Hello from a beautiful day! Hello from the kiss of the sun, making each hill and waxy leaf shine. Hello from the smell of soil and nature and the lady bugs that flock to every outdoor surface, like the quaint wooden bench on which I’m sitting. Hello from the sound of birds and the wind rustling ever so gently through the shrubbery, and this song on repeat.
Hello. It’s Thursday. It’s the first of March, and I’m wearing short sleeves. At the moment, I wish I were also wearing sunglasses. Yes, Momma, those purple clown glasses!
The bells just rang twice, a normal occurrence, but one that makes me think. It makes me think of WKU with all those bells, although these don’t play songs or ring like Excalibur has been stolen. It’s nice to have bells ringing, even if they do ring until midnight and beyond.
A plane just flew over, another normal occurrence, seeing as we live near an air force base. The other night it literally sounded like a plane was going to fly right through the building. Fun fact: Harlaxton used to be home to a company of airmen. Apparently they did training in the woods out back, which would explain the trench I found last Thursday when I crossed the wall.
Because it’s fun, I’m going to continue to describe my surroundings. I’m sitting on a bench right outside the conservatory. I almost feel bad, because I think my writing professor wanted this bench, but I got here first. No matter, he’s sitting on a bench farther down the path, across from his friend, a rather corpulent professor, and it looks like they’re grading papers. Earlier they were laughing and talking, but now the only laughter I hear is coming from a school several miles away. Well, there’s a little bit of laughing, but mostly there’s screaming and yelling. I think it’s recess. That or football practice. If I were over in the corner of the garden, I could see them all, dressed in their matching uniforms, running around like crazy. Some of the manor kids probably go to that school.
But for me, school is out for the weekend. There are still a few classes going on this afternoon, and I can hear one of them taking place directly behind me. Like a lot of professors, Dr. McMichael has chosen to take advantage of the gorgeous day by holding class in the conservatory.
In front of me, there’s an expanse of brilliantly green, fluffy grass that a professor is walking across with a notebook. I wonder what she’s been writing. Beyond that, a hill slopes up once, twice, three times, forming three more levels of ground covered in lush, giant shrubs. There’s a little bench at one point, surrounded on three sides with tall shrubs; it’s like a little peninsula. And off to the left, there’s some octagonal building that I don’t know how to describe. Its purpose is lost to me, but its appearance makes the landscape all the more lovely. To the right, down the rocky garden path, I see the two professors sitting opposite one another, still hard at work, and the magnificent stone staircase that emerges from the shrubbery. Down the staircase walk the spy professor’s wife and her mother who is here for a visit. The two professors rise and greet them warmly, and now they’re laughing together. “Here we are,” the mother says, relating some story about arriving from the airport. But it’s more than that; I can tell by the joy in her chuckle. Here we are. I don’t know how long she’s been here, but it’s clear that she knows the magic of the place. Here we are.
Okay, so here I am, at Harlaxton. But I’ve been to Bath, Oxford, Stonehenge, Glastonbury, and Salisbury, and I haven’t written a thing about any of that! Because I’m sure you’re all dying to know about those places, and probably sick of reading my flowery descriptions of the grounds, here we go…
Oxford: We thought about seeing the dining hall where Harry Potter was filmed. We thought about going shopping. Instead, we took a random adventure beside a canal, past some apartments, and to a PLAYGROUND! Best way to spend a day in Oxford.
Bath: This is seriously one of my favorite places I’ve visited in England so far. It’s hilly and watery and charming. There are plenty of shops, mostly independent boutiques. I ate at a great restaurant called Garfunkel’s, which had delicious pasta and a cute Italian waiter. But where was Simon? Haha, get it? No. Okay. Moving on. I didn’t find very many of those 100 decorated pigs that are supposed to be in Bath, but I did find one. My friend Lauren found three. And I found the original pig statue that they’re based on. So that should count for at least ten pigs. Honestly, I don’t think there are 100. There were at one time, but I asked a cashier at a souvenir shop, and he told me that a lot of them had been moved or sold. So…I tried, but I didn’t see the little piggies.
Glastonbury: I visited the weird little town of Glastonbury, which is full of mystical crystals, fortune telling, and magic shops. It is also the purported resting place of the holy grail…but I didn’t find that either. I climbed the Glastonbury Tor, which, for some reason, made me feel like a hobbit. It was so pretty though!
Stonehenge: I didn’t think I could spend an hour looking at rocks (not that I didn‘t want to go, but an hour???), but it was actually a ton of fun. Abby, Heather, and I took artsy pictures--and some creeper pictures--and Stonehenge was pretty epic, even though we can’t get very close to it.
Salisbury: This was the first time I’ve eaten at a McDonalds since I left America. Aren’t you proud? We stopped in Salisbury for a quick lunch AND got to see the tallest cathedral spire in England.
In other news, I just did the Cha Cha Slide and the Cupid Shuffle randomly with Abby, Nathan, Brooke, and Hayley down in the Bistro after watching the (terrible, yet entertaining) remake of Footloose.
Also, I’m going to play the Fairy Godmother in Harlaxton Players’ children’s show! My friend Stephanie wrote the play, and we’re going to perform it for local elementary school children! I’d like to thank Amy for making me watch numerous episodes of The Nanny, since I got the role by reading the lines in a Brooklyn accent. Thank you and good night.