December, 1996 – England and Wales
December 6, 1996
Yesterday we arrived in London. The flight was long. 10 hours.
But it didn’t seem as bad as I figured it would. Even though I stayed wide awake the entire
time due to my fear of flying. I guess
the fact that I was going to end up in England
was enough to keep the flight from seeming too tedious. As soon as we had gone through customs and
picked up our bags, we checked into our hotel and went off to this little
skating shop called “Shack Attack”. That
was an eye-opener. The tiny section of
figure skating things they had was in the very back of the shop and hidden
behind a pile of cardboard boxes. I
guess hockey is more popular than figure skating here. After Shack Attack, we went to The National
Gallery. We only wanted to see two
paintings – the Arnolfini Marriage, my Dad’s favorite painting, and a painting
with skaters in it. What little I saw
out of the corner of my eye while racing through the mazes of rooms was very
impressive. At least in the amount of
work contained here. After the National
Gallery, we planned to go to Harrods, but I got sidetracked by books. Eventually we did end up in Harrods. After spending a moment at the hotel, we set
out to find somewhere for dinner. Much
easier said than done. We ended up
walking a mile and half down Oxford Street
in the freezing cold while we were starving.
It was great.
December 7, 1996
Two trips have passed since I last wrote in this journal, so
I guess I’ve been slacking, but in my defense, I’ve been kept busy
shopping. Yesterday I went to the place
where I’ve decided to live as soon as I can afford it. Glastonbury Abbey is absolutely incredible. The Abbey is in ruin but the parts that are
standing are almost magical looking. The
pieces are cut off at such weird angles.
There are halves of arches and bottoms of doorways. If the look the place isn’t enough, legend
also has it that King Arthur was found here (buried, of course) in the late 10th
century, along with Guinevere. The
entire town has the same mystical atmosphere and the clothes shops sell the
kind of princess clothes I love. I
bought this gorgeous velvet shirt that I hope I have the guts to wear. I passed up a silver embroidered velvet and
chiffon shirt that I loved because I knew I wouldn’t be comfortable wearing
it. Of course, if I wore that sort of
thing all the time, I would be fine. But
jeans one day and princess clothes the next would cause me to develop multiple
personalities, I’m sure. Having said
that, I also have to say that if I could afford to redo my wardrobe, all of my
clothes would be princess, hippie, London
We had dinner in Bath
at this little restaurant, Sally Lunn’s in the oldest building in Bath. Definitely all around good experience.
Today we went to Stratford Upon Avon. We saw Anne Hathaway’s cottage. I thought I was in a dream. Everything was tilted and wavy. We went to shop in the city of Stratford. Total purchases as of today: 1. Velvet shirt; 2. black shirt; 3. two wool
sweaters; 4. Dr. Martens; 5. Presents for teachers, Genie’s Birthday, people at
work, Tara and Genie and me, bracelets; 6. Lots of
makeup and perfume; 7. Continuing button collection.
December 9, 1996
Yesterday I fell in love with Wales. Cardiff
was absolutely beautiful. Everything was
perfect. As we were riding up in the
train, I looked out the window and spotted, of all things, an ice rink. That alone could have made my day. But it didn’t need to. The rest of Wales
was so incredible. Cardiff
Castle was beautiful. Of course, it was – it’s a castle. But Caerphilly was just stunning. Words cannot describe the awe I felt the
first time I set eyes on it. I was
looking through the fog and up on a hill surrounded by the littlest toy
buildings below was this monster of a castle.
Just breathtaking. It is a
semi-ruined state, all the more perfect.
I was just in shock. I will go back to Wales
Today we went to York.
If Caerphilly is the Queen Monster of
all castles, then York Minster is the Queen Mother of all cathedrals. I’ve seen York
before, so the town was charming, of course, but not as adorable as the first
time. The first time I was like “Places
like this really exist?” Living in L.A.
you don’t see to many things that could be labeled a “giant”. The Minster, though, just colossal, almost
knocks you over.
December 11, 1996
Yesterday we went to Chester. There is this medieval building(s) turned
into a shopping mall called “The Rows” – incredibly cool.
Today was London
day. We went to Kensington High Street
to shop. Rather disappointing. Prices are obnoxiously high, although I did
pick up a pair of affordable Docs with pictures of London
all over them. Westminster Abbey was
colossal as expected. Carnaby
Street was a bust.
Everything was closed for one, and from the looks of it, it’s turned
into an alley of overpriced headshops.
Pure craziness. I did see the Richmond
campus of Richmond College. Not my style – too isolated. I’m going for the 3 week AIF’s for sure!
December 16, 1996
Oh, I guess this means I’m back. On the last day, we went to Bodiam
Castle, which I am absolutely
convinced is haunted. There were all
these little winding staircases and big empty rooms with tiny little doors
leading to darkness. From the outside,
though, it was beautiful. It looked a
bit like Leeds being complete surrounded by water. The plane ride home wasn’t as scary as I
expected, or as long. That was a relief.
I’ve gone through reverse culture shock. I don’t recognize things the way I should but
it was the same way when I first got back to London,
so I guess it’s to be expected.