Thursday, 29 November 2012

The writing on the walls

I've always loved public restrooms.

And no, that's not sarcasm...ask my mother. Every time we were out running errands when I was a child, I'd ask to go to the bathroom in every store we went in, just to see what they all were like.

As I've grown up, I still enjoy reading the writing and doodling on bathroom stalls while I'm doing my business. In fact, it's my favorite form of in-bathroom entertainment (my second favorite form of in-bathroom entertainment is weird gossip and advice you hear one girl giving another while in adjacent, or sometimes the same, stalls).

In high school, the subject matter was mostly on which boys were hot and which girls were whores.

In college, while these ladies had obviously graduated from high school, they hadn't risen above the same high school stall writing, although they did learn some more colorful language and more explicit doodles.

Now that I'm in England, I've encountered a whole new genre of bathroom writing. All I have encountered thus far is positive and/or clever. A lot of it also mentions alcohol. And these comments can be found outside as well on sidewalks, light posts...anywhere really. Instead of ridiculous commentary, I thought I'd share a few of my favorites.

And since I know you will ask...yes, I bring my phone into the bathroom. No, I haven't dropped it in the toilet yet.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Now that's what I call History!

I've had the amazing opportunity to study in this country...and better yet, I've been lucky enough to travel around on weekends to see the sights. What stands out to me the most, besides the rain, is the history. And we're not talking just signing the Declaration of Independence (to rid ourselves of these people who caused quite a bit of our own history), because that happened yesterday, in British terms.

And speaking of our Founding Fathers...about a month ago, walking around London, we happened upon Benjamin Franklin's old house.

But going back much further, I've seen walls built in Roman times. These walls are old. Older than my great grandmother (who is 100 and voted a week ago, thank you very much!). Older than my country. Older than the notion that the world was flat. We're talking back in Jesus' time. That's stinking old.

Chester, where Richard grew up, is home to the most complete Roman walls in Britan, restored, but not replicated. In fact, you can take a walk around the town on top of these walls...something I got to do a couple weeks ago. What strikes me is that while walking these ancient walls, I can see an old castle, Roman amphitheatre (above), 11th century cathedral, gothic architecture, cobbled streets, and modern shops. Talk about recycling your space while conserving your history!

And you can see bits of history like this everywhere. York was no different with remnants of a fort (above), (rebuilt) Roman walls, remains of an Abbey (below), and a breathtaking cathedral (with graffiti only dating back to the 1970's, as far as we saw, cathedral below, graffiti omitted).

I even found a bit of my own history in York. A high school friend is studying in York for her master's and it was wonderful to catch up with a friend with similar life experiences. She told me about a strange coincidence she came across as well...another Fairview High School grad was in York in addition to her. And what are the odds that we would run into that old French-class friend of mine on the streets. We all had a bit of catching up to do, so we had a good laugh at the pub talking about how strange it all was.

It's going to take a lot to really understand how much history is in this country...even before Roman times. And how history is being made all around us, even in a pub with two friends from high school.

I guess it's a small world after all.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Remember Remember

November 5 was my very first bonfire night, but it took me a good conversation with Richard and some scientific Wikipedia-ing to figure out what was behind all the tradition.

On November 5, 1605 (before the US was a country, as Richard so kindly pointed out), a group of Catholic men plotted to kill King James I of England, a Protestant, so that a Catholic king could be back in power. They planted gunpowder under the House of Lords, intending to ignite it, but Guy Fawkes was caught guarding the explosives and the plot fell apart. In celebration of Thanksgiving of the King's survival, bonfires were lit across the country.

While this day no longer comes with a day off school and work, people still follow tradition and gather for fireworks and bonfires. Some bonfires include the burning of a scarecrow that's supposed to represent Guy Fawkes, but because of the religious implications, this practice is frowned upon.

History aside, our celebrations included the traditional fireworks show and large bonfire. The other unexpected, but apparently traditional accompaniment was mud. But when you think about it, we have an easy equation.

hundreds (maybe thousands?) of people + rainy weather + grassy park = mud.

Aren't you glad my education is finally paying off?

Once we got a good view of the bonfire, fireworks, and a really good cleansing mud bath, we headed home for mince pies, mulled wine (think mulled cider, but with wine instead of apple juice), and warmth.

Remember remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot

Sunday, 4 November 2012

OMG! Shoes.

It's come to my attention that none of the shoes in my closet are adequate for the rainy UK. In fact, I do believe they'll all lead to death. Read on:

Flip flops - My toes will freeze, fall off, I'll lose my balance, get hit by a bus, and die.
Tom's shoes - My feet get instantly wet, I get pneumonia, and die.
Cheap fashion boots - Develop a hole in the bottom of my sole within a week, my feet get instantly wet, I get pneumonia, and die.
Wellies - My feet stay nice and dry, but I have to walk around like a prancing dressage horse, my legs get sore, I lose my balance, get hit by a bus, and die.
Ballet flats - See "Tom's shoes" above.
Tennis shoes AKA "Trainers" - I die of shame.
Heels - Are you joking me? Heels on cobbled streets and uneven sidewalks? Walking 3 miles a day? In any case, my toes get cold, circulation gets cut off, heels get caught in cracks, I fall over, get hit by a bus, and die.
Horseback riding boots - I die of shame.
Down booty slippers - Get worn down in a couple days, see "Cheap fashion boots" above.

Which leads me to shoes I don't have, but can buy...

Uggs - I die of shame.
Expensive fashion boots - I spend 3 month's rent on them, my feet stay warm and dry as I die of starvation.

I could ask my boyfriend for new shoes, but he'll then spend 3 month's rent on them, die of starvation, and I have warm feet but die of a broken heart. Or he buys me crappy shoes and I lose a boyfriend.

So what's a girl with no shoes to do? Obviously go shopping with Mom and Dad's credit card. They said it was for emergencies...and my life is on the line!