Saturday, January 31, 2009

Stourhead + Too Many Girls = Joy

Loved last Wednesday. We woke up early to pack some lunches and eat breakfast in a half-awake state, threw some back packs together and loaded up our coach. Our usual driver, Tony, was waiting in his usual spot, ready to entertain us with random facts even though 98% of us are asleep during the drive. After a long ride through green countryside, straight on past Stonehenge (still standing, still cool) we finally pulled up to Stourhead. This is where Mr. Darcy proposes to Elizabeth (the first time) in the new Pride and Prejudice. You will never find 40 girls more excited to get off of a bus than we were that day -- our professors are finding amusement in watching a highly estrogen-concentrated group of students tour Jane Austen sites. All of us started on the trail into Stourhead and immediately came to the famous bridge Elizabeth runs across. After a big commotion of handing cameras to each other and taking way too many pictures (nothing new), we set off to find the very spot where Mr. Darcy stood. The lake at Stourhead is a triangle, and it is without question the most beautiful place I have ever seen. We ran (yes ran, 40 girls feeding off of each other's excitement can become irrational) along the trail until we finally came to it -- the round columned building from Pride and Prejudice. It was pretty much magical. Just kidding. No but really. It's a good thing no boys decided to come to London this semester because they probably would have been forced to act out the scene with every girl here for each girl's scrapbook. Spring semester will have one boy and a million girls, so we already feel bad for him. After everyone took way too many pictures, we headed back to the coach to make the rest of the drive to Winchester. We toured through the Winchester Cathedral, the longest cathedral in England. This is where Jane Austen is buried, and her memorial was really interesting to see. It makes no reference to her being an accomplished writer, and only refers to what she was like as a person: The benevolence of her heart, the sweetness of her temper, and the extraordinary endowments of her mind obtained the regard of all who knew her. We visited the Great Hall in Winchester as well, then went outside of town to Portchester Castle. It was so much fun, maybe because it kind of felt like a playground. We climbed towers and looked out all the windows, walked through all the courtyards and explored all around the grounds. We sort of saw the closest thing we've seen to an ocean here, which was just an inlet of the British Channel. The view was amazing...the smell, not so much. Props to Melissa for trying to film it, since pictures NEVER look as cool as the real thing.

It was definitely my favorite day in England so far, and we ended it perfectly by watching Pride and Prejudice when we got back to the centre. And yes, we got way too excited when Stourhead came on the screen. Everyone "loved it -- most ardently."

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