On the way to Scotland: Fountains Abbey

This weekend I went up to Scotland with all of the other Cambridge summer school students. We are driving there in a bus and we stopped at Fountains Abbey. I wasn’t sure what to expect when we stopped because we had driven a ways off he freeway into a more rural part of England. After we all piled out of the bus with our lunches in hand we walked to the visitor’s center. At that point I was a little disappointed because all I saw was a stone tower in the far distance. When I found out that we could walk down among the ruins, I was more excited.

I went on a tour of the abbey to get a sense of its history. It was founded in 1132 when 13 monks came to this spot. The ruins were incredible and I really wish I could have seen the buildings when they were in their prime. I won’t spend too much time describing them because I think the pictures speak for themselves.

This is an opening in the back of the church where a rose window would have been.

The big arched window areas used to hold rose windows, which are a symbol of Mary. They must have been incredible.

This whole area and the story that he tour guide told reminded me of the book Pillars of the Earth. If you haven’t read it, the book is a great description of the huge project of building and sustaining an abbey in the middle ages. Fountains Abbey was very rich because land was donated to them by the families of the men who became monks. They also were a huge player in wool trading and made much of their opperational money that way.

I was only able to go to part of the tour, so I don’t know any of the more recent history of the abbey. Here is a good website that tells more about the order that founded it: http://cistercians.shef.ac.uk/fountains/

I loved visiting Scotland, and I will post a few more posts about the other things I did there. Watch for those over the next few days. 🙂

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London

So, it’s been two days since I left London and I want to tell you all about my time there. But, let me say first that I don’t really miss it there. London was a very interesting city and I loved visiting, but I can’t really imagine myself living there. It was so crowded and noisy and overstimulating. I’m really glad to be here at Cambridge and to be settled in.

All that aside, London is a fascinating city. I stayed in a hotel in Soho, which is a super trendy and relatively newer area of London. There were ALOT of little shops and restaurants on every street. We were right next to the British museum, which I never got to visit, but will hopefully get back to. We had a pretty relaxed day when we got there: just dinner and some free time. I went exploring with some of the other study abroad students and we walked down to the Thames to see some of the major landmarks:

Parliment. A truly breathtaking building. It is HUGE.

This is a evening view of the London Eye (built for the celebration of the millenium) from the Westminster Bridge.

The next day we had orientation in he morning and then went on a walking tour of the city in the afternoon. It was so crowded that a walking tour was pretty tricky, and it was nice that I had walked around this area the night before, so I already had my bearings a little bit. Here are some pictures from the tour:

This is inside the Covent Garden market. There are stalls selling handmade and other goods and many places to get food. Like everywhere else we went in London, it was very crowded.

This is just a normal street in central London. I thought it was very patriotic and was a good example of what the streets are like here.

This is Trafalgar square. It was Canada day so there was a big celebration going on. There is always something going on here.

Just a cool building. And London had the most incredible clouds when we were there.

After the tour we got see a play called 39 Steps. It was based on an Alfred Hitchcock movie and over 100 characters were played by 4 actors. They did an incredible job at switching back and forth between all the characters. The theater was tiny and I got to sit in the second row. I really hope I can get back to London to see another play or musical. I am adding that to my growing list of things to do here. That night we went out to an Indian restaurant for dinner. It was delicious. Due to a combination of jet lag and nervousness, I hadn’t really felt like eating before this, so it tasted especially good. In the evening we just went to a pub for a bit. The streets are just as packed at night as they are during the day.

I think that is a long enough post for now. Let me know if there is anything you want me to write about. I’d love to hear from you guys. You can leave comments below this post. Coming up is a post about my journey to Cambridge!

Photo Walk

Last week I really wanted to get my camera out again and get back into the swing of photography. I haven’t done a lot of shooting since last fall when I finished up senior pictures and a few engagement sessions. I was a little unsure that I would find anything worth photographing around my house, but it turned into a great exercise in finding images in unexpected places. I walked the route that I walked everyday to class last semester and I tried to look at things in a different way to find some interesting images. I also challenged myself to lay down on the grass and see how many different images I could capture from that one spot. Here is what I ended up with: