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Music!

Here is a bit of video I took while in Edinburgh a few weeks ago. I went and saw a couple bands perform and they were really good! Here is the evidence!

More to come on Edinburgh at a later date!

Seasons of Change

Hello Everyone!

I wanted to post a quick hello and to tell you that I am alive and well. Scotland was beautiful and a wonderful trip. I hope to have a post up about it by the weekend, but no promises. School is beginning to get quite heavy with essays and presentations so I am currently swamped with those and I don’t really see any dry land until after my birthday.

The purpose of this post, however, is to show the colors of fall. Today has been a very rainy day that never left the low forties, so I believe fall has finally passed and we are beginning to see the first vestiges of winter. The leaves are gone or almost so and heavy coats are all the rage with people rushing to and from class to escape the cold weather. On this day, I think it is a perfect time to pay respects to the beautiful fall that I have experienced. The colors here are varied and more beautiful than I could have imagined. I sometimes stand in shock at the different colors. Not only are browns and yellows hanging from trees like at home, but I can also see purples, deep reds and bright oranges falling slowly to the earth. I feel like I am experiencing a true fall for the first time, one that lingers and one that I can see the slow changes from green to yellow to brown. In Texas, fall comes and goes so quickly that if you don’t pay attention, you will miss it. Here, I have a little more time to enjoy the beauty.

 

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The path next to my hall

 

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Blends of Purple

 

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The tree outside my window.

 

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Campus and Beyond

 

More pictures will be on my flikr and I have put up my pictures from Edinburgh, but I have not added any descriptions yet. I hope to do that ASAP.

 

Thanks for stopping by and I appreciate all the love and support that I receive every day. It really does make being away from home all the more bearable…that and the gorgeous landscapes! haha

 

Cheers,

Charley

8 Months

Today marks the 8 month anniversary of my first date with a certain girl in my life. I love her so much and can’t wait until I can see her again. She is the most amazing person I have ever met and feel lucky every day that she picked me. These months have been best of my life and I owe them all to her.

I will never forget that night. A smoky bingo hall, confusedly stamping bingo cards and finally ice cream at that sketchy little Dairy Queen in Bryan. I love you Ana!

Hi all,

I am really bad about this writing things when I say that I am going to write them thing.

London was an experience! I saw so many things in four days and while at times I felt nervous, lost and wet (it rained everyday), I loved it more than any city I have ever been to. It was vibrant, vivacious and full of so many people. From Asian tourists taking pictures of every nook and cranny to an old couple from South Wales coming to see a play on the West End, the people were fantastic and interesting. I feel that you could people watch in London for the majority of the day (taking breaks for food and the occasional pint of course) and never become bored.

The markets that I visited, Camden and Portobello were great as well. They seemed to be a mixture of kitsch tourist stores, vintage clothing outlets and flea market stalls, but each market had it’s own distinct style to it. Camden seemed to yell at you while Portobello purred. I enjoyed visiting both, but Portobello was my favorite. It had so many wonderful little stalls with the most random assortment of old (and new) goods.

My hostel was nice as well. It was an old Victorian house which had been refitted into a hostel about 10 years ago. It was cozy with wood floors and the unmistakable smell of an old house..sort of like an old library or second hand book shop. It was quite crowded, but it never caused a problem for when I was there (which wasn’t very often).

During the weekend, I hit all of the highlights like Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and Trafalgar Square (missed the Tower of London) and also did some really fun things which I thought were personal highlights of the trip. I sort of fell into a ticket to see War Horse at the New National Theatre and it was one of the best plays I have ever seen. Tickets were expensive (especially as I was buying them so late) but the price was more than worth the show. It was original and spell bindingly good. If you ever have the chance to see it, I recommend it. I also went to the National Film Theatre and saw From Here to Eternity, an American film from the 1950’s starring Burt Lancaster, Donna Reed and Frank Sinatra. It was a great film and also a very cool experience seeing an old film like that in a large movie theatre. One of the last things I did was visit the home of Arsenal FC, one of my favorite soccer teams. I went to Emirates Stadium, took pictures in front of it, checked out the museum and visited the team shop to pick up some arsenal gear. It was a massive stadium and was very exciting for me. haha After the stadium, I went to a local pub to see the Valiant men of Arsenal lose bravely to the evil, dirty players of Chelsea…or at least that’s how I saw it. Like most Aggies believe, I still think that Arsenal didn’t really lose the match, they just ran out of time to win.

The weather and the underground service did not realize I was coming to London so they were uncooperative. If only I would have let them know in advance, they would have gotten their act together! It rained for most of each day and night, occasionally brightening up which just reminded me to not take things for granted while traveling. The very smallest thing can make for a much more difficult day. Speaking of which, the underground line that I used to go from my hostel to the city centre was out of commission on Saturday for repairs and then on Monday there was a large strike by the workers which shut down about 70% of the lines. It all worked out fortunately and I feel like I now have a pretty good grip on the bus routes and tube routes in and around north London.

 

It’s raining outside right now and the leaves are all changing from the various shades of green that inhabit the trees during the summer to the reds, browns and yellows of fall foliage. It’s quite extraordinary to see so many colors everywhere.

In a few days, I leave for Edinburgh, Scotland to spend the weekend. I am looking forward to the trip and I think it will be a favorite city as well due to the pictures I have seen and what I have been told. I”m looking forward to the trip, but I have a new goal for this trip abroad. I am going to try and be as frugal as I can be and live like a true backpacker. London was expensive and I don’t plan on repeating the expenditures of that trip. Unfortunately, as a backpacking novice, I made some rookie mistakes.

 

Well, I better get back to work, I have an essay due in a couple days and need to get it written!

Cheers to everyone and thanks for reading (even if this entry was a massive tome of information!)

 

Charley

 

p.s. I also need to thank my cousin, Caitlin for helping me and giving me better travel advice and directions for London than any book from Frommers or Rick Steves! Thanks Caitlin!

London Calling

I’m sorry for the delay in posts, but right when I got back from London, I had to jump head first into work for school and a few other things which got in the way. I have finally uploaded all of my pictures and put descriptions for them, so if you would like to head on over to my flikr, you will be able to see the things I saw and thought worthy of picture.
I will be back tomorrow (I promise!) with a full recap of everything. In one week, I am off to Edinburgh, Scotland. I hope to be a bit better about updating this space in the future…starting tomorrow. haha
Cheers!
Charley

London Baby!

Okay everyone, another quick update to let you know that I am off to London for the weekend! Thanks to Caitlin’s help (who is a better tour guide than any travel book) I have my hostel booked (an 18th century Victorian home!) and a plan ready for the next few days. I will update more when I return!

Cheers!

p.s. Sarah, I will look for a sweet spot for you and Vic while I am there! You can book your hotel and everything next week!

Oxford: Dreaming of Spires

Hi All!

I am back in Nottingham after a successful trip to the beautiful city of Oxford.

For this post, I was planning on doing a sort of photographic journey through the city. However, due to my inability to figure out how to use my own blog, I will have to forgo this option and instead ask that you check out my flikr on the right. Some of the photos are quite beautiful and I gave each a title so that you will know what they are and where they were taken. I will try to do something like what I planned another time.

As for my trip, I believe it was a roaring success. I did not get mugged, nor did I lose my passport of wallet or spend huge amounts of money on things I don’t need. If I get away from a city without any of those things happening, I can claim that it was a successful trip.

The city itself is extraordinary. Known as the Dreaming Spires, the buildings of the University are throughout the city, meaning that there was no central campus. However, this only meant that every turn and every block seemed to have another beautiful tower, courtyard or building. Every college seemed to have their own building and many were quite old. Spires of churches dating back to the 1200’s were not uncommon and many of the buildings had a history unto themselves.

I visited the most famous college, Christ College first and it was probably the neatest thing that I did while in Oxford. The grounds and college had gorgeous architecture but what I found most extraordinary was the fact that this college is still in use as a dormitory and teaching area for Oxford. The dining hall is still used, the libraries have students in them,  and the buildings themselves were still functional for living and teaching in. Compared to Texas A&M, this is much different.

After seeing Christ College, I did a multitude of things, including visiting the pub that J.R.R Tolkien and C. S. Lewis would regularly attend, going to the cinema to see The Town (I highly recommend it.), walking around the city, eating at a South African chicken place (Nando’s, super good!) and finally once I was exhausted, I went to the hostel and crashed.

After a nice night in the hostel, I woke up early and decided that I would do the rest of Oxford in one day, instead of staying for extra night. This way, I would save money by not getting another hostel. However, this meant that I had to lug my rather heavy pack around all day, which wasn’t the best experience. It did provide for a wonderful workout as I carried it on my back for around 8 hours as I walked around the city and saw exhibits.

This final day was also graduation day for the most recent graduating class, so students in robes and very wealthy and proud parents crowded the streets and made it slightly more difficult as a few of the colleges were closed to the public because of the graduation. However, it was nice to see real Oxford students and it provided for a festive atmosphere. I saw Oxford Castle, a castle which has been around since the 1100’s and was most recently a prison. It closed in 1996 for failing to meet basic human needs. It was ranked as one of the worst prisons in England. However, it was a very cool sight, and my first castle in England! I also saw the outside of Bodleian Library, the oldest library in England housing a massive amount of books. However, tours were booked full by the time I reached it so I could not go inside. It is also where the library scenes in the Harry Potter movies were filmed!

After an exhausting day, I headed home, taking the train back to Nottingham and reaching my dorm by 8PM.

It was a wonderful trip, and I’m very excited I went there first, as it provided a great introduction to traveling and will be helpful when I visit London this weekend.

Thanks for reading, and I will try to update again before I leave on Friday!

Oxford!

Hi everyone!

I am only doing a quick update, but I just wanted to let you all know that I am going to Oxford for the weekend to see if I can soak in any knowledge before my classes begin. I also have updated my flikr with a few pictures from the Notts County match and what my bedroom looks like. I hope to have a proper update for everyone when I get back on Sunday. Until then, check out the pictures!

I will toast to all of you at the Eagle and the Child where J.R.R Tolkien and C.S Lewis would meet to discuss their books!

I love you all and thank you for the support! You all make me so happy. Cheers!

An Update on days 1-3

Now that the video is out of the way, I can update everyone regarding my life here.

So far (three days in), it’s great! I wake up and eat my porridge in the great hall, attend a few orientation type things and explore for the rest of the day. I, then come home (back to my temporary dorm room) and write and call people through skype. So if I haven’t talked to you yet, be patient. I am getting there.

I have been to the city center twice and know most of the central campus area now after walking and running around it for a minute.

The campus is beautiful, full of rolling hills, open green spaces and gloriously old buildings. I am starting to fall in love with it. However, one downside is its immensity. It almost puts A&M to shame. It is quite spread out, which provides for wonderful landscapes, but can be hell on your feet and thighs, especially with all of the hills.

So, one thing is for certain, I shouldn’t have a problem getting in shape while I’m here!

The city is very walker friendly, and stores are everywhere! I am getting used to seeing all of the different names and brands as barely any from the States are in Nottingham. They tend to be smaller relying less on inventory in the store and more on catalogs where one can order an item and pick it up at the store.

A few bullets:

  • There are starbucks everywhere, but almost with the same regularity is another coffee shop brand called Costa, whose logo is very similar to the Seattle giant.
  • Dollar stores do exist here, but they are called Pound Worlds, which I thought was hilarious.
  • British people do have bad teeth, not as a rule, but the frequency with which they exist is undeniable.
  • The equivalent of Victoria’s Secret here is a store called Ann Summers. It looks the same but with less pink from what I can tell.
  • British people for the most part seem to be incredibly nice and willing to help you with anything
  • Big Macs taste a little different here. McDonalds, Subway, Burger King, and Pizza Hut are the chains I have seen from the US.

Another thing I have noticed is that even though I speak English and this is an English speaking country, I still have an incredibly hard time communicating here. The vernacular is quite a bit different from the United States, and even very small sayings, without context clues, are a mystery at times. It makes me a little more shy than normal, wondering if anything I say is actually going to make sense or not.

The accents vary in strength, but while at a pub today having my first pub beer, I sat close to three older men and could not understand more than a word out of every 20 or so. It was much like a different language. I feel with time I will become accustomed but until then it will all remain a mystery. I also think that accents are stronger with the older generations, while the younger people seem to be a little more clear and defined.

Well, that’s all for now. I know some of you have emailed me, and I will reply as soon as I can. However, if you would like a response quicker rather than later, only ask a few questions at a time. Once I have answered those, ask more. This way, it’s not so overwhelming to look at in one sitting. I am extremely excited and happy that you all want to share in my trip, and that you want to know so much. Thank you for caring and thanks for reading. I will try to post as often as I can. I am engrossed in an entirely new culture, up to my neck in it actually, and am slowly learning how to tread water in it. Eventually, I hope I will learn to swim.

Cheers,

Charley

A Latte, my journal and the Daily Times at Costa

Hi everyone, expect two posts in relatively quick order. This first one is my first video of the adventure!

I made it over the last few days here. From my arrival to discovering the city of Nottingham, this covers a glimpse into what I have seen. I hope you like it! It’s also a little rough, so I am going to work on making it a little clearer and a little more clean in the future, but here is the first one of hopefully many!

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