Wednesday, June 17, 2015

England: Beer Diaries I


I am sorry I have abandoned you for the past few days. We left Canterbury on Monday and after a trip to see Jane Austen's home we resettled in a tiny fishing village on the southern coast called Beer. Here we live in a hostel with no internet. I can walk into town and write from a coffee bar, but I won't be able to do this super often. I have been trying to draw about my adventures each day, however, so I can catch you up when I get the chance. We will be in this village for another week and a half.

Here are my diaries form the past two days:

Lucy Rose 

Saturday, June 13, 2015

England: Canterbury


Today we were in Canterbury. We arrived yesterday evening at our hostel. We ran around exclaiming joyfully about the sheer number of outlets and the WiFi. It had been a long few days without them. 

This morning I went on a run through some of the residential neighbourhoods of Canterbury. I was in my running clothes and my calves were bare in my capris. For some reason I felt like a giant galloping next to all of the tiny, perfect English homes. I felt gangly and as though in my stalking along I was about to run right over a tiny British couple which would likely pop out of a rosebush or something. 

That didn’t happen, of course. But I still felt big. Once my mother told me that I had calves like a colt. Not my favourite analogy and I have never got over it, but I felt that way today. Oh well. 

Once everyone else woke up we had breakfast and classes. We walked into Canterbury to see the cathedral. It was stunning. My sketches are trite and foolish. They do not do it justice in the slightest. 

We saw the place where Thomas Beckett was martyred, just like in the play we read called Murder in the Cathedral. 

My favourite part was the crypt. It was in Romanesque style. The pillars were low to the ground and stout. Some dusty sunlight came through the basement windows and illuminated the barrel vaulted ceiling. It felt tomblike. Come to think of it that’s probably because it was a tomb…But what I mean is that in the whole cathedral it was the place with the least amount of visitors and the place where I felt the most reverent. 

We talked at dinner about the way churches are being used as tourist attractions. One girls said she loved the way that every hour the English cathedrals say a prayer over a loudspeaker system. Every cathedral we have been in so far has done this. It is a reminder that while we are touring the place and appreciating its history, it is still a functional house of worship. Tomorrow we will go to a worship service at the Canterbury Cathedral. 


Here are my sketches from today:

England: Holmsbury St. Mary

Dearest Readers,

I have been trying to get you up to speed on my movements with my school group around England. The last stop I related was Penshurst Place. After Penshurst we were driven to a village called Holsmbury St. Mary in the middle of the English countryside. In order to give you a sense for the 48 hours we spent there I will share an excerpt from an email I wrote to Sheldon about it. It has been slightly redacted so as not expose any exchanges too personal in nature.

Dear Sheldon, 

I have finally gotten a hold of internet again! I am in Canterbury. I am so sorry I left you in the dark for these two days. Our hostel didn't have internet. I did write you a big fat letter though. You just have to give me your address. 

Today we traipsed around the castle at Dover. But the past two days have been by far my favourite. First we went to Penshurst Place and toured the beautiful medieval grounds and gardens. Then we arrived at our hostel in the middle of nowhere with no internet. It was glorious. We sat around reading our books for class, taking classes and in between we got lost on the moorish forest paths. 
In the evening no one had anywhere to go or any internet to distract, so we stayed in and read quitely in the main room. I went for long rambling runs in the mornings with a friend and had some solo sketching times in the evening light.

Yesterday I was feeling upset in my spirit and I needed to leave the company of everyone else. I took my sketchbook and prayer book out onto a path and did some talking with the Lord. It was very helpful. I also got to sit and sketch some of the remarkable exposed tree roots on the road. 

Went running again this morning. Saw a view of the entire countryside. It was gorgeous. I am actually reminded often of my home in the Czech Republic while here. Its not unsimilar. 

Please respond soon and let me know how we can consider a Skype talk soon. This Costa Coffee shop seems like it could be a good spot. I know that you are available in the later evenings. 

Dear One, I am always yours. 



Here are the sketches I made while there:

1. This was form the first day. I snuck off to explore the woods as soon as our bus stopped at the hostel. I plopped myself down on a stump and sketched. 

2. This is from my devotional escape. I haven't finished it yet, which is why it is quite lightly shaded. The notes in blue are from a class. 

3. A group of us decided to read one of our assigned reading plays out loud. We sat around in a cluster of benches and stumps in the afternoon sun and read T. S. Eliot's play Murder in the Cathedral. It is a strange play. I kept having to ask the others to pause and explain what was happening. Drawing this sketch of the bushes across from me helped me to focus and not get fidgety during the times when I was not required to read the part of Knight #1. 

 4. More tree roots from my solo pilgrimage. These always make me think of two things: 1) The first time I was in England my mother took hundreds of photos of the tree roots. When we returned she spent hours making a beautiful pencil drawing of one of the photos. It still hangs in our living room, 2) It reminds me of Alan Lee who did the drawings for Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings. He was the visionary artist behind the design of many elements of the films. He designed Arwen's necklace and the swords and some costumes and even set pieces. He is amazing.

Well, as my favourite British female comedian Miranda Hart likes to say at the end of her show, "So long and thanks for joining!" 


England: Penshurst Place

My Dear Friends,

In my last post I told showed you some final sketches from London. Today I want to catch you up on what we have been doing since then. We have done a lot since London so my thought is to do three mini posts to catch you up. I'll share my sketches from each location and a brief bit about the time in that spot.

1. Penshurst Place: This is a country estate which dates back to to 1341. It was built from sandstone quarried nearby. In the time of the Tudors Henry the VIII was a guest there to Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham. Later the Sidney family took over the property. They were influential in the British court and politics. Sir Phillip Sidney was a true Renaissance man who had talents in the political and artistic realms. He wrote some of the poetry that we read for my 17th Century Literature class. Here is a snippet of his first sonnet of Astrophil and Stella, two lovers:

Loving in truth, and fain in verse my love to show

That she (dear She) might take some pleasure of my pain:
Pleasure might cause her read, reading might make her know, 
Knowledge might pity win, and pity grace obtain;

We also read about Penshurst Place when we read a long ode to it written by Ben Jonson. In the poem Jonson enumerates the virus and beauties of the place. He waxes on about how the game on the grounds are so in love with their masters and the place that they willingly leap onto the weapons and give their lives to be eaten by them. He also talks about how the fruits and vegetables are so excited to be picked that they basically jump off the trees and into the baskets of the waiting people. Here is a snippet:

To crown thy open table, doth provide
The purpled pheasant with the speckled side;
The painted partridge lies in every field,
And for thy mess is willing to be killed.

To be honest, by the end of our luxurious few hours at Penshurst Place I was ready to write my own ode to it. We were given a tour of the gardens. They are divided into several "rooms" or separate gardens. One of the gardens was modelled after a jousting arena complete with staffs representing important coats of arms including the Sidney's blue and yellow hedgehog. 
Another garden was the former washroom and work yard. According to Carline Smith, our lovely turgid, the family would have was he their clothes in urine to bleach them and then dried them on bushes. You can imagine that it was precisely this detail which caught our fancy and which we discussed at length several times after. This garden was all plants of silver and green. 
Another garden was thousands of peonies in a row. Two other girls and I decided that we needed to prance along beside them in Julie Andrews Hills Are Alive style. It was glorious. 
I finally settled myself by the gardener's old cottage to sketch. I chose the spot because it had a small bench which hid from view of the other visitors and I could look out onto a small pond. My sketches are not brilliant, but I give you what I have:

1. This was a pen drawing of the house itself. I have been practicing my perspective and as you can see from this I have been struggling with that lately. I used pen on this one and would have gone into greater detail, but was interrupted by the tour of the gardens. 

2. This is my sketch of the head gardener's pond. It too it not up to scratch. I feel like this one needs a lot of work. Some areas are darker than others and it hurts the illusion of distance. It's rather patchy.

As usual, thanks for reading! I appreciate your tagging along on my travels with me. 

Lucy Rose 

Friday, June 12, 2015

England: London Sketches

Dear Friends,

We left London a couple of days ago. We lost internet access for the past little while. I wanted to show you the last sketches I did during my London stay, however.

1. These two pages are from a run I went on through the city and over Millennium bridge. I took my sketchbook and a pen. I also had a phone, my driver's licence and i-Pod stuffed down my spots bra. It was very lumpy and looked a bit odd. Anyway, I would run a few hundred metres and then stop for a sketch.  I can't say that it yielded beautiful or inspiring artistic results, because I was rushed and felt the need to get actual exercise. These tow images are of some people mudlarking. What is that? Look here to find out. 

2. This is a page of sketches I did during a lecture on Dorothy L. Sayers plays in the crypt of St. Paul's cathedral. We heard about these plays she wrote. 

3. This is a quickie I did at the Shakespeare Globe production of The Merchant of Venice. Very hurried and not great, but there you have it! Such a fun experience. 

I've gotta run back to our hostel for dinner. Bye for now!


Monday, June 8, 2015

England: London Day Five (Yes. I skipped day. Big Whoop.) - East Finchley

Dearest Friends,

Today I went on a pilgrimage. I fulfilled a long time dream of going to the Phoenix Cinema in East Finchley. It was a very lovely day. 

You may be asking, “What is the big deal about that cinema? Why did you take a 30 minute subway ride by yourself to get there?”

The answer has to do with one of my favourite things of all time: Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo’s Film Review Podcast. It is a BBC production which airs every Friday afternoon. Two middle aged men sit in a recording studio and talk about the latest film releases. Mark Kermode is a doctor of film studies who wears his hair in a “quiff” and has flappy hands. Simon Mayo is a smallish man who is a radio presenter and famous British DJ. He tends to know less about film. His job is to read out emails and provoke Mark into talking about films. HE also interviews the various film stars and directors that become guests on the show. 

Mark Kermode always waxes on about how his very favourite cinema in all the world is the Phoenix in East Finchley. It is his favourite, because he has such good childhood memories from there. They have done a few live shows from there as well. So today I decided to use my free afternoon in London to go there and watch a film. I saw Second Coming. It was an independent British film starring the wonderful Idris Elba. It was beautiful, but it was SUPER long. There was only me and about five elderly ladies in the theatre. Two of them left halfway through! 

When the film finished I stuck around to order a coffee from the cinema cafe and sketch for a minute. Then I traipsed down the road to some charity shops to do my other favourite thing: thrifting. There were some more elderly ladies in the charity shop. They thrust dresses at me bidding me try them on. I humoured them even though I could tell they would be too big. I enjoyed tossing out bits of encouragement and advice to them as they tried some things on as well. It was so fun. At first I pretended to have a British accent, but later I petered out and got more American. 

I also wandered into an old book shop. I chatted with the owner and confessed my purpose in coming to East Finchley. He laughed and said, “Oh yes, I know that show.” I bought some very old post cards and a book of Seventeenth Century poetry. 

After all this I took the train back to central London to rejoin my group. 

It was a wonderful day. I loved getting out on my own and having a destination to explore. It was a feeling of accomplishment and discovery. I also enjoyed being on my own. That has been an interesting aspect of this England trip. I do not have a “person” in this group. I like everyone very much, and some people quite a lot, but I really don’t have a special friend. I have mostly been fine with this and content to move from group to group. In fact I sometimes, like today, seek out solitude. But I confess that this evening when I returned from our play I felt a little homesick for Joanna or Sheldon or another close friend from home like Barbora or Claire. 

In the end, it was an iddyllic day which included some of my favourite things: Sketching, podcasts, theatre, cinema and thrifting. If I could have shared it with another person that would have been great, but it was still valuable on my own. I don't think I could have convinced anyone to share my interest in East Finchley anyway! 

Lucy Rose


Sorry I don’t have any photos for you today. I will include them at a later date, because the internet here at this hostel is terrible. 


Saturday, June 6, 2015

England: London Day Three - British Museum

Hello Folks!

Today we went to the British Museum. It was so huge! I didn't know what I wanted to do with the hour and a half that I had in which to look over the thousands of artefacts they have in the museum. In the end I figured I had time for about two or three sections so I picked the ones which most interested me and spent my time there.

My favourite part was the room devoted to the Enlightenment. That was very cool because it was a time in which people were very interested in collecting and categorising objects. The exhibit was divided into seven sections based on the particular interests of the time period: Religion and Ritual, Trade and Discovery, The birth of archeology, Art and Civilisation, Classifying the world, Ancient scripts and The Natural World. Each subject had a couple of cases devoted to one of these subjects. My favourite were the special boxes devoted to collections. For instance one man who sailed with James Cook collected seashell specimens and classified them into a large tray, which was divided into many tiny compartments, each of which was labelled. This was apparently the method used by Carl Linnaeus when he classified plants. I personally have special relationship with Carl, because when I was a little girl my brothers and I used to climb all over his statue in the Chicago Botanical Gardens.

I drew a little while I was there.

In the afternoon my group and I got extremely lot trying to make our way back from Notting Hill. Haha! It took us three hours to get home. We finally made it, however. It was a bonding experience. As my friend Aseye said it was the kind of experience that really brings friendships up to a new level. The other three girls and I definitely bonded over that period. We weathered sore feet, an attack of "hangriness" - anger which comes from hunger, and general weariness together.

One of the girls I was with has been blown about our trip. If you;d like to read about her perspective take a look here:

My Darlings, I am sorry I do not have more drawings for you today. I have been absolutely worn out. I'll try to get more out tomorrow. 


England: London Day Two Sketches

Dear Friends,

I want to share some things from my sketchbook. They are not brilliant creations, but they give you an idea of what we are seeing here in London. 

Page 1 - These are a couple of drawings that I did during a concert of baroque chamber music that I went to at St. Martin in the Fields. A girl from my group asked if I was interested in classical music and if I wanted to spring for a concert. I weighed my options. I hadn't slept in 24 hours and I am not a huge music person, but I decided to go, because I was like, well what the heck! We're in London! So I went and it was glorious. We all partially dozed off in it, but what we did hear we loved. We didn't feel bad about sleeping, though, because we were in such terrible seats and couldn't see the musicians anyway. If you are interested in what we heard I wrote a list in on my page. 

Page 2 - Here are some sketches I made as we made a whirlwind walk around London. Our professor just wanted to do this massive walk around so that we would not go to sleep, but adjust to the time schedule. These sketches are of Westminster Abbey and the Dean's palace. 

Page 3 - Here are some weird ones of Buckingham Palace peeking through some trees in a famous park. I don't know what park. 

Page 4 - Here is the top of the pillar in Trafalgar Square. It is Lord Nelson, who helped win the war against Napoleon. There is also a drawing of the fountain.

Page 5 - This is the coronation chair. It was inside the Abbey. I was basically falling asleep in the Abbey. I had trouble enjoying it, because there were so many people and It was hard to take in everything. Such is generally the way with cathedrals. 

Friday, June 5, 2015

England: Travelling and London

Dear Friends,

I am in London! Here are my diaries from the journey here. I hope you enjoy!

Lucy Rose

Wednesday, June 3, 2015