From the Birthplace of Worcestershire Sauce
It has finally gotten cold in Oxford. It has also begun raining in the afternoons. But that is no reason to let spirits be dampened. In fact, I would say that I am starting to get into the swing of things. I am really enjoying being here.
Last weekend was the IFSA-Butler study abroad England home stay. I didn’t know what to expect out of this, but I think I actually quite enjoyed it. I stayed with a family in Worcestershire. It was neat to see a part of England that I have never seen before. In a lot of ways, Worcester reminded me of the mid-west, and it was nice to be in an environment like this again. Phil and Karen, a retired designer and school worker fed me and Duncan (another Teddy-Hall IFSA-Butler study in England student) and showed us some of the more interesting things around the city. We left Oxford right before dinner and didn’t arrive till about 9, so Phil was gracious enough to take Duncan and I to a fish and chips place. It was delicious and cheap: 4 pounds, 50 pence, for both of us. In Oxford, you can expect to pay this for an 8 inch baguette sandwich.
On saturday, Phil took us to Witley church, which was formerly part of the Witley estate. In its hay-day, the Witley estate would have been on a par with Versailles. Before the steal industry faded in England, the family that owned the estate had owned most of the steel industry north of Worcester. Prior to this the family owners had been involved with selling arms to both sides of the English civil war in the 17th century. These were very wealthy families. However, that wealth dried up around the beginning of the 20th century and the estate was purchased by a demolition group has sold the most valuable parts of the estate, leaving behind a hulking shell of a building. It is a bit strange to see it today. I will upload a photo. Anyway, part of the estate was a baroque church that has been preserved quite well. Apparently Handel used to play the organ there.
Saturday afternoon, we went on a walking tour of the city Worcester, which actually played a pivotal role in Oliver Cromwell’s overthrow of Charles I. We also saw the place where Edward Elgar, who composed pomp and circumstance and had an amazing mustache, kept shop for his piano tuning business. It has now been turned into an H & M. We also saw the cathedral were Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway went to get a marriage license (because she was underage).
That evening we watched some television. There was a show on the BBC called Little Britain USA. I think this was the first time I watched T.V. in over a month. It felt a little weird. The show was full of sharp, humorous, British spins on American culture. While highly satirical, it was also extremely insightful. I learned a lot about how America is perceived by the nation that claims the lion’s share of responsibility for colonizing it.
On Sunday we went to Malvern Hills which form something of a border between Worcestershire to the east and Herefordshire to the west. The views were incredible in spite of the cold, damp, English wind. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many border collies in my entire life. Seeing all of these dogs reminded me of my border collie at home and made me a little homesick.
This weekend IFSA-Butler has arranged some activities in London, and so I will be spending friday night and saturday there. Hopefully I will get to see another show and experience a few more of the seemingly endless museums. And hopefully not spend too much money.