Sunday, September 27, 2015

Pearly Kings and Queens and The Monument

Hello everyone! Today we went to London and we saw some excellent things. We saw the Pearly Kings and Queens, which are charitable members of this organization who sew buttons and pins onto their shirts and dresses. Today we took part in their harvest festival. There was lots of dancing and music.

After seeing the Pearly Kings and Queens Harvest Festival, we went to see The Monument. The Monument was erected to commemorate The Great Fire of London, which tore through the city in 1666. The Monument was built by Sir Christopher Wren, 202 feet away from where the fire started, which is also it's height. This incredible structure is a Doric Column, with an observation deck over 300 steps up, then a golden flame at the top. From the observation deck, you can see lots of cool London landmarks.

At the top of The Monument, we could see Tower Bridge. Tower Bridge was a bridge built in 1866-1874 to cross the Thames, while not causing any trouble in the Thames. You can go to an exhibition and walk across the raised walkway, which was built to let people walk across when the bridge was lifted.

Remember our post about St. Paul's Cathedral? Well, from the top of The Monument, we could see St. Paul's. St. Paul's Cathedral was started on June 21, 1675.

You can see the Leadenhall Building, or better known as the Cheesegrater to the left, or the one that looks like a cheesegrater. The Pickle is next to the Cheesegrater, and the Walkie Talkie Building is next to the Pickle. Did you know that the Walkie Talkie can melt cars?

I'd have to say that today in London was excellent!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Oxford University

Hey everyone! We've been to some more excellent places, like Oxford University. At Oxford, we took an excellent walking tour around the University. We saw many excellent places, including Radcliffe Camera, a very cool library. It was built for Dr John Radcliffe. Back in the day, libraries had to use candles for light, and that was a danger for books. The Radcliffe Camera, since it is a circle, brings in light from all sides so there won't be any books burning.

During our walking tour, we got to go inside a college inside the University. We went in Queen's College, which was founded in 1341, by Robert de Eglesfield, a chaplain in the household of Queen Philippa. Eglesfield named the college in her honor. Do you know the only two people that can walk on the first quadrangle of a college in Oxford? The answer is the Queen and the gardener.

While we were at Queen's College, we got to go inside the dining hall. In the dining hall, there were many paintings of famous people that attended Queen's College. Behind where the officials of the college sit, there is usually a secret door where they come out.

We walked and saw many other excellent places, and then we had to go have lunch. After, we went into Christ Church, another college in Oxford. Christ Church has a beautiful chapel, and amazing buildings. It was founded by Cardinal Wolsey as Cardinal's College in 1524.

Recognize where this picture is? If you've seen Harry Potter, you might. It is the dining hall in Hogwarts! Did you know that the movie makers of Harry Potter flooded the bottom of Chtist Church for the scene where Pr. McGonagall greets the first years?

All in all I'm going to have to say that Oxford was excellent!

Hadrian's Wall

Last week we had an amazing time hiking Hadrian's Wall. Hadrian's Wall is a wall built by Emperor Hadrian (surprise, surprise) of Rome. Construction began on this wall in the Roman Province of Britannia in 122 A.D. 
Hadrian's Wall is approximately 70 miles long. In some places the wall gets up to 20 feet wide and 20 feet high! Did you know there is a large fort about every 5 miles and a milecastle about every mile? (the Romans are full of surprises). The picture below is of a milecastle's ruins. 
 Along the wall there are always cliffs, lakes, or ditches, which the Romans purposely built the wall along to help keep out the Scots. These features did not help us though. The whole hike was extremely hilly and mountainous! We climbed the equivalent of almost 100 flights of steps in total! It was incredible to be walking where Roman Soldiers walked almost 2000 years ago. If you were a Roman soldier, it would be very hard to walk along the wall, because Roman soldiers had to carry and wear over 60 pounds of equipment.
 Along Hadrian's Wall and other people's property barrier walls, there were many ways to get over including steps, ladders, and stiles. We probably crossed over walls in one of these ways about 30 times over the course of our hike!

Towards the end our hike, we passed through a couple of fields with very large animals in them. Including this one, filled with rams with huge horns, right off the trail.
The 15 mile hike we did may have been hard, but it sure was worth it to see the views, history, and have an excellent time!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Blenheim Palace

Hi everyone! This week we went to somewhere really cool, Blenheim Palace! Blenheim Palace has been the home of the Duke of Marlborough since it was opened in 1722, so pretty new compared to most other things we've seen. Blenheim Palace was built to reward John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough, for his military triumph at the Battle of Blenheim, in 1705. By the time of the ninth Duke of Marlborough, the family was running out of money. So the ninth Duke married Consuelo Vanderbilt, heiress of the Vanderbilt railroad fortune, problem solved. Up until this day, there have been 12 Dukes or Duchesses of Marlborough.
 Did you know that Sir Winston Churchill was related to the Duke of Marlborough's family? Sir Winston Churchill was born at Blenheim, 2 months premature, during a ball. I bet that's a funny story to tell at banquets. For most of his childhood, Winston lived at Blenheim with his Grandmother. When he was a child, Winston's passion for art flowered and he drew the setting around Blenheim. As Winston Churchill grew older, he did many great things such as fighting in World War I, becoming Prime Minister, playing a major role in ending World War II, leading Britain through a time of great hardship, before, after, and during World War II, and being Knighted. Also, I bet you didn't know that President John F. Kennedy offered Sir Winston Churchill an Honorary Citizenship for the U.S.A, and Churchill accepted.
Behind Blenheim Palace there is a beautiful garden that we visited. This garden has many beautiful fountains, flowers, and hedges. But this is only a small part of Blenheim's 2000 acres of gardens, forests, and parkland. The area surrounding Blenheim was designed by landscape architect Capibility Brown.
 About half of a mile away from the palace, there is a large monument called the Victory Column. The Victory Column is dedicated to the First Duke of Marlborough, and his victory at the Battle of Blenheim, which took place where the column stands. The Battle of Blenheim was a major victory in the War of Spanish Succession, in 1704, against the Franco-Bavarian army.