Saturday, May 20, 2006

These Stones are Older Than Dirt!

Of course, I am referring to our visit to Stonehenge...a most amazing sight, indeed! On Thursday, we spent the morning at Salisbury, walking through its amazingly grand cathedral with eyes and cameras at full attention. The town was quaint with a river literally running through it and the ducks and swans were in abundance. Everywhere you look, there are immense lilac and wisteria bushes in full bloom and the mass of purple against the stone and brick is nothing less than stunning! There was an open market in the square selling various wares...everything from brightly-colored flowers & home-made crafts to sausages, cheeses and pastries! A tourist's and homemaker's delight!

From Salisbury, we boarded the coach for the short trip to Stonehenge. The weather at this time was incredibly blustery...the wind nearly blew us over with its power! But, we prevailed and haltingly made our way around this massive display of brute strength and perseverance...this site was ABANDONED over 3500 years ago!! Just think of it! I was overwhelmed with the history of the site and it's still sinking in! I got some great shots of it, but, since I'm using a computer in the library here in Stratford-on-Avon, I can't download any pictures for this post. You will have to come back and visit my blog sometime next week after I've returned home and have had a chance to post some of my favorites!

Yesterday (Friday), we made the journey from Bath to Stratford, and it is truly a lovely place! If you look down the street and squint, you can almost imagine Shakespeare walking among the half-timbered houses, some looking as if they are about to collapse, but have probably looked like that for some 400 years!! There are beautifully sculpted gardens and the River Avon (remember, that's "A'-vun" with the emphasis on the "A") flows gently by, never giving any indication of the history its seen! If only its banks could talk...the stories it could tell!

A number of us are going to attend the cinema (NOT to be confused with THE THEATRE) this afternoon to see "The DaVinci Code"...after which I am certain I will need a bracing cup or POT of tea! Then, several of the students were able to get "standing" tickets to The Swan (THE Shakespearean Theatre here in Stratford) to see a production of "Antony & Cleopatra" featuring Patrick Stewart in the lead role! Needless to say, they are beside themselves with excitement!! We also have theatre tix to "Much Ado About Nothing", "Julius Caesar" and "Romeo & Juliet" for early next week! I will just be able to attend "Much Ado", and then I must depart for London on Tuesday in order to make my flight home on Wednesday afternoon from Heathrow!

Tomorrow, we have a scheduled coach trip to Oxford, and I will try to see some of the sites recommended to me by Kim Gilnett, a dear friend from SPU who has spent many a summer in and around that area, particularly working at the C.S. Lewis House, The Kilns. That will take up most of my Sunday, I imagine. And then, Monday will be my final full day with this group before heading home! They will be having class in the local "scout hut" (how quaint is that? I wonder if Shakespeare ever went camping as a boy scout??) and perhaps we will have dinner together Monday evening as a "farewell" to jolly ole' England for me...the students will be continuing on to London for yet another week of travel & theatre & frivolity!!

Monday, May 15, 2006

BATH Anyone?

On "Mum's Day", we were travelling by coach from Cambridge to Bath, and I was feeling a little low and I had overheard some of the students saying that they were missing their moms, so I got a wonderful idea: I suggested to them that since I was missing my own kids and grandkids, and they were missing their "mums", that perhaps they could give me a hug in place of their mum. Several of them took me up on it, and we had a hug-fest right then & there! I have a suspicion that they needed to give them just as much as I needed to receive them!! There's just something about contact with another human's not overrated!!

We've been here in the city of Bath now for just over 24 hours, and I can honestly say that it's just a lovely city! Most of the houses and buildings are of the Georgian archictectural style, built from limestone from quarries just outside of Bath. Since I don't know how to attach a link, you can visit the place where I'm staying at

The Roman Baths are just up the street from here and I plan on visiting there tomorrow. Also in the near vicinity is the majestic Bath Abbey which is another absolute "must see"! Then there is the Jane Austen Centre with the Costume Museum just around the corner, as well as Sally Lunn's House, the oldest house in Bath, dating from 1462! I just took afternoon tea there as well as partook of the famous "Sally Lunn Bun", a sweet roll that was originally baked by Sally Lunn...and I had mine topped with lemon curd and clotted cream! Mmmmmmmm - almost like eating lemon meringue pie!!

Thursday, we have a coach trip scheduled to Salisbury and Stonehenge, so that will be a fun trip to report on! I'll attempt to post at least once more before we head to Stratford-upon-Avon on Friday morning! BTW - did you know that there are no less than SEVEN Avon Rivers in England & Scotland? And...the word AVON means RIVER?! That's your history/geography lesson for the day!! Cheers!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Winding Down

Well, we are nearing the end of our stay here in Cambridge. I will spend a few hours tomorrow (Saturday) repacking the contents of my bag(s) so that I can manage them well. I happened upon a good buy the other day...a nice backpack at a Salvation Army Thrift Store (called appropriately "Sally Ann's") that now I can make some purchases and put them in the bag I used for my carry-on on the way over. I will then check that bag so that I don't have to try and stash it over my head on the flight! Sorry...that was rather run-on...

Today is a lovely, sunny day and I am feeling relieved as I have just now completed my reservations for a room at London Heathrow for the night before my homebound flight. I have been putting that off (don't know why) but, not that it is done, I'm very happy!

I spent a few hours yesterday afternoon at the Fitzwilliam Museum in the city centre. I headed directly for the French Artists (1800 - 1900) to view the few Impressionist paintings on display there. But, let me just say...that giftshop! Incredible!! ;-)

I figured out how to upload a picture, as I was able to save all of the pix on my first filled memory card to a CD yesterday! Hooray! However, I'm sorry if there are two of the same images! I don't know why or how that happened! Anyway, this is one view of some of the amazing architecture in King's Street. This is just a hint of things to come & I will share more later!

Today is one of the student's birthday, so I have been invited to join her & some of the other students for dinner, in her honor. I am waiting for a phone call to find out where they are headed - it should be fun!

As my time (both here in Cambridge AND on in the internet cafe) is winding down, I will be signing off for now. Thank you, again, for all of your comments! I look forward to reading them each time I'm online!! That's it for now :-) Enjoy!!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Spiritual Garden

It has been raining pretty heavily since my last post, but I think my umbrella is finally dried out enough to fold it back up and stick it back in my bag for the next episode. I am so thankful I brought a raincoat!
On Sunday, I was invited to accompany some students into the city for some "spiritual food", which I was really needing about now. When I'm on the European continent, I'm used to spending more time in cathedrals and churches, but here, most of the churches and chapels are connected to the colleges, and since it is nearing the time for finals, the colleges are closed to visitors, so you can't just waltz in and sit down or look around. All that was to say that we headed for vespers at King's College Chapel, open to the public everyday at a certain time. Just walking in and looking up was enough to take my breath away! The incredibly high vaulted, arched ceiling was stunning and the enormous stained glass windows running down the entire length of the chapel nearly overwhelmed me with their grandeur. The choir (consisting of both men & women) and clergy came in and sang Evensong for the day...I just closed my eyes and allowed the rich organ chords and echoing vocals to fill my brought tears to my eyes when the chords swelled, then resolved into an incredible melting of sound. The seating was such that the center aisle is wide with the bench-style seats parallel the outer walls, facing each other and the center. An experience NOT to be missed.

Now, you get to hear about the garden! Yesterday, I visited the Cambridge Botanical Gardens...yep, in the rain again! But, even though it was raining, it was a truly lovely "sweetness to my soul" as the lilacs and peonies were in bloom, plus tulips and irises were to be found. Just being in the center of so much green was refreshing as there were many evergreens there and it smelled of Christmas! Some of the trees were ancient and have obviously been here for time plus time again. There was an herb garden with rosemary, mint, camomille, thyme, etc. and greenhouses with types of orchids I have never seen before! What a wonderful way to spend a drizzly day! With a nice warm bowl of Highland Vegetable soup (my guess is that it was called "Highland" due to the barley in it!) and a bacon & cheese "toastie" in my tummy, the day was complete!
Observations from the tele: boy, do they love their Quiz Programs and "Murder She Wrote" over here! You can find a MSW episode on most any time of the day or night!! I have enjoyed a few episodes of Agatha Christie's Poirot & Miss Marple with my dinner some evenings! Also big are very OLD episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond, King of Queens and Frasier. What a hoot!
Well, friends (oh yeah, and "Friends" is popular here, too!), that's about it for now. We are in Cambridge for yet another 4 days, departing Sunday morning via coach for Bath. I hope that the weather clears enough for some of the students to go punting on the Cam, on the "Backs"...that is, the Cam River is located at the "back" of several of the colleges. So much I have learned here! To be continued...

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Cambridge Rocks

I just have time for a few words about is so beautiful with all of the historic colleges and churches! It is known as "cycle city" as there are SO many students with bicycles that are in residence during the academic year. On our walking tour of the city on Thursday, besides enduring temps in the low to mid 80s (WOW - totally unseasonable for here), we were treated to an inside glimpse of Emmanuel College, complete with a plaque honoring John Harvard, who attended there and later went on to America and established, yes...what else...Harvard! King's College, Queen's College, Jesus College...surrounded by Jesus Green, Jesus Lane, Jesus Ditch and yes, even Jesus Lane Shopping Forum! There are also huge lawn areas that have been overtaken by people lounging about reading, studying, playing football or's truly lovely.

A funny story...we packed up all of the leftover food items that Dr. Reinsma and I had purchased during our stay in Edinburgh to transfer to our apartment here in Cambridge (such a thing as toilet paper is a handy item to have on hand ;-). Anyway, somewhere along the line in our coach transfer, an accident happened...
as I opened the bag to transfer provisions to my new kitchen arrangement, I reached in and felt something sticky...I mean REALLY sticky...and gooey...I pulled out my hand and to my shock, discovered it covered in RASPBERRY PRESERVES!! Yep - a whole jar of raspberry jam had broken wide open in the bag and had covered everything with seedy red gooey glop! So, I had to rinse all the remaining items from the bag and then carefully scoop out the jam from the bag and attempt to wash all the "sticky" off! wasn't very funny at the time, but NOW I can laugh!!

I'm posting from an Eastern Indian-type internet cafe...there are people smoking hooka pipes in the back...hmmm...very interesting. But, the cafe is close by my apartment and convenience is the key!

Again, I thank each and every one of you for your comments to my really helps motivate me to post on a regular basis, as I look forward to knowing that you have had a minute to read my blog! That's it for now! Cheerio!

Thursday, May 04, 2006


Posting now from the international city of Cambridge! It is a warm beautiful day and I'm certain we will all enjoy our walking tour (later today) of the historic city center with all its colleges and churches. I am really looking forward to taking plenty of shots of the architecture around here! Yesterday afternoon, we spent a few hours relaxing at a famous outdoor tea garden called The Orchard, just a ways outside of Cambridge in a location called Grantchester. The weather was just lucious with a few high clouds as we enjoyed an early afternoon tea & huge home-baked scones with blackberry jam and, of course, clotted cream! The apple & pear trees are just now blossoming and the lawn chairs reclined to permit napping after partaking of the beloved beverage.

As you can imagine, there are plenty of students meandering around Cambridge, of all nationalities...this equals many, many bicycles as the terrain is relatively flat, compared to Edinburgh! I've seen food offerings from Thailand, Greece & Japan, interspersed with the obiligatory Kentucky Fried and Pizza Hut! And, of course, the Pubs...The White Hart, The Green Man, The Blue Ball (you figure that one out), etc. They all serve excellent food & beverage...or so I'm told ;-)

I'm off to the market now to get some provisions for my apartment. It will be interesting to see what kind of market I happen to walk into! This internet cafe is close by my place and is very inexpensive (1 British pound per hour) so, I hope to be visiting & posting on a regular basis for the remainder of our time here...10 more days. Now I'm off to check the status of the Mariners! Ta!

Monday, May 01, 2006


Well, here I am in Edinburgh, at the Elephant House Cafe, on the internet at last! It's been a wonderful week here in this lovely city...if only I could figure out how to download some pix to share with you all! Oh well...I'll work on that. In the meantime, I have become acquainted with this place over the past week and find it totally enchanting! I would definitely come back and visit again! Upon arrival, I was on my lips and it took me a couple of days to get over the jetlag, but the apartment I have been given is quite lovely & quiet and fully equipped for cooking, etc.
My colleague had even stocked it with a few supplies so that I could have a proper cup of tea and some toast! It overlooks several tiny English-style gardens and when the evening sun makes its way around to my side, the room totally explodes in color, as the walls are painted a bright rosy-coral shade! The brilliance never ceases to amaze me and I think I have taken a picture of the room (yes, the room) every single evening! Sights & impressions so far: stately Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile leading from the castle to Holyrood House (Queen E's residence when in Scotland)...plenty of shops selling everything from kilts to bagpipes to haggis...spring bursting out everywhere in the gardens full of tulips & in kilts (YES! ~ don't worry John, wink wink...I didn't look when I could have...)...incredible Georgian-style architecture everywhere...VERY friendly people ~ I sat down to eat a packed lunch and made the acquaintance of a "rubbish collector" named Peter, but that was about all I could understand him saying, his brogue was SO thick!...everybody calls you "Luv"...difficulty remembering to always look RIGHT when attempting to cross a street...these are a few of my favorite things! We will be leaving here first thing tomorrow morning for a day-long coach (bus) ride to Cambridge where we (me, Professor Reinsma + 20 of our 30 students) will meet up with the professor (Dr. Wolfe) instructing during the 2nd half of the program. Ten of our students are traveling independently right now, mostly in Italy :-) It will be fun to hear of their travels and adventures. This morning was the first day that it actually went beyond the threat and rained a bit. But now, at 3:00pm, the sun is coming out and I think the forecast for the remainder of the week is the promise of decent weather ~ hallelujah! I am sure I will have more opportunity to be online once we get to Cambridge. I appreciate any and ALL comments! Please keep in touch :-) Cheers!