Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Runnymede, Windsor Castle, Stoke Poges

Above: Stoke Poges (House in front of church...I actually took this one) Way above: Me and David Arnold (I think it was Arnold, I know it was David)

Today was a pretty sweet program outing. Woke up, made me a sack lunch, moved to the back of the bus (my homeboy Glynn [i learned how to spell his name today] was our coach driver again), and stepped out on to an open field at Runnymede. Runnymede is "the birthplace of modern democracy." In other words, it's where the Magna Carta was signed. History lesson: the Magna Carta basically made it so that kings could no longer claim that God wanted them to be king. It was freezing, and I didn't have any battery life in my camera, so I didn't take any of my own pictures. We came, we saw, we took pictures, we left. I'm glad the Magna Carta was signed; also glad that we didn't spend too much time there. Oh, there's also a JFK monument there. Go figure.

Short bus ride to Windsor Castle. Windsor Castle is pretty much a fortressed city. At first I thought it was going to be a place for pansies: the moat has always been dry and has a pretty garden in it, and the first thing we saw inside the castle was Elizabeth's was some dolls. But then it got cool. Next room: Leonardo Da Vinci drawings. According to the plaque there are over 600 sketches of his at the castle. I saw roughly seven. But they were beautiful and I was happy to see that at least they had some cool displays. Then we went through the royal housing area. Windsor Castle is the oldest still-inhabited castle on earth. The Queen and her consorts live here during parts of the year (not now) and it's quite the setup. I was a big fan of all the decorative swords and guns, which were everywhere. I even liked the curtains. And there was this rad glass/gold clock that plays music which was pretty sweet. All in all, the whole place was pretty impressive. On our way out there was a samurai short sword that a samurai general gave up after a defeat. The Samurai were freaking awesome. I gotta go see them one day.

After getting out of the royal bed chambers (can you tell I don't remember the actual name of it) we walked over to St. George's Chapel. It was a rad building, built cathedral style, with some nice stained glass and plenty of donation boxes (full of dollars for some reason). Most of the way through the chapel I realize that I'm standing on top of Henry VIII's grave. So...I moonwalked over it. So good old Henry the Eighth has joined an elite club of people (2 to be exact) whose graves I have moonwalked over. I hope I get to meet him so we can be friends. Dude was a tyrant when he was alive, but you gotta admit...the boy could brawl. Once out of the chapel it was time to find some food. I tagged along with Caitlyn and Katie Bruce. Caitlyn decided we needed hamburgers, and I never turn down a hamburger. All we found was a McDonalds, but McDonalds are basically legitimate restaurants here (This past week Leslie got hit on by a guy that bought her a Big Mac meal. How great is that?) and Fanta Orange here is the greatest drink since Mexican Coca-Cola.

On the coach again, to Stoke Poges. Stoke Poges is the name of the place where Thomas Gray lived and wrote. Thomas Gray is a poet, famous for having written "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard." He wrote it sitting in the graveyard at Stoke Poges. It's an incredible poem, most renowned because it was written about commoners, and at that time it was not kosher to write about commoners. Essentially, the poem deals with Gray thinking about the people that were buried in Stoke Poges cemetery: how they were not given many opportunities for social ascension but that they still were noble people who could have been great if circumstances were right. Anyways, long story short, Gray only published about 1000 lines of poetry in his lifetime, but he still changed the world on a pretty good-sized scale. Nice to think that maybe my poems about seeing old guys naked in showers or firing my guardian angel could move mountains one day. Probably not, but definitely maybe. Our guide was David, who is a poet and lives across the street. I took a picture with him. Dr. McF and Dr. Howe both informed him that I am a poet (I wasn't gonna say it...'cause I'm really not. yet) and a graduate student. I wish that I had known we were going to be doing this because I would have gotten one of his books and had him sign it for me. Anyhew, he took us through out to Gray's monument which isn't very pretty, through the graveyard which is beautiful, and into Stoke Poges (the actual church). Part of the church was built by the Saxons, and I found an imbedded stone coffin in one of the corners (looked kinda like the one Indiana Jones finds in the sewer). Walked around the grounds, took some sweet pictures, asked David for a photo op, back on the bus, and back home, where I have done nothing short of absolutely nothing for the past few hours.


Post a Comment