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The Lake District

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It feels like it’s been forever since we were in the Lake District; this week has been so long! After having two quizzes, an individual presentation and our second British Studies exam, I’m just now finding time to finally write about last weekend while I catch up on four giant loads of laundry.  (What an exciting Friday night, right?)  Today we had classes to make up for our three-day-week coming up, so the majority of the population is staying put this weekend.  Plans for trips fell through after realizing we had only two days for travel and a huge research paper sneaking up on us way too fast. (Sadly, 3,000 words won’t write themselves…)

I wish I could have had a whole week in the Lake District to explore; it’s such a magnificent place!  This trip had you feeling truly relaxed and dislocated from the world around you.  Something about the mountains, lakes, rivers, rolling hills and forests makes you forget about British Studies and how much homework you have waiting to be done when you arrive back at the manor.

Harlaxton offers four activities that you can sign up for while in the Lake District: ghyll scrambling, kayaking, mountain hiking & rock climbing.  My choices included morning ghyll scrambling and afternoon rock climbing, which we participated in on Saturday.  On Friday we had a free day in which we decided to go on a 10-mile hike from Ambleside to Grasmere. The hike included walking along the “Rydal Water” where we enjoyed many stops along the way as we took in the beautiful scenery.

I couldn’t have been happier with my choices of activities.  Ghyll scrambling is basically climbing up a running river… plus a few waterfalls along the way!  Despite being particularly cold and wet, ghyll scrambling was one of the most entertaining things I’ve ever had the opportunity to do.  We were so lucky to have an awesome guide who took pictures of our group along the way and wrote a blog about our trip on the company’s website.  Read it here: half-day-ghyll-scrambling-sessions-in.html

After drying off and getting a warm change of clothes, our group was ready to set off for our rock climbing adventure. This was definitely much harder than I expected, but I learned a lot and enjoyed making it to the top! (I wish I had my own pictures from rock climbing, but sadly I didn’t bring my camera to our Saturday activities since so much water was involved.)

On our way back Sunday, we stopped in Keswick for lunch and more sight-seeing. Keswick was a beautiful town and the weather was perfect for exploring and eating lunch outside! Lake District is a must see for anyone coming to Harlaxton or visiting England in general.  Not only was this probably one of the most picturesque places I’ve ever see in my life, it was also a great get away/ laid back escapade!

liverpool.

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It may sound a bit crazy, but this past weekend was probably one of the best weekends I’ve had at Harlaxton since I arrived.  Everyone, including myself, can get so caught up in traveling and trying to escape the manor that you don’t take the time to really appreciate where you are and the cities that England has to offer.  I’m so glad I took this weekend to sit back, relax and thoroughly enjoy where I’m so lucky to be living.

On Friday I was signed up to go on a free day-trip to Liverpool.  (The Beatles class was going on a field trip and just so happened to have extra spots available on the coach.)  Originally I was a little disappointed about this plan, as it was a backup after my plans to travel to Croatia fell through.  (No denying that it wouldn’t have been a lovely trip, but staying close to home was exactly what I needed this week.)  After traveling non-stop-every-weekend since I’ve been at Harlaxton, my body was ready for a low-key trip to Liverpool and some quality time at the manor.  (Especially after the “Harlaxton Plague” struck & left me sickly after returning from Milan.)

We left bright and early on Friday morning for a three-hour bus ride to Liverpool.  I didn’t really know what to expect in Liverpool besides the infamous Beatles Museum.  Turns out, Liverpool is also home to Liverpool Cathedral.  This cathedral is not only the second largest cathedral in Europe, but the sixth largest cathedral in the world!  We also took a jaunt through Cavern Club, which is the rock & roll club where the Beatles played hundreds of shows.  (Around 290-ish, if my memory serves me correctly.) It was such an awesome feeling to sit right in front of the stage and sing along to Beatles songs that were actually performed there LIVE by THE BEATLES once upon a time. We also had a crazy-little-old-man behind our table singing, dancing and putting on his own quite entertaining show.

Saturday & Sunday were spent resting, eating, doing homework, laundry, reading and enjoying time spent with friends! I wish I had the time to spend more peaceful weekends at the manor!  Unfortunately, this is both my first and last free weekend without travel plans.  From here on out, I will be going-going-going until I return to good ole’ Merica.  Regardless of the lack of rest that comes with this crazy lifestyle, I will always cherish every trip & the memories made!

I was reminded of this quote when I saw it painted on the side of a pub in Liverpool…

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

variety show.

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A taste of this evening’s Harlaxton “Variety Show” & of course a video of the faculty’s MAAAAAHVALOUS performance!

H-A-R-L-A-X-T-O-N-U-K
H-A-R-L-A-X-T-O-N-U-K

Came to England for some fun
Settled in at Harlaxton
British Studies starts at dawn
The Greg’s not far away

Harlaxton has got some bells
When they’ll ring no one can tell
We’ll sleep through it, what the hell!
Harlaxton’s our home

We won’t run the naked mile
Fat and flab are not in style
For the locals we would rile
Harlaxton’s their home

Ziggy leaves at ten past two,
Put your books down, use the loo—
Grantham’s where your dreams come true!
Harlaxton’s our home

Chicken curry, beans and rice,
Eat potatoes each day twice,
Sunday brunch we roll the dice!
Harlaxton’s our home

British Studies make it so
I’ll learn till it’s all I know
Inch by inch and row by row
Harlaxton’s our home

Count your blessings, thank your peers!
Thanks the UK malts and beers,
Raise your glasses, all say “Cheers!”
Harlaxton’s our home!

Milano

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Remember how last week I said Wales was the best place I’d ever been?… Well, that was because I hadn’t been to Italy yet! I think now I may have changed my mind. It may have had something to do with the sun and perfect weather, but Italy stole my heart and made me jealous of everyone that is lucky enough to live in such an exquisite place.

Last week was Milan’s Fashion Week, which for me, meant the perfect time to visit.  (Lots of people were in the city, all the fashion shows were going on & there was also a carnival in town.)  The city was alive and everyone was decked out in their fanciest attire!  Everyone in Milan, regardless of where they may be headed, dresses like they just stepped out of a Prada ad.  I did not see one single soul wearing a sweatshirt, t-shirt, or sweats at any point during my four days in Milan.  They all wore nothing less than their very best and it seemed to be “all designer all the time.”  (I swear everyone must be a millionaire.) I did find out that Milan is the number one city in the consumption of designer clothing.  People in Milan spend on average about 20% of their income on fashion and it definitely shows.  Walk down any given street for one minute and you’ll understand that I’m not exaggerating!

Besides being super put together in appearance, here are some other things I’ve learned about Italians:

  • Most everyone has a Vespa.  There are hundreds of them and they are EVERYWHERE.
  • If they don’t have a Vespa, they drive tiny cars and park really close to each other.
  • Everyone smokes…there is no escaping it.
  • They do know a thing or two about food.  You really can’t go wrong.  (And if for some crazy reason you don’t like the food, just eat gelato everyday and you’ll be fine!)
  • Not many people speak English, so you may want to brush up on your Italian before you book a flight!
  • Even when it’s almost 70 degrees outside they still stay bundled up with their puffy coats on. (CRAZIES!)

North Wales

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Reasons why North Wales is my favorite place… so far:

  • It’s absolutely perfect.  It has an ocean, mountains, fields, sheep, waterfalls, beaches and parks.  What more could you ask for?  Wales is pretty much a perfect combination of everything I liked in England, Scotland & Ireland, all in one place!
  • The school chose a really delightful place for us to stay and our rooms had a perfect view of the ocean. Can’t ask for much else!  (Our hotel also had a sit-down-tablecloth-style-three-course-breakfast, which is always a nice surprise & a huge plus.)
  • The town of Lluandudno gave me serious déjà vu from visiting Whitby this past summer, so that automatically made me love it all the more.  The two towns are quite similar in many aspects.
  • We stayed in a sleepy little seaside town where all the buildings are painted Easter colored pastels, restaurants/stores close at 6 p.m. and the majority of the population is more than likely retired.
  • We climbed up to the highest point in the city and were able to see everything! We were up so high and it was probably the coldest, rainiest and windiest situation I’ve ever encountered, but it was such a spectacular view you couldn’t complain!
  • Caernarfon Castle is by far the neatest castle I’ve visited and I’ve definitely been to my fair share of castles.  We were able to climb to the top of the towers and walk around on the walls for a bird’s eye view of the town and boat dock.
  • On the last day of the trip, we went to Swallow Falls and saw a truly spectacular waterfall and stopped for a few minutes to take some pictures before the journey home.
  • Lunch in Llanberis was at a place called “Pete’s Eats” which is self claimed as the “best café in the world”.  I’m not sure how accurate that is since I’ve yet to eat at every café in the world, but it did make for a yummy meal!
  • We also had one of the best dinners ever at the restaurant called ‘The Cottage Loaf’, that was recommended by Dr. Green.  (Fresh & homemade!)
  • Wales is REMARKABLE.  If you want a relaxing trip, with stunning scenery and some adventure, it’s the place to go!

Ireland.

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It’s crazy how fast time is flying by, especially this past week!  It is amazing how busy I’ve been and how much I’ve seen and done in a week’s time. I’m so glad to finally have a free afternoon to catch up on my blog because life at the manor is always bustling.  (Between classes, homework, meals, events and extra-curricular activities- I’m staying up late and waking up at the crack of dawn every morning.  The life of a typical college student still exists here!)

This time last week I had just finished my first British Studies exam and was all set to begin my journey to Dublin. So much relief left my body as I handed in the test I had dreaded for weeks and left on my merry way to another country for a five-day escape.  With only one backpack, one pair of shoes and two pairs of jeans I was already stepping out of my comfort zone.  I was ready to live out of my meager bag and sleep in a different place for the next five days.

Despite the fact that everyone warned us we wouldn’t make our fight, (Dr. Taylor may have even said it was a “stupid and idiotic plan”) we jumped in cabs right after our test and even made it to the airport gate with time to spare.  Although independent travel, in my opinion, can be stressful and nerve-wracking, it ended up working out perfect as a flawlessly planned trip.  We were extremely lucky; missing a flight or a train wouldn’t have been the end of the world, but it definitely would have put a damper on the trip.

We arrived in Dublin about an hour later (which felt like a matter of minutes to me because I was completely dead to the world during the entire flight) and then rode the free Paddywagon bus from the airport to our hostel. We had a free night and the entire next day to explore the city of Dublin.  Next, we were off on our three-day Paddywagon tour of southern Ireland.

Some of my favorite things in Ireland included:

  • Galway Bay (I love the water, so being on the shore was a definite favorite for me.)
  • Cliffs of Moher (It’s amazing up there…enough said.)
  • Grocery shopping and cooking supper in the hostel kitchens to save money!
  • The greenest grass I’ve ever seen in February.
  • Lee- our bus driver/ tour guide on the Paddywagon.  (He was legitimately so good to us and helped us out so much over the course of the weekend. I definitely recommend choosing Paddywagon Tours if you are going to Ireland.)
  • We would have never been able to see everything by ourselves had we not traveled with this tour. They showed us so many beautiful stops along the way!
  • Kissing the Blarney Stone for good luck!
  • Experiencing various Irish pubs and talking with some locals.

Also, here’s a list of the places we visited:  Dublin, Cong, Leenane, Kylemore Abbey, Dunguaire Castle, Corcomroe Abbey, Galway Bay, Doolin, Cliffs of Moher, Killarney, Blarney Castle, Cork & the Rock of Dunamase!

lincoln field trip.

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Yesterday we set off to Lincoln for our first British Studies field trip.  (Everyone from the college went, so we filled up four coaches to get there!)  The trip was divided up into four sections we had to see: the Lincoln Cathedral, a Roman walk, Lincoln Castle, and a self guided tour.  We were split up into groups alphabetically so it was also a nice opportunity to branch out a bit and hang out with new friends for the day! Lincoln is truly a beautiful, historic city with a lot of character.  With Roman remains and Norman architecture, Lincoln was even more picturesque than I could have imagined. It also wasn’t so bad having class outside of the lecture hall for a change! (Despite the bitter cold temperatures, it was a lovely day!)

P.S. – Marston’s is a pub company in England & Wales, and in honor of my momma’s maiden name, which is also my middle name, I had to take pictures of the signs!