Monday, September 27, 2010

The Cornwall Collection

Address: Lanhydrock House via Coach Bus

Greetings from Lanhydrock House, a
place that I would more be inclined to dub a "castle," however, after Warwick this would be a house by comparison. We left for a weekend in Cornwall and this magnificent house was one of our scheduled stops. Besides the interesting history of the house, the grounds surrounding it are enough to take your breath away. Don't worry, I took lots of pictures! We explored all the rooms that were open to the public; each was furnished with authentic antiques and items from the past, right down to the toys in the nursery. After exploring our fill, we went outside and sneaked a peak inside the church (yes the family had their own parish) and wandered on the myriads of footpaths that snaked up and around the gardens. It was a very beautiful rest stop, I can't imagine what it would be like to live there!

Address: Newquay

We've arrived at our destination, which I gotta say is not too shabby. For two nights we will be living in a sweet surf lodge, which actually has a rule that you can't stay there unless you're under the age of 35. The lodge is sort of like a hostel, but it's really nice, almost like living in a club. There are tiny tv's that dot the walls in the hallways so you can watch British music channels while you wait for your friends to get ready, and black lights line the stairwells...just i
n case you feel like having a late night rave. We've announced our presence with several sporadic dance parties, and each night we've traipsed around town, checking out places to eat. The beach is beautiful, but very cold and extremely windy at night. I've never stood in such wind. For the most part, we've just been enjoying the fact that we're near the water.

Catch ya later!
English Surf Diva

Ps. We've made friends with a couple
who run a cute ocean cafe. Each morning we've bought breakfast there and joke around with them. We needed to ask them to explain some of the Cornish menu options--like gammon (ham) and tea cakes (still not quite sure)--but they always did their best to help us out.

Address: Land's End

Hello again from Cornwall!
Contrary to what you may believe, the name "Land's End" refers not only to a clothing like that makes practical and comfy ensembles, but actually to a place where (quite literally) the land ends. England drops off to steep cliffs which fall into gorgeous, blue water. If you squint your eyes and stare really hard, you can see New York, but that's only if you know it's there ;). I'm running out of words to describe landscapes here. We've been blessed with such lovely weather that it seems as though everything sparkles and hues just come alive. This time of year is the perfect time to see everything, the days are becoming chilly, but the crispness of the air makes everything look even more spectacular!

Wishing I could cliff-jump here,

Address: St. Ives

I really wish sometimes that certain places could just be transplanted to the States so that I could visit them everyday; though I suppose that would detract the novelty of seeing sights such as these for the first time. St. Ives is a lovely seaside town, full of quaint shops which captured our attention. Sadly, we only had two hours to wander around, which wasn't nearly enough time. However, we did squeeze in a stop for Cornish Cream Tea (tea with scones, clotted cream, and jam) and Clotted Cream Ice Cream (the creamiest ice cream you'll ever eat). I wasn't really prepared to like English food so much (the country isn't exactly known for its eatery), but I'm really going to miss some of these delicious treats (like haven't lived til you try fresh English scones).


Ps. Now I have a sudden urge to go out and buy more scones and tea.

Address: Eden Project

Dear Faithful Readers,
Sadly we are now leaving Cornwall just in time to start classes (yes, finally) on Monday. On our return trip however, we managed to squeeze in a stop at the Eden Project which is a self-sustainable exhibit dedicated to raising awareness about environment conservation. The giant "bubbles" are home to real life biomes where you can experience a completely new environment just by walking through a door. Sadly, I do not have many pictures of the rainforest biome because: #1. my camera lens fogged over immediately, and #2. it was so stiflingly hot in there that I couldn't stand to walk around for very long. The Mediterranean biome was much more tolerable and was full of beautiful flowers.
We ordered lunches which consisted of fresh bread, hummous, pepper, and greens sandwiches and fresh bananas (yes, fresh! they were actually grown on-site). The freshness reason is enough to make me wish I could just erect a giant bubble in my backyard so that I too could grow fresh produce all year round!

Temporarily Vegan and ready to be rid of this bus,

Ps. My first class is on Tuesday and while I'm nervous, I'm mostly excited to start. It feels as though this has all been one long, fabulous vacation up to this point.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Address: Regency Hall, Cheltenham

Dear Americans,
What's up with the rule about white and Labor Day? This was a question blurted from a new acquaintance who just had to know more about our eccentricities. This past Sunday, our quiet building was filled with "freshers" who are all excited about being away from home for the first time. This fact, combined with the legal drinking age in England being 18, creates quite a stir at night. Ok, so I know that coming from a dry campus to here would be an adjustment, but seriously I've been shocked at the amount of alcohol some of them can go through in a night. It doesn't help that all shops and stores in Cheltenham close at around 5, so the only places open for entertainment are pubs or clubs.
But that aside, we've being having a lot of fun getting to know people here. Last night I was up until past 2 talking about accents. They would try to speak "American" and make me speak "English." At any given time this is a perfect conversation starter. I'm slowly getting better at discerning who is from what area of England (one day I made the mistake of saying that their accents all sounded the same to me and ever since then I've been working on listening). After all, I wouldn't want to see like just another....American.


PS. We introduced our new friends to the epic Messiah tradition of Ninja Warrior. They really liked it and i'm pretty sure it's the first game they've played all week that didn't involve intoxication.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Address: Warwick Castle

Dear Readers,
I'm thinking that there won't be too many times in my life when I can say that I was exploring a 900 year-old castle. Warwick Castle was built in 1068 by William the Conqueror and was subsequently passed down through the eras as a home to many "Earls of Warwick" and as temporary lodging for guests such as Henry VII.
The castle was about an hour from where we are staying so we spent a good part of the day exploring it, climbing endless/tiny staircases, and taking lots of pictures. My abundant imagination juices were pumping all day as I thought about wandering through those halls in an excellent ball gown, being attended by servants and introduced to duchesses. I can't even describe to you how incredible it feels to walk around in the same rooms that royal persons did hundreds of years ago. Everything is so well preserved that you'd think the castle was built far more recently. Moral of the story: They don't build things like they used to!

Most Sincerely,
Her Royal Highness the Countess of Warwick

PS. The castle grounds included a Peacock Garden which, contrary to what you might believe, does not mean that peacock-shaped flowers burst into bloom here or that the garden is very proud. No, it's an actual garden full of the living, breathing (and very vocal) bird.

Enclosed pictures

Inside my room, as I mentioned, it's small but comfy : ).

The view from my window, this is our courtyard for the building.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Address: Cheltenham

Dear Readers,
Arrived safely in Cheltenham yesterday, though it feels as though I've been here for weeks. So far we've been touring about the city and have been introduced to lots of people and places we'll be seeing in the weeks to come once "modules" start.
I have my own room and bathroom, though both are small. I am learning where to buy the things I need and a helpful note left in Michelle's room instructed us on where to go each night of the week to experience the best nightlife (oddly enough the note was signed "the Little Monster"). Hmm, um ok. Good to know.

Amanda (aka The Very Tired Monster)

PS. Ate dinner at a deconsecrated church this was the most beautiful restaurant I've ever been to, right down to the stained glass window of Jesus that was next to the list of specials.