Tuesday, March 18, 2003

So it was borne in on me that I hadn't posted an update to this thing in quite awhile. And I said "This must not be!!"

I'm still in the process of uploading pictures. I finally got all my beautiful Canterbury and Oxford and Hampton Court Palace pictures off my camera, but it's a slow process to transfer them to disk and take them to an internet computer. They'll be up eventually. I'm also trying to rearrange my photo album to make it slightly more logical. Ha. Good luck to me.

I went to Bath two weekends ago, home of various Regency Romance novels and also the place where Jane Austen (ah, peerless Jane!) lived for five years. It doesn't say much for Bath that she didn't, apparently, write a word the entire time she was there. Guess she was a country girl at heart. She did portay Bath in her first novel, Northanger Abbey and her last, Persuasion. Two very different views of Bath that are interesting to compare and contrast, although you have to keep in mind that she wrote the two novels at wildly different times in her life.

In addition to paying homage at the Jane Austen Centre, I also went to the Roman Baths and the Museum of Costume. All three places were really neat (although I didn't personally learn anything new at the JA Centre) and the Roman Baths in particular were fascinating for the amount of stuff that they've recovered there. In fact, something like 2/3 or 3/4 of the original Roman complex is still underground, having not been excavated because most of Bath is on top of it. Yeah, that'll hold back the ol' funding.

If you're interested in fashion and the history of fashion, the M of C is pretty cool too. It has vintage clothing and explanations of what they were made of, how politics and social attitudes informed fashion, and other stuff like that.

Bath itself is a beautiful city. It's a city ordinance that all new buildings must be made of a particular kind of white masonry called Bath stone, so when the train (or bus) comes up on Bath, all you see is this froth of white stone, spilling up and down the hillsides, shining in the sun. In its own way, it's breathtaking.

I stayed at the Bath Backpacker's Hostel which was a fun and funky place if you are ever in the area.

I didn't do anything so fun last weekend, although I did go into London to have a visit with my uncle and his family, who were in town for the weekend, and I wound up seeing "Grease" with them. That was a lot of fun, especially since it was last-minute and I didn't have time to build it up in my head. It was fun and cute, if terribly terribly loud (my seat was close to the speakers) and whoa! a lot more raunchy than I remembered either the movie or my high-school's production being. Still a grand evening.

Welp, it's late for me. Time to share my Book of the Day and get on home.

Book for Today: Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett. A merciless send-up of Macbeth, set in Pratchett's Discworld and amongst the usual lunacy that this ensues. Just to give you an idea of the total nonserious parodic fun, the first page features this exchange: (in appropriate witch voice) "When shall we three meet again?" (normal voice) "Well, I can do next Tuesday." Pratchett and Discworld are always good for a story that's unpredictable, somewhat loony, and surprisingly thoughtful.

Sunday, March 02, 2003

For the first time since I got here, I'm crabby about the public transport system. (You can stop laughing any time now, Flint.) I was at a friend's last night, and realized that it was late, but I still had ample time to catch the last bus. Well, we went out there . . . and waited. And waited. We waited the 20 minutes between buses on a Saturday night, then 20 more just in case. No bus. GRRRRRRRRR!! The thought of the night bus filled me with fear, so we ended up staying the night at this friend's, sleeping on his couch. Sigh. I woke up at some ungodly hour this morning, caught the second bus of the day, and went to sleep in my own bed about half an hour later. Anyway . . . that was my adventure for last night . . .

Yesterday was nice, though. My friend Katy called me up to go see Hampton Court Palace, which is (and I didn't know this) quite handy to where we are, just one bus change. The palace is nice and interesting and historical, but for me, I really loved the grounds. They're HUGE and filled with plants and flowers and growing things and statues and fountains. The kewl thing is, it's free to just wander around the gardens. You only pay to see the palace itself. Here's some pictures for y'all. Most of them are of the palace proper, because the millions that I took of the grounds are either on my film camera, which will be developed this week sometime, or on the big digital card that my computer isn't reading because it's being a brat.

Click! A random corridor, inside Hampton Court palace. I liked the look of it though. Apparently there is a corridor that's supposed to be haunted by one of Henry's wives who got beheaded. After her trial, but obviously before her beheading, she escaped from her guards and rocketed down the corridor toward the royal chapel, pounding on the doors and screaming to be let in. If she got inside, she would get asylum (being in a place of worship) and also, Henry VIII was worshipping at the time, and she believed that she could beg him to spare her life. However, he ignored her and kept praying (isn't that just sick and wrong?) and the guards caught up with her, and off with her head. So now Catherine runs up and down the corridor, screaming to be let into the chapel, on dark nights. Brrrrr. This isn't that corridor though.

Click! The fountain in the inner courtyard. Can't you imagine some ladies in huge wigs and dresses sweeping around that walkway?

Click! Ooo . . . that's a little dark. Sorry about that. It was overcast yesterday . . . well, it is England! It's the front view of the Palace as you're walking up the drive. It's one heck of a sight. Must have been even more flabbergasting to the court, knowing how rich Cardinal Wolsey and later on good old Hal 8 must have been to not only build it, but afford the upkeep. It's like a city all by itself.

Click! Here's a better one, taken just inside the front entrance of the first courtyard you pass through. There's about three.

Click! Here is a funky little inner garden that I discovered by goingthrough the wrong door. If I were a lady in waiting, I'd sneak off there to be away from all the noise and heat and hypocrisy of the court--wouldn't you?

Click! Okay, remember how I said the place was like a city all by itself? This view is part of the kitchens. That's right, the kitchens. They were so huge that they got subdivided all over the place.

Click!After the king stopped living at Hampton Court Palace regularly, and such huge kitchens weren't needed anymore, the kitchens were actually converted into tiny flats for royal servents who had done their duty well and deserved a reward for putting up with royalty all those years. Even today, some people still live on Fish Court, pictured here.

So that's Hampton Court Palace, or some of it anyway. Katy and I only did half the tours available, and you weren't allowed to take pictures in a lot of the rooms. Sigh. It's a very neat place, and the gardens really are amazing if you don't want to pay the admission charge.

No book for today. Sorry. I already told you about The Secret Garden and the other stuff I'm reading now is all boring Victorian literature that I wouldn't recommend to anybody.