Southbound Trek

by Katie Ann

view off the coast of Tintagel

It has been a long and exhausting week.  Last Monday morning at around 9 a.m. a group of eager Wheaton literature students left for a promising southbound trek around England and Wales.  There had been great weather in London and great accommodations so why should we expect anything less?  Instead we got to experience traditional English weather and for me personally the youth hostel experience was not very conducive to good sleep.  However, I handled those two things with my "characteristic maturity" (a Rykenism) and took the weather as a very appropriate and picturesque way to encounter the South of England and the sleeping situation as an opportunity to listen to some good worship music in place of sleep.
But alas we were not all at a loss and our literary yearnings were fulfilled.  Monday was spent going to Winchester Cathedral where Jane Austen was burried (I felt like I should have brought a bouquet of flowers to lay by her grave), then onto Stonehenge (the only way something that big could have gotten there is with Merlin and his magic), then onto Salisbury Cathedral where the Magna Carta was being held (not really literary but still awesome), and then a beautiful ending of our day trek with a visit to George Herberts small whole-in-the-wall church where we sang a rendition of his Psalm 29 hymn and then read two of his poems.  There was a lot packed into our first day and yet it was only a taste of what was to come.  Tuesday was spent in Tintagel, the supposed birth place of King Arthur and even if it isn't where he was born it still has given me a beautiful landscape to imagine all of the Arthurian legends.  You also can't help but feel like a medieval princess standing on those cliffs with the wind and the water blowing your hair all over the place.  At the end of the day the ladies made a mile trek in the rain to a youth hostel on the coast and while I still had the same sleeping situation, it was the most beautiful view and such an awesome experience to share with the other ladies on the trip.  The whole experience was extremely magical and probably one of the most beautiful places I've ever been, even with the dark foreboding skies and rain.  Then on Wednesday it was off to Bath where we were to see the Roman Bath houses and that was a trip to the past.  The street to the interior of the bath houses are two separate worlds and literally you find a piece of Rome in the middle of England.  After a tour of the bath houses a group of us girls went to go find Jane Austen's house and visit the Jane Austen Center.  We found one of her two houses in Bath and took some very funny pictures in front of the Austen Center with a gentlemen dressed in period clothing who then proceeded to sing us a Happy Birthday for the Fourth of July.  It was a little odd being in the country from which we had claimed our independence on the fourth, but not a odd as throwing tea into a puddle (supposed to be a river in symbolizing the Boston Tea party) singing the national anthem, which we did later that evening.  The final day of our excursion was spent driving into Wales with short three hour visit to Tintern Abbey.  Again it was magical as I walked through the ruins and saw the gorgeous Welsh landscape through the broken windows and walls of the abbey.  I also had a wonderful little chat with a welshman who proceeded to explain to me the history of the abbey and the surrounding town.
Unfortunately it had to come to an end and within a three hour drive we were back to civilization and at the Oxford campus of Saint Anne's College.  Thankfully the last couple of days have been very restful and I am excited (and a little intimidated) to start the rest of the semesters work (and complete it all in a short 12 days).  The southern excursion was truly an experience and one I will never forget.

P.S. I'm not doing a great job updating my blog so if you want a more complete view of everything we've done here are some other blogs by my fellow friends Brandon and Shelby.