Dear followers of the United Kingdom Blog of WLC travelers,
This may be the last entry for our trip, but I will certainly post more pictures when we get back home and settled in.
Our final day in London happens to be Fathers Day in America, and since we all have or have had fathers, we acknowledge our appreciation to each and every one of them.
We began our day traveling by train and tube to the central city of London where we walked up the grand steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral and joined the Anglican worship service under that massive rotunda. It is the second-largest one in the world, St. Peter’s in Rome being slightly larger. (Score one for the Catholics over the Anglicans in dome sizes, anyway.)?? The boys choir was joined by an adult choir for this service, and I won’t even try to describe the sounds of music in that dome.
After church we headed north to Hampstead, a hillier area serviced by the tube and overland trains. However, as is often the case, the track fixing occurs on a Sunday when fewer passengers need the trains, so we were shuttled off the train onto a red bus for the final five miles or so. It took a long time to maneuver around on the city streets, but it gave a good view of local neighborhood stores and shops and dwellings. Once we reached Hampstead, we walked over the Heath (park) and ate our packed lunches. Then we heard another student presentation, the last of our ten, and this time it was about John Keats whose house we were about to visit. So the information was shared about how Keats composed “Ode to a Nightingale” under a mulberry bush on his property, and ten minutes later we were sitting near that very same (200 year old) mulberry bush. These are the kind of poignant and important lessons that I can share on British (or Scottish) soil, whereas the same lesson given from home (Milwaukee) would be less effective. Make sense, mates?
Truly, I love to travel and teach, and these kinds of contextual lessons are fun for me. However, these ten students have been outstanding in their behavior and cooperation and learning. I believe that each of them will have stories and lessons to share with you for many days and months to come. They have earned my respect, and they most certainly have earned their three credits for British Romanticism.
We will be getting up early tomorrow (4:30 a.m.) to begin our long day of travel back to Milwaukee. We will leave behind our train and tube riding and miles of hiking and sore feet, but we will take along many precious memories to last us all for a lifetime.
Thank you, students, for your polite and willing cooperation. Thank you, parents and friends, for your support of their learning on this trip. Thank you, readers, for you interest in our travels and learning experiences.
May God bless us all.
Your traveling professor,
For each of the past four visits to England, I have planned the trip to include the Trooping of the Colours parade. This official parade starts at Buckingham Palace and includes many royal guardsmen, lots of prancing horses, several military bands, and hundreds of marching soldiers. Queen Elizabeth herself rides in an open carriage, and she waves regally at her subjects. It really is a highlight to see the long-reigning monarch of England, as well as many members of her family. (Yes, we saw Prince William and Kate.)
We had arrived at the parade route early, so we had front row standing room places, and the rain held off until the parade was finished. Afterward we divided up into groups who had purchased various West End theatre tickets. This area of London is similar to Broadway in New York, and the productions are fabulous. Everybody enjoyed their chosen shows, and we are currently back at Glenthurston, many getting ready to jump into our nice pool water.
Tomorrow we will attend the worship service at St. Paul’s Cathedral, then head up to Hempstead on the northern side of London to hear a presentation on John Keats and then tour his home. We must be back by early evening in order to pack our suitcases and clean our apartments. Monday’s pickup time for our ride to Heathrow Airport is an early 5:00 a.m. (London time).
After a long travel day, we should be back on the Wisconsin Lutheran College campus around 4:00 p.m. (Wisconsin time).
God be with us all.
The unusual title of today’s blog is not really a mystery when you know that the city of Bath (pronounced “Bawth”) is an old Roman resort town about an hour and a half west of London. It contains old ruins of hot water pools where Roman people bathed and relaxed. Even today, some of the hotels make use of the naturally heated water as a spa. We did not travel there to take a bath or even relax in the water. We visited Bath because it was the home of Jane Austen for several years, and she writes about it in each of her six famous novels. One of my students gave her oral presentation on Austen in a little park right across the street from where Jane lived. We then toured the museum and spent time walking the streets of this quaint old city.
Riding the train back to London this afternoon, some of us determined to go back to Glenthurston to do laundry, make supper, or relax. Others took the subway a bit further to attend the Evensong service at Westminster Abbey. Both groups reunited for relaxing time this evening. Some of us swam in the pool, others watched TV, and some did laundry. (We’ve been over here in the United Kingdom for more than two weeks now.)
Tomorrow morning is a big national event in England, the Queen’s celebrated birthday and Trooping of the Colours. It involves a pageant-filled parade, and we will line the route outside of Buckingham Palace to see Her Majesty and other members of the royal family. Look for pictures!
Later in the day, the group will split into four groups, three to see West End musicals, and one group to visit “football” (soccer) stadiums. It should be an exciting and fun-filled Saturday.
God save the Queen.
This was another gorgeous weather day of sunshine and 70s. We have been most fortunate with the daily weather.
Our little group heard another student presentation on a Romantic poet, and this time it was about Lord Byron.
Properly motivated, we headed out to London sites, some of us to the Tower of London, some to Westminster Abbey, and some shopped. By 1 p.m. we had agreed to meet at the Globe Theatre, situated right on the Thames River to watch a Shakespeare play, “Titus Andronicus.” Gruesome and tragic as it was, my students still enjoyed the authentic staging and acting, which made it seem as though we were living in 1600. Sitting on wooden benches for three hours was not the highlight of the trip, but we survived.
The return journey to our Glenthurston lodging location was delayed by heavy train traffic and signal problems, but we all made it here safely eventually.
Tomorrow is another train day trip. This time it will be to the Roman resort town of Bath Spa, a place where Jane Austen lived and wrote.
Dear England blog readers,
I wonder how many of you know what the title of today’s blog means. Here’s a hint: It can only be done in Cambridge, England.
And the answer is . . . riding a flat-bottomed boat down the Cam River, being pushed (punted) by a young man holding a long pole. Does that sound like fun to you? Well, it was delightful to us! More on that later.
Our Wednesday began in the usual way: breakfast on our own in our apartments, train ride into central London, tube ride under the city to another destination (Kings Cross Station), and then our daily adventure began. This time we were bound for Cambridge, the city which contains the second oldest (and very prestigious) university in all of England. Our train ride took less than an hour because we chose the express line with no stops until we reached Cambridge. Once there we walked two miles to the city centre and signed up for a walking tour of the city and a boat ride on the Cam River.
Ian was our tour guide and Ralph (pronounced “Rafe”) was our punter. The females in our group thought that the punters were very handsome fellows. Maybe their British accents added to that intrigue as well. Anyway, the punting on the river led us behind most of the colleges which face the streets, so we were given a special view of what the 20,000 Cambridge students experience. It is final exam week here, and many of the students were partying on (and in) the river also. Here was an ironic case of my well-behaved American students observing the raucous behavior of the normally reserved British lads and ladies.
Have I mentioned the nice weather we are having? It was another day of mid-70s with lots of sunshine and a few clouds, but no rain. Overall, God has blessed us with sunshine on our “outside walking days” and rain on the travel days where we spend our time in trains or buses.
Our Cambridge excitement was not over with the boat ride. We then queued (don’t you love that British word?) up for entrance into Kings College Chapel for an evensong service. This is a world famous church with a world famous choir presenting world famous music. We were able to sit within twenty feet of the choristers (choir members), and the acoustics and beauty of their music cannot be described without using the word “heavenly.”
Upon leaving evensong at Kings Chapel, we walked (uphill) for about a mile to meet some British Lutheran folks at Westfield House. This place is an international educational endeavor, sponsored by a group of Lutherans in England, and we had been invited to join them for a BBQ (hamburgers and fixings). It was so nice to spend a couple of hours with these pleasant people, and they fed us and gave us a tour of their facilities before we had to catch a late train back to London. We finally arrived back at Glenthurston just before midnight, so you can tell that this was a long (but wonderful) day.
If you think that we had forgotten about our Romantic authors for the day, think again. Three of our “Big Five” Romantic poets (Wordsworth, Byron, and Coleridge) attended Cambridge colleges, as well as many other famous authors over the years. Our study abroad experience continues its academic focus, and my students are learning more about the authors and writings of Romanticism than they could ever do in Milwaukee.
These ten students have been wonderfully cooperative and extremely engaged. If you are a parent or relative of these young people, you can feel very proud of their behavior and attentiveness.
Tomorrow afternoon we will deviate from Romanticism a bit, but continue to focus on the literary nature of this trip. I have pre-purchased tickets to the replica theatre of Shakespeare’s Globe, and we will sit under its open-aired, thatched roof on wooden benches and see “Titus Andronicus,” one of Shakespeare’s rarely performed plays. The Thames River flows fifty feet away, and we will be transported back in time about 400 years to the year 1600.
We hope that you are well back in America, and we are happy and healthy here. God be with you all.
We are now in London. The first thing we did this morning was to gather together in the common lounge area of Glenthurston and listen to another excellent student presentation on our chosen authors, this time being William Blake. We followed that up by taking the train, then tube, then walking to the Tate Britain Art Gallery, where Blake’s original engravings and paintings are on display. Needless to say, it was a very practical application of the Blake lesson we had just been taught.
After touring the free gallery for an hour, we hopped on board the “Tate to Tate” boat that travels down the Thames River between the Tate Britain and Tate Modern Galleries. On the way we passed the London Eye, the Parliament building, Big Ben, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the Globe Theatre. Then we toured the modern art building, ate lunch, and walked across the Millennium Bridge straight toward St. Paul’s on the opposite side. We will save our tour of the inside of the world’s second largest dome for later in the week. We were then on our way to the British Library, where we observed the authentic Magna Carta from the year 1215, Shakespeare’s First Folio, Leonardo da Vinci’s early drawings, a Gutenberg Bible, and other rare artifacts. Add this spot to our list of rare and wonderful places.
Following our library visit, we took the tube to Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus to search for and purchase our theatre (British spelling) tickets for plays that we might see later in the week. Then we all met in Trafalgar Square and made our plans for return trips to our lodging place.
Once we were all back “home,” many of us ended up in the indoor pool, playing games and splashing each other. Our record for consecutive waterball bumps is 73, by the way.
Tomorrow we travel to Cambridge University by train, tour the olde city and colleges, perhaps punt on the Cam, attend evensong in King’s College Chapel, and then spend some time with our friends from Westfield House, a Lutheran center on the campus.
We are all fine and happy. God bless you, the readers of this blog about Britain.
You can find additional photos below in previous posts, some of which have been added recently. Scroll on down to read more about our trip.
We have reached London. Leaving the Lake District this morning was hard for those of us who have grown to love it so much, but we had to say goodbye to that lovely fell and lake-laden area.
We spent the day on trains and subway (the tube) cars, traveling all the way from northwest England to southeast London. Upon arrival here at Glenthurston, our very nice lodging place for the next seven days, we unpacked and then went grocery shopping. One of the ways we can save money is to shop for supermarket food and then pack lunches and eat our own cooking rather than at restaurants.
After supper we had a meeting about tomorrow’s schedule, and then a bunch of us jumped into the indoor pool on the premises.
All is quiet now, and we look forward to more author information (William Blake) tomorrow and London exploration.
G’night, gents and ladies.
Well, we opened our day with a worship service, and it felt wonderful to have our own little church inside of this hostel.
By 9:00 a.m. we were heading out on a five-mile walk from our hostel in?Ambleside to Dove Cottage in Grasmere. The weather was cool and sunny, and that helped our energy level as we walked along curving paths and?across streams and up (and down) hillsides. We made it to the home of William Wordsworth (the great Romantic poet) by 11:00 a.m. and took a tour of the house where he lived for eight years. Located in his backyard is a bench from which he composed many of the poems in Lyrical Ballads, the first important book of the Romantic Age.
We took a little break for lunch and museum touring, and then we settled down to a special three-hour workshop with the International Wordsworth Trust Association materials. These included first editions of Wordsworth’s works, his very own handwritten journals, and some other extremely rare and valuable books. My students enjoyed the curator’s presentation very much, and I was absolutely blown away by the rare and important manuscripts.? All agreed that it was an afternoon well spent.
Now, this evening, we are making our final walks around Ambleside, doing laundry, packing up, and getting ready to take the train to London tomorrow. I’ll give you more from the big city in a future blog entry!
God save the Queen!
I like to let my students write some of the blog entries. They enjoy composing and telling about what we have done. I enjoy the break from writing.
Tonight I will comment on our day. This was one of those inevitable “rainy days in England.” This is an island country, after all, surrounded by the Irish Sea and the British Channel, and it rains often. Fortunately we had a Mountain Goat (small mini-bus) tour scheduled to take us into the high country of the western Lake District. These are the highest peaks in England, and we found ourselves being driven on some narrow, switch-back roads with 30% grades of ascent. It was breathtaking, and I am not sure if that was because there were no guardrails, or if it was because of the natural beauty of the landscape. In any case, the rain did not deter our driver or keep us from any of our destinations. Along the way we ate at a cute little country inn, and we rode for some miles on a small railway line. We also visited Muncaster Castle, which included fabulous landscaping and a demonstration about owls.
On a clear day we could have seen the Irish Sea and the Isle of Mann, but today’s clouds did not allow that view. Nevertheless, our high adventure tour was magnificent and exhilarating.
Tonight as I write, some of us are doing laundry, Katie is playing piano in the family room of this hostel, others are climbing a hill behind the hostel to locate a waterfall, and a few are taking showers, planning to retire early.
Tomorrow is Pentecost Sunday, and we will not overlook the Lord’s day, even in the Lake District. We will have a service here in the family room with liturgy, prayers, and hymns. After that worship time, we will do a four mile hike over to Grasmere and Dove Cottage, the home of William Wordsworth. There we will tour the home, eat a light lunch, and then settle down to a three-hour workshop given by the Wordsworth Trust organization. It will focus on the manuscripts and journals left behind by the great poet and his sister Dorothy. I have arranged for my students to work with the actual artifacts, a rare privilege for “ordinary” tourists. Since my own dissertation focused on authors’ manuscripts and drafts, I am extremely excited to participate in this special workshop. We’ll let you know how it goes.
Monday will be our pack-up day, a sad farewell to the lovely Lake District, and a long train trip to London. What a contrast! We will leave this authentic and rustic community and enter the teaming world of a metropolitan megalopolis. Don’t worry, I will be orienting these students to our new protocols for subway and city travel, a necessary transition from this peaceful sheep and cow country.
Good night now from Ambleside in Cumbria, England. We are well and happy, thankful to God for many blessings.