Yet again I have had so many opportunities to explore, learn, and be captivated by this amazing country. In between class and my internship- which are both going splendidly- I have been trying to do exciting things! It isn’t hard to find something new and exciting to do in this amazing city!
Last weekend I was able to go on a Leeds Castle, Dover, Canterbury, and Greenwich tour with some of the other people in my program. We found a Groupon deal and got the tour for half off—well worth it!!
Leeds Castle is know as the Lady’s Castle because six queens have lived in the beautiful castle. Henry VIII’s first wife, Katherine of Aragon, resided in the castle while their marriage was still intact. In the 1920s a wealthy Anglo-American heiress, Lady Baillie, bought the castle and spent endless amounts of money to bring the castle back to its former glory. Lady Baillie used the castle and its some 500 acres of gardens as her weekend retreat. Socialites from all over would come for her Gatsby-like parties, including one King Edward and his love Mrs. Simpson. Upon her death Lady Baillie left the castle and its lands to a trust on the hope that the public would be able to share in the joy that she received from the gorgeous castle.
Leaving the breathtaking gardens we ventured to Dover to take a quick photo of the famous White Cliffs of Dover. The sound of the water crashing against the pebbles beach made me crave the ocean! I know I’ll have to make a few trips to the Washington/Oregon coast when I return so I can sit and listen to the waves.
Having taken our photos of the White Cliffs—under the immaculate British skies—we headed to the cutest, most British town, Canterbury. Many will have heard of Canterbury from the Canterbury tales, tales of medieval misadventures by Chaucer, and the famous Canterbury Cathedral. I loved exploring the quaint markets, medieval buildings, and cobblestone streets. After grabbing lunch we were left to our own devices and decided to take a little walkabout before grabbing some tea in a uniqe café. Tea and scones with jam and cream in hand we truly felt British.
Leeds Castle, Dover, and Canterbury are all situated in the County of Kent. The County of Kent is known as “The Garden of England” and it truly was! We drove through orchards, rolling hills, and hop gardens (hop that goes into making beer). It was great to see a new side of this country especially one that was so beautiful even on a cloudy day!
To finish our tour we went into the borough of Greenwich, known for its influence in maritime innovations. There is a beautiful Maritime Museum located in Greenwich near the old Naval Hospital. I am definitely going to need to take an afternoon to go back and explore this wonderful part of London!
We then hopped on the London Transport Water Taxi to get back into Central London. This was the perfect end to our day of exploration as it took us around London through a different light. London waterfront became a new place, and I have come to the conclusion that going by water taxi is the best way to beat London traffic!
Not only was I able to see a new part of England, but I was able to get my Shakespeare fix for the week! With AHA London Centre we took a guided tour and workshop at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre today stands a few hundred feet from its original location.
The original Globe burned down in 1613 during a performance of Henry VIII, was rebuilt shortly with a tile roof to prevent fire, and was again rebuilt by American Actor, director, and producer Sam Wanamaker completed in 1996 a hundred feet away. It is now a place for Shakespeare’s famous plays to be done in an authentic playhouse, and for people young and old from all over the world to learn about the genius that is Shakespeare. More about Shakespeare to come as I will be going to Stratfor-upon-Avon, Shakespeare’s birthplace, at the end of the month!
My Shakespeare experience did not end there as last night I was able to see Othello at the Leicester Square Theatre! It was a very intimate performance as we were all squeeze into a room in the basement of the theatre, sat directly along the stage composed of a sheet taped to the floor, and had our personal bubbles invaded by the spirited cast. Each of the cast had to be at their best as there was no stage magic to hide behind. Overall it was a wonderful experience and a great way to become part of Shakespeare’s Othello.
Leeds Castle- http://www.leeds-castle.com/Visit/Castle+and+History
The Canterbury Tales- http://canterburytales.org.uk
Shakespeare’s Globe- http://www.shakespearesglobe.com