Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ye Ole England Blogs (Summer 08)


It's the place where William Shakespeare was born. It's one of the top tourist sites in all of England and it's a place that has come to be one of the most significant places for many writers and students alike. It was a sort of surreal experience going to the place where THE William Shakespeare was born, raised, and eventually, laid to rest. Most of us here are English majors and have a vast appreciation for what Shakespeare did for literature, theatre, and English culture/history. So it goes without saying that this was one of the most anticipated excursions of the entire term here. It's a pretty remarkable thing to see. To look at your classmates and literally see the passion, appreciation and love that they share for what this man did and for the trade that they are pursuing is truly an experience in itself. Sure we've all cursed William Shakespeare when we've been stuck at home reading instead of doing something else or when long essays or research papers have been due, but to visit the place where a legend was born and died is surreal. It didn't really hit me until I was in the church and staring at the place where he is buried. I mean, William SHAKESPEARE lays buried there. I was seriously awestruck. I guess its just admiration or respect. But it's something that bonds us with so many that have visited his birth site and grave. Writers, poets, and countless of tourists have all shared the common bond of a visit to Stratford-upon-Avon.

Ricky Tomlinson

The comedy show was hilarious! I loved it. The guy in the middle definitely stole the show. I had been warned by people about the English humor and how we might not understand the humor or the accent but seriously, this was right up my alley. The theatre was amazing and the crowd was alive and riveting. The "German" act was pretty funny but there was way too much…um…exposure. Let's just leave it at that. It's pretty cool to see comedy from another country it's really not that difference. Also, Al Capone's Pizza has delicious food and it's cheap! Delicious + cheap = Awesome.

..:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Wakefield

So today we went to Wakefield Cathedral and to Sandal Castle. Something that really caught my attention about this cathedral was that it was still a working cathedral. It is still used for services despite its age and everything that it's been through. It's not as magnificent as a Westminster Abbey or anything but it still, like so many things in England, a great source of history, pride, and culture. I know that Dr. Lindberg found it pretty interesting that it was a working church as well. Something that really caught my eye was the centerpiece of the chapel being Jesus without a beard. I found it odd because Jesus Christ is ALWAYS depicted with a beard. But he was clean shaven here. I asked our guide and he told me that it was really due to artist preference. The artist researched traditions back then and it can be assumed that only old men had beards, as a symbol of age and wisdom perhaps, and Jesus was only thirty some, so his assumption and belief was that Jesus didn't have a beard and therefore his portrayals of Jesus never have beards. I thought it was a pretty cool tidbit of information.

Sandal Castle looked like a huge disappointment at first but turned out to be one of my favorite places so far. The view was amongst one of the most spectacular things that I have seen in my life. It was very tranquil and serene and it made me feel really lucky to have been given the opportunity to come on a trip like this. Which reminds me, I have to mail out those post cards. Whoops. I have a terrible memory. I'll do it on Monday. I swear. Someone remind me.


This was seriously one of my favorite excursions so far. It was really too cold during the game but I loved the tour and the walk to the cricket grounds. It was great. I definitely want to jog it a few times while I'm here. But anyway, back to the excursion: The tour that we got of the facilities was pretty awesome. Seeing the training going on and the interest and enthusiasm that these people have for this sport is uplifting. I played high school football and it reminded me of the same enthusiasm that we had for our team back in the day. We were given complete VIP treatment, we met the broadcasters and saw some players and apparently it's a pretty big thing. The excitement on Rachel's face was priceless. She even called her brother to brag about it. It was great. I particularly liked the rugby grounds. I would have LOVED to seen a game of rugby. One of our guides/coaches was an ex-professional rugby player. He seemed like a pretty small guy but then again sports have changed from back then. The game itself was pretty cool I enjoyed it and I would have stayed longer if I hadn't worn jeans with a HUGE hole in them. It seemed like they weren't giving it their all though. But then again, I wasn't on the field. The game of cricket was a little different from what I expected and was definitely a big change up from the sports that we're used to in the states. It wasn't as intense I'd say as what we're used to but I can see how a person could grow to love it. Something I found really interesting was the posters for the next game against rival Lancashire. It read "The War of the Roses" and portrayed nights in battle and presumably the two stars from either team "attacking" each other. It goes to show how intone with their history they are and how really the War of the Roses is still being fought today, only on a different field. Armor has been traded for uniforms and swords for bats, but when it comes down to it, the tension and angst and rivalry that runs through the blood of a nation is still as red hot as ever.


Well, the city of York is pretty amazing. It is the quintessential English village, in my opinion. I love the fact that it is beyond pedestrian friendly and has a vast area in the town centre that is only for pedestrians. This includes the market and local shops as well as chain stores and of course, Starbucks. Seriously, Starbucks and Café Nero are everywhere here. I love it though. I really wanted to get some cream tea at Betty's Tea since apparently it's the best thing in England—or something to that effect. I believe it too. The queue was ridiculous. I stood there for a whole three minutes, before I got really frustrated and decided to just go to Café Nero. They have pretty good tea there too. I am completely enamored with that town though. The cathedral was really nice. It's art and architecture was astounding as have the other buildings we've gone to. Our guide was pretty entertaining in his own right. He seemed so into his job and was really quite knowledgeable about everything. He didn't miss a step. That's another thing that's really impressed me with these guides that we've had so far. They know their history and the history of the place were they work/volunteer so well. Never ceases to amaze. The only regret on that day was that we didn't' have more time in York. I would have loved to experience the city a bit more and there was a haunted tour that I wanted to go on. Oh also, Mama Mia Italian restaurant is delicious! The garlic pizza bread and the Ravioli were amazing and everyone else's meals look just as good. And to top it off, it was really run by Italians! It was entertaining to see them speak in the stereotypical accent and take your order. It was definitely a family owned restaurant and the old Sicilian ways were evident throughout the establishment.

Castle Howard was ridiculous! When I found out it wasn't really a castle I was kind of disappointed but really wow the house is AMAZING. The rooms are spectacular, although I could have done without a lot of the commentary….or being in line behind old people. The grand entrance was great. Hell, the back entrance was great. It was picturesque—something you would see in movies and people actually live there. There are books there that are probably older than some cities in the US. The fact that they had peacocks just strutting the stuff around was pretty great. I met this crazy old lady who apparently has peacocks in her house and knows the bird call for them. It was then I decided to go back inside and have a cup of tea with Rachel and Erica. I've really grown to love tea. I must have at least three cups a day of it. I think I've spent more money on tea than I have on souvenirs. I'm kind of addicted to it now. I really wish we would have had some more time to spend in York though.

Armley Mills

So today we visited the Armley Mills Textile Factory turned museum. It wasn't as exciting as many of the other things that we've visited but it was pretty interesting at some points. It was interesting to get a glimpse back into history by watching "Bygone Leeds". The dark room wasn't such a great idea considering I had only slept a few hours but all in all it was a pretty funny film. I couldn't get over the women's race. It was pretty hilarious. I mean, they're wearing skirts and I think they were wearing heels and speed walking to the finish. Makes me wonder if it was unsightly to see women run back in those days? I don't know. People get crazy ideas in their heads—especially back in those days. Old school track and field was still pretty athletic. Considering it was time before gyms were prevalent and steroids were unheard of—these Englishmen were pretty athletic. It surprised me. But I digress. The mill itself was an interesting bit of history. It filled in some gaps of information about how clothes are made and all. That's not to say that I spend my time pondering the creation of fabric, but it's crossed my mind a time or two. I'm just glad they don't use urine to matte the fibers together anymore. We'd be one stinky group of people I'll tell u that much. It's interesting looking at all the old cameras and comparing them to the digital ones that we have now. It's a pretty big leap I'd say.

The real highlight of my day was Kirkstall Abbey. Aside from it being pretty chilly it was an astounding place. Stepping foot into these buildings never ceases to amaze me. They are simply breath taking. A humorous note though: the guide kept referring to the monks focus on simplicity and how they wanted to get back to God. But I really couldn't see the simplicity in a building that's about seven times the size of any church in Laredo. I mean, if that thing was simple, I would LOVE to see the extravagant Abbeys in the day. That thing was huge. I also wanted to get a monk makeover but I didn't have enough time. Oh well, next time…..next time

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