Voyages: Anglesey Abbey [@CambridgeUK]

Anglesey Abbey

Anglesey Abbey

I formally declare myself lovingly obsessed with Anglesey Abbey. On Saturday I took a trip with a small group of darlings to this Jacobean-style country house in the nearby village of Lode. Rather than write you a play-by-play on all the things I saw, I figured I’d provide you with a few photos and comments on this fairytale of a place.

Grounds

We set off on a leisurely stroll down a series of paths just like this one to get to the actual Abbey. Yes, those are lily pads. And yes, they are stretching as far as your eye can see.

Ceiling

One of our Program Advisors had been to the house before and served as an excellent guide through the overwhelmingly beautiful rooms. When I arrived in this particular one, I was so enraptured by the objects and artifacts around me that I completely missed the ceiling! Thankfully, she gave me a gentle reminder to “look up” and now I have this image in my life.

Paintings

Stunning paintings and portraits covered every inch of wall that wasn’t too busy being impressively ornate on its own. As I walked around, I noticed that my eyes were always drawn to the same dark, Gothic-style scenes. I discovered that they were all painted by the Pethers, two generations of incredible, moonlight loving artists. My camera could not have done the landscapes justice, so do yourself a favor and find the nearest original.

Library

Real tears of joy came to my eyes when I walked into the library. The original owners of the Abbey, the Fairhavens, were quite smitten with the Tudors so this room was home to several ORIGINAL(!) portraits of Queen Elizabeth I, King Henry VIII, and others. As the very same Program Advisor-turned-guide put it, I was in the same room as something that had ALSO been in a room with those figures at some point in history. WHAT? That means I can say I’ve basically met them, right?

Oh, and Queen Elizabeth II also scratched her name into one of the library’s window panes while visiting… Casual.

Chandelier

Another cool thing about this library was the two gorgeous chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. They are part of a set of five made by William Kent. The owner of the other three? Vladimir Putin. I believe they’re hanging in one of the Russian palaces.

Front of the House

I could have honestly sat myself down and stared at this view all day long. I’m in love with stone houses. There it is, I’ve said it.

Rose Garden 2

Lord Fairhaven installed a huge Rose Garden at the side of his house. He gets it.

Gardens 2

Unfortunately, I was too busy reverting back to the make-believe lands of my childhood to take many pictures of the grounds we walked around after visiting the house but let me tell you: this place is HUGE! 10-year-old me would have had the time of my life here. Plenty of gardens and woods and paths to run rampant through. Yes, I did pick up a stick and carry it around like a wand for a little while.

Daisies

Before ending my day with some rose lemonade and a slice of Victoria Sponge, we sat ourselves down in a shady nook and I set to work learning how to make daisy chains. Apparently that is a skill acquired by many a British child in their primary school days, but I had never done it! We don’t really have wild daisies in Rhode Island.

I will confess, I cheated a bit. You’re supposed to puncture a hole in the stem with your thumbnail and weave it that way, but I had to resort to making knots because my nails kept wrecking the stems. Quite a meditative experience, regardless.

As was to be expected, my voyage to Anglesey Abbey left me in a state of hopeless daydreams. I hope these pictures can convey at least some of my love for this wonderful treasure.

£5 Worth of Local Drinking Tips [@CambridgeUK]

Last weekend I went to London and I paid £5 for a nothing-special beer, which hurt my heart. Granted, now I get to say that I’ve had a pint on Baker Street so I guess it was sort of worth it? Anyways, over the past two weeks I’ve discovered that Cambridge, UK has some very interesting drinking-related things going on and I want to share them with you!

The Eagle – Cambridge, UK

For every pound I spent on that London Pale Ale (Official Beer of Dr. Watson – Perhaps? Maybe? Probably not?) I’ll provide a cultural tidbit about drinking in this wonderfully historic town I get to call home for the next two months. So here we go:

£ 1. Boozeless Brunch

You don’t, you don’t, you do NOT drink alcohol at brunch here. In fact, you don’t drink alcohol before 12pm here. I guess I can see where they’re coming from, but Mimosas are so good! And Peach Bellinis! What is even the point of brunch without a pitcher of Peach Bellinis to gossip over? I guess food is more important to the Brits. Speaking of which, they serve onion rings at brunch here. I know.

£ 2. The Eagle has landed

Ever heard of that thing called DNA? Well, it was discovered in 3D form here in Cambridge by Francis Crick and James Watson. When they came up with their proposal for the double helix structure, they went to a spot nearby called The Eagle and made a huge announcement about it in front of the pub patrons! Naturally, I’ve resolved that I’m going to be making a lot more toasts to my accomplishments in pubs full of strangers because I think the world needs that. I’d pick the beer I had here over the one in London any day.

£ 3. Keep off the grass!

… Unless you’re in formal wear? Yes, here at Pembroke College (where I’m studying) you are not allowed on the grass. There are two exceptions to this rule: 1) become a Fellow at the College (talk about motivation to get into academia!) or 2) dress in your best robes and gowns and attend a Formal Hall. At Formal Halls you get to have drinks on the lawn before dinner! I got to experience this last week and I was petrified the entire time that I would trip, take a huge chunk out of the grass, and as a result be sacrificed to the River Cam.

£ 4. Penny for your drunk thoughts?

Watch your drinks around here. At those same Formal Halls, it’s a popular game for Cambridge students to sneakily slip a penny coin into each others drinks. The premise is that the owner of the drink has to save the Queen from drowning and instantly down their glass of wine! I’ve since taken to carrying around a spare penny in my pocket at all times just to be on the safe side. Definitely from a retribution standpoint, guys. I’m definitely doing it out of defense. Definitely.

£ 5. Convertible cafes

One of my favorite spots in Cambridge, Hot Numbers, is a cafe by (every)day and a bar by (some) night(s). This is the case with quite a few little cafes around town and I am a HUGE fan. The Cambridge colleges have a similar type of deal where you can hang at the cafe areas and if you’re there long enough they’ll turn into a bar at some point! This makes sense to me! It’s just economical really.

So, there you have it. I’ll be sure to keep you posted on other funny drinking habits I pick up on during my time studying abroad at the University of Cambridge. Now, who wants me to bring them back a British penny?