Published: October 31st 2008October 20th 2008
Well, it has been a while hasn't it? I'm terribly sorry. I have been busy, and I've got quite a lot to update before I go to Dublin today!! Being able to just jet off to a city for the weekend is a wonderful thing. I have been working on my schoolwork, never fear. I've also been working on getting my ballot in on time... grr... I have still not received the one that was sent out supposedly
on October 1. Now, I know that it takes time, but not that long. After a couple false starts and utter despair as I thought that I would not be able to vote at all, Brenna miraculously found the emergency ballot website late last night, and I printed it out and filled in the entire ballot, president to commissioner of agriculture, got two US citizens to sign and witness my voter declaration, and sent it off with as much speed as possible. Realistically, I don't think it will get there, but I've done everything that I can. If you know of anyone that hasn't voted, or isn't planning on it, tell them to do it for me. I'll be going to the Stravinsky
ballet on Tuesday, and then my friends and I will be going to the student center to watch the returns, and stay up ALL night. The University has declared next week "stars and stripes" week, and Tuesday "or election results night, Teviot will be open all night long for the election results, with highly caffeinated drinks available once the bars close at 3am" Seriously. But enough with the future. Time for updates!
A few weeks ago, my flat mates and I went to Rosalyn Chapel. Yep, the one where the Holy Grail is in the Da Vinci Code. I don't remember too much about the description, but it was an awesome day trip. We rode the bus service out so it only cost us a few pounds. We had some issues reading the bus schedule, and ended up having 30 minutes to kill so we went into the nearest toy shop. In addition to having the largest selection of Dr. Who merchandise EVER (all the way back to the first doctor, just to let everyone know how much of a geek I am), they had these adorable stuffed... viruses? Mad cow was spotted, which was pretty entertaining. Eventually the
bus came and we were off, quickly going from bustling Edinburgh to the surrounding country, where I was thrilled to see Edinburgh's graffiti "End London Rule" change only slightly to signs in the middle of wheatfeilds reading "Free Scotland". We and a large amount (8) of spanish tourists were the only ones left when 45 minutes later the bus arrived in Rosslin. The spellings of this place are ridiculously varied, but all seem acceptable, especially to an outsider like myself. The town was quaint, with a small main street, joiners shops, pubs and churches. It was also eerily deserted. We still haven't found a satisfactory explanation as to why, but maybe the townspeople are simply trained to hide. We wandered down a lovely country lane, past sheep and fields to the chapel itself. Unfortunately though their website says that it will be open until 6 they admitted their last visitors at 4:30 and we were 15 minutes too late. Not to be deterred, we decided to set off on a small circular path that took us around the chapel itself, where we could peer through the gates at the scaffolding and outside architecture. I felt very peasant peeking at the
palace: "cor mandie, wud ya look at the swells in their finry!" complete with bad cockney accent. In addition to some gorgeous views of the countryside, we found a small graveyard near to where the chapel was. The sun was just starting it's descent, and the hills seemed to glow. The graveyard was a peaceful, pretty place, and I spent far longer than the others did, admiring the work that went into the gravestones and looking for interesting people. I found a knight/lord who was born and died in Rosslyn Castle, A few RAF pilots that had died in WWII, and an interesting gravestone that spoke of a young girl who was killed at the local gunpowder mill in an explosion. The stone had been placed, not by her family but by her employer and coworkers, and there was a smaller plaque for a descendant of some kind who had died in the last few years, with flowers all around it... there's a story in there somewhere. We headed back, well satisfied and celebrated our exploit by grabbing a pint at the Link's pub, just around the corner. In the spirit of halloween, I decided to play with the graveyard
pics a bit.
That weekend I went on a field trip to East Lothian. Edinburgh is in Lothian, so it wasn't terribly far, but we had to wake up excruciatingly early on both Saturday and Sunday to get to the Bus on time. It featured a whole two days of walking along the beaches (it wasn't warm, or sunny, don't get any ideas about swimming) I was very glad that I was wearing my wellies for that bit as it was easier for me to simply walk through the gullies, when other people had to jump it. The wind was amazingly strong, cutting through our clothes as we hurried through the exercises at the tall cliff-like outcrops. I was most excited for the second day's trip out. We were to visit Siccar Point, where Hutton had discovered evidence of geologic time, and reasoned that the world could not have been created on "the nightfall preceeding 23 October 4004 BC" as was previously held to be true. I started getting a little nervous however listening to some of my classmates talk with trepadation about how steep it was. On seeing my evident unease they assured me "oh don't worry, everyone
gets down". When we got there though I wasn't so sure. It was a steep slope of waving grass, descending sharply onto the rocks below, and the sea just beyond. There was no discernable path to follow and the wind threatened to hurl us off. We descended carefully, occasionally lowering ourselves to the ground to crawl, or stopping when the wind got rough. They were right in the end, we all got down, and we spent the next few hours sketching contacts at the site, distracted by the rainbows that kept appearing over the grey sea and the seals that enjoyed popping their heads above the water to look at the intruders. More than one peice of paper was ripped from peoples hands or off clipboards by the gusts of air. It was a lovely seeting and backdrop, but then we were faced with the daunting prospect of climbing back UP. Our professor gave the word, and there was this massive swarm of people clambering up the slope grasping onto the strands of grass to pull themselves up. We were all crawling, but still seemed to be vertical, as though we were doing one of those infernal rockclimbs with only
grass as handholds. Nonetheless, I did it, but next time I'm following Hutton's method of getting there. By Boat.
Then this weekend I had been intending to go to Belfast, but an unfortunate combination of cricumstances meant that my travelling companion had to stay behind. So I was left trying to figure out where to go.... Then I remembered that my friend Alex Helling was studying in London for the year. I sent her a message, and she told me to come on down. Thrilled I booked tickets that week, and headed down to meet up with her. I had flown into London Luton, which was a hassle, as it requires a short train ride into St. Pancras, but I didn't know that ahead of time. Nonetheless it worked out well because Alex lives a short 5 minute walk away from the station, and had generously let me stay with her. We had a great time catching up, and that night we hung out with a bunch of people on the Tufts in London program, which was great. Though I hang out with a lot of Americans in Edinburgh, they aren't from the same college, and it was nice
to talk with people from the same area. The next day we took the Underground over to the South Bank, where we walked across the Thames. Even on the pedestrian bridge there were vendors and musicians, and we stopped to buy some of the roasted nuts, which were absolutely delicious when hot. We wandered around staring up at the Eye, which had a line that stretched for a very long time, watching the many, many living statues, one of whom I saw taking a smoke break, which entertained me to no end. We saw Big Ben and the Parliament buildings, and the new skyline of London with the interestingly shaped city hall, and more conventional buildings. Someday, seeing it from the Eye might be fun, as it moves so slowly, but we'll see. The atmosphere on the south bank was lively and entertaining, and when we walked back we looked at the monuments on the north bank, many, if not most, of which were dedicated to the men that had serrved in the World Wars. They were lovely, and heartbraking. We visited the egyptian obelisk, with it's sphinx guards, one of which still bears scars from a bombing in 1917.
The next day we moved our clocks back, before heading out to Picadidlly Circus, and Leistcer square, and of course Covent Garden. Picadilly circus was a kick... it really seems like an attempt at Times Square, and there was an arcade there that was utterly bizzare. Aparrently at one time far bigger, it had the escalator to its top levels blocked by a coke machine. Ingenuity I suppose. Covent garden had to be one of my favorite places. There were shows everywhere, including a pair of opera singers outside an italian restaurant. Architecturally it reminded me of Fanuiel hall, only bigger. It was the place where the horrible Punch and Judy show started, and now has a 3 story pub of that name. We wandered in and out of the shops, and had a great time until It was time for me to catch the train back to the Airport. On the way we stopped by that place between platform 9 and 10 in Kings Cross, and tried to get through to meet Harry Potter. We couldn't so we took a picture instead. Needless to say, I hope she comes to Edinburgh soon!
Now to say Happy Halloween,
and end. Love to all of you, and by the time you're reading this, I'll be in Dublin!
There are more photos below