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Tea at the Orchard

I had a pleasant Saturday afternoon at the Orchard Tea Garden in Grantchester.

Most of our walk looked like this, and the sun shone intermittently.

The Orchard – a corner of England where time stands still as the outside world rushes by. Relax and enjoy the genteel setting where more famous people have taken tea than anywhere else in the world. ~ Orchard Tea Garden Website

What started out as a house offering tea and rural pleasures to Cambridge students in the early 20th century became the hunting grounds of the devastatingly handsome Rupert Brooke – more on him later – who lived in the vicarage next door and brought his famous friends there to swim in the Cam and take tea under the apple trees.

Rupert was a poet and Cambridge man who wrote “The Old Vicarage, Grantchester,” among others. It is, of course, so beautiful. Read the last stanza, which ends with these lines about The Orchard.

Stands the Church clock at ten to three?                                                                                                        And is there honey still for tea?

The rest of the poem:

http://www.poetsgraves.co.uk/Classic%20Poems/Brooke/grantchester.htm

My friend Katherine and I walked the three miles along the river to The Orchard and passed by many parks and pools and ducks and fields.

I asked her what British story the landscape currently reminded her of, since I always travel back and forth from Narnia to Middle Earth to Pemberley to Hogwarts. She felt we were walking through The Wind in the Willows. I like that.

There are so many doors like this that lead into the backyards of real, authentic British gardens. Be still my heart.

We made it! Notwithstanding a couple of wrong turns along the way.

We ended up getting to The Orchard around 2:15, and waiting in a tremendously long line for our scones until 2:45. So now I can say I went at ten to three.                  

And what a lovely scone it was! Almost as big as my head. Cherry jam and clotted cream.                 

The Orchard in 1910.

The Orchard 102 years later.

After lunch Katherine and I popped into the Rupert Brooke Museum, which is in a little cottage adjacent to the kitchen. They had a wall with filled with his pictures and letters, along with pages of his biography tacked in between them.

Here he is on the left in high school (I believe). Also Ryan Gosling is time traveling on the right.

He. Was. So. Cute. I bought myself the below picture of him, in postcard form, which I am sending to no one. He is my British boyfriend. Although I have to share him with a century’s worth of women around the world.

Sighs upon sighs.

Another poem that Brooke is famous for is “The Soldier,” which you’ve probably heard of because of the line: If I should die, think only this of me: that there is some corner of a foreign field that is forever England. He died of blood poisoning at 27 on a ship near Greece in WWI.

Needless to say, with a face like that he became the mythic poster child of British youth and beauty, something similar to and better than James Dean.

We walked out of the museum and back into The Orchard, having arrived knowing nothing about this person. And now we were in his world, his paradise. A century later with about one hundred other people, all dressed in modern clothes and sitting with their dogs and families and eating one hundred pots of jam and clotted cream. What would Rupert think if he saw The Orchard today?

Reading the letters to his friends, and seeing his playbills of performances at Cambridge, his youthful happy life before World War I, it all made me wistful for something I’ve never known. But maybe I do know it, because all young people have letters to their friends, playbills, and memories of happiness before world events enter their lives.

I know I saw Grantchester as he had seen it. It’s just funny to get the same earth as everyone else, and we walk over it and walk over it and throw different trash away, but we all have the same tremulous, or powerful, emotions. Maybe the world isn’t as different now as I thought it was in my last post. In the Cambridge Archaeology museum they have rooms filled with objects found underneath colleges and near the river from as far back as the neolithic. Roman sculptures. Old stained glass windows. Broken china. Beer mugs.

I’m happy that I can be a part of it, the trash of living in 21st century England.

View from the road into the fields of Grantchester.

Me in front of the same view.

Katherine and I were pleasantly, contemplatively silent on the walk back to Pembroke, but we did talk about Brooke and war and time and cows. They grazed across most of our path.

The day moo-ved me to tears.

If I should die, think only this of me:
   That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England.  There shall be
   In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
   Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England's, breathing English air,
   Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
   A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
     Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
   And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
     In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

The World is Flat

I don’t want my holy men to use iPhones. Carrier pigeons, maybe.

I’ve learned in the past month that globalization is real. Everyone has a cell phone, all of the restaurants play American music, and there’s always a line at Starbucks. Of course, plenty of nooks and crannies exist in this town where you can escape to an older era, but my generation generally dresses and acts exactly the same. Only the older Brits appear how I imagined everyone in England would look. Is that bad? Not at all!

Yesterday I was sitting in the Cambridge Union Society Cafe when I noticed two student magazines on the coffee table.

“Oh! What vigorous and intriguing topics are Cambridge students writing about these days?”

Cambridge literature straight from the source! Looks pretty innocent…

What? What is…huh? Is this what they’re talking about over here these days? A burning bush? Wait, that does sound familiar…

These were both student feminist magazines.  Ah. One of them had a fold-out paper doll, complete with cut-out outfits so you can shove her into the only roles society allows women to be: business cutthroat, soccer mom, bimbo, dowdy intellectual, and so on.

The magazines were certainly creative, but I didn’t feel liberated after I put them back on the table. Does being a feminist mean you want your cunt on fire? What does that even mean? Does that proclamation help anyone, or help women get equality?  There’s nothing wrong about writing this way, but I don’t think it should automatically be gospel. The feminism in those magazines rejected the feminine.

It reminded me of an article I read in June written by Elizabeth Wurtzel, Harvard graduate and writer of Prozac Nation.

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/06/1-wives-are-helping-kill-feminism-and-make-the-war-on-women-possible/258431/

The first part of the article states: Being a mother isn’t a real job — and the men who run the world know it. Wow, do I disagree with that! But what Wurtzel writes about is not motherhood in the traditional sense, it’s motherhood as done by the super-elite. Women are pawning their kids off to babysitters so they can take yoga and have drinks with girlfriends, and she thinks this is destroying the modern image of womanhood. Interesting, interesting…don’t know how it all fits together yet. Maybe I’ll take a gender studies class this fall.

In happier news, my team won Best Name at trivia night! It was inspired by the feminist literature: Cunning Stunts. Our prize? Olympic trading cards!

Victory!

Right now I’m laying on the grass with Joel, enjoying the sunshine. Although there are a few clouds coming towards us on the horizon. I hope the days stay lovely!

Not ready for this view again.

The Sun is Here!

Finally! Seeing blue sky yesterday was one of the highlights of this trip.

If some of you think I am just too delicate of a flower (watch how this word ties in later) to handle the traditional English summer, think again! This weather is unusual and, now that it ended Britain’s two year drought, is causing many people to worry about the Olympics. If you’re curious, I’ve pulled a few articles from British newspapers that discuss it. Every local I talk to laments the rain.

The science behind the bad weather:

http://www.metro.co.uk/news/54615-revealed-why-the-weather-is-so-bad

Rain versus the Olympics:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2012/jul/17/olympics-emergency-measures-waterlogged-venues

Global warming might make these summers the norm:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jul/22/climate-science-gathering-storm-editorial

But none of that matters now, because I had a weekend of sunshine! On Sunday I went to the Cambridge Botanical Gardens to smell the sun on some plants. Many British families had the same idea. I saw lots of little girls with dresses and sun hats, and I accidentally took a sweet picture of a dad holding his daughter in front of the fountain. I would show you, but that seems invasive since they don’t know I have a blog, or know me at all.

It was a beautiful day, but a little bit of a sad one. The whole time, 20, 20, 20, 20 rang in my mind like the bell of a clock tower. I don’t feel like I have a lot of kid left. 😦 I’m old, so old. I know that seems ridiculous, but frankly my dear, etc etc. The next time I’m part of childhood I’ll be on the other side of it, as a parent.

Proof that I’m taking these pictures!

Laying on a bench, looked up and saw this little cutie.

In addition to winding gravel paths, a scent garden, a cafe, and cultivated patches of trees, the Botanical Gardens also has many greenhouses. There are rooms of every climate from desert to rainforest. They were so hot inside!  Although lots of people were in the garden on Sunday, I walked through the greenhouses almost by myself, opening and shutting glass door after glass door.

I admire this plant’s tenacity.

I ended the day by finishing my book under the sun near the fountain. It was 100 Years of Solitude, which seems like the appropriate companion for my first overseas journey by myself. Some of the sentences were so rich, I had to stop reading to stare stupidly into space until they sunk in. This happened so many times that I started writing down my favorite ones. Here’s an example:

“Her soul brightened with the nostalgia of her lost dreams.”

Isn’t that gorgeous? Once the sun started to set, I stood up from my bench and read its plaque:

And isn’t that gorgeous, too.

A typical day.

I took a week off from blogging, because I wanted to have time to find the rhythm of my days here. I think I have! Here are some pictures from one day (today) in the life. 🙂

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Another beautiful Cambridge morning that makes me want to shout: Yes! Bring on the glories of the day!

I woke up and had breakfast, then went down to the River Cam to study duck behavior with my behavioral ecology class. I was the official bread-thrower. It reminded me of giving bread to the ducks with my grandma years and years ago, although now I don’t know if I have the memory or just an album picture I’ve seen so many times that it has become a memory. It was a sweet morning.

A picture I took earlier in the week close to where the ducks live. Imagine them waddling through the low-hanging willow branches.

On the way to my classes, I always stop at this fudge shop and get a free sample. I don’t think they recognize me, yet… Today the flavor was orange-chocolate, which tasted just like those chocolate orange slices wrapped in foil. Delicious!

There’s a free sample sign! How can I resist?

Across the street from the fudge shop is King’s College, so I decided to duck into their library and return a book.

This is the dragon outside the library doors.

Lovely.

I kept walking on through my usual route through the streets of Cambridge. There are tourists, cyclists, umbrellas, and photographers galore. I’ve never seen so many French teenagers in my life! Although there are many unstylish tourists, I have to say I’ve seen some really cute outfits. Maybe it’s true that Europeans take a higher interest in fashion. Regardless, I am newly inspired to wear my beautiful clothes.

I had a lecture for my other class, War and Insecurity, at Cambridge Union Society. Today we debated, pretending to be American insurgents stuck in the UK without citizenship. The US had entered into war with another super power during the Olympics, and it had ended in a nuclear holocaust. We had been stuck in England for five years, unable to return home or live on more than five pounds a day.

After lecture, I made the glorious mistake of stumbling upon a health foods store right outside the Cambridge Union Society. Holy Mother of God. So many products from Germany and Spain, all heretofore unknown to me, all vegetarian-vegan-gluten-free. I covertly took a couple pictures  of the nut butter section. I plan to return with a list!

Apricot kernel butter?!?!

She clutched the peanut butter instinctively – desperately – as if it held the eternal secrets of the universe.

The below pictures are outside the windows of an art shop on my daily route. I admire the ceramic pieces every day, and I think tomorrow I’m going to ask the shopkeeper if she has a card for one of artists. Who knows, maybe that person is local and I could see their studio? Carpe ceramicum!

I like the center woman with the sheep. My brand of whimsy.

I believe the same artist did the cats ringing bells.

At this point I was hungry, so I went to the hippie-est restaurant I could find, which ended up being The Rainbow Cafe. They’re the only fully vegetarian restaurant in Cambridge, and I ordered the Shepherdess Pie with garlic bread.

What I enjoy about Cambridge is the fact that through the 800 years of its design and remodel, it was always made for walkers. Cars have only been in the equation for the last century of eight. On top of this, no meter of space is wasted. Restaurants that look tiny will have two, even three, floors below the street. Cafes are tucked into alleys so narrow it’s hard to walk alongside someone. The Rainbow Cafe is a restaurant tucked away into just such an alley, and it’s all underground.

I was planning on having a quiet lunch reading 100 Years of Solitude (name dropping books) avec moi-self, but something much more delightful happened. There was a boy my age eating alone right next to me, and when he heard me order in an American accent we started talking. He’s a PA for another Cambridge program for high schoolers, and he’s actually from San Diego. This was his first day in the city. Leave it to a Californian to find The Rainbow Cafe within 24 hours!

We had so much fun talking to each other that we ended up leaving the restaurant and going on a walk through town to the park. He’s a sophomore at Lewis and Clark, and just one of those effortlessly conversational people. We talked a little about it all, high school, college, Europe, Beanie Babies, my trip to the Kentucky Model Horse Convention (Breyerfest), debate, destiny, relationships, youth, etc, etc, etc. I reveled in our cliched, young-adult delights.

I had another class at 3, so I pulled out my phone to exchange numbers. It was then, after almost three hours of flowing conversation, that we realized neither of us had asked the other’s name. He wasn’t a name person, and I’m not either! We loved that, and decided to guess each other’s names. How often do you get to do that? I thought his name started with an M or a J, maybe John? It’s Jack. Pretty close! He said his gut was telling him something about my name, but he didn’t want to guess it. K? Yes!! He was thinking Kathleen, or something similar.

Isn’t that crazy? That we got so close to each other’s names? Does that mean we so embody our own names that they’re guessable from our personalities?

Nothing can top an interaction like that, so the rest of the evening has gone by quietly. Class, pleasant company at dinner, and now homework.

This is currently the view from my window. A bit dreary, i’n it?

Sigh.

The sad part is I know how beautiful this city looks with some sun! Please sir, I want some mo’!

This was beautiful to see. I call it: “Silver Lining.”

Yeh’ll take the high road, and Ah’ll take the low road.

And ah’ll be in Scotlan’ for ye! (Get it? Not afore ye, but for ye, because you’re reading my blog.)

A thistle: the symbol of Scotland.

According to the tourism website VisitScotland, “Legend has it that a sleeping party of Scots warriors were saved from ambush by an invading Norse army when one of the attackers trod on a thistle with his bare feet. His cries raised the alarm, the roused Scots duly defeated the invaders, and the thistle was adopted as the symbol of Scotland. Unfortunately, there is no historical evidence for this, but Scots, like other nations, love a good story.”

I spent the weekend in Edinburgh, the Capital of Scotland. From now on, when someone tells me to “stick it where the sun don’t shine,” I will think of that city. Man oh man, it is gray! Those clouds don’t go anywhere. When the fog lifts in your town it goes to Edinburgh, has a drink, talks to the other fogs that live there permanently, then comes back.

On the bus ride to Scotland, we stopped at Fountains Abbey. I took many pictures, but for your sake I only put a few here. By a stroke of luck, or perhaps a miracle, the sun burst through the clouds for a half hour. The mood completely changed, and although the monks did not envision their abbey in ruins when they built it in 1132, for me the blend of nature and decaying structure has a heightened religious power.

View from the end of the path.

Unfortunately these pictures don’t give you a sense of how tall these pillars are.

Trying to assume a nun-ly countenance.

Look at the difference the sun makes!

Does this not remind you of the Mines of Moria in the Fellowship of the Ring?

Here is an Alan Lee illustration of the Mines of Moria to help remind you. More like the Abbey of Moria!

We Cambridge folks stayed at the University of Edinburgh – just down the street from the main drag of the city – and had free rein over the rest of the weekend.

I spent the first afternoon at the Scotland National Gallery, which had a gorgeous array of European portraiture (including one of Rembrandt’s selfies) and Scottish paintings.

Botticelli’s Mary and Jesus. 1490

Una and the Lion, painted by William Bell Scott. The story is from Edmund Spencer’s ‘The Faerie Queen’. I love lion imagery. 1860

Saint Bride by John Duncan. LOVED this one. Scottish artist. You can’t tell how gorgeous the pink clouds are, or how detailed the angels’ clothes are. It was also large. 1913

Outside of the art gallery a bagpipe player was performing, and my group stopped to listen. He was so, so, cute. And an excellent player! Later in town, I realized that many cute Scottish boys play the bagpipes, and they must be part of some larger organization that plants them here and there. All cute.

Click on this photo and gaze upon him!

Edinburgh is a city with both 12th and 18th century architecture, and at least one building from each century in between. I spent most of my time walking up and down the Royal Mile, which is the street in Old Town that leads up to the castle. There are shops and pubs and street performers and churches and a healthy dose of hustle-bustle.

One part of the Royal Mile.

Recognize this?

It’s the Tardis from the hit British series Doctor Who! The police box is his time traveling device.

The Susan Boyle Musical? I Dreamed a Nightmare! Leave that poor woman’s life alone and let one moment of televised beauty be enough.

Initially I was surprised at how theatrical/artistic the city Edinburgh felt, but then again it’s the host of the annual Edinburgh Fringe Festival (one of the largest performing arts festivals in the world.) There were men painted as statues outside of cathedrals and a guy dressed Braveheart-style as William Wallace who tried to rouse tourists to his cause. One of the cafes where J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter was in Old Town, as well. There was even a Museum of Childhood, but I ran out of time. (Rather like childhood itself.)

The castle! This is what the word foreboding looks like in my mind. Walking underneath it was almost frightening. I could easily imagine the panic of arriving here as a captured soldier, knowing you were to spend the last moments of your life imprisoned within. Those rocks probably had many brains bashed upon them, and they did not appear ashamed about it.

On Saturday I took a bus to Killin to go hiking. We stopped in a town called Callendar, which was dutiful in its responsibility to be quaint and quintessential. The local men wore caps and sweaters and looked at our tourist group with appropriate disapproval. Luckily, I got to separate from the main crowd and peek into some of the shops by myself. Something that surprised me: Scots like their stuffed animals. I saw lots of fuzzy owls and hedgehogs in the store windows.

Wee border collies! Probably real working doggies.

The walk itself was beautiful, but wet. It started to rain right as we began hiking up the hillside for a view of the loch, and before the end my jacket was soaked through.

Whoever first said “ye’ll take the high road” knew the high road was extremely difficult to walk.

That night Joel and I got dinner at a delicious Thai restaurant, and wandered around the city as the sky darkened. We actually ran into two of my future roommates – Emily and Iva – who are currently studying in London. They had decided to visit Edinburgh on one of their free weekends, and we happened to be on the same street! I was duly but appreciatively made fun of for my Northern California kismet theories. 🙂 I forgot to take a picture but I will when I spend next weekend with them in London.

Time it was, and what a time it was… ***

Another photo of the Fountains Abbey. I can’t help myself!

*** Simon and Garfunkel

Birthday :D

Yes, today was my 20th birthday! I had a wonderful afternoon of classes and an even more wonderful evening of new friends, chocolate cake, and wines I bought myself. I meant to take a picture of the whole event, but I forgot! Oh well. It happened, and that’s what matters. Conversation traveled from the merry to the morose and even to the disquiet emerging within our generation over internet communication, and Facebook in general. Interesting stuff…until this year I never actually knew people brave enough to admit (or who even realized) that “Facebook isn’t working for me anymore, and I’m scared because I don’t know why.”

Everyone was from California, coincidentally. Way chill, man. Ah, well….your people are your people. The whole night made me excited to experience the next steps with the friends I have, here and at school and at home. Thank you everyone for the birthday wishes. Here’s to a new decade! I don’t know how I’ll top the last one…

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Shopping!

Hey, that’s me! Or at least it was a few days ago.

Besides attending class, I have also been exploring the many, MANY shops of Cambridge. I’ve already found a fudge place that gives out a different sample every day. “We make it righ’ ova thea, on that slab.” Two days since discovery = I’ve tried chocolate and original toffee.

As for the clothing shops, everything is floral and lace and dresses and English flags. I keep telling myself “looking is as fun as buying. Looking is as fun as buying.” I did go to TK Maxx to buy a really nice rain jacket for Edinburgh, (35 pounds, marked from 119, thankyouverymuch) but it’s not the same as a rose iPhone case and a teacup decorated for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Shops upon shops are filled with clothes like this.

Okay that’s it. I have to try one of these on. Pounds (both kinds) be damned!

Cute, but not quite right. (A little puffy in the middle). Also, this the expression I have when I realize I’ve become someone who takes pictures of themselves in dressing rooms and puts those pictures on a blog. It’s a blend of shock, embarrassment, and acceptance.

This store was the ultimate. Go to their website and drool with me. Unbelievable. http://www.cathkidston.co.uk/

This is not the last you will see of me, cute stores! I’m still surveying the territory heavily before making any decisions.

This weekend (starting tomorrow) I’ll be in Edinburgh, Scotland, hiking in Killin and going to the national gallery. I’ll only get to write that sentence once in my life, and I just did. Wow. I’m not bringing my laptop, so the next update will be Monday. 🙂

Wild Weather, Wild Behavior

‘Ello!

Yesterday was drizzly and wet again, but today (after a morning mist that put beads of water all over my hair and scarf) the sun came out for an evening performance through the clouds.

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This was the sky right at 10am.

Here’s the sky around 5pm.

And here’s the sun coming through my window as I write this post…note the symbolic shadow.

I love that picture of my C. S. Lewis book. It will be interesting to read alongside my science class, Behavioral Ecology. (So far), Mere Christianity is exploring the question of why humans act the way they do, and do those actions allow for or demand the presence of god. We all follow a law of morality, but break it. We justify our actions with excuses, but we all lie, cheat, steal, and know that it transgresses human morals. This happens regardless of culture. Why? Well, once I get there I’ll report back!

Here is one quote from the book until then: “The law of gravity tells you what stones do if you drop them; but the Law of Human Nature tells you what human beings ought to do and do not. In other words, when you are dealing with humans, something else comes in above and beyond the actual facts.”

In Behavioral Ecology, we’ll be looking at animal and human behavior on science’s terms, and I’m sure the answers to the whys of human behavior will be different.

Today in lecture, while we were looking at slides of peacocks spreading their feathers, I watched two pigeons – outside the window and right above the projector, illuminated by the dramatic sky – mate with each other. A few minutes before the act, the male pigeon was bobbing his head and spinning in a circle, and I thought: “They’re going to mate, right now, as this group of twelve people learn about bird mating, and I can’t alert everyone. Because how do I interrupt my lecturer to yell out that the REAL DEAL is happening RIGHT OUTSIDE?” And then it was over.

So that’s Behavioral Ecology. Already useful.

 

Veritably Verdant

That’s right, Peter Pevensie, it is a wet day at Cambridge.

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The rain certainly keeps all of the plants lush. Just look at how many shades of green there are in this cross-section of landscaped shrubbery.

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I think the moss on the right is covering a pond.

The rainy day did not make for good photographs, but I did snap this one of a tree which – apparently – grew from the seed of an apple that fell from the same orchard where Isaac Newton had his gravity epiphany. It’s a fun story.

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There it is! An ancestor of the most influential apple tree known to man. Some of you might say, “Hey, that title belongs to the apple tree in the Garden of Eden!” But I learned in my Old Testament class that the Hebrew Bible never refers to the fruit Eve eats as an apple, and that centuries later it was decided to be an apple for visual continuity in artwork.

Today was official Welcome Day, and I finally got to see some of the greying, polite, intelligent men who make this program possible. When I pulled my suitcase into Pembroke yesterday – was it really only yesterday? – Cambridge students my age greeted me and showed me to my rooms. It surprised me! I was expecting a fatherly C.S. Lewis-type figure to stroll down the path towards me…

But today we met the C.S. Lewis surrogates at the Cambridge Union Society. Many of our lectures will take place there, though normally it’s a building devoted to student debates. For only forty pounds, we can even become associate members. Fancy living!

One of the men in particular was such a sweet and gentle-seeming spirit. “I’m sure many of you are tired, excited, but overwhelmed, and possibly wondering if you made the right choice to be here. Trust, me, you have. And if you still don’t think so in a few days, come see me and we’ll sort it out.” Gentlemen still reign supreme in England.

On an introductory walk through Cambridge I had to keep myself from taking too many pictures since I knew I would just take them all over again on a sunny day. But the more I see of England, the less impressed I am with J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter essentially went to Cambridge and was in Gryffindor College! He took King’s Cross Station like the rest of them and bought his wands ‘n stuff on this street:

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What sort of medieval and charming shops could be down this street?

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…a makeup store? Hi friends! Smile!

I don’t need Harry Potter Land in Orlando, FL. The magic trinket I bought on this street was a blow dryer.

Some friends of mine and I needed some aesthetic tools, and boy oh boy do those Brits have makeup! There are dozens of authentic stores, too, but I did not realize how globalized the world is now. In Cambridge there’s a Mac store, a MAC store, a McDonalds, and a Starbucks, etc. I forgot that it wouldn’t be 1946 here. There’s something strange and wonderful about a place competing with itself for a time period. Behind the modern self-checkout grocery store there’s a chapel from 1200AD, which is stuffed in between two pubs and all on a street Sherlock Holmes would have confidently walked on.

Tomorrow is our first Formal Dinner, and the first lectures for my three classes. Another full day!

First Evening/This Place Photographs Itself

The journey from Sebastopol to my new room is over! This morning I took a bus out of London, past Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and Westminster Abbey, through the English countryside, and into the old-fashioned but bustling town of Cambridge.

Snapped this from my seat in the bus, no walking required. Note the “Eye of London” in the background. I’m not going on that Ferris Wheel anytime soon! You can’t see from this angle, but it makes Big Ben look like a kiddy tower in comparison. The Eye is 127ft taller.

I was happy to have one suitcase and one bag on my shoulder, because the narrow cobblestone streets and throngs of people were unforgiving as it was. Also, my room is on the top floor of my entryway in Pembroke, so I got to my room a bit sweaty. My motto: if you can’t carry it yourself, then you shouldn’t bring it!

My room is simple but excellent. Plenty of space and light with a lovely view of one corner of Pembroke.

Proof that I am the photographer!      

Below are some pictures, all of Pembroke College. Cambridge has 31 colleges…I have a lot of exploring to do…

I had time before dinner to sit in on King College Chapel’s Sunday Evensong. The Chapel is religiously other-worldy, and they did not allow photographs. I didn’t mind that rule though; one of my concerns about documenting this trip is documenting it too much – taking pictures means I’m looking at my environment through a screen. Louis CK had a funny bit on Conan O’Brian’s talk show about this phenomenon:

The chapel has a rich history. Just absolutely rich. It’s website gives a more detailed account than I can. But one fact for the blog: it predates Henry VIII by two Henrys!

Copy and paste this link if you’re curious: http://www.kings.cam.ac.uk/chapel/history.html

I was nervous about dinner, since I hadn’t met anyone or know who was I going to sit with, etc, but everyone I met was friendly and eager to laugh.

Once again in my life, I learned that the world is a small place. The girl across the hall is from Yale – I’ve never met her – and I sat with three girls from UC Santa Cruz and one from UC Berkeley. One girl, Sarah (from Santa Cruz), asked me what school I was from. “Yale.” “Hmm, do you know an Emily?” “Emily Wolper?” “Yes!” Sarah has taken quite a few literature classes with Emily, and was delighted to hear that Emily has been one of my best friends since 5th grade. As it turns out, Sarah lives in Sebastopol!

I fly all the way to the UK, only to eat dinner with someone who knows Watertrough and Burnside Roads. 🙂

A picture of King’s College I half-heartedly took on my way back to my room from dinner.

I suggested the ladies all return to their rooms for a rest, and now we are going back out again to explore. England is so far north that the sun won’t set before 9:30.

Oh, and I found Joel! (Fellow Junior in improv group The Viola Question) He is also living in Pembroke, and I will run into him again tonight.

Fun, fun, fun. But where are the locals? Other girls mentioned wanting to find their British husbands here, so I’ve got to work quickly.