Saturday, 28 February 2009

Bonnie Wee Scotland! Och Aye!

Hello kindly readers! I have arrived in Scotty-land.
But first you must hear the tales of what happened BEFORE I arrived. I had my directing class and that was okay. We had to do our seminars and that all went fine finity fine. Despite the fact that I'm still suffering from a cold so my speaking voice was somewhat husky and my speech was interrupted by fits of coughing - it went well. I did too much work, as always, for a piece of assessment that wasn't worth anything. Ho hum.

I was very distracted through class because I was too busy thinking about flying to Scotland that night. Yay! Packed my bag, walked to bus stop and caught the bus to Heathrow - Terminal 5. I couldn't believe how easy it all was. Made it to the airport early and read my book (very appropriate reading for a paranoid airport - American Psycho). Checked in and then had to face the hideous amounts of security checks. I had to queue, put liquids in a plastic bag, have my photo taken, passport checked (I'm going domestic how weird is that?), shoes off, bagged scanned, jacket scanned, x-rayed and luckily not patted down by a guard. Still early so I wandered around the airport sauntering in front, but never going in, of Gucci, Prada, Mulberry and Dior. Then I thought I would have a sandwich for dinner and not break the bank - how naive I am. 6 pounds later and I boarded the flight and was sitting next to a very Scottish woman who I could barely understand and she kept leaning over to point out interesting things in her newspaper like "a wee piggy. It ownlee weeighs a powwnd!". Sound it out. I know I had to. After staring dubiously at the pork pie I was served we landed. Very quick flight.

And now - I am in Scotland! I excitedly rushed into Julia's arms after having not seen her for many years. Sounds romantic but it wasn't - so relax. Everything went according to plan and Christine (Julia's mum) and Julia took me on a tour of all the old places I use to know when I lived here. My old house, the school, the shop (yes the shop) and so on. I soon re-acquainted myself with the joys of Scotland - Minstrels and Irn-Bru!
And, yes, I seem to be getting paler.
Had a relaxing evening watching "Sex and the City" then we hit the hay.

The following day - much to Julia's excitement - we took the Glasgow City Tour Bus. She said she had always wanted to go on it but was too afraid the tour guide would ask where she was from and she would have to answer "here" and hide her embarrassed face. So I was a good excuse. It was hilarious! It was a hop-on, hop-off bus so we hopped on and then hopped off at the "armadillo" which is a building that copies the Sydney Opera House and is next to the SECC centre where all the bands play. We got a stranger to take our photo next to the river in front of the bridge that Julia says keeps breaking. The strings holding it up keep snapping so people living around the area are used to the sound of sudden snapping. The bus eventually came back to retrieve us from windy turmoil. Back on the bus and back to the sights of the town. The guide said that there are only 600 000 people living in Glasgow and later that evening this would be discussed/argued with many Glaswegian youths.

It was so funny because on the list of sights to see there was a bridge, a motorway and a car park. HILARIOUS. Needless to say we didn't hop-off to get a better look at these "sights". It was so cold on the top of this open bus. Julia insisted we stay there (and it was awesome fun) except that I felt like the skin on face would tear off because of the cold air smashing against it. Here is a photo when we weren't going at top speed - somewhat more attractive I think. We sped onwards and hopped-off to go and have some lunch at a place which I absolutely loved when I was here many years ago - Di Maggio's. To keep the nostalgia flowing we asked to have the kiddies colouring page and set to work solving the join-the-dots and find-a-words. We ended up drawing pictures on the back which you can enter into their competition leaving your name and age. So Julia and I gave ourselves new normal names with really weird spellings like - Owen - Eoghan and Kirsty - Ciorstaidh ages 9 and 7. Here is the picture Julia drew featuring the tour bus, the characters from Sex and the City and the two of us running behind the bus. Very true because we missed the bus a couple of times.

Got back on and then went to the Kelvingrove Museum which Julia said took ages to build and that once it was built the architect killed himself because they built it the wrong way round. For some reason near the entrance was a dead pigeon in a glass box sitting on a table. It weirded us out so we needed to take a photo.

Inside we had a lot of fun seeing the various exhibits which included famous paintings and stuffed animals. Of course I paused at the stuffed kangaroo. There were loads of children on field trips looking excitedly around and making comments in their Scottish accents. We then found a big painted version of Scotland on the floor and Julia scurried about on the floor trying to find her house. In the end she gave up and collapsed on the map. It looked like a crime scene so we moved to the next exhibit.

The museum had a lot of interactive exhibits. There was one where you could type in what the people in the painting were thinking. So we made the butler think "Man I want some waffles. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm waffles". Then we found a great part of the museum where you could imitate Briar Rose - Sleeping Beauty. And there were costumes. Costumes made for children of about 7. That didn't stop us. We struggled into the tiny dresses, ignoring the slight tearing sounds. It was so funny. Some people walked by and had a giggle at our expense. We then found out it was harder to get the clothes off than on and had to take it in turn to help one another and wriggle out of the clothes.
Back on the bus, once more, and we decided to do a loop and then head back to Julia's house to change and go bowling. We were getting pretty tired by this time as you can see.
So then Julia, Vinny (Julia's boyfriend) and I went bowling. Vinny, typically being a boy, was really good at bowling and Julia and I could only beat him (JUST) by combining our scores. As you can see bowling shoes didn't really go with my outfit. We had dinner and were then picked up by one of Julia's friend and went to a birthday party of her friend. I ended up playing Mario Kart on the Wii with various Scots. We then switched to bowling and I got 4 strikes in a row! Of course I'm better at digital bowling than real bowling. Real bowling I only got one strike. Was a very lovely evening which ended with more watching of Sex and the City and sleepy time. More soon!

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Reading Week Over!

Back to classes I'm sad to say. Bad attitude but its come to this.
I did hand in my assignment, on time, and complete which has lifted a HUGE weight off my shoulders. Even though it wasn't worth ANYTHING I went out of my way and that lecturer should be darn pleased. I can't believe I wrote an assignment about Bulimia... that's so random for my degree - though having said that I can now talk about my therapy class! Random things always happen...

Everyone was actually on time today. Mind boggling believe me. The Brits are not the most punctual people - well the student part of this group certainly aren't. We all filed into class and started talking about the next piece of assessment. We have to do a seminar, in pairs, to the rest of class and I'm doing - guess what? - BULIMIA. YAY. The fun never ends. We lit our little candle and did some various exercises so the lecturer could demonstrate what you might do were you dealing with less able bodied people or people with schizophrenia and so on. The first group got up and then they all blew up balloons! Now if you didn't know - and I can't believe I'm telling the world this - but I'm quite afraid of balloons. It's a really stupid fear and I can't help it but yeah, I really really REALLY dislike balloons. After the exercise was over (I had my fingers in my ears the entire time) the lecturer asked what everyone thought. Whilst this was going on there were balloons bouncing around me, being jiggles by every group member and I thought I might scream so I opened up and said "Okay it was kind of difficult for me because I really hate balloons. They freak me right out". And, typically, I got a bit teary about it. Everyone quickly put the balloons away and I instantly felt like the biggest loser and weirdo on the earth. Why, oh, why must the British keep finding out about my stupid ways? Oh dear I'm doomed to a life of lameness regardless of my global positioning.

After this I was in a group and we had a big map of the world on the floor (imagined) and we had to stand where we felt home was. So whilst everyone was on the other side of the room in "England" I was on the other side in "Australia". Very lonely. It was nice though because the lecturer then asked us to move to somewhere we would really like to go and a lot of the girls came over to Australia. Meanwhile, I bolted to China. Tee hee. We then made a freezeframe of ourselves as, like, clothes people with coats draped over ourselves and then it was the end of the session. You don't need details - trust me I am as confused as you are. Because we were ending the session the Guardian of the Candle had to decide how to blow it out. Now I don't know if if shared with you the hilarious sarcasm Tamsin and I have for this ritual but we often make up different hilarious ways of "putting out the candle". One is "I would like to put the candle out by drop-kicking it into your face". And so on. Naturally, as the "ceremony" is going on Tamsin and I are stifling giggles. It's all good fun!

That day was Pancake Day on campus. The weird thing is on Pancake Day they serve pancakes at two hour intervals throughout the day - but not at breakfast. They just don't do pancakes as a breakfast - it's a dessert - weird. So for dessert I had pancakes which I asked for with maple syrup but got berries instead. I guess people here think "maple syrup" sounds like "berries". They're not pancakes either - they're crepes.

Now onto Wednesday - Yay! Miranda and I went into Staines today to do some shopping and so I could pick up some mail. I need to take a breath because the debacle of me getting my package is long and very frustrating. So mum sent me my snow jacket to wear while I'm here - two weeks ago (typical it's warming up). I was getting concerned as everyday I checked the mail I got more and more confused. Finally on Monday I got a slip from Staines Royal Mail saying that for some unknown reason I had to go to this mysterious post office and pay 14.71 to get my package! It said there was a customs reason - who knows what this means. So I go all the way to Staines thinking, you know it's the main mail delivery area it'll be on the high street. Into the post office on High Street I go and, no, that's NOT where my parcel is. The lady blinks at me and says "you have to pay this money" and I go "okay sure but why?". Blink blink. "Umm you pay. See?" pointing at the slip. Then another useless employee comes out and says "you see, you need to pay this money to get the package". Great. "Is my package here?" I ask. "No. It's at this address". Which is the address of this main post office which is NOT on the main street - once again WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE. Somehow remaining calm I ask "Do you know how I can get to this address?" "No." I turn to Blinky "Do you?" "No." The first one then interjects with "we don't know where it is because we are not from here we are from London" Like that's an excuse. That's when Miranda comes in with "well I'm from America!". Take that stupid folk! That was then the REALLY WEIRD thing happened. The boy in line behind me cut in with "it's just down the road near Sainsbury's. I have my car. I can drive you there if you want". Having had the messages of "Stranger Danger" drilled into me as a child we laughingly declined. Taking my slip and shuffling out Miranda and I were joking that they didn't then say "you know it's blue?" (You would get that reference if you were an avid Phoebe blog reader which I hope you all are!) Grumble grumble. To cut a long long long long long long story short after asking about seven different people where this office was - many not knowing, many not even living in the area - Does anyone in Staines LIVE in Staines? Apart from Ali G of course. Many eons later Miranda and I FOUND THE STREET THAT IT WAS ON! Looking at the photo you can tell I was so happy. I got my package after paying the money - I was just so glad I had it - we walked all the way back to the high street. You're probably wondering why I had to pay that money. Well at least this man was very nice and explained to me why it was very confusing and I was very tired but the gist is that because Mum wrote that she declared the package Britain then figured they'd better do something with it - mostly charge me. So 6 pounds was for that and the other, like, 8 pounds was so that lovely considerate mail land would keep it in Staines and not make me go to London to get it. Once more everybody together now "WHAT'S WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE?!"
Phoebe now had her coat. Phoebe is happy. Phoebe has gone made because of the coat journey and is now referring to herself in the third person.

Went back to uni and met up with my group for the seminar presentation we have to give tomorrow. All this work and effort it's clear that reading week is over.
But who cares because I'm going to Glasgow tomorrow! Which means - my blogs will be more interesting then! Yay!

Saturday, 21 February 2009

And so I went all the way to Roehampton.

Today was basically a day of nothing but frustration. As you remember I have this awful assignment due of which I know nothing and the books that I need are not in our tiny labyrinth of a library. And so I went all the way to Roehampton. Roehampton is pretty much right next to London so the train rise there takes a good hour on the weekend.

So I got up and Miranda and I met up with Tamsin and we made our way to the train station. There is only ONE ticket machine that takes cash at the train station so we were furiously getting tickets dispensed as the train sped off into the distance...without us. You would think, being sensible Brits, that we could just buy a ticket on the train. No. I lied in that sentence - I said "sensible Brits". Pardon me. Anyway that train went buy so we had to wait for about 20 minutes which wasn't so bad because the sun was ACTUALLY SHINING. I wasn't wearing my coat and I was almost, not quite, but almost hot sitting in the sun. Yay! Walking through Founders there are all little shoots and flowers coming up from the ground encouraging the springtime. The little flowers are saying to me "You can make it through the cold, Phoebe, if we can!" So there's some hope. I'm getting off track but these little flowers are everywhere it seems. And all different colours. Purple at Roehampton, white at Founders, pink somewhere else. Very lovely.

Back to the train saga. Got on board and disembarked at Barnes leaving Miranda to continue on to meet a friend in London - lucky. Meanwhile Tamsin and I were stuck on our study date. Do I know how to have fun or what? Trotted along to Roehampton University and got past the guards - seriously. They had an electronic gate we had to get through and everything! Found the books we needed and went to town notetaking. I'm researching bulimia so I needed a case study about an individual with bulimia and I wasn't having much luck until "Oh yes Jessie got bulimia in college!" Leaving Tamsin lying on the ground with laughter at my newly found empathy.

Hours later...

Then came the time when we had to photocopy. Now THIS is entertaining. We had to go through the exit to buy a photocopy card which was one pound and we would be reimbursed this pound after. So... we had to go back through the electronic gates of doom and around to the 7 photocopiers. They were all off. One had no paper. One had no ink. Finally one that worked! All this faffing around for stupid photocopying. I ask you! Eventually we finished and we went back to the counter and asked if we could get our pound back for the card. The man was then like "No, no you should keep it until next time we don't give money back. You understand?" Umm... okay? One foot through the door when a different assistant said "No yeah you can get the money back." Okay we walk back in. "But you can only get in back from the media centre which is in the next building and they're open Monday-Friday." Today is Saturday. So Tamsin and I spun on our heels and left!

Had some lunch at the Roehampton University cafe. Tamsin also enjoys eating unattractively.
We then said our jovial farewells to Roehampton in the best possible way. Maybe. Back on the train and back to Egham in all its glory. Then the rest of the day was me sitting at this laptop thinking to myself "WRITE THE ASSIGNMENT PHOEBE". I did the introduction. It's not long it's just I STILL DON'T KNOW WHAT I'M DOING. Sounds like no one does which is somewhat reassuring. I think the lecturer should be extremely impressed that I went all the way to Roehampton though. She better.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Yep. It's Reading Week.

You're probably wondering why you haven't heard from in a while... Well mostly it's because I've had my head down trying to get my assignment done because I'm still not sure how to do it. It's terrible because the library on campus is not equipped to be able to finish it! In fact, I'm going all the way to Roehampton University on Saturday to use their library to finish this assignment! Crazy.

As you can gather its been a pretty quiet couple of days. Shuffling back and forth from the library with stacks of books on bulimia - getting some strange looks along the way. When I say quiet I also mean in the literal sense as most of the people in Founders have gone home for reading week! Yay! Sleep! The fly in the ointment with this is that the fire alarm has gone off everyday since reading week began. Usually I take my time with fire alarms because they are almost always false alarms. The other evening, however, I found out that this building in which I am currently residing is the second most flammable building in England! Oh goody! This is because it was built almost two hundred years ago and is insulated with straw. Basically what this means is that if the fire hit the insulation - I would have no hope of escape. Needless to say I'm taking these alarms a little bit more seriously now and when I got to bed I always make sure my ugg boots, coat and keys are all within reach of rolling out of bed.


Last night, however, I went into London with some of the Holloway Players to see a professional improvisation show which was hilarious! One of the people playing was a woman who I've seen on "Whose Line is it Anyway?" many times. (It's a television show for those who don't know) So I got a bit starstruck when she came onstage. They're very clever and witty. They played one game which was SO complicated. One of the performers went outside and the MC got a strange job description from the audience for the person outside to guess. It was not easy it any way. From verbal clues this poor man had to guess that he was a man who lured bees into 1.2 metre ASDA (it's some sort of brand) made frisbees with Turkish Delight! How on earth could you get that when the clues they were giving were like one guy who came on saying that "this is where he meets his girlfriend. It's the one place he can meet her. One to meet her. ONETOMEETHER." Which, if you say it fast, becomes 1 2 metre. Pretty tricky huh? No idea how he got it in the end. The guy guessing kept getting upset with the audience because we'd cheer when he'd repeat something like "onetomeether" and he'd say "yeah that means something to you but it doesn't to me!" Very funny. The point is he did get it! Every component of that difficult clue he mastered. Genius.


On the way back to the train station (have to early nights in London because the last train back to Egham leaves at 11:30 which is a bummer so you either leave then or hang around London until the 5am train which I was not ready to do) I took a stroll to the riverbank and had a look at all the lovely blazing lights of London. I tried to take a photo but they never turn out how you want. It doesn't capture the atmosphere - chilly, misty and magical! So use your imagination I suppose. Another important feature of this jaunt is that I went with only two layers and a coat on! It's getting more bearable! Hooray! I won't forever be doomed to look frumpy while I'm here!


That's all I've got to report at present - sorry! Back to my assignment... and perhaps monopoly.

Monday, 16 February 2009

The Henge of Stone, Glastonbury and Bath

Up again bright and early. Going to Stonehenge! Yay! It's so exciting. After another nap on the bus we awoke to see this amazing ruin - in the stone. Okay so you need to grasp how incredible this pile of stones is. The little stones weigh about a tonne and are made of bluestone which you can find in Wales. Wales is a long way away from where the henge is. To get one of these smaller rocks to where it is now would have taken about 20 years or so. The bigger rocks you can see weigh about 40 tonnes. If this doesn't impress you the terrain around the site is hills going up and down - not flat. Now this thing must have been pretty darn important to those who were building it because it took about 1000 years to complete! Now that's more than one guy being like "let's build this", dying and the others going "meh" and dropping their tools. This thing spans many many generations. It's actually built on two crossing lines of magnetic force so I don't know how they worked that one out. According to brochure Stonehenge will "always be a mystery" because there are only theories about what it was used for. Some of these theories include religious icon and recently it was believed to be a hospital. Miranda and I were joking that actually it was used as a nightclub for aliens visiting earth because at this time the nightlife was pretty dead. Here is an artist's representation:
The stones resting on top have a clever lego-like system in that they lock into one another and stand upright because one third of the huge rock is underground. So remember when looking at it that there is a third of those big rocks under the earth. I can't believe how dedicated they were. I mean the tools they were using were made of mostly bone so chiseling the locking system would have taken like ages - literally ages of time.

Hippie-type people usually come here during summer solstice because the sun is framed directly by the circle of stones. These people lick the stones. Thousands of people have licked these stones and sadly the main stones were cordoned off but I found some! I'm hoping the power of the stones will make my cold go away. That and another remedy I take later on today.

Moving on from Stone-town we travelled to Glastonbury where we went to Glastonbury Abbey. It's in ruined pieces but if it were in a complete form it would have been huge! They have an outline all along the ground and it was giant! It would have given all the other churches a run for their money. I guess it did back in the day. It was constantly being rebuilt and having bits added to it during a long span of time until Henry VIII (AHHHHH!!) decided to close a lot of monasteries including this one. Having done that people felt it necessary to just borrow and not return the bricks from this abbey which is why it's in ruin now.

Now you may have heard but the special thing about this abbey is that King Arthur is buried here. Well they THINK it's King Arthur - I mean Miranda and I were having a talk about if he was actually real or not. Basically some person at one point in time wasn't getting any pilgrims coming to this abbey and making any money (I guess they were all too busy seeing Thomas Beckett) so he stumbled across some bones. He found a skull with a huge blow at the back of it so much that the skull was pretty much falling apart. King Arthur was said to have been killed on the battlefield by a blow to the back of the head so naturally this keen individual saw his opportunity for glory and said that this was Arthur. So here is a picture of his supposed grave and me trying to merrily pull an imaginary Excalibur from the earth. Over the way there was another sign saying that this was the spot where the bones of Arthur and Guenevere were actually discovered. For the sake of a hilarious photo Miranda and I became this couple risking getting muddy and wet. The things I do for your entertainment!

We had a little walk around the high street of Glastonbury getting lunch and so on and the whole high street consists of hippie shops! I thought we left the hippies at Stonehenge? Every shop had either costumes from the medieval times or items or books about crystal healing. One of these shops was called "The Mystic Piglet". I mean really? That's the best name they could come up with? Good grief.

Away from Glastonbury and onto Bath! Bath plays a big part in the life and the novels of Jane Austen who we all know and love. Except me. I don't love her. Bath become very popular when the Romans decided to give England a look-see and realised it was stupidly cold. Luckily they found some really hot natural springs and found something to do with their time. So they built this amazing bath house. History wise we should have seen Bath before Glastonbury but geography wise it had to be this way. Regardless - this bath house was incredible! The Romans were SO clever. You can see that the water doesn't look very inviting but in the Romans time it was crystal clear. It's because of the sulphur and various other means that the water looks somewhat unsavoury. I'd still get in, however, because the water was perfectly warm! It was a cold day today and this water was naturally warm. It bubbles up from the core of the earth very hot and when it gets to here it's perfect. I think it's around 20 degrees? Which feels lovely when the temperature outside is 5. There was a second pool which was used to throw messages to the gods or curses to those who had wronged them. They were written on lead or some such material because they still exist and have been translated! Curses from thousands of years ago saying things like "May so and so's eyes be burned from their head and maggots eat their pants for stealing my gloves". I thought that was pretty impressive. Before the Romans found and built this bath house there was a king of the Celts who stumbled across these magic waters. His name was King Bladud and he had leprosy. Yum. After watching some pigs with a similar skin disease (don't even ask how they got it)recover after rolling in some mud, he too, rolled in this mud and hot springs which then cured his leprosy! Not bad.

The bath house lost its popularity for a while and then in the 19th century it was the place to be! Bath became a hot spot for the characters we know from the Jane Austen novels. They would frequent a place called the "pump room" which had water from the spring which would supposedly cure your every ailment. Doctors would prescribe several glasses a day and many queens were cured of infertility after drinking this water. We got to try it and it tasted like eggs and blood. Urgh. I had three sips and Miranda had one so I guess I'll be having 300 babies and she only gets 100.

We took a tour of the town and found the high street of Bath which is where Jane Austen, herself, would have shopped for various fabrics and bonnets. Miranda features as Jane Austen in this picture and it also allows you to have a look at the buildings. They are all the same colour here! I found that a bit creepy that all the houses looked the same and were the exact same colour. It was a bit like suburbia back home which was daunting.

We walked into a building that was built as a dance hall for the time period because Bath was becoming so popular the old hall was far too small. This dance hall held 1000 people! 1000 people doing those lame Victorian dances where everyone bobs and lightly touches one anothers' hands. In this photo (she was very eager) Miranda is waiting for a gentleman to come and ask to fill in her imaginary dance card. Look at the room though! It's huge. High ceilings and gigantic chandeliers. It's very dreamlike. The walls are all decorated with white flowers and so on. The whole floor has springs for the ultimate dance experience. Unfortunately, after the hall was built Bath wasn't as popular and Brighton become the place to be. Which is a shame for the hall. There are various parts of the building which are a slightly different colour. This is because it got bombed in WWII. The different colour is fire damage. Yesterday we learned that Canterbury was heavily bombed in WWII because the Germans had a guide book to the most historical places in Britain and decided to bomb those the most - Canterbury was one of them. Isn't that sad?

We then went to the Royal Crescent (?) which contains the most prestigious houses of the era. If you managed to stay in one these homes for the season then you were worth marrying. Out the front you can see a big green lawn which has two levels. The women would parade themselves and their new bonnets on the top layer for all the men to see whilst the lower level of grass was for livestock. Now I find this rather offensive. A man can sit on his bum, look out the window and pick a wife and a meal all in one day! Humph!

After this we got back on the bus and made the long drive back. We got stuck in stand-still traffic at one point - it's like being back at home really - but eventually made it back. I then went to Holloway Players and had a hilarious evening of improvisation. Hope you enjoyed this novel of a blog!

My pilgrimage to Canterbury and to some extent Leeds Castle

That's right! It's St Valentine's Day! To wish you all well, around the world, Miranda and I struck this attractive pose. There is actually a story behind this photo. We were eating really hot mints and joking that you look really unattractive as you swish the hot mint around your mouth. So because it was Valentine's Day we would have lovely breath for kisses but due to our expressions we probably wouldn't get many offers... Rather amusing.

Okay! So today is a HUGE day because I went on a tour to see Canterbury cathedral and then onto Leeds Castle. Was up very early and ran to the bus because we didn't want to miss it. We weren't the last ones but they "did enjoy our running". They couldn't have signalled us to stop running? Anyway I had a nice little nap on the bus on the way and so did Miranda because she was woken up last night by a fire alarm at 3am! Haha! I just missed it getting in at 3:20 so that was lucky. Hopped off the bus and into Canterbury where many many people made pilgrimages to to see Thomas Beckett's shrine. Beckett is a martyr because he had a disagreement with Henry II about the place of the church and so on and had his scalp removed by various individuals of the king. Fun times! We pilgrimaged our way through town, delicious crepes with nutella and banana in hand, and witnessed what was supposed to be "the most beautiful cathedral in England". Miranda and I are spoilt though... St Paul's, we think, is still much prettier. Apparently, Henry II felt so bad about murdering Beckett he made a pilgrimage through the streets on his hands and knees wearing a really itchy shirt made of hair or something. So overall I don't think our pilgrimage was as epic what with the crepes and our lovely warm and soft clothes and all. It was very lovely inside, as you can see, but there is scaffolding at a lot of these sites - damn Olympics! It seems that every historical site in Britain has had some influence by Henry VIII! From memory the only reason there are some stained glass windows in this cathedral was because Henry VIII missed them on his changing-religion-and-therefore-smashing-windows rampage. He went quite mad it seems... I guess he really wanted Anne Boleyn... at least for some of his life or rather her life.

The next photo is the actual shrine of Thomas Beckett, or rather the modern one that replaces the original because, as we know, one particular King destroyed everything that seemed to have any historical/religious meaning. There are four swords in the shrine because there were four men who came to assassinate Beckett. Now you can probably only see two swords and this is because apparently the shadows provide the other two which I think is cheating but whatever. The tour guide was saying that the final blow that whipped off the tip of Becky's head was so forceful that after the blow the sword dented the stone floor. Ouch. I think that's all I have to report about Canterbury. Oh! There was a dunking stool that survived the test of time over one of the rivers. It was NOT for witches. It was for gossips! So if you gossip about someone remember that you may be strapped into a wooden chair and dunked into freezing and disgusting water which everyone used for... everything vile. Lesson learnt! My final photo from Canterbury is one of me - in the gift shop of the cathedral. I was in the cathedral looking through a view finder showing images - of the cathedral! Ha ha very witty of me I KNOW. I don't think the guy behind me thought it very funny - that or maybe he's wearing an itchy shirt for his pilgrimage. Who knows with these crazy Brits!
Next stop! All aboard the bus for another nap and then Leeds Castle! Away! There was, typically, some useless roadworks going on around the castle so we had to take this long winded detour which, using British slang, we were "going round the houses". Eventually we went via the detour and ended up trapped BY the roadworks! What is wrong with these people? After much discussion and cursing on all our parts we had to get off the bus and walk through the roadworks to the castle. Oh I must first clarify that Leeds castle is not in Leeds it's in Kent. Leeds is very far away from where we are which is around the bottom of England. So the bus ride wasn't THAT long. It was built in the 12th century and is therefore VERY OLD. Just so you realise. It was appropriate that on Valentine's Day there is a love story that goes with this castle. Edward I absolutely LOVED his wife Eleanor of Castile and gave the castle to her as a gift. They were actually married when they were 8 and 10 and, no, it wasn't consummated until years later. In fact, Edward I loved her so much that when she died he was so sad that he brought her body to where it is buried now, in Westminster Abbey, and everywhere the crew stopped to rest for the night he made a little shrine to honour her. One of these spots is Charing Cross which is a big railway in London and also on the monopoly board I think. The reason it's called "Charing Cross" is because when they stopped in this spot he wrote "cher reine" and left a cross. "Cher Reine" means dear queen and when you say it slowly it blends to become "Charing". Pretty cool huh? I hope that made sense.

The castle was eventually given to Catherine of Aragon who was married to, that's right, HENRY VIII! That guy really made a name for himself history wise. The castle was taken over by a rich millionairess, Lady Baillie, in the 1920s and she refurbished it all so it was very non-historical inside which was pretty disappointing. I mean all these kings and queens of thousands of years had slept here and yet I was distracted by the 60s style furniture. Once again it was very cold and the lake that surrounded the castle was pretty much frozen so there was signs saying "Danger ice" around it. Naturally, Miranda and I assumed that "danger ice" was just a new dance move according to the little man on the sign.

Now the castle was lovely but the best part of Leeds castle is the MAZE. It was ... aMAZEing. Yes it had to be done. But seriously it was great and we managed to get to the middle with Miranda's excellent navigational skills and the postcard that Victoria may, or may not, have bought which had an aerial view of the maze on it. Tee hee! It was funny because we were in a maze we just HAD to take photos looking like the kids from Harry Potter in the forth novel where they go through a big scary maze. Victoria and I had star shaped lollypops which did for wands and so the hilarious magic was made!
The point is we made it to the middle and we assumed that there was just a boring gate which would let us out but no. I turned to the exit and saw a downward staircase leading us into a tunnel of darkness with blue and green lights spookily leading the way. I got a bit spooked at the start but inside there was a huge fountain with poetry being read from somewhere within the walls. Statues made from loads of little shells and water dripping from the ceiling - it was awesome. It was called the grotto and I loved the grotto - forget the castle and the history! Go the grotto! Time was up so we had to rush back to the bus and back to Royal Holloway. Absolutely exhausted but nevertheless Miranda and I completed our Valentine's Day with pizza and a corny film - "Enchanted". A complete success. Stay tuned for tomorrow which involves pretty much 2000 years of English history - including Romans! Yay!
















Saturday, 14 February 2009

Yaaaarrrr I had class...

Thursday, Thursday. Class on Thursday! Directing class... Started class. Remember how panicked I was about handing in that scene? How worried I was about over preparing? Well...the lecturer felt it necessary to find flaws with my concept that I had to defend - in front of the entire class. Yay. Almost everything that I defended my idea with was in my written piece which, in his hand, he held. And yet it gets worse. I'll sandwich my disappointment with this day between some of the random activities we did in class. One exercise was that we had to stand with our legs apart and act as if we were rowing. Up and down. Work harder! Faster! Rowing, up, down, can't stop. No actual oars but us lurching up and down violently. The best part is that the following day I could barely get out of bed because my spine was so sore - and still is. The second exercise which is very worthy of reporting was where we all had to lie down on the floor as close to one another as possible in a line. So we looked like a human raft thing. The lecturer then said "okay now tense your stomachs and I'm going to walk across all of you". Just kidding. He did say that and don't go thinking the exercise is now going to become normal - because it SO isn't. He then said "what I actually want you to do is for the person on the edge to roll over all the people til they get to the end and become part of the line again. Go". That's right. In turn, we had to roll over one another like logs. I got awfully intimate with my classmates in a very short space of time. I felt bad crushing everyone and being crushed at the same time. How awkward. Then we had to go back to doing the exercise of last week - the couple making out in front of us while rehearsing a play! (Please keep in mind they weren't making out but that's the idea he was going for I guess) I was ready to scream! Doing the script we don't need AT ALL for the 5th week in a row?? AHHH!!
And now for the absolute rubbish part of my day. We had to cast one another in our chosen scene. All week I was talking to Miranda how eager I was to see who cast me and what kind of roles I would get to perform. We went round the circle saying who we would like for our scripts.
No one picked me.
That's right. I did not have a scene at all until I put my hand up and resisted saying I knew this would happen but "I don't have a role". In the end I was put in this guy's group who wanted three guys and because there weren't enough he got stuck with me and I felt awful! I don't want to ruin his piece because I have trouble performing a male role. Meanwhile people were discussing their two, three, four pieces they were acting in. I can tell you this did not help my self-esteem them as seen in the previous blog one bit. And that was my day. Absolutely awful.

I had my art class which was pleasant. It was clothing altering and I brought and old shirt which I am now embroidering leaves and such on to exhibit in the "four elements" show sometime into the semester. Overall Thursday was a crap day.

Now onto Friday! Friday I licked my emotional wounds and trotted down to Egham for supplies. I'm sure groceries are getting steadily more expensive since I've been here which sucks. Finished decorating my room. It now has my lovely collage and one part of the wall is covered with awesome pictures. I'll show you when I don't have any other photos because this takes me to the event of the evening - Pirate Night! You don't think I put "Yaaaarrrrrr" in the title for no reason did you? Tut tut. Pirate night means that the Student Union is turned into a piratey themed disco for the evening and everyone dresses like pirates and gets their groove on. Bought my ticket and did my best - I wasn't exactly expecting a pirate theme to turn up but I managed. Headed down at 11:30pm with my neighbour, Jessie, and some of her friends, who are all SO lovely, and we danced the night away! (Jessie is the one on the far left with the purple corset) It was a lot of fun. The DJ was on the stage, inside a boat that read "S.S RHUL" on the side and there were pirate flags and such hanging from the ceiling. It was great seeing everyone dressed so crazy and it was actually hot inside so I got down to TWO layers! Walking to and from the hall was a little chilly, however. Got my groove on and observed the costumes. Some very full-on pirates running around - eyepatches, ripped clothes and drunkenness! Though some of the students seem to have made their own theme because there were several tarzans and cats about the place. Who knows. I didn't get back to my room until 3:20am! Keep in mind that I had to be up at 7 the next morning to go to Canterbury and Leeds Castle. I did manage but that tale will have to wait as I am very tired now after a long day. In conclusion, Thursday = crap, Friday = fun.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

St-st-st-Staines

I'm back from the brink and I forgot to mention a few things last time. I had a room check on Tuesday and they left a notes on my bed saying it was "satisfactory". Satisfactory? My room was SPOTLESS they should have written on this generic note "your room was the best in all the land" but no. Now that there's not another room check for a month my clothes have returned to their natural place - on the floor. Oh another random thing that happened yesterday after I'd already posted. I was going to the bathroom, keep in mind this is an all girls floor, when someone appeared through the frosted glass. I looked up to open the door and there was a guy coming out of the shower! I gave him a genuine "what the?" look and he went "oh err...sorry". Really weird. No wonder the drains are always blocked...smelly boys.

Something else I've noticed. With regards to my sadness yesterday and monthly cry of "no one likes me" I think it's party BECAUSE I'm Australian. I thought the Brits loved Aussies? Well not at this University I don't think. I mean I have a good joke about it and everything and that's fine. But there are some who bring it up in subtle ways around me and I just wonder if it's a gentle reminder that I don't belong here. Sounds silly but its been adding up of late...

Onto today! Today is Wednesday and Miranda and I went to Staines! In all its stainy glory. The main reason for our trip was to go to the movies! - hang on. Someone is a-knocking. Some random girl asking if I knew security's number?? I gave it to her and asked if everything was alright... How strange... Anyway back to the movies! Last time I went to the cinema was... at least a couple of months ago. Staines had more shops than Egham which isn't hard to accomplish but there are SO many nice things here! I go into the bookshop and look around longingly and go into clothes stores and cry at the prices. Sigh. In my head I constantly play the if-I-had-a-million-pounds game. It's a nice little town. And by little I mean bigger than Egham but a lot smaller than London. Miranda and I are so sick of the food at the dining hall we splurged and had a huge lunch. I had creamy pasta and Miranda had chicken fajitas which are hilarious when mispronounced. It's 10pm now and I'm still full. I ate that much.

After lunch we went into a toy store and marveled at all the British variations on toys. I found an excellent new roommate. Alas he was a little too expensive for my taste. That and I didn't really need a big orangutan puppet except to annoy Miranda with and that served its purpose in the shop. The film was pretty good. We saw "He's just not that into you" and, yeah, it was OKAY but I didn't really like the ending. It was raining when we came out so we trotted back to the train station to go one stop to Egham. Got back to campus and found this door to one of the bathrooms in Founders which was the smallest door you could get through without mashing your forehead every time. Look at the photo! I look HUGE. Maybe the food here encourages growth - I guess you'll all have to wait and find out. Judging from the photos I took today - Staines didn't have too much to offer in the way of tourist attractions. It was funny though because a lot of the other international students were in Staines as well going to the cinema. We've all got cabin fever from within Egham. Have to get up earlier than usual for class tomorrow because of some thing the lecturer wants us to do. Knowing him we won't do it anyway! Hopefully tonight I'll rid myself of that ever-so-attractive bloodshot eye look and get some serious sleep. Nighty night!

Pity Blog

Yes one and all - it's come to this. A pity blog. All I have to talk about are my feelings and woes, not necessarily in that order.

Oh man I feel like total rubbish at present. My hair is awful because of the weather, skin dry, pimples, hat hair, looking like a frump in all my layers and no one around to tell me "it's alright". Yikes. Tuesday I went to my Therapy class and I just couldn't face it. I honestly did not want to get out of bed for that - I did though. Dragging myself to class I arrived at 10:45 - 15 minutes early thinking that at least the lecturer will have arrived. By five to I was beginning to worry if there had been another phantom email sent to everyone but me. No...people trickled in at about 10:59 and we had to start at 11:05. I guess I'm just overly punctual for class? The class itself was pretty mind-numbing today. We had to do a catch up class of last week's readings and then the readings from this week as well and also talk about assignments. It was a complete talking class. I just struggled because I still don't understand the slight differences between one discipline of theatre therapy and another! Even the lecturer admits "there is a lot of blurring". Why bother? They're all aiming at helping people lets just leave it at that! In the end she left two hours early to go somewhere and left us to do an exercise. Naturally, we finished it in 45 minutes and then left early. That was probably the best part about the class. Sigh. Oh no and I have to write this assignment!? Argh.

Later that evening...

Miranda and I were desperate for a light dinner of sushi and the only place we could get it was down in Egham. So we walked. I was thinking that maybe the reason I'm sleeping so much here is because of the heavy food. Every dinner is swimming in gravy or carbs or starch. I feel bloated and awful after most meals. Wow all this whinging - what a fun read this must be. Anyway the Tesco sushi was average but it did the job and then we walked back up the hill where I met Tamsin, a very funny girl from the therapy class - we both make hilarious jokes about it as you could probably guess. We went to the Midnight Boilerhouse show which started at eight. Go figure. Two of the boys from my Directing class were in it and that was fun to see them doing their show - which was actually a professional show at the Edinburgh play festival thing. Onwards to the Student Union to catch the last half-hour of the Royal Holloway Players. They play for two whole hours - exhausting. That was funny. Then we went to Medicine because the student elections were being announced. FINALLY I was getting so sick having a pamphlet shoved down my throat whenever I left my room. The girl in my class, who I voted for, didn't win : (. That was so sad. I had a Snakebite for the first time - yes it's a drink - which consists of Carlsberg, Strongbow and Blackcurrant juice? I think that's right. It was pretty weird but I ended up finishing it so it must have been good! Yay! I have some photos to show this time. Quite funny actually because Tamsin kept posing wrong. Tee hee!Tamsin get your drink in the shot.
Tamsin get your drink in the shot.
Yeah. That'll do. Tamsin headed home and I eventually lost the trickle of friends who were there and decided to head on home. Why is everywhere I need to go uphill?
So this is where the sadness and aforementioned woes come into play. Walking back I was just hit with a surge of "Phoebe you suck" and got a bit teary actually. It was just all dawning on me - all the girls in my hall hate me, everyone at Royal Holloway hates me, the British public hate me - silly I know. One of the boys from Holloway Players asked if I was okay and said I needed "chocolate and a girly movie". I chose Minstrels (delicious British sweets) and Pocahontas. It wasn't until I got back to my room that I looked in the mirror (Urk) and say that a tiny dollop of blood was coming from my left nostril. Oh no! How long had that been there? At the pub? When the guy had seen me? Did he think I'd been roughed up? Oh dear. Long night I tell you. Anyway I'm sure that was very difficult for you to read and I promise to make the next blog far more interesting - I'm going to Leeds and Stonehenge on the weekend so hang in there! As will I.

Monday, 9 February 2009

And then it rained...

I'm so sorry about my slackness in this blog business of late. It's just that I've been waiting for something to happen so I can tell you about it and... nothing much has. I mean mundane to the max - returning library books, reading, online monopoly (it's addictive) and that's pretty much it for the past 3 days. On Thursday night I went to this art club and we got to sit around a big table and do portraits of one another. It was really lovely because everyone was really friendly and accepting of my awful drawings. There were some people there that were AMAZING artists and they were so modest about it. Incredible. Very lovely evening and there were even chocolate biscuits involved! I will definitely be back next week!
Then on Friday when I was returning all these books on domestic abuse (it's an assignment but it looked pretty funny) I ran into a girl from one of my classes and at the moment there is a student election on so everyone is campaigning. So she was handing out flyers for her friend, who was running, and the poor thing had been there since nine in the morning and had been rained, snowed and rained on once more. She looked so cold! I also went to see a student production of "The Importance of Being Earnest" which was good. I haven't seen it performed before so that was interesting.
Okay so that's pretty much covered Friday and Saturday. Although on Saturday the dining hall isn't open so I had a microwave dinner, in the fridge, waiting for me. So I finish another round of monopoly and head to the pantry to find - someone has completely ripped open the plastic bag I keep my food in, sprayed every item around and stolen the dinner! Yay! The thing is I could SMELL it. It had just been cooked and they had just escaped my wrath because, seriously, I'm totally over this petty theft thing and it makes me want to break things. So I went to bed hungry after dining on some crackers and an apple. Sigh.
Sunday! Went to the dining hall for a big breakfast - as I was starving. I even had BAKED BEANS! Who would have thought? So I sat down at a table by my onesies when the girl who lives next door to me, Jessie, invited me to sit with her and her friends who also live on this floor. Very pleasant! What a nice girl. Oh and we have a room inspection on Monday and she was telling me all about it - how slack the inspection people are because they usually don't show up until Thursday so I've done a bit of a clean. Meh. I also made a collage! I shall attach a photo of it because it is so cool and my room here is pretty bland. I have taken a photo of the whole thing then close ups so you can appreciate it's coolosity. I drew the mermaid!
Later that evening I went back to the "Royal Holloway Players" for another evening of hilarity. We played some different games this week and that was fun. Then at the end we played "hoedown" which I've seen on TV but I've never tried before. So I watched a round and then everyone made me go up! I was SO scared. Luckily I went last. So the game works where four people are in a line and they each recite 4 rhyming couplets. Is that right? 8 lines? Anyway they do that and you are given a topic like relationships and you make up a funny limerick about that. So, yes, I was last and so nervous, blocking my ears so I could think of something and not get distracted, dancing on the spot to help the though process - or maybe I just like dancing. My topic was Harry Potter so I managed to cobble something together at the last possible second and it worked! It was rather rude so I won't repeat it but I did it! Completely surprised myself. Everyone was like "Yeah! Great hoedown" and I felt special. Then a bunch of us went to the uni bar and I had some more cider - too much on reflection because I'm not feeling to hot at present. So that was really fun, chatting to the improvisation people. Oh! And then we went downstairs and played fooz ball (no idea how to spell it). You know, the game with the little soccer men and you move them back and forth with sticks - wow great explanation there. You must know what I mean. Google it. So at first I watched and then we played two vs two and my team won! What an evening! This naturally warranted a victory dance which I did. Haha! The night wore on and I was escorted back to Founders and managed to crash into bed only to have to get up every couple of hours to go to the bathroom. I miss my en suite! Walking down the hall is such a trial. Sigh.
Woke up this morning and it's seriously raining now. Every Monday morning the fire alarm test usually goes off at 8:30 and I woke up just before 8:30 and then there was no alarm and it's now 11. Surely I couldn't have slept through the alarm? It's not possible I mean that thing is SO LOUD. Maybe the alarm is broken. Oh well. It's raining there can't be too many fires around.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Snow Day postponed...

Yesterday was my day off from classes (scheduled day off that it because I didn't have class the previous day either) so I had to get this thing done for class the next day. Went to the library and got out millions of plays, read them, finally chose one (Streetcar Named Desire), picked a scene, got more books specialising on my chosen topic and then had to plot out a set design, costumes, lighting and so on! I then had to do brief notes in case I didn't get my first choice. Now if you've been reading this blog religiously, as I hope you all are, you should know that I have been stressing about this thing since last week AND the week before. Needless to say I went all out. So I finished it at 8 last night and plodded along to library to print out and a very helpful library man hovered around me during the whole process and then discovered that the printers weren't working - typical. So he printed them all out in his office for free! Not bad! I was quite impressed.
Earlier that day I went to Egham for foody type supplies and to get Miranda some tissues and juice because the poor thing is still sick. Walking past all the little houses was funny because each yard would be bare except for a big pile of snow in the middle which, I guess, looked like snowmen when it was colder but now look like melted corpses - which I suppose they were. One snowman, however, was doing well with an afro wig, red feather boa, rubber gloves and two huge breasts! Snowman? Whatever.

The walk to Egham is really peaceful - birds actually chirp which makes it so surreal. Almost took a tumble at least 30 times in the whole journey. I managed to slip the most when people were watching which was annoying.

Returned and now onto today.

Snow melting - had to go to class. Supposed to be snow on Saturday though - I'll keep you posted. Went to class and, yes, I had outdone myself tremendously on the hand-in thing. Everyone crowded round me and flicked through my "works consulted", appendices, diagrams and script. I didn't know! I'm really paranoid about uni here because they mark REALLY hard. So that was that done - YAY! Today in class the director got two people up and made them do a scene as if one person was in love with the other and the other person wasn't in love with anymore. Does that make sense? One person in love, the other not anymore. So this girl had to enter the scene and get really personal in front of us all. The tutor would stop them and be like "do we believe them? Come back and do it again but be more intimate and physical". So glad I wasn't chosen because the next pair were half-kissing, hugging and oh man I felt awkward for everyone in the room.The students that were doing it got right into, very maturely which is another reason I'm glad I wasn't picked. I'd squirm and giggle and not want to participate.

So that was my day and tonight I might go to an art class that I'll have to find on campus somewhere. I don't have any photos, once again, so here is a photo I took in Oxford in a graveyard. I thought it was a lovely photo so - yeah enjoy!

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Snow Day!

Got up, got dressed, got motivated for class, waited...waited...waited in the snow. Still waiting for my classmates... No one showed. Or should I say snowed? HAHA!



Anyway no one showed up so I went back to my room, not knowing what else to do, and checked my email just in case. The website was down. So I rang one of the girls in the class and she goes "Oh yeah we got an email, like, yesterday saying class wasn't on because of the snow or whatever". Shame I didn't get that email. Mmm hmm after the maintenance on the site was done I checked my email and there was nothing there. Out of the loop once again. They really don't like helping international students here huh?


The snow is, sadly, melting but there were a couple of showers throughout the day - snow, rain and snow. I think it's melting now because when I was walking to class I had to do a quick dash under all the trees as various snow clumps fell off the trees and went "plop" on the ground. I took a photo of the Noh Theatre where I have class so you can really see the snow.


So this is before...


And this is after...

Nice and white! So yes, today was a snow day, because I didn't have class! I couldn't do a victory dance with anyone though because (cleverly) they were still in bed. So I got more study done and then at 1:30 discovered the joys of online monopoly...

As promised here is another video of Miranda and my antics. This time it features a good deal of London and, no, the people looking at us strangely were not actors - they were just weirded out. So featured in this video are the happenings of my last blog - Waterloo, St Paul's Cathedral, Shakespeare's Globe, Camden Markets and our place of residence appears in a few shots. Enjoy!

video