Monday, 23 April 2007

Birmingham and the Yankee behind the wheel...

Birmingham Museum & Gallery

Birmingham Town Square

Birmingham City Township

Birmingham City Centre

The Dreaded Roundabouts

Last Saturday I went to Birmingham Museum and Gallery (where I intern) for a Edward Burne-Jones seminar. It was interesting-there were six speakers. A few of them, I think, were nervous. They kept stuttering and I have trouble at times understanding them with the accent, so I missed parts of their presentation because I could not understand them. Two of the speakers were awesome and very interesting. The train ride was fairly direct (2 hours each way), so that is always a pleasant change.

I "jumped the gun" when I said my driving was improving. I've been violating the law all over the place. Josh and a friend were hired to paint a house and needed to go to the hardware store for more paint on Friday, but few people have cars. I was just working on a paper and needed a break, so I went to pick them up. For the most part, I did well and I had to go through roundabouts mind you. Anyway, we're almost back to the house and Mark (the friend, British, in the backseat) says as I drive through an intersection (in a residential neighborhood) "did you know you ran that stop sign?" I said "what stop sign?" I didn't see any stop sign. Apparently, the two thin white-dotted lines painted on the roads at the intersections are stop signs. Are you kidding me? I'm concentrating so hard making sure I'm staying in the correct lane and so on that I don't pay attention to lines painted on the road unless they are the lines down the middle and crosswalks. Besides, most of them are faded and you can't really tell what they are, but to me, they do not signal "stop". Then, Josh and I were going to a movie and he says "Give Way" and I'm thinking what? That's what they call "Yield" signs, which I've been driving through as well. I see them and often wonder to myself "is that the same thing as Yield? That's kind of dumb wording-why not just say Yield?" By then, I'm way past the sign (and I did not "give way") and thinking of something else. However, it makes Josh nervous, so he yells "Give Way", which scares me and is probably far more dangerous while I'm driving. To top it all off, we went to pick up a pizza at Pizza Hut and there's a few entrances into the shopping area and I picked the first one. Josh, calmly, tells me to quickly turn left because it is a one-way entrance and the man I just passed looked scared when I pulled in the one-way road. On a positive note, I have been staying in my lane.

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Kirkstall Abbey

Unlike Kansas, we have been having lovely weather (although I prefer the cold). It has not rained since I got back and has been sunny everyday, but one, which must be some sort of record for English weather. I've been spending a lot of time outside. This past week was still a part of spring break, so I just started back to class today.

Last Saturday, I went to Kirkstall Abbey, which is about 10 miles from where I live and it's a pretty easy drive. It is set in a park by the canal. The Abbey was built in 1152 by the Cistercian Monks and remained a working monastery until Henry VIII ordered the dissolution of the monasteries in 1535 (ish). It is absolutely beautiful!

I live about a quarter of a mile from a bunch of horses. We think they are of German ancestry-I would call them work horses. Anyway, I've been feeding them carrotts and apples. They love me and will run up to me when I walk towards them. There's about 20 or so. The owner lives near me, I don't know what he does with them. I've always just seen them eating or lying around in the fields.

I have also included a few pictures while I'm driving-you can clearly see I'm on the opposite side of the road. My driving is much better now. I still despise round-abouts and the Brits get a bit cheeky when I drive round them trying to find my exit. Other than that, I'm doing quite well.

Friday, 6 April 2007

Where I go-trouble follows, but I made it back to England

I got back to Leeds today around 5pm (11am KS time). It was a long Thursday and Friday. My flights were running late, so I was rushed and then I get to the Delta terminal at JFK for my international flight and the terminal had been locked down. There was a security breech, so they stopped all flights. There were hundreds of people standing and sitting on the floor by the check-in area. Apparently a man broke through security and had a package-they couldn't find him or the package. We even had to evacuate the terminal for a bit. I finally took off at 11:40pm-about 4 hours after my scheduled flight. It was a quiet flight-I think everyone was exhausted after being held up. There were no places to sit, but the floor (and not much room to sit), so I stood for hours.

We got in around 11:30am to London and I had to face British Immigration. They still gave me lip, but I got through. It's because I have so many stamps in my passport. I'm going to get a new one-that'll show 'em!! I got another "special" tracking stamp-how rude! I used to be England's number 1 fan until they got too nosey at customs.

Both of my suitcases made it without problems-very grateful for that-one of them was just food. I've missed my roommate and visa versa. He said it's been too quiet at home without me.


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