have done that before anyways. I asked my friend Chris about it since I trust him completely with the life of my laptop. I mean, come on, this awesome genius from Tennessee was being pursued by NASA. Chris was who taught me most of my computer knowledge. Anyways, he said that it was probably one of three things: a frayed power wire, the monitor power core died, or a cascade chemical leak made the screen unresponsive to electricity. I heart techno babble. Haha!

Anyways, I sat there in the library for 3 hours trying to bring my laptop screen back to life. There is only so much I can do without my laptop fixing kit. I forgot that the library closed at midnight on Friday. I got back to the hotel around 12:30am.

New word of the day: mollycoddle = to overprotect and pamper


Cheerio poppets!

7:32 PM

Durham To Cambridge

Posted by Melody

I got up at 7am this morning and put all my stuff near the door before I went down to breakfast. I had a poached egg and full breakfast today. This is the first time that I have ever had a poached egg. Basically, it is like a fried egg, but boiled in water instead of fried in oil/grease. I found that the outside tasted a little watery, which was sort of gross, but that was not anything that salt could not fix. Haha!

We jump on the bus at 8:15am and head off toward Durham. We pick up Dr. Hogg on the way. We arrive at Durham and walk to the cathedral. Dr. Hogg gives us a brief informational session about the cathedral, palace green, and castle. We walk in and meet our tour guide. He takes us back outside and tells us some interesting things about the green and castle. He said that the castle was known as a motte (mound) and bailey (surrounding fields) castle, and was the only one that he knew of that had a cathedral in the backyard. Haha!

He explains the knocker on the door of the cathedral as we were heading back in. It is called a sanctuary knocker. If someone was accused of a crime, they could use the knocker to ask for sanctuary. They were allowed to stay in the church under sanctuary for 27 days. If proved to be guilty of the crime, the remaining 3 days were left for the person to flee.

We go inside and the guide points out different architecture, then some leftover painted designs that was protected when the cathedral was whitewashed. We then walk around to see the cathedral clock and old British flags in a chapel. We loop around to St. Cuthbert's shrine in the cathedral. We walk through and then head off to the lady chapel. I think my favorite lady chapel was that in Ely Cathedral. It was so cold in there because they are doing work on the windows, or something, along the back wall. The west door of the cathedral was blocked when the lady chapel was built. On our way out, at the end of the tour, the guide showed us the tomb of St. Bede. Above the tomb on the wall was a beautiful prayer in gold lettering, one that St. Bede had once said...

“Christ is the morning star, who when the night
Of this world is past brings to his saints
The promise of the light of life & opens everlasting day”


We had some free time, so I went to the cafe there at the cathedral to warm up with some hot chocolate. The English really know how to fix the best hot chocolate! It comes in a tall, glass mug with whipped cream and a Cadbury chocolate flake. Here goes the saying again...it's like a hot chocolate in America, but in the way our American hot chocolate never knew it could be. Haha!

I left and went to go find a post office to mail off the postcards I got for my parents and Ashley, then went back to the bus with a couple of minutes to spare. Dr. Hogg came back to the bus and said goodbye to us before we left. Lady Stephenson had put me in charge of expressing thanks to Dr. Hogg for his time with us. I thanked him, gave him the card and Lee University pen, and we applauded him on his way out. I really did like Dr. Hogg a whole lot. He was so full of knowledge about various subjects, and was willing to share it at a moment's notice. He and I even held a conversation about music theory and history (Ack! The classes I had the most difficulty in!), and I was surprised to find out that he knew a LOT about it. Dare I even say that he knew more than me, the music major! Haha!

We set off on our 4 hour journey from Durham to Cambridge. I really did not want to come back to Cambridge. I wish I had more time in the Lakes District. That has to be the most gorgeous place I have ever seen in my entire life. When we got back, I put my stuff up, then hopped on my bike and headed off to The Cow. I got a chicken hamburger, then ordered a double fudge chocolate cake and coffee. So good! It was just what I needed. I went to the library and studied there for a while before coming back to the hotel for the night.

New word of the day: cuddy = small horse/pony


Cheerio poppets!

8:09 PM

Hadrian's Wall & Newcastle United

Posted by Melody

I got up at am and went down to breakfast. I had a fried egg and full breakfast. We loaded up the bus for our the adventures of the day. We first made a stop at Chester's fort. Dr. Hogg walked us around and showed us the directional gates, the barracks, the centurion's house, and the baths with the latrine below it near the river. Thanks to going to the Roman Baths in Bath, I knew most of everything I was looking at without referring to the plaques on the site.

We left there and made a quick stop at some sort of (I forget what Dr. Hogg called it) little bitty (like maybe 20x10) temple ruins with altars in it. People today will still come by and leave an offering on the middle altarpiece (coins, peanuts (haha!), etc.). In the time it was used, only certain members could go to certain parts of the temple. We left and parked at the coach parking lot for lunch. I had the coronation chicken sandwich with bean and bacon soup made with a chicken broth.

Now for the exciting part of the trip, Hadrian's Wall! Dr. Hogg made it interesting for us by having the coach to drop us off about 3-4 miles away at Steel Rigg. The hike was harder than the one he had us do at Grasmere. This hike was consistently straight up a mountain, down a mountain, straight up, etc. We stopped off at a few scenic spots along the way to catch our breath and admire the view. It was absolutely gorgeous! (2/20/10 - I will come back and post pictures of it when I get my laptop fixed. The screen went out, so I cannot see what I am doing.)

We came to a spot near the last 1/4 of the hike that had 2 paths, one that continued the up and down pattern, or a more level one. Even though my heart was beating out of my chest and I had to go slow due to my shoes not being the most suitable for hiking in mud and on wet rocks, I chose the up and down one. I knew it would not kill me, so what does not kill me will make me stronger. I ended up being happy with my decision when Dr. Hogg showed us where we could walk on a section of Hadrian's Wall. Not everyone got to do it because Dr. Hogg was trailing in the back with us slow pokes. Haha! Slow and steady wins the race.

We get to the Housesteads Roman Fort set at Hadrian's Wall. I walk around with Dr. Hogg because I knew he would show me the coolest things about the fort and tell me about them. He showed me the area where they kept their grain dry, oven for baking, a peculiar area that he did not know what the function of it was for, the latrines (more on this in a second), the barracks, the centurion's house, and the north gate that had a hangup about it (it was built on a cliff-if you stepped out of it, you would fall).

Alright, so what is so interesting about a latrine? The Romans were pretty smart in building these. There was a deep U-shaped drain that went around the edge of the room. This was for the business to go in and drain out to the river. When these were in use, there was a wooden bench (decomposed and no longer showing now) with holes (no privacy) over the top of the U-shaped drain. There was a little U-shaped drain at floor level that water from the river flowed through. This little drain was for the people to take sponges (although Dr. Hogg disagreed with the sponge theory and offered up lamb's wool as a more probable material) and dip it in the water to clean themselves with. In the center of the room was two basins to, I guess, wash their hands in.

We all walk back to the bus and head off to the hotel to get ready for the Newcastle United vs. Coventry City football game. I desperately needed a shower after getting all muddy and sweaty. I tried to start my shower, but could not for the life of me get it to work. After 10 minutes of fooling around with it, I call reception.

Hello? "Hi, I know this might be a really dumb question, but I cannot seem to get my shower to turn on. I have tried everything I know to do with no luck." I will send maintenance up to look at it for you.

The maintenance men come in and they figure out that it was the turn knob that was the problem because it had no grip to it. The older man sends the less older one to get stuff. He comes back with a knob, they fit it, and voila. I take a shower and get on the bus with one minute to spare.

We head off to Newcastle to watch the football game. Andy's wife and coworkers joined us. We arrive at St. James' Park (Andy calls it The Temple) and John (one of Andy's buds) showed us where our turnstile was, then sent us off to find dinner (since stadium prices are so ridiculous). Amy and I go to a stand right outside the stadium. I get a burger and fries. We sit on the steps in front of some closed storage thing in the stadium and eat. After that, we visited the club shop. I bought a long-sleeved replica jersey on sale for 10 pounds. They were running a promotion for free printing on replica jerseys. I got my name and the number 9 printed on my jersey. The reason why I chose 9 was due to the fact that number was assigned to their best player, who retired. They have not given that number to any other player since.

I walk up to my seat, which was on the east corner of the stadium. I had a very good view from my seat, so kudos to Andy for knowing his "temple" so well. The next 90 minutes was full of action. The crowd was not as crazy as I thought they were going to be, but this was not a huge rival team anyway. Maybe that was a good thing? Newcastle United scored one last goal against Coventry City in the last minute making the score 4-1. Yay Newcastle! We head back to the bus and come back to the hotel.

New word of the day: howay the lads! = term of encouragement for a sports team


Cheerio poppets!

6:19 PM

Castles By The Waterside

Posted by Melody

For your information: In response to some e-mails requesting more information, especially history, of various places I have visited, I have went back in the entries and linked a lot of places to a corresponding site I thought credible. I also formatted the links to open in a new tab/window, instead of taking you away from the blog. Thank you for your continued readership.

This morning, we loaded up the bus and left Scotland to come back into England. Today we visited the Lindisfarne Priory, on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, and a few castles nearby. There is a really cool thing about this island. The tide comes in twice a day and covers the road leading to it. They have little refuge places set up for people to take cover in because people not from the area can sometimes get caught in the tide. Dr. Hogg showed us the priory ruins (Did you know that monks brewed beer?), brought us into the church to show us some different things, had us to explore the museum, and then let us loose to explore the island for a bit. I went to go eat lunch since I was really hungry. I got a brie (surprise, surprise) and bacon panini. It was really good, and killed the lunchtime munchies. I also got a Magnum ice cream bar to curb the dessert munchies. Like most UK things I compare in the food/drink area with the US, here goes the saying again...it was like a brown cow, but in the way a brown cow never knew it could be.

We loaded up the bus and visited various castles in the area. We went into the town of Alnwick to allow the Harry Potter fans to explore Alnwick Castle (used as Hogwarts in the films), while those who chose to do otherwise went into town to grab a bite to eat or shop a bit. I went into this one little boutique-type store to look around and found the most perfect gift for my mom. I got us both something from the Radley line. If you visit the site, you will totally understand why this was so perfect.

I looked for the post office so I could ship some stuff home, but could not seem to find it, so I slowly made my way back to the bus. I stopped in a bookstore on the way and they had real cheap Nicholas Sparks books, but I had just made a purchase, so I chose to leave it. I get on the bus and we set off toward our hotel. We arrive at the hotel and it was just beautiful. It is located right on the water, has a pretty stone bridge in view, a well-maintained garden with little bunnies hopping around, an outdoor chess set (the pawn was longer than my leg), sauna, steam room, jacuzzi, and pool. The best part was that I had my very own room, with a huge bed, looking over the garden beside of the river and bridge through my corner window. It was a little bit of Heaven. I made myself a cup of tea and watched the sunset from my window.

I went down to dinner, which was wonderful, then I tried some new dessert that had a meringue base with ice cream and different stuff on it. After dinner, we all migrated into the next room to watch some 25-year-old guy sing soundtracks to elderly people who were attempting to dance like teenagers. The music was a little loud for me (read: I lost 1/2 my hearing in just 5 minutes), so I went back to my room and relaxed.

New word of the day: gherkin = pickle


Cheerio poppets!

10:20 PM

Edinburgh Castle

Posted by Melody

For your information: I recently made a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page for those technical questions that I most often get. You can access that page by clicking on either the tab above where my picture is, or at the very bottom in small text. If you have any questions whatsoever, feel free to e-mail me!

I woke up at 8:30am this morning and went down for breakfast at 9am. I got 2 slices of cheese, scrambled eggs, two sausage links, and "fried toast". The fried toast sounds as bad as it was. Take a piece of toast, soak it in pure canola/vegetable oil overnight, lightly toast it in a skillet, and take a bite. That is my personal description of it. I am not a picky eater, but that is one thing I would not care if I never had again. Haha, I hate to be negative about it, but it was gross and I want to save you from that experience.

After breakfast, we had a couple of minutes to run and get our coats/day packs, then we met in the lobby at 9:45am to walk to Edinburgh Castle. We went in and got our audio guides, then set off on our own. I spent a good 3 hours there. I walked around and listened to the various prompts, went into the museums, explored the different exhibitions, and saw the crown jewels of Scotland. The story behind the crown jewels is interesting. Apparently there was a threat in earlier centuries for war, so they were wrapped and hidden in a buried wooden chest. Years later a knight got permission to retrieve them and see if the legend was true. There he found the crown jewels of Scotland wrapped in fine linen right where they had been left. They are rather gorgeous. I would post a picture, but photography was not allowed in the exhibition.

I left the castle and set off to look around Edinburgh. I ended up finding the most perfect postcard for my parents. It had a black Scottish Terrier on it! Surprisingly, Greyfriar's Bobby (a skye terrier) is more popular than the Scottish Terrier in Scotland. The story of Greyfriar's Bobby is basically one of a very loyal dog who lost his master and laid on his master's grave until the day the little dog died. There is more to the story than that, so you should go to your local library and read it. I know that PBS showed a movie on it not too long before I left for England, so there is a movie of it out there somewhere.

I ate at a cool little pasty (pronounced: past + E) shop. I got a basil, tomato, and parmesan pasty with a hot chocolate (it was cold out), and a chocolate muffin. Yummy! I talked with the girl working the shop for a while and found out that she was French. I left there and went back to the hotel where I proceeded to take a nap. I wake up and it was finally time for dinner! I had the chicken curry with couscous and vegetables. For dessert, I was a little cheeky and got both the cake and ice cream. Hehe! After dinner, all of the group went out, but I came back to the room and worked on some homework. I packed up most of my stuff and went to bed.

New word of the day: pip pip = hurry up/be on with it


Cheerio poppets!

7:36 PM

Valentine's Day With The Scotties

Posted by Melody

I got up this morning at 7:30am. I packed up my stuff and went to breakfast. We loaded up the bus and took off toward Scotland. Andy stops off at a place right after the border to take a break. I went through the different shops. I saw a cute little Scottish Terrier plushie with a plaid beret and scarf on it. We load up the bus again and head off to pick up our Scottish tour guide, David.

David was hilarious! For every sentence that came out of his (or anyone else's) mouth, he had a funny little saying to go along with it. He showed us where the queen would stay when she visited Scotland. We drove up the Royal Mile with David pointing out random landmarks. He showed us Edinburgh Castle and the statue of Greyfriar’s Bobby. We wrapped around to High Street, and then arrived at the hostel.

The story of Greyfriar’s Bobby is an interesting one. The master died and his little dog followed the body to the grave, where he stayed on top of his master’s grave for 14 years, only leaving to get food and water at the local coffee shop, until he died. Bobby was named a ‘freeman’ of the town so he could go anywhere he wanted and not be bothered. It is truly a story of a dog’s loyalty for his master. A man’s true best friend.

We got our keys and went up to our rooms. I took a nap for a little while. I suddenly woke up, tried to go back to sleep, but then surrendered to the thought that I was up for good and that I could be doing something a little more productive with my time until dinner.

We had bread and a full place setting waiting for us when we came in. I thought that was pretty cool. They served us tomato soup. It was good with bread. For the main course, I had lasagna with french fries. I know, weird combination. For dessert, I had chocolate cake.

After dinner, almost the entire group decides to go on the ghost tour. We meet in the lobby and the group headed off to the tour. The tour guide lady shows up and starts us off. I paid 9 pounds for the tour thanks to the student discount. We walk around outside and hear some random facts (that I had already been aware of thanks to our day tour and Monty Python...haha!), then we go into the vaults underground and stuff. It was played off like it was all really scary and stuff, but it was not scary for me. It could definitely be scary for others, but I did not see, hear, touch, or feel anything that would cause me to be alarmed.

After the tour, we moved over to the free cinema area to watch some horror film that was playing. It looked like it had been made in the 70s or 80s. Most of the group left all in the span of 5 minutes and the remaining (including me) left about 20 minutes after that since it was a little past midnight. I come back to the room and worked on some stuff before bedtime.

New word of the day: spanner = wrench


Cheerio poppets!

7:34 PM

Keswick

Posted by Melody

I got up went downstairs for breakfast around 9:20am. I met all the Keswick group at 9:40am. We walk to the Trowbridge Road bus stop at the end of our road and get there about 7 minutes before the bus was scheduled to arrive. The bus arrives about 3 minutes late and we find out that it is 9.45 pounds to get an all-day bus ticket (as opposed to an 8 pound one way x2). I did not care because Dr. Barnett had said a lot of very super things about this place, and I was not going to miss out on it. For all I know, this is the only chance I will have to see this place.

We get on the Stagecoach double-decker bus, route 555, for Keswick. I sat on the top deck. It took about an hour for us to get to the bus stop. We all get off and follow Amy to the market area. Amy told us that Keswick has a pretty good Saturday market. I went to a shop in the main center called “The Pink Fudge Shop of Keswick” to see what all they had. A candy store excites me; what can I say? I spotted the toffee section of the store and bought some treacle toffee for only a pound! The slab was about a centimeter and a half thick and a little bit shorter than my hand.

We all meet up at a pizza place called “The Loose Box Pizzeria” to get a bite of lunch. Amber and I shared some garlic bread and a margherita pizza. It was really good. Everyone at the table saw me do the whole “crushed red pepper and olive oil” thing, so they tried it out as well. They thought it was great too. The only thing that I missed was the parmesan cheese on the table. I love dipping garlic bread in a parmesan/olive oil mixture.

Haha, I am going to tell one on myself. When I go to an Italian place at home, I unscrew the top of the parmesan thing and get my cheese that way. It is not because I use a lot of it, well...maybe it is, BUT the main reason I do that is the cheese likes to clump up because of the moisture. Instead of wearing my arm out trying to get a little bit of cheese, I unscrew the lid and get...well...more. When we were finished eating, we all worked out our money to pay. Here in England, they put everyone on the same check.

Amy walks around a bit to get her bearings and she leads us down a path beside the lake. We walked to the very end of the path, and it was worth it! There sat Dr. Barnett’s bench (we dubbed it “Barnett’s Bench”) overlooking a spectacular view of the lake surrounded by both grassy and snowy mountains. I remembered what Dr. Barnett had said in class about not saying a word and just sitting there taking it all in, so I did just that.

Barnett's Bench


After a few minutes, I took a bunch of pictures and even a video.

View from sitting on the bench

Same view, different angle...

View looking to the right

Me and the scenery...


After spending about an hour there, we all left and went back into town to do some shopping and have a spot of tea. On the way back, there was this cute little bird that came over to check us out. It was really cute and I knew mom would love a picture of it, so I took a few.

Cute little bird

The cute little bird...again...


I went into the Beatrix Potter store. I had a field day in there looking at all the cute little things. The store also had some stuff from Eric Carle there. Hopefully you remember Eric Carle maybe because of the “Very Hungry Caterpillar” story. I remember listening to that when I was in elementary school. It was one of my favorite stories of the time; the other was “Chicka Chicka, Boom Boom.”

We then went to this cute and homely little place called “The Wild Strawberry.” I had a pot of Earl Grey tea and a fruit scone with whipped cream and black currant jam. It was so good. The scone was fresh and had a soft center. Once we were finished, we went back to the bus stop for our 4:30pm bus ride home. We all jump on and I decided to sit in the bottom portion. We all get off the bus for the walk back to the hostel. It was not all that terrible of a walk since we still had some daylight left. It was a gorgeous sunset.

We get back and I rush to the room to download my pictures onto my lappy. I go downstairs to get dinner. I had sweet and sour chicken (not like what is served in America...it was sort of like a stew, but no liquid) with rice, carrots, and corn. For dessert, I had a chocolate tart with both strawberry and chocolate ice cream. It was amazing! I came back upstairs after dessert and finished uploading my pictures. Some of the girls came over to look at them and commented that they were really good. What do you think?

New word of the day: costs a bomb = expensive


Cheerio poppets!

9:33 PM

Rock Climbing & Kayaking

Posted by Melody

Today was the day that we became outdoor people! We ate breakfast and then loaded up the bus. We drive to the little town and meet up with our guide, Linda. I have to say that I was not all too thrilled about rock climbing since I had tried it on a climbing wall at The Rush, and failed...but I decided not to let that hold me back.

We were given waterproofing stuff to put on over our clothes for kayaking, but most of us went ahead and put the stuff on so we could keep our clothes clean while rock climbing. I know, I know...bunch of city slickers. Haha! I did the beginner wall with Linda helping me out by showing me how to plan my steps and where to go. I succeeded! I climbed it! It really was not all that hard. I think the reason why real rock climbing was easier is that the rocks are sloped inward, like a mountain. It was not a constant struggle to keep against the wall and pull myself up at the same time. I might actually try real rock climbing again.

When everyone was finished with climbing, we loaded up and went to the lake at Ambleside to go kayaking. We had packed our lunches, so we sat there at the lake and ate our lunches. After lunch, we had a quick information session to allow Linda and the other guides to show us how to properly do things. Then we were off!

It was about the mid-30s temperature wise, and it was sort of windy. The kayaks were really close to the water. I had on 2 pairs of socks on plus tights, thermals (top & bottom), a t-shirt, my Y-12 sweatshirt, blue jeans, gloves, and the waterproofing things on...and I was still cold. About 15-20 minutes in, the cold had numbed me to the point where I was good with being out on the water. We paddle up the river (against the current) and saw the backside to the house that Robbie Williams had bought for his parents. It has a private docking area and all. Pretty spiffy. We spend about a good 2 hours out kayaking, then we came back down the river and got everyone (and everything) pulled out of the water.

When we got into the van, I pulled my gloves off. To my surprise, my fingers were swollen. I did not feel it before, but they were. Waterproof gloves? Yeah, uhmm...no.

We load up and go back to the hostel. I work on some homework and reading, went to dinner, and went to bed around midnight.

New word of the day: sweets = candy


Cheerio poppets!

10:01 PM

Hiking & Grasmere

Posted by Melody

I got up and ate breakfast this morning before our hike. We leave with Dr. Hogg in the bus around 9:15am for Grasmere. We get out of the bus and head up the mountain. Dr. Hogg talked at different points about Wordsworth and his literature, plus the different sights we were seeing. The hike was about a 3-4 mile hike. There were a lot of sheep everywhere, so I now have many pictures of sheep.

Scenery from the hike

More scenery from the hike

Even more scenery...

Dr. Hogg

Sheep


We get into town and walk around to where all the Wordsworth family was buried. Then, we had some free time to go and do what we wanted. First off, I went to the gingerbread shop to get some of the famous Grasmere gingerbread that comes from a recipe hundreds of years old. After that, I went to the post office to mail off some postcards to my parents. For lunch, I had a panini at a cute little cafe place. Seems like I had dessert and lunch switched around. Haha!

Gingerbread...yum yum!


After given a little while to explore the town, we were off to tour the Wordsworth museum and house (Dove Cottage). They didn’t allow any photography. Dove cottage had 2 floors, many rooms, and a garden. We went to the first kitchen, over to a bedroom, into the next kitchen, saw the “fridge” (room built over a creek that was very cold), up the stairs to the dining room, over to Wordsworth’s bedroom, into a sitting room, and finally saw the children’s bedroom. The floors were the original wood planks, complete with the burn hole at the top of the stairs where a bucket of hot coals were once sat down. Also at the top of the stairs was the cuckoo clock that Wordsworth had. This type of clock was very rare and people came from all around to see Wordsworth’s clock. The garden had a place at the top of the hill for people to sit down and admire the view over the house. We loaded up the bus and went back to the hostel.

No wonder Wordsworth could write so well, a person would be awfully ill-fated if they were not inspired by the beautiful countryside where Wordsworth lived. I mean, seriously...take a look at this sunset...

Windermere sunset looking outside my bedroom window...

Another picture of the sunset...



New word of the day: aubergine = eggplant


Cheerio poppets!

11:10 PM

The Lakes District

Posted by Melody

I got up this morning at 7:30am and went to breakfast. I had 2 fried eggs, sausage, potato wedge, brie cheese, a chocolate pastry, and apple juice. After breakfast, the bus pulled out for the Lakes District. I slept on the bus until our first rest stop a couple of hours into the trip.

When we came into Windermere, Andy gave us an hour to roam and so we do. I had not had lunch, so I went into a homestyle bakery called Butterworths Delicatessen. I had a brown roll with roasted turkey, stuffing, and cranberry chutney. It was high quality at a low price. Always a good deal! I left there and got on the bus.

We arrive at the youth hostel and got the bus unloaded. We had a little bit of free time before our lecture and dinner, so I settled my stuff and then took myself a nap. I got up about 15 minutes before 5pm and headed down to meet Dr. Hogg. I sat with Andy while the rest of the group came in. Dr. Hogg discussed different Wordsworth's poems, the context that they were written in, and showed us where we were on the map. I always like looking at a map to find where I am. I have no clue why. It is just something that gives me fulfillment.

After the lecture, we were dismissed for another hour before dinner. I went upstairs and made my bed, then checked my e-mail and so forth. I had turkey curry with vegetables and pita bread for dinner. For dessert, I had an apple crisp with a cream base. It was amazing. After dinner, I came back up to the room and hung out for a while. Around 10:30pm, I decide to go out and look at the stars.

It is almost pitch black here. There are a few outdoors lights, a road in the distance, and a couple of lights near the road. Other than that, it is completely dark. The stars were absolutely gorgeous. I have never seen so many stars. I stayed there for a few minutes and then came back in...and then went back out with more people...and then came back in. Then it was bedtime.

New word of the day: cheeky = sassy/naughty/mischievous


Cheerio poppets!

10:24 PM

Friends & Fun In Oxford

Posted by Melody

I got up this morning at 7:30am, took a shower, got ready, and went to breakfast. I had scrambled eggs, sausage, toast, and…brie cheese! Yes, you read that correctly. I was more than thrilled this morning. After breakfast, we met up in the lobby and the group went to tour the Bodleian Library.

We got there a little early and Andy told us to roam in the exhibition and gift shop. I went into the exhibition first. It had many rare manuscripts in it, including some psalters. The colors were so vivid. I got mom and dad a postcard since I found a musical one. We started walking around to different sections of the library and area. We went to the circular building where the tour guide lady told us that it used to be open air before homeless people started hanging around. They enclosed it in glass and it is only now for students (or those authorized to be there). We went inside and looked around. The ceiling was very beautifully decorated, much like that of the mayor’s parlor in Bath. It was extremely beautiful. We went down some stairs to a lower level with bookshelves that could be moved. There was also a chained book. I have never seen anything like that before. It was awesome.

We go through a couple more doors and the lady informed us that we were entering a tunnel that passed under the two buildings and would end back up into the Bodleian library. Going through the tunnel, we came across a conveyor system for books. When an order for a book is made from one section of the library, it is found and then put on the conveyor to send to where the order came from. The orders, up until this year, were made through pressurized tubes. It was kind of like how banks use the pressurized tubes for the lanes not at the window. We made our way back up to the main floor and were let free to do as we wanted until dinner.

I made my way toward the ice skating rink. I ran into Andy on the way there and we walked together since the coach park is right beside of the ice skating rink. When I went in, I was a little early. They were not taking people in or selling tickets yet, so I went to go eat. I went next door to a place called Wetherspoon’s. I ordered myself a chicken Panini.

There was an elderly gentleman sitting near me and he struck up a conversation with me. He started out asking me how I liked the food, where I was from, etc, etc. Somehow we ended up on the subject of WWII and how it was different for America compared to England. He told me that the war started on his birth year and did not end until he was 6 years old. His father was a grounds person in the British Royal Air Force. He said that his childhood was war and that he did not remember his father being around a lot. So sad.

After lunch, I went back to the ice skating rink. For a ticket plus skate rental (on student discount) was 4.20 pounds. That would be like $6-7. I got out on the ice and regained my ice skating knowledge in about 10-15 minutes. I had not been on the ice in at least 10 years. This was my second time. In an hour, I was skating around the ice like the more seasoned skaters. I could not do any cool tricks, but I definitely had the anti-clockwise circle down! You know what they say about people who stir their tea anti-clockwise…

I noticed this guy and girl skating. The girl was having a hard time and kept falling. I was near her one time she fell and offered a helping hand. I began talking with these two people, Jay and Bexi, and by the end of the general skate session, we were off to Que Pasa to get a drink. I had a hot chocolate. Bexie bought me a mocha for the second round. They taught me all kinds of British words, so I cannot wait to try them out.

Andy called around 6:30pm and informed me that I was missing dinner. I thought dinner was at 7pm. Oh well, I told him where I was and I would let him know when I got back to the hotel. He was cool with that. Since I was missing dinner, we all decided to go to some place down the road called Maxwell’s. It was a Chicago-style pub. I had a burger since there was not anything unique to England on the menu. We all sat and laughed like a bunch of crazy people. It was great! When we were finished eating, we ended up drawing on the paper tablecloth. We left when it was closing time and parted ways at the train station.

The youth hostel we were staying at was right beside of the train station, so I did not have far to walk on my own. I got on Facebook and added both Jay and Bexi to my friends list. I was bushed for the night, so I went upstairs and went to bed.

New word of the day: boot = trunk (car)


Cheerio poppets!

10:07 PM

The Eagle & Child

Posted by Melody

I got up at 7am this morning thanks to Andy’s phone call to our room. Apparently my alarm magically turned off. I knew I set it last night, but it did not go off this morning. I had the usual fried egg and full breakfast. After breakfast, I put my bicycle into the annex and got on the bus to hit the road for Oxford.

Today was the first time I have ever slept on the bus. I have no clue why I was so tired, but I decided not to fight it. I had a good nap. I just put my earbuds in, switched it to my Seaside Solo Piano album, and had a peaceful sleep.

I woke up to Andy’s voice telling us what was going on and what we were doing next. He dropped us off in front of The Eagle and Child pub for some free time in Oxford since we made good time on the bus. After walking around town for about an hour or so, we finally end up at The Eagle and Child pub to eat lunch. Katie and I shared a BBQ Chicken and Bacon dish. It was really good.

Andy pulls up in the bus right as we get finished, so we load up and head off towards The Kilns. The Kilns is the last house CS Lewis took residence in, lived in for a large part of his life, and died in. Currently, the home is a private residence for tenants who are Oxford students. The home is owned by the CS Lewis Foundation. The Kilns is not open to the public. They only allow scholars of CS Lewis to stay or visit there.

We met Dr. Michael Ward today. He was the guy in 2003 that realized there might be a connection between CS Lewis’ “Narnia” series and the medieval idea of 7 planets. The idea caused somewhat of a literary stir because no one had considered, or thought of, that before. The group was split into 2 of 10 each. My group watched the BBC documentary first. We took the tour of The Kilns second. I really wish that I could have bought Dr. Ward’s “Planet Narnia” book. His evidence seemed really interesting and well thought out, but I thought I should save my money for potential things more vitally important.

The Kilns was a quaint home with lots of space. The kitchen, library, bathroom, living room, dining room, Joy’s room (when she lived there for the 3 years prior to marriage to Lewis), music room, Warnie’s study, and Warnie’s room were all downstairs. Upstairs was Mrs. Moore’s room, the attic (of course), CS Lewis’ room, and CS Lewis’ study. I know that sounds like a lot, but this house was not all that big. The rooms I am talking about were all pretty small rooms.

When our tour was over, the entire group met up with Dr. Ward at the local parish’s church cemetery. Dr. Ward walked us over to where CS & Warnie’s final resting place is. They are both in the same plot. I think it is a smart thing to do. After that, we went into the church where Dr. Ward showed us the “Narnia window” put in for the memory of some kids who died in an accident. He also showed us where CS & Warnie would sit in the church. Whereas Warnie was a prominent figure in that church, he said that CS did not really like the church service there and attended Magdalene College’s service more often.

We walked back to the bus and went to the youth hostel. The youth hostel is not what I expected. I expected a cold, rundown, cinderblock room with a bunch of beds in it. In fact, it is very much like a dorm room in a way. The room I am in has a great view of the city, 4 bunk beds, television, closet/storage, and our own bathroom. Not bad at all! I was pleasantly surprised. I just had this image in my mind of what a youth hostel would possibly look like. Like I said, I was pleasantly surprised. There is a downstairs lounge area that is very colorful and lively. They have a 24-hour coffee bar set up with various pastries, simple foods (like soup and sandwiches) and drinks. Very, very happy. We will be receiving dinner every night we are at the hostel.

For dinner, I had couscous, a roll, a hamburger, French fries, and a chocolate brownie cake. Guess what my favorite part was? Yeah, the chocolate cake. When I finished eating, I fixed myself a cup of coffee. I left and went back to the room for a little while. Brittany came and asked if I wanted to join her, Brooke, and Sophia for Ireland. I was happy they asked me because I did not have a group yet, and was sad that I might have to do Ireland all alone.

I came downstairs to the lounge. It was full of people young and old. I found myself a comfy loveseat in the corner with good lighting, and started typing away. I studied the Oxford map a bit and noticed that they have an ice skating rink. I checked the times and prices. Not bad.

I am seriously going to go over and do some ice skating if time and plans allow. I have not ice skated since I was a kid on vacation with family in Virginia. I remember LOVING every second of it. I may not be all that good since it has been so long. I may fall on my bottom many times, but I will be thrilled I got to go ice skating one more time.

New word of the day: courgette = zucchini


Cheerio poppets!

1:52 PM

Laundry Run & Henry's

Posted by Melody

My alarm went off at 8am this morning, but I turned it off and then accidentally went straight back to sleep. I woke up on my own at 9:15am, realized that I had just 15 minutes until breakfast was over, threw some casual clothes on, and made a mad dash to breakfast. I had my usual fried egg and full breakfast, minus the tomato, and coffee.

I go back to the room and take a shower. I called Katie and Lauren to see when they were going to go to the Laundromat. I got my clothes together and met the group at the front of the hotel. There was another group going as well. One person yelled out that there would not be enough washing machines/dryers, so everyone broke out into a mad run (I swear I am not exaggerating in the least) to the Laundromat. I knew there would be enough, but I had fun watching them try to beat each other there. Brings a new meaning to a laundry run. I bet the English never knew that Americans could run so fast. Haha!

I went to the Co-op (Co-operative Foods - grocery store) to get a candy bar so the drawer would be open for me to ask for change. For this laundry day, I got a Cadbury’s Caramel (like a Carmello) candy bar. This is my reward for having to stay in a Laundromat forever until the clothes are done. I came back to the Laundromat and put my clothes into the dryer. I sat there while the dryer finished, folded my clothes, and went back to the hotel.

I laid out my pants because they were not completely dry, and I did not want the ones that were to wrinkle. Then, I get on my little nettie to check my dailies and such. Andy e-mailed us; he will be coming back tonight sometime. I actually got a lot done in the next couple of hours. I typed and e-mailed my checkpoint report, I e-mailed my GNST journal, and I responded to not ONE...but TWO prompts on the forum set up for British Literature class. After that, I got ready for Becca's birthday party.

We go to a cafe/bar near the boardwalk called Henry's. I have never been there before, so I did not know what to expect. I wish I would have ordered dinner because it looked amazing. For example, the Classic Carbonara with Pancetta and the Pesto Pasta. The pesto pasta looked like it was more filling, but the carbonara looked more yummy. Desserts finally came out. I had the Chocolate Brownie Ice Cream Cake. It was so good!

I left early to get back to the hotel to pack up my stuff for the annex. Andy came in and talked to us for a little while. After all was said and done, I went back up to the room to chill out. A lot of the group stayed in the annex to watch the Super Bowl. I know who is going to win (COLTS!) and we don't get the American commercials anyway (which I hear are unusually lame this year), so I am off to bed.

New word of the day: anti-clockwise = counterclockwise


You know what they say about people who stir their tea anti-clockwise...

Cheerio poppets!

11:36 PM

Chocolate Cures Cabin Crazies

Posted by Melody

How's that for alliteration?! I ended up sleeping until 2pm. Finally surrendering to the day, I went to the annex to fix myself a sandwich. My stomach was growling for two sandwiches, but I could not even make it through one! I do not know why, but my appetite recently has not been up to par. Two people from the group were feeling a little cabin fever, so I decided to go along since I was too.

We hop on our bikes and eventually end up at The Cow for dinner. Dessert was good enough for me since the sandwich from earlier had filled me up so quickly. I ordered the double chocolate fudge cake and a mocha. The look on my colleague's eyes when they brought the cake to me was PRICELESS! One of them could not finish all of his pizza, so he offered me some of it. He had pepperoni and jalapeno pizza. It was not hot at all, it was actually just enough spice and nice. I really liked it and might order one myself next time I go. We sat there and laughed and talked about so many things. It was an enjoyable time.

We hopped on our bikes to come back to the hotel. We go into the annex and watch "The IT Crowd," which is a British comedy. We watched 3 episodes of it; "The Work Outing," "The Golden Child," and "Moss and the German." It was not the funniest thing that I have ever watched, but it was funny enough that I did not mind watching 3 episodes. I came back up to the room and prepared to go to bed.

New word of the day: torch = flashlight


Cheerio poppets!

11:54 PM

The Twilight Zone

Posted by Melody

I woke up this morning and was going to set my alarm for a little later, but fell asleep before I could. I wake up 30 minutes before I was to be in an interview with a Cambridge professor. Yikes! I got there just fine and conducted the interview. He gave me 2 handbooks for the program there, which I found out was a post-graduate curriculum instead of a bachelor's. He also circled some schools in the handbooks for me to contact and observe. We talked about the differences between England and American schools. There seems to be a definite push that EVERY school in England is to be an inclusion school. They call it "Every Child Matters," which oddly sounded like the Bush program "No Child Left Behind," but I am going to do some further research into that.

After the interview, I left and went to the church...since both are on the same road. The church was doing their weekly Friday luncheon, so I thought I would swing in and volunteer. I walked from table to table talking to everyone. I am usually horrible with names and great with faces, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had remembered the names to just about everyone. When ready, I helped served the lunch to everyone. Lunch today was a creamy fish pie topped with mashed potatoes. The fish pie had both salmon and cod chunks in it with eggs (which some members expressed was a first for them), potato, peas, onion, carrots, celery, a couple of peppercorns, parsley, and I believe that I also tasted a bay leaf flavor.

For dessert, we had was what they called a jelly roly-poly, in a custard-like pudding. It was a pastry with jelly on it, rolled up in the same way peanut butter roll would be in America. Simple, but very good. Speaking of peanut butter roll, I told them that I would come make it next time I was in Cambridge. I remember making it many times in high school, so I know I can do it. They were very excited about it. Do you know of the five love languages? They are: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. Cooking for people is something that I like to do, especially when the person has not tried something before. I think it would fall under "acts of service," but I really think I just need my own "cooking for others" category there. Haha!

After lunch, I stayed and helped clean up and get some people ready to leave. I left for the hotel and finished typing up my case study. I submitted that and started sorting through the handbooks and material that I had received during my interview. I went back to the church for my checkpoint meeting and then came back to the hotel.

New word of the day: vicar = pastor


Cheerio poppets!

9:59 PM

Phantom Of The Library

Posted by Melody

I had the usual fried egg and full breakfast this morning. So lush! After breakfast, I went back to the room and took a nap, since I decided to do an all-nighter at the library, until 1:30pm.

I wake up from my nap, freshened up for class, and went along my way. I made some coffee, so I would stay awake, and sat down for class to start. We had a pretty interesting discussion today over CS Lewis.

I sat there after class was over and checked my Facebook and e-mail. I finished and came back to the room where I watched the Phantom Of The Opera, checked my dailies (facebook, e-mail, etc.), and then went to bed.

New word of the day: porridge = oatmeal


Cheerio poppets!

6:25 PM

Coffee & Making New Friends

Posted by Melody

I got up this morning around 7:30am. I was really excited because Lady Stephenson had Facebooked me to see if I wanted to meet for coffee. I accepted and we went to one down the road to a local coffee shop. This place had really good sandwiches too! Let us put it this way...chicken/cranberry/brie.

We come back to the hotel and I check my e-mail. I had been loading The Phantom Of The Opera overnight because I was in a movie mood, so I watched to the part where the Phantom declares war on both Christine and Raoul...and then I had 10 minutes to get to class. We had a guest speaker today. She went on the Cambridge trip years ago and now lives near in England.

After we were dismissed, I had a cup of coffee and then went to the library. There were just three people, including me, studying in the section of the library where I was. This girl lost her paper and asked me if I knew anything about computers. Of course I do, so I went and tried to see if I could recover her document, but it was a lost cause. I tried everything. I felt really sorry for her because she said she had been working on it for 3 hours and she had a whole other list of stuff to do.

We three were up pretty late studying our different topics. We made it fun by taking study breaks together and talking about random stuff. They loved dropping new words on me. I loved learning the new words. I have decided that I am going to start writing these new words down because sometimes I forget all the different ones that I want to share with you.

New word of the day: trolley = shopping cart


Cheerio poppets!

8:34 PM

CS Lewis & The Cow

Posted by Melody

I did not do anything except sleep this morning because I stayed at the library pretty late studying. When I got to the church for classes this afternoon, the center director wanted us to do a group photo. I think that none of us knew that he wanted to do that. It was starting to rain outside and the wind was terrible. The picture turned out pretty cute though...

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Awww, look at us! We came back in and started our CS Lewis class. We discussed book three of Mere Christianity. During the break, I e-mailed two Cambridge professors who are in the music education specialty. They e-mailed me back really quick! I am meeting with one of them on Friday. I am so excited, but so nervous at the same time.

We finished up with the CS Lewis class and all of us met up at The Cow for the two for one pizza deal. Love this place. I shared with 2 other people. We had the quatro formaggio and the fajita chicken. Oh wow, it was so good! We came back to the hotel and I went to bed.

Just a reminder that February's trivia poll is posted, so get to guessing! Comments and e-mails are always welcomed. Hope you all have a wonderful evening!

Cheerio poppets!

8:29 PM

Piddle Pa-diddle

Posted by Melody

I finally updated all of last week’s entries completely. I had not been posting every day last week because the hotel we were staying at did not have internet. To go back and read the entries from last week, click on January on the right-hand side of the page under Archives. Once you are finished, you can come back to today’s (the current) entry by clicking on the Home tab above my picture.

Alright, so today is the beginning of February and the time has come for January’s trivia poll to close. Thanks to all who participated! What did you guess? Did you get the right answer? Well, let us find out, shall we?

Question: I was founded in the year Martin Luther died. My library was designed by Christopher Wren, and my alumni include such names as Isaac Newton, Francis Bacon, Lord Byron, Lord Tennyson as well as 32 Nobel prizewinners. Which college am I?

Answer: Trinity College

Congratulations to the 3 who got it right! It seems that King's College was a popular choice with 7 votes out of the 15 who voted. If you look over to the left-hand side of the page (where January’s poll was located), you will find February’s trivia question ready and waiting to be answered. Can you get the answer without Googling it?

I got up at 7am this morning and got ready for breakfast. Today, I switched up my normal breakfast. I had one egg and one piece of cheese toast, then yogurt with rice krispies in it. Don't knock it until you try it.

After breakfast, I got my stuff together and went off to the library. I passed Lady Stephenson at the first traffic light and she said, “I’ll race you!” I said, “I’ll beat you!” When I got to the library, I went to the IT desk to set up a guest password for the internet. After I was finished, I noticed Lady Stephenson coming into the library. I said, "I won," she laughed, and we talked about school stuff. We had a free library day, so I went to my little spot in the library to study for a few hours.

I needed a break, so I got on my bike to see if I could find the post office. I turned on the wrong street, but ended up finding one across from H&M. I went inside and found these little Redbox looking things that were self-service mail kiosks! I bought myself an international postage stamp, decorated with the lovely queen, for 90p.

I hopped back onto my bike and started cruising down the street; looking for a place to eat. I found a little place tucked away on the street where the round church is. I got a veggie wrap for 2.50 and a big cookie for one pound more (takeout prices). I went to the bench at the round church to eat it since I ordered it with the takeout prices. It was not terribly cold or windy out, so I did not mind. A pigeon saw me sit down and immediately started making its way over (they are braver than the squirrels at Lee!). I just kept moving my foot to make it go away. I finished up, saved half of my cookie, and started heading back toward the library.

I wrote out the postcard to my parents and Alf (can’t forget the puppy!). I have not written a postcard in many, many years. After that, I did some random stuff, Andy taught me a new UK word ("lush" means great!), and I ate the other half of my cookie. All in a day's time.

Cheerio poppets!