Yesterday I continued my crusade of going to every British cathedral as I stated here. This time, it was a trip to Chichester and the cathedral there.
Chichester is another one of those UK cities which is about the size of a small town yet has historical significance due to the cathedral. It’s about an hour away from Hampshire and much like Winchester the city is very compact and old. It’s very easy to get to the centre from the train station and the cathedral is impossible to miss.
The cathedral was founded in 1057 and was the second one built for Chichester, the first one being built in 681. It is the only medieval English cathedral which can be seen from the coastline and the entire population of Chichester can fit inside it. It is full of modern art and bizarre artwork, which I found quite interesting. My favourite part of the cathedral was a section which had a giant picture of all the English kings and queens up until Charles I. Some of them such as Richard III and William the Conqueror had vanished. I was told by a guide that no one knows how the pictures vanished- they could have been destroyed when the spire collapsed in 1861 or they could have been shot out by Roundheads during the Civil War. Edward VI’s portrait was used as target practice, which is a bit unfair I say. If any king deserved it, it was King John.
The UK is a weird place. There are cities in this country that are about the size of a small town and large city sized towns which are not cities. Why is this? Well, city status in the UK relies on a few things. It helps if there’s a big cathedral in the area. There are many cathedral cities in the country- some are in big cities, others in small ones. I’ve only been to 6, but I hope to one day visit more- in particular, Canterbury Cathedral, where Thomas Beckett was assassinated in 1120 after disputes with Henry II and Leicester Cathedral, where Richard III is buried. But for now, here are the cathedrals I’ve visited-
This cathedral is about 15 minutes away from where I live. I have been to Winchester countless times and the cathedral is one of the most impressive aspects of the city. The city is historically important as it was the capital of Wessex, one of the ancient kingdoms of what’s now known as England. King Alfred ruled Wessex from Winchester and his statue is still in the city. Winchester Cathedral is one of the largest in Europe, with the longest nave in Europe and it’s the burial place of Jane Austen. It also contains the bones of King William II, who was shot and killed in the New Forest and who was taken to Winchester Cathedral but never buried. There’s so much history behind the cathedral and it’s a very impressive sight, and I’m not just saying that out of bias. Next to the cathedral is Wolvesey Castle, a ruined castle which was the sight of a battle in the 12th century between Stephen and Matilda during the Anarchy.
I visited this cathedral during my trip to Cornwall last year. It is one of the only cathedrals in the UK to have three spires and the first Bishop of Truro became Archbishop of Canterbury. When it was completed in 1910, it was the first cathedral to be built on new ground since Salisbury. The organ of the cathedral is often considered one of the best in the country. Truro itself is a very small, but interesting city. It’s the southermost city in the country and has a wide variety of shops and attractions. It’s got a great museum detailing the history of Cornwall. I recommend visiting Cornwall as it is a very interesting area of the country.
Another very large and very important cathedral, with the tallest spire in the UK and the largest cloister. It also has one of the four remaining copies of the original Magna Carta from 1215. The cathedral has been around since 1258 and has historical importance. When I visited there a few days ago, I learnt that the cathedral was built on marshland and the water from the marsh can be reached with a stick in a hole in the cathedral. The Magna Carta is one of the most important documents in the world, as it has been called the foundation of democracy. It was written by the barons of the country to control King John, who they believed had gone out of control. It was signed in 1215 in Runneymede (which I visited earlier this year) and some of the clauses of Magna Carta still exist, such as the freedom of the City of London (different from London. It’s complicated) and the right for anyone to have a free and fair trial. The copy of the Magna Carta is held in the Chapter House of Salisbury Cathedral.
You all know this one. One of London’s most famous landmarks, St Paul’s is an icon of Britain and survived the Blitz. It has been around for over 300 years and even to this day buildings in London have to be built so the view of St Paul’s isn’t blocked. The original St Paul’s was destroyed in 1666 during the Great Fire of London and got rebuilt with the iconic dome structure afterwards by Christopher Wren. One of the most famous parts of St Paul’s is the Whispering Gallery, where any noise made against the wall can be heard at any other point around the gallery. If you visit London, visit St Paul’s Cathedral as it is well worth a visit. Doctor Who fans like myself will obviously recognise St Paul’s as the location of two Cybermen invasions in 1968 and 2014.
I went to Sheffield very recently as part of my holiday to the Peak District. My first taste of Yorkshire was very good and I thoroughly enjoyed my visit there. The modern cathedral is a combination of many different time periods, with the oldest part being from the 13th century. The cathedral was large and very interesting and the city itself was very different to what I expected. It went through a major regeneration so there are lots of incredibly new areas and pieces of modern art. The Winter Garden, which is full of plants all around the world, was a highlight. There was also an indoor market that reminded me of the Fremantle markets in Australia. In conclusion, this was a great day trip, and the cathedral was a prominent part of that.
We visited Lichfield on the way back from the Peak District. We needed somewhere to stop and rest so Lichfield it was. This is another cathedral city where the city itself is very small, much like Winchester. The cathedral is huge and looks awesome. There’s statues of various kings and bishops on the ledges of the building and it’s the only cathedral built in medieval times with three spires. During the English Civil War, the cathedral was heavily damaged by several sieges on both sides, which resulted in the stained glass, roof and spires being destroyed. A major restoration project took place in the 19th century to rebuild the cathedral. The buildings around the cathedral are known as the Cathedral Close and are some of the most complete in the country. This trip was a pleasant surprise.
That’s only 6 cathedrals compared to the many, many cathedrals scattered around the country. Most of these cathedrals are ancient and stand as a reminder of the history of the country. I love visiting new places and exploring the history of this country through cathedrals and other areas is always a highlight of trips.
I haven’t written in a while, but a part of that is because I’ve been on a holiday to Iceland. It was a very eye opening and interesting holiday and I learnt a lot about the Icelandic culture, which has helped my passion for Norse history and mythology.
We arrived on Friday and spent most of the day relaxing in the hotel as we were all very tired, however in the evening we explored the capital Reykjavik. I say evening but even at 10 PM it was still very bright outside, as the Arctic sun meant that the days were really long and the nights were incredibly short. The hotel room had double curtains so it would seem dark at night.
Reykjavik is an interesting city. It has about a third of the population of Iceland but still only has a population about the size of Eastleigh. The city is extremely spread out with the longest shopping street I’ve ever been on. The city is completely surrounded by a giant mountain, which blocked out the wind and made the city quite warm. Our hotel was on the outskirts of the city centre and was near a shopping mall, which is apparently the largest in Iceland. There was a shuttle bus into the city centre everyday, which was dominated by a church, Hallgrimskirkja, which we went inside to explore.
The church is the tallest building in Reykjavik and has a very impressive tower which can be seen across the city. The shops are also really impressive, with a mixture of tourist and local shops. What was confusing however, was the currency. I don’t know whether things are naturally more expensive in Iceland or whether Brexit has completely destroyed the exchange rate, but everything is really expensive. 5000 krona is about £30. The coins themselves are awesome, with crabs and fish representing heads and the coat of arms representing tails.
The first major trip out was whale watching in the harbour on Sunday. While I couldn’t get any pictures of the whales, I did see three humpback whales diving and a few minke whales as well. There were plenty of puffins flying by too, but they were too fast to take pictures of. The trip was very tiring but worth it, as I got to see animals in their natural habitat, which my David Attenborough obsessed brain appreciated.
Monday was a bank holiday so we didn’t go on any huge day trips. Instead we explored the museums around Reykjavik. The Saga Museum was the museum about Vikings, with stories about the formation of Iceland. Legend says that the first guy who discovered Iceland sent out three ravens on his ship from the Shetland Islands to see if there was any land ahead. One flew back to the Shetlands, the other flew back to the boat but the third flew on ahead, indicating there was land ahead. My favourite guy was a priest who had leg impediments so travelled around in a wheelbarrow. Now that’s awesome! There was also a lot of focus on Eric the Red, who discovered Greenland and named it Greenland to attract people there, even if it was anything but green.
The other museum we visited was the Whales of Iceland museum.. The museum had life sized models of all the whales of Iceland (hence the name) with a really awesome blue whale right in the centre. My favourite whale/dolphin, the killer whale, is also there. We also saw the square shaped concert hall.
Tuesday was the first of three day trips out to see the landscapes. We went on the Golden Circle tour to explore the waterfalls and geysers. We saw the pipeline running through the mountains to Reykjavik, which powers the city with geo-thermal energy. The mountains are really impressive, and I see no reason why Doctor Who hasn’t filmed in Iceland yet. Seriously, Iceland is perfect for Peladon.
The waterfall Gullfoss was the most impressive part of the day. It was absolutely stunning to look at and it really needs to be seen to be believed. It’s great to see something completely natural in the modern day world.
The next part of the trip was visiting the geyser called Geysir. The whole area smelt of sulphur but the smell was worth it because of the sights of the geyser erupting. Sadly, the geyser erupted too quickly for me to take any photos.
The following day was the glacier tour. This was the longest day but it was really worth it. The glacier, Langjokull, is huge and the second largest in Europe, with the largest also in Iceland. Inside the glacier were lots of ice caves. I learnt about the way glaciers are formed and I saw the ash that separated the layers from before the Eyjafjallajökull eruption took place in 2010. The tour guides had a lot of fun mocking the newcasters from around the world for mispronouncing Eyjafjallajökull during the week.
The glacier tour had fascinating views and icicles in the caves. It was a tiring journey but it was really worth it to see the glacier in full. I was really impressed with how the glacier tunnels were created for the tour.
The final day was another long trip to explore the inside of Thrihnukagigur, a dormant volcano. There was a long hike across the lava fields and incredibly impressive views of the city when we got to the top of the volcano. Before we got to the inside of the volcano, we had a seven minute journey down in a lift where we could see the strange looking formations inside. The bottom of the volcano was vast and the magma chamber was breathtaking to see, although my phone couldn’t take the full scale of the chamber so the pictures seem quite unimpressive. I also learnt that the lava fields and caves were used by bandits in the Viking times to hide out in the wilderness, as one form of punishment at the time was exile. Unfortunately, this was our final day.
So overall, my trip to Iceland was absolutely amazing. I learnt so much about Nordic history and experiencing new culture is always good. This will be a trip I will remember for a long time.
So. This happened. Britain has left the EU. As a 15 year old, I am neutral in all this but the reaction has understandably been… interesting. David Cameron’s resigned, Scotland want independence again (and both Northern Ireland and London, yes, London, has threatened independence as well), there’s a petition for a second referendum, there’s a petition to give 14-17 year olds (aka, the people this vote will affect the most) a chance to vote, which I have signed, the pound has plummeted, Boris Johnson or Micheal Gove (GOVE!!!) could be our new Prime Minister, everyone outside of Britain is completly baffled by the whole business, everyone inside of Britain either loves or hates it and the whole thing, to be very British about it, is complete shambles.
But, let’s try and keep a level head here. Let’s dig into the the different reactions-
If you voted to Leave, then you’re fine. You got what you wanted and everything’s cool. Again, I couldn’t vote so I won’t say if I supported Leave or Remain.
It’s the end of the world. Everything’s turning upside down and you need to find something constructive out of this. If it helps, this result will make UKIP redundant, as their sole aim was to leave the EU. Now that’s happened, there’s no need for them.
You want to wait and see what happens before panicking
You’re neither happy or sad, just cautious. This could be good or bad, but you don’t want to pass judgement just yet. You’re just interested to see what happens and whether you should be concerned.
You don’t care
You either didn’t mind either way, or don’t live in this country and are finding all of this hilarious. I’ve learned how many people didn’t care what happened and voted Leave because they weren’t sure, and now they’re regretting it. Which leads me onto-
You regret your choice or you know someone who has
This has actually been the reaction of many people. As I’ve mentioned, some people voted Leave because they didn’t think it would happen and their vote wouldn’t amount too much. Which kind of misses the point of voting.
You’ve already booked your one way ticket to another country
You’ve had enough of Cameron/Corbyn/Osborne/Johnson/Gove/Farage/insert any MP you don’t like here and have decided to move out of the country to somewhere nice. There are jokes by Americans that they will move to Canada in the case of President Trump, but there’s no harm in us going there as well.
And those were the various reactions I’ve seen regarding Brexit. Regardless of where you stand on the matter, it’s important to be British about it and to keep calm and carry on, no matter what happens.
Every country has a series of sterotypes and cliches associated with them, so today I’ll dissect a few surrounding the UK. Let’s dive into the land of James Bond, Shakespeare and good comedy-
Cliche: All British people live in London
Truth: The majority of British people live all around the country. Yes, London is the biggest city in the country and is the capital city, but out of the UK’s population of roughly 65 million, only about 8 million reside in London. While that’s larger than any other city in the country by far, the fact is that London is not the only place in the UK where people live.
When the UK is shown in film, it usually has London first and foremost and pictures London as the only interesting or populated place in the country. The rest of the country either doesn’t exist or is a giant field full of quaint villages with Stonehenge in the middle.
In reality, the majority of people live in large cities with plenty of towns and suburbs surrounding them. Other major cities in the country include Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Nottingham, Sheffield, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Bristol, Belfast, Portsmouth and Southampton, which is the major city I’m closest too (I live in Chandler’s Ford, a place so unknown and dull barely anyone who lives in the country has heard of it, let alone people from abroad).
Cliche: Everyone loves tea and eats in pubs
Truth: Well, I don’t and I’m British. Though tea is a phenomenon here, not absolutely everyone is drinking tea 24/7. Other beverages do exist here, such as water, coffee and Coke.
Pubs, like tea, are very prominent, but restaurants and fast food chains are just as common. Pubs are for sitting down, eating an expensive meal and talking for a long time. A seriously long time. Most food in the UK is multi-cultural- my favourite foods come from Italy and Japan. I also adore Swedish meatballs. The British foods such as fish and chips are very commonplace and that cliche is true (though I personally prefer chicken nuggets).
Cliche: It rains all the time
Truth: Yeah, this is true. We actually have many words for rain. There’s drizzling, spitting, pouring, raining cats and dogs and pelting. To be perfectly honest the weather isn’t just rain, however it is very inconsistent. One second it’s pouring with rain, the next second it’s bright and sunny. When the weather is good, it is superb, but the constant rain is true.
On the plus side, recently the weather has behaved, so hopefully we won’t get another downpour anytime soon.
Cliche: Everyone speaks like Stephen Fry, Benedict Cumberbatch or the Queen
To most people, the English accent is the one used by the Queen or high calibre actors, which has led to the assumption that everyone in the UK is posh. While the accent used by the Queen is very common down here in the South (it’s called Received Pronunciation) the country is very diverse in the dialects. Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish accents are very different in their own right, with different dialects of their own. In England there’s the Cockney accent, the West Country accent, the Yorkshire accent and the Scouse accent to name a few. Practically every county has a different dialect.
The reason Received Pronunciation is the most well known dialect is because whenever a British person appears in Hollywood, they usually use Received Pronunciation. Most villains of course have RP as most villains are British, including Loki, Magneto and Count Dooku. It makes them sound sophisticated and charming, so their evil deeds are intensified.
So those were four British cliches explained. There are a lot more I’m sure but these are four that seem to be the most common. Hopefully I have debunked several cliches surrounding the UK.
This week, I had a holiday in Cornwall. It was a great and unique experience which I really enjoyed. Cornwall is a very interesting place with some complex history linking back to the Celts, and I loved learning about it and experiencing Cornish life.
We stayed in a B&B near Par, a small village near the largest town, St Austell. On the first evening, the village seemed pretty lifeless and quite deserted, with no nightlife to speak of. This was probably because it was early evening when we arrived. We never spent much time in Par, as we went to other towns around Cornwall. Continue reading “My Cornish holiday”→
This weekend I got back from a school trip to Ypres in Belgium. It was a very tiring two days but it was well worth it to explore a different country and culture. I was there for a history trip to look at the history of Ypres and its importance in WWI. It was a very insightful trip into how the war’s legacy has affected the country.
The first trip was to Tyne Cot Cemetery, the largest Commonwealth cemetery in the world. Literally hundreds of graves from British, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand soldiers were there, with different countries marking the graves differently. Hundreds more names were on the walls. The whole area is massive and it truly shows the scale of the fighting and how many people died.
Another highlight of the trip was the gigantic Menin Gate in the centre of Ypres. This was unveiled in 1927 and a daily service of remembrance takes place there every single night. The Gate also has a giant garden of sorts to the side where there are even more names on the side. The inside of the gate is full of names of people who were missing in battle or unidentified after the war. We attended the service of remembrance and there were hundreds of people there. It’s astonishing how the ceremony has survived since the 20s and it truly shows how much the war affected Belgium.
The following day we went to a chocolate shop, so naturally I was eager to get a hold of a lot of it. I got two bags of marzipan, two white chocolate bars (white chocolate is the best, no question) and a bag of marshmallows. Belgium chocolate is out of this world, in fact Belgian food is great all round. I had a pancake and a hot dog for lunch, both of which were excellent. For dinner on the first night I had chicken, which was delicious and very filling.
The In Flanders Fields museum was very informative and engaging. It told the whole story of Belgium’s involvement in the war, from before 1914 to the aftermath. There were hundreds of items from British, French, German and American soldiers and items from the battlefield. There was also an interactive wristband which contained a story about someone linked with the war. The museum is huge and has lots of information and models.
The final part of the trip was exploring a real life trench. It was very muddy but I had good boots so fortunately I didn’t get muddy. It must have been chaotic in the trenches during the fighting, and I’m glad the weather was decent when I walked in the trench!
Overall, this was a fantastic trip. I loved visiting Belgium (and a bit of France) and seeing the history behind the war was eye-opening. It improved my awareness of the war, and I’m now more aware of the global impact of the war. While seeing lots of Australian graves, I was reminded of the exhibits which I saw last summer in the Western Australian Museum in Perth. Many Australians died in the war and the graves in Tyne Cot showed respect to them and the whole Commonwealth.
I can’t wait for my history trip to Berlin next year.
This half term I went to Southampton and the SeaCity Museum. The museum is mostly about the Titanic, but there are other areas worth visiting. I’ve been to the museum twice now, and there were new things I noticed the second time I went there. So here I’m going to go through why the SeaCity Museum is worth a visit.
Now I’m back in England, after 5 weeks of revisiting old places, visiting new places and going to a new country. Of course there are things to look forward to back home: Doctor Who, a bunch of awesome films, and the return of normality.
On Saturday, I went to Pulau Ubin, off the coast of Singapore. The island is almost entirely forest, and the only people there lived in traditional kampungs, which were once the main style of house in Singapore. The villages are very old fashioned and the people rent bikes to travellers.