Wednesday, May 18, 2011

‎"Every object in the next day's journey was new and interesting...and the prospect of her northern tour was a constant source of delight."

I went to visit my flatmate's family in Sheffield last week, and we took some time away from the stress of revision to go estate touring.  One of the sites, Lyme Park, has been on my to-do list for months--it was used as Pemberley (Mr. Darcy's estate) in the 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, which happens to be my favorite film version of my favorite Austen novel.  Here's a clip from the series, showing the house.  If you don't care about seeing Colin Firth in a lake, skip to about 1.21:

Even though the weather wasn't spectacular, I was thrilled.  Recognize the view?
and with my flatmates:

The grounds were lovely.  Most of the flowers were in bloom, so even though the weather wasn't very nice there were still lots of colors and things to see.

Lyme Park, the estate, was actually originally a tudor residence and was once of the homes in which Mary, Queen of Scots was kept during her imprisonment in England.  The interiors were not as extravagant as the other estate we visited, Chatsworth (post upcoming), but the library was absolutely gorgeous and there were several interesting pieces throughout.  One of my favorites was a portrait in the main entrance room, which could be moved away from the wall to allow a view of visitors from the ladies' parlor.  According to the volunteer guide, the lady of the house could spy on guests and then signal to the butler whether or not she was available to accept them.  I could use a system like that sometimes...oh, wait-that's what caller ID is for.
a side view from the gardens

fountain in the orangery, I found the moss very striking
at the main entrance through the checkered court-another area shot for P&P

Another was the 'ghost room', which was never used for guests after a skeleton was found buried under the floor boards.  According to legend, there is also a secret tunnel from the 'priests' hole' in the closet to an eighteenth century outer hunting tower on the grounds.

my flatmates in one of the little grottoes on the grounds

the formal garden from above

It was definitely worth the trip, and satisfied my ongoing obsession with 19th century British literature locations (at least temporarily).  It was also a nice break from all the exam stress, and I cam back feeling refreshed.  Unfortunately, that has been killed by my second exam and revision for the third. sigh.

panorama composite of the view from across the lake

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Playing Tourist

Last Sunday my flatmate and I went to visit Holyrood House, the 'official residence of her majesty the queen.'  However, the queen is rarely here, so mostly it's just really cool to visit.  It's also one of the palaces in Scotland that was used by Queen Victoria, and was Mary, Queen of Scots' residence where her husband Lord Darnley murdered David Rizzio.
my flatmate Ailsa in the courtyard

the outer gate

listening to the included audio guide

into the inner courtyard.  yes, the guards were wearing tartan pants.

obligatory tourist photo, courtesy of Ailsa
We weren't allowed to take pictures inside, but it was a really interesting look at the royal history in Scotland, and also a bit about how the palace is used today.  The queen was here to greet the pope on his visit in the fall.  He brought a replica of a really famous book, and that was on display with pictures of the reception.  On the grounds are also the ruins of Holyrood Abbey, which was built by King David and was the original structure on the land.
Apparently the site (Holyrood) gets its name from the 'holy wood' that resided in the abbey-a piece of Jesus's cross.  The ruins were beautiful, and I can totally understand why Mendelssohn was inspired by the surroundings to write his Scottish Symphony.

I'll leave you with a bit of the symphony.  This is the second movement, inspired by Scottish folk dance music.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Dancing 'til Dawn

Wednesday night I went to what has to be one of my favorite random events all year-the New Scotland Disco Ceilidh.  It was the brainchild of a friend of mine, who spent months finding modern(-ish) songs that fit with the steps of traditional ceilidh dances.  There were also several breaks during which I rocked out to music that was popular when I was in middle school, which was awesome.
Here's an example, although the video is really dark.  You can still get an idea of the atmosphere...the dance is called the Arcadian Strip the Willow, which is traditionally the last dance at ceilidhs.  We did it to You Spin Me Round (Like a Record) by Dead or Alive. WIN.

To get into the spirit, I also wore a dress I'd bought randomly while in Luxembourg over break.  It went over significantly better than I was expecting it to.
demonstrating my surf moves to Surfin' USA by the Beach Boys

a post-ceilidh rendition of the macarena

doing a ceilidh dance to Just Dance by Lady Gaga


heading off Strip the Willow
SO MUCH FUN.  It was the perfect mid-week revision break, but I was sooooo sore for Highland class the next day.  Oh, well.

Back to the books.

Dancing 'til Sundown

I'm trying very hard to balance my revision with breaks, especially active ones.  Last Sunday I took a great break and went to the St Andrews Castle Ceilidh, which was in the ruins of St Andrews Castle.  It was so much fun!  As I've mentioned before, ceilidhs are traditional Scottish dance events, and happen both as stand-alone events and as part of other things, like weddings.  I've learned many of the dances during lessons with New Scotland (the dance group at Edinburgh), and had a great time whirling around with my friends!  It was really tiring though-dance uphill/on grass is hard.
setting up for a dance


more waltzing!
The castle ruins are right on the beach, so there were absolutely gorgeous views when I took a break from dancing.

However, I tried not to take too many breaks, because it got cold as the sun went down.  As usually, I have practically no photographic evidence that I did actually dance, but I stole a picture from facebook for you! I'm pretty sure I'm setting, but it's hard to tell since I can't see my feet. whoops.

From Baa Baa Black Sheep

It was a really beautiful sunset, though.

After it was too dark to dance, the ceilidh-goers walked a torchlight procession down to the pier.  It was really lovely, and a perfect way to see out May Day.  I love torches.

sorry about the blurriness :(

It was a wonderful night, full of great people and dancing...and tartan!

First Grade Friends 6

Hello Bailey First Graders!

I haven't written to you in a while, because I have been on vacation.  Did you have a nice week off?  Mrs. Stern came to visit Scotland, and I had a great time showing her around!  Here's a picture of us outside the building where I have class:

For my vacation, I went to stay with a friend's family on the Isle of Mull.  Did you know that there are 790 islands that are part of Scotland?  People live on about 94 of those.

Mull is one of the 5 biggest Socttish islands, and is off the west coast of Scotland.  Here's a map, Mull is the red island:
About 2,667 people live on the Isle of Mull.  About 106, 500 people live in Lowell-there are more people in your city than on the whole island!  What do you think it would be like to live somewhere with so few people?

In order to get to Mull, my friend and I took a train and then a boat.  There were lots of mountains around our train track, and the ocean was sunny and beautiful, but it was very windy! Can you see the wind blowing my hair?
Some things that we saw on the way were a lot like Massachusetts.  Have you seen any lighthouses at the beach? Boston Harbor has a lighthouse.  There were some near Mull, too!  Here's one that we went past:
Some things we saw were also different from home.  We even saw a castle!

When we got to Mull, we drove to my friend's house, which is called Sunipol.  Does your house have a name?  What would you name it?

Nearby, there were farms with sheep and cows.  Scotland has a special type of cow that is good at living in colder weather.  They are called Highland Cows.  My friend and I took a walk to see the sheep and cows:

A highland cow named Hamish

We also went to the beach!  It was cold, just like the beaches in Massachusetts.  Do you like going to the beach?  What do you notice about this beach that is different than the beach you go to?
Calgary Beach

my friend at the beach
One day we also went to Tobermory, which is the biggest town on Mull.  The buildings are painted different colors, and looked really cool!  Here are some pictures:

see the painted buildings behind us?
Tobermory is even the town that a TV show, called Balamory, is based on.  You can see the painted buildings in the theme song!

If you made a TV show based on Lowell, what would you call it?

I had a great time on vacation!  In a few weeks, I'll be home in Massachusetts.  If you have any last questions to write me, I will answer them when I get back.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Spring Break: London (part 2)

Ok, I know I am inexcusably behind on blog entries.  I blame being a responsible college student and revising for my exams after my parents left.  But I'm done revising for the day, so I'm getting on with it!
I have an entry going about the V and A Museum, so stay tuned.  But skipping forward a bit, after a jaunt back to Edinburgh for a few days so my friend could visit Scotland, I headed back to London to attend the Golden Ticket Event, a party thrown by Vogue London and Tatler for Naomi Campbell's pop-up store and the Westfield Mall.
Basically, it was a night of gorgeous clothes, delicious cocktails, and swanning around in heels like true fashionistas.  Also, cupcakes.  Cupcakes are in. Cupcakes and sushi.

There isn't really a ton to say about the event, because it was just two of my friends from work in Boston (who are both currently in London) and I wandering through shops being fabulous.  Apparently Naomi Campbell and several other fashion celebrities were there, but we avoided the paparrazi and therefore missed them...oops.
Pictures! (obviosuly. being fabulous is all about the pictures.)

there was a 'fashion photographer' taking pictures of us during the event...we're ridiculous. it was wicked fun.

heading over in the taxi

the crowd/paparazzi outside Naomi Campbell's launch 

my friends from work

taking home roses after the event
 It was certainly a memorable adventure! but man, did our feet hurt after five hours in heels. Really glad I don't have to be a fashion icon all the time (just kidding)!