A new year and some old pictures

I was looking through some of my pictures from my trip abroad last summer and I realized that there are quite a few that I never shared here. As I type this it is 10 degrees Farenheit outside, so it warms me up to look at the sunny (or at least warm) days and reminicse about the fun times. I know that it is not as interesting to hear about and see pictures after my trip, but I would like to share some more pictures and stories (even if it is just for my own enjoyment). I will be keeping the blog posts short because it gets a little overwhelming to think about writing a huge post, but it is much easier to sit down and post a few pictures.

Tonight I am going to share a few pictures of the college that I lived in while I was at Cambridge. The colleges are a part of the university and this system is different than most American universities. There is a better explanation of colleges on the Cambridge website: http://www.cam.ac.uk/colleges/. For me, Pembroke college was the place where I lived, ate, and used the library. During the school year, it is the community that supports the students academically, socially, nutritionally, and in many other ways.

Each college has its own personality or “feel.” I was officially part of two colleges, both Pembroke and Kings, even though I lived in Pembroke. Pembroke was a Victorian era college with colorful gardens, cobblestone walkways, modest brick buildings, a clock tower, and winding arched staircases. Kings was a lot larger and more grand, with gothic spires, immense green lawns, and a huge chapel. Today I am going to share a few pictures of Pembroke college, the college that became my home away from home.






London 2012

Last weekend I spent a day in London. I got to see a lot of the city that I hadn’t seen on my previous visits. Every time I go to London, I get a little more acclimated to the crowds and busyness of the city. This trip, I started by visiting the British Museum. I didn’t spend very long there, so I just walked through the first floor galleries to get a sense of what was in the museum. I saw the Rosetta Stone, statues from the Parthenon, a statute from Easter Island, and many other cool artifacts from around the world.

The British Museum

The Rosetta Stone


After the museum, a group of friends and I took the tube to Covent Garden. We didn’t spend much time there because we didn’t have any money to spend at the market.

Covent Garden decorated for the Olympics

After Covent Garden, we made our way over to Trafalgar Square. It was really busy there, and while we were taking pictures with the lion statues, it started raining. Not to be deterred by a little rain, we continued on towards the river to see Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. Along the way, we saw a lot of metal fencing and purple banners. We asked one of the official looking people who was guarding the fence and found out that the women’s olympic marathon was going on. The big group of runners at the front of the race had already gone by, but there were still runners coming. We stayed and watched for a little bit and saw two runners go by. It was so exciting to actually see an Olympic event. I don’t have any tickets for the Olympics, so I didn’t think I would get to see anything. But now I have seen the Olympics! The marathon runners are amazing too, because the gold medalist ran the race in 2 hours and 23 minutes. That’s crazy!

An Olympic marathon runner

After seeing the marathon, we visited a small church near Westminster Abbey while we waited for Evensong at the Abbey. I had never been to an Anglican service before, so I was excited to see what the service was like. We sat in the choir area. It felt weird to be sitting facing the center of the church instead of the front. The service had some of the same prayers as a Catholic Mass, but the order was very different. The choir was beautiful.

The outside of Westminster Abbey
Unfortunately I couldn’t take pictures inside the church.

After Evensong, we walked over to Buckingham Palace (which wasn’t very interesting from the outside) and then got back on the tube.

The gates of Buckingham Palace

Our last stop of the day was to see Richard III at Shakespeare’s Globe theater. It was very cool to see the inside of the theater and get a better idea of how his plays were actually performed in his time. We had standing room tickets, just like ordinary people of Shakespeare’s time would have had. By this time we were exhausted from walking all over the city so it was hard to stand for the entire 2-1/2 hour performance. The play was very good, but if any of you ever visit the Globe, I would suggest splurging for some kind of seat (the cheapest seat is 15 pounds, or about 25 dollars). Needless to say, I was exhausted by the time the bus came to pick us up. What a day!

The Globe

Norwich (pronounced Nor-ich)

On Saturday I took a day trip to the town of Norwich. It is a small medieval town about 1.5 hours east of Cambridge by train. A friend and I went there to walk around, see the town, and do some shopping. One of the first buildings that greeted us when we got to Norwich was the Norwich Castle. It was built high up on a hill so that it could defend the surrounding market town.

The Norwich Castle

After the castle, we walked into the center of the town where the market is. The market here sold everything, from clothes to dog treats. The stalls were permenant structures that opened up when the market was open. The Cambridge market is different, with temporary tents that cover the stalls, so this market was a little bigger and more established-feeling.

A fabric and textiles stall at the Norwich Market

After the market, we decided to walk around and see the “Norwich 12,” a set of 12 buildings throughout the town that highlight the history of the city from 1067 to the present day. The castle was the oldest building on the list. The next building we saw was the newest building on the list–The Forum. The Forum was built in 1999-2000 and houses the library, a branch of the BBC, and other community facilities. When we were there they were setting up for a concert outside the building. (And, note olympic decorations on the front of the building!)

The Forum: the most modern building on our self-guided historic building tour

The next building we visited was the Guildhall. This ornate building was built in 1407-1424 and shows Norwich’s status as one of the wealthiest villages in the area at that time. The Guildhall was built to house the government activities neccessary for the new self-governing city.

The Guildhall

Next on the list of things to see were The Halls of St. Andrew’s and Blackfriars’. This is the most complete surviving friary complex in England. It survived the Reformation because the city bought it for the king to use as a common hall. The buildings have had many uses since then and now it hosts events like conferences, fairs, weddings, and concerts.

The Halls: St. Andrew’s and Blackfriars

Next was the most magnificent building of our tour, the Norwich Cathedral. The Cathedral was built by the Normans in the 11th and 12th centuries. It was a spectacular building both inside and out with beautiful architecture, stained glass, and statues. The pictures show it much better than I can describe with words.

Norwich Cathedral

Norwich Cathedral

More of Norwich Cathedral

Beautiful Stained Glass in Norwich Cathedral

After the Cathedral, we walked by several other buildings, including the St. James Mill. This is a typical English Industrial Revolution mill. We also saw The Great Hospital, The Assembly House, and The City Hall. We didn’t make it to all 12 of the buildings, but we did pretty well. After seeing all these historical places, we had lunch at The Waffle House, which served waffles with all kinds of different toppings, both savory and sweet. Then we took a little break for Starbucks before we checked out some of the shopping at the popular British stores of Topshop, Primark, and Dorothy Perkins.

St. James Mill (used to be a woolen mill)

Our final stop of the day was mass at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. Built between 1884 and 1910, this is a relatively new building because it was built after Catholics were allowed to worship in England again. Between 1560 and 1829 Catholics were forced to worship in secret and priests faced execution and imprisonment. During this time, wealthy Catholic families sometimes continued to practice their faith in secret. The houses that these families lived in had secret areas where priests could hide if the house was searched. I still want to do some more research about the Catholic Church in England, so hopefully I will write another blog post later with more details. For now, though, it is interesting to know that this church is actually a lot newer than it looks because it was built after Catholics were allowed to practice their faith again.

St. John’s Roman Catholic Cathedral

From Dublin to Cambridge

After only two short days we had to leave Dublin and travel back to Cambridge. Once again we took the ferry and the train, so it was a long journey and we leave Ireland at noon to make it back to Cambridge by midnight. I started the day by going to mass at St. Teresa’s Carmelite Church. The church was tucked away on a small street, but once inside, I found that it was a lot bigger than it looked.

As a side note, when looking at the church’s website I found this prayer from St. Teresa, which I love:

Christ has no body now but yours.  No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which He looks with compassion on this world.

Yours are the feet with which He walks to do good. Yours are the hands with which He blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are His body.

Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which He looks with compassion on this world.

Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

After mass, I went back to the hostel and met my friends for breakfast before we walked back to the train station. Because of the ferry schedule, we were sailing out of a different port than we came into, so we had to take the metro to get there. The port was in a small town south of Dublin. It was fun to be near the ocean and we had some time to walk around and enjoy the Irish coast before we had to get back on the ferry. Then, we took the ferry and two trains back to Cambridge so that we were ready to start another week of class.

I got a picture of the River Liffey on the way to the train station.

The coast was beautiful. I love climing on rocky coasts 🙂

There were tons of tiny sail boats with kids learning to sail. It must have been some kind of sailing school.

Hampton Court Palace and Windsor

Last weekend I went to Hampton Court Palace and Windsor for a day trip. They were both beautiful places to visit.

Hampton Court Palace has been home to many British royals throughout the years. Now it is a historical site where you can see fully furnished apartments from some of the royals that lived there, most notably Henry VIII and Charles III. It was a huge building with extensive gardens. Pictures do this place justice much better than words.

The gate of Hampton Court Palace (guarded by a lion on this side and a unicorn on the other)

One of the outermost rooms of Charles III’s apartments. He must have wanted to impress (or scare!) his guests.

All the rooms were so extravagent with either huge paintings, murals or tapestries on every wall. The rooms had huge ceilings and huge furnishings to make the king’s guest feel insignificant and small.

This is the edge of the gardens. It was raining when we visited, so we didn’t walk very far into the gardens, but what we did see was beautiful!

The chapel court garden

Henry VIII’s Great Hall


The base court.

Our second stop of the day was Windsor. Windsor is home to Windsor Castle, which is still an official residence of the queen. We thought we would get to visit the castle, but the line was 1-1/2 hours long and we didn’t have time to wait in line and see the castle. I guess I will have to put that on my list for another trip. We walked around the town of Windsor, though, and over to the town of Eton. Eton is the location of Eton College, which is a famous British boy’s high school that has educated many famous men (especially politicians.) On our way back to the bus, we walked by a lawn bowling country club.

The outside of Windsor Castle.

The town of Eton

Lawn Bowling!

When we returned to London, we wanted to see a show on the West End. We didn’t have tickets to anything so we decided to go to the rush ticket booth. Because it was already late in the evening, our first choice shows (Les Mis and Chicago) were already sold out, so we got tickets for Jersey Boys. It turned out to be an incredible show. The music was non-stop and they did a wonderful job with the set and costumes. We were all singing the songs as we exited the theater. After the show, we took the train back to Cambridge. It was a long day, and I was definitely ready for bed when I got back.


More of Scotland

I visited the Rosslyn Chapel (of The Davinci Code fame). The chapel is an extraordinary work of art. Every surface inside is covered with intricate symbolic carvings. At the time the chapel was built very few people could read so the church carvings were a way that they could learn bible stories. William St. Clare started building the chapel in 1446 and it took over forty years to complete. To us, forty years seems like a long time to be working on a building, but that is even more extraordinary at the time because the average human lifespan was only 35 years. The chapel was built as a Catholic chapel, but in 1560, the government forced them to change to a Protestant chapel. The family and clergy that owned and cared for the chapel resisted this change for 32 years until they finally closed the building instead of converting. The chapel remained closed for 270 years. In the 19th century, the building was reopened and restored. The chapel was officially reopened in 1862. There has been a lot of restoration work since then and you can check out their website if you want to know more about that.

They don’t allow photography inside the chapel, so all I have is a picture of the outside. You can visit their website to see pictures of what the inside looks like and to read more history:http://www.rosslynchapel.org.uk/

This is the side of the chapel. I wish I had photos of the inside, but photography was prohibited.

After the chapel, we drove back to the city of Edinburgh. It was raining so hard that the freeway was flooded and closed so we had to take the side roads all the way back. I heard on the radio that this is a record amount of rain for the UK and there was flash flooding in some areas. When we got back we walked down to the city center and went to the Scottish National Gallery (an art museum) where we got a tour by an art history professor from Cambridge. It was really interesting to walk around and take time to look at a few pieces closely instead of just trying to see as many pieces as possible. After the art museum, we walked around and got to see the Edinburg Castle, St. Giles Cathedral, and a few shops. The cathedral was gorgeous (you had to pay for a photo permit there, so I don’t have any pictures of that either) with amazing stained glass. Here are some pictures (sorry that they are so small) from the website: http://www.stgilescathedral.org.uk/history/architecture/victorianwindows.html

The castle. I didn’t get to visit, but it looks pretty impressive from below.

The olympic rings. The country is getting ready!

It wouldn’t be a successful visit to Scotland without seeing a bagpiper on the street.

The Auld Hoose: a local student hangout where we had dinner.

On the way back from Scotland we stopped at the town of Richmond. Richmond is a quintessential English town. The main attraction is the castle. I have seen so many sheep in England and Scotland so I have been searching for a place to buy yarn from Scottish or English sheep. They had this little market where I found yarn, so I bought undyed Leicester yarn in brown for myself and white for my sister. I can’t wait to make something out of it. Now I am looking for a place to buy knitting needles. A little knitting project would be perfect for all the hours I will be spending on a train or bus over the next 6.5 weeks.

The view from Richmond Castle.

A side wall of the castle and the area of the castle where the noble lived.

This is what the castle looked like when it was fully functional.

Richmond castle has all kinds of interesting history, both from when it was built and from 20th c. history. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richmond_Castle) The castle was used during WWI to imprison 16 conscientious objectors that refused to fight in the British army. It was fascinating to see that the castle had distant as well as more recent history.

That was my trip to Scotland. The last few days have just been filled with classes, reading, and getting settled in Cambridge. I actually saw the sun this afternoon, which I haven’t seen since the day I arrived. It is starting to warm up a bit here, but it is still pretty rainy. Well, that’s all for now. I’ll have more to update after this weekend.

God Bless,


Hiking in Scotland

This weekend, when I was in Scotland, I got to go on a hike in the Scottish midlands near Loch Lomond. The hike was about four miles long and we ascended about 1000 feet. The land was beautiful: it is very wet there, so it was sooo green. We passed through farmland (they raise A LOT of sheep here), moorland, plantation, a forest, and mountain-land. This was probably my favorite thing that I have done so far (but, no doubt, I’ll be saying that a lot.) It felt so good to be out of the city and see the landscape. It was good to be in a place where you could see further than 20 feet ahead of you. The cities I have been in have been beautiful, but they are a little clausterphobic because you are always surrounded by buildings. We had perfect weather and the area was beautiful. Here are some pictures from the excursion:

^ We climbed up to the top of this mountain (hill?) to see the views below. When we got to the top it was so windy that I was afraid it would blow someone down the side of the mountain.