Thursday, 2 July 2009

Thursday Thirteen: Exploring fairyland

Header by Samulli. Play T13 here.

"Purpose of visit: To fulfill a childhood dream - see an English castle." After examining my visa application and inch-thick supporting documents, the British immigration officer looked me in the eye and said right on the spot, "I'm giving you six months." Spontaneously he encoded his decision into the computer, while I gawked in momentary disbelief. The Thai assistant cast me a glance; a subtle smile crossed her face. I knew then that my childhood dream was going to come true.

On a sunny April afternoon I came out of Heathrow in a Mercedes Benz, and my date with beauty and charm began. As England unfolded through the car window, those illustrated storybooks I slept on when I was little came to life. Fairyland is very rich in history and culture. I got so much more than I bargained for. The visit enriched my life in ways I didn't expect, didn't plan, nor imagine. The learning part connected me to my past, inspired my present and allowed me a glimpse of what could be possible in the future. These are 13 happiest and most meaningful moments of an awesome experience:

13. A castle it is. As a kid I used to imagine Rapunzel, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty waiting for their princes from the keep of Windsor... :-) The highlight here is seeing Da Vinci's drawing of the Vitruvian Man.

12. Yorkshire Moors. I busied myself imagining Harry Potter with Ron Weasley in the flying car. Hogwarts must be somewhere in the vastness. And there's this friendly dog I met while exploring the moors. We played catch-the-stick for a few minutes.

11. Beamish. It was fun learning about English culture in this museum. The guide spoke Geordie. After listening to him without understanding a word, my friend Anne (behind me) and I followed him inside a coal mine. And I thought teaching was difficult.

10. Antique shops. Having a fascination for antiques, I had a lot of fun observing old things on display, especially candelabras and tea sets. The antique sign above me reads: No trespassing. Violators will be shot. Survivors will be shot again.

9. Quaint cottages. They amaze me no end. The beauty of the English countryside takes my breath away.

8. The Bard of Avon. After many hours of sitting in English literature classes and wondering who really is this guy whose writings I am required to analyze, Shakespeare finally became easier to picture when I set foot in his home. I had goosebumps looking at signatures of other literary greats who visited the famous playwright's home: Dickens, Twain, Tennyson, etc. and finally Shakespeare's grave itself.

7. Anne Hathaway's cottage. A look at the abode of the woman in the life of England's national poet. This place oozes with charm eventhough I bumped my head on the low ceiling.

6. Burton Agnes. The Grinning Skull story on the lower floor walls held my attention. Cameras were off-limits in the king's (George? the king who lodged here during his hunting trips) bedroom. I stood admiring the intricate bedspread til my heart was satisfied before touring further. The Manor House at the rear of this Hall is older than my country.

5. The Shambles. I loved browsing the book, doll and hat shops. At the end of this street is the starting point of a ghost walk. I wanted to join but stayed put at Guy Fawkes as I couldn't stand the cold.

4. York Minster. The vespers chime beckoned me in. I've never experienced such beautiful worship. The choir was awesome. I went all sentimental when I lighted a candle for my father who passed away the year before.

3. Church and graveyard. Call me weird, but I love browsing graveyards and reading epitaphs. I was particularly looking for Anne Bronte's grave. These slabs of cement I was walking on turned out to be graves! I jumped right into the grass, and back on the slabs as I thought of golf course grass. Poor, jumpy tourist. But this was my idea of a blast.

2. Post-humous meeting with a feminist. A published author before she turned 28 - it's an achievement of hers that only became clear to me when I saw her grave. I read Bronte novels when I'm insomniac in Bangkok.

1. Big Ben. It's him I first saw from the descending plane. The butterflies I felt in my tummy when I kissed my first boyfriend came flitting back. But this time it's absolutely different. Gazing at this symbol of my love affair with world-class history is magical.


Kristen said...

What a beautiful tour. I was able to see the British Isles 18 years ago. They are a special treat. Your experiences are treasures.

Alice Audrey said...

What a great trip! You are soooo lucky.

AD said...

awwww wonderful!

My Thursday-13"

Hootin' Anni said...

#8!!!! lucky girl you. I love Shakespeare.

Mine is 13 odd towns in Texas this week. Come join me if you can.

jillconyers said...

What a great experience!

I am Harriet said...

Great tour!
I liked your list.

Genejosh said...

mora pod ko ani nisuroy sa London..Thanks sis for posting this and for the virtual tour..he..he..

Our Adventures Together/
Her and History
Tasty Exploration

Anya said...

Lovely trip,
and so many shots :)
The last shot make me smile,
the big ben in London :)
So close to Dutch ......

anthonynorth said...

I loved this post. Nearly everything in it I've lived and seen. I've written about Awd Nance of Burton Agnes Hall, I was born just outside York, have lived in London and now live in the shadow of the Yorkshire Moors.

Pamela Kramer said...

That was a great post! It was almost like I was there with you. Happy TT.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

So was six months enough time, or did you wish you had more?

I like to wander through cemeteries, too. Ahh, the history in those places! The stories those graves can tell...

Rajesh said...

That is a very exiting trip. The 13 happy moments are very varied. Excellent.

storyteller said...

Wonderful trip! How delightful to experience it vicariously here. Thanks for sharing ;--)
Hugs and blessings,

Devilish Southern Belle said...

Great 13! I dream of visiting England someday.

Carleen said...

Of all the places in the world that I have visited, England has been the best. If only it weren't so doggone expensive, I'd live there in a heartbeat!

Great list. :)

Sandy Kessler said...

vwey special and the video as well.sandy

The Bumbles said...

Quite a love note to England! When a cottage is older than your country it does put things in perspective doesn't it?!