July 5, 2009

Before Stonehenge, there was Woodhenge and Strawhenge


After a short train ride from Cambridge to London, where we checked into our hostel near King's Cross Station, we took another train to Salisbury. There was a bus tour offered directly from the Salisbury train station, that took us through town and out to the Salisbury Plains and dropped us off at Stonehenge. Salisbury was a pretty town, from what I saw out of the upper deck bus window. It would have been nice to have gotten out and walked around, but I wasn't complaining once we hit the monsoon on our way through the Plains to get to Stonehenge.

Salisbury Plains: driving through the monsoon

Rachel and I could NOT stop quoting Eddie Izzard. As part of his stand up act, Dressed to Kill, Eddie does a bit on Stonehenge, and it's bloody hilarious! Here, watch for yourself: Eddie Izzard on Stonehenge

One of the biggest Henges in the world!

The weather broke for us, just as our bus pulled up to Stonehenge, so we were lucky enough to see the stones without the rain pounding down on us. Although, we still had that relentless English wind. I liked that we saw the stones under such cloudy conditions. It's a mystical place, and the rain and wind only seemed appropriate - it gave it that eerie, ominous, and supernatural feel. As Laura would say... "Those are some morally gray clouds".

This is what happens when the Devil and Merlin team up with aliens...


July 4, 2009

Stickin' it to the Brits!

The last thing I wanted to do was travel - but the trip was already planned, train tickets pre-purchased, Bed & Breakfast and hostel booked, and my friends already there waiting for me. I decided it was better to be there with my friends, then in my room without them. Plus, Mimi would have wanted me to go. So I went. I took the train south across the border to Cambridge where I met up with Laura and Rachel. Bonus: Helen was there too!

We stayed in a quaint little B&B called El Shaddai. It was run by an ex-con, now born-again Christian. He was very upfront about it all, both his former life of crime and his new life of Jesus. He had just done a little harmless tax evasion - who hasn't done that once or twice?? At least he didn't murder anyone. I just made sure to double check my bill when I left.

Alf, (yes, Alf), had also written an autobiography about it, called "The Lord is my Shepherd" that he described as "earthy yet exciting" and... wait for it... he's just written "Wake Up! The Lord is Returning" - the sequel to his autobiography. How many autobiographies does one person need? And then there was the password for their wireless internet: Johnchapter3verse16. I was afraid they were trying to convert me... and I'm already a Christian!

Parker's Piece, Cambridge

Our B&B was right near the lawn, Parker's Piece, where there was a perpetual Cricket match going on. My first day in Cambridge, I walked around the main part of town and saw the market square, the beautiful buildings of King's College, and even crossed over the River Cam to see where all the students hung out on Common Ground, near Darwin College, which was where Helen was staying. (She was staying in Darwin College, not camping out on Common Ground... just to clarify. Although, she's pretty badass so I wouldn't put it past her to brave the outdoors and sleep on the fields.).

King's College

Cambridge reminded me a lot of Princeton. It's a small town, with the most gorgeous architecture, green lawns every where you look, complete with preppie students. Now British preppy is different from American preppy. I think the main distinction is that Brits are mostly skinny and pale and wear tighter clothing, whereas American preps tend to be athletic, so they bulk up and have a tan from playing sports outside in the sun all day and wear close-fitting, but not tight, clothing. Yes, that is a massive generalization, but go with it.

Laura punts

My second full day in town was the 4th of July! It was a little ironic to be celebrating our nation's day of independence... in the country we became independent from. So, in true American style, I was obnoxious about it! I bought an American flag and wore it as a cape when the four of us went out punting on the River Cam. I wore blue and Rachel wore red and white stripes - together we were the American flag. We had to do something to compensate the fact that Laura and Helen were Canadian...

Bridge of Sighs - England's got one too!

It was really pretty to be out on the water, weaving through the campuses, seeing the backs of all the colleges. On our way to return the punt, all of a sudden we saw a large boat coming toward us. It was a blowup raft of Thomas the Tank Engine, and it's conductor was a drunk American kid, wearing American flag boxers, and using ping pong paddles to propel himself through the water. He was chugging along ever so slowly, and I wanted to start chanting "I think I can, I think I can..." but restrained myself.  The lone punter belonged to a group of students at Darwin college who were having a BBQ in their backyard. (Just smelling the BBQ was enough to satisfy my love of American traditions). They were playing flip cup, and the loser had to go out on the river in Thomas the Tank. It was an inspired idea.

This is how I want to celebrate The 4th from now on!

That night, there were a few amateur firework displays, which was nice. But I'd seen my fair share of fireworks since I'd moved to Edinburgh. I almost feel jaded on the subject.  To finish off our American celebrations (with the two Canadians) we ate Pizza Hut and watched Independence Day in our room.

Happy Birthday, America! Suck it, Great Britain!
Or should I say... Lame Britain...