Monday, May 20, 2013

Warwick Castle! Freakin Sweet!

After Oxford we drove for a little while to Warwick Castle that I must say was freaking amazing! It could possibly be my favorite thing so far, but thats because I'm a nerd and was just imagining myself living there back in the day. I took a few videos, and didn't even get to tour the whole thing because it was so big and we didn't have enough time....But here is what we did get to see! :)

I loved this castle! It was almost my favorite part of London! I wish I could have had the opportunity to see the Tower of London more than just from a distance, but I suppose that that will be for the next time I am in London. 

This is what you see when you first get to the castle.

Right when we walked in to tour Warwick we saw these awesome lock up things. I feel like they suit us well! 

The garden was absolutely beautiful! And it wouldn't be the same without some silly pictures, right!? 

Friday, May 17, 2013


So we had another early morning and had to be in the lobby at 8am. Luckily, we didn’t have to ride the tube today so we got on the bus and I would like to give a shout out to our awesome bus driver because he was a BAMF! Anyways we had a 45 min drive to Oxford and it was freaking cold outside, but the trip was totally worth it. We got there and met our tour guide who was such a nice woman and very knowledgeable.

[Insert pictures of town of Oxford]
After we met her we traveled to our destination, which by the way was ridiculous because we were running late so we were practically sprinting down the street. Finally after being out of breath we stopped in front of this beautifully old building.

She explained that it was one of the colleges in Oxford. One thing that I didn’t understand today was how the University of Oxford was, and this is what she said. The University of Oxford is like the government of the United States. There is the government and then there are 50 separate states that all go by their own rules but they all answer to the central part which is the government. It is the same with the school, There is the University, and then there are 38 colleges that run themselves, but when you get the degree you don’t get it from the college but from the University.

Alice In Wonderland
Okay so one of the most interesting things about this college has to do with Alice and Wonderland, and this is what our tour guide told us…

There was a professor at Christ Church that was a photographer and a math professor who used to take pictures of the Deans 3 daughters so he would take them out on this boat on the rivers surrounding Oxford and since they didn’t have much to do out there so the professor would tell them stories. Eventually someone convinced him to publish these stories and he published them under the name Lewis Carroll. Which were the adventures of Alice in Wonderland and one of the 3 daughters was named Alice. So they were based off of her and the different things around Oxford.

The dean of the school (aka Alice’s father) was supposed to be represented by the rabbit who was always late. Now before I go on I need to give a little back story about him being late…So at Christ Church they would ring the bell 101 times (for every student they had) at 9:05 to tell people its time to stop drinking so that they could make their way back before the last bell was heard because if they didn’t, when the last bell chimed they would close the gate and they would be locked down. The reason why it was 9:05 was because they were 5 min ahead of Greenwich time, which was the main time. So on Sunday’s the dean would be on his way to church and would be running late and because it was at 6:05 the doors would be locked and he would have to go all the way around.

This is a picture of Henry the VIII, he is supposed to represent the Queen of Hearts because both of them liked to chop peoples heads off.

This is an actual picture of Alice, the real little girl, and if you look in the corner there is the cartoon picture of Alice from the Disney Movie. 

This is a picture of a window and if you look really close you can see different characters of Alice in Wonderland and I thought it was cool!

If you have read the Alice in Wonderland books there is a story about when she takes a potion and her neck gets really long, and he got that from these statues in the fireplace. The picture is a little blurry, but you get the point. 

This is a picture of a Memorial to all the family members of people who were part of the college who died in World War I. So the story behind this is that Alice and a prince Named Leopold had kind of a thing, but since she was just a common person they weren’t allowed to get married so they married other people. When they both had their first children Leopold named his daughter Alice, and Alice named her son Leopold and her son Leopold was the one that died in World War I.

[Video of Staircase]
Another really cool thing about this college was that some of the Harry Potter movies were filmed there….

If you have seen the Harry Potter movies, when you look at this picture you will notice that it is very similar to the dining hall in the movie, besides the fact that there are 3 rows of tables here and 4 in the movie. When they were wanting to make the movie they visited Christ College and as soon as they walked into the dining hall they knew that that is exactly what they were imagining when they read the books. But since there are students that go to school there that need to eat 3 times a day they knew that they couldn’t actually film it there so they built an exact replica. There were a few other places around Oxford that the Harry Potter films were filmed at, including a library, a tree, some staircases, and a few other places.

[Video of Courtyard]
(Since you can’t watch the video yet, I must say that not only was Harry Potter filmed there, but a scene from the Golden Compass was filmed there, and a scene from X-Men first class filmed there as well)

After leaving that amazing college of the Christ Church we started walking down towards the center of Oxford and stood in front of this door and right away I ran up and took a picture of the pillars on each side of the door.…

It turns out that C.S. Lewis used to walk by there every day and when he wrote the Chronicles of Narnia it was his inspiration for Mr. Thomnas the goatman that Lucy meets when she first goes to Narnia.
Not only that, but the lamppost that Lucy sees when she first steps into Narnia was right there.

Annnnnnnd the door was inspiration for Aslan! So pretty much it was awesome!

These are Some other beautiful buildings around the town of Oxford. If I have time, I'll explain later what they are :)

So we stopped in Stratford-upon-Avon for lunch which really wasn’t that exciting, but I did get to see from the outside Shakespeare’s birthplace…so that was pretty neat!  But lunch was just so-so. 

Downing Street/Saint James Place/Buckingham Palace/Guard Change

Downing Street/Saint James Place/Buckingham Palace/Guard Change

So day four started out earlier than any day so far. We had to meet in the Lobby by 8am to make our way to the Supreme Court building to meet Constable Richard Watson and Phil (I didn’t catch his last name but he was pretty cool so all I really needed to remember was Phil).

From there they walked us to Downing Street, which is where the prime minister and a few other important people live. It was very exciting because we actually got to go through the gates and take pictures right in front of the Prime Minister’s residence which most people don’t get to do, much less if you are an American.

The Prime Minister lives at #10 Downing Street. There are no locks on the door because there are guards that are always there making sure no one breaks in. The gates of Downing Street were added in 1984 because of the war with Northern Ireland and the name Downing street came from a chief spy for royalty named George Downing. There was a while mess about him changing sides a bunch of times and the last time he changed sides the King at the time gave him the street as a gift. In the 60’s the building was falling apart so they decided to rebuild it. The only problem was that it was red so in order to keep the look the same that it had been for years and years (black) they artificially colored it to make it the same.

This is a picture of our awesome Tour Guide/Cops Phil on the left, Our awesome teacher Tracy Nobiling, The Vice President of Chadron State Dr. Snare, his wife, and Constable Richard Watson.

Actual Guard!

Pictures around London

[Insert pictures of Saint James Palace and guard]
These are pictures of Saint James Palace and the guard. Every day at 4pm the guard has to be changed because one day a guard was found drunk and unable to actually keep watch because he was drunk. So for hundreds of years there has been a change at 4 every day because of that one instance.

[Insert picture of arena of Saint James Palace]
This is the big arena that they use for the Queens Birthday Parade

[Insert picture of Naval Building]
This is a picture of the Naval armory that was built, and to keep it inconspicuous they covered it with vines. There are also no windows in the whole building and the walls were 20 ft thick so it could stand a German bomb dropped right on it.

[insert picture of national police memorial]
This is a picture of The National Police Memorial that is dedicated to all the police that have ever lost their lives serving for the country.

[Insert picture of entrance of Mall]
This is the front entrance of the Mall (which is pronounced Maaaaal) which is the street that leads to Buckingham Palace which is also the place that they do the march for the changing of the guards.

[Insert picture of rest of Mall]
This is the picture of the rest of the Mall

[Insert picture of flag poles]
I thought that this was interesting because all the flag poles had crowns on the tops of them.

[Insert Picture of Saint James Garden]
This is a picture of Stain James Garden, not much that I can say about it, other than it was beautiful.

[Insert pictures of guards]
On our way to Buckingham Palace we stopped at this place that these guards were watching and I learned some pretty interesting information about the guards. These that were standing there were called the Coldstream Guards because they had a red little stripe on the right side of their bearskin hat. The way that you can tell what regiment that they are in is by the way their buttons are. So if their buttons are spaced in twos they are in the second regiment, if they are in threes they are in the third, so on and so forth. Because I am writing this without internet and I can’t for the life of me remember what the guards with the white stripe on the side of their bearskin hats but I do remember why they had the white stripes. They were the part of the guards that had bombs and they would pull the tab and hold it over their head and white smoke would come out.

[Insert pictures of Buckingham Palace]
The next thing that we did was walk by Buckingham Palace and man was it awesome!

[Insert pictures of building on our way to the resting place]
It wasn’t time for us to be at Buckingham Palace so we walked to the place that all the cops eat at when they have big events in the city of London.

[Insert picture of Titanic Building]
The interesting thing about the place that we stopped to rest at besides the fact that all the cops eat there when there is big events, is that it was built so that they could investigate how the Titanic sunk, and how they lowered the boats down. So the balcony and the arch were  pretty much exact replicas of the Titanic.

[Insert pictures of gate]
After getting some refreshments at the Titanic building it was time to walk to Buckingham Palace to watch the Guard change! The awesome part of the whole experience was that we got to go into the gates of Buckingham Palace and watch the guard change. It was cool because all the people were watching us from the gate while we were standing right next to the palace and they were taking pictures of us like we were important or something. Little did they know, that we are just a bunch of college kids from Chadron, Nebraska! The sad thing was that we weren’t allowed to take pictures once we were inside the gate. But here is a little bit of what I remember from the Guard Change…

The guards have this big ceremony once every day in the summer and fall and once every other day in the winter and spring. Which is crazy because the whole ceremony took like an hour and a half to two hours. Basically, in short all the guards from Buckingham Palace and Saint James Palace March over behind the Marching band and wait for the new guards to come. While they are waiting the guard with the flag paces back and forth which was a tradition so that the people in the army would know what flag to meet at and/or fight for because a lot of the time, it was a bunch of peasant armies. While the flag was pacing back and forth so was the captain. They did this so that they could check for people that were drunk and so that the people knew who their captain was and who they needed to take orders from. Besides them pacing around there were also two guards patrolling. They had to do this because one time Queen Victoria came down and both of the guards were asleep so she said “none of that!” and they had to pace around, and they still do that to this day. After what seemed like forever the new guards came marching down and stood facing the old guards. Both of the bands took turns playing different songs but the two that I remember were the Clint Eastwood theme, and Sir Duke. Both of the bands were amazing, and I’m not gonna lie, I really wanted to just go and grab a saxophone and join in with them. Before the guards could actually switch off we had to wait for the Calvary to trot by on their horses because the queen was in the building. On any other day they wouldn’t have to wait for that because the queen usually isn’t there (which I would like to point out is awesome and that means that we were pretty close to the queen). The coolest thing about being there waiting is that the two captains, one from the new guard and one from the old one both came up to us and talked to us. Which according to Constable Richard Watson, has never happened before. He then told us that the captains are usually from very well to do families because they have to keep their suit tailored themselves and the belt on their uniform alone costs 3000 pounds! We were also told that those captains were in the rank of major. After the Calvary passed the new guards marched off and so did the old guards and everything was done so it was time for us to go. It was definitely an experience that I will forever remember!

[Picture of Scotland Yard]
After eating it was time to go to Scotland Yard, which I was very excited about because I thought we were going to tour it, but it turns out that we were just going to attend a lecture, and I’m sorry to say, it was very hard to stay awake for and it didn’t really keep my attention despite their efforts.

It was time to head home, and I was very tired and started getting really cranky. So instead of going to dinner with my roommates and a few of the others in our group I stayed in the hotel and took a nap, which was much needed because I was getting to the point where I just wanted to punch everyone in the face. Thank GOD for naps! 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Medeval Banquet

So after much debate about what we were going to do last night, we finally decided to go to this Medeval Banquet. We called and made reservations and it was set. We decided to leave about an hour early because we figured it would take some time to find the place....and it did. Not only did we take the most ridiculously long tube ride (because the only thing we were thinking about when deciding on what route to take, was how many times we had to change trains). The ride itself took an hour....which was not necessary. Then when we got out of the tube, we went the wrong way and walked much further than we needed to go. To be fair though, there is no directions on the brochure, it just says that its within walking distance...ptsh It was pretty much a Labyrinth getting there (only not as cool because David Bowie isn't singing the whole time).

Anyways after much searching and stopping and asking for directions (because no men were with us). We finally found it! So we walked into this dark place that was located underground. And it was most definitely different...we didn't sit at tables by ourselves...we sat with other people. Obviously, the first thing I did when I got there was go and get some alcohol. I was frustrated, and uh, I'm in London!

Yeah, thats me....and my pear cider. I love it, and I figure, why try to drink other beers when this is just so freaking good! 

Anyways, we had a woman who was our Wench. And when you needed something, you were supposed to bang on the table as hard as you could, yell "WENCH" and tell her what she should fetch you.

The first thing that she brought us was this soup that you could only drink from the spoons...It was some sort of vegetable soup that had been pureed. It was pretty tasty. When I first saw it though I was scared because I thought it was tomato soup...and I hate tomato soup. 

(I'll continue writing about this, but I'm being kicked out of this place for now)

We were sitting with some pretty interesting people. 4 people were from Australia and 4 from Canada, but they weren’t together, it just happened to be a happy coincidence.

The next thing on the menu was this really weird ass plate of meat and cheese. Most of it was okay, but there was this weird meat that looked kind of like bologna but it had the consistency of cat food. I don’t know it had an okay flavor but the texture was so weird.

In between the meals that they served us there was some pretty interesting entertainment. A couple of the girls were contortionists and all I could think was…”man I wish I was that flexible”

The next thing they brought us was this big pot full of chicken. Morgan and I decided to eat like barbarians, ya know, to keep up with the whole Medieval thing. But the funny thing was, one of the young Australians that was sitting there said “its not often that you get a big tub of chicken brought to you” to which Morgan and I both said at the same time “Unless you go to KFC” he seemed kind of somber and replied with “oh”. After that Morgan and I looked at each other and said “ Merica, Fuck Yeah!” Which has kind of been our theme throughout the trip so far.

Not only was there some pretty awesome contortionists but there was also beautiful singing going on between most of the staff. But the two people that had the most amazing voices were the King and Queen.

After the singing was finished our Wench brought us some pretty delicious apple pie while we watched an “epic” sword fight. It didn’t last very long but it was still amusing.

The night was drawing to a close and Morgan and I were pretty satisfied. But then were very surprised when they started playing club music. After we went to the bathroom we came out and there was a circle of older women trying to dance. I must say it was pretty damned amusing because none of them could dance. Morgan almost convinced me to get in the middle and show them some awesome moves but we left instead.

Needless to say, since we knew where we were going, we didn’t get lost but I did take an awesome picture of the dock that the banquet was by (Saint Katherine’s Harbor) at night. It was so beautiful and I wish my camera did it justice, but I guess that’s what happens when you get a camera for free at prom. On the way home we did not take an hour because we actually paid attention to the rout we should take. Overall I would say it was a pretty successful day. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Supreme Court Visit!

Today started out, just as early as it did yesterday. But the difference was, I got up and was ready to go and ate breakfast and everything! I was on top of the world today! Anyways, like I'm sure most of my journey's will include, we took the tube to the Supreme Court! Which happened to be right in front of the tower that holds Big Ben and Westminster Abbey! We haven't went there and toured yet, but it will be on our list of things to do!

The CJ group in front of the Clock Tower that hold Big Ben!...and oh yes, we did hear that shit!

Besides the fact that it was cold, I would think its safe to say, that I am a BAMF! 

Anyways, after getting across the park to the Supreme Court building I looked up and noticed just how beautiful it was. There were carvings in the building and everything. I know I've said this before, but I really do love the detail in all the buildings here in London!

This is the front of the Supreme Court building! Look at how amazingly detailed it is! 

These are the two emblems on both sides of the doors to the front of the building. 

After gawking at the building and meeting up with Dr. Nobilings friend/our tour guide for tomorrow Constable Richard Watson who just from the few minutes we were with him seemed really awesome, we were able to go inside. This security system was much like the one yesterday, where we had to take off our coats and put our purses in the box to go through the scanner. The only difference was were were actually able to take our cameras inside! ANNND take pictures. So even though I don't have pictures right now...I will...don't worry!

There are 3 court rooms in the Supreme Court building. The interesting thing is the UK didn't establish a Supreme Court until 2005, and didn't open it until 2009. Before that, the building was used as one of  the Crown Courts of the area. The Supreme court sees civil and criminal cases and everything is recorded by video cameras (which is very different from the United States). They accept about 80 cases a year and get in between 200 and 250 applications a year. In order for the Supreme Court to accept a case it must be an arguable point of law with a general public interest. Unlike the Crown Courts, the Supreme Court is very informal and relaxed, more businesslike. In Crown Courts, (which we will see on Saturday) they wear wigs and gowns. Some things changed when the Supreme Court started. The senior legislatures that were part of the Crown Court moved over and started being the Legislatures of the Supreme Court. Unlike in Crown Court, if a Legislature moves to the Supreme Court they loose the right to vote, and the ability to get into the building was much easier. If someone is in the Supreme Court, they are required to retire at the age of 70, but if they choose (at least the ones that are old right now) they can go back and sit in the House of Lords (like I said, the newer Legislatures can't do that anymore). In order to become a Legislature in the Supreme Court an individual must have 15 years of legal experience  But they don't have to have been judges before, they just have to have any form of legal experience.

Right in the middle of the wall there is an emblem designed by Sir Peter Blake. Who designed the 1967 Beatles Album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

This this emblem represents the four floral emblems of the United Kingdom. They compromise of a Tudor rose (which represents England) conjoined with leaves of a leek (representing Wales), a flax for Northern Ireland, and a Thistle (representing Scotland). 

Not only is this emblem found in this room, and different areas of the Supreme Court building, it is also the design in the carpet, and in the curtains! It is pretty intense, and apparently has caused a lot of controversy but I thought it was pretty cool.

The first courtroom that we were in was very modern and sleek, and the second one was much more traditional.

Here is a picture of the Criminal Justice group in the second room we visited. 

This is the first courtroom that we visited, much more modern than the other one. 

Yeah, I'm pretty much a big deal. 

These are pictures of the second court room that we visited, it was much more old school.

After learning about some of the History of this room we were able to go up and watch the Supreme Court case that was going on in the last courtroom. You could either go in and watch, or watch what was going on, on a TV screen. I chose not to go in because I liked to make fun of what was going on. I mean the Legislatures were just making fun of the guy that was presenting the case, and the lawyers behind the presenter were trying really hard not to laugh. So it was safe for me with my loud mouth to just stay in the lobby. 

After watching what was going on in the Courtroom for awhile we got to go down and look at the small museum in the basement. It was pretty interesting and I got some sweet pictures

It was finally time for us to leave so we made our way back to the Tube to begin our adventure back to the hotel. Got some pretty awesome pictures on the way back....which will be coming soon! 

But for now I am off to do more awesome things in London! Cheers!