Well, my U.K. tour has pretty much come to an end now. I've returned the car, posted off the sat-nav, replaced my suitcase. All that's left to do now is catch a few trains tomorrow morning, an hour to King's Cross, then on to the Piccadilly Line to Heathrow. (I swear Joanna Lumley does all the pre-recorded announcements on the Piccadilly Line...! If you're ever in London, see if you agree with me!)
Then it's a 12-hour flight (grooooaannn) to Tokyo. I will make sure to scoff down some of my knock-out drugs to ensure I get SOME sleep! I'm not staying in Japan long enough to be effected by jetlag!
The last couple of days I've been in Cambridge. Lovely place! I did a 2-hour walking tour today and feel like I understand the place a lot better. How amazing would it be to actually go to university here?? To be surrounded by only the smartest students in the country? Living and breathing the vibrant university city atmosphere? (And riding everywhere on a bike?!)
There's almost a Somers Camp level of crazy traditions and customs in the day-to-day life of the students. I just want to go back in time, make myself about 70% more intelligent and apply to come to university here. Perhaps I could join the King's College Choir! I went to the evensong tonight and listened to them sing. Incredible!!!
That's, strangely enough, the second evensong I've been to this week! (I'll be Anglican before you know it!) I also attended the one at York Minster. Man, that cathedral is just magnificent.
Between York & Cambridge I had 2 stopovers. Norwich was fine, but almost entirely unremarkable. Southend-on-Sea was more fun, there's a pier (world's longest, apparently) and a fun park. It's a great summer-vacationy kind spot, but nicer and not as busy as Brighton.
I do love England, and sometimes surprise myself at how strong a connection I feel towards the place. Visiting England feels like visiting an old grandmother that you don't see very often. Sure, she might seem a little old-fashioned and keep harping on about the past, but she's your heritage, she's your link to history. And even though you've moved away from her, she still loves you.
I'll just do a little commentary on the following photos:
1. Stain glass windows in the King's College Chapel.
2. The inside of the chapel. It almost seems insulting to call this a chapel, but the word simply means a "private church," as opposed to a public parish. The ceilings in particular are gasp-inducing. The building was started by Henry VI in the mid 1400s, but wasn't completed until during Henry VIII's reign almost 100 years later!
3. Speaking of whom... This statue of His Majesty at the entrance to Trinity College is supposed to be holding a scepter... He's currently holding a chair leg. This was apparently am ongoing prank by cheeky vandals unknown. Every time the College Master would have it removed, another would mysteriously pop up in its place. In the end it was decided just to leave it there.
4. Punting on the Cam! Although the weather here has been... well, horrible... (the wind destroyed my little umbrella today) the rain thankfully held off while I went on my punting tour this afternoon.
5. The outside of the King's College Chapel, queuing up to go into the evensong service.