Thursday, May 26, 2011

Karen's Last Official Post's come down to this, a final blog post, and evidentally, I'm the last to write in. I don't have any epiphanies, just final thoughts to finish off the trip, and it seems appropriate to give them in list form.
1. We were met with many scoffs by the English at our trips to smaller towns, even big cities, in the UK with a "why would you want to come here?" This reminded me of all those Iowans who see visitors coming to visit our much younger state, and while I'm not comparing the two (it can't be done), I believe we don't understand or appreciate the inherent value of the places from which we come. Evidentally, even the English can turn a blind eye to their interesting history. Hopefully, all of us can see that we come from something important, regardless of size, and notice that that place means something to someone.
2. The English love their sugar...oh, my! I'm going to miss my scones with clotted cream, jam, and a pot of earl grey tea with milk and sugar, but I think my blood sugar will be better off after leaving the country.
3. The English (and the Welsh) value older architecture and historic monuments on a national level, and I think Americans could take note. It has been wonderful to be surrounded by this much history (at times, overwhelming, but nonetheless valuable).
4. I was hesitant at first regarding the cuisine, but I've taken every opportunity to try new foods and eat A LOT, and I don't regret it. I think I've walked most of it off :)
5. I've learned a lot about castles and cathedrals, and feel that I could appreciate more history classes on the topic. I especially enjoyed the cathedrals.
6. Finally, I'd like to come back with my family and experience more.

That's all for this trip. Hopefully, more adventures to come.

The Final Hours... Matt's Last Official Post

This will be my last post before we return home! This has been one of my favorite trips that I have ever been on. England and Wales have been everything that I imagined they would be and they have both lived up to all of my expectations. I am kind of sad that this trip is almost over but at the same time it will be nice to be home again without having to constantly bring everything I would ever need with me where ever I go. I have enjoyed staying at the different youth hostels, YMCA, and the hotel. They have all been very enjoyable and welcoming. It was a new experience sharing a room with someone other than our group members but that gave me the opportunity to meet new and interesting people.
Talking to people in the hostel lounge areas also gave me the same opportunity to meet other travelers. All of the different sites that we have visited have been spectacular in their own way. I have really enjoyed walking through all of the different castles, cathedrals, and abbeys and learning about their history. Even though we visited a lot of castles, cathedrals, and abbeys each place had something new that the others did not. I have really enjoyed the different walking tours that we have taken through the different towns. I wish we had this kind of history back in the States. I am going to miss all of the train rides we took and all of the fun card games we played on them. I have also met some interesting people on these train rides. I am also going to miss the ocean views from Tenby and Wells-next-to-the-Sea. They were so beautiful. I am glad I got to try different types of food that I most likely would not have eaten if it were not for part of this course. I have met some wonderful people along the way and now have a lot of new friendships that I will take with me back to the States. I am going to take away some great memories and fantastic photographs of England and Wales.

"England Doesn't Want You to Leave...It's Crying" Final Official Post

Well hello everyone for the last time! I can’t believe it is here already! It has been a month and I’m so excited but sad to being coming home tomorrow. I have had the time of my life here and I can’t wait to come back later in life. London on my free days was probably my favorite only because I’ve been waiting to go there since I was around 6 years old. It feels amazing to finally accomplish such a wonderful goal in life especially since I was able to experience it with Matt. We had a great time on the London Eye, seeing Harry Potter sites, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and many other little sites.
Some other sites have also created great memories. One that stands out the most is York Minster. It was the first cathedral we went to in the beginning of the month and by far my favorite. All the cathedrals stood out in their own way but York had a little bit of everything. That may be because I’m a little biased to York. It was my favorite city that we stayed in; however, Tenby and Wells-Next-to-the-Sea are close contenders in my top cities to stay in. I was also so excited to go into Wales because I have a really close friend who is Welsh and very proud of it. I was very happy to tell her I found something from Wales for her.
Although I’m not a history major, I took away a lot of history from this trip and find myself to be a little more cultured. I have my classmates and Dr. L to thank for that. Without such a great group it would have been impossible to experience as much as I did. That will be one of the things I will miss the most.

My Final Blog (Official Post)

Hello readers!

Well today is my last full day in England. I am just as excited to leave and finally sleep in my bed as I was to come and sleep all over this glorious country. I have had such a great time with Dr.L and the other people who made this trip a blast. I can't believe it's been a month though. Where did all of the time go?

I am so happy I took this opportunity! I learned a lot and happy to be here to soak it all in. Between seeing the York Minster to seeing Big Ben on my last free day in London, I saw a lot. What I am taking home from this are the fun memories of all these places and the fun memories I made with these new friends of mine. Just walking around the cities and towns gave me memories. Also what I am taking home is the proof I actually went to these places because instead of throwing away my bus pass and train pass I want to bring them as great souvenirs.

I can not wait to get home and see my family and friends and share all of my pictures and stories of what I did over here in England and Wales.

Well that's it for me.
Thomas Howell

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Mandy's final post

Well its that time, we only have one day left here in the UK. I think we will all miss it, but at the same time it will be good to get home. I just hope we can. Fingers crossed. I know I will miss it here, my time in the UK defiantly proved to me I can now handle big cities with no problem, but I will miss how friendly the people are and how helpful to. At every turn, if it looked like you were struggling or lost, there was someone there to lend a hand, it was nice. It will also be sad to longer be around history at every turn, where things built in the 1800s are considered new, whereas in the states, that's like ancient. I think I definitely experienced a lot of new things on this trip, both about what I can handle and with lots of foods.

I think my favorite days were my free days because I went into London and Cardiff, but for the class, I think it was just about anywhere in Wales. There was just something about that country that loved. I really hope that one day I can come back and see more, and maybe get an accent because I wont be around as many Americans that go around, but it was a great time had by all, I think.

So ta, from the UK. Hope to one day return.

Final blog (official Post)

Hi everyone who is reading this blog, this is Kevin one last time. I hope that you have enjoyed reading the blog and especially my posts. There have been a few sites that I thought were cooler and more historic than the others. My favorite site that I went and saw while over here in England happen to take place on my free day. This site was the HMS Victory and HMS Warrior at the Porthsmounth Historic Dock yard. The reason that this was my favorite site to visit was because historic ships is one of my favorite topics to study. Both the HMS Victory and the HMS Warrior happen to be two famous ships, the Victory because it was Lord Nelson Flag Ship at Trafalgar and the place where he was shot. The Warrior is the first iron hulled ship and during its first years in service it was the most feared ship at sea. My favorite site that we saw as a class was Conway castle. I think this was because it was the castle that fit my ideas of what a castle should look like. Conway had the large outer walls and towers that overlooked the city. Also the castle was high up on a hill overlooking the town and harbor. The Inner walls were taller than the outer walls and had more towers to defend against attacks. also the castle had rooms that were large enough for the king and queen to live in but at the same time still be well defended against attacks. Overall I will say that I liked seeing the cathedrals better than the castle. As cool as the castle were the were all in ruins which made it hard to see what they would have looked like had they been kept up. The cathedrals since they are still in use today, are still standing and look similar to how they would have looked in the middle ages. The castle have also been greatly changed over times as styles changed and unlike the changes that were on the cathedrals they were blunt and ugly looking. The final reason that I liked seeing the cathedrals better was that for me personal walking through the door seem to transport me back in time to the middle ages. This is because these cathedral take me back to a time when the best way to express your love to God was to build a large building to him. The Cathedral that I like the best was Ely. There are a few reasons why I liked this cathedral. The first reason was since Norwich Cathedral  was closed i could not pick the cathedral that presented on. The more serious reasons were that Ely had a really interesting tower that was octagon shaped.  The other reason was the Ely was very beautiful but it was not overdone like some of the cathedrals that we looked at.
From spending so much time over in England there are a few things that I will miss. The first thing is how every thing seems to be stuck in time and is so peaceful. There is no rushing around and everything moves at its own pace. The other thing that I will miss is how well the public transportation works. I loved being able to ride around on a train and see the countryside. From a history stand point I will miss being surround my hundreds of years of history. This course change my ideas of different history ideas. The first being that castle were just fortress of wars and not living spaces. The other idea about cathedrals which I learned was false was that cathedrals were painted many colors and not just boring stone as the appear today. Overall this course gave be a great idea about how there is much more to history that just reading books and if you truly want to study history you must get out and see it in really life.

It's come to an end post (It's "Official - post")

So we have come to the end of the course. Oh the things I have learned and the places I have seen. Though many are in ruins it was still fun to learn of their history and the reason for their existence. Majority of the castle located in Wales were designed and built to defend from the Welsh. In the medieval times, it was the king's goal to take over the Welsh land. Personally, I could understand why. Wales has beautiful landscape from the seacoast to the mountains. Taking a train through the country was one of my favorite experiences besides the holding the hawk and getting knighted again. Nothing trumps that.

I would have to say the things I will take with me are the memories made upon this trip. From talking with the locals to frisbee in the park, they all hold a special place in my memories. I think though that the most favorite thing on the entire trip (and yes, history is repeating) is the chance to hold the hawk. Oh, and the experiences at Tenby and Bath. Those were my two most favorite cities because of the location and the structure/layout of those cities. Tenby because I have discovered this love for the ocean even though the only other time I had been there was in Barbados and Bath because of the city look without the feel of the city. Meaning it didn't seem to be overly crowded for the size of city it was. Being a country girl, I have very little enjoyment for a city and surprisingly, I could see myself living in Bath for a couple of years.

Though I do love both England and Wales, I find myself looking forward to going home. I miss my family and friends and wish to see them again, hopefully before the ash cloud decides to ruin our return home. This was my longest time from home seeing as my other trips had only been for about two weeks and with other family members I might add. So this was an experience and adventure for me and one I will walk away from with knowledge gained and memories treasured. If you ever get a chance to venture into the lovely landscape of the United Kingdom, don't pass it up because you will find that it is totally worth it.

This is KC (Kaitlyn) signing out one last time. This be the end of May Term for me and the end of my Junior year. Bring on Senior year!!

The Final Chapter, Official Post

I can’t believe the day that we are leaving in shortly upon us. It does not seem like we have been in England and Wales for just a little over three weeks.

It is incredibly difficult for me to pinpoint my favorite part of the trip so I’m going to break it into a few categories. The award for my favorite cathedral has to be Ely. Yes, I know I’m biased in this one due to my research, but I was blown away. First of all I loved the octagon tower. In my mind it was a blessing in disguise that the Norman tower collapsed and the octagon tower replaced it. Secondly, I loved all the stained glass. The majority of the glass has been redone and the color is amazing. Finally, the outer structure shows its dominance over the town. It was built upon a hill so looking up at the cathedral as you walk up gives the illusion of a grander structure.

My favorite castle would have to be Caernarfon Castle. The castle is massive and the multiple towers fit well into my stereotypical mindset of what a castle should look like. This place also had a great view of the straight that runs through the town and the nearby channel. The castle definitely served its purpose of protecting the immigrating English from the native Welsh.

What I will remember the most is that each cathedral and castle has their own style. Some castles were built as a symbol of dominance over an area, while others are simply a fortified manor house such as the castle in Craven Arms. While all cathedrals are built as a place to worship, the style of architecture is quite different. In fact the nave of cathedral was originally used as a meeting place, which I found quite interesting. We have seen all sorts of different styles from Norman with their rounded arches, to Early English Gothic which was a slightly pointed arch, to the Gothic style with their pointed arches and their flying buttress which helped distribute weight more effectively.

The experiences I have had over the past month have broadened my horizons and perspectives. This trip has made me realize that England is a place that I love to travel to. I love the landscape, and the people that I have encountered. Finally, I have come to realize how lucky we are to live in an area where we have space to roam. Everything here is placed right next to each other. It makes it easier for us to travel but as a guy who lived on a rural Iowa farm, I miss my space and having a yard. As much as I have loved my stay in England, this trip has made me realize how much I love the comforts of home.

The End is Here . . . Offical Post

So unfortuneatly our time has come to an end, so now is the point in our trip that everyone posts their final thoughts. I can not really believe that it has been four weeks already and I don’t really know where to start, our trip has been amazing! I have learned enough to last me a life time and to change the way I look at things. I have learned that Medieval Architecture is very complex, more so than most people think or imagine. The different periods are very evident when looking upon a cathedral and it helped me see what we learned in the pre travel class, a lot easier than looking at pictures. Castle architecture in my opinion stayed the same, but it was evident which ones were Welsh castles and which ones were English castles. The Welsh ones often backed up to the sea, where as the English ones backed up to a river or were atop of a giant hill. My favourite part of the whole trip was being able to see the two cathedrals I researched for a paper in another one of Dr. Lindgren’s classes, Wells and Gloucester. The first one I got to see was Gloucester and it made me realize just how many different aspects of my research was really in the cathedral itself that I didn’t realize ( I researched symbolism in the two cathedrals, via the architecture and sculptures.). When I originally started my research I didn't really have to much of an interest in Gloucester, but when I got to see it in person, it was overwhelming. It also became my favourite out of the two that I researched, and my second favourite of the trip (Ely was my favourite). When we got to Wells I was amazed on just how huge the West Front really was! And although I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t go into the quire, so I could see the Jesse Window, I was still really impressed with the cathedral as whole. Overall the trip has been fantastic and the people here have been very polite, and although I do not have to leave, I am ready to come home. See you in two days!!!!!!!!!!!!

Courtney Frey

Malynda's Final Post "Official Post"

I can not believe how fast this month has gone by! We have seen so much and learned so much in such a short time.

I think that my favorite places were the halls and homes that were refurnished to what they might have looked like in the Middle Ages. It wes really interesting for me to learn how people lived thier day to day lives back then. I thought these places were especially interesting becauase it was like stepping back in time and we learned small things about life that we would not have learned at a big castle, such as the way the residents of the home would eat dinner together.

The thing I think that I will miss the most about being here is the slower pace of life. In the U.S. people always seem to be rushing around in the morning, but here people move slower. The mornings start slower and more calmly. There is a lot less traffic because most people take the public transport (another thing that I will really miss about this country). I don't know if I'm ready to go back to busy mornings rushing to work yet.

I will definitely miss all of the history that is everywhere here. I love how in the middle of a modern shopping street there might be centuries old buildings chalk full of history. There is nothing like that in Iowa.

When I first got here, everything was new and different. But now after being here for a while I've started to see a lot of similarities to home and the enchantment of being in a different country has worn off. This trip has helped me see how life everywhere is really simialar.

I've loved going on this trip and I definitely wouldn't trade it for anything.

Final Thoughts Official Post

Well, I cannot believe the month is almost over. It feels like just yesterday we spent an extra four hours in the airport waiting to get here. Over the past month I have seen amazing castles, been inspired by cathedrals, walked up many hills, slept in different hostels, and eaten all kinds of new foods.

It is almost impossible for me to narrow down my favorite sights we visited. Every one had unique features that made me want to spend all day there. Climbing the towers at Conwy Castle allowed me to see far out to the see. Visiting Ely Cathedral and looking at the octagonal tower reminded me how amazing these people were at engineering without all of our current technology. Exploring Stonehenge and Avebury circles took me back in time. Every sight had something beautiful to offer me.

There are several things I will miss when I return to the US. I think the primary one is scones with jam and clotted cream (best food in the world and I recommend everyone try one if they have the opportunity). Another thing I will miss is the countryside. The scenery varies so much across the country. Finally, being able to use pubic transportation and get anywhere in a couple of hours is an aspect of England I really admire and want in the US.

My experiences on this trip have opened my eyes to what other people think. I encountered several people who thought we were crazy for wanting to come to England. Yet, people were so happy that we were here visiting and being part of their country. Talking to different people while out and about has shown me that everyone has opinions and thoughts to share that can broaden my outlook on things.

This trip has been a great chance for me to learn and explore history. I love traveling and look forward to doing more of it in the future. I also cannot wait to get home though and start my next adventure. See everyone soon.


Taylor's final post "official post"

Well to be honest, I don't know what I was expecting going into this trip. I knew I was very excited to see what I think of as "real history." What I mean by that is history that happened before the 18th century. I wanted to soak up every moment as if it were never going to happen again because it probably won't. I feel like I really went into it with a sense of adventure and an open mind.
I think my favorite spot that I experienced while on this trip is most all of the cathedrals but the best one was the first one we visited, the York Minster. It just shocked me how large it was and how ornate the artwork was. I have literally never been so shocked by something in my life. It is an experience I will never forget.
The course and trip didn't really change my attitude on cathedrals at all but it did change my perception on English culture. I had it built up in my head that the people would be very proper and such but in all actuality, they are just like us, especially people of our age group. The sense of style is also very fun to look at as it seems everyone has their own.
I will certainly miss the group dymanic that we all formed over the course of the month. Very few of us knew each other and it was exciting to see how everyone seemed to some together and make friends with people that had rarely spoken to, if ever. We all had a fun time going out together at night and getting to know each other and I hope I continue to stay in contact with many new friends I made on this journey.
The one thing I am "going to take with me" is something that Dr.L tried to instill in us from day one and that is taking our time during meals and enjoy our food and the conversation. Apparantly, it is a very American thing to rush through meals and just eat for the sake of eating. In many other countries, including this one, meals are meant to be enjoyed with others and are a time for conversation and company.
I loved so many things here and I plan to take many experiences and memories with me for the rest of my life.

Taylor's final post. "official post"

Final Thoughts - "Official Post"

Wow! It is so hard for me to believe the end of the trip is here! This past month has been incredible for me, and I have gained a lot from this experience.

I gained a lot of knowledge through visiting the different sites. After hearing about how castles were used, and the different architecture for the castles and cathedrals, it was impressive to finally see it firsthand. Exploring the towers for both locations brought a new perspective on the buildings and their surrounding areas. With castles, we were able to see the land area, and how that location was a prime spot for these defensive buildings. With the cathedrals, we were able to see the surrounding land and cities that helped bring wealth into the church community.

It was really interesting for me to see the different styles of architecture within the structures we visited as well. At first, I didn’t really understand how much of a difference the arches in the cathedrals really had. Seeing the arches definitely changed my mind, and gave me a new outlook on the styling.

I have to admit, my favourite part of this trip was probably visiting Stonehenge and Avebury. These stone circles were so incredible to me. I was taken aback by the size of the stones used in them, and the fact that people had to make these structures without any type of mechanical equipment that we have today. They were incredibly wonderful to me, and hearing the stories around them was so intriguing.

Another thing that I learned – I CAN live out of a backpack for a month! I definitely had to downsize for this trip, but it wasn’t a bad thing for me. I have also never stayed in a hostel before, so it was quite the interesting experience for me. I didn’t really think it was too different than the dorms at school though! At times it was frustrating to not have immediate internet access, or the ability to call a friend up, but I quickly got over that. Being away from the ‘luxuries’ of home really helped me appreciate my surroundings this month. It was simply wonderful to actually immerse myself in this culture. It is definitely an experience that I will never forget.

I hope everyone reading this enjoyed hearing of our adventures; I know we sure loved being here!

First Half of our Day .. Part Deux!!!

After a fairly good morning, it was off to Norwich, where as Karen stated, we were off to Dragon Hall which is one of the oldest houses in Norwich, in which many of the most prominent people in meidival Norwich became rich, powerful, and did there trading and batering. There was a nice exhibit about how life was lived in the houses hey day in the 11th-14th century. The Hall became many other structures over the next several hundred years but the exhibit focused on the meidival times.
Then, after a very nice lunch (I had the barbeque chicken) we were all off to have a tour that Kevin was to lead at Norwich Cathedral. There was only one problem: the cathdral was closed due to the filming of a movie! So, Kevin was forced to give his tour from the outside.
The Cathedral was built and finished in the 12th century. It is the home of the second largest spire in England, second only to Salisbury Cathedral. The inside is home to a staue dedicated to Julian of Norwich who was a mystic in meidival times. She was a hermit in a small parish church where she wrote a historic piece on faith which earned her sainthood.
Also, a big defining feature is the large stone circles in the cloiseter, dedicated to the new millenium.
After the tour, we headed back to Cambridge and had a free afternoon.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Last Castle (Official post)

Hello everyone reading this blog this is Kevin again to give you a brief idea about how we spent your day. We spent the day travel throughout east Angelica or the east seaboard of England.  All of our travel was done on a coach who allowed us to make stops at three different places.
Our day started off with a nice hot English breakfast at the youth hostel in Cambridge. After everyone was packed up, we loaded our entire luggage in to the back of the coach for the stops along our way to Wells next to the sea. The first leg of our trip was full of traffic as there was a car crash on the route to Norwich and the traffic was being diverted to the route we were taking. After riding the coach for about an hour we arrived at Castle Acre Priory which was our first stop. While Dr. L got us tickets the rest of the class played with the black cat named Cookie who loved attention. The priory was very large and what was left of the church was quite large. The gatehouse and the private rooms for the prior which were above the gatehouse were the only structures standing.
Getting back into the coach we drove to King's Lynn which is a small fishing town on the coast. While in King's Lynn we got a tour about the town and were told about the important buildings and their history. The town had gained great wealth in the trade with main land Europe. This trade provided the money to build many large trade guilds and house that date back to before the 1500's. The church which is in the middle of the town is large as the town was support greatly by the King and this was a royal church. After the discovery of America the town lost much of its wealth as the trade routes now were on the western seaboard instead of the eastern. Interestingly two town people made great names for the self’s in John Smith and George Vancouver did so in the New World. After eating lunch we left for our next stop which was Castle Rising Castle.
Castle Rising Castle had large outer earth works to protect it from invaders. The interesting feature was the large keep which was the only building in the castle complex. The keep is the largest in England. While we were at the castle we took a whole lot of pictures as a group. Upon leaving the castle we travel to Wells next to the Sea.  The day ended with the class going up to a local park to hang out.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Official Post - Half of our day today

Hello all!

We started our day by traveling to Ely to see the cathedral. Ely is the third smallest city in England, and we got the opportunity to walk along the river and see beautiful flower gardens and ducks, of course. Along with swans and the occasional pigeon, they seem to be the mainland's fowl of choice :) Andrew showed us around Ely Cathedral with its octagonal spire and gorgeous architecture. The ceiling is composed of Victorian painted wooden paneling and the nave is designed in the Roman style. Just off of the northern transcept, there is an enormous lady chapel with a modern statue of Mary and beautifully intricate stonework. We found, to our great surprise that several famous films have used Ely Cathedral, including the newly-awarded King's Speech. The wooden throne with red velvet padding, on which the film's King (Firth) practiced for his coronation, was on display and we got the opportunity to take pictures with it and read the script. Other movies filmed there were The Other Boleyn Girl with Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson and Elizabeth with Cate Blanchett. This is also one of the few props left from the King's Speech, since the warehouse holding all the props and costumes recently burnt down. Afterward, we all had a morning snack of tea, pastry, and scones.

More than anything, we were amazed at the sheer size of the cathedral (formerly a cloister) in such a small city. It was absolutely gorgeous, and this is the first time we've seen an octagonal tower. Taylor with continue with our further adventures as we traveled to Norwich in the afternoon to see Dragon Hall and the outside of Norwich Cathedral, also caught up in the business of film-making.

Cheers! - Karen

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Traveling Day to Cambridge “Official Post”

Today was a long day of traveling. We got to experience taking the “tube” as a large group. We had to take the “tube” from the London Paddington train station to the Liverpool Street station. This was slightly difficult simply because of the sheer size of our group and our luggage. We all made it safely to the other station and made it to Cambridge in time for our walking tour.
We met up with our guide, Mary, for the walking tour at three and had a wonderful tour of Cambridge for about two hours. We started off in the market place and Mary told us about how many of the streets got their names from what used to be sold there. The market has been there for hundreds of years and still runs every day.

Mary showed us a pub called The Eagle, which has a few cool stories. One story is of a child who haunts the upstairs rooms. The child died in one of the rooms and it is said that it haunts the room unless the window is left open and its soul can escape. Even to this day, it is written in the lease that window must be left open at all times, no matter the weather. So, Mary says that even in the pouring rain, snow, or sleet, that window is always found open.

Another interesting thing about The Eagle is that the American soldiers during World War II used to be regulars there. We know this because they left their mark all over the ceiling of one of the rooms. They took lipstick and drew or wrote on the ceiling and burned it in with their cigarette lighters. Some wrote their names, while others drew pictures. It is a very interesting room. A group of us later discovered that this pub has very good “pub grub”, and I would recommend it if you ever find yourself hungry in Cambridge.

Mary took us to see some of the colleges of Cambridge University. There are thirty-one colleges in the Cambridge University. They are all separate and independent colleges, but the students all belong to Cambridge University and meet together to go to lectures and exams.

Since it is exam time here in Cambridge, most of the campuses are closed to the public. A few are open though and we spent the most amount of time at St. Johns College where Mary showed us some interesting places. We got to see the first court, chapel, three different stages of libraries, the dining hall, and other courtyards. The college is large and impressively old. It’s not what we think of as Americans as a college. There are courtyards where you are not allowed on the grass, historic buildings, rivers with people punting, and it’s all very charming.

After the tour we were given the rest of the night to explore, go to dinner, and relax at the hostel. After a long day of travel and tours everyone is keeping it pretty low key tonight. That is, the girls are anyway. The boys somehow always find more energy and are burning it off at the park, throwing a Frisbee.

That’s all for now.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Wells - official post

Hello to everyone on our last day in Bath!

We had quite the lovely day today, as we managed to only get a tiny misting of rain for about 5 minutes while we were in Wells! We had a bit of a lengthy bus ride to get there, but when we did, we saw a couple beautiful sites!

The first place we went to was the Bishop's Palace. This is where the Bishop of Bath and Wells currently resides. It was a beautiful structure on lovely grounds! We had a tour guide take us around the building and tell us about some of the rooms and places we visited. Our guide took us to the ruin of the dining hall. The roof had been taken down so the king could use the lead for bullets and such during times of war. After that, a later bishop turned the dining hall area into a garden, using the ruins to make it beautiful. We toured the Well that provided the city with it's name. It was super cool! When we had finished touring the grounds, we got to walk through part of the building. We saw the cope that had been made in 1901 for the royal coronation ceremony. It was lovely! (For those of you who may need or want some clarification - the Cope is a decorative, almost cape looking thing that the bishops wear). We saw the portrait of the current bishop - he is also the first bishop to have his wife in the portrait with him! They both did a lot of work within the cathedral there.

When our tour was finished, we decided to break for lunch before going to the cathedral for Courtney's tour. This was where the group has learned to become flexible - as another unfortunate event was added to our list of things from the very beginning of the trip. The east end of the cathedral was going to be closed at 1:15 for a memorial service - which we were unaware of until about 12:30 or so. Most of the group was around the cathedral area, and had gone in for the 'indoors' part of Courtney's tour. Sadly, a few of us had not been with the rest of the group, and didn't get that memo until about 1. We were all able to go in and explore the cathedral for a bit before we had to leave, which was very nice. The Wells Cathedral has a beautiful Chapter House, with quite the interesting staircase leading to it. It was simply beautiful, and I can try to add a picture later when I have the means of doing so to show it off for you.

We all broke for an actual lunch break at this time, since most of the group hadn't had time to eat prior to this. When we were finished eating, Courtney talked about the outside of the cathedral a little, describing some of the statues on the outside of this incredible structure. We also went to see the Vicar Close before we departed for the bus station. It was a lovely medieval street that was connected to the cathedral.

When the tour was finished, we headed for the bus station to endure that long ride back to Bath. Many of us slept for a bit on the bus, while others were entertained by the dog that one lady had brought on the bus with her. When we got back to Bath, we had a free evening to go get dinner, relax, get caught up on journals, and to pack before we depart for Cambridge in the morning.

We've had lovely weather so far! Today we only had about 5 minutes of a sprinkling/misty rain, and then sunshine and warmth! I was actually outside without my sweatshirt today!

I hope everyone back home is having a wonderful May, and that you're enjoying the blog!


Cathedrals and a Pirates Life for Me... Savvy "Official Post"

Hey Readers!!! Sorry I didn’t get this post up yesterday but we had a very busy and exciting day and I’m here to tell you all about it!
First we started off with by traveling to Salisbury! Once there we took a bus to Old Sarum. This was the location of many things but the main reason we went to see it was because it was the previous site of Salisbury Cathedral before it was moved to its present location in 1217. It was moved because water was hard to get to and the elements were too harsh on the building. The old church no longer stands because a lot of the stone were taken and used in the building of the new cathedral.
We then took a bus back to Salisbury and Matt took us on a lovely tour of the cathedral. The inside of this cathedral was different from all the others because the screen between the Choir and Nave was removed in the 1700s. Also the architectural details throughout the entire cathedral is very detailed and taken into account. Even the pillars lining the side aisles are more beautiful then what we have seen in other cathedrals of its time. After Matt gave his tour we gathered and ventured to see one of four remaining copies of the Manga Carta! We didn’t have to go far because it is held in the chapter house of the cathedral! It was really cool to see a document that inspired so many other documents, even The Declaration of Independence!
After seeing something so cool it was hard to believe that we weren’t done yet! Next we had to climb the tallest spire in England!! The spire stands at 404 ft! We climbed 332 stairs and still weren’t half way to the tallest point. It was pretty easy because we took it in stages. It was so worth it because the views are always the best from the top!
We then took a train back to Bath where we split up for dinner and regrouped again at nine to go see Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides! It was such a good movie and a great bonding experience. We didn’t get back until around 1 am so we went to bed as soon as we got back.
Well Readers, until my final post,

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Harry Potter vs. Stonehenge pt. 2 Official Post

--To continue from where Courtney left off we went to Lacock where some of the places here were used in Harry Potter. More Specifically, the Lacock Abbey which is where the courtyard used in the first and second movies. Also there was the house where they filmed Lilly and James Potter dying by Voldemort's hands, and also there was the house they filmed Professor Slughorn at int he sixth movie. The group I was in went from those sights back to the pub we, the group, was dropped off at and waited for the rest of the group to get back from exploring. So the few guys I was with threw my frisbe in a small area just to add to the list of places we can say it has been.

After we left Lacock on the mini bus drove by the all so comical Chris, and he took us to Castle Combe which was honest to god one street maybe. If I remember correctly Chris said there was around 200 people in that small town which took me by surprise. He took us to the market place, which is basically the whole town because in the 17th century it was one of the largest market areas in England. He showed us the Cross area which had a ceiling type structure that if you were to sell here and it were raining you were capable to sell under the cross. The one thing about it was you had to be honest because you are selling under a cross.

He shortly after that showed us a tour through the cathedral there, sadly I know it's bad of me, I do not remember the name of it. But it had two different times where it was worked on, one was the nave and the alter, and the other part was more modern but still super old but it was the clock tower but there was no clock. The funny thing was the clock was inside of the place but it was only able to ring at curtain times instead of every hour.

Well once we got back to Bath, it was up to us to do anything until dinner which we met back in the YMCA lounge as a group to leave as a group. We were lead by Dr. L to the restaurant called Wagamama which was pretty awesome food. We ate for about an hour to an hour and a half and came back to the YMCA. Not long after we got back three of us went to the Royal Crescent and threw the frisbe a little more. Which that leads me right here typing this message to you readers.

Thanks for reading!
Thomas Howell

Stonehenge vs. Harry Potter (Part 1)

So today we did many things, everything however was part of the Mad Max tour. The tour got its name from its owner, Madaline and her cat at the time, Max (since then she now has a new cat named Maxine.). Our tour guide Chris was very knowledgeable and was very funny. First we started out at Stonehenge, which was spectacular. Many in the group were a little disappointed about how small the henge was, the pictures make it seem much bigger. While there we did an audio tour, which was one of the better audio tours so far. While there Kevin broke his jar of jelly which resulted in a mess and jelly jokes made toward him the rest of the afternoon. After seeing Stonehenge we went to Averbury Henge, which is about a mile in circumference, much bigger than Stonehenge. It was also neat to see the paths because they were built out of chalk. It was nice to see and it gave us a different perspective about how henge's were built and what they were for. After Averbury we headed to lunch, where we got to go to several Harry Potter sights, which Tom will tell you about.

That is all from me for now!

Official Post -First Day in Bath

Hello Everyone,

On May 16th we left Tenby. Early that morning we enjoyed our final breakfast at the Southcliff Hotel, where Pam, Brian, and their staff where so friendly and helpful. The class is very appreciative of our time there. Then we boarded our first train for the day at the station. We traveled to Swansea, where we switched trains. Another hour on the train landed the class in Cardiff, and we finally got on the last train. Finally, after about 5 hours of traveling, we were in Bath.

From the train station, we carried all our luggage to the YMCA. (There was only a slight incline on this trip.) After checking in, Dr. L. provided us with a list for our scavenger hunt. It included: The Royal Crescent, Bath Abbey, Parade Gardens, and the Roman Baths. The class broke into three groups, took a map, and set out to visit and photograph these places.

At the Roman Baths, the class saw the actual baths that were established while the Romans occupied Bath. We toured the museum and saw the foundations of the worship building that was on the site.

After the scavenger hunt, the class gathered to eat a nice dinner at Jamie's Italian restaurant. The class enjoyed appetizers, various pasta dishes, and amazing desserts. Finally, after a long day of traveling and exploring, people headed off to bed.

It was a busy day, but we are looking forward to the upcoming week, which includes Stonehenge, some Harry Potter sites, and more castles and cathedrals. Talk to everyone soon.

Official Post - Late run-through of our day in Shrewsbury

Hello, everyone. This is a late post for our May 9th experiences in Shrewsbury (which has become a favorite word of Taylor's to's futile to ask why) We took a train to the city. When we arrived in Shrewsbury, we took a short jaunt to St. Mary's and got to experience our first Jesse Window of the trip, which shows the lineage of Jesse according to Christian history. St. Mary's is also the only complete medieval church surviving in the city. The stained glass was beautiful and came from several different countries, including Denmark. The guide at St. Mary's was from the East Coast originally and seemed very excited to see American tourists.

Next, we visited Shrewsbury Abbey, founded in 1083, which was featured in a popular book series in the 70's and 80's. It began as a Benedictine Abbey and through the actions of Henry VIII, it became a part of the Church of England. According to site information, its Chapter House held one of the first democratic parliaments in England. We saw the shrine to St. Winefride, a martyr for the Christian faith. It was very nice, not as impressive as some we have seen, but there were a lot of interesting memorials and grave sites.

At this point, we split into groups to scavenge for several sites and eat lunch. A small group of us ate at a local Italian chain. Melinda and I indulged in olives and calamari, and we all enjoyed pasta, pizza, and sugary desserts.

Our first site after lunch was St. Chad's, which houses a fake tombstone for Ebenezer Scrooge, featured in the 90's version (NOT Muppets) of the Christmas Carol. The inside arrangement reminded me of an East Coast Church, the choir was circular and the pews outlined in circular fashion. Afterwords, we crossed the street and enjoyed the Dingle, a lovely garden with fountains and beautiful flowers. Although it was cold and windy, the atmosphere was fantastic. We explored a few streets and spots before heading back to Leominster. I found a French shop and bought my first Le Creuset stoneware piece, a small baking dish called a coquette used for small casseroles, soups, and souffles. We also found a super hero-themed coffee shop and another Appy Feet chain (where several group members were treated to a spa day by special fish).

We all had a fabulous time exploring the city and look forward to our free day tomorrow. More from others later...


Monday, May 16, 2011

Matt's Official Post!

Hello again avid readers! What a great trip this has been so far and it is so hard to believe we are a little over half way through! So parents, family, and friends who are missing us are so much, you’re doing great! Today (technically yesterday the 15th), we had another busy day visiting some more wonderful sites. I will be informing you about the later part of our day when we saw Lamphey’s Bishop’s Palace and Manobier Castle!
While at Lamphey’s Bishop’s Palace we noticed similarities between the Bishop’s Palace we saw the day before. This makes sense since this was the Bishop’s summer home and they we designed by the same people. Both places were extravagant in their architecture and design for their time period. The ruins of both still show some of those wonders and signs of power and wealth. They both had similar features like archways and the coloring of the stone that was used in the construction of the building. The open courtyard was also beautiful to look at but I’m guessing the flowers were not always there. Like most of the places we have been to the group explored the remaining buildings and some of us even tossed the Frisbee around a little bit.
The drive to the palace was very tight and narrow and we feared the coach wouldn’t be able to turn around but Bob being the awesome bus driver that he is made it happen by the time we were done and ready to go. After that we rode to Manobier Castle which was very well landscaped with tons of beautiful flowers and ivy growing all over the place. We did another self tour going through the buildings and reading about each room’s purpose and function. They had wax figures in some parts of the castle which freaked some people out because they weren’t expecting them at all. Climbing the towers was fun as always and we saw some of the best views of the sea. We took a group picture then decided to head back to Tenby since it was our last night there in Wales. We then broke off into smaller groups to go get dinner. Amanda and I then walked along the beach and picked up some sea shells. The views were absolutely amazing!! At 7:15 we regrouped to have a Lord of the Rings marathon since two of our members (Amanda and Nicole) have never seen them before! We made it through 2 out of 3 of the movies and plan on watching the third before we come back to the states!
Cheers for now!

May 15th, Late but still informative "official post"

Sunday, 15 May - Carew Cross and Tidal Pool and Pembroke Castle "official post"

What a way to start off any day than to take a walk through the countryside. Our adventure begins at Carew Cross which was a stone cross made in the eleven hundreds. I cannot remember who the cross was made for but it was made after the death of a man who was the co-king of Wales. Dr.L gave us a quick run down of the cross and the castle behind it. It was said that the man who built the castle married into the family who the cross was made for and the lands in which the castle sits on was the woman's inheritance upon marriage.

We admired the structure of the castle with the mixture of medieval architecture and Tudors architecture. It was impressive to hear how they placed the square windows into already stone-built castles. Dr.L believes that the stones were chipped away until the already constructed windows could fit.

Tidal pool was very pretty in the morning even though the water was down and we could see what the water left behind. Tom had the best description: "Bleck!" I believe the trail which we walked was about a half mile around the pool which included rocky paths, paved trails, bridges over damns and road walking.

Our next destination was Pembroke Castle located, yes in Pembroke. It was the castle where Henry the VII was born. It was a fairly large structure with lots of open area. All the towers housed either storage or living quarters. Across from the gatehouse were several buildings including the dungeon... and a spooky cave-like structure with a lot of pigeons. Courtney now understands Taylor's fear of birds.

It was Pembroke Castle where we stopped and had lunch. Personally, I had a toasted Ham and Cheese sandwich which was amazing! Oh, and can't forget the "Fancy" Hot Chocolate. :D

There are still two more places we explored but at this point, I will be turning it over to Matt to host you through the next two locations we visited today. Tah-Tah for now!


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Mandy's official post 3

Hi everyone.

Today was our first morning at Southcliff Hotel in Tenby and boy did we all enjoy the breakfast here. It was everything and more than you would expect from a B&B. We put in our food requests the night before and also had a choice of cold things in the morning.

So after a lovely breakfast we got on the coach at 9:15 with our driver Bob, who was from east London, to go to St. Davids, the smallest city in Britain. There we saw the Bishop's Palace, one of two, this one was his winter one. And then we went right next door and saw St. David's Cathedral, it was one of the smaller cathedrals we've seen so far, but it was very interesting as it was built in a valley rather than on top of the hill, and due to the marsh type land, the cathedral is now starting to lean, they are currently working to add support so that it does not fall apart. We were also allowed to see the treasury exhibit they have. There wasn't much but what they did have was very pretty and gold of course. They had staff tops, gold cups and the cloak that the bishop would wear.

After a bit of exploring we ate at the refectory, where we all tried new things, or at least new mustard's and jams on sandwiches. When we were done eating we were going to take a walk around town, but we lost the sun and the wind got cold, so we headed back to the coach, but made a stop at a chocolate/ice cream place where most of us all got something. I had a delicious Raspberry swirl and mint choc chip, and I'm willing to go on record and saw that the Welsh make the BEST ice cream. So we all ate our ice cream while walking up hill to the coach, which on the way there the driving and cleaning smell made a few of us feel a little ill and were thankful to have got there, so no one was looking forward to the ride back. But it turned out the trip back wasn't as bad as we took a different route,and we also learned a fun fact from Bob at the 5 mile point to the cathedral, back when people made pilgrimages to the cathedral, a half loaf of bread marked 5 miles and they would start to get there in strange ways, by crawling, flogging themselves or other weird things.

After we got back we all spilt up to do our own thing, but most of us ended up at the beach for a while before we went for dinner, and that was fun even if it was cold.

Well that's all for this post, have to go brush up on the facts for my castle tomorrow.


Friday, May 13, 2011

Train Travel to Tenby Official Post

Hello everyone!

I can't believe that we are at the halfway point of our trip. Today was another travel day. We made our way to the southeast back into Wales to Tenby.

Before we arrived at Tenby, we took a pit stop at Kidwelly to see Kidwelly Castle.
We took a three hour train ride to Kidwelly from Leominitser. After we arrived at the train station it was a twenty minute walk up to the castle, with our luggage no less. After the long walk we finally arrived at the castle.

Kidwelly is a 12th century castle placed on top of a hill overlooking the town below. The way the castle was built is genius in its design. The castle was two wards, a inner and outer ward. If an attacker was able to capture the outer ward, the residents of the castle had another line of defense within the inner ward. This meant that the attackers would be in a no man's land kill zone in between the inner and outer ward.

What strike me the most outside of the double curtain walls was the chapel and it's location. The chapel is on the outer flank of the castle walls. The chapel was right above the River Gwendreath which runs right beside it. If needed, the chapel was equipped with arrow slits and could protect the castles flank if needed.

The castle didn't see any major battles so the majority of the castle is still intact. The view from the towers was a great sight to see. After visiting the castle, we took another train to Tenby. Tenby is a town in southern Wales. It is right on the coast of the British Channel. In fact our hotel is about a block away from the beach. Tenby is a small town that seems to be a tourist stop based on the number of hotels within the area. The majority of the shops within the town were closed by the time we arrived but it looks like a nice town for all of us to kick back and enjoy the beach! Tomorrow we are off to St. David's Cathedral. More details tomorrow.

Andrew Bridgewater

Bowler Hat Day Offical Post

Hi everyone
My name is Kevin and I will be your guide for the day that we spent in the Marshes. The Marshes are the borderlands between England and Wales which included the cites of Leominster, Ludlow, and Craven Arms. so after I give you a short guide on what we saw today, the rest of the class will start the second round of post tomorrow.
The start of our day was spent like the rest of the days we spent in Leominster, we got up and caught a train out of Leominster. Breakfast was mostly just toast but some of the students ate cereal which they had bought the day before at the store. Getting on the train we took a short ten minute train ride north to Ludlow were we were to spend most of the day. From the train station we walked through the city centre to the castle. Right in front of the the castle was a local food market which looked very appealing. Since it was right after breakfast we decided to come back to the market after a tour of Ludlow Castle lead by Taylor.
Ludlow castle was founded in the 11th century as a private castle. At some point the castle came in to the hands of the crown and became a royal castle. Ludlow Castle never saw much action in terms of battles but was a very important staging point in the English invasions of Wales. The castle has a large outer bailey that was used  for jousting tournaments and as the staging grounds for the solders. The inner bailey was off of the north wall of the outer bailey.The northern range of the inner bailey is done in a Tudor style as that was the last addition done to the castle. The most interesting feature of the castle was the circular nave of the chapel which is like the nave of the chapels used by the Knights Templar. An interesting legend that takes place at Ludlow Castle is the story of two princes, one of whom was to become the king, were killed by Richard III on his way to take the throne. The princes were buried under the stairs to the chapel.
Upon leaving the castle we stopped at the outdoor market and came out with sweets and other food. after a quick walk we went in to St. Laurence Church. St. Laurence is done in a perpendicular style and was built by donations from wealth pardons in the area. Most of the students climbed 200 steps to the top of the tower to get great views of Ludlow. The church also had great carved misecordes for priest to sit on during service. Lunch was at Degrey's cafe where most of the students had light lunches but the really treat was Welsh rarebit which tasted like cheese. After lunch some of the students went to a vintage clothing store were some items were bought but none as amazing as the bowler hat by yours truly (kevin).
After another short train ride over to Cavern Arms and a long walk we arrived at Stoksay Castle.  It was more of a large manor house that looked more livable than the other castles we saw. The reason it was called a castle was because of the wall that were surrounding the house. After we made it back to Leominster the rest of the evening was spent playing cards, reading, and soccer. Thank you for letting be me your guide and until next time Cheers.

Family Tree

Well after making this little tree and getting multiple requests to put it on the blog, here is the break down of how our group is connected to each other in a nice, easy to read family tree. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The boys playing in the church courtyard today before dinner

Taylor Umland "official post" May 10

Hello all!

Well, it's nice to finally be able to post to this thing while on the this trip! I tell ya, reading through some of the other posts, I'm not sure if I am going to able to top those but I will certainly try to give you the full account of our wonderful group over the last day and what a day it was!

The morning started out with a lazy morning breakfast that was WONDERFULLY prepared by the expert cooks of Amanda and Nicole. The feast ranged from eggs, toast, and yes, grilled cheese! Everybody ate to the fill and the day was set to begin.

We caught the 1000 bus to Hereford which was about 45 minutes to the south of our current location, Leominster. The bus was PACKED! Tom and I were forced to stand and we weren't the only one's. Upon arrival, Dr. L gave us some slight background on the city and off we were to the Hereford Cathedral where Saundra was set to give us a wonderfully information tour.

The diocese of Hereford began all the way back in 676! The original wooden church was destroyed after a Welsh invasion in the 11th century and the construction of the cathedral that we know today began in the late 11th century. The cathedral was b-e-a-utiful! There was and abundance of stained glass and even though it was one of the smallest cathedrals in England, it spared no expense. The Roman and Norman architecture worked together without as much as a hiccup.

Also housed within the Hereford Cathedral was the Mappa Mundi and the Chained Library. The Mappa Mundi was a map of the world that was illustrated on a single piece of lambskin in the 13th century. It was a theological map as opposed to a geographic map so Jeruslaem was located in the center. I would highly suggest checking out the piece of art for yourself ( The chained library was created sometime within the 17th century. It was a library that put every book on chains and bar making it possible to read but impossible to take any book within the collection. The reason for this is because the books are considered so valuable that every precaution is needed to protect the sacred texts. To learn more about this, please visit:

Upon the conclusion of our tour, Dr. L lead us to a Cider Museum which was highly interesting. It lead us through the history of cider making in the English world and the importance in played within the Hereford area. It ended with a free sample of cider made right in Hereford which was a delicious treat!

After that, we exhaustedly returned back to Leominster and we again treated to some great culinary wonders, this time for Dr. L and Karen as an appetizer before dinner. We were welcomed back an array of cheeses, smoked mackerel, bread and olives. Then, the boys headed out for some roughhousing in the courtyard. :-)

We all hope this message finds you in good spirits, I know we certainly are!

Until next time,

Taylor Umland

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Seagulls, and Owls, and Hawks! Oh my! "Official Post"

We started our day be visiting Conwy Castle. Before we started our tour we ran into some men dressed in medieval clothing carrying three birds. It turns out that two of the birds were Bengal Eagle Owls and the third was a Harris Hawk named Jesse. We learned that the men were dressed as a Knight Templar, a hospitaler, and a Welsh Knight. Some of the people in our group even got to hold the birds! They were promoting the charity of Help for Heroes, which is the equivalent of the wounded warrior program in the United States. These men had taken recently taken part in a reenactment of the 15th century Welsh siege of Conwy Castle. Luckily for us, they are also hired by cities to walk around town because it scares off the pesky seagulls.

Tom gave us a fantastic tour of the Conwy Castle. Turns out that the history of this castle is fairly similar to Caernarfon Castle. Building began in the same year as Caernarfon (1283) headed by King Edward I. Building was basically finished in four years, and at one point there was a total of around 1,500 craftsmen and laborers working on building this castle. Conwy was one of the castles that King Edward I built to help retain power and control around the Snowdonia area. On this castle alone King Edward I initially spent around 15,000 pounds. This is about 9,000,000 pounds today. During the Madog Rebellion, Conwy Castle withstood a six month long siege, but after the Rebellion the castle and town was overtaken for a short period by the Welsh while the King was out of town. When the King returned he took it back.

Conwy Castle has eight large drum round towers separated into two wards that were divided by a massive cross wall. The two wards were essentially two separate fortifications. The inner ward housed the Royal apartments and chapel. The outer ward housed the military garrison quarters, great hall and prison tower. We could climb up to the top of the towers and walk along the walls of the castle where we could take in some very nice views of the water and the town. While at the tip of the chapel tower, a group of us ran into another group of college students from Iowa. They are from Central College and had been studying are abroad since January. What a small world!

We also toured the Aberconwy House and Plas Mawr. The Aberconwy House is the oldest house in Conwy and it dates back to when the castle was built. The house was constructed in a common English design that was not found often in Wales. This house has passed between many owners over the years and was even used as a Temperance Hotel for many years. In the 1930’s it was in danger of being bought by an American and picked up and moved to the United States. By the sale was never completed. Shortly after it was given to the National Trust and can now be toured. The man taking our tickets was fascinating to listen to. He knew many facts about the house and the objects inside, along with a few ghost stories that he and others have experienced at the house.

Plas Mawr was much different. This was a very wealthy family’s home. It is huge and elaborate. Our group had an audio tour through the house, but I still almost got lost because it was so large. Nearly all the rooms were extensively furnished with items that would have been similar to what was originally there. Walking around the house was like stepping back in time.

We had free time to get lunch for the rest of the afternoon. We could walk the city walls, check out charity shops, boutiques, and gift shops, or walk down by the marina, plenty to see and do.

In the evening we caught a bus to the train station and nearly missed our train to Leominster. We even had to run to catch it. This was one of those times that I have been thankful that I Brought a Backpack and not rolling luggage.

We are spending five nights in Leominster.

That’s all for now.


HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY to all the moms reading from all of us!

Here are some lovely flowers to celebrate the day, all from Bodnant Garden in Wales where most of us went on Friday.


Karen, Malynda, Mandy, Kevin (Happy Birthday Mom), Thomas, Nicole, Amanda, Matthew, Sondra, Andrew, and Kaitlyn :D

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Buses, Trains, Scenery, and Castles! "Official Post"

Today was quite the lovely day, filled with wonderful sights. We started our morning with a quick breakfast that the hostel was graciously willing to serve early for our group. After our breakfast we trekked down the hill to the bus stop for the (approximately) hour long ride to Caernarfon (pronounced Car-nar-von). We then were able to ride the Welsh Highland Railway. The scenery was beautiful as we had a two hour ride from Caernarfon through Snowdonia National Park to Porthmadog. It was quite the lovely sight! We sat in an open 'observatory car' so we could take more pictures and feel the wind as the train made its way through the beautiful scenery. We saw a few different types of scenery - mountains, farmland, the glacial lake Llyn Cwellyn, and rivers snaking through some forests. When we made it to the end of the route there, it had started raining, so we made our way into one of the closed cars for the two hour ride back to Caernarfon. It was some quality group bonding time as we were able to play cards and chat with one another.

We also had our first class castle tour (presented by Malynda) at the Caernarfon Castle. I was personally amazed at how it looked as well as its size. Malynda was very helpful in telling us where everything was, and what the different parts of the castle were used for. When we were exploring on our own, many of us found our way up to the tops of the towers. This presented a wonderful view of the surrounding area! It was great fun to explore and find all the little secret passage ways and hidden rooms throughout the castle. We had lovely weather while we were in the castle, and I was surprised to find how quickly the weather had changed from the train ride!

When our castle tour was done, we ate dinner at Tafarn Y Bachgen Ddu (which is Welsh for the Blackboy Inn and Pub), for some lovely local food. It is actually one of the oldest pubs in Wales, which I thought was really cool! After we finished eating, it was back on the bus for another hour long ride back to Conwy. Four of us had left a little earlier than the rest of the group to get a couple things done at the hostel. We had a funny chat with an 8 year old boy on the bus. He asked us if we were American because we spoke "American". He was a comical child, who had quite the conversation about different movies and how he can speak "American" too. It was fun to hear him try to speak with an American accent, as I've never really thought about how we might sound to people from other countries. While riding back we had all seen a lovely rainbow outside. The rest of the group caught a later bus ride back to the hostel. They had gotten kicked off the bus in Bangor for some reason that was never discovered, and had to wait for the next bus to get to their stop before they could return to Conwy. A couple of the group members were complimented on their American accents during that bus ride (and we all love the British accents, what an interesting change of pace!) When we were all back, we had some down time - filled with laundry, cards, and getting caught up on a few things such as our journals.

Overall, I have absolutely loved my time on this trip so far. I've seen and experienced so many different things, it's almost unreal to me. The group is meshing really well, and we've all had a great time thus far!

I hope everyone back home in the states is having a lovely time , and that you've enjoyed keeping up on our travels and experiences!


Friday, May 6, 2011

Trains, Buses, Hills, and the Flowers that Made it All Worth it! "Official Post"

Hello avid followers!!
Today was a busy day for the group. We left York today which was bittersweet for many of us because loved that city so much. Personally it reminded me of Wrigleyville in Chicago because of the pride and history that you could feel while walking down the streets. However, like every good thing, our time there had to end really early in the morning. We took two trains and a bus to a square in Conway. Everything was okay until we saw the hill that we had to climb before the hostel we are staying at for two days. The hill is daunting but it feels so nice when you make it to the top.
After dropping off our luggage we had two options that we could participate in one of two things. I chose to go to the Gardens and get some beautiful pictures throughout this rather large botanic garden. It contained many different varieties of Rhododendrons which were absolutely awe-inspiring. Like much of what we have seen this week you couldn’t help but be amazed by the sites. We walked around the gardens for a few hours then went and got some tea in the tea garden.
Three of the boys decided to go to Beaumaris Castle but got off at the wrong bus stop a town away from where they should have gotten off at (glad I didn’t go with them like I was planning to). The then walked until they found someone to ask what city they were in. So after the confusion cleared they made it to their destination and found the castle to be absolutely wonderful. It was meant to be one of the biggest castles in medieval days but the builders decided to leave after a short time.
We then trucked backed up the hill again and regrouped so we could check in, drop off our luggage in our rooms, and go get food. Before we were able to leave for dinner Dr. L had us try some local cheeses which were actually very good. Eight of us went to a Pub/ Restaurant for dinner where I had my first steak overseas (definitely the same as home). When we finished eating half the group took a cab up to the hostel while Taylor, Tom, Matt, and I went a Pub then came back and sat with everyone to relax for a little bit.
That was our day for today and now we are exhausted and going to bed for another early morning.
Cheers from Wales!

The Gardens Today

Pictures from the Day


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Official Post

Today, May 5, 2011, our class had to wake up and be at breakfast at 8 in the morning. We had the usual sausage, bacon, beans, toast, and yogurt with either the choice of apple juice or orange juice from the hostel dining service. From there we went to Fountains Abbey via bus. This bus was a very fun ride once again, because not only the cars are awesome (mainly just different) but we were driving on the left side of the road. The class made it to the Abbey and was totally taken aback by the mass beauty i was seeing infront of me. Oddly enough i thought I had seen it already because it looked like something from Lord of The Rings....I won't lie to you.

After taking several pictures we gathered around infront of the nave of the Abbey and listened to Amanda give a lovely presentation. We learned from her speech that there were 13 monks that lived at this massive Abbey along with the Lay Brothers. The Lay Brothers lived on the West side of the Abbey and the monks lived on the East side. It's ok because this place was massive beyond believe. I would place a picture on here for you but I honestly left my cord to make my computer and camera one at home.. woops. Fountains Abbey wasn't just a big old building, it had a huge fountain garden in the back. Hence the name I guess. This was beautiful by the way.

Once we had lunch at the Abbey, we left on the bus and went back to York. We asked to be dropped off at downtown and went around from there. Three of us wanted to go off and find a certain pub to try because we found you could sit and dip your feet in The River Ouse. After having some nachos we left and met up with the rest of the group. After a brief amount of time the group decided as to participate in this called Appyfeet where you place your bare feet in a tub of small and they eat off the dead skin. A shocking experiment, but fun and I'm happy I did it because before someone talked me into it otherwise I wouldn't have done it. After that it was more me going to another pub with the same group for dinner to get some points for eating "Pub Grub". After we came back and that led to me typing this now.

Thanks for reading :)

Photo Time! - Taylor

Malynda getting her feet eaten by fish.

Flying Buttersses at the York Minster.

High Tea at Betty's!

Fountains Abbey with the sunshine in
early morn.

Clifford's tower.

Pictures from Fountains Abbey

Hello friends! We found our most scenic site yet, and we had a fabulous time! We took our time exploring, there were acres of walking paths and sites. I can only describe it (as someone who's more familiar with French culture) as a religious, English version of Versailles. :) Enjoy!

Another photo interlude

Wanted to share a few more photos from the last few days.  First we have the group at Rievaulx Abbey before Karen gave use her tour on Tuesday.

Then we have a really great carved capital from the little museum at Rievaulx.  Everyone thought it was nice and creepy.

And finally, we have seven students (and the cat that is traveling with us) demonstrating how many people fit into the ground floor of the Victorian structure they "dug" in at the DIG! museum.  The structure is only slightly smaller than the original it is based on and census records show that 8 people lived there in one room up and one room down (we figured 7 contemporary people massed as much as 8 Victorian).

That's it for now.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Matt (official post)

Well it has been another beautiful day here in England! The weather today was a wonderful 12 degrees Celsius. Today we went to Clifford's tower, DIG Hungate, DIG, Jorvik Viking Center, and we had High tea. I am going to talk about DIG, which is an interactive center with a lot of hands on learning, the Jorvik Viking Center, and High tea. At the DIG the group got to dig in fake archeological dig sites. There were four of them each with a particular time period and the relating artifacts related to that time period. The group then moved over to a table where we got to try and identify bones and sort items out into what they were. We all then looked around their museum. After we left the DIG the group headed off to Jorvik Viking Center. We walked around town for a little bit because we were early for our reservations. When we met back up we went down into their exhibit where the floor was glass and there was a recreation of an excavated ruins of a Viking settlement. There were maps to find different things in the ruins and different visual and video information stations giving the group a little bit of the history of the settlement and the Vikings. The Group then got to ride on a suspended carriage (kind of like a roller coster track with no drops or twists) which gave us a tour through a recreation of a Viking village that had animatronic people dressed like Vikings. They were almost life like. A recording gave us a tour while explaining the history and interacting with the animatronic Vikings. When the ride was finished it brought us to their museum where they had actual artifacts out on display. After we left the Viking Center the group went off to have High tea. We went to a fancy place called Betty's. It was very fancy. We were served our meals on a plate tower. The bottom plate had the sandwiches which were small, the next plate had a scone with cream and jam, and the third had a fruit tart, a biscuit(a cookie), and a lemon desert. The tea was very good and was served by the pot. The group then went back to the hostel and relaxed, played card games, and wrote in our journals. It was a great day indeed. Tomorrow the group is going to see Fountains Abby!!

Until next time everyone,

Unofficial post - Pictures of Teatime, Clifford's Tower, and the DIG

We now have pictoral proof of our ventures about York...we had a busy day today. We visited Clifford's tower this morning (see other official blog posts for details), then explored the profession of an archeologist at the DIG museum, where we got to see a real digging site. The picture shows us at model digging sites where we dug up models of artifacts actually found recently in York. VERY COOL. For dinner, we had high tea at Betty's, which was a big deal. I overheard an English woman saying that one couldn't visit York without going to Betty's. So, we got a very legit. experience :) Enjoy the pictures, more to come.


Dig, Dig, Dig

So this morning went by without any Acts of God, at least that we know about. We started out with breakfast and then continued on to walk to Clifford Tower, which is what is left of the York Castle. It was small, but still interesting, especially when we walked around the top of the tower. The view was fantastic, although it was not as good as a view as from the top of the York Minster Tower. After we were all finished looking around and having foam sword fights with swords from the gift shop we headed on our way to the Jorvik Dig museum/tour. When we first got there we met our guide, Jennifer, and she took us to the actual dig that is currently going on now, which is all from the Viking era. They have found many different 'little' things and foundations to buildings, which were made out of wood. Two of the more interesting little things was the communal toilet seat, it had six spots, and the curse stone. The curse stone was used to put a curse on someone but writing something bad that should happen to them and then putting it back into the wall with the writing on the inside. The archaeologists also found a stone foundation, but are unsure what it is at this point in time. After seeing the dig sight we went to lunch, which was on our own, and this was when many of us got our people watching done, there are many differences that we saw compared to home. After lunch we got went back to the Dig Museum and got a tour of that. We did a 'dig' and got to look around. Matt will have more for you on the Museum and on the rest of our day!