Tuesday, April 23, 2013

These Moors Aren't Near Depressing Enough.

This weekend, I took a short trip up to Bradford (it's near Leeds) to visit Katie. It was just what I needed. We went hiking on the Ilkely moors on Friday, and on Saturday we traipsed over the moors that supposedly helped to inspire Wuthering Heights in Keighley.

Oh, and did I mention that is was sunny? Because it was. It was pretty glorious. I wore only a t-shirt and jeans for parts of the hikes (It got cold really fast when you stopped moving, or when it was the afternoon, or when the wind was blowing...). I actually put on sunscreen, and still managed to come away burned. Only me.

Anyway, when we went to Keighley, we discovered that the footpath actually led over a rock wall and across the sheep pastures. Did I mention it was lambing season? I really, really wanted to pet a sheep. I was successful in this endeavour (Anyone surprised?).

I was unsuccessful for a while, but finally managed to pet a baby sheep. It was soft, and fuzzy, and wonderful. The trick is to sneak up on them when they are asleep, and after the initial surprise, they will decide they like you much more than their obviously irritated mom (Don't worry, I didn't steal any sheep, and the mother calmed down and was fine. No sheep were harmed, psychologically or otherwise, in the making of this post.).

After the pastures, we continued accross the moors, in search of ruins that we eventually decided didn't exist. Kind of like the Ritter Sport Store in Berlin. We followed a "path" for a while, and ended up playing the fun game of "Find the Ground!" You should try it sometime. Moors are really, really springy. There are also a plethora of hidden streams, hidden under unstable ground.

I didn't think the moors were near depressing enough to inspire Wuthering Heights, but then again, it was sunny, and daytime, and there were baby sheep. I can see them being much less inviting the rest of the year. Oh, and downright creepy at night.

We caught the last bus back to Bradford, and after a delicious meal of curry at Ambala (We had curry three nights in a row, and it was worth it.) we watched some good old Relic Hunter (Availible on Netflix!), that we discovered when Katie came to visit me in February. Overall, this was a really laid back, relaxing trip, which was nice after the chaos that was Easter Break.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Out of Context in Monochrome.

I had almost forgotten how much I like black and white images. I really need to find some film for my camera. 


Upstairs Downstairs, Anyone?

Has anyone in America other than my family seen the BBC drama Upstairs Downstairs? Probably not. So you should go watch it now. It is a lot like Downton Abbey. So, pretty spiffy. (Side note: Spiffy is a wonderful word, so stop judging me Stephanie.) I ran across the house from the TV show on my way to Hyde Park the other day, and it was pretty exciting. In the show, the number is 165 Eaton Place, but in reality they just painted the one on every time they used the front of the house for filming, in attempts to give the residents some privacy. Which clearly worked really well. I think one of my favourite things about wandering around London is stumbling across random, awesome things. Sometime the things I find distract me so much that I don't make it to my original goal. 


Monday, April 15, 2013

The Natural History Musem

The London Natural History Museum was much more of a typical natural history museum than The Dead Zoo in Dublin. I went in what I later learned was actually a side entrance, and even that was pretty impressive.

This natural history museum was pretty standard, with the story about the solar system and the history of the earth, as well as the geology lesson (sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic rocks anyone?), with all the rocks and minerals. I did find out that Kryptonite is real! Scientists found it in Serbia. 

They also had their own taxidermied animals (Dodo birds were huge!), as well as a giant moving scorpion, and a couple of dinosaurs!


Spring is here! Possibly.

Yesterday was so nice, and since there were only "trace amounts" of rain forecast for today (You will never see just a sunny day on the forecast. There will always be at least "trace amounts" of rain.) I figured I should again spend as much time outside as possible. I had to stop by Victoria Coach Station today to figure out my tickets to Bradford this weekend, as their website wasn't working (apparently this was due to the fact that I used google to access the website). The Victoria coach station is only a little more than a mile from Hyde Park, and Hyde Park is only about a 15 minute walk to the Natural History Museum, so I decided to pack a lunch, feed some swans, and see some dinosaurs.

A sundress and sandals were perhaps a little bit optimistic for temps in the mid fifties, but I am sick of closed toed shoes, so I went for it anyway. And it was fine. Mostly. I was happy to stop by the Royal Geological Society to see the Environmental Photographer of the Year Exhibit though, and also excited that the Natural History Museum wasn't too far away. Wind is a killer.


Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Museum of Childhood

The Museum of Childhood is about a five minute wall from my flat, so I figured I should go at least once. It is definitely more of a children's museum, but they did have an interesting exhibit called modern British childhood, which chronicled childhood of people in Britain from right after WWII up to today. It is possible that I will have learned more about history in these six months than in all my formal schooling experience (voluntarily, anyway).

I now know why Margaret Thatcher was called "Margaret Thatcher, milk snatcher". I didn't even know she was called that, much less why. I also learned that that disturbing children's tv show that goes by the name "Teletubbies" is actually a British creation. And here I was thinking that particular brand of terror was America's fault. Aside from the giant Teletubbies statues, there were plenty of other nightmarish toys that would have kept me up at night as a child. Let me just say that I really glad that I didn't grow up in the 1800s (for multiple reasons, but the toys are definitely a main one).


It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood

I have no idea how this happened, but it was 65 degrees today. 65 degrees and sunny. It was incredible. I wore sunglasses. This morning I went to the park, and in the afternoon I met up with Dafne, and we walked along Regent's Canal to the climbing gym. After climbing, I took the long way home along the canal and through Victoria Park. I'm hoping for the great weather to last, although the forecast doesn't look good. I guess I will just have to enjoy it while I can!


Saturday, April 13, 2013

The British Museum Take 2

He just wants to be best friends forever. 

Hey guys, I'm back with more tidbits of history, and this time I even brought pictures of skulls! Instead of working on a paper for my abnormal psych class, I decided to spend a couple of hours in the British Museum today. I chose to start upstairs today, and made it through about three exhibits. This museum is going to take a while. It is massive.

The first exhibit I explored was about money. It was pretty interesting, and explained the history of currency in different cultures, but by far the most interesting things were the old cash register, the Doctor Who money, and the duck weights from Mesopotamia (because they are shaped like ducks, obviously).

There was also an exhibit on the middle ages, that I will have to go back and spend more time in, but what I got from it this time was medieval chess is cool and used to flirt with people. That's it. I was pretty focused on getting to the mummies this visit, so I walked by a lot. Near the medieval exhibit was an exhibit that went through the history of clocks, and I learned how a mechanical pocket watch works (springs and gears, that's about it). There was also an automatic tea maker alarm clock. Not coffee maker, tea maker. Because this is England, y'all. 

On the way to Egypt, I stopped by Ancient Greece, where I ran into this super happy pig that would probably get along very well with the horse at the top of this post, as well as these not-scary-at-all surgical implements, with nice descriptions like "probes, needles, and sharp hooks" and "bone chisels". 

I eventually made it to Ancient Egypt, and got to see a lot of mummies. And CAT scans of mummies, and funeral offerings, and... well, you get the picture. It was cool, but I will have to go back sometime that it isn't packed (aka not a Saturday morning), because it seemed like everyone wanted to see the mummies today. I also need to go to one of the free tours... maybe I will fit that in on Monday. 


Monday, April 8, 2013


The last stop on our trip was Budapest, Hungary. One of the best things about Budapest was how cheap it was. We had a three course meal for under ten dollars!

We went on a free tour of the city, and learned a lot about Budapest and some famous people from Hungary. According to our tour guide, Yoda got his awesome speech patterns from having his lines translated from English to Hungarian and back to English. Oh, and Hungarian is not latin or slavic based so... pretty much complete lack of cognates.

We spent the time exploring the city and eating lots and lots of food. We also went to the House of Terror, which told about the history of the USSR, and the Budapest Holocaust Memorial. 

Budapest has awesome subway cars. I want one. 

Emily and Rachel went home on Sunday, but Katie and I had another day in the city before we went home, and we decided to spend it at the Szechenyi Baths. Best. Decision. Ever. It was great to spend a day relaxing, and it was the first time in weeks that I felt warm.

While at the baths, we got these awesome bracelets that were our locker keys and tickets to the baths. They were pretty spiffy. We spent about four hours there before meandering back to our hostel, stopping on the way for some terrible Mexican food.

I had a really great trip, but I think my next two week backpacking trip will be through forests or something, not through cities.