James' Jaunts

Regent's Park

I spent my last day in London trying to catch up on the things I did not get to do earlier in the month and my first objective was to visit Regent's Park. Which I did! It was an absolutely gorgeous day and the park was extraordinarily beautiful also, as you can see from the pictures below. And yes, those swans ARE black swans. The roses are in a part of the park known as Queen Mary's Gardens and the fragrance there is heavenly. And these pictures are no where near the actual number and varieties of roses found there. I just took pictures of my favorites.

Final Tour of London-town

After visiting Regent's Park, my friends and I went to the Texas Embassy where "real" tex-mex food is served. Real is a very relative term here. I think the advert should read "what we imagine real tex-mex food tastes like" because it has none of the real tex-mex spice and all of the typical British blandness. But the ambience is great...especially if you feel a little homesick for America. You can also find a posted list of Titantic survivors in this restaurant, where the original list was posted after the tragedy. And the upper floor is devoted to John Wayne.

I then finished my souvenir shopping in Trafalgar Square. If you peer closely (or click the picture for a larger view) you can see the famous lions. There is a myth that states that if you sit on the lions you will return to England. I didn't sit on the lions because I wasn't going to have someone hoist me up there. There are no steps up to the top...you literally have to scramble up there. But I will be back!

We then finished the evening in Piccadilly Circus where I bought my second suitcase. Yes I needed a second suitcase to return home. But that's okay. Other people benefited too!

We then rushed back to the dorm to jump in the shower and rushed back out to the Imax where we went to see Harry Potter, which again was incredible. But it was even more so at the Imax because the last 20 minutes was in 3-D. My first 3-D experience. After the movie, I returned to my dorm and packed (and repacked) my suitcases. The bus was leaving at 7:30 AM the next morning and I was determined not to miss it!
Back to Brighton 08/03/2007
Unfortunately, Rachel (my classmate) and I were unable to go to the Dr. Who Museum in Blackpool because the cost of the train ticket for her was a hundred pounds! Ouch! Anyway, we returned (or I did) to Brighton instead because I had spotted a branch of the BBC which had a lot of Dr. Who memorabilia on display. We spent most of the morning on the beach, which was a lot funner than my previous visit because the sun was out and shining brightly. I was actually able to stand in the English Channel, as you can see below! And you do actually hit sand once you go about 20 feet out into the water. But it's a rought 20 feet, trekking over all the pebbles.

After carousing in the water, we trekked down the beach to Brighton Pier, which afforded an incredible view of the Brighton coastline (see picture below)

We also discovered, much to our [initial] excitement, that the Pier had an amusement park. We decided to act like ten year olds and ride some rides. We went on the Galaxia (1), the Super Twister (2: American version = Scrambler), the Dogde 'em cars (3), and the Crazy Mouse Roller Coaster (4 & 5). We then discovered, much to our dismay, that we are not actually ten year olds anymore because our bodies took a beating on these rides, which we would have laughed off at ten. BTW, British rides are much rougher than American rides...they don't mind bruising you!
So... 08/02/2007
Tomorrow will be a very busy day. I am going to Blackpool with a classmate to tour the Dr. Who Museum, which promises to be very exciting. But then we must rush back down to London to attend the British Studies Program Research Symposium, which sounds much more enthralling than it will prove to be. After the Symposium, a group of classmates are forming a study group for our final exam on Saturday morning, which sounds as intimidating as it will prove to be!

Saturday morning, as I said, will be the final exam. Then I hope to finally make it to Regent's Park for a couple of hours and then catch up on a few places in London that I have not yet been to. I have to turn my internet card in Saturday so this might be my last post until returning home, depending on whether or not I get a chance to post tomorrow. I know Saturday's activities will not be posted until my return.

And speaking of my return...I leave the dorm at 7:30 AM Sunday morning to be bused (or coached) to Gatwick Airport. We fly out at noon, barring any delays (please God!) and I fly into New Orleans at 9:12 PM Sunday night, at which time my mom will present me with mashed potatoes and chicken and gravy and huge cup of sweet tea. I will then precede to gorge myself, rather gracelessly, on good, homecooked food. Glad there will be no witnesses! (Mum frequently sees me gorge myself on stuff, so she doesn't count).

If my excitement is a little too subtle for you, I will spell it out...I AM ALREADY PACKED TO COME HOME AND HAVE BEEN FOR THREE DAYS...I CANNOT WAIT TO GET THERE! So anyone who worried that I might not want to come back...stop! I AM coming home, come hell or high water!

BTW, where is everybody? Nobody has commented so either ya'll are really busy or my ventures of late have been really boring.

Miss everyone!
Brighton 08/02/2007
I went to Brighton beach after class today. I figured a relaxing day at the beach was the perfect remedy for final exam stress...and I was correct! I sat on the beach for a few hours, listening to the tide, and studied for my final.

I felt very relaxed, at least until I was joined on the train by some very obnoxious British kids. BTW, their accent does not make them seem cuter in their obnoxiousness. But they weren't anymore obnoxious than any American kids I've had the "pleasure" of knowing.

Anyway, I shot a totally cool video of the tide but cannot figure out how to download it here so I'll just have to show everybody individually!
Our final class excursion took us to Bodiam Castle, which is the only moated castle left in England, and to the field at Battle. Bodiam Castle was idyllic, as you can see from the first two pictures below. And the weather was absolutely perfect...it was sunny and WARM! The next two pictures are of the interior of Bodiam Castle, which was, unfortunately, destroyed during the English Civil War (by a fire). The cairn-looking stones are an exampl of what remains of the interior walls of the castle.

The final two pictures are the battlefield at Battle Abbey. This is the battlefield where William the Conqueror defeated Harold Godwinson. You can vaguely see the hill on which the English stationed themselves during the battle in the first of the two pictures. The last pictures if looking at the battlefield from the position of the English army.
Nottingham 07/30/2007
Sorry folks! Nothing here to see or tell. I, unfortunately, have been struck down by a cold. I arrived in Nottingham yesterday about 11:30 AM and by the time I finally found the tourist information booth and located the Victoria Bus Station (which would squire me to Sherwood Forest), I was flagging. All I wanted to do was slide down and wall and go to sleep. So I thought it prudent to return to the dorm before I passed out so I hopped on the 1:13PM train returning to London and was passed out in my dorm by 5PM.

Also unfortunately, this wasted a day on my Rail pass (sorry, Dr. Robison!) but I'm going to try to arrange things so I can return on Thursday to Nottingham and Sherwood Forest because this week is the 23rd Annual Robin Hood Festival in Sherwood Forest.

We'll see how it goes.
Canterbury 07/30/2007
Due to my raging cold, I did not travel to York today. I just really couldn't handle an almost three hour train ride, so I went to Canterbury instead. A much easier train ride, I must say! I visited the Canterbury Cathedral, which seems more solemn than other cathedrals I've toured. No clue why. But it is very beautiful, inside and out.

1. Entrace to the Cathedral grounds; 2. Main entrance to Canterbury Cathedral; 3. The Cloisters; 4.One example of the beautiful stained glass windows within the Cathedral.

I, of course, took pictures within the Quire but my dratted camera did it to me again. They came out to dark to see. Apologies!

I also went to the Canterbury Tales, which is an anitromic enactment of the five Tales and medieval life in general. 1. Geoffrey Chaucer; 2. The Miller; 3. The Wife of Bath

The exhibit (for lack of a better word) gives a brief introduction to the Tales and then enacts the Knight's Tale, the Miller's Tale, the Wife of Bath's Tale, the Nun's Priest's Tale, and the Pardoner's Tale. Obviously they could not completely recite these tales because the tour would take more than the hour allotted but the brief synopis of each tale contains the qualities the Tales exhibit when read in full.

Bravo, I say!
Warwick Castle 07/30/2007
I had a great time at Warwick Castle. It truly is England's greatest Medieval experience, as its brochure advertises. It is very commericalized however; more so than other castles I've visited. It is a wonderful for young ones though.

I'm sorry the first picture is so dark. I cannot figure out what is wrong with my blasted camera. Anway, here are the pictures: 1. First view of Warwick Castle; 2. "The Mound" (the oldest part of the Castle, built in on William the Conquerer's command); 3. River view from the Mound (is this the Avon?); 4. The Trebuchet (after launch); 5. One of the three open castle towers, which has 530 plus steps to climb to the top (and I did); 6. Peacock Garden; 7. The Grand Melee during the Royal Tournament reenactment; 8. "Birds of Prey" exhibit, Sidney the Bald Eagle.
I LOVED Stratford-upon-Avon. The only word that I can really think to use to describe it is "quaint". It was also wonderful walking down the sames streets my literary hero walked during his formative years and after his retirement.

1. Shakespeare's Birthplace; 2. Garden behind Shakespeare's Birthplace; 3. "New Place" where Shakespeare retired and died; some grumpy owner later tore it down because he was tired to the tourists (like that stopped them) but pieces of the foundation can still be seen; 4. River Avon; 5-10. Shakespeare Memorial in park: Shakespeare is the figure in the middle and he is surrounded by his greatest characters-Lady MacBeth, Falstaff, Hamlet, and Prince Hal (or Henry V), not posted in that particular order.
Glastonbury 07/27/2007
Glastonbury was our third excursion. We visited the Glastonbury Abbey, climbed the Tor, and visited the Chalice Well and Gardens.

Glastonbury Abbey
1. The thorn tree said to have sprung from the staff of Joseph of Ariamathea; 2. & 3. All that remains of Glastonbury Abbey after Henry VIII's dissolution of monasteries; 4. "Original" grave of King Arthur and Queen Guinivere; 5. & 6. Arthur's current burial site, where he was reburied with much pomp and ceremony before Edward I; 7. Cooking demonstration in the Abbot's Kitchen, the only building still complete; 8. Model of Glastonbury Abbey in its heyday.

The pub with the best ham and cheese sandwich and the freshest chips in England!

The Tor, a giantic hill (mountain?) with an elevation of 522 feet. And I climbed every last foot of it. 1. A long way to the top; 2. Almost there; 3. The Tor (from the top); 4. View of the countryside from the top.

Chalice Well and Gardens
The Holy Grail is said to have appeared here, to Joseph of Ariamathea (I think). The water is thought to have healing properties, so people also "take the waters" here. It was known as "Blood" water because of the redness caused by the high iron content.

1. Entrance; 2. Picis pool; 3. One example of the stunning flowers found here; 4. The waterfall that flows into the healing pool.

    London Away: British Studies
    Summer 2007


    I am a professional student.  I have a formal education--both a Bachelor and Master's degree in English, and I am working on a Master's in Library and Information Sciences.  But I believe that life experience is the greatest teacher anyone can have.  So I am hitting the road to have fun and to learn--and no, that's not mutally exclusive!--and live life to the fullest.



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