I doubt you're still interested in hearing about my adventures in England, but I'll blog about them anyway in the off chance that you become curious. Or in case you're a gossip columnist/news reporter who is looking up juicy details about my life and want to know about my time in England without having to interview me directly.
I have learned from myself and discovered you don't REALLY want a word-for-word description of everything I did and saw. That'd be boring. So I'll just tell you a few of my favourite parts.
My favourite part is most definitely the part where I got to go 3 times. Some exchange students have only been allowed once, and others not at all. I'm not entirely sure why, but I got really lucky and was allowed back, so that was a highlight.
Then of course there was seeing my extended family. I stayed with my Aunt, Uncle, and two cousins while there. They live in London (as in, a suburb, but really not that far from the city) and were wonderful and patient with me. I can imagine it would have been stressful for my Aunt and uncle to have me there, but they were all really good to me. My first time there was during their summer holidays. They took me to Hever Castle, the 7 Sisters (like the white cliffs of Dover), the Natural History museum, the Tate Modern, and a bunch of other Englandy/Londony things. Every time it was my last night there we did something special. They let me watch Doctor Who like the Doctor Who freak that I am, and didn't freak out when I was close to rolling on the floor with excitement. The night before I left on my last trip there was the 30th of October, two days before my birthday. We had amazing roast lamb, and then a chocolate cake of wonder, and they even gave me birthday presents. I could have cried had I not decided to maintain my composure and be thankful for all they'd done instead of sad I was about to leave.
All highlights pretty much tie after that. Riding on the second deck of a red double-decker bus (I feel 'double-decker' is not the right term, but I've called it that my whole life so that's how it'll stay) was epic. My Aunt was momentarily confused that I was so excited about it, then remembered it's one of those things tourists get excited about. I'm planning on living in the UK/Ireland one day, and I don't think it will ever lose its novelty.
Hever Castle was AWESOME. It was the childhood home of Ann Boylen and WOW she had the life! The house was gorgeous (it was more of a house than a castle) and the grounds were so pretty. I want to photograph a wedding there sometime. I started planning different photos I would take if I ever did.
The Tate Modern and Tate Britain were really interesting. There were two pieces of artwork in the Tate Britain which blew my mind. Normally I'm all "Well that's interesting but I really don't know what's going on." with modern art. The first was a piece (I'm not sure if you'd call it a sculpture…) by Ai Wei Wei. It was a cone pyramid pile thing, made of sunflower seeds. But the sunflower seeds were actually all ceramic, and every single one hand made. If you think of a handful sort of cone it's pretty cool and makes sense. This cone pyramid pile thing was massive. I would say it was at least a metre in diameter at the base. I'll see if there's a link for it online. I didn't quite understand what was being communicated, but it was so wow to see anyway. It's not that I ever WANTED Ai Wei Wei to be in prison, and of course I naturally thought it was stupid that he's in there for not doing anything wrong, but I now really just want him out. When you make modern art that blows my mind, you're doing something right.
The other was a piece by a guy whose name I can't remember. Basically it was a shelf with a glass of water on it, and then to accompany it was a piece of paper with questions and answers on it - like an interview with the artist but it was part of the piece.This, you have to see for yourself if you can. If not, well look at it here. You don't understand how boggled® I was at the end of it. Yes I did just use ® in this blog. I think I should go into the advertising industry. It takes skill to know the shortcut for © and ®. Just like with umlaut letters. It drives me crazy when people write stuff like "Ich moechte ueberhaupt kein Wasser, danke." It just looks better as "Ich möchte überhaupt kein Wasser, danke." I always try to share shortcut love.
That was a bit of a tangent….
The National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery were also a lot of fun. Seeing the originals of a bunch of famous paintings made me feel cultured (and it was nice to see the paintings anyway).
Other points of interest include:
- Kings Cross Station (no, I didn't find platform 9 3/4, it was under construction)
- Victoria Station (not much of a point of interest but I liked it)
- Covent Garden, Carnaby Street, Bond Street (actually, just a lot of Monopoly streets)
- Brighton (just lovely. I teared up at seeing the sea. It had been too long. I also had a guy in an Italian restaurant tell me I'd sat in the table next to me last time I was there. I had to explain 3 times that I'd never been there before. Apparently someone was in Brighton who looks like me…)
- Dulwich (the London suburb. Nice. You could buy a glass of milk at the Dulwich Picture Gallery)
- The National Observatory (including the Prime Meridian. I loved it)
- Notting Hill/Portobello Road/Portobello Markets
- Camden Town
- Buckingham Palace (Jealousy is not a strong enough word for how I feel about the Queen)
- The BBC Proms. I went to St.Albert Hall and heard work by Brahms, Elgar, Holst and someone else. Featuring Julian Lloyd-Webber. I'm jealous of myself for that.
- The Railway Children, performed at Waterloo Station including a real steam train.
During my time there I also met up with 3 different people that I know. Apparently England is the place to be. I also went to the Doctor Who Experience, Cambridge and Comic-con, but those things need separate posts for the overwhelming epic that they are.
I'm running out of teenage-typical adjectives. Better stop this now.
Oh yeah, turns out my Uncle's cousin lives in South Africa. I have a very very very distantly-but-not-really-related cousin who grew up in Zimbabwe. That's pretty neat.
As in cool, not tidy.