I'll start by explaining the title of this post. For those who don't know, I have thrown shot put competitively since freshman year of high school. It's not exactly a common sport. They make keychains and stickers for baseball, basketball, football, soccer, tennis, even bowling, but never shot put, not even track and field really, so needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised to find a box of "Scotts Porage Oats" with a picture of a guy throwing a shot put and oh yeah, by the way, since it was it Scotland, he was wearing a kilt. (At least his kilt covered more than my Hendrix throwing shorts do, but that's another story, let's just say under armour leggings are a throwers best friend.)
Sorry, it's been awhile since I posted last. There are two reasons for this, the first being that my computer inexplicably lost internet connection for over 24 hours (painful experience, but I survived thanks to my iphone. Oh technology.) The second reason I couldn't update was because I was busy spending two days circling the Edinburgh Castle.
Karina and I took a train to Edinburgh on Friday morning. It was about six hours total, so we got there by mid-afternoon, and after a rather scenic tour of the heart of Edinburgh, we found our bed and breakfast. (For those of you who know me and see the word scenic, I know what you're thinking, but I swear I was not the one leading the way.) We were there only a short time, but had loads of fun before returning to Oxford on Saturday night.
We stayed at a lovely bed and breakfast called the Armadillo House. I actually had a traditional Scottish breakfast on Saturday morning...no, not haggus; it was baked beans on toast. Definitely an interesting start to my day. Don't get me wrong, it tasted fine. It was just a little unique being that it was a slice of toast with beans poured on top. I couldn't help but laugh when I saw it because I'm pretty sure they were the same type of beans we serve at the daycare where I work. They're kind of orange looking, not the kind you bring to a BBQ :)
As for the Travel Woes and Travel Pros, well I'll start with the Pros, because I can't think of any major woes at the moment. That's how good Scotland was, I guess.
1. Edinburgh Castle: the funny thing about having a giant castle on top of a very large hill is that you can see it from all over town. If you're a poor college student, this is great because you don't have to pay for a tour. You also don't have to walk up the giant hill to get to the castle. Regular Edinburgh was hilly enough. I'm pretty sure Karina and I walked around town enough that we saw every angle of the castle at least twice. Not only that, but we saw it at day and night. See Edinburgh Castle? Mission accomplished.
2. Cemeteries that lead to playgrounds that lead to long conversations with Scottish middle schoolers: now that's something you can't get on a paid tour. I should probably explain. In hopes to see the castle, we started walking around town. We came across this 1800s cemetery and being Beth and Karina, we decided to poke around inside with little to no hesitation. I'm pretty sure the conversation went something like this. "Oh look, a cemetery. Let's go in." "Okay." Anyway, they graves were obviously very old, most were covered in moss. There was a church in the middle, St. Cuthbert's, I believe. Yeah, we got a kick out of the name. As it turns out, if you walk around the church, you will find a small, but very fun playground and if you look up, you'll see the castle. Yes, you read that correctly, the two college-aged American tourists found Edinburgh Castle by deciding to explore the native playground equipment. It was about six at night, so the playground was relatively empty. Karina and I started playing on this spinning jungle gym thing and ended up meeting 3 thirteen-year-old boys, who had lots of questions about America, like do you really call it a trash can, do you really call them diapers, and have you ever said, dude, put that diaper in the trash can? They loved hearing about life in the States and all the different words we have for things.
3. Scottish Clotted Cream Fudge: DELICIOUS!
4. Kilts, bagpipes, and mountainous green pastures with more cows and sheep than I'd ever care to keep track of.
5. Irn Bru: It's this brand of soda made only in Scotland and the recipe has apparently been a secret for the past 100 years. It's orange in color and tastes a bit like orange soda with a hint of bubble gum. It's really good, so if you're ever in Scotland buy a bottle. Better yet buy Irn Bru and clotted cream fudge.
While in Edinburgh, we saw The Elephant House, which is where J.K. Rowling wrote part of Harry Potter. We also saw lots of guys in kilts and a little girl playing the bagpipes. If you want to hear some cool bagpipe music, look up the Red Hot Chilli Pipers on itunes. They cover songs like Eye of the Tiger, only with bagpipes. All the souvenir shops had RHCP music playing and it was really sort of catchy.
The train ride itself was pretty cool. I'd never been on a real train before. It's actually quite an effective mode of travel. We spent the first part of our journey in the Quiet Zone car, not by choice, we were just really eager to get on the train and we just so happened to end up in the car where you can't talk at all. I got a good deal of reading done, but it's funny how not being able to talk, even if you have nothing important to say, is an oppressive experience.
In other news...
I think I have an idea for what I want to write for my project for the Creative Writing tutorial. I have my second meeting tomorrow, so once I get the okay for the idea, I'll post more. Let's just say it is something I've wanted to do for a long time and it's nonfiction, not my usual genre.
I turned in my Shakespeare and Sport essay. (I was actually the first one out of the 18 students to turn it in.)
I met my French tutor, the one who speaks 27 languages. For my first essay, I have to read Trois Contes by Flaubert and write an essay about how the author incorpoates religion, exoticism, and morality. The stories are very interesting so far. The main difference I have noticed though is that the textbooks we use back home have footnotes that translate some of the rarer words and this text is in the original French without footnotes, which makes reading it a bit more of a challenge. I am scheduled to present my first essay to her on Friday, so I will keep everyone posted on how it goes.
I joined a creative writing society called The Failed Novelists. We had the first meeting today and I really enjoyed listening to some of the pieces that were presented. I think I will read something of mine next week. The meeting was done in workshop style, namely one person reads something and the other people in the room offer feedback. We do this at Hendrix, so it's nothing new to me, however, I think I fit in better with this crowd than I do with the creative writing community at Hendrix. Some of the writers who presented today were very talented, but the refreshing thing about it was they didn't really realize how good they were. I'm a big fan of humility and so often these types of writers' workshops are filled with college co-eds trying to be edgy. That's not really my style, so I was pleased to find that this group was so welcoming and relaxed. There was no pressure to read anything, or even talk, if you didn't want to, and yet it was one of the most productive writers' workshops I've been to. I'm not sure how I feel about the title Failed Novelists though, but I suppose that really doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things.
I start track practices this week (I think...still a little vague on the details.) I'll keep everyone posted on that as well. Right now it looks like my first meet will be October 24th. It's a freshers meet against Cambridge, so basically freshmen and people like me who are new to the club, get to compete. I'm personally really excited to be part of an Oxford versus Cambridge endeavor. Now if I could only win an event...don't want to jinx myself, but if I did, even if there are only two or three other people in the event, dare I say I'll make a t-shirt to commenorate my achievement.
Next Saturday, I'm planning on taking the train to the Cheltenham Literary Festival. There's a British YA author named Robert Muchamore who will be giving a reading and it's his last one this fall, so I figured I might as well go. The only down side is that it will mean taking a very early morning train. I read the first book in his Cherub series a few years ago, so I'm really looking forward to hearing what he has to say. Who knows maybe I'll even get an autograph.
Well, that's all for now. I anticipate posting again next Sunday, so please check back in. By then I should have had track practice, my first French tutorial, and hopefully will have met one of my favorite authors, so there should be plenty to blog about. As always, if you a not an official follower yet please click the little box on the upper right side of the screen that says "follow." I'd really love some more followers and I promise you won't be bombarded with emails or anything annoying like that.