Exploring Lancaster and Scotland!

A few weeks ago, I was surprised with an email saying that my uncle was going to take a trip over for a few days to come and see me! He wanted to take a tour around Lancaster, as well as a trip up to Scotland. 

I think it’s safe to say I was very excited. We agreed that we were interested in seeing the Lancaster Castle—I hadn’t made it there yet myself—and the Lancaster Cathedral. 

The Castle is very beautiful to walk around outside of, especially on a nice spring day like Steven and I had. The grounds were well maintained, as were the walls. The Castle still works as a functioning courthouse. For that reason, any tours must be done with a guide. Our guide took us through the castle into a few select locations, telling us some of the history. One of the most interesting parts of the stories behind the Castle, were that of the Pendle Witches.

Just as the United States had the Salem Witch Trials in Massachusetts, Lancaster had the Pemble Witches hundreds of years earlier. I recommend a quick google of them, because—and maybe it’s just me because I like geeky cool things like that…shh—they’re really quite fascinating. 

The guide then took us deeper into the Castle down to the cells. He actually locked my uncle and I, as well as another family of three, into one. I have never seen darkness like I had in that cell, and Steven felt the same. We couldn’t see the hands in front of our noses. Every sound was amplified and that just made it all the more eerie. Thankfully, we all made it out in once piece and on went the day.

Steven and I enjoyed a few nice pubs. Pemble Witch —aptly named— Was one of them. We also went down to the Water Witch —Sensing a theme yet?— which was delicious as well. We tried an Italian restaurant, Bella Italia, for dinner, and it was actually quite good—we were craving pizza…I’m still craving it—and that was a great way to spend the evening. 

Now, we spent an entire day in Edinburgh, Scotland. From Lancaster, it was between a two and a two and a half hour train ride, direct. We met up nice and early—twenty to seven am—and watched a few episodes of The Tudors—watch it, it’s amazing—on the train. 

Unfortunately, while we were there, they were doing road construction. Apparently, they’re installing a tram service through town and the road work is taking far longer than it should. Despite that, though, the city was beautiful.

Guess what time it is? It’s time to click this link. Yes. Click these words right here. These words will take you to a few pictures of Scotland. You should click on them. With your mouse. It’ll be cool. You’ll see.

ANYWAY.

One of the most impressive things about Edinburgh was obviously the Castle. As you can probably tell from the picture, it was one imposing looking place. It loomed above the entire city with a watchful, protective, eye with all of it’s fortified glory. As Steven and I walked around, we tried to imagine laying siege to it and…we don’t think it’s very possible without many casualties and eventual failure. I suppose that’s really the point. 

It was a steep walk uphill, but we made it there eventually and wandered around the grounds for ages. One thing we learned was how proud the Scottish seemed to be over their military history. Most of the buildings were dedicated to all of the military costumes and different types of weaponry. There was one monument to fallen soldiers that was particularly moving. If you ever get to Edinburgh, I suppose it goes without saying, plan a large portion of your day around the Castle because it’s really worth the time.

At 1pm every day, there is a cannon that goes off. We remembered it about five minutes to, but we eventually did find it. It’s been a tradition for a very long time for the 1pm cannon to go off, and it was exciting to watch. And loud. I may or may not have jumped and almost knocked into a small child. It’s more ‘may’ than ‘may not’. No one was harmed so who’s really keeping score?

Up next was taking a wander up and down some famous streets. The Royal Mile was the first up and it was beautiful to walk up and down. There were so many little fascinating shops and good smells emerging from cafes and restaurants. The one thing I noticed was that the city was very clean and it definitely struck me. It made everything nicer and more enjoyable in a way I can’t really describe.

Thoroughly exhausted with throbbing feet, we found a restaurant with the best gigantic, squishy, purple, chairs that Steven and I have ever had the pleasure of sitting in. Maybe it was just because we were tired and hungry…but man we loved those chairs. One of us started to doze off. I won’t say who. (*coughStevencough*) What? Sorry, I have a tickle. 

After we were thoroughly fed, (despite craving some ice cream), we took off for the train station. On the way, we passed a small newsagent store that advertised Magnum Ice cream bars, and I introduced heaven to my Uncle. (Thanks to Grandma and Grandpa Lloyd for showing me them in the first place!) They hit the spot. They hit the spot perfectly. 

We ended the trip with a train ride home with more Tudors and some napping because we were both exhausted

It was a really, really great few days and I really can’t describe how much I enjoyed every minute of them. Travelling in foreign countries with family is a wonderful experience that allows for more bonding and memories that will never fade. Thank you so much, Uncle Steven, when you read this, for taking the time to come out and see me. It meant a tremendous amount that you could fly over here and I had a great three days that I will never forget. I hope we can take more trips like that in the future.

So there’s Scotland (with a pinch of Lancaster for flavouring) in a nutshell. I’m sure there are many more places within the city to explore, however I was only there for a day. It’s definitely a place to stop. 

Coming soon will be Cardiff, Wales! Thanks for favouriting and following!

MP

A quick note before my next Scotland post!

I just realised that there was a strange post on here from a few days ago. Looks like my account was temporarily hacked, but I reported the problem and changed some stuff, so hopefully no more weird posts like that!

Tumblr is a home of many different kind of blogs and I suppose when the site is dealing with so many different servers, little mix ups can happen. 

I’ll be posting a blog about my trip to Scotland in a little while, so keep an eye out! I’ll make sure to look for any more strange things popping up on my blog. 

Thanks for hanging in there with me, following, and favouriting!

MP

Forty Shades of Green

So…this is terribly overdue, but I wanted to wait until all of my work was handed in to give this the proper time it’s due. 

Firstly, since I took 199 pictures (after deleting all of the really awful blurry ones), posting them on here would actually be kind of crazy. So, here’s a link to my album of them for your viewing pleasure. Please enjoy my terrible self-indulgent captions from my overtired mind. I worked very hard on them. (noididn’tbutshush.)

CLICK ME FOR THE ALBUM!!!!! YES. ME. RIGHT HERE. CLICK ME. I KNOW YOU WANT TO.

Right. Anyway. So firstly, the travel bit.

Now this was my first time doing any kind of long distance travel by myself while I’ve been here. Of course there were nervous jitters, but that’s to be expected. Despite that I traveled on every mode of transportation ever to get to Ireland, I’d say I did pretty well.

First, I took a cab to the train station and grabbed a direct line from Lancaster to Manchester Airport. I stayed overnight at Bewely’s hotel as there was no train to get me in early enough the next day for my flight. It was a beautiful hotel and I recommend it highly! Despite that I could barely sleep that night, I got out of bed at 5am, showered, had tea, and put myself together to take a shuttle to the airport. A quick 45 minute (literally) flight later, I was searching around Dublin airport for the bus station to take me to Trinity College where I would meet my parents. 

Yes, folks, taxi, train, shuttle, plane, and a bus. I wasn’t kidding. The only thing I was missing was a boat. 

Now, Dublin, as a city, is absolutely spectacular. It’s got a beautiful mix of old and new with friendly people and history around every corner. 

I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to do a proper, and an even more helpful, run-through of Dublin, and so I’ve decided to just list each place and what I recommend you do there.

SO HERE WE GO. (oh, and I may forget places, so keep an eye out because if you see an A/N or EDIT it means I added stuff!)

AN A-Z OF DUBLIN:

  • Christ’s Cathedral: This beautiful cathedral has a lot to offer and I recommend giving yourself between an hour and an hour and a half (if you wanna sit and drink something in the crypt cafe. The ground floor is a sight to see, but don’t miss the crypt! Inside it there are a lot of cool displays and you can see the structure that is holding up the entirety of the cathedral on it’s own. 
  • The Clarence: This is a fun little stop if you like U2! Bono part-owns the hotel which has a neat little bar in it. Supposedly, sometimes he or other members of the band come in for a drink so you never know who you’ll run into. How long you spend there all depends on how much time you want to spend drinking or getting a bit to eat. (Their fish and chips are delicious.)
  • Dublin Castle: Okay, so this is a quick stop and it’s free if you want to just walk around the grounds and into the chapel. It’s small but very beautiful and serene. A great place to sit with a coffee and just look around. Make sure you walk into the tiny chapel because it’s really quite beautiful—especially the large church organ over the entrance. 
  • The Guinness Factory: Well, the Irish are known for their pubs and of course, for their famous beers. The Guinness factory is a pretty interesting place. Not being a big beer fan myself, I was neutral on whether we should make the stop or not, but I’m very glad we did. It was really interesting to learn about how the famous brew was first made and seeing all of the materials that went into making it. It was like the Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory of beer! Make sure to stop at the bar for some delicious shepard’s pie and a pint, as well as wandering up to the seventh floor to see the panoramic view of Dublin. It’s a self-guided tour, so if you’re looking for bare minimum time spent there, figure about forty-five minutes.
  • Ha’Penny Bridge: This bridge is just a little piece of Dublin, really. It used to cost a half-penny to get across it, and there are a lot of little stories about how people used to try to avoid the toll. It’s free now, of course, but it’s still pretty to walk across.
  • Kilmainham Gaol [Pronounced Jail]: This is a must see. The tour is around about fourty-five minutes and you can only do a guided tour. It’s worth the money though as it gives a very comprehensive of Ireland’s turbulent history. Plus, seeing the conditions that prisoners had to live in was chilling and left you thinking. Allow an hour if you want to ask questions.
  • The Oscar Wilde Memorial: Well…I think you should see it if you have a passion for literature like I do, otherwise, it’s not really necessary. You could see it in as little as five minutes, or take around twenty like I did. Plus, who doesn’t want to see a dapper statue of Oscar Wilde just chilling on a rock with a smirk on his face? Okay…maybe that’s just me.
  • Saint Patrick’s Cathedral: Again, if you’re a fan of cathedral’s definitely make this stop. It’s a gorgeous example of Victorian architecture with flying buttresses and stained glass. Even the floors are something to marvel at. Again, something make time to see. You could spend anywhere from twenty minutes to an hour walking around and taking it all in.
  • Trinity College: Okay this is another MUST SEE! The guided tour is a lot of fun and very informative. Our tour guide was particularly witty and taught us a lot about the college. After the tour, they leave you off outside of the library. Now, ‘Harry Potter’ fans will recognize the Long Hallway as the library in the films! And my goodness, it is beautiful, especially if you love books and old things as much as I do. You should also take the time to go through the Book of Kells exhibit, as it’s amazing to see a text that dates back to the 8th or 9th century. Yes, you read that right. And it’s so beautifully ornamented that it is really a treasure to see. I would allow for around two hours for the entirety of the Trinity College experience if you like to take your time. If you skip the tour, you can probably go through it in as little as a half hour.
  • The Wicklow Mountains/Glendeloch: Now, I know this isn’t Dublin, but it’s only about a 45 minute to an hour drive outside of the city and it’s worth it. While it doesn’t give the full picture, it’s a taste of Ireland’s famous forty shades of green and the countryside as a whole. The drive itself is beautiful, and then you arrive in Glendeloch and it simply is astounding. Pictures cannot do it justice. Take the trail of your choice—there are ones for all hiking levels from simple paths to more meaty trails—but make sure you stop in the small cemetery and wander around. The quiet, peaceful way about it is really something special. I would allow anywhere from a half of a day to a full day for this place and it is on my YOU MUST SEE THIS PLACE list. 

Alright, that’s my list as I can remember it now based on the pictures I took. I’ll probably add more to this list later on, but for now, I hope this proves helpful to some!

It was a really fantastic trip and a wonderful way to see my family again and spend time with them. Knowing I would see them really helped assuage any homesickness I felt and it was filled with wonderful memories that I will cherish forever. 

Thanks again for everyone who reads, follows, and favourited!

MP

Of Travels and Studies…

WELL. It has been a crazy couple of weeks. Presentation season is in full swing.

I worked well hard on my first one, as I was a complete bundle of nerves. It was the first thing I expected to get graded on yet this semester and talk about pressure! It appears that all of my fretting and stressing was for naught, though, as this was the only presentation I had that was not graded. Boo. My exhausted brain was rather displeased to put it nicely. 

After that, I started prepping for my trip to Dublin, Ireland where my parents and younger brother were going to meet up with me! I’ve been so excited about the trip since planning began and, let me tell you—the trip was simply fantastic. I’m working on another post that will go through my itinerary of the trip with pictures and recommendations for anyone wanting to visit Dublin themselves, (and all of you should, by the way…).

Returning from the trip, I was faced with the deadlines for my next two presentations. One for my Texts and Dialogues class, and the other for my Shakespeare class. (My previous presentation had been for my Victorian Literature class.) I’ve made several new friends through these projects—I was worried that I would have trouble finding a group as everyone would probably make ones with their friends, but thankfully people adopted me in and made the stress of presentation prep a lot more enjoyable—lots of laughs and distractions, but it was done on time and went well! 

My first presentation was Wednesday, and it went much better than I expected. Aaron, Nick, Priscilla, and I all make a good team when we stop looking up youtube videos about bacon and video games! I took a two hour nap to rejuvenate myself before buckling down and cracking into the heart of interminable dark—no, Madison…wrong class..you are finally done with Heart of Darkness—cracking into the heart of my Shakespeare presentation. Charlotte, Kirsty, Martin, and I all work well together as well and everyone agreed on a topic idea easily and we found a bunch of sources. Tomorrow I’m up early to put the finishing touches on my part of the speech and the visual. —Prezi.com by the way, is an amazing presentation tool. I enjoy it more than powerpoint, to be honest. It costs money UNLESS you have a school account (anything academic) which is wonderful because I can use my cortland email to make cool zooming, swiveling, colorful presentations. 

The way presentations work is simple. You’re usually in groups of 3 or 4 and are expected to go for 15 to 20 minutes—so 5 minutes or so per person. It sounds like a lot, but a 900 word speech covered my 5 minutes and then some pretty easily. For each presentation, we divided out subtopics of our question and each of us became experts on our subtopic. The questions are usually broad and open-ended, giving you plenty of wiggle-room to explore your strengths. For my Victorian class we were simply given the concept of Naturalism and told to give the class a sort of lesson in it. For Texts and Dialogue, we had a choice of two different broad ideas—gender or culture—and had to explore their themes within Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, and Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe; our group focused on gender and it was actually very interesting. Finally, for Shakespeare, we were simply asked to look at one of the discussed poems or comedies and explore into the topic, focusing on anything of your choice. As a group, we agreed that Twelfth Night had the most research options and decided to explore as to whether or not it still holds up today as a tragedy through historical context, comparative studies with Ben Jonson, and so on. That will be on Friday—tomorrow—and I just can’t wait until 5pm when I walk out of that class and can breathe the air of a student with a majorly decreased stress level! 

On that note, I’m going to take a nap before I crack down on my finishing touches. I’m planning on writing up my Dublin trip this weekend when I have a clear mind.

Thanks for all of the follows and favourites! 

MP

SO.

I wrote a huge entry several days ago about some lovely care packages that my family sent me, and tumblr decided to deceive me. As I’m sure you’ve all gathered—said post no longer exists. I assumed it had posted and didn’t double check. I will most definitely be double checking from now on. 

After I get some reading done, I will attempt to re-write it. Sorry for the delay, all! 

Thanks again to all who favorited and follow!

MP

A MINOR Speedbump…

Well every trip has it’s ups and downs—mine could be a lot worse, so I’m thankful, though. 

It was Sunday. It was sunny, beautiful, and a bit more mild than usual—needless to say, I felt the need to take every advantage of it. Wrapping myself up, I went off into town to explore more.

Low on physical cash—because it’s always important to have cash on you at all times in a god-forbid emergency—I popped down to an ATM, checked that the logo’s matched up, and tried to take cash out for the first time. WELL I guess the sky was giving me false hope at an easy day because the machine then told me that it couldn’t accept my card. I decided to shrug it off and waited for it to spit my card back out as promised. So I waited. And waited. And waited. And when the scrolling ads went through the same rotation for the fourth time, I realized that there was to be no simplicity in things this Sunday. 

First thing I did was call home—my mom pulled out the photocopies I made of all of my cards (a VERY important thing to remember to do in case of problems like these!) and emailed to my phone (also quite handy) all of the necessary details. Staying at the machine, I called my bank and they advised that I put my card on hold, should the machine spit it back out at a random stranger, and go back to speak to the bank on Monday. I’ve made a mental note to not go to ATM’s here on Sundays. 

I was naturally frustrated, so I walked back to my dorm room, grabbed a book I’d bought myself to read for fun amid the required readings, popped down to a small, cozy pub, found myself a couch, ordered a (free) water, and read. And read. And read. For three hours. (A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in case anyone is curious). That helped. A lot. Nothing like a good book with rich characters to alleviate the stress.

The next day, I went to the bank after my class. The banker at reception must have missed his morning cup of pleasant-juice, as he was rather unaffected by my plight. He told me bluntly that he didn’t know why the ATM didn’t spit it back out, but all cards that are taken are sent off to be destroyed first thing in the morning. Bye Bye Debit Card! 

Returning to my room, I immediately called my bank back, and put in to have my card over-nighted to my house, (because my address here was too many characters for their computers), so that my parents can ship it to me.

Overall, it’s really not that bad—I still have credit cards that are accepted everywhere that I will need to reach for the next week until I get my new card. It’s a tricky situation, but life is full of those. I felt confident, though, when all was said and done, because, after a little guidance from home, I was able to sort out the problem. 

College is a transition from home to the real world. It has all of the fun parts of being an independent person, with the cushion that home provides when you make a mistake; a cushion that teaches you what you did wrong and bounces you back onto the right path with a better understanding of how the world works. This trip is another step along that transition, and, despite it’s little pitfalls, it’s so completely worth it.

Thanks for reading and following!

MP

(Source: ajourneyofselfdiscovery)

It’s been a Hard Day’s Night

I grew up on the Beatles, and other bands of quality, when I was little. My mom in particular, always made sure I grew to love them as much as she had, and I did. So, obviously, the trip to Liverpool yesterday, where the Beatles got their start was something I was flipping over.

The trip was done for the international kids, so the transportation was free—arrive, and you’re on your own for 5 hours. There were so many museums and places to explore, and they were a lot of fun, but nothing hit me quite like walking into Cavern Corner and seeing the Beatles Explosion! The most powerful moment, though, was walking in and seeing the stage that they played on for their first time as a band—the stage they were discovered on. 

Typically, it’s closed to the public from standing on—only performers get that chance, but a member of staff took a liking to us and actually let us get up on the stage together and take pictures together.

That moment, standing on that stage, made this whole trip very real. I’m in a place full of culture and history that I can’t find anywhere else. Of course there’s the study aspect and the classes, but that’s not the only thing this trip is about—it’s about learning and becoming a part of a new culture and a new lifestyle to learn more about myself. I can’t wait to take more of these trips, both back to Liverpool to see the things I didn’t get to see, and to countless other places to learn even more.

Oh. Oh hey. Because I wake up to a huge rainbow outside my window every morning. That’s not cool or anything. Why would you think that?

(Source: ajourneyofselfdiscovery)

Ouch.

Well, just as I hoped, England helped to boost my inspiration and I finally wrote the next new chapter in my book. My hands hurt a lot from writing and typing, and my brain didn’t enjoy the lack of sleep I got over it, but I was on a run and I couldn’t stop. 

I’m really happy with how it turned out, and hopefully I’ll be able to turn out more chapters as quickly as I used to. 

Thanks for following!

MP

(Source: ajourneyofselfdiscovery)

That awkward moment where you realize you’re awful at keeping on top of posting updates.

This would be one of those moments, as I have been informed that I’m slacking by a few friends. I’ve been swamped lately with getting everything in order and figuring out the best way to stay organized and what not, BUT I FOUND A MOMENT. 

My first week of lessons is over, and granted I was only able to go to two of the lessons because of International Student requirements that conflicted, I really quite enjoyed it. The classes are a bit more laid back than I’m used to, but they mostly only meet one day a week for about three hours. The crazy thing is, in one of my classes, he let us get up and leave the room for like, 10-15 minutes and get food and coffee! Not to mention the fact that my tutor (aka a professor here) makes doctor who jokes and will sit and just read Shakespeare to us for 20 minutes. It’s wonderful. The other thing that’s a bit different is the coursework. I don’t actually get homework each night—I am not necessarily even told to read, but obviously if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be well prepared and understand much of the lecture. Next week will be the real test because that’s when things get real—orientation will officially be over

Today was fun. After staying up really late with Hannah and skyping with Jeff and Eric for a disgusting amount of time, I slept til one, got up, and went to town with Hannah, Bethen, Gabby, and Ant. That was a lot of fun. We poked around a million different shops, ate McDonalds, (they really are everywhere…One double cheese burger and chips, please!), and finally went to Sainsburys. Everyone was super helpful and patient as I got everything together. I know they needed to get a lot less than I did. I bought myself a lot of stuff, but it’ll last me quite a while. I got some chop meat, pasta, sauce, and cheese so that I can just heat myself up a quick pasta dish any night, some tuna, bread, and some drinks. That should definitely last a while. Additionally, I bought a pot, (I’m borrowing Hannah/Bethen’s pan for the year as they insisted), a pie tin, because c’mon…it’s pie, knives, and a big bowl for…well for anything, really.

Tomorrow will definitely prove to be fun as well. As it turns out, tomorrow is the Chinese New Year and some of the international students are from China, so we’re all going to meet tomorrow in Becci’s dorm/kitchen, and they’re going to make us traditional Chinese food, while Becci and I make some desserts. I’m REALLY excited about that. It must be hard to be away from your family during such an important holiday, but hopefully we’ll help make it easier. I think Easter is going to be a bit tough, this year, but I suppose it will just give me a chance to experience the holiday in a different culture!

BOUGHT A LOCAL PHONE TODAY!!! 

And just to give you a little perspective…

Just a bit different…But I got a really good plan…only 1p (penny) to call to the states, and free to call anyone here who is on O2, which idk if anyone is, free to receive texts, and I think like…10p to send texts. Pay as you go, too, so definitely a good thing to have. 

I’ve finally started writing again and it feels really good. I’m hoping to get a bit more done tonight…maybe finish a chapter! 

I miss everyone tons and I love you all. Thanks for following and keeping in touch!

MP