Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Time Fly's

Time fly's when you're having fun, right? Well it's not just when you're having fun; time fly's whether you want it to or not. This is especially the case here, since I have two weeks left in England. This place that I have grown to love, to cherish. The majestic rolling hills, the cliffs overlooking the sea, the peacefulness of the countryside and the crowds of the city. The purr of the Jaguar on the road, the graffiti sheep. The roman ruins to the modern skyscrapers, England is a proud, wonderful country that I have been so lucky to have called my home for the past four months. I honestly don't want to leave. My mom and my grandmother (on my mom's side) always have a strange fascination; almost an obsession with England, and now I know why they constantly talked about it, and traveled here. It is simply amazing. So many different facets to this jewel we call Britain and I have vowed to come back again.
I have learned so many things here, and I have experienced some amazing things. I remember when I came over here I was looking for a grand adventure; maybe something out of a Jane Austen book or out of a romance movie, but what I found was much better. Friends for a life time, a possible relationship with an amazing guy, and a city that I have come to know and love.
Most of the people in my group that came over with me traveled a lot. And I mean every weekend, new country kind of travel. I traveled some; not to any of the places that I really wanted to go, but I got around a bit. But I mainly stayed in Oxford. And I tell you, there is something to be said about getting to know a city intimately and in it's entirety. I know the in's and out's, the back streets, the best places to eat, the hidden places in the parks, the quaint pubs, and I know the bus system like the back of my hand. I know that Oxford will be a place that I will come back to see again and again. While I  am thrilled to back home to see my family and eat my mom's cooking I will miss Oxford desperately. I am already planning on coming back and visiting. A place revered for its university and majesty; a city that I have fallen in love with.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

This Past Week in One Huge Post

               Being with my family for the past week was one of the best trips I have ever had. On Saturday we went to Chatsworth House, a gorgeous manor, home of the Dukes of Devonshire, with amazing artwork, and travelled to York. Chatsworth House was beautiful inside, and for those of you who like Pride and Prejudice, it is where they based the home of Mr. Darby. My mom was thrilled to see it. There was an amazing Christmas fair going on outside the house, with stalls of butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers; plus the occasional churro tent. But my favorite part of the house was outside, in the back. Acres and acres of green, sunlit forest, with waterfalls and ponds where the sun seemed to dance over the water. I felt like I had entered a magical realm, and I did not want to leave. I climbed the rocks to a top of a waterfall, traversed a maze, and was simply exhilarated by it all. I could have stayed there for hours and I know that if I had lived at Chatsworth I would have been that girl that would have been found outside, either riding her pony or in the forest, where everyday something new would be discovered.
               Too soon we were all back in the car with our wonderful tour guide Jeremy. We arrived at York, had a fantastic (to use Jeremy's favorite word) dinner at a local pub called "The Hole in the Wall" and we were all asleep by 8 p.m. Sunday found me ravenous. My little brother and I were the first down to breakfast in the hotel, and I can tell you that there is nothing more relaxing than breakfast with the sun shining on your face, a good cup of coffee, and good company. Or a newspaper if you are alone. I don't think I have ever eaten so much for breakfast! We then all went on a tour of York, my dad fell in love with it instantly, and I must say, York is a special place. It can be said that the history of Britain can be found in York. From the Roman soldiers, all the way up to today, there are artifacts and ruins and treasures from every era that can be found. We saw stone coffins, lids ajar simply laying in someone's back yard because they were too heavy to move; a roman fort that had been buried for centuries but was recently dug up. I personally loved seeing the ruins of St. Mary's abbey and all of the amazing pedestrian streets with their historic shops. I even found a street named after me! Colliergate!
               Of course York minster was impressive, and as the Jewel of York it was a must see for our family. I loved the stained glass windows, the architecture and the feel of being so close with God. My dad and I ended up simply sitting on one of the benches and just soaking it all in while my brother led my little brother on a whirlwind tour of the minster. It was a funny sight! My mom loves to read the brochure and go on the tour it lays out but I'm more like my dad in that I prefer to wander on my own, to find my own surprises and not be distracted by the brochure...I'll read it later. After eating two whole pizzas we all went shopping for a bit then piled into the car and headed for Lumley Castle, where we would be staying the night.
               Looming on a hill in grandeur Lumley Castle has sat there for nearly 600 years. Every girl wants to be a princess and stay in a castle so my wish came true. It was very baronial but that made it all the warmer and cozier inside. With rich hues of red, blue, gold, purple and brown it was my favorite place to stay. I especially loved the library, that had been transformed into a bar/library. I could have curled up by the live fireplace and read a good book whilst having a drink for a few days. My mom introduced me to my new favorite drink there as well, which makes this place even more special, if that makes sense. I really love Bailey's on the rocks now. It tastes like chocolate milk!
               Too soon we were gone and off we went to Durham Cathedral, which went I beheld the stained glass windows near the back of the church and the sun glinted through them and the colors poured onto me, I had tears in my eyes. This was surely a place that was close to God. My dad and I even spoke to the Chaplin a bit and he even blessed us. But my dad was in a bit of a hurry to get going because the highlight of the tour for him was our next stop: Hadrian's Wall.
               Now not even half its size and covered in spongy green grass, Hadrian's Wall is still an impressive site. We went to the most well preserved fort on the wall, I fell in the mud, Jeremy chased the graffiti sheep, dad wanted to hike a good five miles on the wall (to which we all said no) and mom took pictures. It was a stunning view from the fort, which is situated on top of a hill, so I could see both the beauty of the land from a civilian's view and it's military advantage from the Roman's view.
               Too soon we were off driving, taking those country road turns at 50 miles per hour, and we were in Edinburgh by nightfall. This was my second trip to Edinburgh, and I was determined to see more than I had when I was last there. We ate at a fantastic Indian restaurant and my cousin Stuart joined us. Poor guy got bombarded with questions from my mom. Jeremy even joined us for dinner , so it really felt like the whole family was there with us that night. I was a little dubious about Indian food, but I must say that I was proven wrong about me not liking it. I thoroughly enjoyed it! And fell asleep with my stomach full and content.
               Tuesday morning brought the Wimmer family to the grand entryway of Edinburgh Castle. Mom said we could do it in an hour to which I looked at her and chuckled. We entered around 10 a.m. and did not leave until 1:30 p.m. On the way back down the Royal Mile (the street leading down from Edinburgh Castle) we stopped for a bit of shopping. I got a kilted skirt, although not in my clan tartan (Kilgore) and I met my Scotsman. He was working in a shop we entered, and my jaw literally dropped a bit. In the movies you see the strong, handsome Scott with that amazing accent, but in reality most of them are just tall and skinny. He was not. Tall, built, was dark hair and a good smile he was handsome but to top it off...he was wearing a kilt. Flirty eyes were thrown from both parties and then my mom had to go and humiliate me. She grabbed him and said, "My daughter wants a picture with you." We both turned beet red. Sadly I never got his name, nor anything else, and I was too shy to ask but on the way out of the store he did say, "Take care." in that mind-blowing beautiful Scottish accent.
               Leaving Scotland was a bit hard, I really have fallen in love with that place and I want to back and explore more; especially the highlands. But we were on a schedule and by nightfall we were in the lake-district, on lake Windermere. I think I fell asleep that night around 8 p.m. and Wednesday found us once again in the car heading back for Oxford. We did stop however in Stratford, home of Shakespeare. We saw his birthplace and grave, and wandered around for a bit in the charming town, but I had to get back for class. When we got back, I said goodbye to Jeremy, gave him a hug and off I went to class, promising to meet up with my parents for dinner. My good British friends Jess, Simon, and Libby met my parents at the white horse pub for dinner so they could meet each other and it was a really good night.
               Thursday was take my dad to class day! I took him to my business class, where he spoke for a bit and I had people come up to tell me how much they enjoyed him (including my professors), he met my friends, including George, and it was fun to have him there. Albeit it was a little nerve racking in my seminar, I felt that I had to be on my A-game with my dad there! As it was Thursday it was also Thanksgiving, so that night the entire HPU family came together to have a wonderful Thanksgiving meal, complete with the NFL game on the big screen! I missed my Thanksgiving meal at home but I was happy to have this meal, with both my friends, and family.
               Friday I yet again had to wake up at the crack of dawn for my family and I were going into london. Disembarking from the bus to see the Pagani high-end cars was a great start to the day. We went antique shopping (much to my dad and my little brother's dismay) had an amazing dinner st one of my new favorite restaurants in London, Rules, and went to see Wicked that night.  I loved all of it. London has always been one of my favorite places to go and that night made it all the better. The icing on tha cake was where we were staying: The Grosvenor House on park lane. Superb employees, beds that feel like heaven, and a warm bath. I even met a girl who worked that who was on tour with Riverdance. A fellow Irish dancer! Small world.
               Saturday morning my parents came in the room to say goodbye as they had to head to the airport at 7 a.m. I stayed in bed till about 8:30, took a wonderfully hot shower, and went down to have a relaxing breakfast. That was thwarted. I got there while breakfast was in full swing. People rushing around, so I sighed inwardly and just thanked my lucky stars I was eating a decent breakfast at all. Breakfast itself was fine, however they sat me in the middle of the room with my back to half of it. Call me paranoid or whatever but I like to see the whole room, to see everything that is going on, preferably with my back to the wall. I texted my good friend Simon telling him of this, and he responded, "Just drop kick anyone that tries to sneak up on you."
               I spent that day mostly shopping at Covent Gardens and the highlight of it was going to see the matinee performance of my favorite play: Phantom of the Opera. This is how much of a sap I am for this play: the chandelier went up and I had tears in my eyes, and at the end I was sobbing. But then, the best came. I went to the stage door and I got to meet the Christine Daae, the conductor, and the Phantom himself! I was over the moon. Everyone was so sweet, and I got autographs and pictures. And to top the night off, while I was waiting for the bus that would take me back to Oxford, I sat at the bar at the Grosvenor House and had a Bailey's. Perfect.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Day one of Family Travel part 1

I am currently sitting in a steel grey Renault, after picking up my mom, dad, and little brother from Gatwick airport. We, along with our driver/ tour guide Jeremy (who has the traditional British humor) are driving up to York today, stopping at Chatsworth House and then finally ending up in York for the night. About a five hour drive all together, three hours from Gatwick to Chatsworth and two hours from there to York.
I woke up this morning around 4 a.m. to pack up, made some pancakes while finishing a book that I have now read for the third time ( I really miss getting new books) and  meeting Jeremy  outside my flat. We had to park and go find my family and I found them by looking for the signature look that my 16 year old brother sports thses days, a grey fedora. He actually manages to pullit off quite nicely. Mom did not let go of my hadn when we got in the car for a good solid ten minutes (think she missed me?) and dad remarked how he thought my jacket, which has WDM on the front that stands for World Dressage Masters, said WMD which stood for Women of Mass Destruction, and was thus a befitting coat for me.
Jeremy and my parents have already been through politics, local history, the two finger salute and its story, the dislike of the french, and how apparently my dad needs to try real beer. Lawson, my little brother, is now nodding off into sleep and I don't want to be rude by plugging into my Ipod so I thought I would blog about my day thus far and other such thoughts that I have meant to blog about and have not, so now that I have caught you up on my exciting day, here is what I have been meaning to blog about:

1)Music. England has always been ahotbed of music. The beatles, rock and roll, and now dubstep. You know that new-fangled music that sounds like a lot of beats thatsound like different random sounds on a perpetual repeat with the ever important "drop"?  Yeah, that has become huge in the UK and is spilling over into the U.S. Most clubs today onnly play dubstep, or dubstep remixes, or dubstep mashups. If it can dub and step then it is played. Not my favorite type of music, one because it is exceedingly repetative and two, because it is hard to dance to. Dubstep is the new musci over here so if you come you better get used to it and ring some advil.

2)Fashion. I have been meaning to blog about this for a while, I just had to get my thoughts straight and organized. First off, men's fashion. If you wear skinny jeans with a scarf in the states you are a flaming gay. No questions asked. Here, if you wear skinny jeans, pointy toed shoes, a vest with a blazer and a scarf you could be very straight or very gay. It is very hard to tell. Men over here dress either two ways. The first is as I've previously described and that is most of the older university students and above, the other I think is trying to be "American." The guys that dress like this wear graffitti shirts and hoodies, tennis shoes, brightly colored boxers, and very, very low jeans...so the whole world can see their backside. Disgusting. You wear a belt for a reason hun, pull your trousers up!
Now women are a bit differnt. Two words. Boho Grunge. Take the color wheel of the standard camo print. Now take every shade of that and you have the entire color scheme for the fall/winter fashion. Military style, high necklines with actual collars, tights, lots of bangles, and biker boots are essential to this style. Even if you decide to sport a birght color, like red, it must be muted. So red is no longer red. In addition, there is also a lot layering that goes on, which makes sense since we are in England. In terms of hair, the frizzier, the messier, the teased, the better. Bed-head does not evenn begin to describe it. I don't quite understand it. Jewelry equals studded. Anything studded and spiked is a must to go with everything else you are wearing. The girls these days are trying to put off a "bad-girl" and "don't mess with me" vibe I suppose; at least that's what I'm getting.

Anyway, I am getting a bit car sick from all of this, so I am logging off. More to come later.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

So America runs on Dunkin? Well, I run on Starbucks.

Well ladies and gents I have been up for over 24 hours! That's right, I pulled an all nighter monday (last) night because I have got two weeks worth of regular work plus end of the semester projects for each of my four classes that count for a heavy mark on my final grade. For example, my business final essay counts for 70% of my final! It is a case study where I have to go through and write an essay on a businesse's problems in every aspect of the business, and create and present solutions with supporting evidence from outside reserch. So I have got that, my history final paper which I have yet to decide a topic on (although I am meeting with the professor tomorrow), a photo essay for my travel blogging class, and a poetry final essay where I have to create my own anthology using ten to fifteen poems, write a critical introduction, and include all of them. I have to do this choosing a topic that there are interesting assumptions about, or challenging an assumption. I was going to do light versus dark poetry and challenge the assumption that not everything that is dark is bad just as not everything that is light is good. It is one of my favorite conceptions that I have stumbled across in all of my readings and I must say that I strongly believe in it (however I will not stick my hot foot out of the covers at night, the monster under my bed WILL get it). Unfortunately for me there almost nothing out there in poetry regarding the whole 'light versus dark' thing. So I had two more options: the importance of the use of Greek mythology in poetry or death. I have decided to go with death; something else I have always loved reading about in poetry. Death is such a vague concept and poetry provides the perfect canvas on which to paint as many different pictures and beliefs of death as it wishes, and none can be wrong or right. I have about eight poems on death so far, so I am almost there! I actually like being this busy (obviously not the all-nighters) I really like feeling productive and staying busy.

My beloved planner. My life is in here, and as you can tell I have to write everything down, I am from the age of technology but I will NOT use a computerized planner. Ick.

On another plus side, I have figured out a way to sneak coffee into the library! I mentioned earlier how they would not let me into the library with my starbucks? Well put it in a to-go mug, stick it in your backpack, and voila! Coffee time :) I told my mom and she surprisingly did not chastise me! So,  I have my fuel for the day. Although according to some of my friends my two cups per day is amateur status, and I should not talk to them again until I hit double digits. Yeah, I don't really need to be that hyped up.

                     The crab sticker makes the mug invisible to any librarian's eye! :p

So here I am cranking it out in the library. Wish me luck!

                          It's like a swarm of minnows in here today! Almost no room to sit!

P.S. I am happy to inform my readers that my family will be coming up this coming Saturday and I will be spending Saturday through next Wednesday travelling! We will be going to York, Devon, Edinburgh, Stratford, and Cotswold before heading back to Oxford! So excited!

Monday, November 12, 2012

"Cherish Old Knowledge So That You Can Acquire New"

I love museums. I openly admit it. I am a nerd, and proud of it. I love learning new things and making the historical connections whilst seeing them in front of me. If a picture is worth a thousand words, I wonder what the real life object is worth? Much more than a thousand, I can tell you that.
Yesterday I had the privileged of going with my friend John Purcell to the Ashmolean Museum in downtown Oxford; famed for its archaeological exhibits and artwork. We wandered through ancient Greek and Roman statues  ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, Oxford farming, and textiles...all within the first two floors. Now I said I love museums, and I do, but the Ashmolean was filled with a lot of little things. As if they put up on display everything people have dug up in that last fifty years or so...it's an astonishing amount, believe me. because of this, and my ADD, John and I quickly lost interest and steam going through everything. When we hit the art rooms on the second floor we turned tail and fled. John had a mad hankering for fried chicken so we went American and ate at the local KFC. I have to say it does taste pretty much the same. We then shopped around a bit, and then parted ways. I know this all seems really short however going through the museum (even if it was only half of it) took a good solid three hours.

The music room: John's favorite

Japanese tea house

Assyrian 'Winged Genie' Relief

Byzantium cross

Swedish Rune stone. These were cool to see. I have heard of rune stones and have seen pictures of them, but to see one in real life was something else! Definitively much more than a thousand words!

Anything horse related I find I take a picture of. I am a horse lover so it goes without saying I will take their picture. Plus, it has always fascinated me how horses are portrayed throughout history. 

Poor guy...or girl. Can't really tell.

The great goddess Athena. Goddess of wisdom and war.

Ancient Egyptian tomb directly from Egypt.

Limestone with cuneiform. One of the most interesting languages I have studied over the countless history classes.  It is very small and incredibly hard to read, much less decipher. 

Whats up Zeus? Or as John said, "They dipped Zeus in chocolate. Yum"

Ancient bronze sword, another part of a sword, and spurs. 

Stone with ancient Greek or Roman writing on it. 

The above two pictures are of a rare, crystal rock sword. 

Another rune stone!

The above two pictures are of a gorgeous (and probably very expensive) virginal. 

A messiah violin. According to John, one of these baby's cost about as much as a luxury car. Pick and choose people, pick and choose. 

Above pictures are of the only bronze casting of a Bernadine statue.

Sewing box made entirely out of ivory. I don't sew, but I will learn if I can get one of these!

This was one of the only art rooms we went in, and it  was all about food...and  oddly enough the room  itself smelled like freshly baked bread. 

Beautiful painting

Japanese screen: Lacquer on wood. 

Every museum I go to there seems to be a mummy. Fascinating but spooky. 

Today, well today was not as exciting as yesterday. I had my 'Art of Poetry' class where some guy did not know what a Siren (in Greek Mythology) was. The poem we were reading said, "The song that the Siren sings" or something like that and the guy said, "siren's don't sing." To which my mouth dropped open. Luckily I was sitting in the front so no-one saw my expression. Unfortunately I was sitting in the front so our teacher saw my expression and asked me to correct his statement. Poor guy. 
After class I went to the library, and sat down to do work until 7, came back to my flat, got dinner, and guess what? I'm still doing work! I have a lot of things to get done since I am going traveling with my family (they are coming up to visit) from Saturday to next Wednesday and I have all of my final projects coming up.  no rest of the weary. I tell you one thing though, the Brits are more insane than I thought. I left the library to get more coffee and come back but was refused entrance until I finished my drink! They would not allow coffee in the library. excuse me, how am I supposed to get work done or feel motivated or energized without caffeine? Insane. Absolutely insane. Now I am on mug number two back in my flat and still going strong! Until next time. 

P.S. Feel free to send/ post questions about my trip and what I am doing here. I would love to hear from you!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Policy, Rhetoric, and Public Bewilderment: The Speech of Mark Thompson

Standing at the bus stop impatiently waiting for the next bus I knew I should have left my room earlier. It was 5:15 p.m. and I was going to be late for one of the Oxford Universities public lectures. They hold several each semester but this was one of the few that I was actually interested in and fit in my timetable. This lecture was the opening speech for the inaugural lecture series called Humanitas. A visiting professor will come each year to speak on his area of expertise in the humanities area. This first year the speaker was Mark Thompson. He is the outgoing Director General for BBC, a post he took up in 2004 and he has recently been announced as the new president and chief executive of the New York Times.

Finding the lecture venue (at St. Peter's College chapel) was fairly straightforward and I was relieved when I walked through the door that they had not started on time. I sat down near the back next to a guy that I presumed went to St. Peters, said a brief hello and took out my pen and pad in preparation to take notes. I picked up the habit to always have something to take notes with when listening to a speaker from my dad, you never know what you are going to hear that will stick with you. This inaugural lecture was titled, "Is Plato Winning the Argument?" and here is the description straight from the bulletin:

Drawing in particular on recent examples from American and British healthcare reform, Mark Thompson asks whether the language of politics is changing in ways which threaten public understanding of and engagement with the most important issues of the day.

He was absolutely fantastic. The hour and a half flew by, and with some remarks spoken between the guy next to me (turns out he is from st. peters and is in London studying to get his masters in middle eastern politics) I learned a great deal.

Mr. Thompson firstly welcomed everybody and said that since this is Oxford he was sure there were knights and lords in the audience which got a chuckle and made me want to ask if there really were any in the audience. He then got directly onto business. Mr. Thompson firstly brought up Obamacare, how it was seen by both views and the the fight America had in 2009 about a phrase that was penned due to a specific article in the bill that had everybody up in arms. This phrase was "Death Panel." He talked about how such a simple term can lead to the biggest destruction and he asked who is to blame? Politicians? The Media? People these days are biased against understanding and demonizing our opponent seems to only create more of a problem, not form a solution.
Mr. Thompson then went on to say that traditional political debate is not dead and that rhetoric is dead; nor is real information gone (even though we have more of it today than ever), but for a series of reasons, we are seeing growth in knockout blows rich in language, but exceedingly cryptic in meaning.
Everything these days are tangled up but if people just decided to talk using effective public language, the average person can understand and then contribute more into public policy. Mr. Thompson also says that when you act without proper debate you get bogged down. Public language is gaining more and more favor these days. The example he used was the "Death Panel" again. We remember that it stands not for section 1213 of Obamacare but for Obamacare as a whole, and we 'see' Obama as Hitler and the government as the Nazi soldier's marching people toward their death camps. Even Sarah Palin alluded to the fact that this was a battle of good versus evil. The public language impact of "Death Panel" is MAXIMAL. And it is purely partisan-making Obamacare not easier, but harder to understand. This is a pattern of public language: avoidance. It is not straightforward, but a cryptic message. Public language is never the language of understanding (I guess that's why politicians love it so much), and in this day and age anything that can be turned into a linguistic weapon is. Also in this day, to meet a political opponent halfway is treason; it is better to fail purely than to partially succeed-Ideology more important than success.

Now forgive me if any of that was confusing, I literally just re-wrote what I had on my notes. It was a bit hard to follow him as he was speaking extremely quickly. But I did agree with a lot of what Mr. Thompson was saying and it makes me wonder how much of anything anyone says is true (in terms of media and politicians). With the election tonight (which I am staying up for) that is sure to be close, it will be interesting to see what the different media channels are doing/saying as well as looking at the candidates themselves. I took a lot away from the speech and I hope to get back Thursday evening to see his final speech. But for now, GO ROMNEY!

Be-heading, Dread Steeds, & Warwick Castle Oh My!

               Friday morning I got up at the crack of dawn to go with Heather and Dr. SChweitzer to Warwick Castle, about a two hour bus ride from Oxford. It was a gorgeous morning, albeit a little chilly, but before I knew it we were off! Thank you National Express bus service! We got there with plenty of time to spare before the doors opened so we were one of the first in line. Warwick Castle is penned as "Britain's Ultimate Castle"  (where history meets theme park) and because it was Halloween week it was in its "Haunted Castle" mode which meant that as soon as I stepped through the gate I came face to face with a gruesome eight foot tall angel of death. This basically set the standard for the rest of the day. First we went off to the attraction "Merlin and the Dragon" where we met the famous dragon that Merlin raised when he was young. However we were not chosen as dragon lords, but I suspect that if you were over the age of 9 you didn't stand a chance. But we all secretly agreed that we were all real dragon lord's but the dragon didn't call on us in order to keep our status hidden. We then toured the great hall's and state rooms which were exquisite and I kept taking way to many pictures (as you will see below). After that we bustled to get in line for the scariest attraction there: The Castle Dungeons. Joy.
               Complete with scary, wonderful actors, authentic rooms, the smell of urine, people jumping out at you and audience mandatory participation I switched between holding Dr. Schweitzer's hand and clutching Heather's arm. I don't like scary things and if I see something jump out I don't scream and run away, I scream and punch...however we were not allowed to touch the actors so my hands were tied (In both senses). After we said our last prayer's with a scary looking monk in the first room we were led through rooms of medical dissection  torture (which was very gruesome and I usually like learning about that kind of stuff) court rooms, I was chosen to be be-headed in one room (then found out I was immortal, who knew?) and plagued by a witch before we were finally set free. I think I may have had about five mini heart attacks and my adrenaline did not stop pumping until well after lunch, which we had next. I had a yummy plate of fish and chips and then we wandered back around the castle and through the other attractions, which included a story about the king of England back in the day, and how everyone prepared for battle. Next I had my picture taken with the headless horseman and the dread steed (who was a Friesian, of course) which was one of my highlights of the day. Then we went to see the birds of prey show which showcased a young vulture, a bald head eagle, and a larger eagle called a sea hawk (I think that's right).  Pretty impressive to see!
               I then tried my hand at archery for the first time in a while and my first time using the long bow and I got a bull's eye! We then went for a tour of the complete history of the castle in 25 minutes (it was very abridged but very entertaining) scaled the ungodly amount of steps up to the ramparts and saw the trebuchet (A large catapult and surprisingly Britain's largest working one) fire a flaming faggot, got some great pictures and finally called it a day. We found a pub called Witherspoon's to eat before we headed back on to the bus.
               That night I was dragged out to a club to be a wing girl which was fun, however I did not get back until 3:30 a.m. so Saturday I slept most of the day haha. oops. But then I went with A few people to the Isis Tavern for their Guy Fawkes day celebration which included music of every kind ( I danced to African music) chestnut and lentil soup, two mugs of steaming hot chocolate, and of course a giant bonfire. It was a wonderful night although when I got back I could hardly move I was so cold! But it was a great experience and I'm glad I went! 

                                                                Guy Fawkes Night at Isis!

I got a picture with this archer who had a bone to pick with Robin Hood

Mettheheadlesshorseman, no big deal. 

My Travel Companions

Angel of death at the entrance. 

So much to do, so little time!

Birds of Prey Flying & Archer Shooting


Last Wednesday was Halloween, or as some people know, Samhain. Halloween originates from the ancient pagan celebration called Samhain, when the boundaries between this world and the spirit world were open. Christianity assimilated it later on to gain the cooperation of the Celts. And it is still celebrated to this day; not as much in the UK as in the states but still a fair amount. I went with Dr. Schweitzer to  the Pitt Rivers Museum to start my day off, and it was fantastic. There was so much stuff! They literally had drawers you could pull out that was overflowing. The museum itself is very family oriented and invites you to touch and explore the exhibits, and boy did they have a lot. everything from dinosaurs to dolls, from weapons to jewelry and ceremonial robes made entirely out of bird feathers! My personal favorites were the weapons and the jewelry exhibits, and when my family gets here I am taking them straight back there, it was fantastic.
               After we spent a good while exploring the museum and dodging kids in costumes we decided to head out for lunch and we found this great little place called Turl Street Kitchen where I had free range chicken and Dr. Schweitzer had some sort of bake (I forgot) . Tucked in the side of a back street it was a cozy place with friendly people and perfect to relax and get our energy back up. By the time we got out it was drizzling a bit but when you are in England you get used to it, so hoping we would not melt we decided to do a bit of shopping. We perused through a few department stores, a few boutiques, a print shop (that I will be taking my mom to) and the covered market before catching the bus back to campus.  It was a great outing and whoever said you can't have fun with a teacher is terribly mistaken, Dr. Schweitzer is a joy to be around and I love going places with her.
               That evening after my British history class I threw together a quick dark witch costume and went with friends to a club called Fuzzy Ducks. The costumes were great, my company was excellent, the music was horrendous. I have never heard a DJ talk so much! He talked more than he played, and it was extremely annoying. However I managed to have a good time (I went out with my British friends Libby, Georgie, her boyfriend Jonty, Minty, and Charlie the Greek). I was happily exhausted by the time I got back.
               Thursday was no time to be lazy however. I had business class for most of the early afternoon and I took the bus back straight away to the library and worked there for a good solid five hours. I got a lot of work done but I only hit the tip of the iceberg, so now I am back in the library today writing all of this
Yay! Pitt Rivers!
Gorgeous hand beaded foot stool
Glass knives. 

Flint lock pistol inner workings

Beautiful rifle. 

Bullets from when the Spaniards invaded South America  in the 16th century

Throwing rings that were sharpened to a deadly point
on the outer rim

mummified hawk...kind of creepy to see on Halloween...

A Monk's robe made completely out of human bone 

This cross is said to contain a piece of the original  cross on which Jesus was crucified. 

There was an actual Mummy...I was so getting out of there before nightfall.