Monday, August 11, 2008

English Roadtrip - July 2008 - The University and Cultural Educational Tour

Like any good Chinese tour, the universities are a must-see. Plus, my family was additional going to visit University of Sheffield to see my cousin graduate. In addition to the universities, I've lumped all "cultural educational" spots into this post too...

Oxford - No introduction really needed, just being on the Oxford University campus exudes the feeling of being "scholarly". Haha! When we visited, we passed by an exhibit below, which as Alison noted, the content seemed to have been designed for me... :p it turned out to be a very small exhibit, nothing spectacular. Next is the Oxford-version of the "bridge of sighs", built to replicate one in Italy. And finally, I am reading "Prince Caspian" in the courtyard of the Bodleian Library. :p

We parked on St. Giles, just in front of a nice-looking pub with a nice fish & chips sign in front of it. This pub was called the Eagle & Child. We went in, and it turned out to be *the* Eagle & Child where the Inklings, including C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, regularly convened to discuss story ideas. Very neat! The fish & chips were ok.

Cambridge - The Cambridge campus exudes a different carefree and literary feeling, no less because of the original architecture that was untouched through the war, as well as the river that cries out for tourists to go punting. Below is the Cambridge-version of the "Bridge of Sighs" in St. John's College. Alison and I were on our own punting boat when we bypassed my family... and my crazy auntHK stood up in her boat to take a picture of us (while I took a picture of her.) I add that she has had surgery on her knees, which adds to her craziness of standing in the boat! While tourists can pay for a punting tour, they can also choose to "do it yourself", and it was very amusing to see the self-punters who evidently did not know what they were doing [and why were many boats being punted by a woman while the rest of the men were relaxing??]. Plus, while it is kind of romantic for a boyfriend to punt for his girlfriend in their own boat, I think that is kind of boring, don't you think??

Stratford-upon-Avon is known for William Shakespeare, and we (Janey, Alison and I) were able to come here to catch the Royal Shakespeare Company's interpretation of "Taming of the Shrew". While I did do some minor research on the plot before coming on this trip, prior to that, my only knowledge of the story was vaguely from the movie "10 Things I Hate About You". :p It was interesting... I wonder how the Stratford Festival in Ontario would have chosen to demonstrate the "play within a play". In the UK, it was done as a touring Shakespeare players in a truck. :P Sorry, difficult to describe here!

London - And it is difficult not to catch a show or two in London. Janey, Ina, Alison and I caught Into the Hoods, a modern musical that is a spoof of Stephen Sondheim's "Into the Woods". This new London fairy tale tells of the old fairy tale characters in new roles in the hip hop culture:
- Spinderella -- longing to be the best DJ,
- Prince -- longing to be a talentless D-less celebrity,
- Lil Red -- longing to be a lyrical songstress with her own Grammy,
- Wolf of "Big Teef" records -- looking to roll in the money
- Rap-on-zel -- wishes to be as independent and free as a badass MC
- Jaxx -- aspires to be a producer of beats that are truly heavy

You get it. It was a great show and great fun! The break dance moves and choreographed dances (hooded figures of the "hood" forest) were very cool.

NOT as musically inclined was Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, which both Alison and I still had not seen despite their long production in Toronto back in 1992. Some of my friends were in the children's chorus at that time and I felt like I needed to catch up on my childhood and finally see what this show as all about. And miraculously, over the past 16 years, I had NOT been subjected to any of the songs from the musical at all, so I had no idea what I was in for. Well, not much, really... the show was really cheesy, but at least now it's out of my system. :p

Below is the view from St. Paul's Cathedral across the Millennium Bridge to the Tate Modern, where Alison and I quickly toured. Many of the art was just interesting. :p While I enjoy modern art, there were only a couple that caught our attention. The Tate building is a sight to see, though, in its grandeur in the city.

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

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