or, “Your haircut is justified for life!”
I haven’t caught up with posts about last week’s adventures yet, but I figured I should write about this weekend while everything is still fresh in my mind. (Also the walls here are very thin, and I can hear the girls in the room next to me Skyping with their parents—it doesn’t sound like either of them had a very good time. Fortunately, I had a blast, so I want to write about it before I start to feel sad that they were disappointed.)
Friday started out very early—we all did some last-minute packing, and were on the bus around 8:15. (Our house was the last to get picked up, which means others were on the bus by 7:30—yikes!) The first leg of the journey is basically a blur, as I slept until we reached a rest stop. Then I pretty much slept for the second leg, too, because I didn’t get to finish my coffee and I couldn’t read to keep myself awake. (Note to self: buy pills to combat motion sickness.) I was wide awake for our hike around Tintagel, though.
I don’t know much about Arthurian legends, but Tintagel Castle was the legendary birthplace of King Arthur. There isn’t much left of the castle now, but I had a ball running around on the cliffs surrounding the ruins (pretending I was an Elf) and jumping on rocks and taking pictures of the sea and fighting to stay upright against the wind. Someone noticed that I was having a much easier time dealing with my hair than other people were, hence this weekend’s subtitle. Unfortunately, I spent so much time on the cliffs that I didn’t get a chance to explore the village or pick up any mystical/medieval? souvenirs there, but I can always go back, right?
In the evening we finally got to Coverack, “a small fishing harbour tucked away on the southern tip of Cornwall,” to quote the description from our itinerary. While the weather was gorgeous and mostly clear at Tintagel, it was rainy and chilly and pretty gloomy as we walked up and down (and up, up, up) the coastal path from where the bus was parked to the youth hostel where we stayed both nights. Plus, by that point we were all pretty exhausted from the hike and drowsy from the bus ride. After settling in a little bit, we made our way to the Paris Hotel where we dined (supped?) on authentic Cornish pasties—pockets of dough filled with meat and potatoes. It was the start of a decidedly vegetable-less weekend.
Saturday started at an even earlier time than Friday did, as Sara and I took part in what’s something of an ASE tradition: a pre-breakfast dip in the English channel. I decided to do it just to say that I did it—when in Cornwall, and all. And yeah, it was pretty cold.
The traditional English breakfast I had was delicious, but definitely too hearty for me to eat it every day: baked beans, mushrooms, hashbrowns, eggs, “tomatoes, sausage, nice crispy bacon!” I’m not sure it’s what a nutritionist would recommend you eat before going on a four mile hike, but it was tasty.
After breakfast was an hour-long bus ride to Lizard Peninsula, the most southerly point of England. The scenery along the coastline was spectacular: the sky above was clear and bright, the sea below was choppy and teal. Rocky, jagged cliffs; lush greenery. I don’t think the pictures will do it justice. It was another long, windy hike, but this time we stayed as a group and had a guide, who told us some of the history of Lizard Point and gave lessons on geology and coastal botany.
From the Lizard we went to St. Ives, which was lovely, but slightly less interesting to me than the hike. Maybe if I’d had a full day to explore it I would have appreciated it more, but as it was I was content to sit and have a cream tea with Professor Rochelle and Sara and some other girls from the ‘Fantasists’ class. Afterwards, Sara and I wandered around and poked our heads into tourist traps and stopped briefly at the Tate Gallery before heading back to the bus. (I know, it sounds funny when I talk about Sara because it seems like I’m referring to myself in third/multiple person, but I just happened to become friends with someone else who spells her name right.)
We finished Super Long Day Saturday by going to a “barbeque” at Roskilly’s Farm in Helston, which is pretty famous in Cornwall (and elsewhere in England, I’m sure) for its fudge, clotted cream, and ice cream. By the way, never underestimate a herd of dairy cow’s ability to make a group of college-aged girls squeal. The goats and ponies were also a hit.
I don’t know how we managed to stay awake that long, but the day ended with half the group reconvened at the Paris Hotel for cider, pool, and conversation.
Today—Sunday—we drove back to Bath, stopping in the middle at Knightshayes Court in Devon. It was nice to see the manor and everything, but, to be honest, I think I would have preferred it if we had headed straight home. Of course, I probably would have been more interested in the visit if the weather hadn’t been rainy again so that I could have had a chance to see more of the famous gardens.
It’s strange to think that I’ve only been in England a week, but Bath is already starting to feel like home—or at least it feels homey. The ASE team clearly knows what they’re doing when they plan group events like this weekend. If I’m counting right, we spent over fifteen hours together on a bus this weekend, and when we weren’t all napping, we were talking and swapping stories and getting to know each other a little better. It was a good way to spend our first (and only) weekend together as a group of forty-odd people. (There will be other weekend trips, but they’ll be smaller and either optional or seminar group exclusive.)
Week two of classes begins tomorrow. I have a bit of reading to catch up on, a couple papers to start, and a presentation to finish, but I’m hoping to keep up with at least the most interesting bits of what goes on here. I’m also planning on going back and making a post about the major events of last week. Hopefully it won’t be quite as long as this one was, and congratulations to you if you made it all the way to the end of this post! I know it was a long one, and I certainly hope it was worth the read.