Monday, 16 March 2009

York - Day Two

Woke up to the sound of bells ringing... Leonore's alarm clock. Packed all our goods together and hopped back on our bus. Oh I should make a mention of the bus actually - WHOA. When it rolled up yesterday we were all like "no, no that's not our bus" but it was and is. Double Decker. Oh yeah. It's a big fat dynamo which was having great difficulty navigating itself yesterday through York's delightful one-way streets!

We then had an hour drive to our first stop of the day which was Fountains Abbey. Built around the 12th century this monster of an Abbey dominates the countryside. It's all in ruins now which made it more Gothic and mystical to walk through wondering what rooms were what and then making up our own analogies. Who knew an Abbey had a bar? So I have to bring this up... Know why this Abbey is in ruins? HENRY VIII! That's why! You would think juggling his many wives would have occupied his time but NO he had to taint every little thing in England with his rule. The Abbey was awesome none the less. Once again photos don't really do it I don't think... They do, however, show the BLUE SKIES! It was the most beautiful weather when we were there! I wasn't even wearing my coat when we were there. Glorious.

Miranda, Leonore and I spent most of our time making hilarious movies around the ruins - more information of this soon!

The one thing that this Abbey has that none other in England (I think) have is.... a second story in working condition! Wow! The tour guide seemed pretty excited by this so I felt obligated to tell you. She was also telling us that if a monk did something wrong like broke their vow of silence they would have to make it up to God. The way of doing this was to lie in a doorway and have all the other monks walk over you. Seriously. It was a process of humbling yourself in the eyes of God. I turned to Miranda and said "Get on the ground. I'm going to humble you. Monk style".
It was an amazing place so I'm going to have to bombard you with photos.
This last one is pretty much me trying to take an arty photo... I just love the way planes make white streams behind them in the sky... It's pretty. The next photo is not anything in particular but you can notice my lovely English tan developing as my arms are the same colour as the white chair upon which I'm sitting. At first I thought I didn't have any arms.... I'm doomed to be pale!

After we perused the huge gardens I made a decision. I want to get married here. It's breath taking. An amazing garden. I fell in love with nature all over again. After a quick hike back to the bus (we get times when we must be back and if you're the last person you have to do the walk of shame back to the bus). We weren't the last... this... time. Onwards to Haworth which, for all you literature buffs, is the hometown of the Bronte sisters! Holy smokes I was excited. For those of you who don't know - tut tut - the Bronte sisters wrote many amazing novels which all had Gothic and dark undertones which is what really makes them. They said that the house and the town they grew up in (and died in) was what inspired the novels. Boy is that an understatement. You know how I was saying the weather in our last destination was excellent? It managed to be cloudy and cold in Haworth. I started feeling dark and Gothic just being there for a couple of hours.

The town of Haworth would have been awful to live in. You had a 50/50 chance of living beyond the age of six in this town because they, brilliantly, decided to build their well at the bottom of the town so all the dirty muck from the houses would trickle into the drinking water. That combined with the state of the graveyards. Because there were so many bodies to be buried the undertakers, or whoever, got lazy and just lay the tombstones on the ground instead of standing them upright. By doing this they managed to stifle the decomposing process of the body because the stone would crush the plants underneath trying to do their work and therefore making the ground acidic and disease riddled. So more people died. Fun times for the Brontes. At least Henry's not involved.

So here is their house! It still boggles my mind that we walked up the front steps that each of these amazing female writers stepped up on 200 hundred years ago... AMAZING. History is SO COOL. I don't care what anyone says.

We went inside the house and the first room you go in, the sitting room, there is a sign saying "this is the room and sofa in which Emily died". Wow! I was in the room that this amazing writer died in! No wonder it smelled funny. Passing the original grandfather clock on the way up the stairs I came to Charlotte's room - where she died. There's that smell again... The clock struck and it struck me with the wonderment that these were the sounds that these women were hearing. I could travel back in time and hear and see what I was seeing and hearing then! Cosmic... They had some of Charlotte's things in glass cases. They had one of her dresses and, my goodness, she was tiny. She would have only reached below my shoulder! Her tiny little shoes and gloves... I felt like a giant in that place. All the rooms were small and could just imagine myself lumbering around the house knocking over the delicates and causing a 19th century outrage. In this house lived Charlotte who is thought to have burned one of her sister's novels so it would never be published, Emily who would frequently walk about the moors alone, Anne who was... quite dull and Branwell their brother who was the family failure as he was a drinker and a drug user! We recreated the family photo - see if you can guess who we are!

We then took a ramble on the moors - just like Emily! These moors represent and are so frequently talked about in English literature I really had to see what all the fuss was about. It was pretty lovely actually. Didn't really feel that Gothic. I was expecting mist but we got there on a non-most day so at least we could see our feet and dodge the rocks. Soon the heather will bloom and it will be pretty spectacular. If I were stuck in that boring town I would probably spend most of my time out here too. Somehow I managed to go the entire walk without crying out "Heathcliffe!". Leonore didn't. She was very convincing too.
Then we got a super speedy lunch as we had to be back on the bus any minute. Miranda ordered some food thinking that it would be quick like anywhere else in the world. Unfortunately, England runs on its own time and Haworth runs on its on time again... so Miranda made the walk of shame. Ah well. My turn will come... maybe next week when I go to Stratford! Wow pressure is on...
I hope this blog was entertaining and informative... mostly I hope it made sense because it's 2am right now... and my words aren't the best. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Branwell for a most entertaining read

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