Friday, 30 January 2009

Directing and Studying

So I was holding off doing this blog yesterday just in case something interesting happened today. But it didn't. Two for one blog once more!

This morning (which is now Thursday morning) I got up to have some delicious grapes which I had bought the previous day and whadda'ya know? Half the bag was empty! Great! I'm so glad I can give healthy nourishing food to the rest of the hall out of my own generosity and pocket. Sigh. Anyway today I had my directing class or rather man-handling class. The man-handling went down a notch today as the director put his hands on my shoulders and I got to hold Simon's hand. Very productive day. Last week we were told to choose one of the two scripts we were given and work out how we would direct it and this week the tutor would get each of us up to direct our chosen scene. Naturally, I had worked out a set design, blocking, sub text and different ways of acting out the scene. I wasn't chosen first which was relieving but the girl who went didn't seem to have done any work outside class as she went to sit down and said to the actors "let's just run the scene". The tutor then asked her about her set design and all that stuff. In the end she was the only who got to direct in the whole class while we all sat around watching. I was pretty annoyed that I could have shown off what I had down. Sounds terrible but I worked hard and was really anxious about it the whole week. Oh well... it was a fun class. For next week though we need to choose a scene from any play in the world for our assessment so for the past few days I've read loads of plays trying to choose one. It's really hard and I'm feeling that anxiety again...

That night Miranda invited me to go to "Royal Holloway's Got Talent" with her friends. First we went to the bar and I foolishly had a Strongbow and then had to wait in line to get in to the show which we thought started at 8 meaning doors would open before then. No. I was waiting in line until about 8:07 and my bladder was seriously going to explode. I rushed in, no scratch that, I flooded into the hall and ran to the loos only to bump into one of the acts performing practising in the loos. I felt weird using the bathroom while they were singing...Oh well. It was a good night. Met some lovely people and some of the acts were really amazing and some of them were not so amazing. There was one girl who read a poem that she wrote called "is it love" about the first time she fell in love. We all "awwwed" but were then shocked as the poem led to very sexual circumstances in detail. It was funny at the start but it got very graphic and afterwards Miranda and I turned to one another and were like "err did we just get raped?". Because the contest started at 9 I didn't get to bed until 2am. Ha ha it's funny because I was going to write yesterday how quiet it has been at night. That was until there girl diagonal from me had her door open, loud music, lots of people and smoke oozing from her room. So I called security. Then Miranda called security. Then I called security again. Finally a guard turned up and then as I pressed my face against my door I heard the guard say "You people need to leave there have been nine complaints about this party from different people so quiet it down". Yay there is someone on our team! The girl whose room it was decided to sweet talk the guard by saying "oh yeah it's really loud in this corridor can I have your security number too?". Sigh. Just as I went to bed and turned out the late the smoke alarm goes off! Miranda and I get downstairs and neither of us were surprised. Everything that goes wrong here is just typical now.

Moving on to today. Slow day. Reading more plays, messing about on the internet and visiting the library. I actually managed to find the books I was after in that rabbit warren of a library. It's silly because they put all the books on the outside of the study area and the floors squeak like I'm squishing mice. So all these poor people studying have to listen to me squeaking along as I try to find the book I'm after. I usually don't though so I walk back and forth. Creak creak creak.

Had dinner with Miranda and we've been planning our trip into London tomorrow! Yipee! Early start so I must be off. Toodles.
(Sorry there are no photos this time but I'm sure there will be heaps tomorrow)

Wednesday, 28 January 2009


Class as usual on a Tuesday morning. Of course I immediately went out to get this illusive NUS card and found myself walking there, walking back to my room for a passport photo which I had in my wallet all long. Tried to laugh it off as I went back to the Student Union to get the all-powerful card. It's strange that for a card that's so important it was just her writing on it with a marker and then having me sign it. No fancy computer coded system of any kind. How ridiculous.

Lit the good ol' candle and talked about the readings which were dense. The differences between Dramatherapy and Psychodrama and small but evident. At least they were once they were pointed out... It was a good class though the room we are in (which is a Japanese theatre) is freezing. There are at least six heaters but it seems colder indoors that out. At the break we went to the "Monkey's Forehead" once more and I had a very average burger. Seriously I ordered it and about two minutes later out it came - very suspicious. After that we braved the cold and went back to class. We were supposed to have a fire alarm test at that time (my favourite activity) but it never happened so the rest of the lesson filled with anxiety and anticipation of that awful siren. Needless to say because we thought there were fire inspectors coming to monitor our behaviour during the drill we didn't light the candle again after lunch as usual.

Now the best part of the day was the night time. Having gained an NUS card Miranda and I dresses up and went to a drama production's launch which was Masquerade themed! Finally, I can be seen having bare shoulders! It was actually warm inside! After the ordeal last night about entry there was NO ONE on the door tonight so we breezed in and I got a half-pint of cider for ONE POUND! It was going to be a very good night. Found some girls from my drama class and introduced them to Miranda and we had a really good time chatting, drinking and joking. They had various live bands playing and they even had the "Royal Holloway Players" perform an improvisation sketch. I am going to join this group. I have sorely missed doing theatre sports since high school so hopefully they let me join and I can perform... I guess we'll all have to wait and find out.

The event had face painting which is why in this photo Miranda and I now have lovely drawings on our faces - not some allergic reaction to the delicious cider.
Due to the awesomeness of our face paint and the cool frame mirrors in the bathroom we had to take some photos - in the bathroom. It was a really nice night and some of the girls (mostly those organising the event) were really dressed up with masks, feathers and dresses. T'was very enjoyable even though Miranda didn't win the raffle which wasn't drawn until midnight which means - we were out most of the night! Yeah! Party animals!
Today (we're now on Wednesday) I did the usual stuff - going to Egham for groceries. We had a real good look through the high street today and found a wig shop which really represents the demographic of the area - old people and I guess bald teens?? I actually found something in a second-hand shop - a lovely mohair type hoodie which is nice. I also bought a Royal Holloway hoodie (from the college shop not the second-hand store this time) which is really comfortable and warm and I love it. Doubtless it'll make many appearances in future photos. Bought groceries and then lugged them all the way home. Buying a lot of liquids in one go is a stupid idea I learnt today. It was so funny because Miranda and I both had full backpacks and when we were waiting in line in another store we both leaned over and looked the turtles. It was pretty funny.
So I arrived back here once again and discovered a really new fun thing that the girls on this floor are doing which is stealing my food out of the fridge! Yay! I had been noticing that my juice was pretty empty last time I had some and that I had, for some reason, put just three grapes back in my grape bag. Hmmm... don't think I would have done that. Miranda has been noticing similar occurrences. Today though the spot on the plastic bag I keep in the fridge with my name on it had been ripped open! There you go someone ripped my name apart which is really encouraging. Nothing was being stolen and then the Wardens sent an email asking people not to steal other peoples' food at since then it's been happening. As if the girls on the floor were like "Oh that's right! We were stealing food last semester. No wonder my wallet has been empty - I've been buying my own groceries! Back to stealing!". Yipee. What a bunch of mature girls I live with or rather that I'm forced to live with.
We also found the common room today which is in Founders East. Note that I am in Founders WEST and that the East common room is the only common room for the entire population of Founders. Great. At least there was a TV though Miranda saw to that as she accidentally "fixed" the reception and the screen went fuzzy - so we ran. Tee hee!

Monday, 26 January 2009

Oh What a Night

Ho ho! What an excellent two days I've had - just you wait. They were filled with romance, mystery, action and comedy. Now in case you hadn't noticed - I'm being sarcastic. Extremely sarcastic. In fact, these past two days so little has happened I haven't written a blog in wait of something to write about and I suppose this is it.


Yesterday, I chilled in my room and did some study, watched some movies, read and bummed around. Today I did pretty much the same thing but was woken at 8:30am for the weekly fire alarm. I knew it was coming as I lay there and yet it's so loud I still panicked when it went off. Dreadful thing.

Lovely blue skies. Actual sunlight flooding my room instead of...cold. Went to the library, bank and College shop for lunch. Passed by the letterbox in the hopes of getting a letter HINT HINT TO ALL THOSE READING THIS and Lo and behold there was a letter! Happy day! Thank you very much Hattie! So in case you do want to mail me something exciting or anything really my address is:

Miss Phoebe Black
Founders Hall W337
Royal Holloway
Egham Surrey

So I didn't do much else worthy of reporting. Oh I met the girl who lives next door to me and she seems very nice and friendly which is a relief - plus I think she has a TV which is very enticing. This evening is the main part I wanted to write about. Okay so Miranda and I had planned to go to this breast cancer fundraiser that was advertised on one of the notice boards. I get dressed (finally wearing something nice) and we head down to the Student Union for a couple of drinks and meeting new people. We get to the door and the security guards looks at us so I get my ID out in preparation when he asks "NUS card?". "I'm sorry what?" I replied. "Your NUS card"
"What's an NUS card?"
"It's blue"
"Okay well I have other ID instead"
"No I need your NUS card"
"What is it?"
"Its blue"
"Okay I get that but what is it for?"
"Do you go to this uni?"
"Yes here is my student card"
"No I need your NUS card"
"What is an NUS card though?"
"It's blue"
Enter other random, more official looking security guard
"Got your NUS card?"
"No, what is it?"
"I can't let you in without it sorry. You can get one for free here tomorrow morning. It's blue."

And with that we left! I mean did they want our money or not? No real answers we just couldn't work out what was going on. Neither Miranda or I were annoyed were just bemused by how hopeless they seemed and the fact that they didn't even know why they were following the rules they needed to follow. By this time I needed a drink so we walked to student bar "Medicine" and funnily enough this security guard asked for our NUS card. We stopped, sighed and fully expecting the same pointless responses asked what an NUS card actually was. This time, however, the guy knew something! Hooray! We needed a National University Students Card or something but we could go to the bar which was in our building because it was college affiliated. Finally understanding what we needed we couldn't be bothered going to this other bar so here I am in my pajamas once more! Now no one at home can say I'm not out there trying to do new things over here because England is standing firmly in my way! We were never told at orientation that we needed this stupid card. Anyway I didn't take any photos today so here a photo of where I live. Think 3 floors up and in the middle somewhere - that's my window. Oh and by the way everyone back home - Happy Australia Day!

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Onward and Oxford

That's right ladies and gentlemen! Today I went on a tour to see the sights that England has to offer. The destinational menu included Blenheim Palace and Oxford. So a majority of the international students from Royal Holloway teamed up with international students from various other unis and we set off towards the Duke of Marlborough's house. It was a tad colder today and the frost on the grass was an indicator of such. Anyway we reached the palace and because his flag was raised (oo-er) he was at home which meant we were forced to only peruse the gardens and sneak looks in his many many windows.

The gardens, however, were stunning. Purely man-made it consisted of a lake with rolling hills, trees each perfectly placed, streams and bridges. You can see the palace here in the photo. As we were looking from this view a very fancy car sped past (Lamborghini or some such vehicle) and the tour guide said "actually that's probably the Duke now" keeping in mind that he is recently on his forth wife and 82 "that's probably how he gets the ladies". Too true. She couldn't be sure that it definitely was the Duke so throughout the gardens we would point at various animals or people and claim them to the Duke of Marlborough. Mostly sheep. It's funny though because the origins of the palace include John Churchill (the first Duke) winning at battle in the 17/18th century and being giving a blank check by Queen Anne to build his dream home. The only problem was he went overboard, as you can see, and Anne got quite shirty about it.

One other thing while I remember - the tour guide was telling us that the person who is closest to the monarch of the time is known as... "Groom of the Stool". Now think about it. What a stinking honour! Haha! Anyway back to the tour...

After traipsing a million miles through random English country side we reached a little cafe thing that had tea and biscuits ready for us. By this time it was 11am so it was "elevensies". Here is a photo of Miranda and I firmly agreeing with this new eating-time. I'm not much of a tea-drinker but this one sure hit the spot. Just two minutes away from this little den was the grave of none-other than Winston Churchill. Had a wee quiz and admired the fresh flowers with "my hero" written on them. He can still pull the ladies - posthumous! I just remembered - there were some quotes by Winston Churchill which I have to reiterate to you. He was in a pub getting drunk and a woman came up to him and said "you're a drunk" and he replied "I may be drunk, Miss, but in the morning I will be sober and you will still be ugly"!

After "elevensies" we got back onto the bus and scooted on into Oxford in all its glory. I was surprised by how big it was. After all it was a town built around a university like Eton but so much busier and bustling with people. I really liked the town. I would definitely consider living in Oxford - from what I saw. We walked through the town and saw the pub where JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis drank as well as the grounds which inspired Lewis Carol's "Alice in Wonderland". We walked through the college itself and saw the ornate buildings carved individually. There was one college that was called "Brasenose" purely for the reason that the door-knocker is a brass nose! Oh you English folk and your quirks!

We then went to Christ Church which had me confused at first - isn't Christchurch in New Zealand? I worked it out as we entered a church and not the ocean. The church was mostly fostered around the life of a nun named Frideswide. The story of life says that a man fell in love with her so God blinded the man because she was a nun and therefore shouldn't be lusted after. Frideswide meanwhile felt really bad that she got some guy blinded so she un-blinded him. Don't ask how but she did and therefore she's the patron saint of this church. There was a beautiful stained glass window illustrating her life. I don't know if you can actually work the photo out but at least you can understand the beauty. We also saw the dining hall which the dining hall in "Harry Potter" is based on and some stairs which they used in the film. Very exciting. I mean they were some cinematic stairs.
Overall, the day was enjoyable but I felt rushed and couldn't absorb the atmosphere of Oxford. There was a tower you could go up and see the best view of Oxford but the line was so long and I ran out of time which was really disappointing. Oh there was also really lovely undercover markets and little shops throughout the high street. The high street which I may, or may not, have bought a "Oxford University" tee-shirt. I wanted it to have "I didn't go to" in front of the words but ah well. Long day! Long blog! It was nice to actually see some more stuff instead of the laundry - though that was EVIDENTLY very fun.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Doin' the Laundry

Not much happened today except me doing boring and meaningless chores which basically means wasting time on the computer. Anyway here is a video Miranda and I made to further explain our laundry trip.

Presenting "Doin' the Laundry"

Featuring: Miranda as Justin Timberlake and Phoebe as Madonna. Enjoy!

Thursday, 22 January 2009

My Day of Man-Handling

Today was my “Ways of Directing” class which you should all know and remember my weekly schedule. Stumbled out of bed, looking out the window it looked darn cold today. Overcast and drizzling I rugged up like a beast. Many, many layers of clothes and for what? 10 degrees! Boiling hot! (Ha) So it was quite warm today which is encouraging.

Arrived at the class and was invited to get up and active this week (yay). So the class got up and did some lovely stretching and warming up exercises which left me feeling alive and limber. We then broke into pairs and so begins MAN-HANDLING 1. In turn one of us would imagine being very heavy whilst the other person lifted us and then as if we were really light. It did make a difference but yes... I was grabbed and lifted by stranger Simon. Then came another series of exercises where we had to keep eye contact and remain staring at one another with our toes touching – pretty squeezy. Then came MAN-HANDLING 2. as the director would walk around and demonstrate with various people – this happened to be me A LOT. Shoulder touching and the likes which leads to MAN-HANDLING 3. when we were broken into different pairs and had to create two different improvised scenes. One we had to do entirely with voice – no movement and then second with only movement on a totally opposite topic. For example our first scene was a bomb-scare with the president (comical) and our physical was a scene of a couple breaking up (serious). So stranger Max took me by surprise when in our serious scene he pulled me super close as stared right into my eyes before I had to break away. Total surprise. Anyway I just breathed it all out and got over the giggles until the director asked us to perform our scenes – as one. The bastard. This meant that pairs would be acting as children smashing each others’ sandcastles and speaking softly about how their relationship was over. Very amusing but damn difficult as I tried to remember the conflicting movements and hilarity of our scene. It was a really good class today – not just because of my man-contact – but because the lesson was really interesting and invigorating. It’s actually really made me think of directing – who knows?

I didn’t really take any photos today so back by popular demand are more photos of Miranda and I eating desserts! Featured today is Trumpet Cannoli and yukky Plum Pudding...
Oh and I thought you should all know that we don't just have normal milk here, but crazy milk.

Therapising (?) once more

The funny thing is where I left off last time I was going to bed - drifting off into a relatively quiet sleep when, you got it, "WEE WEE WEE WEE WEE WEE" penetrated my very soul. I immediately freaked out, jumped out of bed, panicked because I couldn't find my ugg boots - left them in Miranda's room, found others, jammed them on shoelaces untied, grabbed a coat and bolted out the door. Back into the cold once more though this time I was slightly more prepared. All I was focusing on was the red light above the door which, when it stopped blinking, meant we could go inside. I couldn't find Miranda anywhere and assumed she was fine as I eventually crawled back into bed - adrenaline pumping. The most annoying thing was PEOPLE WERE ACTUALLY QUIET before the alarm went off. I have to say I'm getting use to getting enough sleep. Or rather, I'm becoming nocturnal because people here are quieter during the day - go figure.

Right! On to the day I had. After the many hours of readings for "Theatre and Therapy" I assumed we were doing Dramatherapy this week. This means we focus on role-playing and all that jazz as opposed to playing music or whatever. It was a good class because the lecturer brought cake because it was her birthday! So there was cake to forward to which made the whole lighting candle ceremony a bit more palatable. During the break I tagged along with some lovely girls who took me to the popular drama hang-out which is a pub called the "Monkey's Forehead". It was very enjoyable and most interesting listening to the way they all talked. For example there was a very cute boy who was working at the bar who had a bum, and I quote, "that looks like two eggs in a hanky - gorgeous"! Another time was a girl who had to excuse herself to the bathroom by saying "Hang on I just need to wazz" or some such thing which I thought was hilarious. Anyway the class continued and we got to draw pictures and make up our own stories which was fun. Though I got a bit frustrated because when it came to revealing what our coping strategies were mine didn't really fit... Oh well I got a nice picture I suppose.

So that was Tuesday, now on Wednesday I don't have any classes and neither does Miranda so it becomes a day of catch up and various chores. We trooped into Egham once more for groceries - a girl's gotta eat okay? We explored the town a bit more today and Miranda was thrilled by the fact that there are 3 second-hand stores in this tiny town and secondly because Tesco had Ritz crackers in stock. Now when I say thrilled and I mean Miranda I mean her face lit up with happiness and she gave a little involuntary cry of joy. Tee hee. I have attached a photo of Egham high street - what little you can see in the photo is pretty much it so don't stress if I'm not being detailed enough.

Laboured all the back, uphill, to campus and dig a quick swap so we could find the laundry. Boy this blog is exciting. Anyway we found it and - man - did the fun begin. In fact, our laundry venture was so exhilarating for us that we documented it with hilarious photos – enjoy!

Monday, 19 January 2009

Ah Peace and Qui- *FIRE ALARM*

That's right it's been one interesting and noisy day... Woken up again last night... 12:30 ish and I actually told them to "please be quiet". They were semi-obliging I think because they - shock horror - weren't drunk. I was in a total half-sleep though, I barely remember doing it.

When I woke up and started my day of what I thought would be peaceful quiet study time the fire alarm went off! A loud sudden siren in my room echoing from wall to wall. I jumped up and opened my door and asked an oncoming girl "was that a test?" and she replied "yes" in a 'as if you didn't know that was a fire alarm you stupid person' tone. I didn't see any people running down the hall with flames licking at their limbs so I shrugged it off, grabbed some toast and headed back to the ol' room to get some readings done for tomorrow.

4 hours or so later...

Yeah I'm still reading. There is just so many variations and meanings within meanings in drama therapy - who knew? Let's see chapter 12... WEE WEE WEE WEE WEE WEE... that's the good old fire alarm again. I slowly got up thinking - hey it'll be another test - opened my door to see a whole lot of girls exiting the building (with their handbags of course). So, without thinking, I left my room and followed the herd of people outdoors. Now I KNOW that when there is a fire alarm you assemble OUTSIDE of the building but it didn't quite add up today because I didn't grab my coat and 1. it was freezing and 2. I was still in my pajamas. Sigh. Everyone waited for the all clear which I thought would never come as the freezing winds blew right through me. Before we went in I'm sure I someone say "at least I didn't get caught in Elmo pajamas". Sigh. I mean I know I'm a doofus but I didn't want the British to know! Anyway we were let back inside and everyone squished to get into the warmth - and me away from judgmental eyes.

Back to the readings - don't know how much more I can take. I took a photo of my room for you to see and my lovely washbasin as well. I figured I was trapped inside this room for most of today so you might as will envision me in it. Weird weather today also - sunny, cloudy, pouring, sunny and now dark! Miranda and I just had dinner and are going to watch a movie - I KNOW it sounds like we're dating but we're not. I don't think.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

London - I just can't stay away!

Okay so getting up this morning really did feel like the crack of dawn. It was still dark at 7:00. Luckily I prayed to the weather gods last night and asked them to make it not rain today or be too cold - and they agreed! Another sunny day of clear skies and a smiling Phoebe. Anyway I got up, dressed, breakfast-ed and stomped out of the grounds to make the 8:16 train to Waterloo ("couldn't escape if I wanted to! Oooh oooo"). I was very safe and self-aware as I took the long route to the station as there are more people and street lights. I arrived a fraction early and bobbed about on the station waiting for the train. Unfortunately, on Sundays the train goes to really random stops and takes almost an hour instead of 40 minutes. Ah well I shut my eyes and had a little rest. I got to the station, hopped on the tube, changed at Piccadilly Circus and made my way to Covent Garden to meet Caitrin and Sally. It was really lovely to see some familiar faces (even though mum's only been gone a week). It's funny that Cat, Sal and I can't meet up in our country but can in England?? Ah well.

We were at Covent Garden at 9:30 and there was nothing open and no one around. I thought Brisbane was bad with the store openings but this place! Almost NOTHING was open until midday. So we trooped around Oxford Street and what not. We stopped and had a coffee to pass the time or rather we stopped at "Beard Papa's" for a hot chocolate and a strange fluffy pastry thing which they literally inject with cream. I had this photo taken as proof of my visit to this strange place - not to prove to the world that I still look like a moon-faced loon.

The shops opened and I was once more thrust into the world of lovely items and high, high prices. If I had a million pounds... It was a relaxed day and we spent it looking at various things chatting about our movements in the last... year really. We went to China Town for lunch and had a 4.95 pound buffet which was quality through and through. Let me put the meal in perspective - they served hot chips at this Chinese buffet.

It was all in the name of fun and we perused many bookstores and then returned to the markets at Covent Garden which were finally open and full of people. There is one shop in particular at these markets which is called "David and Goliath" which has cute drawings and funny captions on every piece of attire required. By this time the sun began to set and I had to leave these two lovely ladies and head home while there was some light. Took the tube back to Waterloo ("Oooh ooo") and got back on a train to Egham. It was still fairly light when I arrived so I hot footed it home and am back here red-faced as ever! Tomorrow will be a day of study. You read correctly. So whether I not I bore YOU with the details of my findings... well I guess you'll have to wait and see.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Egham - so little to do, so much time

That's right I'm starting to get the jitters from being alone for so long and not doing much... It's a bit hard because I don't really know anyone apart from Miranda so I don't really socialise too much. It's worse right now because Miranda is in London and I'm here. I was going to go down there today but it would have been too expensive for me to try and stay with Caitrin and Sally so I'm going down for the day tomorrow - HOPEFULLY. So for the past two days I've been bobbing about - reading, watching movies errrrr yeah. Wow it's really windy right now my windows are rattling. No wonder the genre of the Gothic was created here in England - it's spooky!

Anyway yesterday Miranda was here for most of the day so, like I said, we watched movies and goofed off. Last night - the joys of this college continue - because the lights in the shower wouldn't turn on which meant I had to resort to having a bath. Something I haven't done for many years. The showers here are all in little individual cubicles with almost no room to turn around in let alone get dressed. Anyway that's the reason I wouldn't shower in the dark - scary. Later that night was fun as well (this is complete sarcasm) as various members of this college had too much to drink and kept me awake until 5am. I wish Miranda had been here to call security because I wasn't brave enough to. It's very frustrating because the hall really echoes and no matter where anyone stands in the hall they sound like they're in the room with me talking about - well not much to be honest. I have included a picture of the hall which is far brighter than it actually is. So when you look at it just squint your eyes a bit and you'll see the cave I wander through everyday.
Today I did chores to pass the time. I was so tried and in a zombie-like state that I couldn't concentrate and do my uni readings - everyone relax - I'll do them on Monday. I decided to walk down to Egham and get some more supplies because my previous lot were depleted. I learnt my lesson from last time I ventured far with groceries and brought my backpack so my shoulders wouldn't separate - again. It was a really lovely walk to the high street because there were blue skies and even though it was midday it felt like early morning. On my way back to the uni the sun made it look like late afternoon - I was out for about an hour and half. There is seriously very little sunlight here and it's totally messing with my body programming because by 5pm I'm ready for dinner and bed! Argh!

It's 8:37pm and bed is looking pretty appealing. It's a single bed and I'm not use to it. I've almost fallen out a couple of times now. Oh I also have attached a photo of the view outside my window which had a bunch of boys playing American football - Gridiron (?) so there was much shouting and so on. Hopefully tonight I'll get some sleep! Yay!

Thursday, 15 January 2009

The Learning Part 2

Had to be up at the crack of dawn this morning - well 8:45. It's not that light yet so it feels so early. I'm a sleepy sleepy girl. So I got up and got dressed made my way to "Ways of Directing" which is my other class here at Royal Holloway (I'm providing context for new readers). The students here are so lucky! They have so many drama stages and places on campus to enjoy. This studio was plain black with all available equipment like chairs and what not about the place. Nothing flash but it's a lot more practical than anything we have at home.
The class itself is 4 hours long without a break - though he did give us 15 minutes towards the end as we were all visible melting off our chairs. It's weird because here I'm doing 2 classes which is 9 hours a week and at home I would do 4 subjects and 16 hours a week. They told us when we arrived here that Royal Holloway has a lot more private study and reading to do like in preparation but so far it's been the same as what we would get at home... So I'm not really sure. They also have a different marking system here which is really harsh apparently. The International lecturer was saying that it's very rare for anyone to get over 70% ! That's not very much so they must mark really hard here which I'm worried about because I have 50% assessments for each - Yikes.

Anyway back to the class at hand. The guy who is our lecturer is really funny and honest. For example he gives us practical tips for dealing in the Director life and one of the most important things is to not sleep with your cast members - yes, I'll store that away. He's very funny but, as I said, very...honest. It was a good class I mean I did learn things - oh! - like the fact that "The Terminator" was written by a 70 year old woman. There you go. The things I learn.

I can't really say anymore about what happened in class because we didn't get up and do anything like the last class. Though with both classes I don't have any assessment after the Easter break because "they don't teach then" which basically means my second 7 week term will be doing whatever I want because I've finished my subjects! Crazy! Naturally, that's the time when I'm going to go to Euro Disneyland!

Had dinner this evening and had a delicious vegetarian stroganoff. It was weird because it had pickles in it. I ate it. I mean the food here is actually surprisingly good though they sell everything individually. So if you want carrots with your roast you'd pay extra for the carrots or whatever. The system works I guess. They have good desserts though as you can see by the photos of Miranda and I! Now I'm off to watch a movie in Miranda's room - the title is too embarrassing to admit so I'll will omit it and be off!

Pottering about...

Hello dedicated readers! Today I had no classes so Miranda and I went exploring around the campus and found the lovely chapel. I have attached a photo of the chapel inside which was beautiful. I mean I saw loads of churches and fancy buildings but I didn't think I had one on campus. At the time we were in there a woman was playing the organ so it a very grand visit. There was a serious fog today - we could barely see 3 metres outside our windows.

After we did some mundane tasks about campus - like me paying my accommodation fee - ERK! - we ventured into the town of Egham. Yeah the "high street" of Egham, which is like the city centre, has 2 second-hand stores, a Subway, Tescos, Iceland (?), cafes and pubs. There is other various shops like a hardware store and newsagent but I'm thinking as I observe these surroundings that I hopefully won't be spending a lot of money around here. We went into Tescos to but supplies like milk and bread so we don't have to troop all the way to the Refectory every meal. It was fun because we casually perused every aisle looking at what was the same as home and what was different. They have a product here which is exactly the same as Napisan - pink packaging and everything - but it's called Vanish. How weird is that? Buying the goods was stressful enough, there was a huge queue by the time we got to the check-out and I got plastic bags thrust at me as I furiously tried to pack the bags before she finished scanning them but no! So I to quickly snatch my purse from my handbag throw coins and run before people glared at my incompetence... I use to work at a supermarket - you think I could handle it. I've now learnt that when you want groceries you only buy what you can carry because lugging it all back to uni (which is a fair walk) was not fun. Poor Miranda strained her foot so we stopped a couple of times along the way which suited me in my puffing and red-faced state.

Had a cruisy evening of watching movies which was nice for a change and had to listen to the very loud people which gallop up and down the hallway at 11:30pm and onwards. Once I go to sleep I don't wake up but Miranda does and she told me there were people loudly talking and pushing one another down the hall in a SHOPPING TROLLEY at 2am. No idea how they got the shopping trolley from the supermarket in Egham to here - let alone up to the third floor. I have my other class tomorrow so hopefully it will be more promising than the last!

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Ah yes...the Learning part...

I've come this far and just realised that I'm actually here to learn - not to shop and just have a general goof. Sigh. All these rules to life.

Yes, today was my first day of classes, or rather class because I only had one that went for five hours. I kid you not. It started at 11 and went to 5 (with an hour lunch break in case you were criticising my math ability). Long day. Especially because the subject is called "Theatre & Therapy". Now you're probably wondering what that entails... well so am I. As far as I can tell from the exercises today a drama therapist gets their "clients" (Oh yes I have to use their lingo) to build little houses for themselves around the room. That's right my very intellectual 2nd year class was spread around the room in little cubby houses with various paraphernalia that she had given us the option of using. My house consisted of several post cards lined against the wall with fabric draped over the table so I could be under the table. The only problem was that I had parked myself under the mood music and when she started giving instructions I had no idea what she was saying or the rules of the game so I began to follow everyone else. I hopped from one house to another trying to figure out what the hell I was doing. It's times like these when I really question whether I will have a job after this degree...hmmm. Well I guess this leads me to the opening and closing of the class which consists of a chosen guardian (her word) who gets to light and then choose how to blow out the candle at the end of the session. Stifling laughter is hard. All in all it seems interesting because once I got over the whole "this is wanky" sentence running through my head it was intriguing. The room our class is in is the Noh Theatre (which is pictured) and is the only Japanese style theatre outside of Japan. It's a beautiful stage and makes me think of all the time I spent doing Zen Zen Zo which was Japanese style theatre techniques - physical.

I met some very lovely girls in the class - they all dress so cool! As in one girl was in heels, another full make-up, perfect hair and so on! The pressure is on for next week. Though I was still in four layers, inside and cold. I'll never win.

I had dinner with Miranda this evening and we went to a free screening of "A Hard Day's Night" which features The Beatles. A hilarious film with all the songs and a bunch of lovable scamps. It made me love John Lennon which worked out well because Miranda was after George Harrison. It was funny because at the end of the film they do a concert and the girls in the audience go crazy! Every minute they're screaming, tearing out their hair, crying and mouthing the various band members names. Naturally, Miranda and I had to mimic this behaviour and on our way back to our rooms we began looking like we were having seizures. Good times. Had some delicious chocolate cake at dinner - I am eating healthy I swear!

Monday, 12 January 2009

London Town (again)

So I'm, once again, combining two days into one blog. Sunday and the Monday I was in London because Mum is off to Australia on Monday. So on Sunday we went back to Spitalfield and Petticoat Lane markets and I did the unthinkable - I bought some ug boots. Oh cruel cold world forcing my tootsie toes to go cold without unattractive footwear! Lovely markets as usual and then delicious Greek food that night. I stayed over in Mum's hotel instead of coming back to uni managed to watch brilliant UK tv. Gameshows here are the best.

The next morning (well this morning) Mum packed her bag and we set out to go to the Victoria & Albert museum which is filled with everything from all over the world and all over time. We managed to see about half because we decided to see what we wanted to see instead of - everything. We started with the fashion exhibition which had dresses from the 1700s! Original clothes from then with corsets and everything. Amazing clothes which seemed so tiny. The people were so small back then and the women were obviously strapped into cruel undergarments. They had an evolution of fashion to today which meant there were very unattractive 70s and 80s garb - shoulder pads bleh. I found an interesting fact because they had four different weddings dresses starting from the 18th century - which was white. It said that women began wearing white because it was easier to wash and then it really boomed when Queen Victoria wore white to her wedding - so there you go -now you know. Apparently people back in those days were meant to wear black to mourn not only for their family members but the royal family as well! On the topic of fashion they had various interactive parts of the museum which allowed you to try on various old style fashion. So that's why in the photo above I have massive hips - it's the skirt I tell you! The second photo is a real dress worn which was the height of fashion and impossible to go through doorways. The point was to show off the lovely fabric of the dress with the flat panels.

After stumbling on some no-good-teenagers taking hilariously intimate photos with naked statues when they thought no one was looking we found our way into a historical treasure trove. There was the most amazing clock which they had a display of how it worked and the various little figures on the roof of the house type shape would ding little bells and then beneath them there were tiny little 2D figures moving back and forth. It was really clever. There was a lock they had which had a little man with a hat next to the doorknob. To put the key in you would press a little button to make the soldier kick his leg so the key could go and then open the lock. It had a counting system though so when the master would go away he could return and see how many times his vault had been opened in his absence! Very clever. Also in this museum was a type of harpsichord which belonged to Elizabeth I and may have been played by her.

By this time the sky started darkening and the inevitable happened - it started raining. So Mum and I took the tube to Waterloo and I bought my ticket to return to Egham. I had to say goodbye to Mum for the last time and we both said we didn't need to cry this time - though I started crying when I got on the train - silently. Now I'm back at uni and in the warm safety of my wee room awaiting dinner! Classes start tomorrow so I'll let you know how it goes!

Windsor Castle and The Crown

Today was misty, snowy, icy and fun! What a quirky introduction you're probably thinking...At least I hope you're thinking that and not "wow Phoebe has gone barmy". Anyway today included Runnymede, Staines, Eton and Windsor. We started off having a buffet breakfast of traditional english food - Miranda had Coco Pops and I had Cornflakes. We got on our lovely warm coach and watched the white blanketed fields whizz by until we reached one particular field in Runnymede. What could possibly be special about an old field you ask? Well Britain has so much history that any old field, such as this, had the Magna Carta signed there. I kid you not. Britain has history coming out the whazoo. After we saw the monument we then went driving through Staines and stopped at Eton.

Eton is a little town which consists of one street of various shops and then a high school. Now don't go thinking this is any small town run-of-the-mill school because Eton is prestigious. It was founded ages ago and has become a host for upcoming young boys to aspire to go to. One such pair was Prince Harry and William - woopee. The main interesting point about this school is their uniforms! They only JUST stopped wearing top hats - to school. Top hats people! They wear long pinstriped trousers (you can't say pants because the British call underwear pants so that's wrong) with a vest and these long black coats with tails! Fancy stuff and we were all gawking at these boys so they must have felt pretty out of place especially when we started to spot the prefects who wore grey trousers and a special type of vest. Very lovely town nonetheless. Afterwards we toddled over to the town of Winsdor and the temperature dropped another million degrees it felt like...

Windsor is a lovely town which has more shops than Egham (which isn't saying much) so we got to see the castle and then go shopping. So the castle of Windsor was built by William the Conqueror and then updated and beautified by Charles II who had a sweetheart named Nell Gywn (drama people should know who I'm talking about in great detail) so there was a pub across the road called the Nell Gywn. There you go. So we went into the castle and lo and behold one of fountains was frozen - are you getting an idea of the weather yet?

We started off in the chapel - St John's (?) - and saw its beautiful architecture. It was amazing inside with a huge ceiling, way up high, ornately decorated with various symbols. We saw the tombs of Henry VIII, Jane Seymour, the Queen Mother and her husband and the most incredible memorial that Queen Victoria built for her husband Albert. Now looking at the memorial you could tell she missed the man because it was jaw-droppingly lovely. We weren't supposed to take photos but Miranda may or may not have sneaked one in so that is shown.

After the chapel we got to peruse the state apartments and, no the queen wasn't home today. So we saw all the various fancy rooms of the castle which included an amazing doll's house that Queen Mary I commissioned. It had real wine in the little bottles in the cellar and real books in the library! Very cute. The castle also contained the bullet which killed Lord Nelson (guy who did great military work - Battle of Trafalgar) and a gorgeous Grand Ballroom with huge mirrors, glittering chandeliers and gold dripping from every surface. It was in this room that Miranda sneezed. Of course, we made a big deal about saying "Oh my gosh Miranda you just sneezed in the Queen's Grand Ballroom - it will have to be destroyed" and so on factoring girlish laughter throughout.

We also saw the guards which protect the Queen - the ones with the fuzzy hats (this is a long blog but a lot of stuff happened). We got a photo with one of them who looked about 17. There were a group of four which seemed to be chasing us around because they turned up where ever we did! There was one guard who must have thought no one was watching and he SCRATCHED HIS NOSE. They are not supposed to move! Treachery in the ranks! Alert! After that (Miranda and I were the last in the castle, I think everyone else was more concerned with shopping) we went into the shops and then back on the bus. We got back to the uni and found out that we had to fend for ourselves for dinner so we all trooped down to Egham to go to "The Crown" pub and were called "great" by some local guy in the pub. He assumed we were all American (I was the only not American) and was like "that's so great. I love listening to you guys talk. Happy Days!". Happy days indeed kind sir! Tomorrow I'm off to London, once more, to see Mum. Toodles!

Friday, 9 January 2009

My First Day at Hogwarts...

Sitting in my dark room alone I type my experiences of my new temporary home. I know it's been two days and I'm compiling it into one but whaddaya gonna do? Nothing much happened yesterday except that it was Mum's birthday and we put all my junk into my room here at Royal Holloway. Pretty cruisey sort of a day yesterday. My room is a lot bigger than I expected - twice the size of college rooms back home and it's warm! Thank goodness! It's all a bit empty right now because none of non-international students have arrived (there are only 50 internationals - most from America).
But that was yesterday! It was really hard saying goodbye to Mum this morning - even though I'll see her on Sunday. I rang her before and she said she was sad when she was going to London. Anyway I'm here now in Egham and the sun is shining! I arrived on time and found no one in sight, had a panic, until one girl turned up. Her name is Miranda and she's from Arizona - very nice, lives down the hall - nerves are easing. After hours of introductions to every aspect of the uni we had a sandwhich lunch which I mananges to keep down after my serious nerves. I found out that I don't actually start uni until Tuesday so I've got a couple of days to float around and everyone seems to be in a state of confusion which is relieving. No one has timetables or maps so we're all in the same boat.

Thankfully the hall I'm in (Founders) has wireless internet but they only got it like a year ago!! This whole campus needs a technological face-lift because we were shown the computer labs which consisted of really old computers and they began teaching us how to check our email and other basic stuff - quite strange. My hall looks like Hogwart's castle and is pretty much the oldest building on campus which is nice - though it smells old - musty. They warned us when arriving that we weren't to use hair irons and that sort of thing incase we short circutted the whole building - which has happened before even with a convertor plug. Miranda was telling me how she arrived yesterday and in a state of pure jet-lag plugged in her electric blanket and heard a loud pop. Needless to say Miranda is the first person this year to break something - who knows who will be next? I mean my hair does need straightening...

Touring around the campus - I cannot believe how small it is! Mum and I did tour the high street of Egham which consisted of supermarkets, cafes, pubs and a bunch of pharmacies - oh the night life. Anyway I knew the town was small but so is the uni! They showed us around the main library which would be 8 times smaller than the one at home. It's crazy. Oh, another thing, there are only about 6000 students on campus and I found out from good ol' Wikipedia that there are around 6000 residents of Egham so we uni students rule the day! Everyone has been really friendly and helpful which is good and tomorrow we go to visit Windsor Castle and all lovely things. Talk then - trying to stave off feelings of lonliness...

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Egham - Ta Daa!

After trying repeatedly to pack our bags which would not close - surprisingly - after all our shopping. Subsequently, we were burdened with 4 extra bags (little bags mind you). We braved the way to the station, the train and the way to the hotel in Egham or rather the pub in Egham - with no lift. Some kind man helped us all the way despite our room being the furthest away! The people are much nicer here than in London and are all smiley and genuine which is a refreshing change. The town here is...small. Our hotel "The Wheatsheaf" is next to Windsor Park which is gorgeous.

Mum and I went out for a walk in it this afternoon and yep the lake in the photo is in fact frozen and that is frost on the ground. This would be the first time I've ever seen a frozen lake so naturally I had to find everything I could to throw on it and try to break the ice with my feet - only near the very edge like I'm going to try to walk on it! It's funny though because as we were walking around the edge there were several lonely soccer balls sitting on the ice tempting passer-bys "come and get me! A free ball! It's not that far out you'll make it and not fall in the water". During our walk there were loads of dogs bounding around their owners. One was very feisty and ran right up to us, lay on the ground, jumped about and ran off again to hear it's owner calling "Truffles! Truffles!". What a great dog name.

There was a random totem pole in the park which became our beacon of hope as we became lost after a while in the frosty mist. It was truly a magnificent park though - tall trees, greenery and animals! Little Robin birds bouncing along the ground, bunnies and squirrels scurrying about. I tried to take a photo of the squirrel I saw but it was too dark and the only thing you see in the photo is the squirrel's eyes which are all lit up - Demon Squirrel! Baaaa!

Anyway the pub we are staying at is really cute. There was no one in there when we got back from our walk (it was full beforehand) so we took a juicy spot by the fire, sinking into a couch (I took a photo) and proceeded to eat and eat and eat - because it was only just 5. I tried goose for the first time and rather enjoyed it. Followed that with a chocolate fudge cake and the evening was complete! Tomorrow we go to the uni to find and settle myself into my new room - Deep breath - here I go!

The End of London (for now)

Today is the last day of Mum and my wandering about this big city. We didn't really know what to do with ourselves as we've covered so much ground - as you've read. So today we eventually crawled from the safety and warmth of our beds and sacraficed ourselves to the cold. So we went to Leicester Square to score some tickets to see "Phantom of the Opera" - success! Yes! Both Mum and I are huge fans of this opera despite seeing it many times. After our successes we wandered about the area and I found the BEST toy shop/ (I know, I'm sorry Hamley's but this was amazing) restaurant. It was the "Rainforest Cafe" and it had stuff everywhere! There were moving animals all over the ceiling, hiding in the various leaves, trees and foliage. Noises of the rainforest, a waterfall and rain that would drip out of the ceiling. I have a photo, you can see, but I couldn't capture the amazing-ness of this place. There was a huge robotic crocodile (Mum said alligator) that moved, blinked and roared in the artifical lake. It was great.

We went and had lunch in Carnaby Street which was bombarded by Christmas decorations. Though they are out a bit late they were impressive. Every couple of metres there was a huge inflatable snow man and snow flakes strung above you. You can see these in the photo.

After that experience we continued around the shops for hours (tee hee) until it was time for the Phantom! Typically they used those terrible theatre pop guns at various points which make me jump out of my seat everytime. Sigh. They did it in Les Mis as well so I spend my time in London theatres looking very absorbed in the drama as I have my hands up around my face to stifle the sound and shock of those stupid props! It was really good - it always is and the theatre (Her Majesty's) was beautiful. The show and everything was a present for Mum - birthday present! Ha she didn't want anyone to know.

Tomorrow we're off to Egham and I suppose the REAL Egham Chronicles can begin!

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

I Saw Dead People

Today was a dead-filled day! After setting out at midday (yeah midday, we were tired and putting on all our winter woolies is such a chore - plus if you look at the headline I have attached in the photo - it's really cold! And snowing in some parts! Argh!) we went to Westminster Abbey.

An amazing place which I have been to before which has a whole lot of royalty and famous people jammed into the one spot. It's funny because there seems to be no room left in the church at all. Some of the many marble carved plaques are hidden behind stacks of chairs. There are monuments and tombstones on the walls and even the floor so there are some very worn ones which you can't even read anymore. The whole place seems to have been built with the best intentions but after some very elaborate tombs with full figured effigies, canopies and fences are built there is very little room for anyone else! Obviously, the builders were like - "Yeah we'll go all out with Elizabeth I, Mary I, Mary Queen of scots and so on" and then when more kings and queens died they were like "oh crap where can we put them now?? Quick in the floor - on the wall - anywhere!". There are queens mixed in with Dukes and families mixed with randoms and yes - it's a shambles. Though there was one corner which made sense, the poet's corner, which had plaques commemorating great authors. Most of the authors I mentioned which I had seen portraits of were commemorated here. The grave, however, of Chaucer was there and had been there since the 1400s! Such history... it boggles the mind. Oh also in the Abbey were the two skeletons of the little Princes that were murdered at the Tower of London (which I also mentioned earlier). They were placed in "innocent's corner" which had an effigy of a baby! The infant mortality rate was huge and very sad.

Anyhoo-hoo we toddled out of there and waited around to go to our Jack the Ripper tour. Keeping in mind it was extremely cold being outdoors for 2 hours at 7 at night! So before we went Mum and I rugged up like bag ladies and didn't feel the cold immediately which was lucky. So the tour was very interesting - gruesome - but the woman who took it was very knowledgable and had photos of the victims (erk) and of the what the streets, which were in, looked like in the 19th century. Jack the Ripper really went to town on his last victim - I have to share because it was so awful - so scroll down if you don't want to read this. His last victim Mary Kelly was 25 (much younger than the others who were over 40) and when her body was found she was unrecognisable. Her face had been cut away and only her eyes remained, starring, in her head. Her ex-lover could only tell it was her because of her eyes and hair. She had been sliced in a straight line up the middle and had her breasts cut off, kidney removed, intestines draped over her shoulder, womb cut out, skin cut off and all these various bits of flesh were in piles around the room. Grisly stuff. Jack actually sent a letter to the head of police with a small box which contained - da dum - half of a kidney. The other half, he wrote in the letter, he had eaten. All of these details we were being told and some car drove by and the occupant lent out and the window and went "AHHHHHHH!" and scared the whole group! We all jumped and the tour guide said "yeah they do that almost every night - I'm use to it".

All in all it was very interesting - cold - at least we weren't snowed on like some parts of the country. Brrr more updates on my travels and the weather!

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Chillin' at her Maj's crib

That's right folks today I went to see the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace. After waiting around for an hour and a half as the helpful website timetable was wrong - the guards turned up. Unfortunately, so did about a thousand other people. Wiggling our way through various people who had climbed up on things and one another we found a spot next to the fence and several crying children. It was quite funny because this one child did not stop crying the entire time and was having a major tantrum and could not be consoled by either parent. After it kicked and screamed about being put in its pram or held - it found itself on the ground. What an awful child.

Anyway back to the whole shebang. What an affair! They do this everyday?? There is an army truck, police officers on horses, more police officers on foot, police cars as well as the guards themselves! Ridiculous. So the whole process started with two gangs of the fuzzy hatted ones trooping in - one playing instruments and the others just marching about. Various members of the latter group were yelling and blowing whistles which must have made sense to someone I would hope. Inside the gates the must have marched about or got naked - I'm not sure there were too many people in the way but they all seemed very focused so who knows? I could feel the cold seeping through my skin so we gave up after I got a shot of the fuzzy men and me in front of the golden deluxe gates. Mum and I were joking that during the entire process the Queen was indoors scratching herself and wondering why there's so much racket downstairs.

After braving the cold - did I mention that today the weather forecast was -7? MINUS SEVEN. I wouldn't disagree because it was darn cold. After the Palatical ridiculous we went to see "The Lion King" which was quite good. Though on arrival we discovered some woman who had the same seat number as us and a whole debacle arose. Turns out our seats were fine but we don't know what happened to her - ah well. So yeah the show was pretty good. It was the Disney story of the Lion King but with various puppets and appendages that attached to the actors which were quite effective. Of course most of the audience knew the story but that didn't stop one little girl announcing after a gripping part of the story "Um that wasn't actually a surprise". The man sitting next to me smelt like tobacco, a second-hand store and moth balls. So all my senses were awakened during the show!

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Headless fun at the Tower of London

Good day dear friends. Today I went for a visit to the Tower of London which, as I recently discovered, was not just a place of torture and execution. Well that turned many readers away but regardless for I have learned many things! Ha Ha! (More readers are closing the window) Now today I learnt that Anne Boleyn requested a sword to decapitate her instead of a common axe and that there was a woman who refused to kneel at all for her execution and was chased around the square. It only took 22 strikes to get her head off and she was 67! What a lovely town. Lady Jane Grey (I learnt) was buried in the last Tudor chapel and ruled for only 9 days and was beheaded by raging Mary I fans at the old age of...17. Oh another story! Richard III wanted to be put on the throne but two little boys of 12 and 9 stood in his way. They were invited to the tower, mysteriously disappeared and Richard became king - suspicious? Well 191 years later when the White House (which is the building you can just see behind me in the photo) was being rebuilt and as a wall was chipped away two little skeletons fell out fitting the description of these little princes. Grim times I must say.
Oh wait I haven't written about the torture department yet despite the many signs saying that it didn't happen under English law and when it did it RARELY happened. Anyway one of these rare occassions could include "the scavenger's daughter" which was the opposite to the rack where the unfortunate individual is forced to crouch as if in the smallest position you could get into and then they forced a steel band around you, locked it and left you there for hours. It usually took one hour for the people to crack because it was quoted as worse than the rack (which tears you apart). Fun fun! In one of the prisoner chambers there was graffiti on the walls, chipped out by various prisoners over the years. Graffiti which dated back 400 years!! It's so spooky walking up and down tiny staircases (the people must have been tiny back then) that people hundreds of years earlier did. History is amazing.
We also saw the crown jewels which were massive. Most of the crowns weighed more than 2kg and one king was quoted whinging about how hard it was to wear for 3 hours. Anyway they also had this amazing collection of gold crockery and dining equipment for royal feasts and what not and there was this huge punch bowl. It was completely made of gold and accomodated 144 bottles of wine - now that's one goon party!
Later that day we went to visit The Globe - Shakespeare's Globe. I have attached a photo of inside the theatre and it was freaky seeing the place which my drama lectures have focused on for so long. Haunting really. The whole theatre was a perfect replica of the original - it was made entirely of wood, wood pegs holding it together and a thatched roof! The only thatched roof in London since the 1600s. I'm looking foward to going back and seeing a performance.
Well that about wraps up my day - oh no wait - on the way home someone had pooped in the tube! Have a good evening!

Friday, 2 January 2009

Portobello Road Baby

Another market! It was inevitable. They're great. Today was the Portobello Road market which was an eccletic market consisting of clothes (old and new), shoes, antiques, jewellery and fresh fruit and bread. It was a lovely road with houses on either side which were painted all different colours (which you can sort of see in the photo). Each little terrace would have their section either yellow, blue, green, pink, white or grey. It's funny because a lot of other areas in London must look the same (they regulate it) so there are only white houses with either blue or black doors. Another thing that's regulated here is EVERYTHING. No matter where you go there are signs saying "CCTV in progress for your safety" which are security cameras. How are they for our safety? Just because there are cameras doesn't mean people won't act up. Oh well. Anyway this morning there was a whole hour of sunshine and blue sky! It really illumintated the colours of the market and I should have taken a photograph then. Oh well.
So anyway this market stretched all the way down the very long road and the stalls were spilling out of actual shops and little stands were set up for the market. You would think all the merchandise and people on the road would prevent cars driving up the street wouldn't you? Well no. At this market you have to be constantly alert that you won't be run down by an impatient motorist (one which was playing terrible 80s music loudly). Imagine being run down and forced to listen to "You spin me right round" as you were slowly crushed by the vehicle. Grim but there you go.
The only problem with the market was the lack of toilets. London has these strange public toilets which self-clean themselves after each person. Clean but it takes eons waiting in the cold. There were some foreign non-english speaking girls who were in the queue behind me and must of been really busting because they rushed in directly after I had exited and started mashing the "close door" button. Oh how I would have laughed if it had closed and self-cleaned them! Ba ha ha listening to them squealing as jets of water and air blasted their toilet time. Tee hee hee.
After the market we caught the tube to Oxford Street because there was an item I just HAD to go back for and it was chaos! People everywhere. I guess it was late night friday shopping? Anyway it was just awful. People here go quite mad as they squish into one another and knock everything of the shelves in the stores onto the floor which slowly becomes crushed into a pulp of varying colour and texture. Delicious shopping experience. Anyway dinner calls and tomorrow we are seeing "The Lion King" Hooray! More updates then, I'm Phoebe and thank you for reading.

New Year's Day

Happy New Year! One and all! Despite me starting the new year at least 12 hours later than any Australian readers - happy belated 2009!

I did not make it to midnight. I am ashamed but once again THE JET JAG - Also I finished watching "Chocolat" and was ready to drift into dreamland thinking of Johnny Depp.

Today we went to the British Museum. Getting all of our gear on we trooped our way out there to discover that the unimaginable had happened - it was closed. No wonder there were so many grumpy faces turning away from the gates. Darn this public holiday business. So we turned our grumpy faces away and said "Poo" to the gallery and instead ventured to the National Portrait Gallery which was very full - I think of people who were getting out of the cold and for a free exhibit (sound familiar? Hmmm).

The National Portrait Gallery is AMAZING. There are literally portraits of every monarch, blue blood, artist, writer, playwright, theorist, feminist and politician! After all my english studies I could finally put a face to the many names of authors I had studied: George Eliot, Virginia Woolf, Johnathon Swift, Mary Shelly, Bryon, Keats, Mary Woolstencraft, Shakespeare, the Bronte sisters, Robert Louis Stevenson, Jane Austen and many many more! I've forgotten right now but I was surprised at how many I knew... I suppose I do learn stuff at uni! Oh anyone who has studied drama with me will remember being told about Nell Gywn - Charles I (?) favourite actress and then mistress - saw her portrait! Very beautiful and started out as an orange seller.

The interesting thing about the Shakespeare portrait was that it was the only one in existence thought to have been painted from still life! He had an earring and everything. The painting of the Bronte sisters was intriguing as it was actually found years after their deaths rolled up on top of a cupboard in their house. It was a little worn and there is a figure painted out of the picture which was thought to be their brother Branwell who was... not the nicest family figure - very educational. Of course there were paintings of Henry VIII and all his wives, Mary Queen of Scots, Elizabeth I, Mary I and so on and so forth. Walking through the gallery and reading about the lives of these individuals the women were given such a rough life. I read several notes on various women some who had had ten children, others with ten and only 4 or so surviving and others having eighteen miscarriages! The torment these women had to suffer all because of their sex!

After the gallery we managed to squeeze in and see "Les Miserables" which was very good and is the longest running show in London - 24 years! Not surprising because the actors knew what they were doing and it was very stirring and the Queen's Theatre is beautiful - the only photo I took today (not that I was actually allowed to but when I asked the usher said I shouldn't but it's okay, winking at me).