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Saturday, May 22, 2010

The weekend began with an exhausting day trip...

We started at 7:30 AM (ugh...) and headed on the coach to Runnymede, the place where the Magna Carta was signed. The Magna Carta seems to be more important to American history than British history, which is why the American Bar Association placed the memorial in Runnymede instead of the British Bar. Our teacher said that British people probably would only vaguely know what the Magna Carta was, if at all. Their constitution is what we call "unwritten," meaning that it's known but not really written down in one document like the American one is. It's kind of an interesting concept to grasp. It seems that a lot of British things are just common knowledge amongst the people, like the rules of their government and the role of their monarchy. It's all a bit convoluted from an outsider's perspective, especially an American perspective because we feel the need to contractually write everything down.

Anyways, there's not much to do at memorials such as the one at Runnymede except spend a few minutes appreciating the monument and the surrounding landscape and then take jumping pictures, many of which don't work. But you have to keep trying until you get just the right pose - mission accomplished (see the biggest pic) :) There's also a monument to JFK that we visited nearby. That was neat.

After Runnymede we ventured on to Windsor Castle! The actual castle of the monarchs - sometimes they're even there when you are! They weren't when we were there, unfortunately, but we did get to explore the grounds.
We watched the changing of the guard, which was interesting. There's so much tradition and ceremony here in Britain. Everything is hundreds of years old and has like 745 different traditions surrounding it (there's another thing I have learned is very American - over exaggeration. Brits tend to comically understate everything).
The castle was ginormous - the largest medieval castle that's still inhabited. We also saw Queen Anne's Doll House, this huge miniature house with real electricity and running water - isn't that amazing? Apparently a lot of the artwork in the doll house were donated by the actual artists. The castle is gorgeous, inside and out. They have all those amazing original portraits that you see in history books - like the one of Henry VIII that everyone knows - on the walls there. The originals! It was amazing. And I have a hard time believing that it was someone's home - crazy!

Then we went to the home of John Milton (the poet). We went into his back garden and took a nap in the grass. Literally (see photo to right). We were all exhaustified. ha ha That was the best part. Milton actually only lived in the house for a few months during the Great Fire in London, but apparently it was instrumental in his writing of Paradise Lost. I must admit that I'm not the biggest fan of Milton. I think I mostly just don't understand his brilliance.
After Milton's House we went to Stoke Poges where Thomas Gray was inspired to write his famous Elegy. This is once again an artist for which I don't have the adequate appreciation...but the grounds surrounding the chapel were quite beautiful, which provided many much picture taking opportunities. That night I ate at Wagamama! My brother Scott told me I had to, and now I see why - it's soooo good! Loved it.

Saturday began with a brief trip to Portobello Road Market to purchase some gifts and then we went on a trip to Greenwich! We walked underneath the Thames - yes, underneath. There's a footpath.
And we dressed up as naval officers, hiked to the Royal Observatory, and stood on the Prime Meridian! I have now been in two hemispheres at once!
It was really fun. We also explored the Queen's House and the Maritime Museum next to it. I will give more details on this trip later in another post. And we rode a boat home along the Thames! It was so much fun. I was standing near the back of the boat, which I learned was rather dangerous - the engines kicked up a whole bunch of water and soaked my pants ha ha it was great. So now I can say I've been over the Thames, under the Thames, and in the Thames :) And tonight I ate Italian food with my pals and got a frozen orange juice thingy and I am utterly exhausted. My head hurts and I just want to sleep for an entire day. I just want to sleep sleep sleep...good thing Sunday is a day of rest - I need to be better at sleeping so I can more fully enjoy the sites we visit, especially next week because we're going to....SCOTLAND!!!! WOOHOO! I'm terribly excited. Oh, and I may have sited the Doctor here in London. We'll see if I can catch him, but it's probably won't be until after I get back from Scotland. Stay tuned!


  1. Wagamama -- what a name! YOU ARE GOING TO SCOTLAND!!!!!! Jenny that's my favorite place in the world!!!!

  2. jumping photos ???????
    you are so jenny
    I just stole your moms back pack and she could not chase me HE HE HE