The Adventures of Mace and Courtney
Warning: Image Heavy
All right! Since I haven't written in a month or so, we have a lot of ground to cover. I'll do this chronologically, best i can remember. The reason I don't have as many pictures is because my camera was out of batteries, and I was too lazy to change them. Caitlin took some assorted pictures of me that I am using in the first half of the update. In the second half, I finally got some batteries and fixed my camera, and things get much more exciting.
First off, this is the room I am staying in. Mine is the bottom bunk bed on the right. The girl in the picture is my room mate Hailey. We actually have the biggest room in the entire building, and we only have three people! We also have our own bathroom, which most people don't. Tee! It is hard to imagine that we have the best room in the house, because it seems so small and inconvenient. I feel really sorry for the other people. ~_~
As for my adventures - basically, we have a "British Life and Culture" class that has a field trip every Friday morning. Most of my adventures have been on those trips. Sometimes my friends (namely Caitlin, and sometimes Christie) and I go on adventures on our own, when we are feeling bored. Once, we even paid for a big tour on a coach (bus) on our own. That was pretty awesome. I'll start off with what I think is the earliest picture - about a month ago Caitlin and I did a tour of Buckingham Palace.
They only open Buckingham Palace to the public during one month out of the year, which happens to be September! We were very lucky to be able to take a tour of it. It wasn't as gaudy as the Opera House in Paris, so I have to admit I was a little disappointed. Caitlin loved it, but I missed Paris. It was fun, though, to be able to see where the Queen walks around all day. I don't have any pictures of the inside (I don't think we were allowed to take any), but I did take a picture of myself in the gardens.
TEE! The gardens weren't as spectacular as I had imagined - it was very natural and rambling, and the lake looked kind of dodgy. I was expected manicured rows of roses, or something.
One of the other great things about Buckingham Palace is that they had a big display of the Queen's gowns, from the last 70 years or so. That was VERY exciting for me, as someone who is interested in costumes and in sewing. All of her dresses were ridiculous - silk, beads, embroidery, the works. I'm not sure that I have exactly the same taste as the Queen, but it was fun to see, all the same!
Sometime later, for my Shakespeare class, we took a day trip to Stratford upon Avon, where Shakespeare was born. I had stayed there for a week with my family last year, but I had fun visiting again. Stratford is a really quaint little city. We saw a play at the Royal Shakespeare Theater with Patrick Stewart (Captain Jean Luc Picard from Star Trek), and that was really fantastic. Patrick Stewart really IS a great actor, and it was exciting to be able to see him perform live. The play was Shakespeare's The Tempest, which I am unfortunately not really a fan of. The play was set on an arctic island, rather than a tropical island, which was interesting.
Caitlin and I visited Shakespeare's house, of course.
The Globe Theater
We spend a lot of time on "The Underground", which is the London subway system. I absolutely adore it. Sometimes when I am bored (which is outrageous - I will not allow myself to be bored here), I get on the tube and just ride around in circles. I like to get off on a random stop and walk around, watching people and looking at the scenery. There are so many people and so much to see - I really love it here.
This is my friend Caitlin on the tube. I just thought the picture was hilarious. xD And also, you can see what she looks like. Sort of. I think this was on the way back from the Globe theater, after seeing Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra.
The Globe! There is something to talk about. It is an new theater that they have built to be as close as they can to an accurate Elizabethan theater. They even have a standing pit where the "groundlings" can watch the pay for really cheap - but you have to stand. All our our tickets have been in this cheapo standing area. LAME! But the theater is really beautiful, and the plays are very good, so it's all right. We have seen Comedy of Errors, Titus Andronicus, and Antony and Cleopatra.
You can't really see the Globe, but you can see Caitlin and I. This was at Comedy of Errors. I'm angry because she's making me take another picture. xD I tolerated it for awhile, but she's one of those Camera Nazis, so I just decided to start scowling in all of her pictures to discourage her. ^_~
Now, you HAD to have expected this! At King's Cross station, they put up a sign to mark Platform 9 3/4. There is even a trolley stuck halfway in to the wall! Caitlin is a Harry Potter nerd as well, so we were very excited when we saw this.
Look who else was there! Okay, so to be honest this is a figurine I bought that I was holding up Mace-style. But it's very good quality...doesn't it kind of look like Alan Rickman is there? Just a little? xD
One Friday for British Life and Culture class, we took the tube down to Brick Lane, which is on the east end of London. We had Indian food and walked around all of the fabulous bohemian art studios and fashion stores. It was a lot of fun, and unique - it reminded me of Rent. Old warehouses full of free art displays (and by art, I mean pieces of trash hanging from the ceiling and things built out of old VHS tapes), fabric stores, thrift boutiques, and lots of exciting people. I really enjoyed it. I didn't take a picture of any of those things, of course, (sorry), but I do have a picture of our group near the tube station.
These are the people I hang out with most often (generally just Caitlin, though). From left to right - Lizette, Liu, Christie, Caitlin, and myself. I'm not really sure what that guy is doing next to me. Trying to be funny I guess. His name is Anthony.
Tower of London
Caitlin and I did the Tower of London! I had already gone with my parents last year, so I wasn't that excited, but we took some fun pictures. The Tower is an old palace of English Kings and Queens, chock full of murders and imprisonments and beheadings. It is also where they have the Crown Jewels.
This is our tour guide, known as a Yeoman or a Beefeater. They are respected veterans from the military, and it is a great honor to be able to retire in to work at the Tower. They are tour guides and live at the Tower, and guard it as well, I suppose. At this point in the tour, he was talking about Henry VII proposing to Anne Boleyn, and I happened to be standing next to him, so he took my hand and pretended he was Henry and I was Anne. It was pretty funny. Caitlin snapped this picture. xD
This is me wasting away in the Salt Tower. Caitlin and I both took princess pictures. Doesn't this tower just look like the kind of place a poor princess would be imprisoned? The sad part is, it probably was. So many people were locked up in the Tower of London.
Can you see why I hadn't updated for awhile? Nothing nearly as exciting as my last big update. All of those pictures were boring and Mace-less because my camera didn't have any batteries. Finally I got some, and from here on out, the pictures are more exciting!
Caitlin, Christie, and myself took a coach (bus) tour to Canterbury, Leeds Castle, and the Cliffs of Dover. It was a little expensive, but it was a great way to see a lot of things we didn't really have access to. I thin we're going to do another one, because it worked out really well!
The first stop was Leeds Castle. It is an ancient castle in a lake - not ON a lake, but IN a lake. It was absolutely beautiful. It was a completely ethereal kind of place - Lady of Shallot or something. I loved it.
Squee! I can't believe people LIVE here! And they do, by the way. It is a tourist attraction and some parts are open to the public, but a lot of the castle is closed off. But yeah...can't you just see the poor Lady of Shallot in her boat floating down this river? I wish we could have spent more time here.
Mace storming the portcullis. PORTCULLIS! I couldn't help but think of the Andre the Giant in The Princess Bride. "Give me the gate key." "I have no gate key." "Fezzik, tear his arms off." "Oh, you mean THIS gate key!"
I'm in the right corner there, pondering the castle. See how it simply rises out of the water? Fantastic. I had seen pictures of it, but I didn't really understand how pretty it was until I was there. This is a crappy picture and you can't really imagine the scope of it. The air was crisp, there were birds singing, and there was huge beautiful trees and landscape stretching for miles around. It was like stepping in to a fairy tale.
We decided to head to the hedge maze (YES, the HEDGE MAZE!) On the way we discovered a wall covered in ivy with a thick wooden door. Caitlin and I looked at each other and squealed, "SECRET GARDEN!" That is one of my favorite books, even though it is a children's book. I am channelling Mary Craven as much as I can in this picture. "Please sir, may I have a bit of earth?" Wow. England is so beautiful.
The hedge maze was really fun! Caitlin, Christie, and I all split off in different directions and raced to the finish. It took about 20 minutes. Once, I ran into Caitlin unexpectedly and yelled, "Expelliarmus!" She almost died laughing. It was awesome. I'll have you know I finished, first, too. :P
Regrettably, we had to leave Leeds Castle to get back on the bus. Next on the tour was Canterbury. If any of you have read Jeffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, this is the city the title refers to. There is a beautiful cathedral in the middle of the city, and the characters in the book are all on a pilgrimage to Canterbury Cathedral.
After visiting, I understand why. It was BREATHTAKING. I think I liked Canterbury Cathedral even better than Notre Dame in Paris. It's a little older, too (I think.)
Again, you can't really get an idea of how magnificent this place is just from a picture. It's huge, and old, and crumbling, but noble...I am at a loss for how to explain it. It was one of my favorite things on the entire trip, I think. It is also a working cathedral - there are still people who worship in it. There are so many empty cathedrals in Europe, converted in to restaurants or tourist sites or simply abandoned. It was comforting to me to know that this one is still a thriving body.
I didn't take any pictures of the inside for some reason, so it is on to the next stop on our trip - the white cliffs of Dover.
White Cliffs of Dover
I have heard a lot about them, but honestly they were disappointing. Because they are on the edge of the land, there is really no place to see them clearly, unless you are on a boat. We were not on a boat, so we didn't get a good view at all. I tried to take a picture anyway, though.
They are the little specks in the upper middle left of the picture.
That was it for our big coach tour! Definitely worth the £40.
Just last Friday, October 7, my British Life and Culture class took a coach (bus) tour to Bath and Stonehenge. I had done the exact same thing with my family last year, so again, I wasn't that excited, but I had a great time anyway.
Mace ponders the mysteries of Stonehenge.
Stonehenge was much more fun this time. When I came with my family, it was after hours and they wouldn't let you walk around. This time, I was able to get a little closer to the formation. The BEST part, though, was that it was ridiculously windy, absolutely freezing, and pouring rain. =D I loved it! It was great to be able to experience something eerie like Stonehenge in that kind of weather. Most of the kids were complaining, but I was excited.
TEE! Look how classy I am! In my WOOL COAT! *screams happily* I absolutely adore this weather. We'll see how I feel in December, but right now I am excited!
After Stonehenge, we continued on to Bath. The city is named Bath because the Romans built a great bath there - and you cans still go to the well-preserved ruins.
Caitlin and I visited the Jane Austen Centre, which I missed when I came last year with my parents. It was really great. I am a moderate Jane Austen fan, and Caitlin is a fanatic, so we were bound to enjoy it. They had a little lecture on Jane Austen's writing and time in Bath, and then Caitlin and I had tea and cakes. It was neat to think that Jane Austen herself may have had tea and looked out of the very same window. We realized, though, that we were late for our tour of the Roman Baths - and we picked up our cakes and ran! I'm sure we were quite a sight to see - umbrella in one hand, cake in the other, running through the streets of Bath. xD
The tour was much better last time (with my parents) because we took our time and carefully examined everything. It was lame going with a group of college kids, because they just wanted to rush through, and the experience was very different. I was disappointed. I found consolation in the gift shop, though, with THIS gem:
That's right - Harry Potter translated in to Latin. Harrius Potter. BEST THING EVAR. I opened the pages and tried to read some of it - and it was definitely all in Latin! Awesome! I didn't buy it, but now I'm kinda wishing I did. xD
That concludes this second update! I'm sorry it isn't as fabulous as the first, but honestly, I haven't been doing as much! That's all for now, folks, because I'm really exhausted. I hope everyone is well, thank you for reading!