Tag Archives: London

Remember, Remember the Fifth of November

The Gunpowder Conspirators are discovered and ...

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Yes, I am aware it is the seventh, or the eighth by the time this posts. But whatever.

This concludes Guy Fawkes weekend, or more Britishly known as Bonfire. It has been likened to the Fourth of July in the sense that they shoot off fireworks and have bonfires and celebrate national identity, but really the two holidays have little in common. Indeed one celebrates British failure while the other celebrates British triumph.

Fawkes was one of the orchestrators of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 in which Catholic Englishmen attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament in an attempt to overthrow Protestant England. Clearly, this plan was botched since the Houses of Parliament are still standing quite soundly (though that is actually debatable seeing as when I was there yesterday half of them were under construction and covered with scaffolding). The English still celebrate this day to commemorate the failure of the Gunpowder Plot and their ability to stop such an atrocity and leave the major emblems of their nation standing. Power to them.

On the 5, friends and I climbed to the top of Primrose Hill and watched the fireworks from there. It was a prime location for we could see the entire city of London from there in a 360 degree spectrum. Fireworks were everywhere, coming at us at all angles. It was a very neat angle watch from. We could see the London Eye, the Houses themselves, St. Paul’s, the BBC Tower and basically everything else that is London-esque about London. But it was better because it was at night and surrounded by fireworks.

Now, in America when we have fireworks, well we are loud. If we see it and we like it we go, “Wooooooooooo!!!!!” or “Ooooooh MAN!” or “NICE!” or “YYYYEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!” or something else to that effect. The British do not do this. Being British they are much more composed. I have never heard a crowd literally “ooh” and “ahh.” But this crowd did. It was excellent.

Highlight of the night though, was definitely the two blokes who brought wands that shot fireworks out of the tips and had a Harry vs. Voldemort wizard lightning battle.

Cheers!

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Give My Regards to … Piccadilly?

Bakerloo line

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Some friends and I ventured down the Bakerloo Line and exited in Piccadilly Circus, aka the Theatre District. This is London’s Broadway. Evidently Nick Jonas just left Les Mis and Jonathan Groff is currently in a drama called Death Trap. We will be stage-dooring that one I can tell you that much.

Anyway, the only show we were able to get student rates for was Jersey Boys in the Prince Edward Theatre (which was absolutely gorgeous, I nearly cried when I realized I left both my camera and my Crackberry – I mean BLACKberry – at the dorm). Now this is a show that is very close to my heart because one of the first songs I sang with the Glee Club was a Jersey Boys medley.

The music is great and I know all the words. Besides everyone raves about it. I’ve not yet had the chance to see it in NY, but now I am absolutely DYING to. If only because I want the rest of the audience to laugh with me at the jokes.

That’s right folks. I was that person who cracked up when no one else did. Well, I and my two friends who accompanied me. Why you ask?

Well none of the Brits knew any of the American jokes.

For example: Tommy DiVito of the Four Seasons apparently helped Joe Pesci get on his feet. Now I found that both very interesting and funny. Why? Well, it’s Joe Pesci (little Joey Fishes they called him). I mean come on, that’s awesome! My Cousin Vinny is one of my absolute favorites.

But the British audience didn’t even react.

Next point: they don’t know the Energizer Bunny. Not one peep from them when one of the actors said it, but we three Americans emitted a hearty “Bahaha!”

They also had no clue about The Ed Sullivan Show. And why would they? They didn’t need to. We have ABC and NBC, they have BBC.

I also laughed very hard throughout when the actors generally talked about the Italian influence on American culture and how Italian Americans act, particularly those from the NY/NJ area. I mean I’m one of them, it’s close to home for me. But the British would have no idea. It would be like a Scottish vs English joke on me. Wasted.

But I have to say, the funniest part for me was when Tommy brought one of the other group members over to sign a contract and declared, “Putchya John Hancock right there!”

I laughed so hard the man sitting next to me laughed, not at the joke, but at me!

But of course he laughed at me and not the line. He probably doesn’t know who John Hancock was. Most Americans don’t know who John Hancock was (if you’re American and don’t know this, please CLICK HERE and find out so I don’t have a coronary. Regards, Miss Rosemary). And if the British do know who he is, they may or may not be insulted depending on their politics.

But naturally I found this hilarious since, well come on, we’re in Britain!

The other thing I found funny was not really mean to be funny. I’m sure all the actors really tried very hard to keep their Jersey accents. It was a valiant attempt. But only two successfully carried it through the whole show.

Now you might think I’m knocking the production, when in fact, I am not. The show was brilliant. All the actors were incredible and the music had an outstanding blend. Carole Ann would be very proud.

But I think this particular show loses a little of its charm on  British audience. It’s not in the proper target area here. I loved it. My American readers will surely love it. And you British readers will probably like it too, but you might not rave about it.

So. Next time we head to Piccadilly to see a show, we’re going to try to find a typically British show. I’m so close to Broadway at home that I want to experience it for real over here. You may see a post about that soon, where I’m sure I will be giving more of my regards to Piccadilly.

Cheers!

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Shakespeareland

I have been to the land where the greatest writer in the history of the world lived his life.

That’s right folks, I have been to Shakespeareland.

Shakespeareland is actually known to the general populace as Stratford-upon-Avon. It is a small town which retains most of it’s original medieval charm with the exception of a few paved roads, electricity and cars. The majority of the buildings still look like this,

which yes, in case you were wondering, is the actual house where the Bard  was born.

Also if you were wondering, he gets his name, The Bard of Avon, from the combination of his obvious literary genius and the fact that he hails from a place near the River Avon. Aha!

I have walked where William Shakespeare walked. I have tread where he tread. I have posed in front of the house in which he was born (with my new friend).

I would have loved to go inside but just before we reached that part of the tour, some fool leaned on the fire alarm and the whole place had to be evacuated.

Shakespeareland (as we have taken to calling it because Stratford-upon-Avon is just too long to say) is really a very small town with only a few little streets, most of which would still be familiar to Will if he were to walk them today. Aside from a few new ones here and there and minor modifications, the essence of the town is exactly as he left it.

What I did not know is that Shakespeare actually lived out the majority of his life within those few square miles, excepting the few years he wrote in London. He lived in his parents house (where I stood in front of!!!!) for most of his childhood and also after his shotgun wedding to an older woman, Anne Hathaway. They had a daughter and boy-girl twins and only moved into their own house, New House, after he started becoming popular and making money. They may have been tenants there before he purchased it. He moved back to that house after his stint in London and stayed there with his family until he died.

Tragically, his son died at the age of 11 while he was away in London, which is said to have influenced his writing greatly. For example, a few years afterward, he penned his arguably most famous work, Hamlet (it’s also my favorite). The play deals with father-son love/relationships and great tragedy, which ultimately results in Hamlet’s death. The name of Shakespeare’s son? Hamnet. No lie. Coincidence? I think not. Also notable is the presence of boy-girl twins in Twelfth Night and their happy reunion at the end, which is what Shakespeare undoubtedly wished for his children.

About a mile away from Stratford is Anne Hathaway’s cottage in Shottery. Her family was, like Will’s, apparently wealthy. The only thing I have to say to that is, if the wealthy really lived the way it is set up in the cottage, I would have HATED to be poor. The stairs are treacherous and the washroom … I cringe. If I were to have lived back then, the only way I could have handled it was if I were titled nobility and lived in a castle such as Warwick (more on that later).

Anne’s family owned and worked about 90 acres of land. Woah. The orchard and surrounding areas are absolutely stunning. Her family remained in possession of the cottage until the 19th century. I can’t imagine all the repairs. It is very likely that Will was very familiar with this house. He would have had to go there often to visit Anne and … er … court her prior to their wedding. Also there was no reason for the Shakespeare family to not frequently visit the Hathaway family. We walked there in about a half and hour and we didn’t know where we were going. Warning: if you are ever to visit the place yourself, take care that you do not accidentally wander up someone’s driveway and find yourself in their backyard. That is not Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, it is a random citizen of the United Kingdom’s home.

But when you do make it to the cottage, be sure to sit on the bench before it and read some Shakespeare. Perhaps he read some of his work to her at that very spot!

Cheers!

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The Mayor’s Thames Festival

Very quick before I head off to bed. Tonight the gals and I headed off to The Mayor’s Thames Festival. This festival is only held on weekend per year and we were fortunate enough to be around when it was scheduled this year!

We started by jumping on the tube and taking the Bakerloo Line south to the river, getting off near the Waterloo Bridge. The sight that greeted us would bring tears of unchecked joy to any Shopaholic’s eyes: about 87 stalls stuffed with jewelery, skirts, dresses, glass mosaics and general London paraphernalia all down the riverbank. Don’t worry, Dad, I only spent money on food.

Which was quite good. I found some fried prawn rolls at a Thai stall right next to the burrito stand (which my friends made a beeline for). While we were waiting in line, I got to know a nice English chap who studied for a year in Texas and is now working as a museum somewhere close to the West End (at least I think that was where he was pointing. It could have been a random street corner, but he looked too clean-cut for that). Next we popped our squat on a bench close to the river and waited for about two hours for the fireworks.

I have never seen more amazing fireworks. Way to go, London.

Returning was quite the adventure, considering I forgot my Oyster card and everyone and their mother wanted to get to the tube at the same time we did. After being literally squished between hundreds of people on the Millennium Bridge, losing Brittany, having someone step on my too long pants and bumping into our new slightly intoxicated Belgian friends, we made it across, RAN to the tube and made it back to Baker Street before 10:45.

Not a bad night.

Cheers!

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I Have Arrived

Well. Here I am. I don’t know how to say everything properly (mostly because I only have three minutes before I have to leave for a meeting, but I’ll give the blog a go).

Saying good-bye to the family was rough. Mom and I did very well and didn’t cry until the last five minutes. But then it was – to coin a cliché – like a dam breaking and the waterworks exploded and then Grace had a fit and I’m not really sure how Dad handled it because I couldn’t see though my misty eyes.

Most of the distress found its genesis in the fact that I was traveling internationally alone for the first time. I have taken Metro-North to NY by myself hundreds of times (during the day when I didn’t have luggage or tons of baggage with me. I also certainly wouldn’t go to Penn Station during the wee hours of the morning to take Amtrak by myself from all the way to DC with all my college gear and therefore make myself a target for creepers) but there’s something about traveling across an entire ocean alone that is nerve-wracking even to the most experienced sojourners.

Paddington Underground Station, London

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But I did it. The flight went relatively smoothly (anything after my last flight home from Spain in a horrid storm where we were stuck on the thing for 16 hours would be much smooth) and I arrived in Heathrow International about 9AM London time – right on schedule!  I then hopped on an express train to Paddington Station (which made me think of Paddington Bear) and took a taxi to my school. It was the first time I had ever been in a vehicle with the wheel on the wrong side of the road! Though a little strange, it was very cool to see the other perspective. The very nice cab driver dropped me off at Regent’s American College, London at about 12 where I then discovered my roommate to be an entirely pleasant girl from Fairfield who I already knew through a mutual friend! We are getting along so well and have adopted a similar group of friends with whom we can explore.

Just not right now. It’s meeting time, but look for a post on my first few days coming soon.

Cheers!

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Almost There

Two weeks to the day before I hop across the pond!

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Cheers!

Hello everyone! Welcome to the blog chronicling Miss Rosemary’s Epic Escapades in England. Here she will tell the tales of all her adaventures for her semester at Regent College. So far all she has is her ticket (well actually just a receipt from the e-ticket, it hasn’t arrived in the mail yet, she should check that) and high hopes, but that’s enough for now. If you would like to follow her life at home in the good old US of A until she departs on September 1, 2010, you can find her at Miss Rosemary’s Novel Ideas.

Well, until then she won’t be around much here, bust as soon as anything changes, you’ll be the first to know.

Cheerio!

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