To Study or To Travel? That is the Question.

King Henry III’s round table replica found in Winchester Great Hall.
Winchester Cathedral

I think I’ll only get to take four books home– weight restrictions and all that. But I’ve made up for my disappointment by buying a wooden sword and tiny catapult/pencil sharpener. The second week of the program we were able to take an amazing tour of Jane Austen’s house, and Winchester Cathedral and Great Hall! I technically should’ve brought my homework along, but how could I write an essay surrounded by so much history?

The tutorial system of education, however, does NOT disappoint. It is amazing to have a class with just three other students and one faculty member. While I am beginning to adore my tutor, I’m still quite biased toward UMKC professors (shout out to Doc and DJ)! I can only imagine what kind of learning I’d be able to achieve if I had access to this system in the states. I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity to learn about myself and grow my study habits by finding a new system that works well for me. I can’t wait to implement some of the teaching style when I’m a professor.

Jane Austen’s House in Chawton
The idyllic English country side near Chawton Manor

I may be a literature student, but there are yet words I’ve not encountered. I believe those are the ones I’d need to accurately describe the beauty of this place. For now, I think I will go with: My heart is full and my head dreams for more.




Ashley Silver is a senior at the University of Missouri — Kansas City studying English Literature. Ashley will spend the summer semester abroad with the IFSA-Butler program in Oxford, England.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Small City Dreams

Ye gods but Oxford is beautiful. I’ve been here for one whole hour and I am already in love. I’m staying in the dorms in Magdalen College; it’s the one with its own deer park. Can you imagine UMKC having a deer park in the middle of Kansas City? That would be wild. Don’t get me wrong, I love our quad, but there’s a distinct lack of deer. 

London’s West End has some great shows!

It is SO much quieter here than in central London. I had to stay at a hotel near Tottenham Court Road for the first couple days, just to get situated with my IFSA program. London is BUSY BUSY BUSY GO GO GO!!! There’s a constant flow and irregular heartbeat to the city that was very new to me. I can completely understand why people choose to make it their home. The tall buildings and narrow winding streets hid treasures around every corner. We took a VERY long walking tour and I got to see things I’d only read about in Dumas books. But, as I’ve lived in Kansas City for most of my life, it was a bit too much close quarters for me. I’m VERY glad to have learned that about myself before I committed to living in London or a similar big city. 

The deer get right up close to my window!

Oxford, on the other hand, is so far exactly what I wanted it to be. The buildings are shorter, the birds are louder, and there is grass to lay in. Also, some castles and the Hogwarts dining hall. But, I’m really ready to just settle into school here. The tutorial system of education is new to me and I am greatly looking forward to experiencing it. I have also brought a half empty suitcase that I’m looking forward to filling with books!



Ashley Silver is a senior at the University of Missouri — Kansas City studying English Literature. Ashley will spend the summer semester abroad with the IFSA-Butler program in Oxford, England.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

What Even is Time?

I have no idea how long a month is. I mean, I know how long a month is. But I don’t know how long a month is. Time is weird and it doesn’t make sense to me. There are only three times: right now, the far off future, and never. Hence why I’m sitting in the airport writing this blog post like I should’ve done a week ago. My friends keep telling me a month is a really long time, that I’ll have SO much time to see EVERYTHING in England. I just keep telling them I have homework. Because, again, time is hard and I do not have a good grasp on how long a month is. Also, I’m taking 11 credits in one month, which genuinely seems like a lot. 

I know we are supposed to talk about our plane trips, but… ok so from MCI to Georgia was like, an hour and a half? And that’s how far my cousin’s house in Iowa is. So Georgia is a close as Iowa. The flight to England is 8hrs and that’s how far Colorado was, so England is like going to Estes Park for me. 

I guess what I’m getting at is: if you have a study abroad trip, don’t worry about how long you’ll be there or how far away from home it is. Time and distance are completely meaningless and incomprehensible. 

Ashley Silver is a senior at the University of Missouri — Kansas City studying English Literature. Ashley will spend the summer semester abroad with the IFSA-Butler program in Oxford, England.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

2017 #RoosAbroad Photo Contest Finalists

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the photographs UMKC students brought back from studying abroad during the 2016-2017 academic year speaks volumes about their life-changing experiences. First and second place finalists were selected by a panel of judges in each of the four categories; Landscapes, Portraits, Cross-Cultural Moments, and Roo Pride. First place finalists won a $75 Amazon gift card and second place finalists won a $25 Amazon gift card. See the full contest guidelines for details.

Browse all photo contest submissions on the 2017 Roos Abroad Photo Contest Pinterest board. Thanks to everyone who participated!



First Place: Erica Prado

This photograph was taken at Eilean Donan Castle in the Scottish Highlands. My study abroad group and I, stopped here during our road trip throughout Scotland during our last week in the country. The medieval castle founded in the thirteenth century, is considered one of Scotland’s most cherished historical sites. Its original name Eilean Donan derives from Gaelic, and means “Island of Donnan”.


Second Place: Christopher Shinn

Taken in Germany while participating in the UMKC Kempten semester exchange program




First Place: Gabrielle Rucker

Photo taken in Shanghai, China while participating in the Alliance Shanghai semester program


Second Place: Alyssa Dinberg

This photo depicts a local resident walking his dog on a cloudy day in Lisbon. I really like the juxtaposition between the traditional cobblestone sidewalks and architecture and the modern yet relaxed vibe he gives off.


Cross-Cultural Moments


First Place: Jessica Sliger

Her First Dental Appointment taken in Falmouth, Trelawny, Jamaica


Second Place: Bayley Cawthon

Taken in Paris, France while participating in the Missouri-London semester Program at the University of Roehampton


Roo Pride


First Place: Kelista McGraw

Representing UMKC on an Elephant in Jaipur, India. Painting elephants is a tradition upheld by Indians for years. Decorating the elephants with bright colors during festival seasons is one of the ways to celebrate the Hindu deity Ganesha.


Second Place: Emily McIntyre

Enjoying the view at the top of Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh.

Are You Serious!

I have landed, and it is 4:39pm on my 3rd day and already so much has happened. I have moved in, been to orientation, met new people, experienced four new restaurants, and made it through my first trip to Walmart. Oh but wait I’m getting ahead of myself. Nǐhǎo, 你好, Welcome to Gabrielle’s Shanghai!!  I am studying in Shanghai, China, a place with beautiful culture, history, and great landmarks for pictures not to mention all of the new foods to try.

Students at the 1st night dinner.

One of the fun and amazing things about it is I am a 5’11 foot African American female. Isn’t that exciting because I think it is. I am here for a couple of reasons one studying abroad has always been a dream of mine, two I have always wanted to go to China, three this is one of the first major steps into reaching my goal of becoming a cultural anthropologist and archaeologist, and last but not least four I am here for self-growth. That’s a lot of reasons I know right but all of which will make this trip both enjoyable and a learning experience. Now that you know why I am here let’s get back to the story I was telling. It is only 4:39pm on my 3rd day and so much has happened. I have been busy since I landed on Wednesday the 8th. Just imagine that it left on the 7th of February and flew 17 hrs to be here on the 8th. Then once I landed, I dropped off my bags and headed right back out the door to have dinner with the group. The group being about 40+ people who also

My roommate Emma and a another student named Gabriel.

are here to participate in the program. It is a great way to meet new People but also get lost in the beauty of where you are and what you are doing.  The following morning we were given breakfast, while watching the snowfall outside. From that, point on it was a harsh cold and windy day but that did not stop us from walking to Shanghai University of Economics and Finance campus (SUFE)


SUFE gate at west entrance

where we had our first day of orientation. After orientation we paired up with our Chinese roommates (shìyǒu 室友 ), unfortunately our roommate had not arrived yet so we joined a group of people have come to know and set off to get SIM cards, dinner and go to Walmart. Such a long two days unlike today. Today was

way more of a relaxed Friday and gave me the time to sit and reflect on what has happened so far but the best part was the lovely acrobat show we saw at the Ritz-Carlton tonight. One of the coolest experiences yet. Even though it might be busy now on the first four days I must say I have accomplished so much. I never expected I would be able to go to a Chinese Walmart,

Walmart in Shanghai, Yangpu district.

shop and enjoy the company and adventures I have had already.

This has been a great start to my semester long trip and I’m glad I can share it with you. Until next time I’m Gabrielle and Welcome to my Shanghai!!



Startlingly, Stunning Isle of Skye


For my last trip with IFSA-Butler we traveled to the Isle of Skye. Skye is an island in the northwest of Scotland, up in the Highlands, and one of the most spectacular places nature lovers could see. Skye has inspired artists and writers and has been a filming location for many movies and programs; in fact, the Black Cuillin Mountains are said to be J.R.R. Tolkien’s inspiration for Mordor.

We left bright and early in the morning with sleep dust from the sand man still caught in our eyes. In preparation for my two weeks of travel after Skye, I practiced packing lightly. Our first stop of the trip was the ever scenic ASDA in Perth. We had 10 minutes to run and grab snacks for the weekend and an opportunity to get lunch. Think of ASDA like a Walmart, a little bit of everything and the kitchen sink is in there. Then we got our first IMG_1441taste of nature when we stopped at The Hermitage. A short woodland walk through the forest and along the River Brann takes you too waterfall. You can climb on rocks for a great view, you can enter a hall with a viewing balcony for a great view, you can walk over the bridge for a great view, you can slide and duck beneath trees to stand under the bridge for a great view, you can climb a Douglas Fir for a great view of the waterfall. There was no bad view (I did not climb a tree though). The drive to the Isle of Skye is long, so a lot of the stops were rather short. The next stop was at Pitlochry for lunch and for toilets. Then we went to the IFSA favorite, Leault Farms. Last semester when we went to Inverness we stopped here to watch a sheep herding display and play with puppies, and this time did not disappoint. We saw the dogs round up the sheep and the shepherd sheer a sheep, but because it was spring we got to hold the new baby lambs (5 days old) and play with the puppies again.

There will never be a time when I will not want to spend a day around baby animals. This was our last stop before we crossed Skye Bridge to reach the Isle of Skye.

We were split into two groups for dinner those who didn’t go on a three mile to run Skye Bridge ate first and the other ate an hour later. After dinner I went with a group of friends to explore the small town we were staying in. Off topic note: the hotel we were staying in had housed Kanye West and his crew a few days before our arrival. We walked along the IMG_1656rock beach where I picked up some seashells and went up to Castle Moil.  Legend tells that Castle Moil was built by a Norse princess ‘Saucy Mary’, who married a MacKinnon chief. She is famous for having stretched a chain across the loch and levied tolls on ships sailing through the narrows. To hike up the hill to reach Castle Moil you have to walk around the harbor and beware of the tides. You then climb up rocks to reach the top. There is a bench and seating area and the floor of the ruins is lower than the land so stepping down into them protects you from the wind. From the castle you have a great view of Skye Bridge and the mainland. After this we went to the local pub to listen to the band playing, the local bluegrass/folk band Iron Middon (not metal music). A group of older gentlemen made up the band and it was good. They really got into it and some of the locals began to swing and dance a jig. One guy even grabbed a metal box, sat next to the playing band, and joined in on the song. It was lively and pleasant, and we stayed out later than we should have for needing to wake up at 7am the next morning.

The next our schedule stated us with visiting Armadale Castle. Armadale Castle is a ruined county house and former home to Clan MacDonald. Here they have trails, a surprisingly informative museum (they had way more information than I expected and it wasn’t all on the clan), great views, and ruins. My favorite part was probably the views and the museum (I cannot resist a good museum). After we played musical buses as we split up into the groups we would be in for the afternoon. It was split by who was going on the bus tour and who was going to hike up the Old Man of Storr. As we drove to the site the weather turned to ‘liquid sunshine’ and we could only pray for good weather on our hike. Before the hike we stopped in Portree for lunch where my friends and I grabbed fish and chips. We ate on the rocks overlooking the harbor, where surprisingly the seagulls were well behaved and didn’t attack us.


The Legend of the Old Man of Storr

There once was an old man and woman who were very in love and happy. Every day after work they would climb to the top of this mountain and tell each other stories of the day they had. One day after many years of climbing this mountain the woman looked to her IMG_1857husband and told him, “Dear, this will be my last time on this mountain. I will never walk up it again; my hip just hurts too much.” Then the faerys appeared. They loved the stories the old man and woman told everyday so they asked the couple if they would like to have the ability to be up on the mountain and enjoying the view forever. The couple couldn’t believe their good fortune and agreed immediately. Before the man’s eyes his wife was turned into a rock. The man was angry and began berating the faerys, the faerys being the good folk they are decided to reunite them and turned him into a rock too. And there they stand at the top of the mountain to this day.

The hike up the Old Man of Storr was difficult. At one point it got so steep and there was only lose dirt that some people stopped and decided that they were high enough. I rammed my hiking boots in the dirt to gain purchase with every step and crawled my way to the top, using my momentum to take me there. At the top the ground was no longer visible. It was a different world. Snow covered the round and blew furiously from the sky, IMG_1856with flakes battering our exposed faces. In a single file we followed the guide back down the mountain, so that we would make it safely.

We were almost done with our trip. All that was left was to visit the river that grants eternal beauty. It all started with a story like many things do. To unite the two warring clans on the island, Mary McCloud, the most beautiful girl on the island was on her way to marry Donald MacDonald, the strongest man on the island. Traveling with her was her guard Alistair, her dog Scottie, and her horse Dobby. At the bridge that connects the land of the two clans Mary fell into the rocks by the river. When she gets up her face is no longer recognizable, but they have to continue to the wedding. Alistair throws the veil over Mary’s face and they continue on. Once the vows were read and MacDonald lifted the veil he was outraged at what he saw beneath. Under the veil was a monster. A swollen and bruised face  with an eye hanging out of its socket and blood dripping. He took one look and stepped back and cried foul. He had been promised the most beautiful girl on the island and this was what the McClouds present him with. He pulls out his dagger and grabs Alistair and stabs one of his eyes out. Then with a fork out of his boot he stabs Dobby’s eye and with a spoon from his other boot, for good measure, he digs out Scottie’s eye. The entire hall had broken out into chaos, and Mary and her group escaped in the melee. When they reached the bridge where all of her misfortunes began Mary broke down into tears. On hearing her sobbing the king of the faerys, Elvan, appeared. “What is wrong Mary?” he asked. Mary kept sobbing and he couldn’t understand her, but he could see that her face was not as glorious as it was IMG_1913before. “Mary,” he said, “If you put your face into the river for seven seconds, no more and no less, you will be granted eternal beauty.” Mary didn’t hear him through her tears so he demonstrated with Scottie. For seven seconds, no more and no less, Scottie’s face was held under the water and when he came out Scottie looked like a cute puppy again. He then took Dobby and for seven seconds, no more and no less, Dobby’s face was held under the water and when he came up he looked like a grand stallion. Finally the king of faery took Alistair’s face and held it under the water for seven seconds, no more and no less, and when he came up he was gorgeous, the most handsome man on the island. Mary by this point had stopped crying and taken notice. For seven seconds, no IMG_1917more and no less, and when she came up she looked exactly as she once did, for Mary truly had been the most beautiful girl on the island. With one look upon Alistair’s face she was in love. All four run off together to the mountains and live happily ever after.

The water in the river is COLD. The guide stuck his face in three times while he told this story, by the fourth time he told us that we got the idea. When it was our turn he said that if we liked what we saw then the magic of the river worked and to give it a try. I am fine with how I look and decided not to get on my stomach and put my face in water worthy of a polar bear plunge.

The next day we headed back to Edinburgh with the same stops as last semester at Loch Ness and Glencoe.


Helpful Hint: If you are not using Wi-Fi or data abroad out your phone on airplane mode and lower the brightness level to save battery.

Spring Break Diaries: Days 10 &11, Lincoln to Cambridge and Home Again

This was my last day of my guided tour with Rabbie’s before heading back to Edinburgh. We spent the entire morning in Lincoln and left at noon for Cambridge. Today was less exciting than the previous days with fewer stops and longer road time, but the places were no less interesting.

The two main points of interest in Lincoln are the cathedral and castle. They sit opposite IMG_0669each other and are only a couple minutes walk apart. Like many castles which are made as defense points, the Lincoln castle is on top of a large hill (Castle Hill) and it is a steep walk from High Street to the gates.

Visitors can go in the castle promptly at 10, not a second earlier. You will know when its time by the ringing of the bells in the cathedral.

Lincoln has over 2000 years of history and has its origins as Roman town. Before the castle was a Roman fortress built in AD 43. When the army moved on in AD 78 the fortress officially got the status as a Roman town and was named Lindum Colonia.

Lincoln gets its name from the Romans and on top of the fortress a medieval castle was IMG_0673built by William the Conqueror. The castle was the residence of the constable who was responsible for the defense and maintenance of the castle. The sheriff stayed within the walls when collecting taxes and when presiding over shire court, and a small force of soldiers and servants were permanently in residence. The castle at Lincoln has some brutal history. It was a site of uprisings, battles, hangings, persecutions, and in Victorian times a prison.

Stories and sites at Lincoln Castle:

  • William Pickett and Henry Carey, 1859
    • These two were convicted murders and the last prisoners to be publicly hanged at the castle. The hangings occurred at Cobb Hall gallows, and a laughing and jeering crowd of 15000 came to watch. This is one of the largest crowds to gather for a public hanging in Lincoln.
  • The Lincolnshire Rising, 1536
    • The heavy taxation and closures of monasteries by Henry VIII led to a uprising in Lincolnshire. 10000 protesters stood outside the gates. In a letter Henry called the county, ‘the most brute and beastly of the whole realm’. Forces were sent to the city and the crowd dispersed, but over 100 rebels were later imprisoned and several were hung, drawn and quartered.
  • Visit from King Henry VIII, 1541
    • King Henry and his wife of the time, Catherine Howard walked the walls of the castle and viewed the populace below them. Henry by this time was extremely overweight and the walk was painful for his legs, while in contrast his wife was young and beautiful. The queen was rumored to have been having an illicit affair with Thomas Culpepper and seven months later she was executed for adultery and treason.
  • Housing of the Manga Carta
    • 800 years ago King John and the barons met and agreed to a charter that would change history and become the most important document in England and one of the most important documents in the world. The Manga Carta enshrined the principle that the king had to act within the rule of law. In 1217, the Manga Carta was re-issued with some original clauses incorporated into the second charter, Charter of the Forest. Lincoln Castle is the only place in the world where an original 1215 Manga Carta and 1217 Charter of the Forest can be seen in the same room.
  • A battle within and outside the castle walls, 1141
    • King Stephen was at war with his cousin Matilda over the English crown, and within the castle he fought to regain control of the castle after it had been stolen by Ranulf, Earl of Chester. This battle became known as the Joust of Lincoln. During this King Stephan was captured and imprisoned by Matilda but was later released seven months later and restored to the throne with the capture of Matilda’s half-brother.
  • Civil War, 1217
    • Lady Nicola de la Haye had just withstood a 40-day siege on the castle by Richards I’s chancellor, Longchamps, who was demanding the loyalty of supporters of Prince John. Then in 1215, King John’s refusal to honor the Manga Carta led to a civil war and brought another battle to Lincoln Castle. The rebel barons allied themselves with Prince Louis of France and seized control of parts of England, including Lincoln. But the castle, a royalist stronghold, held out against the French forces and rebel barons.

Outside the castle you can still see the outer gate and wall. The space between the outer

The Outer Wall

gates and the inner walls was known as the ‘killing space’. This area would force the invaders into a close and tight space making it harder for them to attack and ram their way through the doors. It also made it easier for the soldiers defending to take down their forces from the high walls above. Only a small section still stands and walking through one of the three arches leads you to the front entrance of the cathedral.

In 1072 William the Conqueror ordered the first cathedral to be built in Lincoln. William wanted the cathedral and his castle close to one another ‘so that in glorifying God he could make clear who was in charge on earth!’ The cathedral was mostly destroyed by a fire in 1141  and was rebuilt and expanded, only to be destroyed by an earthquake in 1185. King Henry II approved of St. Hugh of

View from Lincoln Castle

Avalon as Bishop of Lincoln in 1186, and St. Hugh began a major rebuilding project of the cathedral in a gothic style. The cathedral we see today was finished in 1280. The central tower rises to 271 feet and is the tallest cathedral tower in Europe without a spire. The tower originally had a wooden spire that rose 525 feet, but collapsed in 1549 in bad weather. The cathedral was the first building to ever reach a height greater than the Great Pyramid of Giza and was once the tallest structure in the world (before skyscrapers) and held the title for two centuries (then the spire collapsed). The inside is just as magnificent as the exterior and with your ticket you can join a free tour of the cathedral. Some areas though don’t open until later in the day at 1pm. This includes the library and chapter house. The workers at both the castle and cathedral are incredibly helpful and nice. They will answer any questions you have and make sure you have an enjoyable experience.

The last stop of the tour was at one of the oldest universities in the world, Cambridge. My two hours at Cambridge were spent walking the streets and pretty much fitting in with the other college students walking about (unlike many I wasn’t approached to pay for a tour).IMG_0752 At a local ice cream shop I got a scope of sweet lemon curd in a cone and sat in front of King’s College. I then walked through the market, around the main buildings, and along the Backs. Many people were out and enjoying gondola rides on the River Cam. The weather was warm and sunny and people were out in troves. I ended up on a bench outside St. Johns College and was able to enjoy a picturesque view.

That was it. The tour through the heart of England was over and I was back in London for the night. April 9, my 11th day of Spring Break would be spent on a train going back to Edinburgh where my adventures would carry on from there.


Oh, I also saw Platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross.


Helpful Hint: Besides essentials like ID, money, and my phone probably the most important item I carry with me when traveling is my water bottle. You can easily get dehydrated when traveling so drinking water is important and you can save a lot by not buying bottled drinks everywhere you go.

Spring Break Diaries: Day 9, The Peaks of Derbyshire

National Park. It was a long drive so our tour guide made it abundantly clear, “If. You. Need. To. Stop. Speak Up.” Every word was a sentence, but we didn’t have to make any unplanned stops thankfully. Our first stop of the day was at Buxton. Buxton is known as

The Crescent in Buxton

the capital of the Peak District. The town had its beginnings with a spring. The natural spring attracted settlers and one group was the Romans. The Romans founded copper mines in the Peaks and out of those mines came a precious stone, Blue John. Today Blue John is extremely hard to get a hold of because there is only one strain left.  At Buxton, the Duke of Devonshire in the 18th century, decided to make the town into THE spa town, and modeled it after Bath. There are replicas of the Royal Crescent, Victoria Park, and the Roman Baths within the town. But what many tourists and locals like to do when visiting is to fill up water bottles at the St. Ann’s Well.

Ann was a sickly girl who had an incurable disease. On the day that she was sure to die she

St Ann’s Well

dragged herself out of her bed and to the spring. There she drank the water and had a vision of the Virgin Mary, and boom! She was cured. She became a saint and the spring became famous and people traveled from all over to taste its waters. The water is refreshing and has a clear, fresh taste with little minerals. It was also free, so much better than buying the same Buxton water in a prepacked bottle for a few quid.

We then headed further into the Peaks. The Peak District was once a hunting ground in the times of the Saxons, but when the Normans took over they made the Forest Laws. Hunting was now only for the aristocracy and not the common man. If caught poaching you would lose a hand, or if they were in a bad mood and found your hunting as an act of treason your head would roll. Of course this didn’t stop the people from hunting. They created the Greenman. The Greenman belongs to the realm of feary; he is constructed out of leaves and has a long beard. The people spread the story of the Greenman who would protect the land and would grow angry at any who trespassed. They then hung wood chimes on branches and when Norman soldiers heard them they would start to panic because that Greenman had come. This is the Forest of the Peaks. In 1227 the Forest Acts were revised, and they helped to inspire tales of Robin Hood. In fact Sherwood Forest is located in the Peak District.

Trail to Dale Cave

We then stopped in the small village of Castleton. Castleton maybe small but it is filled with history and natural beauty. There in the Forest of the Peaks lays the ruins of Peveril IMG_9988Castle, the Castle of the High Peaks, which rises high above the village on a steep ridge. The castle was first constructed in the 11th century and the thick curtain walls made an effective defense. However later generations mainly used the castle for ceremonies, residence, meetings for local government and later it used as a favorite hunting lodge for kings. The backside of the castle is a ravine. A small line of water trickles through it and leads to Dale Cave. It also is a grazing area for sheep so I was able to get up close and personal. To the right of the castle is Peak Cavern. Peak Cavern was once a reef millions of years ago, and the entrance to the cavern is truly impressive. When you think of a large cave the first image to come to mind is probably a large hole on the side of a rock wall, and that is exactly what the entrance is. A underground river runs through the cave and down to the village. Today the cave is used as a concert and party venue and filming location.

The next location we visited was the Plague Village, Eyam. The Bubonic Plague is one of the most devastating epidemics in history. It was spread from animals to humans, humans to humans, humans to animals and all by a tiny flea. The outbreak in London resulted in over a hundred thousand deaths. The people living in the countryside believed that they were safe. They kept to themselves and chased strangers out.  But at Eyam the plague still found a way in. It started off in what is now known as plague cottage. In the cottage lived Widow

The Plague Window in the Parish

Cooper, her two sons, and George Viccars a tailor who was lodging with them. Not knowing what the implications of his actions would bring, George ordered cloth from London where the plague was raging out of control.  The cloth was damp on arrival so he put in front of a warm fire to dry and the dormant germs came alive. A few days later George came down with a strange fever and soon passed on. No suspicions were aroused until fifteen days later when Widow Cooper’s son died followed by near neighbors. Opposite the Cooper cottage was the Sydall family who lost seven members. The village was terrified. Some families fled and took refuge outside the area of contamination. But a hero would arise from Eyam. William Mopesson, the local Rector, decided to quarantine the village so that the plague would not spread elsewhere. The boundaries were declared: to the north a natural spring now known as Mompesson’s Well and to the south a large boulder on a hilltop. William wrote to the Early of Derbyshire for help. The Earl himself arranged for food and medication to be left at boundary points. With goods that villagers had to pay for, they would disinfect their money with vinegar and leave it at the appointed spot. To help stop the spread of the deadly plague William and his wife helped to treat victims and closed the church and held services outdoors.

William begged for his family to leave and seek sanctuary in a nearby town, but his wife IMG_0062refused to go. They sent their children off to safety and his wife, Catherine, continued to work by his side. Tragically one day she contracted the symptoms and died two days later. William bravely continued on and worked tirelessly to save the village. Many tragic tales like this abounded in the village. The churchyard ran out of room to bury the dead so that villagers had to result to burying family members in their gardens or even within their homes. After many casualties the village was free of the plague and today it is one of the most visited parishes in England and every year on the last Sunday of August a service is held to remember all those who lost their lives to the plague.

The last and main stop of the day before we reached Lincoln was Chatsworth Estate. Chatsworth is owned by the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire and has seen 16 generations,IMG_0471 a history expanding over 500 years. The estate was acquired by the Cavendish family in 1549. Sir William Cavendish, was one of Henry VIII’s commissioners during the Reformation, along with his young wife Bess of Hardwick sold the estates given to him by the Crown and bought land in Derbyshire near Bess’s childhood home. Thus they began the project of building an ambitious new house. Around the Elizabethan house was a central courtyard with a great tower, great hall, and chapel. Later William and Bess added a hunting tower to their grounds and a fishing platform known as Queen Mary’s Bower for when Mary, Queen of Scots, was sent to Chatsworth. Bess was married four times and her last husband, George Talbot, was appointed Shrewsbury custodian of Mary, Queen of Scots, when she was held at Chatsworth.


The later generations at Chatsworth continued to expand and build on the home. Royal State Apartments were created for King William III and Queen Mary II and the young men

The Grand Entrance

of the family who came back from their Grand Tours brought home many furnishings, books, artwork, and artifacts that still fill the home. The gardens also had many expansions and changes throughout its life. Walking through today you can view the rockeries, a maze, through waterfall, a grotto, a fountain shooting water up 200 feet in the air and so much more. I had two hours to explore so I spent my first thirty minutes rushing through the network of rooms in the estate, taking pictures of everything, and spent the rest of my time in the gardens. To really see Chatsworth you need an entire day but this gorgeous site is a must see stop in the heart of England.

In recent history Chatsworth has been a popular filming location. You might recognize:

  • The Duchess (a drama about Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire)IMG_0500
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • The Wolfman
  • Jane Eyre
  • A Royal Night Out
  • Barry Lyndon
  • Death comes to Pemberley
  • And many TV series and a BBC documentary

We finished off the day by arriving in Lincoln and I was able to see a little of the city, but I would do most of my exploring the next day.

Best part of spring are these cuties

Helpful Hint: Many public restrooms in Europe have a fee to be able to use them, so when you have the chance use them when they are free and clean.

Spring Break Diaries: Day 7, Shakespeare’s Country

Bullied Way Stance 3 is the spot from which I left London this morning. The next phase of spring break is a tour with Rabbie’s that will take me to the heart of England: Stratford Upon Avon, Chester, North Wales, Lincoln, and Cambridge. Day 1 (or 7 when including all of spring break) is Stratford Upon Avon aka Shakespeare’s Country.

Like any good tour we had multiple stops along the way (like the oh so fascinating rest stop at the side of the highway) and we learned interesting stories from the tour guide while on the road. We left London at 9:00 and took the A40 and headed into the

Shakespeare’s Birth Place and Family Home


Some interesting tidbits learned while leaving London:

  • Key gardens are gated square gardens that were made so that the women, children, and pets of the nice homes had a place where they could take the air without being bothered or molested by poor villagers. Only the residents had keys to access the gardens hence the name key garden. Today still only residents have access into the gardens.
  • The square where all of the embassies are located in London are owned by the Duke of Westminster. They can’t be leased for more than 99 years and the properties are so expensive no one but the embassies can afford it. Once leased they have to maintain the inside and outside of the property to the owners standards. That means they all have to be painted the same certain color; which just happens to be a unique paint color that can only be gotten in one place in the world, and is also owned by the Duke of Westminster.
  • You can tell the difference between homes built for the upper class vs middleclass based on number of floors. The upper had 4 while the lower had 3.
  • Shepard’s Bush, outside the London city center, got its name because that is where the sheep farmers from Wales would stay when in London. The other and more fascinating story on how the name came about is the story of Jack Shepard. He was a notoriously infamous highwayman who would hide out in this area. He is infamous because he is the only criminal to have escaped Newgate Prison. And he did this 3 times.
  • In Hyde Park there is an area called speaker’s corner. Before condemned criminals were to be hanged they were given two minutes to speak their minds and say what they wanted, expect if it was blasphemous or treasonous.
  • Just past this area is an intersection which used to have a hanging tree where criminals (highway men) would be hanged as a warning. Today the street is called Hanger’s Lane.

We were then outside London and on our way. We stopped at a nice rest stop and then left the highway (or as the guide said ‘carriage way’) for good and headed onto side and backroads. We passed Oxford, but didn’t stop to see it, and told how this great university came about.

Danish settlers came to the area and set up a village at the narrowest and shallowest point of the river. They made a ford here for the ox to cross and it was called Oxenford or as we know it, Oxford. The children here were taught by an abbess who had once been a Saxon princess, but to avoid marriage became a nun. After she passed she became the patron saint of Oxford. Pilgrims came to visit her resting place, and some decided to stay and started various colleges that now make up Oxford University.

After Oxford we went past some quaint Cotswolds villages and Woodstock Hunting Lodge (which came long before the 1960s). Woodstock was a royal residence built by Henry I in 1129. A many royal dramas played out within its walls, but it ceased to be a royal residence when Queen Anne, in 1704, gifted it to John Chruchill.

Some of the dramas that occurred:

  • King Henry II kept his lover, ‘the fair Rosamund’ here. There are stories that the queen had Rosamund murdered when she discovered her hideaway following a silk thread.
  • Here was where King Henry II had his first clash with Thomas Becket, the archbishop of Canterbury who was later murdered in his cathedral by men loyal to the king.
  • Richard the Lion Heart and his brother King John I stayed here too. King John I was a very regular visitor (coming at one point 6 times in a year) and is well known for being the villain in the Robin Hood legends.
  • Henry III was devoted to Woodstock. He built a chapel and made the buildings more secure after surviving an assassination attempt there in 1238.
  • A plot to try to prevent Queen Mary I from marrying Philip of Spain (which Elizabeth knew nothing about) led to the imprisonment of her sister Elizabeth, first at the Tower of London then Woodstock.

We then stopped at Longcompton to see the litching gate or lion gate. It is a wooden gate

Lion Gate

that leads to the church but is has a room and roof over it. This is where the dead would be laid for seven days to make sure that they were actually dead. The ‘corpse’ would hold a string in both hands and if pulled would ring a bell. If the bell was rung someone would come rushing up to let them out. We were told this is how the term saved by the bell came about.

The main stop of the day though was Stratford Upon Avon, the birth and resting place of the great playwright, William Shakespeare. We were driven around the city and shown the main points before we were left to explore for two hours.

What I saw was the church where Shakespeare was baptized and holds the graves of him and his family, his statue by the Avon in front of the theater, the home of his daughter Suzanne, the home of his daughter Judith, his family home, home of his granddaughter, Harvard House (which was the home of the family who founded Harvard University), and Anne Hathaway’s (Shakespeare’s wife) cottage. The town is beautiful and is worth more time than I spent there.

We drove on and made one last stop at the first cast iron bridge in Ironbridge Village. It is a world heritage site and was a feat of engineering at the time of its construction. The purpose of the bridge was to cross the Severn River, a long and treacherous river in Britain. To go around was a 60 mile long trip and ferries couldn’t take a large amount of supplies across and were dangerous to use. So three men came together and invested in this project. The bridge would late be part of the inspiration for the design of the Crystal Palace for the World Fair.IMG_9266

Finally we were done and arrived in Chester where we would be staying for 2 days as a home base as we travel the midlands.

Anne Hathaway’s Cottage

Helpful Hint: The weather in the UK is unpredictable so be prepared for rain, shine, wind, cold, warm, sun, or dark clouds. The temperature and conditions will change and fluctuate throughout the day.

Spring Break Diaries: Days 4-6, London

Day 4
Today was purely a travel day between Bath and London. I didn’t leave until 14:40 so I slept in for once, ate breakfast, and found a quiet place to work while I waited for my train to arrive. I spent my time on the train reading a new book and when I got to London I checked into the hostel, which was in a great location by Victoria Station and Buckingham Palace, and then went to get dinner. It was not an exciting day by any means, just one of those in-between days where you move between cities.

Day 5
My travels abroad have taken me too many places and that includes London (this would bemy fourth time visiting the city), so this time around my goal was to spend as little as possible. Today IIMG_8490Peter Pan Statue in Kensington Gardensspent the day walking everywhere instead of taking the tube. I walked to Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, Green Park, St. James Park and Buckingham Palace. I have always loved the parks in London. And it was the perfect time to see them because all the flowers (mainly daffodils) were in bloom and the wildlife was out and about. People were enjoying the day feeding birds (some got parakeets to eat right from their hands), running a marathon, rowing boats along the Serpentine, and basking in the wonderful spring weather. It is crazy the transformation Hype Park went through for the Christmas Market in December because now you wouldn’t even realize that it was once covered with stalls, rides, and thousands of people.

Day 6
Today was my last full day in London because tomorrow I am going on another tour that will last four days and then I go back to Edinburgh. So today did something that I have never gotten to do before in London, the British Museum. Admission to the Museum is free which is great the problem is that I am a sucker for gift shops and I will be coming back to Edinburgh with more books than I need and an even longer list (than I had before) of books that I want. The doors opened promptly at 10:30 and close at 17:30 so I made sure to arrive early so that I wouldn’t feel rushed and would be able to spend the entire day there. [They are open later on Fridays.]

The front entrance to the British Museum

I love museums. I love learning about history, cultures, and the world. And I would rank the British Museum as one of my top three that I have been to. Besides show casing wonderful collections that span the globe and having free admission, the museum is easy to navigate and you are able to see every room with a full day visit. When I go to a museum I don’t like to feel rushed, but take my time and enjoy exhibits and I was able to do that here. In comparison, the Louvre, while a fantastic museum, made me feel frenzied and stressed. It was too big with too many areas to explore. I didn’t have nearly enough time to enjoy it and it would take weeks if not months before I even saw everything on display. Some displays that I really enjoyed at the British Museum were the Enlightenment room, the Lycian exhibit and tomb, the first library, Babylon, ancient Britain, the Lindow Man, the Rosetta Stone, and parts of the Parthenon. There were many exhibits on great ancient civilizations, and I would love to go back again to get another look at them.

Helpful Hint: When traveling (to any city) walking is the best way to see the sites (just seeing them is free) and is wallet friendly too, but it tends to build up an appetite. So if you are looking to save go to a grocery store where they may have a meal deal or pick up a loaf of bread and some fruit, meat, or cheese. It is filling and is the most economical way to eat.