Posts Tagged ‘day trips’

England Adventures

11 June 2009

Flashback. Way back. To May 17.

Hannah arrived on a spectacularly rainy and cloudy English morning. And poor dear I did not let her sleep. We went back to RoHo for a spot of lunch, and then it was off to Hampton Court. Somehow there were 2 or three of the state apartment tours I didn’t do the first time I went. One that included a room that had GUNS in elaborate patterns instead of, I dunno, wallpaper. Also they seemed to have decided it was now ok to take pictures in the big fancy Henry VIII hall. But all of those pics are on Hannah’s camera.

I finally allowed her to collapse around 9:30pm GMT. Poor dear slept for 14 hours.

I had an exam the next morning on a part of campus I didn’t even know existed. After that unpleasantry was out of the way, we went to Windsor Castle. GUESS WHO WAS THERE!

THE QUEEN!

Still didn’t see her though.

The Castle seemed so different! Everything was green and leafy. As previously mentioned, this was the 1st place I went in England that wasn’t RoHo or Egham, so it was kind of special that it was one of my last England hurrahs to go back again. When I gave Grace, Tyler, Annie, Colin the ghetto tour, we were too cheap to go inside, so this time I got to do the audio tour, which I thought was very informative. Needless to say, my tour of the town was even ghetto-er in this third incarnation. It was kind of like “Look…that thing up there…somewhere…is a pomegranite. Which was K/Catherine of something’s symbol. And then Henry VIII took them down. Except that one. Oh and the Queen can eat the swans. Eton boys!”

There was also a special exhibit of Da Vinci sketches and royal portraits. And I got to re-stand on HENRY THE EIGTH’S TOMB. Lordy.

Another of our exciting day trips was to SALISBURY, which is where you can get on the special bus tour of Wiltshire countryside that takes you to STONEHENGE.

Yes, STONEHENGE!

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No, that’s not one of the default desktop backgrounds from Microsoft Windows, it’s the real things!

It was a little bit of deja vu, because, like Carhenge (the Stonehenge replica made of junk cars in Alliance, Nebraska),

carhenge

you just kind of drive around in the middle of nowhere, and then, BOOM, there it is on the side of the rode.

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I’d say the only difference is that Stonehenge has an audiotour and a giftshop. And Carhenge had a weird bug infestation.

We also got a guided tour of the beautiful Salibury Cathedral and played around in the Water Meadows, both of which have been often portrayed in English paintings.

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I unfortunately had to leave many England/London stones unturned. Didn’t make it to Bath. Or the Sherwood Forest. Or Charles Dickens’ house. Or the Tate Britain (I’m looking at you, horribly timed Victoria line strike). I suppose that means I’ll just have to go back!

Some day.

Rest of the Stonehenge/Salisbury pics are here.

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EAwH!!*

19 May 2009

*England Adventure with Hannah!!

We’re having a JOLLY GOOD TIME! We’ve already seen Hampton Court Palace, Windsor Castle and Eton, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Parliament, 10 Downing St, Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery, St. Martins in the Fields, the British Museum, Covent Garden, and Picadilly Circus. 

Here’s proof that we’re together:

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And here’s proof that we’re together in England:

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Tomorrow, we’re off to Salisbury and Stonehenge (GASP!)…but I should have more time for a proper update.

Hever Baby One More Time

16 May 2009

This is not a joke.

I just looked at the “Current location” on my facebook and saw Egham, England, and it sort of just re-hit me about where I’ve been living since January. It’s kind of unbelievable. Just when I think I’m getting used to it, the specialness gets renewed in some way or another. 

Is it possible to be nostalgic for something that isn’t over yet?

*

Speaking of hitting, I’ve been in another “dancing around historical sites in England” video with Miranda and Phoebe. This time, we bust our moves about the grounds of Hever Castle, the childhood home of Anne Boleyn.

Her loneliness was killing her.
Little did Anne Boleyn know that when she said she wanted Henry VIII to “hit her one more time,” he would.
With a sword.
That cut off her head.

It makes (a little bit) more sense if you consider the inspiration…

Oh Britney. Those were the days.

Arriving in Hever was a lot like arriving in Chawton. Except that instead of a bus, we got off of a train in the middle of nowhere, and it was a bit more of a wander through the quaint country lanes

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until we found the castle.

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Really, I’d say it seemed like more of a manor house than a castle because it was kinda smallish, but Castle it is. It was built in the late 1200s by William de Hever (thus the name?) and, as mentioned, was the childhood home of Anne Boleyn and her family. Then it was hers, and after she lost her head, it passed on to Henry VIII (imagine that) who ended up giving it to Anne of Cleves (wifey iv) when they got divorced.

More recently, and by recently I mean circa 1900, William Waldorf Astor (yes, as in the New York Astors) bought and restored it, as well as designed most of the gardens that are still there.

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The castle was pretty, but the gardens were absolutely STUNNING, especially since everything seemed to be in bloom.

And it smelled good too. Believe me, I checked.

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And I thought thatched roofs (which Hever has too) and half-timbered houses were the pinnacle of quintessential English-ness, but public footpaths have to be in there too!

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These are paths that go through fields and such all across England.

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I was nearly peeing myself with the Life Romance of walking on one.

Here, Miranda demonstrates how you use the little contraption to climb over the fences.

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Hever is ranking right up with Winchester/Chawton in my imaginary list of English day trips.

The video shows the highlights of the sights, but here’s the link to the rest of my photos.

And now for something rather (not completely) different…

14 May 2009

I tried to post this yesterday, but there were vast technical difficulties, stemming from the fact that I talked for too long, and the internet seems to believe one should not upload videos that are more than 10 mins in length.

Anyway…enjoy!

And here’s a link to the pictures, so you don’t have to squint at the ones I show from my camera on the video.

It is a truth universally acknowledged…

10 May 2009

…that I am way behind in updates.

Before we get started, a few things:

1. Friday was my four monthaversary with England! I have been here for four months and two days. Can you believe it? Because I can’t.
2. On a similar yet opposite note, Tuesday marked T-1 month until I bid farewell to my beloved. America–I will be turning up on your doorstep in 26 days. Please be ready.
3. Hannah (my precious little sister) will be here NEXT SUNDAY!! The dynamic duo will be reunited at last!
4. Happy Mother’s Day! In my country, this holiday has already passed (similar to Canadian and American Thanksgivings) but I am worldly now and appreciate the cultural traditions of others.

Last weekend, I went to Hampshire with Miranda and Phoebe (of Bright Eyes fame) to commune with the spirit of Jane Austen and such. On the train there, it occurred to me the great lengths to which I am going to prepare for my Romantic Lit final, because I went to Wales for Tintern Abbey, and now, spoiler alert, I’ve seen Jane Austen’s house(s) and grave!

First up was Winchester, where Jane lived for a short while before she died.

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I tried knocking at her house…but she never came to the door. Not even her ghost could be bothered to make an appearance. I guess ghosts is more Bronte (been there, done that) than Austen, so I shouldn’t have gotten my hopes up.

Then it was over to Winchester Cathedral, which has the longest nave and overall length of any Gothic cathedral in Europe (according to Wikipedia, at least…so take that with a grain of salt).

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It did seem long while we were walking around inside, but from the outside it doesn’t seem significantly larger than the other cathedrals I’ve seen. Maybe because it was kinda short. I feel like big tall cathedrals with huuuge ceilings and towers seem bigger, even if they aren’t.

We kept seeing photos of old-timey divers, with plaques praising William Walker for “single handedly” saving the cathedral from collapse.

williamwalker

This was very confusing because the Cathedral did not seem to be surrounded by water or anything that would require the services of a diver, but then I found this info on a diving history website:

In 1079 the foundations of the cathedral were placed on a layer of peat without knowing it. Over the years it turned out that the cathedral was sinking. Soon the layer of peat was discovered. The only way to save the cathedral was to remove the complete layer of peat and replace it with concrete. The space below the cathedral was 3.5 meters high and filled with turbid ground water. A diver had to do this job.

So I guess that makes sense. But I still don’t understand how he got under there. A reverse Count of Monte Cristo?

In other fun WC news, Mary (as in “bloody”) was married there, and Richard I (as in “lionheart”) was re-coronated there (not sure why you need 2 coronations, but there you go).

And of course!

JANE AUSTEN IS BURIED THERE.

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It was kind of like when I stood on King Henry VIII’s grave my very 1st weekend in England. My brain was just like “THE REMAINS OF A VERY IMPORTANT AND FAMOUS AND INFLUENTIAL AND LONG LASTING  PERSON ARE RIGHT UNDER HERE. Does not compute! Does not compute!”

Not that you can really compare H8 and JA as people or anything, but the experience, for me, was similarly hard to comprehend.

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I paid my respects solemnly, unlike, ahem, some people, who may or may not have danced on or around her grave. 

After some cornish pasties (that’s PAH-stees, not PAY-sties, just for the record), we went in search of the mythical round table of King Arthur fame, supposedly in the Great Hall (all that’s left of the Winchester Castle, which was built in the time of William the Conquerer). So we walk in, and the first thing I see is…

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THE ROUND TABLE! It’s so round! And table-y!

Just kidding.

This is it, really:

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You’re probably wondering, as I was, a few things about this. Obviously, it’s not really Arthur’s roundtable, but rather, it’s a 13th century imaginary imitation of what it might have been like. So then, you are now wondering, if it’s from the 13th century, why is there a gigando Tudor rose painted on it? Well, that’s because it was repainted for King H8 in the 1500s. Weird. But cool. And now we know where Merv Griffin got his inspriation for Wheel of Fortune. 

Mythical legend quotient filled for the day, we ventured by bus to nearby Chawton to see Jane Austen’s better known abode. I was following along with the cryptic instructions from the TI for where to get off (it reminded me of trying to get to the Venice hostel) when a lovely old english lady tapped me on the shoulder and said if we were trying to get to Jane Austen’s we should get off here. Looking out the window, the only thing visible was a busy roundabout and lots of trees. So either that lady was part of a plot to murder us in the middle of nowhere on the side of the road, or JA’s house was somewhere nearby.

Luckily, it was the latter.

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Jane (I’ve been to her house, so I think we’re on a first name basis now) lived here with her mother and sister Cassandra, and this is where she wrote Emma, Mansfield Park, and Persuasion, while revising some of her other manuscripts as well.

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I’ll never complain again about my desk being too small.

Chawton is quite possibly the most charming town in the whole world. Across from Jane’s house was a pub and a tea shop and some houses and a playground, and that’s about it.

Oh, and THATCHED ROOFS. 

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THATCHED ROOFS!

How English is that?

Here’s a little video I made to try and capture how wonderful and storybook this town was.

There was a field with horses, and men playing cricket, and sheep!

And did I mention the THATCHED ROOFS?

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I think it might’ve been one of my all-time favorite day trips. I kept looking around and thinking, “Wow, am I really here in this actual real place that is real and not imaginary?” because it was exactly the kind of little town I dreamed about going to in England.

Please have a glance at the rest of the photos. They’re SO ENGLISH that you just might die.

Oxford

17 March 2009

OXFORD, ENGLAND!

Home of Oxford University and awesomeness.

Basically this is how the trip went:

LEONORE: (turns around) Ohemgee this is in Harry Potter!
LEONORE: (turns around again) Ohmagoodnass THIS is in Harry Potter!!
LEONORE: (turns another direction) Ohhhhhlawdy that… isn’t in Harry Potter. But it’s REAL pretty.
LEONORE: (dizzy from turning) I feel smart by osmosis.

Also, interestingly enough, we randomly ran into a girl I kinda know of from Barnard, and she was really nice and took us inside her college (as they are known) and gave us the DL on Oxford Life.

Not to be lame, but I made suuuuuuuper awesome/detailed photo captions, so check out my fb album if you want the more detailed scoop.

Slow Train to London

1 February 2009

It’s like the Midnight Train to Georgia, but a whole lot less fun.

Yesterday, a bunch of RoHo homies and I hit up London for the day. We unfortunately ended up on the aforementioned Slow Train to London that makes a ton of stops and takes approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes, instead of the usually 45ish. The good news is when you travel in multiples of four (like 8 for example), you can get tickets for heaps (note: this is my new favorite word) cheaper. So it was 5.90 for roundtrip train travel AND unlimited tube use for the day.

The fine print of this arrangement, however, is that you’re “supposed to always travel with you group,” and if they catch you doing otherwise, you can be fined 20 quid EACH. Obviously, we did split up over the course of the day when people wanted to do different things, and I stealthily avoided detection by those super helpful (yet potentially deadly) station workers who hang around by the turnstiles. In case of emergency, I was fully prepared to say I was lost from my group and trying to find them and please don’t fine me, topped off with an appropriate amount of tears.

We spent most of the afternoon wandering around Camden Market.jan-31-009On the street.

jan-31-0011Looking down at a very small fraction of the sellers.

jan-31-008Camden Lock. 

There’s a TON of stuff to look at it, but I wasn’t entirely sure if I was scene/goth/indie/cool/hippee enough to be there at times. It was after that when people started splitting up, and I went to Islington to hang with Grace and Tyler for dinner. And watch a rather terrible television adaptation of Arabian Nights/Aladdin.

Working back through the week, on Friday I went to Staines on my quest for a new umbrella with a push button/automatic opening thing. Seems like a simple quest, right? You’d think ENGLAND of all places would have a huge selection of umbrellas meeting a variety of specifications. But NO! Eventually, I gave up and just bought another cute manual one, and naturally, found a push button one 30 mins later walking past a sporting store off of High Street. Oh well. Also, it was during this time that we discovered the mysteries of bags of milk. Apparently these are completely normal in places like Canada.

Thursday I also spent in London, hanging out with Beefeaters, ravens, The Crown Jewels, and Colin at the Tower of London.jan-29-050

The rest of the pictures are here, with incredibly detailed captions in which I attempt to impart some of the wisdom I gained while on the tour. 

In conclusion, I have a date with Ruth.

I drank the tea, and I liked it.

27 January 2009

This was never the way I planned
Not my intention
I got so brave, drink in hand
Lost my discretion…
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I drank the tea, and I liked it.

That’s obviously the most important news to report at this point, considering my long, uphill struggle against tea-likeage, but I can safely say that I am committed to being on the (tea) wagon for the foreseeable future.

When I went to this adorable tea shopday-17-123

across from Kew Gardens with Grace, Tyler, Colin, and Annie (friends from home, give or take a thousand miles) on Saturday, I picked Darjeeling tea based partly on curiosity and mostly on my love of the movie The Darjeeling Limited. After mistakenly pouring myself a cup of the hot water they give you to refill the pot of tea, I poured me a cuppa, put in two lumps (but no milk, alas, I’m not authentically English-y in tea consumption) and drank a sip, andLO AND BEHOLD very much enjoyed it. I even had a second cup.

You’re impressed, I know, but please, could you hold your applause? You’re making me blush.

Backtracking a bit though, I took the train from Egham into London Waterloo. The trip reminded me a lot of riding the Long IslandRail Road or NJ Transit. It was the same kind of commuter train type set up. Except for the part (Twickenham, I believe) where we sat in the station for a few minutes, and then started going backwards in what seemed like the way we came. I’m assuming it wasn’t actually the same because I did make it to London (whew).

It was an action packed day for sure. Crepes at Borough Market, a walk along the south bank of the Thames and across the Millenium bridge (while singing “Way Down Upon the Tha-ames River, of course), tuppence (a bag) at St. Paul’s, a mysterious monument or two, Kew Gardens, a walk 60 feet in the air around the treetops, tea, a pub, and a crash course in spending ages and ages on the underground.

Speaking of the tube, here are some thoughts I have on it:

1. I never realized it was actually so…tube-like (I know, duh, right?). But I guess I always just thought of it as a cute name for the subway.

2. It is surprisingly (shockingly even) clean. The tracks looked like tracks and not like a garbage dump (I’m looking at you, 96th/42nd!)

3. The seats are plush/padded, and there are arm rests!

4. There is a transport authority person at every entrance/exit by the turnstiles that will help you and swipe you through when your card mysteriously doesn’t work at all (unlike MTA station agents, who, if they are present, would probably say too bad get a new one).

London day was followed by the superbly successful (though rainy) Surrey Day on Sunday, in which I attempted to recreate (on the cheap) the tour of Windsor we got the 1st weekend. As in we stood outside the castle gates (too expensive to go in) while I tried to remember about pomegranates and keeps and the Order of the Garter.

We also went around to the Long Walk, which I did not get to visit the last time.day-17-004

This is where the queen (or one of her minions) walks her corgis and occasionally goes riding. It stretches about three miles from the castle, through Windsor great park “to the 1829 Copper Horse statue of King George III on Snow Hill, where there are impressive views of the castle” (thanks, Wikipedia). 

And finally!day-17-0071

The sun came out! So we obviously had to take a moment to bask.

Check out more photos in my London is Kew(l) album.

If only Surrey Day could be a real holiday, just like September Day.

Londonlondonlondonlondon. London.

18 January 2009

day-10-0221That’s me, hardly able to contain my “Ohemgee I’m in London!” excitement. It happens to be in front of a picturesque spot (Buckingham Palace) but I promise you, I was walking around like that for most of the time we were there.

So now I’ve been to London. I guess I can go home now.

Just kidding. It was like a Reader’s Digest version of a Reader’s Digest article kind of trip. We had a bit of a drive around town on the bus, hitting some highlights like Ben Big, Houses of Parliament, Westminister, London Eye, St. Paul’s, the South Bank, Harrod’s, Tate Modern, National History Museum, Prince Albert’s museum, and a bunch of other stuff I’m probably forgetting. We also walked around Buckingham Palace, through St. James’s Park and the Horse Guard, to Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery.

There was a huuuge protest over what’s happening in Gaza. Apparently it’s been going on for awhile, so it was a bit tense. Lots of extra police, though it seemed mostly ok overall, not too rowdy, but still, it was kinda harshing my mellow/enjoyment of the sites.

Then we sprinted through the Gallery (we stopped at 10 paintings max) and ate a hearty English meat and potatoes dinner at a nearby pub before heading to the East End for a super creepy Jack the Ripper tour. The winds were howling, sign posts squeaking, and there was even an aptly timed scream from an undisclosed location. Overall though, I don’t really understand people’s fascination with it. Most of the tour was like “See that car park? Well there used to be a doss house there that this prostitute stayed at, only she didn’t have enough money this one FATEFUL NIGHT so she got killed in a really gruesome way that I’m going to read aloud to you from the police report.”

What started as a BEAUTIFUL sunny and bright dayday-10-004

ended in the rain (of course) with all of us huddled around hearing about serial killerz. Nice. Fingers crossed that I dream about the queen and not murdered prostitutes.

I’ve added more pictures to the end of this album, and you can check out the full London 1.0 chronicle right here.

Tomorrow=homework like whoa!

Day 3

11 January 2009

As my third day in England comes to a close, I thought I’d share some of the observations I’ve made over the last 72 hours.

First, I am not the only one who names my vacuum:

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Found those lovely little darlings for sale in one of the shops in Egham while we were looking for Voltage converters and plug adaptors.

Second, orange juice is served at every meal, and this is apparently completely normal. Yesterday, we had orange juice with breakfast, orange juice with lunch of little sandwhiches, and orange juice with pizza for dinner (weird). Orange juice was also one of the three options at lunch in Windsor today. It’s not bad orange juice either.

Third, you apparently have to do something other than stand at a bus stop in order to get it to stop and let you on. That was very upsetting to discover when I had to carry 2 heavy bags of groceries 15 mins back up the hill in the cold to RH.

In other news, I stood on the grave/tomb of Henry VIII in Windsor. KING HENRY THE EIGHT! His bones were decaying under the floor I stood on today. IT WAS SO COOL!

In case anyone’s interested, here’s the view out my window on the one sunny day (note the castley part in the distance- that’s Founders Building)windsor-001

My room isn’t quite decorated and organized yet, but pictures of that coming soon.

For the full photographic chronicle of the previously alluded to trip to Windsor, please see the rather extensively captioned FB album: Democracy Now