Spring Daze

For those of you who were wondering, finals are over.  I think I did alright, but I really don’t know how they’ll be graded.  There’s also the whole problem that when I feel like I did well, success and failure are equally likely.  We’ll see on July 6th!  I just keep reminding myself that I just have to pass all my classes, since my grades won’t count.  I should have at least passed!

At the moment, I’m getting ready for a trip to Cardiff with Maria.  We have two full days to explore the city and do the Doctor Who Experience, which should be pretty cool.  Once I get back from that, I’ll meet my parents in Edinburgh and we’ll go to St Andrews for a whirlwind 2 days of packing, touring, and goodbyes before moving on to Stirling, Edinburgh, and then spend some time in England.  So at this point, I won’t be back to the States until June 8.  See you all then!


Since St Andrews gives students 2 weeks off of classes to revise (study) for exams, I spent 6 days of those 2 weeks visiting Kenedy in Budapest.  I’ve wanted to go to Hungary, since that’s where my great grandma was from, so this was a perfect combination of circumstances!  I arrived on the last Thursday in April, which happened to coincide with some of the first times the temperature had gotten around 80˚.  Needless to say, coming from mild 55˚ Scotland, I was kind of attacked by heat.  We stopped for lunch at a street vendor and had langos, or fried bread, with sour cream, onions, and kielbasa.  After dropping my stuff at his apartment, we went to Hero’s Square, where famous Hungarian leaders are immortalized in statue form.  The central figures are the 7 Magyar princes who came from the east and founded Hungary, and the curving wall behind them has all the Hungarian kings.  Then we walked through the park, seeing a beer bike that had stopped to allow the peddlers to refil from the keg and some topless sunbathers.  It was certainly a “welcome to Europe” experience!

Friday we saw more of the city and brought Kenedy’s friend and roommate Brian with us.  Lunch was falafal from a street vender, which was absolutely fantastic.  Then starting on the Pest side, where Kenedy’s been living, we walked past parliament (which unfortunately was surrounded by scaffolding and construction) and saw the flag that had the communist symbols cut out of it.  We also saw where the 1957 student revolution took place and the balls that have been affixed to the wall everywhere the bullets hit them.  There were so many…  After a brief ice cream stop, since it was just as hot as the previous day, we walked along the Danube and crossed it to get to the Buda side to see Buda castle.  We didn’t go in the castle itself, but after wandering the grounds a bit and practicing our archery and spear throwing skills, we went to the museum and explored that.  There were also the ruins of the medieval castle underneath, and we wandered that for a bit.  The gardens of the medieval castle must have been spectacular!  We ate at a vegan restaurant on our way back that night.  The vegan goulash was fantastic, and so was the coffee – espresso with corn starch instead of milk.

Saturday the three of us headed back to the Buda side, this time in search of Roman ruins.  After hunting within about a one mile radius and only finding an amphetheatre taken over by grass and sketchy Chinese food, we eventually got directions to the place.  We didn’t spend much time in the inside museum part, instead wandering around the ruins.  There was a replica of what a house might have looked like, but otherwise everything was just sitting there with grass and rocks, even a few trees, and no one to tell you where to walk and what pathways to stick to.  We were literally walking on Roman walls.  It was absolutely incredible.

Sunday, the three of us went on a day trip to Lake Balaton.  We went to the tourist town of Balatonfüred on the north bank.  When I say tourist town, I mean “tourist town for Hungarians and Germans.”  No one we encountered spoke English; thankfully, Kenedy has enough rudimentary Hungarian and Brian has enough rudimentary German that we had no real issues.  The town is known for its vineyard hikes (Hungary is famous for wine, apparently), but we couldn’t actually find any.  Instead we just did a random hike through some neighborhoods and across a hill.  After a bit more of a walk and a picnic lunch, we went to try and find a beach on the lake.  This proved nearly impossible.  Since it was Sunday, we could gain access to the beaches for free.  But just about every sandy area was closed off for final preparations for the main tourist season, which hadn’t started yet.  Also, our goal had been to swim, but no one was in the water unless they were on a boat.  Finally, we asked a woman working one of the food stands where the swimming was, and after pointing at the place we’d come from we decided to hop the construction tape and go in.  The water was pretty muddy, but not too cold.  However, just when we were enjoying ourselves and swimming out a little, Brian made contact with what he thought was a jellyfish.  Knowing that jellyfish could be bad and not knowing whether any were actually in the lake, I got out as fast as possible, and the others followed.  The guys decided to see who could throw a rock in the farthest at this point, when suddenly we noticed movement near shore – we were being followed by a snake!  Needless to say, we got out of the area completely and went to the food stand for a beer to recouperate.  We headed back to Budapest soon after, and Kenedy and I went to a slightly touristy restaurant for dinner because they had chicken paprikas.  It was good, partly because by the time we got there and got our food we were both starving, but it was touristy and wasn’t Novak’s.

Monday was the last full day I had, so Kenedy and I spent the day exploring on the Buda side again.  We went to a church inside a cave, which was pretty cool.  Hungary is a very Catholic country, despite the communists’ best attempts to close down the churches (including the cave church).  I was wearing a tank top, since the weather was still hot, and I had to cover up with a shawl.  I felt less bad about not coming properly attired when a group of middle aged women came in after us, also wearing the loaner shawls.  The church itself was very pretty.  There were also videos telling the history of the church, the most spectacular of which included a sombre choral version of Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars.”  I don’t know if anyone’s tried to tell them the song isn’t sacred or spiritual at all.  After that, Kenedy and I attempted to hold in our laughter and started exploring the hill the cave church is in.  Budapest is a gorgeous city, particularly the Buda side, and there were lots of trees and lilac bushes, as well as some spectacular views of the city.  The top of the hill has a liberty statue, built to commemorate Hungarian soldiers.  Apparently, some want to tear it down because it was constructed under communism, so if/when we ever go back it might not be there.  After that, we decided to walk to Buda castle and find food in that area, which proved to be a long, hot ordeal.  By the time we got food, we were both pretty exhausted, so after seeing the outside of St Stephen’s Cathedral on the Pest side we headed back to the apartment.

All in all, Hungary was a fantastic place to visit.  It’s got so much fascinating history!  It was also an interesting contrast to St Andrews.  I went from a posh place with medieval architecture, expensive cars, and more golf courses than anyone could possibly know what to do with to a place where the buses aren’t freshly painted, there’s cheap and delicious street food all over, even the nice apartments were obviously built under the communist regime, and numerous brightly colored playgrounds are scattered all over.  I’m really glad I got the chance to explore the side streets, suburbs, and local tourists haunts instead of just seeing the super touristy downtown area.  I’d love to go back and explore more of the country.

Time for a rant…

I should be revising for finals.  Instead, I’d like to take this opportunity to reach some non-Millenials and counter Time Magazine’s opinion that we’re narcissistic, lazy, and (from what I can gather from their tone) all around annoying.  For an understanding of why I’m upset, check out this link: http://nation.time.com/2013/05/09/quiz-how-millennial-are-you/?iid=us-main-lead  In case you were wondering, I’m only 40% Millennial.  I’m still slightly respectable.

Firstly, I can agree that some Millennials are annoying.  This isn’t because we were born in a time when people were/are poised to grow up to be annoying.  This is simply because some people, no matter their age, are annoying.  We’ve all dealt with the type of person who would take selfies with their cupcakes and caption it “OMG YOLO!”  Some people just didn’t have the internet when they were young to perpetrate this behavior.  But annoying as this is, does it warrant the front page of Time?  Is having a penchant for taking selfies with cupcakes really any more narcissistic than thinking you’re entitled to keep the senate seat you’ve held for years, or write an article criticizing an entire generation?

Yes, some members of our generation do have narcissistic tendencies.  But I also have to laugh at the post going around the internet with self portraits of famous artists captioned with something like “Never feel bad for taking a selfie.”  There is a slight point to that.  People have been fascinated by how they look for years.  Taking pictures of ourselves isn’t spending hours staring at a mirror and then painting ourself using potentially expensive resources.  Then there’s also the problem that it’s somewhat expected of our generation.  I and others I know have to consciously remember to take pictures of ourselves during our travels.  We may think the landscape is more interesting, but our family and friends would complain if we went somewhere and didn’t appear in at least one picture.

I also feel in a way that we’re narcissistic if we think we can get a good job straight out of college.  If a person thinks they’re good enough to get out of four years of college and go straight into a job that has a middle class or higher starting salary, that person is full of themself.  But if a person graduates and then can’t find a job in their chosen field, they’re lazy.  A miminum wage job won’t be enough for us to pay back student loans and still afford rent, food, and the professional clothing to get us a better job.  So people move back in with their parents.  They don’t get married as soon.  Or if they do, children are delayed in the hope that one day a couple’s income will be stable enough to properly support a child.  I refer you to this article if you doubt me.  http://eon.businesswire.com/news/eon/20130509005199/en/AICPA-Survey-Reveals-Effects-Regrets-Student-Loan  It’s not that we “think paying your own rent is overrated.”  It’s that we don’t know that we can afford to.

There’s another issue I have with the label “lazy” for our generation.  A typical US college student has AT LEAST two 6-12 footnoted papers per class per term or two major tests.  Sometimes both.  The page count on essays can be higher or lower, depending on whether the class is lower or upper division.  This is on top of roughly 50-100 pages of reading per class per night, or an hour or two’s worth of translations, or lab time which may or may not be granted credit.  Then the majority of students I know are working quarter to part time on top of all that schoolwork in order to pay for groceries, car insurance, gas, fun activities, tuition.  When I’m at PLU, on average I have 2 or so evenings when I’m not working or doing homework and one full day off on the weekend.  So when I go home and lounge around, it’s because for the majority of the year I can’t do that.  It’s enough to make me want a 9-5 job so I have more time to myself!

Millennials may have vaguely narcissistic tendencies, like people of all generations.  We may appear lazy as we text, tweet, instagram, eat cupcakes, and do yoga.  But maybe if the other generations actually took a moment to realize that we’re putting ourselves through a fair amount of work and stress in order to attempt to get jobs we don’t even know will exist, they’d understand that we’re not lazy.  At least some of us are, on some level, terrified.  And on that note, time to drown my sorrows in the chocolate marshmallow cupcake my friend gave me for editing her 6 page paper.  YOLO! =P


Our last trip with IFSA-Butler was to the Isle of Skye, which is fantastically gorgeous.  We drove all the way across the country between breakfast and dinner, including a couple stops for food and a stop at Culloden.  I was excited to finally see the site of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s last battle, since I had looked at it in my 16 page research paper for my pre-capstone class.  It was overwhelming and underwhelming at the same time.  It looks so quiet and peaceful at first glance.  But then you notice the flags marking the lines, and how close they were, and realize that the entire battlefield was flat – yet Scottish battle tactics included running down a hill at full speed.  Just from the layout of the land, it was clear that the Scots really did have no chance.  There are various grave markers scattered about for various clans, and a large memorial in the middle between the two lines.  There’s also a cabin still on site; we didn’t have time to examine it, but I’m fairly certain it was standing there in 1749.

After driving through the beautiful highland scenery a little longer, we arrived at our hostel in Broadford.  After dinner, we walked along the shore a little bit.  The next day, we spent the morning at the clan Donald center.  The grounds were gorgeous and had ruins as well as a fair number of plants.  After learning a bit about Donald history, we split up for the afternoon’s activities.  We grabbed a quick lunch and then headed for the Old Man of Storr, a huge rock balanced on a cliff.

By the time we’d gotten there, the wind had really picked up.  Bundled as much as we could be and hats tied on, we set off up the mountain, feeling like the Fellowship delivering the Ring to Mount Doom.  Of course, as we climbed, the views got better while the winds got worse.  There were points when we had to brace ourselves because we legitimately thought we would get blown off the side of the cliff.  By the time we reached the rock, crowded with our fellow JSAs, even sitting down we felt like we were going to get blown off.  Soon after we got there, we actually all had to go back down again because the winds were too strong.  After an interesting climb down, we made it to the busses just in time for the rain to start.

After the climb, we had about an hour in Portree, the largest town on Skye.  We spent nearly all of it warming up in a cafe.  Our next stop was at the Fairy River.  Legend says that if you bathe your face (or anything, really) in it, you’ll have eternal youthful good looks.  My dowry definitely went up by a goat.  (see howmanygoats.com)  Then it was back to Broadford for dinner and an intense Scrabble game while some of the more annoying people studying abroad decided to play loud drinking games late into the night.

We left Skye the next day, Sunday.  We stopped at Eilean Donan castle for pictures, then continued on to Glencoe, where the famous massacre occurred and the movies Promethius and Skyfall were filmed.  It was cold and gorgeous.  After our lunch stop, we were able to watch Skyfall on the bus, and that ended just as we got back to St Andrews.  


My friends and I decided that a couple days in York would be a fun adventure, so we did a sleepover on a Thursday night in April and then got up around 5 to catch the 6:30 am train to the northern English city.  We got in just in time to drop our things at the boutique hostel and have an early lunch.  Our first stop was Jorvik, the Viking center, which was totally awesome.  It starts with the foundations of a Viking house and a 1,000 year old wall, and then takes you on a ride (complete with smells) through a replica of what York might have looked like when the Vikings who lived there called it Jorvik.

After Jorvik, we did a much-needed coffee stop before going to Clifford’s Tower.  This is all that remains of the Norman castle that was once there and has some nice views of the city.  Next we went to the Castle Museum.  Now naturally, we expected it to be about the castle.  It wasn’t.  We entered with an exhibit on Victorian England, passed through it to a toys through the ages exhibit, went on to a section on birth, marriage, and death from Victorian England to the present, visited a Victorian street, saw a kitchen exhibit, and finally a farm exhibit before we had to exit that building.  In the courtyard there were a couple cardboard cutouts and stocks and whatnot that people could take pictures in.  Then we went to the next entrance, which was the 1960’s!  The Beatles, a US space capsule, the theme song to major British TV shows from the 60s… in the meantime, we were extremely confused as to what was going on, because this was not coherent at all.  Plus somewhere around the toy exhibit we had picked up this museum worker who seemed to be following us, because every exhibit we went into he was there!  We seemed to ditch him after the random fashion exhibit, luckily.  Finally we got to the dungeon exhibit.  This was the closest we came to learning anything about York castle.  All in all, we came out of there confused as to what we had just witnessed!

Since it was too early for dinner, we wandered about in an attempt to find the Brass Rubbing Center.  That failed, however.  We decided on Pad Thai for dinner at this nice little restaurant.  Since we all wanted the same thing, my friend Laura ordered for all of us.  With the most fantastic non-judgement of food consumption in the world, after taking Laura’s order for 4 chicken pad thais she asked the rest of us what we wanted!  We were all tired, so that night we all just chilled in the hostel watching Glee or Arrested Development and eating grocery store cake.

The next day, we decided to start by walking the Roman wall that once encircled the city.  It was a gorgeous day for it, and we had some nice views, including of the York eye.  Why York thought they needed an Eye like London’s I really don’t understand; it’s not even on the river!  At any rate, this is about where my camera unfortunately ran out of batteries.  We got off the wall shortly after to explore the ruins of an abbey, and then decided to go into the museum.  This one was about extinct animals and the Roman/medieval history of York.  We decided to have lunch at Pizza Express, the UK equivalent to Olive Garden, and I tried egg on pizza.  Not bad, but not my fave either.  Then to York Minster, where we paid extra to climb the tower.  We were incredibly lucky, because we got to see the central area before it was closed off for a wedding.  The cathedral is gorgeous, and will be even more so once they’ve finished refurbishing all the stained glass.  Then the over 200 stair hike to the top for some incredible views of the surrounding area.  The staircase was narrow and steep, and on the way down we had the excitment of running into some pigeons that had wandered up it.

After York Minster, we still had some time to kill before our train back, so we wandered town and found a Roman bath house.  It was somewhat small and a pub had been built on top of it, but the guy at the desk was very nice and there was some fun dress up stuff we took advantage of.  I should also mention that York is apparently a wedding destination, so there were numerous hen (bachelorette) parties wandering drunkenly all over town from about 2 pm on.  After watching one of these drunken women attempt to dance with the guy dressed up as the Yellow Transformer, we had to go back and catch our train back to Scotland.

London (Without) Fog

Sarah, Kenedy, and I left Oxford early to get into London, coming in to King’s Cross via Paddington on the Underground.  The first thing we did was purchase our Oyster cards, which were 150th anniversary of the Underground edition.  We soon headed up to the train station itself for pictures at Platform 9 3/4.  It’s changed since I was there before.  In 2008, it was an empty cart with a sign over it in the wall.  Today, it’s got an orderly queue for a full cart with attendants giving scarves out and taking pictures, which you can purchase in the shop nearby that has a myriad of other Harry Potter related merchandise.  Luckily, you can still take your own picture, so we didn’t have to pay for the professional version (since ours were just as good, if I do say so myself.)

Afterwards, we found our hostel, dropped our things, and went off to explore the city.  And by explore the city I mean find Speedy’s Cafe (if you don’t understand, watch the BBC’s Sherlock) and 221 B Baker Street.  After pictures, we went to the nearby Regent’s Park and wandered a bit before heading back for a Tesco dinner and a somewhat early night.

The next day, we headed for Trafalgar Square and the downtown area.  After pictures with/on the lions, we went to the National Gallery, where we stayed a couple hours and drooled over the Van Goghs and Monets (as well as many others, but those are obviously the ones that stand out).  None of us are art majors, and we were all more interested in the non-religious subjects, especially Sarah and I since there were so many fantastic examples in the Scottish National Museum.  Also, after you’ve seen a Raphael Madonna and Child, a lot of others don’t measure up to that standard.  It was quite enjoyable, but we probably didn’t spend as much time as we would have if we hadn’t all been to other National Galleries already.  After that, we went to Westminster, which was completely worth the admission price.  The interior of the cathedral is gorgeous, and I had fun roughly translating the Latin monuments to famous people such as Disraeli, Newton, and numerous kings and queens.  There are so many famous people buried and/or memorialized there!  Benjamin Britten, Hayden, Dickens and Ben Johnson and so many others in the Poet’s Corner, Mary and Elizabeth laying side by side, too many kings to keep track of, Newton and Darwin and prime ministers and advisors to royalty, and a great number of organists to Westminster… there was so much to take in!

After that, of course, we were starving, so we got lunch and then wandered about the region a bit.  We were all going back there that night, Sarah to see Peter and Alice and Kenedy and I for our date night, and we wanted to know where we were going.  We also got pictures of Big Ben, the Eye, and the Sherlock Holmes pub.  After going back to the hostel to rest and change, we all headed back out.  While Sarah saw a fantastic play with Dame Judi Dench and Ben Wishaw playing the leads, Kenedy and I had dinner at a semi-nice Italian restaurant and then walked a bit to take in London at night.

The next day was Friday, and we spent the morning in the British Museum.  We focused mainly on the Greco-Roman sections, with some Chinese and Medieval England.  Then after a late lunch, we hung out in the hostel more before making another Tesco dinner and getting ready for the play we were all seeing together – Spamalot.  The show was hilarious and well done, of course.  Then after another nighttime walk, we headed back to the hostel.

Saturday was our last full day in London, so we made the most of it.  We spent the morning and part of the afternoon at the Tower, where we saw nearly everything except the crown jewels, which the others didn’t really care about and I’ve already seen.  Then we walked to St Paul’s Cathedral and took pictures of the outside, before crossing the river to take pictures of the Globe.  Then after a photo stop at St Bart’s Hospital, (watch Sherlock) we had fish and chips in a pub.  We went back to the hostel to watch the latest episode of Doctor Who, and then decided to make the most of our last night in London with a nice quiet evening at a local pub.  The next day, I left early in the morning from King’s Cross for Scotland, ending what was and probably will be the most ridiculously awesome spring break ever.

Also, we didn’t find any London Fogs in London.  Nor was it foggy.

To Give You an Inkling of Our Activities…

Tuesday of break Kenedy, Sarah, and I moved on to the next location in our literary pilgrimage: Oxford.  Since all of us like the work of Tolkien and C.S. Lewis in varying degrees, we made this a stop on our way to London.  We got in just in time to take a two hour walking tour of the town.  I must confess that I forgot to bring my camera on the tour.  I’m sorry.  All the more reason for me to return one day!  We also got some pretty amazing fudge.  After the tour, we ate dinner at the same table in the same pub as the Inklings, the Eagle and Child.  It was actually really nice.  Since the Inklings are (at this point) a pretty obscure group, the pub had a plaque and pictures to mark where the group sat and conversed, but it wasn’t crowded at all.  We were probably the most annoying tourists in the place.  All in all, Oxford is gorgeous, and I highly recommend anyone who goes there spend more than 24 hours.

A Literary Pilgrimage

I met up with Sarah at Stratford-Upon-Avon on the 23rd, kickstarting the second, more whirlwind part of my break.  Meeting up in and of itself was stressful.  Sarah had lost her phone coming back from Belfast (there’s a reason we travel together.  When one of us messes up, the other catches it and vice versa.) so I had no way of reaching her.  She was supposed to catch the same transfer I was, but was prevented from embarking by hordes of pre-teens she was unwilling to shove onto the tracks.  So I sat in the B&B for about an hour, willing her to show up.  Thankfully, she did, with a rant about One Direction.

We stayed in that night, only venturing out for fish and chips takeaway.  We were in a B&B because the hostel was closed until April for repairs.  Pascal, the owner, was awesome.  He was a hilarious older-middle-aged French man.  Quotes include “There was no crime before you came to this town.  Please keep it that way.”  He also had a clean plate prize at breakfast; Matt Smith for the females, Emma Watson for the males.  He also had good reccomendations for food.  I’m happy we did end up in a B&B those three nights.

Sunday started with the Palm Sunday service at the local church, where Shakespeare and his family were buried.  We went back later to actually look at the graves.  It was a beautiful old church, with nice stained glass.  It was also the shortest Palm Sunday service I’ve ever been to, because the processional replaced the typical Lenten beginning to the service and the dramatic Passion reading replaced the sermon.  Afterwards, Sarah and I got lunch and then wandered the town, returning to the church to see the graves and walking along the Avon/visiting the shops along the main streets.  It was snowy, so we got some gorgeous pictures.  After dinner at Pizza Express, a UK chain that sounds like it would be a Little Caesar’s type of place and is actually more like Olive Garden, we had another quiet night back at the B&B.

On Monday, we went nearly everywhere in town.  Shakespeare’s birthplace, his daughter Susanna’s house, and Nash House, which is right next door to New House (Shakespeare’s final home.)  Everywhere was extremely interesting, and at one house actors/museum workers did a segment from Macbeth for the visitors.  After that, we went to pick up Kenedy from the bus station, and then got dinner at the pub where all the actors go after shows.  We didn’t get to see the room with all the signed photographs of famous and not-so-famous Shakespearean actors who’ve drunk there, but there was a photo of Dame Judy Dench in the entryway.

Sarah and I saw Hamlet that night, while Kenedy went back to sleep (he’d had an extremely long day).  It was a very good play.  It was a more modernized setting, with modern clothes (Horatio was a hipster) and a minimal and effective set.  This was my favorite Ophelia by far.  The actress really brought home just how sheltered and controlled her life had been.  Hamlet was insane, no doubt about it.  This was by far the most eeriy violent Hamlet I’ve seen yet, and I was legitimately afraid for Ophelia’s safety during the “get thee to a nunnery” scene.  It was definitely worth going to see and was a good end to our time in Stratford.

Reading and Winchester

Sorry it’s been so long since I last posted!  Once I got back from spring break, I had an essay to write, and after that I just sort of collapsed for a few days.  I’m slowly starting to catch up on blogging now.  Sorry to have made you all wait!

After I was reunited with my purse, I met up with more cousins in Reading.  We got some food and then went to the Reading Museum, which has an incredible biscuit tin collection, a bunch of Roman artifacts, and – the main draw for me – a Victorian copy of the Bayeux Tapestry, which illustrates the events surrounding the Battle of Hastings in 1066.  By the time we were done at the museum, it was time to go back and have dinner/collapse. (I was exhausted!  Travelling and losing my purse was stressful!)  The next day, we went to Winchester, a small city with a beautiful cathedral and some nice 12th century architecture otherwise.  My cousins both used to live there when they were young.  The cathedral has some very nice stained glass, and is also where Jane Austen was buried, as well as some guy named Wyckham who was alive during the time she was… coincidence?  There’s also a shrine to St Swithain, who is related to weather forecasting.  We wandered about the town – we missed out on seeing the Round Table, but we saw the statue to King Aelfred.  Then we drove through some beautiful country in the Itchen Valley.  We stopped at the Itchen River, too – small compared to the Willamette, but clear and pretty and very muddy.  We had another quiet night before I left the next morning to meet Sarah in Stratford, which will be the subject of my next blog post.

In Which Victoria Loses her Purse and Finds It Again

A couple weeks ago, my small green purse with the shoulder strap broke.  I was sad, a) because it had been a birthday present from Julie ages ago and b) it was a shoulder strap bag and I thought that would be safest for London.  So, of course, I purchased a new one.  Black with gold trim.  One of the links on the strap broke, but otherwise that’s been working out alright.  Except that I lost it.  Three connections and three bags were too many for me to handle apparently, so when I got off at Grantham to catch my connection to Boston, my purse, ID, train tickets, money, etc. continued on to King’s Cross without me!  Thankfully, it was found and taken to the station’s Lost and Found.  This in itself was convoluted, however.  When I got into my hotel in Boston, I was in a complete state, so the manager was very nice and called the lost property office for me –  and learned nothing.  Then in my room, I got a phone call from IFSA-Butler giving me a phone number to call about my purse, which turned out to be the number for one of the student services people at St Andrews.  They in turn had gotten a call from the station manager, who had left his phone number, but didn’t specify which station he was from.  Of course I automatically assumed that, if a station manager was giving out his phone number, he was probably from Grantham.  I couldn’t get the phone number for him that night, but I was confident that all that needed to happen was for my relatives to give me a ride from Boston to Grantham the next day and I’d have all my things back.  We had a nice dinner at the hotel, came up with a plan for the next day, and I felt much better about life.

The next morning, I got the phone number for the station manager and tried to call him, but he didn’t respond.  I assumed he couldn’t answer while at work since it was his cell, so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to start making phone calls to find it.  I started with the national line and asked for Grantham, and after a couple wrong numbers (they gave me Nottingham.  Really???) I found out that my purse was not at that station and had indeed gone on to King’s Cross, probably wedged between the seat and the window.  I was going to King’s Cross anyways, but I couldn’t get on the train without my tickets and I couldn’t print new ones, and at any rate the connection wouldn’t have left me enough time to pick up my purse.  Thankfully, my relatives bought me a new ticket (no money, remember?  It’s all in the purse!) and after a quiet day going over family history and such, I went to bed early so I could catch my ridiculously early train into London.  I did pick up my purse, all contents intact, and then I killed time until I had to attempt to navigate the underground to get to Paddington so I could get into Reading, which I all did successfully, since I met up with the other set of cousins!