Women’s Writers Weekend in London

Happy International Women’s Day! My apologies that I have not posted in awhile–it’s been a crazy few weeks! I’ll be catching up on my travels, starting with my fantastic weekend in London with one of my favorite people, Paige! Like me, Paige is an English major at Wellesley (though she also majors in Chemistry) studying abroad this semester. She came down from Dublin to England the last weekend of February, and we explored London together. Our journeys around the city led us to memorials, portraits, and places of many female writers, a topic that feels very fitting for today!

We started at Buckingham Palace, the home of Queen Elizabeth and the Royal Family. Paige and I brought out our Will Byers figurines to pose together!

IMG_0789.jpgIMG_0812.jpgIMG_0809.jpg

Next, we headed to Westminster Abbey, perhaps the most important church in England. We especially loved Poets’ Corner, where many famous British authors are buried or memorialized. I was very excited to find a stone in memory of the Brontë sisters!

IMG_0820.jpg

IMG_0794.jpg

As avid Harry Potter fans (and Quidditch players!), we had to visit Platform 9 and 3/4’s, the Kings Cross destination created by J. K. Rowling. We waited an hour to take our pictures at the Platform, but it was worth it to “board” the Hogwarts Express!

IMG_0833.jpg

IMG_0883.jpg

Paige laughed in front of the Palace Theatre, the home of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, as we are a bit critical of the play.

IMG_0849.jpg

Then, we went to the National Portrait Gallery, a free museum filled with paintings of famous figures in British history. We found many women writers there, including George Eliot, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and Jane Austen!

We took a picture of our Wills with William Shakespeare (because why not?).

IMG_0812

Here I am in front of the only portrait made of Jane Austen while she was living, a miniature created by her sister Cassandra. The painting was almost tinier than my hand!

IMG_0815.jpg

I found the Brontës again at the National Portrait Gallery. It was super exciting to see this portrait of Anne, Emily, and Charlotte, painted by their brother Branwell (who erased himself from the image, as you can see his sillouette in the background), because I’ve been looking at it for years online. I made Paige take way too many photographs of me in front of the portrait–these are just two of them.

IMG_0820.jpg

IMG_0837.jpg

Meanwhile, Paige discovered a painting of Dorothy Hodgkin, the famous British chemist. We felt it only fitting that we take a picture of Paige in front of the portrait.

IMG_0844.jpg

The gallery had a special exhibit in honor of 100 Years of Women’s Vote in Britain. We loved this image of Christabel Pankhurst, the famous suffragette.

IMG_0846.jpg

And, naturally, I took a photograph with this portrait of Virginia Woolf, painted by her sister Vanessa Bell.

IMG_0862.jpg

On Saturday, we made our way to Primrose Hill, a beautiful area in Regent’s Park that was home to many writers. Among them was Sylvia Plath, Paige’s favorite poet. We spent a lovely morning there, visiting two houses that Sylvia lived in and the telephone box where she supposedly made her last phone call before she died.

 

IMG_0904.jpgIMG_0871.jpgIMG_0884.jpgIMG_0908.jpgIMG_0911.jpg

The second house Sylvia lived in was actually first the home of the poet, William Butler Yeats.

IMG_0908

We told one of our favorite teachers, Professor Brogan, that we made a visit to Primrose Hill. She provided us with a quote from Sylvia on the neighborhood: “When I came to my beloved Primrose Hill, with the golden leaves, I was full of such joy.”

We found, though the visit was melancholy, that we agreed with her.

IMG_0914.jpg

IMG_0901

Of course, Paige and I had to buy volumes of Sylvia’s poetry at Primrose Hill Books.

IMG_0906

Then, we made our way to Hyde Park, visiting the Marble Arch and Kensington Gardens along the way!

IMG_0922.jpgIMG_0931.jpg

Paige enjoyed her Plath on a park bench.

IMG_0940.jpg

Though we encountered many important and beloved women on our trip, I was the happiest to see Paige in a city we’ve both dreamed about for years. Thank you, Paige, both for coming to see me and for inspiring me every day! I miss you so much already!

XOXO Sam

 

Advertisements

(Almost) Five Cappuccinos I’ve Had in Bath

All my friends know that I’m an obsessive coffee drinker. It’s interesting to be here in Bath, though, because coffee is different in Britain than in the US. When I’m home, I usually just drink normal drip coffee with a little bit of cream, no matter if I’m making it at home or going out to grab a cup. However, in Britain, you usually can’t get a “normal” cup of coffee when you go out to a cafe. Espresso drinks are all the rage here. Of course, I’ve adapted quickly, especially since the British are brilliant and understand that cappuccinos are just better with chocolate sprinkled on top. In no particular order, here are (almost) five cappuccinos I’ve had at different cafes in Bath and (almost) five books I was reading while there.

1. The Bridge Coffee Shop

IMG_0488

The Bridge is a cute little cafe right on Pulteney Bridge overlooking the River Avon. Though there is not much space, the drinks are really big and delicious (and cheap)! As you can see, they put an excellent amount of chocolate on top of their cappuccinos, and their sausage rolls are also incredible. I enjoyed Alexandra Harris’ biography of Virginia Woolf here during my first week in Bath.

 

2. The Green Rocket 

IMG_0581

The Green Rocket is particularly popular with ASE students because it is right next to our study center, Nelson House! It is also a great vegan cafe and has lots of gluten-free options. I like to come in on Wednesday mornings to treat myself before a long day of classes. Their cappuccino is super aesthetically pleasing, especially next to my beautiful new copy of Jane Eyre, which I’m reading for my tutorial on bird imagery in 19th and 20th century fiction.

3. MokokoIMG_0564.jpg

Mokoko was one of the first coffeeshops I discovered in Bath. They are right across the street from the Roman Baths and have a wonderful view of the famous Pump Room. I love that they have a lot of space to spread out my work so I can properly enjoy my cappuccino and my books, including Flush, Virginia Woolf’s biography of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s dog that I read for my Woolf class.

4. The Green Bird

img_0724.jpg

I’m actually writing this blog post from the Green Bird, the cafe that is slowly becoming my favorite (perhaps just because of its name, though). Though much closer to the Royal Crescent than my home on North Parade, the Green Bird has delicious and cheap coffee, beautiful pastries, and a nice breakfast and lunch menu as well! I love their little atmosphere for writing and reading books like Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, which I’m hoping to finish today!

5. Sally Lunn’s 

Alright, this one is a little bit of an outlier, but I had to share it anyway. I actually did get a “normal” cup of coffee at  Sally Lunn’s, a Bath staple since 1680s. Though the Jane Austen coffee blend was delightful, what really floored me was the famous Sally Lunn bun I had. Kind of like a cinnamon roll but better, this bun might be the best thing I’ve eaten in Britain so far. Since I went to Sally Lunn’s with my flatmates, I didn’t read while there; however, I thought I’d share my lovely copy of To the Lighthouse, the next book I will certainly be reading in a Bath cafe!

Thanks for reading! I’ll be back soon with some Bath attractions I’ve been to in these first few weeks!

XOXO Sam

Stonehenge, Salisbury, and Lacock

I went on my first trip last weekend with the entire ASE program. We spent the full day exploring three destinations in Wiltshire, a county in England just east of Bath. Our journeys spanned nearly all of British history, from prehistoric days to medieval England to the hometown of Harry Potter. 

We started the day at Stonehenge. A loyal Hardy fan, I read some Tess of the d’Ubervilles near the ancient rocks. 

IMG_0450 (1)“Older than the centuries; older than the d’Ubervilles!”

stonehenge

IMG_0441Forever Wellesley English majors, Katie and I had to pose in front for our professors back home!

IMG_0586

IMG_0581.jpg

My flatmates and I had to take pictures in front of the recreated huts, originally made by the Stonehenge builders!

IMG_0468

IMG_0465

After lunch at Stonehenge, we went off to Salisbury, a medieval town near Stonehenge. We toured the beautiful Salisbury Cathedral and saw the best preserved copy of the Magna Carta. 

IMG_0641.jpgsalisbury 2.jpg

IMG_0472

sailsbury.jpg

IMG_0680.jpgIMG_0477Naturally, I had to try out the stocks. 

IMG_0685.jpgSarah, Elizabeth and Sarah kindly posed in front of the Cathedral for me. 

Finally, we headed to Lacock for a quick tour and a lovely English meal. It turned out that different spaces in Lacock served as sets for some of the Harry Potter films, which led to much excitement from us ASE students. 

IMG_0694.jpg

IMG_0483Harry Potter’s childhood home!

IMG_0715.jpg

I’m so thankful to ASE for taking us on such a fun and informative first trip around England! Looking forward to more domestic travels this semester, including London in a few weeks.

Be back soon with more adventures in Bath!

XOXO, Sam

 

Settling In: Week One

First week in Bath and I am in love! We started with orientation last week, allowing us ASE students to do some proper exploring of the town before we jumped into classes. I hate to disagree with Jane Austen, but the Georgian town is absolutely beautiful. Here are just some snapshots from my opening days in the city.

Here’s the view from Pulteney Bridge, which overlooks Parade Park in Bath. My home is just out of the frame on the left-hand side. IMG_0357

My home, Nunes House. There are fifteen of us who live in this old Georgian building within four different flats. My window is the tiny, uppermost one (the attic, which feels very Victorian actually). We have excellent views of the River Avon and of Parade Park.

IMG_0434

Here’s that very window and view from inside my single. I can sit on the window seat, which, though quite cold, is lovely.

IMG_0363

I finished Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín during orientation, a fitting book for my first time living abroad. We bought flowers at the supermarket this weekend to liven up our rooms (I’m partial to baby’s breath).

IMG_0430

My (not yet fully decorated) board, including only some of my favorites so far!

IMG_0360

We had a lot of free time during orientation, so I took a walk up to the Circus and the Royal Crescent, two major sites in Bath. The Circus is a circle of Georgian buildings around a roundabout that looks very glamorous, and the Royal Crescent is similar (except only half a circle, naturally) but somehow even more magnificent.

IMG_0375IMG_0380

Here is the window from the library at Nelson House, the building where many of the classes at ASE take place. We had to take diagnostic tests during our first week for our tutors (what we call professors here), but luckily the view during one of mine was beautiful.

IMG_0384

And near the end of orientation week, we had a ASE reception at the Victoria Art Gallery in Bath! My flatmates and I posed for a picture.

IMG_0416

Me, Sarah, Sarah (who are roommates, actually), and Elizabeth in front of a portrait of a man who, according to one of our amazing tutors, was not such a great guy.

I’ve really been enjoying myself these first fews days, and I hope to write more now that classes are underway. Look out for our trip to Stonehenge later this week.

XOXO, Sam