Anyways, yes: "Today" I went to a place called St. Albans (north of London, I believe). It was a bit of a dreary day (and started a little too early for my taste), but I got to know some of my fellow SCIO members quite well during the course of it. We hopped off of our chartered double decker into a car park (aka parking lot) and made the muddy trek through a beautiful meadow leading up to the abbey of St. Albans. Here Jonathan Kirkpatrick, the Junior Dean of Crick Road (read: my Resident Director/R.D.), discussed some of the finer points of its history before we were loosed to explore it. It. was. gorgeous! The most beautiful cathedral I've seen in England so far. I think I liked it better than Christ Church - though it's a different thing altogether
. You'll notice in the pictures that one of the colums switches abruptly from romanesque (smooth, semi-circular arches) to gothic (pointed at the top) architecture. This is because St. Albans' abbey was restored in the 14th century or the Victorian era one. It all sort of muddles together after a while :). You should check out the story of England's first martyr (St. Alban) in the Catholic Encyclopedia if you're curious: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01252b.htm Pretty neat. Apparently, we then ate at the oldest pub in England, "The Fighting Cocks," where the smell of fat chips (aka steak fries) won me over after an unsatisfying but free pb & j that I'd packed. They say Oliver Cromwell ate there. Eh. After the church, we went to the museum of Verulamium - the Roman name for the town way back when. Interesting tidbit: St. Albans is the oldest continually inhabited city in England, with it's roots stretching back pre-Roman era. So, yeah, Verulamium = Roman ruins. Look at the pictures, it's all there. The site is on the estate of Francis Bacon's parents. The father of empirical philosophy had a roman ampitheatre and Roman/Celtic jewelry, skeletons, pottery, etc. in his front yard. Amazing. Well, really, it was his front field, but whatev. Sheep dotted the nearby brae, and the picture of moss and stones has replaced my lava sunset on the Mediterranean in France last year as my screen saver. Right before we left, we went to a building constructed around beautiful excavated mosaic floors. These are the real tiles people walked on *in their house* while the Romans were around. Crazyness. Just floor tiles. Nothing special. Another neat thing showing how advanced ancient people were was how they heated the building. They would pump hot water through pipes underneath the floors and in the walls to heat everything - a design called a hypocaust. Google Verulamium to learn more. I'm pooped! :D
I have a bit of catching up to do with my entries, so you'll notice that the Keble one, this one, and the London one don't reflect the day I added them (I'll get there eventually, even though I went last Saturday). They are set for the day they happened.