Tuesday, 17 November 2015

영국여행 | England (Day 9)

I'll give you one guess at where we went.
Day 9 saw me meeting up with Ann-Marie again to go on a day-trip somewhere neither of us had been before, once again checking off something on our "explore more of England" list.

We met at King's Cross, which is always fun to say, and we might actually have left from platform 9 or 10 (sadly not 9¾).

Breakfast! Once again making the most of cured meats and real cheese.
Due to our lackadaisical approach to planning a day out, we ended up just typing various place names into the ticket machine and choosing the cheapest one that was also less than a 2 hour train ride away, and ended up with Cambridge.

Flat English countryside from the train window.
What we didn't realise is that the train station is actually quite a long walk from the actual university buildings. What I also didn't know is that Cambridge apparently has a large Asian expat community, because we walked down a whole street of shops catering to Chinese, Korean, Taiwanese, and Japanese tastes, as well as many more. We popped into a bubble tea shop with post-it notes covered in cute doodles and messages not written in English, and generally caused a hassle, as we usually do (they didn't have a working card machine and I never carry cash, but they'd already started my order, oops)

It's kind of weird, just wandering around and then choosing a random university building to just walk into and look around. Especially as most of the buildings are probably halls of residence, it feels a lot like you're just walking into someone's garden and having a nose around, even though the area has the look of a stately home, which actually IS just walking into someone's garden (and house) and having a nose around.

As a testament to the old days when most, if not all people, were some denomination of Christian and most likely Catholic, there were quite a few chapels and churches dotted around, that you could also go into and have a mosey around. I don't know how often they get used these days, but there were lots and lots of funeral plaques all over the walls and floor of the one we chose to pop into.

"died of wounds received from a wild buffalo while hunting" standard one, then.

Considering it's not too clear where you can and can't go without it counting as breaking and entering, Ann-Marie and I tended to stick to the outside areas, which were all very lush and fancy, and I can't really imagine going to a university that looks like that. "It's not a halls of residence if you can't play badminton on the lawns".

What I thought was a groundskeeper's house was actually a small cabana/poolhouse, what?!
I know Oxford is generally touted as being the place to go for the "Hogwarts" feel, but this definitely felt like the next best thing. Also, remembering bits of description of the buildings in the His Dark Materials trilogy (again, Oxford) added a little to the magic.

Not sure why everyone was standing on this rock to take photos but we didn't want to miss out.

I'm not sure how we managed to spend most of a day just wandering around this one building complex, but we did and it was great. Maybe wistfully discussing someday-never plans and how great/terrible it must be to live there is fuel enough for several hours.

There was a sort of small shrine to Charles Darwin in one part of this garden, and basically gave us his life history, family tree, and all sorts of fascinating facts about him. It was the last point before we attempted to head out, which took longer than expected because we kept getting lost.

We finally made it out and spied a Cinnabon, so of course we bought a minibon each (having learnt our lesson from a) Crosstown Doughnuts and b) that one time we decided to buy a pack of 4 full size buns and felt like we were going to die. This is a worrying reoccurring theme.) and I was very tempted by a "poutine sandwich" proudly advertised in the window of a small shop we passed. But again, having learnt my lesson and being strapped for time, we passed on it.

We took some back streets and tried to avoid punters, possibly literally, as they were waving signs around trying to convince us to take a ride in their boat. Unsurprisingly, the further away from the main road you go, the more...Hogwarts-y everything gets. I love the smooth, yellowy look of all the buildings in the area. Very majesty, much wow.

We walked through another college/dormitory building and ended up in a huge park (sorry, I didn't pay any attention to the names of anything here. Oops.) that we got lost in, to the point a passing park ranger/warden/thing took pity on us and unlocked a gate to let us back out onto the main path.

We spent a lot of time watching people trying to punt their boats up the river, and saw one trio spectacularly fail, crashing into a wall and then bumping into other boats in their attempt to untangle themselves. I would have thought you had to be trained to rent out a boat, but maybe not?

We wanted to go to this building but couldn't find the entrance until it was already closed, boo.

Mandatory Potter merch window.
We popped into an old-school style sweet shop which was incredible. A proper one where the walls are lined with huge jars of sweets and you buy them based on weight like the world's greatest pick n mix selection.

After buying a rather large bag of unusually flavoured sweets, we headed back to the station, got lost, got un-lost and then technically missed the last train our tickets would let us take. I think. I say that but we also got home with no problems so I'm not entirely sure. We also got home earlier than expected so I suppose it all worked out in the end.

We got back to Kings Cross, where the queue for the Harry Potter luggage was still far too long, and parted ways. I met up with Nick for a pre-emptive birthday dinner of some really great Thai food and an amazing cake, so that wrapped up really well!

Nearly 2 years and I'm still not great at ending these posts. Oh well.

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