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Friday, May 14, 2010

Three Days in Heaven

We went our our first extended trip this week! We hopped on the coach on Tuesday morning - my seat buddy was the lovely Aubrie (see picture at right). We drove for a couple of hours to get to....wait for it...CHAWTON HOUSE! I know, you're probably not excited yet, but you soon will be....JANE AUSTEN'S HOUSE! The picture to the left is of me in front of it. It was so fun! It's awfully small, just a simple country cottage. But I can hardly believe a walked the same halls Jane did and saw the very table where she wrote most of her novels. It was really cool. Throughout the house there were different artifacts related to the novels and to Jane's life. We saw a lock of Jane's hair and two amber necklaces belonging to her and her sister Catherine - just like the one given to Fanny in Mansfield Park! And there were costumes set up all around from the new BBC Emma. I went into Jane's bedroom and saw handwritten letters from her and early editions of her books. I walked through her back garden and stood in her kitchen and was so happy the entire time :) It was a beautiful little place.

After Chawton House we took off towards Winchester where we explored a lovely cathedral - and guess who's buried there! JANE AUSTEN! It's kinda weird to be excited about seeing someone's grave, but I feel like that's a big thing to do as a visitor here. Every cathedral here is absolutely amazing. The thing that I particularly enjoyed at this cathedral was the ceiling - it was gorgeous. If you can, I highly recommend looking of pictures at it online...I don't want to put them on here.
After the cathedral we went to the Great Hall where we observed the round table! Like, the official round table from Camelot and stuff! We reenacted a scene from Monty Python's Holy Grail (it's on facebook, should you wish to see it) - I sang the Knights of the Round Table song (yes, I know all the words ha ha) and we were cool. I've made friends with a bunch of goofs like me here ha ha, though I think I'm a bit more goofy than they are.

After Winchester we proceeded to Bath. Yes, another site famous for Jane Austen things. We got to go to the Roman Bath Museum where we learned all about the ancient Roman baths that were uncovered in Bath.
After the museum we went to the Pump Room where they let you drink the famous water from Bath which is said to have tons of minerals that can cure you of practically anything. It was disgusting. It was warm and it tasted all sulfury and gross...but hey, I'll live to be 102 years old!
We also went to the Royal Crescent, which aside from being amazing and beautiful is where the famous running scene from the new Persuasion takes place. There is another reenactment of this scene on facebook, should you wish to see it. In that video I play more of a side character. I will soon post the one of me running. It was quite grand. Bath was absolutely gorgeous. I loved it. I can definitely see why everyone would want to go there on holiday. We were singing 'Hey Soul Sister' on the way up to the Crescent, once again proving that we are clamorous Americans, and an old British man murmured "rubbish" to us as he passed - rude! He was laughing when he said it, so hopefully it was all in good fun. I thought we sounded rather nice...We took many a Bath picture. Everything in Bath closes at like 5:30 though so we were stuck wandering around for a couple of hours. It is so pretty there, though, so wandering wasn't a chore.
We then ventured up to our Youth Hostel (see pic at left), which was not as sketchy as we thought it was going to be. In fact, in light of some of the horror stories I have heard it was rather nice.
We explored the area around our hostel and found the most beautiful field on a hill just in time to watch the sun set - it was so amazing! England is entirely beautiful! We frolicked in the field and took many pictures until we discovered stinging nettle...then we went back to the hostel.

We awoke the next morning and climbed onto the coach once more to head to Glastonbury, the supposed burial place of King Arthur and Guinevere - if you have read the Morte D'Arthur, you know what I'm talking about. We saw the place where Arthur's tomb is said to have been before the Abbey was destroyed as part of the Reformation. We had an awesome, though sometimes inappropriate, monk tour guide who we christened Ringo due to his uncanny resemblance to said Beatle. He was hilarious, but kept making interesting sex and gay jokes which we all found extremely awkward, especially considering they were coming from a monk...He was really nice though. And he knew his stuff.
After the Abbey we hiked to the top of the nearby Tor - a large hill overlooking the entire area with a monument on top dedicated most recently to St. Michael, who is said to guard the area from earthquakes, which are caused, as we all know, by the waking of a sleeping dragon under the hill. The view was magnificent! Once again, many pictures were taken - I took the first of a few "the world is mine" pictures (see left). After the Tor, we hopped on the coach and took off for Wells, where I saw the most gorgeous cathedral I have ever seen - it was absolutely wonderful. We weren't allowed to take pictures, so I don't have any...but I'm sure they have them online somewhere. Take a look at them - it is sooooo gorgeous. Definitely my favorite cathedral we've been in so far. The Lady Chapel was especially wonderful. And I loved the scissor arches. At the local market I bought a copy of a Beatrix Potter book - so cute! And at the local candy shop I purchased some amazing clotted cream fudge. The fudge here is to die for. I also had my very first cornish pasty - I could eat one everyday for sure. I love them. I'm going to have to learn how to make them when I get home. And fudge too. We got back on the coach and headed to a small seaside town where we were to stay for the night - it was called Ilfracombe. It was soooooo beautiful!!!! We were right on the coast.
We played on the beach, we ate fish and chips (which I love, by the way), and we hiked to the top of a hill where we watched the sunset over the ocean.
I am telling you, England is the most beautiful place I have ever been. I can hardly believe I am here. We also made friends with a Scottish fisherman who had the thickest accent I have ever heard. He gave us some tips on where the best view of the ocean was.
We slept in a slightly more dodgy hostel, but still not bad, and we awoke to a full English breakfast at a local restaurant. I got to eat beans on toast! English breakfast is amazing - it's a wonder they're not all fat here, with all their fried food and chocolate.

We next went to Tintagel, the supposed birthplace of King Arthur - we saw Merlin's cave and the castle where Arthur is said to have grown up.
We stood on the edge of cliffs and stared out at the vast ocean - it was so amazingly beautiful. We made friends with a guy who worked in the milkshake shop. His name was Matt, and he wanted to switch places with us so he could go to America and we could live in what he called a "fairy town."
Every shop in Tintagel was dedicated to King Arthur or fairies or dragons or witchcraft or some other such thing. It was definitely a fun village. We then went to Exeter where we saw yet another beautiful cathedral and did a bit of shopping. We came across a Primark in the mall and I bought a pair of sweet sneakers for 2 pounds! I love Primark. It was wonderful. The whole trip was a marvelous success - the countryside really is as beautiful as they make it look in all the movies. There are endless rolling hills of fields and flowers and lush greenery. It is practically unbelievable. I had such a marvelous time, but one of the best feelings was arriving back at the London Centre and feeling that I was home. I feel like I really live here now - the Centre is home, at least for a few more weeks. That's such a fun experience - I live in London!!! I am amazed every day at how privileged I am to be here. I am so, so blessed.

1 comment:

  1. By the way - I just read "Austenland" in about 6 hours. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Quite thoroughly.