Saturday, November 22, 2008

Episode 61: Bath, Stonehenge & Lacock

Was in Bath the whole day with Claire Lim, Hui Lin, Shen Ting and Yong Long. Woke up at the most ungodly hour since I've been here because we had to catch an early train to Bath. Must really do something about getting the Railcard when I get back next term, as thinking about it, I spent way too much today, and about half of the money was just on getting to Bath and back. Bath is extremely picturesque! We joined a free walking tour for a while, but soon wandered off by ourselves. We thought of going into the Roman Baths, but entry cost a fair bit. We did go into Bath Abbey though, since that was free. It's not quite as grand as Westminster Abbey, in my opinion, but at least it was free! I like stained glass windows. If I were to become incredibly rich someday, I would fit my house with stained glass windows. Anyway, we had Cornish pasties for lunch, which I liked very much. They were supposed to be quite famous, but I can't remember the name of the place now. I bought some Christmas presents at the abbey's shop, but still have a lot more to go.

Yong Long had booked us on a tour of Stonehenge, so after we took some pictures in the freezing cold, we managed to get ourselves found by the tour guide, who was really friendly. We had about an hour at Stonehenge, where I bought a set of photographic prints, simply because they were the kind of pictures I would never have the opportunity to take, never mind my actual photography skills. I must confess to being somewhat underwhelmed by my first sight of Stonehenge. I'd somehow expected it to be grander in scale. Well, not that it isn't inspiring, but being kept away by ropes, following the prescribed paths while listening to the audio commentary, it detracted a little from the whole experience. I wrote a little poem about it actually, while on the train back to Coventry. I get how if everyone were allowed to go right up to the stones themselves, Stonehenge would probably be gone in a few decades. Still, I wish we were. I admit, I'd probably have chipped a bit of stone for myself, if only I'd been given the chance!

From Stonehenge, we went to Lacock, where scenes from the Harry Potter series, Pride And Prejudice, The Other Boleyn Girl, and an upcoming film, The Wolfman, were filmed. According to the tour guide, film companies pay handsomely, even just to film the exterior of a house. Apparently, everyone in the village received £200 when they filmed a Harry Potter movie there. Lacock is an interesting village, as it is owned almost in its entirety by the National Trust, which in turn rents out properties to the residents there. A rather unusual arrangement, but it allows the village to escape the sort of tacky transformation that other rustic villages tend to experience as the tourists start flocking to them. Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, has a house in Lacock, and her daughter was recently married at the church, so there's an album of photographs in there, featuring various royal personages. Not too shabby, for a little village in Wiltshire! Even Singapore probably can't boast of that, surely? (Does Gong Li becoming a Singaporean citizen count?)

It was dark by then, so we headed back to Bath. After a lot of dithering over where to have dinner, we settled on Wagamama. I had a really nice meal, sort of like laksa, but not as rich. It was good, but the real thing back home still tastes better. Am starting to be excited about getting home and having local food again! In any case, Wagamama was nice, and I would like to try more food from that place again someday. (I always say that about places, but it never happens, at least not as often as I would like.) On the way back, I managed to read more of Simon Armitage's poetry, so I've finished three so far: Kid, Book Of Matches, and The Dead Sea Poems. Will return them on Monday and borrow some other stuff, including that book on 'Howl'. That wasn't the end of the night though, as we had Claire's birthday to celebrate. So trudged through the cold with Shen Ting to Arthur Vick 1. Rather apt, I think, to begin and end the day by trudging in the cold. One can only hope the weather becomes a bit milder for the remainder of the term, unlikely as that might be.

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