Thursday, July 29, 2010

All in Good Time...

There are many great time-keeping devices in Cambridge.

There's this one, the Corpus Clock:

There's the clock in the Pembroke clock tower connected to the Library:

And there's the clock tower in the King's College gate (the one with the dome-ish structure):

Some of my favorite sounds of Cambridge are the chiming of the bells on the hour and half hour and the deep metallic click of the Corpus Clock dragon eating up time as I pass by it on my way to and from town every day. Time here makes sound. As I study in the quiet library or in my bedroom (between the hours of 11:00 pm and 7:00 am when the Spanish teenagers aren't all congregated outside their houses across the street singing "Yo Soy Espanol Espanol Espanol!"), I'm even more conscious of the tiny tick of the second hand on my wrist watch. If my watch I use to keep the time as I run and to wake me up in the morning stops beeping, I'm in trouble. So what's so important about time and sound?

Karen Eiffel from Stranger than Fiction may present one thesis, but I think the sound reminds me that time is constant. It keeps going, whether I've made the most of the last 60 minutes or not. I can do a lot in 60 minutes. I found out here at Cambridge that after a bit of preparation and study, I can write 1500 words in a little over 60 minutes. The sounds of time constantly remind me to make the most of my time here. So here's to the last 3 weeks of my England adventure! They're bound to be great.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

East Anglia - Norwich and Cromer

The day started at 7:10. Forgot my camera! Luckily, my gracious friends let me sprint back to get it. A good sweat was a great way to start off a wonderful day.

In Norwich, we saw a beautiful cathedral:

went to a castle/museum (I really didn't take too many pictures there. Not too impressed. Sorry!), and played in the market and little antique stores:

Then we decided that North Sea beach sounded good. We hopped on the train to Cromer, and an hour later, this is what we saw:

The day didn't end quite as smoothly as planned. Our nice 10:45 pm arrival time back in Cambridge turned into 1:15 am, and it got colder. Some of us hadn't planned for cold. But we ended up finding (and eating rather quickly) some really good brownies because of our forced layover of sorts in Norwich. Good food, good company, good day.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Pembroke College, Cambridge

This is one of the colleges hosting the PKP program here at Cambridge. The other college is King's College. The Pembroke Hall is where I eat my meals, and I study quite a bit at the Pembroke Library. Christopher Wren (any Londoners who don't know that name by now obviously didn't appreciate the wonderful David Brady's lectures) built the chapel here at Pembroke, and I believe it was one of his first projects, if not his first. The grounds at Pembroke are beautiful! I think the grass there is actually greener than the King's grass. The King's grass has suffered a bit with the recent heat, I'm afraid. There's a bit more shade at Pembroke.

This statue of William Pitt is just outside the library. Pitt became England's youngest Prime Minister at age 24! You may know him from the new(ish) movie Amazing Grace as William Wilberforce's friend in Parliament who had that ambitious goal. Remember him?

Here's a view of the south side of Pembroke Chapel, designed by Christopher Wren.

Along the inside west wall.

Left - dining hall. Center - clock tower of the library. Right - chapel.

My pillowcase! This is embroidered on my two pillowcases and my towel. Isn't that great? None of this "You have to bring your own towel to London" stuff. Life is good. I wonder if our bedder (the housekeeper for our rooms) would notice if I took home a pillowcase souvenir?

Back to London

Last Saturday I went to London just for a day trip with about 50 other PKP (Pembroke-King's Programme) people. It was fun to realize that I knew my way around really well. It surprised me how comfortable I felt in such a big city that had overwhelmed me during my first week there. Perhaps I'm more of a city girl than I thought I was...

As I predicted might happen, I saw a lot of repeats, including St. James' Park and Buckingham Palace. But I saw something else that made the entire trip worth it - the Houses of Parliament! The inside of the Houses of Parliament are exactly how I imagined they would be from looking at the outside: ornate, decorative, and intricate. What I wasn't expecting was how colorful everything was (excluding the rooms for the House of Commons). Technically, the Houses of Parliament are in Westminster Palace. So it's no surprise that the inside is decorated like a palace. No picture-taking allowed, as usual, but there are plenty of pictures on the web to make up for it.

After the tour of the Houses of Parliament, we went to the Globe to see I Henry IV. I saw it with my London program, so this was another repeat experience. But it was worth it! First, the loud noise we were warned of that occurred in the second act actually happened this time, and Falstaff did a few things different that made me admire his comic acting even more. After the show, we went to Covent Garden for dinner and to watch some street performing.

Me + camera in London = (inevitably) lots of pictures. Here's a glimpse:

The morals of the story:

I have good memories of London town!
Sometimes foregoing efficiency/functionality for splendour (yes, "-our") is a good choice.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A wee visit to Scotland

Last Friday, all 280 or so of the PKPers (Pembroke-King's Programme) drove in six buses up to green, windy, rainy and beautiful Scotland. On the way to Edinburgh, we stopped at Fountains Abbey, which were founded in 1132 and are the largest monastic ruins in the UK. The ruins and the surrounding landscape are beautiful. Check it out:

Saturday, we went on a day trip to hike in the Trossachs, or the "mini-highlands." It was rainy and windy and very muddy, but the views were definitely worth it:

I actually spent very little time in Edinburgh, and what I did see of the city was the Royal Mile. This is the main "high street," and it runs from the Holyrood Palace (where the royal family stays in Scotland) and the Edinburgh Castle. Here are a few things along the way:

The inside of The Elephant House, pictured in the last post. This is where J.K. Rowling sat and wrote her idea for Harry Potter on a napkin while looking out the window at Ediburgh Castle. The food was really good, and I regret not trying the ridiculously good-looking fudge. Next time, I guess...

This is Parliament, the building of notoriously modern and symbolic design. According to the people in my group who took the tour, the black structures around the windows are meant to symbolize curtains drawn open so the world knows how open they are about their policies.
The castle.
St. Giles' Cathedral.
Looking down the Mile.
On the way home, we stopped in Richmond, home of Richmond Castle and a river with a beautiful Eden-like area. Judge for yourself:

And then there's the castle itself with its gorgeous surrounding views!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Check that box!

This made me smile when I read it yesterday -

Excerpt from my journal, dated October 18th, 2008:

"Something I've been thinking about a lot lately is going on a study abroad to Oxford or Cambridge. I can't even describe how much I want to do this. It is one of my dreams to study at one of these schools."

So fulfilling to live a dream.

Here's a sneak peek of Scotland, to be continued later: