Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Peter Pan and other tales

I am home finally, though the the weather makes me think otherwise, but we never had torrential downpours this constant in England. The rain there didn't always want to soak you through to the bone.  I never would have thought I would wish for snow. We would have at about eight feet of it if the temperature was below freezing this whole week.

Lovely winter weather aside I am beginning to miss England. I knew it would hit me sometime. I even had a dream last night about traveling around again with people from ASE. This dream however also involved summer camps, scavenger hunts, and possibly a few characters from Star Wars were running around in the background. Even if the my time in Bath wasn't quite like this it was fun.

So, I thought today would be a good day to reminisce, even though it has only been a little over a week since I got back. There are two main things that I didn't have a chance to get to before I came home. One is my work with Next Stage Youth on their production of Peter Pan. The other is the three days I spent in Stratford-upon-Avon.

I spent a good part of my semester working with the kids on Peter Pan, and it was a lovely experience. The actors had more focus and dedication than I have seen in most other youth productions. Even though I was backstage, away from the kids, for a good portion of my time there I still loved working with them. If I could come back and work on a production with them again I would. I'm glad I had the opportunity to work on this play. I always feel at home and welcome in theatre, so thank you to everyone I worked with in Peter Pan.

Before the end of my semester we took one last trip with the whole program was to Stratfor-upon-Avon, the birthplace of Shakespeare. We saw three shows performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company. Love for Love, Wendy and Peter Pan, and Queen Anne. They were all fantastic performances in there own unique way. Seeing so many performances and being able to discuss them my classmates was engaging and fantastic

The program I was a part of in England was amazing.  I had so many unique experiences that I never would have had otherwise. I will always have fond memories of my time in England because of this program.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Minack and other tales

Holy cow! I am sorry. I had papers and then homework. Sorry, for those who have been waiting to read this it is so old now. So much has happened since this, but I can't include it all in one post because it would be huge.

So here is Mid semester break.

I have travel to two places that have gained little pieces of my heart, but they couldn't have more differences. By all account one might think someone who loves the serene, quiet seaside of Penzance would not like the lively, chaotic streets of Dublin, and yet they both have latched themselves on to my memory, and it is doubtful that they will ever let go.

Upon arriving in Penzance I quickly found myself lost in a world that lacked street with a GPS that wasn't as accurate at pinpointing my location as I would like, but I soon found my bearings and was off exploring a city alone for the first time in my life. I discovered as I rounded a corner that I had arrived to Penzance at high tide. As  a result the cobblestone road that my GPS wished me to take was covered in water, and the sidewalk, which was a few feet above the road, had waves lapping over it eager to lick at my shoes. So with some good and some bad timing I managed to get across with relatively dry shoes. I passed by this same area later on at low tide where that water was at least a twenty feet away from the road that I was meant to cross. There is something romantic (in the older definition of the word) about a life controlled by the tides.

I eventually found the B and B that I was meant to stay at. Unfortunately, I was duped by the use of army time here in the UK and had told the owner that I would be arriving at five. (My train got in around 15:00 and I did bad math.) As a result he was not at the B and B and I was left with a few hours to kill. Though I was tired it wasn't too daunting of a time with the sea in such close view. Right across the street to be exact, so I went along the walk and sat down listening to the water crash against the wall and and watching the white waves splash ten feet above the sidewalk. I was drinking in Penzance jotting down pretty descriptions of everything around me into my journal.

I sat there for quite a long time realizing that my jacket was no match for the cold wind blowing off the sea. When the cold got to be too much and the time was close to five I went back to the B and B hoping that they were back. Unfortunately they weren't, but there were some keys in an envelope for 'Ashley' and I was very tempted to commandeer them. So by this time I was cold really cold and tired and just wanted to be somewhere warm, so I went in search of food. However it seemed that most restaurants were closed, until I found the Pirate's Cove. This was actually a place I wanted to go because pirates. It turned out not to be as excited as I expected with very sparse piratey decorations, but I was cold and tired and past being picky. So I order fish and chips and sat down hoping that my phone wouldn't die in case the B and B owner was still absent and I would have to call him.

The food was good, but evens it's warmth took me a while to thaw out. When I was finished it took me a while to gather up the energy to go back out in the cold and make the trek back to the B and B. I was incredibly happy when the front door was open and I was finally settled into my room.

After breakfast the next day I started my hour and a half trek to St. Michael's Mount which is an island with a castle that at high tide can only be accessed by boat. I walked the first half there on the roads which was extremely obnoxious because I could see the path that walked went along the coast, but I had no idea how to get to it. After crossing some busy roads I finally found a bridge that would take me to the path. The walk was fantastic, constantly having the water in view, and always having St. Michael in sight, but never seeming to get closer.

When I finally got there I was told I only had an hour to search around. It turned out to be plenty of time to look around. It was a nice little island with a fun castle. It was worth seeing, but the walk there was more of an adventure. There is nothing like having the ocean constantly at your side.

I found my foot prints on the way back. It was kind of cool seeing physical evidence of me walking through Penzance.

The next day was by far my favorite part of this trip. This was the day that I visited the Minack Theatre. This lovely theatre is located in a little town called Porthcurno. The theatre is built into the cliff side and it's back drop is the sea. I have never seen such a gorgeous theatre. I spent hours here just taking it all in and I loved every second of it. I just desperately want to stand on the stage and belt out a song.

This has become a theatre that I have to see a play in at some point in my life. I is just beautiful and lovely and all the words that are synonyms to those.

The seats had the plays that had been performed written on them and they gorgeously chaotic in their placement. I will come back here.

Then a week after Penzance I went to Dublin for a study trip for Irish Literature. How amazing that I could just hop on a plane for an hour and land in a different country for a study trip! I loved this city. I would be back in a heartbeat. We went to pubs with loud music and toured the city. I discovered that I have an interest in the Easter Rising of 1916. I bought two books that dealt with it.

I was such I lively city. There was always something going on and there was energy everywhere It was so much fun hanging out with the girls in my class.

These short amount of words don't do it justice, and unfortunately I was having too much fun to remember to take pictures.

Well there is that post. Slightly lopsided in it's writing, but I hope you enjoyed it. So much as happened since then. I will be going home it two days, but I will try to do catch up once I get home. There are two things that I really was to touch on, but I just don't have the time before I go home to write them. I just got caught up with everything that was happening here.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Harry Potter and other tales.

I am halfway through the semester, and I have been very aware of the English part of my major. Though I do love reading books, and I love talking about books almost four books every week is a lot of reading. It's nice to have a break where I can casually read at my own pace rather than scrambling through the book. Yes, I am still doing homework over break, but I have come to terms with the fact that during College your break isn't a break from school work it's just time to catch up with school work.

This semester, however, is the lightest semester I have had since first semester Freshman year, at least credit wise. The only reason it is difficult at all is because I am a slow reader therefore reading is very time consuming. My time will be even more consumed in the coming semesters. I will look back on the stressful times of this semester and laugh because I am fully prepared for stress levels twice as high for the next two semesters, both of which will be at or close to the limit of credits we are allowed to take without have to pay more money. This is the plight of a person who wants to graduate with two majors and a minor. When I finally graduate it will be incredibly fulfilling, but at the moment it is quite stressful.

Alright, on to England stuff which is much more exciting than my needs to obtain as many different departments on diploma as I possibly can.

My sister and brother-in-law visited recently. The day after they arrived we went on the Harry Potter Studio Tour. Every thing there was actually used in the production of all of films. My favorite part was the section with the creatures and animatronics.


There were also sets, the Burrow.

And costumes.

And so much more. Unfortunately, we couldn't linger and take it all in as much as we would have liked to due to bus schedules There was also a Death Eater exhibition going on that we couldn't really see because of time. There were people dressed up as death eaters roaming around looking menacing, and there was a wand maker carving wands for everyone to see. I wish I could have linger there longer than I did. The wands have always been one of my favorite parts of Harry Potter.

After the tour we had obnoxious bus ride back to Bath that involved a long wait for the bus to arrive and an exhausting amount of time sitting on a bus.

The next place on the agenda was the Roman Baths where we held digital tour guides to our ears poking in numbers to tell it what we wanted to hear about, and drank hot water with excess amounts of minerals. The patron goddess of this bath was Minerva goddess of War and Wisdom. She is Athena's Roman counterpart.

The statues on the pillars are not part of the original baths They were added after the baths were excavated in the 1800s. Each statue portrays an important figure in Roman culture. The whole bath was once a series of buildings that no longer stand. Originally the bath pictured above had a high domed ceiling. After discovering numeral facts about the baths we discovered a gift shop half way through the exhibit. In this little gift shop amongst the souvenirs of soap and teddy bears in bath robes there was this lovely gem.
Harry Potter in Latin, and I am just now realizing it is randomly the second book in the series. I was highly tempted to buy this lovely find and they even had a children's book on on learning Latin that would help me read it. Alas the novelty of buying such an item did not out way the practicality of buying such an item, so I left it behind and was contented with remembering of its novelty.

At some point during my sister and brother-in-law's stay my sister gave me her birthday present for me. I always love art from my sister.

Thanks for reading. I should have a post up soon about my trip to Penzance.

Monday, October 19, 2015

A Mountain and other tales

It has been quite a long time since I posted. I have four papers in two weeks on top of my regular homework, so I was very busy. Took the weekend to attempt to work on homework, but I mostly avoided it. Today is going to be crunch time though. I need to catch up on my reading.

I get to read the first two books of Chronicles of Narnia for my Fantasies of Youth class. I read some of them when I was younger, but I didn't like them. Rereading them however makes me realize that they really are good. I would recommend everyone to re-read books that they read as kids. It gives you a new perspective of the characters and the plot. If there is a children's book that you haven't read and you've heard a lot about it or see it on the shelf all the time pick it up and read it. A good book is a good book no matter what age group it is meant for.

Now onto more exciting things like climbing mountains. I have gained a newfound respect for mountains. They are force not to be taken lightly. It was a group of us that went up, and I was the one that straggled behind. One of my housemates kept encouraging me the whole way up, and I gotta say it was nice to hear. I finally made it to the top after who knows how many hours, but I made. Now I can say that I have climbed a mountain.

There was an abundance of fog the whole way up so this was the view at the top.
Standing on the edge was fascinating because I couldn't how far down it went. There could have been a ledge five feet below the fog or it could have been a steep shot down to the ground. Though the restricted view did dampen the view that we could have had it did make for and interesting experience. As we got to the top me and another person from our group were behind and we could hear people talking and they couldn't have been more than thirty feet away, but we couldn't
see them at all. It was surreal, but it was cool to have a weird experience.

This is my favorite picture of the ones that I took. It's near the top of the mountain and it looks like it could just go one forever. It makes me want to write a story. Those are my favorite kinds of pictures. The ones that give you the feeling that there is a something hidden in them.

On to things just as magical. I am helping with a production of Peter Pan at a local theatre in Bath. It has been a fun experience so far and I am impressed by the talent that the kids have. It's a slightly intimidating endeavor in that it is the first time I have coached someone in acting or been in a leadership role in theatre. I am generally the one that is on the stage and it is quite a different experience. It's good experience if I plan on directing plays when I become a teacher.

Also, I don't that anyone will be surprised to learn that I managed to twisted my ankle while stepping off the stage during practice. I would like to say that the stage is about a foot and a half tall which is an awkward height, and this awkward height is what I believe to be the sole cause of my ungraceful landing. It's not that bad of an injury. There isn't even any bruising, but it is very stiff now. It also makes walking up the abundance of stairs that are in every building that I visit regularly very awkward. I don't have class today, so I am resting it for now, but I'm not sure what's going to happen tomorrow when I have to walk to class.

More exciting things my sister and her husband will be in Bath on Wednesday! Then we will be going on the Harry Potter Studio tour the next day. Then after break my parents and granny will visiting as well. I expect these next couple of weeks to be awesome.

In the in between time when I don't have family members visiting I will be visiting Minack Theatre and watching a performance of A Midsummer Nights Dream. Though I am excited about what is playing I am more excited about the theatre itself. It has stone seating in a half moon around the stage and then where the back wall of the stage should be it opens onto the sea. How cool is it there exists in the world a theatre that has a backdrop that is actually the sea. One of my housemates told me about it and I am glad that she did. Since the trip there is rather long I decided to stay in the area for a couple of days. I will take pictures of the interesting things that I find. It should be fun.

Hope you enjoyed my blog. Sorry my abundance of homework made such a delay.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Oxford and other tales

We just returned from Oxford where we stayed at University College for a week. The rooms we stayed in were fantastic. They had a large living room and then separate bedrooms for two people. It was very cosy though it was always cold no matter where you went. The buildings were made of stone and I felt like I was living in a castle, which I had absolutely no objections to.

The Main Quadrangle, though calling it a courtyard is more fitting.

 Then every time I ate I felt like I was in the Great Hall at Hogwarts. I should have taken better pictures because these don't give the full effect. It had high a high ceiling with painted wooden rafters and stain glass windows along the walls. The tables had benches instead of chairs which resulted in quite a few banged up knees, but the bruises were worth it.

 The Marks of Genius exhibition was in Oxford at the Bodleian Library. It was a collection of the library's most important artifacts such as the original conducting score of Handel's Messiah, The Gutenberg Bible, the dust jacket design by Tolkien for The Hobbit, so much more. I did get pictures, but there were so many people at the exhibition that I didn't have time to check the quality of my photos. As a result some of them are blurry.

 Then after sitting around for the whole week working on homework I got out and went to the Natural History Museum in Oxford. This one of the high lights of the week for me. The majority of the museum was animal skeletons displayed out in the open. As odd as it was being so close to skeletons it was also fascinating studying them up close. I learn some things about about animal bone structures that I never knew.

 Like this Bison for example. I didn't know that they had bones going up from there spine and then the claws of a polar bear point up rather than going straight out.

 One of the most fascinating experiences of the museum was comparing myself to the sheer size of some of these animals. Though I have seen most of these animals one tv or at the zoo I didn't have the right idea for their size.

 I could walk under these elephants without ducking my head and the T rex was more than twice the size of the elephants.

This is the skeleton of the last Dodo bird in Europe. It was stuffed until the 1800s, but had degraded so much that it was stripped down to the skeleton.

On our final night at Oxford we all dressed up and went to dinner in the Great Hall. (Not really it's name, but it's much more fun to say.) There was an over abundance of eating utensils and Latin grace as part of the traditions of Oxford. The food was all fantastic, but I favorite part of the meal was the dessert. It was white chocolate and raspberry ingot with mint and it was the bet dessert I have ever tasted. I wil forever be in search of this dessert.

After dinner one of my tutors was to provide entertainment. He told us a story of a man who went to Oxford and had written a song which was to be performed for us. He told us the man's life story making us laugh at almost every detail and gradually we started suspecting that this story was completely made up. By the time the man died in a tragic picnic accident we were sure that it was all an elaborate tale, and then he pulled out a guitar that he had told us he wouldn't play and started playing what sounded like Home on the Range, before changing. He mash up an least twenty different songs together into his tune consisting of Yesterday by the Beatles and Scarborough Fair. He was and excellent guitar player and if he weren't an Oxford professor he could make a living on being a comedian.

We went back the Bath the next day and as much as I loved Oxford it was nice being in a familiar place again.

Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed it.

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Storyteller and other tales

This week has been a little hectic because of homework which seems to always be a trouble during the school year. Today is the first day I have had that wasn't dedicated to finishing chapters in a book. And it doesn't help that I feel obligated to pet this little guy every five seconds.

She is one of those animals that instinctively knows that you are taking a picture of it therefore she is never facing the camera when I try. If you didn't see my post about her on facebook I'll give you a little blurb about her. She is the unofficial house cat of Prior park and is only let into the kitchen during meal times when we are in the kitchen long enough to feel guilty. Her name is still yet to be determined even though have been here three weeks. It was Gregory at some point (this was when we were questioning the gender), and then Mary Queen of Scots. Now, she is kind of just the Cat.

I just looked back and realized how much has happen since my last post. Well, I'll start off with the most important. I turned 21! Yeah! Truthfully not very exciting since the legal age is 18 here, but I still had a lot of fun. My housemates made me a cake which took eons to finish. Fun Fact: The stoves and ovens here do not heat up as much as they do in America. It takes twice as long to cook anything.

Unfortunately, the cake finished right before we left to go an Open Mic, but not before my housemates could sing me happy birthday without any lit candles for me to blow out. They apparently forgot a lighter, but that makes it more memorable. We went to a pub where I got a free drink, some kind of cider, and I got to sit and hang out with everyone before we moved up to where the open mic was. It had fun music, mostly guitar and singing, and some poetry, but the most memorable part was that accordion player and the singer. They did fun little tunes, in an undetermined language, that made you smile.

When I finally was too tired to sit around anymore I went to leave, but not before one of the people who show us around Bath brought out a cake. This one had one candle on it and the few people that were left, some people had gone to a different pub not too interested in the music, sang a hurried happy birthday before I blew out my candle.

We sat down and I cut apparently huge chunks of cakes according to English standards. Though as soon as I took a bite of it I had to agree.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Stonehenge and other tales

Today, I have officially been here a week. I'm thankful that I am not carting my exhausted self through the airport like I was last Monday. I have it significantly easier than last Monday considering I have nothing to do, but a little homework and picking up the rest of my books. I was lucky in my scheduling because I don't have any classes Monday which I'm sure I will be even more grateful for as the semester goes on.

Since I have so much free time I have started on the task of laundry which is quite the task with our little washer and dryer. I put my wash in at about 9:30 and it is now 10:50, it still hasn't finished, and I have to ring out the towel every thirty minutes that sops up the leak at the bottom of the washer. After it is finishes washing I still have another hour twiddle my thumbs waiting for the load to dry. Oh, and did I mention  this is only my pants. I will have to work out a system with this. How the past residents of this house got any laundry done is beyond me.

Now, we come to the title of this particular blog post, Stonehenge.

I took about thirty pictures of these stones as I wondered around the edge. This one I think was the most artistic of the lot minus the half a person on it's edge. I thought this would be better considering the thousands of plain photos that people have seen of Stonehenge. I will post some of the better ones on facebook.

I desperately wanted to wander around in the middle of the stones, but alas there were ropes and signs barring my way. I think if I had been closer it would have been more amazing. To actually understand first hand the height and weight of the stones. To try and comprehend the effort it would have taken to move these stones more than twenty miles on wooden rods. These stones were placed by ropes and the sheer power of men. That concept is hard to understand when you have to stay at least twenty feet away at all times.

Stonehenge was the first stopping point in our trip for the day. My whole program, which consists of 31 students went to Stonehenge, Sailsbury, and Lacock.

Sailsbury was our next visit and it was my favorite. We went to Sailsbury Cathedral which had gorgeous architecture.

The outside was pretty, but my favorite parts were on the inside.

The columns and the pointed arches are beautiful and there were tombs scattered around the cathedral decorated with their own columns and statues. It was all intricate and detailed. I wanted to take a picture of everything.

This was one of the most memorable pieces of the cathedral. It's a fountain with water so smooth it becomes a mirror. I wanted to go back when there was no one around just so I could get a picture reflecting just the cathedral. It's hard to believe it was only install in around sixty years ago for the 750th anniversary of the cathedral. It has a very timeless quality and fits perfectly into the style of the cathedral. I would visit this Cathedral again just so I could wander.

The last place we visited was Lacock Abbey. The first two Harry Potter movies were filmed here.

Lily and James' house is also in Lacock. Unfortunately I didn't get a picture of it. This whole village was very quaint with a lot of little cottages. It was a timeless place with such old architecture and modern things.

This is the first of many trips I will be taking while I am in England. Perhaps I will do a tour of Bath blog post. I show the different things I see when I walk around.