Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Oxford, Bath and Stonehenge

Well well well. Every weekend I keep thinking I just had the best weekend of my life. The feeling just keeps repeating itself.

This past weekend I went on another one of the school planned weekend trips, which meant riding on a coach for many hours.We started out Friday morning by packing onto the coach at 8:30 in the morning, always our favorite time of day. After riding for a short 2 hours we ended up in the city of Oxford, home to the world famous Oxford University. Fun fact that we all learned, Oxford is not one college but instead 38 colleges all combined. We found this out when we kept trying to find the bookstore. Anyways we had 4 hours free to wander around the town. While doing this we ran into a church, I believe, that held the stair cases along with the dining hall from Harry Potter. If I had read any of the books or watched more than 2 of the movies I would have paid to go in, so sadly I do not have any pictures for you. After that we hit up a store for some apparel to make ourselves look really smart. While there we talked to the cashier and she told us all the places that she recommends we see while there. This led us to the library which was pretty sweet looking, then we found a market type building which had all these mini shops all put together. Here is where I found the cutest cake shop ever! I hope my cake shop looks exactly like it some day! Here is also where we found Ben's cookies! Most delicious cookies I have ever had in my life! (Pictures: top left-Harry Potter place. top right-Oxford library. bottom left-two yummy cookies combined. bottom right-amazing baby cakes!)

After hanging around Oxford we loaded back up on the bus for another 2 hours and ended up in Bath, England. (AKA home to the Roman Baths AKA famously naturally heated water baths). We spent Friday night to Sunday morning here and it was one of my favorite cities. It was also my first experience staying in a hostel...and the hostel was on top of a hill, 2 miles outside of town. Needless to say I had plenty of time to meet friends on my walk into town. While going there I met up with a group of girls and made some new friends. We ended up finding a local pub that had 2 for 1 desserts and 2 for 1 cocktails. We also heard they were having live music at 9. So we decided at 6:30 that we would stay there for the live music. So at 6:15 we had out dinners. At 7 we were all allowed to order desserts and at 8 we began cocktail hour. The bright sides were that the food was amazing and inexpensive and the dessert was wonderful. The bad sides were that they didn't really know how to make cocktails and at 9:05 they told us the live music had to cancel so all of our hard work was for nothing! But none the less we had a great night out and had fun talking for the hours! After that we began our 2 mile trek uphill and called it a night. (Pictures: left-our weekend gang: Brittany, Danyelle, Abbigail and myself. Right-apparently a mojito which was basically leaves, seeds, pump and ice).

The next day there was an optional school trip for 4 hours but I decided I was sick of sitting on a bus and didn't need to climb any more hills or look at anymore ruins. Luckily my new friend Abbigail felt the same way. So we spent the day together! We first walked to the Royal Crescent which is where the rich people would have lived and I have also been told that parts of Jane Austens movie Persuasion were filmed there. I plan on watching the movie this weekend. After that we decided to hit up the Fashion Museum. Which was awesome! We were able to see how women used to dress and how fashion has evolved through history. We were also able to try on corsets and crinolines to feel like the women did when they had to be skiinied up and tied into their dresses. Unfortunately they did not have dresses we could try on which was upsetting. (Pictures: top left-the Royal Crescent. right-trying on the clothes. bottom left- my favorite dress in the museum!)

After the museum it was time for the Jane Austen Centre. For those who don't know Jane Austen was a famous writer. And no I haven't read any of her books. But I have seen Pride and Prejudice. Which I am going to watch again this weekend with another movie that is based off another one of her books. While here we decided it would only be proper to have Jane Austen tea along with crumpets, buns and victorian cake. So we did! It was delicious! Best decision ever. Then we did the quick tour! (More pictures! Tea on the left and squeezing Abbigail into her newest outfit. This is the part in Titanic where Rose is holding onto the wall and her mother is tying her in as tight as she can!)

We had to kind of power through the tour unfortunately after our tea so that we could meet up with out friends at the spa! YES SPA!!! It was the only spa in the UK that offers bathing in naturally warm spring waters! We brought out swim suits and were able to either sit in the indoor pool on the lowest level of the building, in the aroma steam rooms, or the open-air rooftop pool! All of the water fell as rain water 10,000 years ago and is heated underground by hot rocks. It supposedly had 42 different minerals and is a nice warm 92 degrees! Yes, I did just copy that off the brochure. But it's the truth. So we had 2 hours to enjoy any of the three rooms. It was a beautiful warm Saturday afternoon. The sun was bright and we had been spending the day carrying our jackets instead of wearing them so of course we spent most of our time on the roof-top! We had great views all around the city and it was all so beautiful. We spent most of our time floating around giggling in disbelief that we were actually in a bath, in Bath, England in February and could call it going to college. It was just amazing. Needless to say we were pretty much mush after that and somehow managed to make it through dinner without falling asleep. After dinner we were smart and grabbed a cab and headed back to the hostel. We spent the rest of the night playing with makeup and nail polish and getting hand drawn tattoos on our feet. Oh and eating cookies since we found another Ben's cookies and each bought a box of 7. (Pictures: top right-the best google image I could find to show the bath and the view. left-our hostel, my bed was the one on the floor on the left...just awesome. And no the sheets didn't fit onto the bed).

On Sunday morning we finally had our scheduled tour of the actual Roman Baths. So we got to see the real deal and where they would have bathed back in the day. I lost my brochure for that one so I can't give you much history. But it was very cool. The next stop after that was Stonehenge. Which as you all remember, the Duggars went there a few months ago so I was walking on the same ground and in the same place as the 19 Kids and Counting crew had been! Such an amazing feeling. But seriously the rocks are huge, and no one has any idea how they were brought there or how they were stacked on top of each other. They estimate that the heaviest rock weighs around 45 tons. Which probably isn't too light, especially when being carried by man power. So it's pretty cool to imagine how on earth they got these huge rocks on top of this hill in the middle of a field. Most random place ever to put a bunch of heavy rocks but thats ok. Oh and we had an hour to admire the rocks. So I have plenty of pictures if you want to see more!
Best part of the trip, I have a new t-shirt that says............"STONEHENGE ROCKS!" Get it?

After Stonehenge it was time to head home. We had lunch then began our 4 hour journey. I think it was the first time I was happy to have a long ride because I had been putting off working on my research paper so I spent most of the time reading a very thick book on Edward III and figuring out what to all write about him. So if you have any questions on him throw them my way! BTW he was a pretty cool guy...just saying. Once we got back to the manor I had dinner and a skype session with some pretty cute cousins (Happy birthday Alyce!) then I began writing my 2500 words on Edward which kept me up til 2 but that's fine, I don't need sleep anyways.

Not much happened on Monday besides school as usual and a little volleyball. On a side note, after playing 10 years of competitive volleyball, the best part of the sport is when your serve is on and there is a pouty girl on the other side of the net. Needless to say I don't think she was a fan of my new jump serve.

Tuesday was field trip day, we spent time at a work house 45 minutes away which is where they used to keep poor people and ran it the same way as a jail to some extent in order to help the people and keep them off the streets. We also spent time learning about the manor we have been living in. They taught us how the very formal places of the manor were where the family lived and spent their time and how the cheaper looking places around the manor were where the servants lived and spent there time. This is why there are secret passage ways around the manor. They were used by the servants so they wouldn't be seen by the family. Needless to say I now know that I live in a room where servants would have lived and the classrooms where I have most classes were either a playroom for the children or where the Butler lived to oversee the servants and tended to the family (it has a secret hidden stairway that leads from the basement to the two upper level floors). By the way everyone else has classes in rooms such as the long gallery, the gold room or the state dining room while I have class in "Room 130" and the "Music Room". I also learned that our library used to be a large kitchen. One last thing we were told was that everything in the manor had once been sold off and the manor was supposed to be destroyed but then a very rich women who supposedly invented shaving gel came in and saved the place. So we are very lucky to be able to see the Harlaxton Manor, let alone live in it and go to school in it.

The other highlight of Tuesday was my intense workout. After doing two days of lifting workouts I decided that wasn't enough, so I decided to do a few volleyball-esk drills, then I decided that wasn't enough so at 8:30 at night I decided to run to the end of our mile long drive way. In the pitch black, in the countryside, in shorts and a t-shirt. It was sooo nice outside, it was a great run. How many people can finish off a workout but running home to a beautifully lit up manor. The manor at night is truely amazing to see. I'm hoping to go out on a clear night and take some pictures to prove the point.

Well that has been my life the past week. Hopefully I should be able to move my body again in the next few hours. Classes are pretty rough here. I found out my sociology professor is actually worldly known in his field and has been given many opportunities to bring his family to London just as long as he does a few interviews with the BBC news which is the most popular news program over here. If it wasn't cool enough to have him as a teacher, it is pretty cool that I love his teaching style. We just started two more movies in both of my classes with him. So I believe we are on to movies 4 and 5 at least. It is a rough life I have but I promise I am learning! Wish me luck, tomorrow we have our first home volleyball game! Which should be fun then I will be spending all weekend in my pajamas relaxing, not spending money or traveling all weekend long! It's gonna be awesome!


PS. My newest joke to brighten your day. Next time your in England tell someone to catch you and that you'll give them X amount of pounds. For example, when someone is at the bottom of the stairs I yell, "Catch me and I'll give you 130 pounds!" It's funny because here pounds is a certain amount of money but for us it also is an amount of weight! Now aren't I a clever one?!?

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