The Sunday after Wales was a lazy day, but I finally used the machine washers and tumble dryers (for some reason, they say “tumble dryers” here and not just “dryers”) to do laundry. I had been doing essentials in my sink and air drying them in my room because the machines are a bit pricey–£2.60 for a load–and it doesn’t even get your clothes fully dry! That’s a whole meal here, and I’d rather have food than machine-washed clothes every week. I went to the Spar (convenient store) and got some good ol’ peanut butter and jelly and bread to make sandwiches. This constituted my breakfasts for the rest of the week (plus some snack times).
Monday I sent a few more postcards home. Maybe it’s because I don’t travel too often, but there’s something strange about knowing that something I touch here in York makes it back home. I learned that it takes about 4 days for a postcard with first class stamps to make it to Michigan (if, that is, no complications happen in transit). My YSJ classes are ho-hum. Nothing spectacular to note about them (yet?). We discussed Wuthering Heights in British Literature, a much more interesting class. (This school is making me appreciate Calvin College classes a whole lot more.) Dinner was bland tomato soup and a stale bread roll. Yuck. The bread here, overall, is better. I’ve been getting 40p bread rolls at almost every meal because they are cheap and usually fresh. The one with the tomato soup is just an exception. … We had a commonplace book party that night in Melissa L.’s flat, drinking fruits squash (like a concentrated Kool-Aid that you add water to, but better). Sanna drew a cool dragon shield and sword tattoo on my right hand, that, of course, didn’t last long after a few hand-washings.
The rest of the week sort of flew by. Tuesday I read more of Wuthering Heights, racing ahead to beat Jenica to the end. I remember racing my brother, Philip, when we read books like Dr. Doolittle, when we were young, and I find it a great way to motivate my reading–although I still read slow enough to know what the heck was going on, which is important in a literature class. My “Sciences” group in my British Culture class talked about the Black Death, other diseases, and medieval dentistry. I discovered Double Deckers–60p in the cafeteria–a chocolate bar like a Three Musketeers on the top layer and a Crunch bar on the bottom. Absolutely scrumptious. … Wednesday I had no class, but I spent the whole day finishing Wuthering Heights (and I snuck in the most recent episode of Lost somewhere in those hours). … Thursday class we wound up our conversation about Wuthering Heights. After class a group of us met about spring break plans. So far we have one-third of the time planned. We’re going to Cinque Terre and Pisa, Italy! (More details on that later.)
Friday morning I helped Dean (our professor) in his office with some emailing issues he has been having. For some reason, we have not been receiving his mass emails. I worked out a few solutions with him, and we had a nice conversation as well. That afternoon I trekked out into the city with Sanna and Melissa L., mainly in search of more stamps, but we also checked out some of the street vendors. Some of the confectionery (British way of referring to “candy”) stands looked amazing. (See the photo for the astounding variety of color and choice!) …While we were standing outside of Thomas the Baker, a stupid pigeon pooped on my head! We had just been talking about spoonerisms (when you mix up the letters in adjacent words), because I read “turd cart” instead of “curd tart” on one of the pastry labels. The bird poop reminded me of an inside joke where my sister once said “bood pirp.”
People were out in hordes because this week was the Jorvik Viking Festival. Occasionally we’d see a few people dressed in Viking garb on the streets, but unfortunately, there was a charge for admission into the bigger tents and Viking displays. Sanna, who is a Swedish citizen, hilariously asked the doorman at one of the Viking Festival tents, “Can I get in free? I’m Swedish!” Nope. … We also wandered into a hat shop called the Hat Company and tried on a few hats. (Not really for me, but I looked funny in a Sherlock Holmes-type hat) … The three of us later had a Swedish “fika”–coffee break, according to Sanna–in Melissa L.’s room, enjoying some of the sweets the girls had bought earlier with tea and coffee. … Dinner was chili (good, but not as good as my mom’s). Then we spent the evening at the Wards’ house, celebrating Natasha’s birthday with cake and other treats.
The Lake District
8 AM Saturday we left for the Lake District, the land of the poets William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, whom we had just been studying in class. It was about a 3.5 hour coach ride, but we had amiable coach driver named Andy. The ride through the Yorkshire Dales was spectacular. We’ll be going back in the spring when everything is in bloom. I can hardly imagine how much more spectacular it will be then. At one point, we drove through the thickest fog I’ve ever witnessed. I could barely see anything out the bus window. All I knew is that we were in some sort of valley. We took a rest stop at Settle, England, and the only notable thing about that town, to me, was the cafe: Ye Olde Naked Man Cafe. He he!
Grasmere and Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage
Arriving in Grasmere, we took a tour of Dove Cottage, the house where William Wordsworth, his wife and children, and his sister Dorothy lived for several years. It was tiny by today’s standards, but apparently was frequented by Wordsworth’s fellow poet friend, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, for great periods of time and many famous guests, including William Wilberforce. The cottage was converted from its earlier days as a pub, called the “Dove and Olive,” to a home when Wordsworth bought it, hence the name Dove Cottage. My favorite room was the children’s room. A closet-like space wallpapered with newspapers from the day. They also had a natural fridge room, cooled by the waters draining down the mountainside, where they used to keep the beer in the days of the pub.
I had lunch at the Cumbrian Cafe: a toasted sandwich (like grilled cheese) with baked beans and ham on it. It was good, but exorbitantly priced. That’s what you get in these touristy towns. At the Grasmere Courtyard, I bought two gingerbread men. Grasmere is renowned for its gingerbread. I regret not going to Wordsworth’s grave at the church, but I totally forgot about it after they mentioned it at the tour of Dove Cottage.
We then all hiked up a mountainside (or very big hill, whatever you want to call it) above Grasmere. This provided spectacular views of the lake and village of Grasmere. Several landscapes at the top of the mountain reminded me of Edoras, Rohan, from the movie version of The Lord of the Rings, especially the rough rocks, stone walls, and burnt orange grass. (The stone walls that ran up and down the mountainside, by the way, are an amazingly old. It must’ve taken years upon years to collect all the stones and build them up steep slopes nonetheless!)
At dusk, we drove up to Keswick (pronounced “kess-ick,” NOT “kez-wick”) to stay the night at the youth hostel there. We were served a dinner of our choice. I had chicken curry while others had fish and chips. They also served us a dessert of ice cream or rice pudding. I had ice cream. Before retiring to my room (there’s only 5 of us guys–so we were all in the same room), I went out to a local pub with Kyle, Andrew, Liz, and Joel. We popped into several crowded places, not satisfied with the prices, but ultimately settled for a pub called “Four in Hand.” I had a pint of “Hobgoblin.” It was alright, but not particularly special. … Before bed, I began reading Great Expectations, our next novel of study. All in all, I had a good night’s sleep after a long day.
The hostel served hot breakfast in the morning. I took full advantage of the full English breakfast, plus toast, plus grapefruit. The weather had gotten much chillier and snow was falling outside. I worshiped at The Parish of Keswick, St John, an Anglican church, with several others before wandering about town a bit. The church members were very warm and welcoming. Incidentally, a middle-aged man we met knew Gaylen Byker and Calvin College! We have a reputation around the world! Even in quaint Keswick!
Hike around Derwent Water
Our coach driver, Andy, had heard of bad weather in York. Supposedly it had snowed 3 inches. (I just had to laugh that they were freaking out about 3 inches of snow.) We quickly made a trip to Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s house, but there wasn’t much to see because the house is privately own and gated. … We had to cut our afternoon hike around the lake in Keswick short. But the cold and snow didn’t deter us from going quite a ways along Derwent Water (the name of the lake). It was still beautiful in its wintry-ness. The mountains were shrouded in grey snow clouds, and the lake was partially iced over. Still signs that spring was on the way showed up here and there in the little yellow flowers on the bushes in the forest.
The walk was invigorating, and near the end, the clouds began to break, showing a brilliant blue sky behind the grey. We had sack lunches back at the coach: a tomato and ham sandwich, a pear, a trailmix bar, crisps (chips), a chocolate brownie, and water. Almost any food tastes good after a hike, but this sack lunch was actually quite delicious. … I read and napped most of the way back to York, taking one last look at the white mountains of the Lake District before we were out of the region. We got back to York precisely at 5 PM, enough time for finishing up some homework and reflecting on the weekend. Now, onward, to the fourth week of classes!
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