What I’m Into May 2014

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Once again, I’m linking up with the lovely Leigh Kramer to share what I’ve been up to for the past month. May may win a prize for most eventful month (so far) of 2014. Here’s where I’ve been living for the past 2 and a half weeks.

Okay, strictly speaking, I’ve been staying in a dormitory a 5 minute walk away, but I take all my meals here, so that counts for something, right? I’m spending the summer as a graduate student researcher at the Bader International Study Centre at Herstmonceux Castle in Sussex, and it’s pretty fabulous.

More than anything, I’ve just been struck with how old (in the best possible way) everything in England is. I’ve eaten at multiple 600 year old pubs, visited ruins that are thousands of years old, and handled 14th century documents (so cool!). I had my first visit to the archive, and then my second, and feel a little bit less like crying when I try to read medieval Latin handwriting, so that’s progress, right?

That’s a medieval scroll. I know, right?! I’m totally geeking out over this.

Also, while I’m mostly doing historical research, I did spend a bit of time participating in some of the archaeology field school’s activities. Here we are mapping the remains of a WWII RAF camp.

And here I am, clad in this lovely massive poncho, ready to help clear a churchyard for an archaeological dig. I later managed to pull both hamstrings doing this and sort of put myself out of commission for the rest of the week, but it was still a really good experience.

I’m seriously regretting not buying that poncho in bright yellow. I think it would have made my outfit that much better.

Tourism

Since we’re in England, we’ve been trying to make frequent day trips and take in as much as we can. We’ve been into London, Kent, and Wiltshire so far, and we’re planning a trip to Oxford this weekend.

We got to see Hever Castle, the ancestral home of Anne Boleyn (more recently purchased and prettified by the Astor family)

We also scoured the British Museum on a day trip into London.

My personal favourite item in the BM: a late medieval English life of Christ from apocryphal sources. In the top right corner, parents are stuffing their children into ovens to keep them from playing with Jesus.

Also, how cool are these Egyptian rubber ducks from the gift shop?

And then, on our way back to the train station, we noticed that Wicked was playing at the Apollo Theatre and spontaneously got tickets (yay student discounts!) It was amazing. Seriously, the highlight of my month (and it was a really good month).

In other touristy news, we drove past Stonehenge. It looked bigger irl.

And we toured the Salisbury Cathedral, which was unbelievably gorgeous, notwithstanding the marks left by Reformation iconoclasm.

The inside. My 6’4″ husband doesn’t often feel small, but he did here.

TV

We haven’t watched a ton of TV since arriving in England, but we did finish watching Parenthood before coming here. The Joel and Julia storyline has been tearing my heart in half. Here’s hoping for a happy resolution in season 6.

Movies

I watched The Lego Movie twice this month, once on the plane and once with friends. I alternate between loving Everything Is Awesome and hating it with every fiber of my being. I also watched Anastasia (a favourite), Seven Pounds (would have been better if I hadn’t known the twist beforehand), In Time (fascinating concept, mediocre execution), Ten Things I Hate About You (not bad), Shakespeare in Love (meh. I still can’t tell the 5 old bearded guys from each other, and Colin Firth should never play a villain), and Once (loved the soundtrack, didn’t totally hate the ending).

Books

I have fallen prey to WH Smith and their seductive buy one get one half off book deals. At this rate, I won’t be able to get them all back to Canada. This month, I read John Green’s Paper Towns (light plane reading), Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah (stunning, although I found myself unable to cheer on the ending as much as I might have liked to), and Rachel Joyce’s The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (delightful). I just started on Greg Boyd’s The Benefit of the Doubt, which I’m really excited for.

Music

Thanks to Fiona Lynne’s What I’m Into post for last month, I discovered Chelsea Moon’s hymn covers, which have been getting a lot of airplay around here.

The Wicked Soundtrack has been another favourite, for obvious reasons.

Also, Audrey Assad has a new EP out, and I’m loving her copy of Death In His Grave

Food

I spent the first half of May trying to use up what was left in my fridge (which led to some delightful recipe finds, like this Maple Cardamom Salmon and this Balsamic Bruschetta Chicken), My favourite food finds in England so far would be the sandwiches at Boston Tea Party in Salisbury and the naan and lamb korma at Eastern Promise in Herstmonceux. I also recently started dipping Pringles in hummus, which, as it turns out, is pretty fantastic. You’re welcome for that idea. I’m not so much into cafeteria food, but it’s mostly tolerable (and I do love their custard, when they remember to add sugar).

Online

  • This piece on marriage  by Esther Emery is just stunning.
  • Jessica Valenti’s take on Eliiott Rodger and #YesAllWomen is spot-on
  • And speaking of #YesAllWomen, Micah J. Murray has been hosting women on his blog all week to tell their stories. They definitely come with a trigger warning, but they’re really powerful.

IRL

In addition to touring southern England, I’ve been loving getting the chance to connect with old friends and new friends at Kings’ Church Eastbourne. It’s helping the place to feel a bit more like home, since we are here for a whole summer.

Anyway, that’s it for me for this month. Head on over to Leigh’s blog for more What I’m Into posts, which are always great sources of new recipe, book, and music ideas.

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5 responses to “What I’m Into May 2014

  1. Your pictures of England are gorgeous ❤ Everything seems more grand over there (probably because it is, ha!). The cathedrals and the castle are breath-taking. Your work sounds really interesting, too. What a way to spend the summer!

  2. Christie Esau

    Green with envy over your photos of England, but so delighted that you’re able to have such a fascinating experience! And I heartily agree with what you’re into online; such great posts on all three counts.

  3. So cool you’re enjoying your stay in England. I’ve always been fascinated by archaeology, until I realised that it’s not all dig dig dig and really, all I’ve ever wanted was to find buried treasure so it was probably not for me!

    How are you finding English food in general? I know it can be a bit depressing depending where you go. I live near Brighton, which is well worth a look if you have time.

    • Brighton is on our list for sure. Herstmonceux is in East Sussex, so we are nearby. The food is all right (when it’s not cafeteria food). The Indian place in Herstmonceux is really good.

  4. Those pictures are amazing! I’m totally living vicariously while you’re in England. So fun that you got to see Wicked! Glad you enjoyed Americanah. I have mixed feelings about the ending, too.

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