Saturday, January 15, 2011

Homestay in Herne Bay!


First night of homestay was lovely and very relaxed. We left about 5:30 (wearing seatbelts on the coach… I can’t get over that) and arrived in Herne Bay two hours later.

A few things about Herne Bay- it’s given the name “one of the sunniest places in Britain,” not that we saw any of that tonight, as a) it was dark, obviously, and b) it had just finished raining (it was raining so hard back at university that it was going sideways.) Hopefully tomorrow, when we do some sightseeing and shopping, we’ll see this nickname put into play.

The town in located in north Kent on the coast- again, something we didn’t really get to see, but according to our host mother, Caroline, they’re just a three-minute walk from the beach. The town was founded by the Victorians (yay!) and smugglers used to use the beach and the nearby pub (conveniently called The Smuggler) to make trades. Pretty cool for a small-ish town where everyone knows everyone! As I said, we didn’t see much of the town, but what we did see was very nice.

I had eaten a bit of dinner very early in case we didn’t get any when we arrived- nothing worse than being a guest in someone’s home and being hungry but too shy to be like, “OMG FEED ME I’M ABOUT TO EAT MY OWN HAND!” (That generally gives a bad first impression; gluttony and all that.) But we did get dinner, some very yummy lasagna at about nine p.m., which is quite late, but I think late dining might be a European thing. Oh, and Caroline had some chocolate cake for us… mmmm. We played with the dog for awhile (Benji- soooo cute!) and then just hung out in the living room and watched this movie called St. Trinian’s 2- obviously a sequel, but we didn’t have trouble catching on. It was pretty much a typical teen girl movie, but I really liked it- it was very funny with a great cast (including David Tennant, Colin Firth, Talulah Riley,and Gemma Arterton) and I’m seriously considering seeing if I can get a copy of it that will play at home off of the internet.

The house is very small- I think the entire downstairs could almost fit in my living room back home- but it doesn’t really seem like it. There are three bedrooms and a good sized kitchen and bathroom, as well as a dining area and living room downstairs, and I think they’ve got a sun porch in the back. Plus, as Caroline was telling us, she’s redone a lot of it and it’s all really pretty. Caroline has two children- Hannah and Dominic, who both live at home, though they’re out of school. We only saw them briefly, and it seems like Caroline hosts people a lot, so they weren’t terribly excited by our presence :p


Just as good, in fact better, since it was an actual whole day. Adrienne and I got up around 8:30… okay, I’m lying, we were supposed to get up at that time and ended up getting up more around nine-ish, got ready, and had cereal and toast and jam for breakfast. Caroline offered to make us a lunch to take with us on our trip that was scheduled, but since we weren’t sure when we would get to eat (and because I had no bag in which to carry said lunch), we said that we would get it at the location. She insisted we take some “crisps” (chips) with us and asked us if we would like chicken or beef and onion flavoring. Adrienne and I were very confused by these meat-flavored chips- what happened to plain old potato? I ended up choosing the beef and onion and they pretty much taste like mild barbeque chips.

We met up with the school group at ten and the bus headed off to Reculver Towers and Fort, which are Roman ruins about ten minutes away from Herne Bay. Basically, my reaction to this entire day was, “We just don’t have stuff like this in America!” I’ve always known our country is young compared to, well, everything else, but it’s only being in a country so much older for even this long that has proved that to me. Some pictures of the ruins:

As you can tell, it was really windy there, and very cold. I wore a dress and that was a very poor idea, considering the wind. Luckily, my coat was the exact right length to hold my skirt down! We only had about twenty minutes allotted to look/explore the ruins, and while they were cool, it was much too cold to stay there for much longer. I was very impressed by the sea, however. Mavbe it was how high above it we were, but I’ve never seen an ocean that big before.

After we left Reculver, we headed to our next destination, the Spitfire and Hurricane Memorial Museum, and as we drove, we did actually see the sun! It didn’t last long, though- it started to rain by the time we got to the museum.
We only got about an hour at the museum, but that was enough time, as there were only two rooms. It was pretty cool, though- they had a lot of pictures and objects from WWII like gas masks, identification books, gramophones, guns, etc. Oh, and the two huge planes sitting in the middles of the rooms! I enjoyed it immensely, especially since a lot of the stuff were things I included in my WWII-era novel last year.

Once finished there, we headed off to Canterbury for some sightseeing and shopping. As soon as we got there, Adrienne, Laura, and our other friend Deanna got some lunch at the first café we saw, since we were starving. After we were fueled up, we checked out all the cute shops up and down the street.

Caroline had told us that the shops there had much better prices than in London, and she was right! I got a few things, but all for very low prices- I’ll post some pictures once I get back to school tomorrow.
Towards the end of the trip, we went into the Canterbury Cathedral. We had debated whether to go or not, since there was a service going on, which meant that a big part of the cathedral was closed off. In the end, though, we knew we would regret not going in, so we paid the entrance fee and did so. I’m really glad we did- it was beautiful inside and the crypt was suitably creepy (especially accompanied by all the choir music from the service happening above us.) The creepiest part of that room was the fact that there was one particular resting place that was surrounded by small statues: men praying, figures holding books and other random objects, and an angel floating above… and every single head of the smaller statues had been deliberately removed. Creepy.

(I'll post some pictures of this tomorrow when I get back- the internet is being very weird and I don't want to lose this whole entry.)

Once we were finished there, it was time to get back on the bus to head to Herne Bay. We officially met Caroline’s kids, who were very nice, and played a game with Caroline and her son before dinner with everyone. We had roast, Yorkshire pudding (which was not a dessert, despite the title; as it turns out, we had already had the dish on our first night at Queen Mary- the bread bowl type thing with the stuffing ball in the middle), and potatoes, and it was all very delicious with gravy. Oh, and some more of that chocolate cake.
Tomorrow there’s a gathering at the bandstand for us and the host families and we leave shortly after- so soon! It’s been really cool to see a completely different side of England- they try to make sure students do so during their homestay. Then once we go back, it’s time to dive into classes again!


Courtney said...

Hey Rachel! :) I just started catching up with your blog and figured I'd leave ridiculous comments for you. ;) Those potato crisps sound interesting--have you run into any other flavors yet? I found some really interesting cucumber flavored Pringles in China! I'm always shocked at how many things America DOESN'T have only because people think that the flavors sound weird...

And I just love your pictures of the Towers--you're absolutely right about America being young; I was definitely hit by how old other places are while I was in China... I feel as though this would be on my list of places to visit, should Stuart and I ever make it there... How cold was it, by the way? I mean, it LOOKS cold in your pictures, I'm just curious how it compares to New Hampshire and Beijing colds...

Also, as regarding watching St. Trinian's from home, try this?:

I usually use this if I want to watch anything. :) It's nicer than Youtube, although for searching sometimes you need to find the Chinese names of movies...

Anyway, I'll go bother you on your other posts. :)

Rachel said...

Courtney- don't stop, I LOVE comments! They have all kinds of crazy flavored chips here... I'll just stick with potato!

Hm... I'm not sure how cold it was, actually... but VERY! :p

Thanks for the link :)

Post a Comment