Cambridge Daytrip

Had a free day on Wednesday, set aside for us to work on our final projects. However, wanting that free day for adventures, many of us finished ahead of time, so on Wednesday me & a couple friends took a daytrip to Cambridge!

Started out the day at the Fitzwilliam Museum, which had free entry and some pretty rad collections, including our favourite, the Egyptian artefacts.

Front of the “Fitz”:

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Part of the Egyptian collection:

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After that we spent some time walking around Cambridge and seeing the shops. We also ducked briefly into one of the colleges, saw that their dining hall had a “student wine list”, and immediately felt like ruffians.

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We also went punting on the river Cam, which was a lot of fun although the river was surprisingly busy (all filled with other punters). We had a fantastic tour guide who pointed out several of the colleges as we went by, as well as their famous alumni and other fun facts.

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Finished the evening with a dinner at a nearby restaurant, where I was thrilled to find that my cheesecake dessert had been drizzled with genuine maple syrup! Often I’ve found maple flavours over here, in oatmeal and pastries and such, that taste very little like maple syrup, so having the real thing again was pretty exciting.

 

Harry Potter Studio Tour

Last Sunday, I opted in for another of the summer school’s optional trips and headed to the Harry Potter Studio Tour!

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The tour takes you through many of the reconstructed sets, as well as showcases loads of props and costumes. It also explains a lot of the magic behind the magic, such as how they brought magical creatures to life, flew on broomsticks around the castle, and produced Patronuses.

Model of the Hogwarts Castle:

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As a major fan of all the Harry Potter films and books, this was amazing. It felt very much like you got to step into the magical world itself for a few hours. Definitely one of my favourite days in England so far.

 

Seaside Daytrip

As one of the inclusive social activities put on by the international summer school, we all got to go on a daytrip to the seaside last Saturday.

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The day started out with a boat ride out to Blakeney Point, a national nature reserve, to see the seals there. The seals were seriously adorable, just little fat rolls of happiness napping on the beach. There were both common and grey seals (common seals have the more typically adorable, dog-like face, while grey seals have a more sloping forehead).

The seals (who’s watching who?):

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Swimming seal near our boat:

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I also really enjoyed seeing the bird life on Blakeney Point. Several different types of terns make their nests on the point. We got to see both adult terns and their chicks, all of whom camouflaged right into the pebble beach; it was almost impossible to see the chicks, in particular, unless they were moving.

Terns (these ones are visible against the grass; when they are sitting on the pebbles, they are practically invisible, especially the small grey chicks):

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Fields of sea lavender, near Blakeney Point:

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After the boat trip, we went to Wells-next-the-Sea, where we got a nice fish & chips lunch followed by loads of free time. With a couple friends, I explored the shops a bit and then walked to the beach.

Shop street in Wells-next-the-Sea:

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View of Wells-next-the-Sea, on the way to the beach:

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The beach:

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We spent the rest of our time there, lounging on the sand, wading through the water, and getting ice creams, until it was time to head back to uni.

 

 

Full Day Field Trip: Suffolk

Had another full-day field trip, this time heading down to Suffolk County.

Started off at Bury St. Edmunds, which was once one of the richest Benedictine monasteries in England (we had a guest lecturer on monasteries the previous Monday). It was destroyed in the Dissolution of the monasteries in 1539, but you can still see many ruins from where the buildings once stood, as well as two of the remaining gates and the current church.

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Next we went to Sutton Hoo, which is the site of burial mounds that were found to contain an undisturbed ship burial and a huge amount of Anglo-Saxon artefacts. The burial mounds were uncovered in the 1930’s. Most of the artefacts are now in the British Museum, which I saw when I was in London, so it was very cool to see the place where it all came from.

Burial mounds at Sutton Hoo (would have been much higher originally, before the excavations):

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Our final stop of the day was Framlingham Castle, an unusual castle in that it has no central keep, but instead just a wall with thirteen towers to defend the centre of the castle. You could walk all along the top of the castle wall.

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This castle played a role in medieval times and was also used by Mary I in 1553, when she gathered support at Framlingham Castle before moving on to successfully seize power and become Queen of England.

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Catch up: Stonehenge, Bath, & Windsor

Sorry about the lack of blog posts lately. I found out that a friend from home died very unexpectedly on Sunday night. While I have been travelling, he has regularly checked in with me over Facebook, giving me updates and reminding me to stay safe and have fun. I have not felt much like writing, but in one of our last online conversations he reminded me to always “Keep smiling, Traveller Caelan” so that is exactly what I am going to try to do.

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Catch up time again as I have fallen behind on the blog posts.

As part of the international summer school, the university offers  a couple of additional social trips. Last weekend I opted in for the weekender trip to Stonehenge, Bath, & Windsor, and had a great time.

We started out on Friday night, driving to a hostel near Stonehenge. We spent the night having dinner at a nearby pub and hanging out at the hostel. The hostel was awesome – it was set out in the country, and was also a children’s fun park during the day. We had the run of the place, which included huge gardens, a trampoline, and fields with miniature ponies, sheep, and a donkey.

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The next morning, we had a great hot breakfast at the hostel and then headed over to Stonehenge.

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After Stonehenge we went on to Bath. We had some free time to start, so me and a couple  of friends went to the Jane Austen Centre there. As a huge Jane Austen fan, this was a real treat for me. She visited the city twice and lived there for several years, and two of her books are set in the city. The Jane Austen Centre also does a good job explaining Jane’s life and how living in Bath affected her writing.

Wax figure of Jane at the Centre:

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We met up with our group again in the afternoon to go see the Roman Baths, which were so cool. Me & the other girl from my course who was on the trip (the two major history lovers) spent ages in here, listening to the audio guide in full, which was fantastic.

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Me & couple of friends spent a quiet night at the hostel with a case of Pimm’s and board games.

The next day, we had more free time to explore in Bath; we walked to the Royal Crescent, a semicircular row of beautiful and very majestic-looking townhouses with gorgeous views of the city.

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Later on we headed to Windsor, where we got time on our own to explore Windsor Castle. Me & a couple friends went to see Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House and the State Apartments. Unfortunately I didn’t get any photos of those, as you’re not allowed to take pictures anywhere inside the buildings, but I was lucky enough to catch these guards marching about:

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We finished off the evening in Windsor with a delicious roast beef dinner that included my personal favourite, Yorkshire puddings, before heading back to the university that night. An excellent weekend.

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