Letters from Scotland
By Jonathon Farrell


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Hello again everyone! 

It's been a long time since my last message, and I have been very, very busy. 

First of all, there were exams and all that to finish off the year in St. Andrews. They went pretty well, and I had four days between my last exam and my departure to fill, so I did some final visiting around the town. 

On the day I left, after packing everything away into my suitcases, 10 good friends and I went out for a nice dinner to see me off. Then I headed to the train station in a friend's car, and much of the hall turned up to say goodbye. Leaving there was one of the hardest things I have ever done! 

I caught the train to Bolton, a city that is essentially a part of Manchester, and stayed there a few days with my friend, Michael, with whom I toured Italy. 

After a quick morning climb of a mountain, we spent the first day touring Manchester itself, including the canals and the Museum of Science and Industry, as industrialism began in Manchester. It was a very interesting day. 

The next morning was an early one - we caught the first train to Liverpool to spend the morning touring this city. All I really knew of it beforehand was slavery and the Beatles. But it was the European Capital of Culture two years ago, so it actually had a lot to show. 

There were lots and lots of monuments to the glory of the British Empire, and a huge waterfront area that was really beautiful. Perhaps the most memorable part, however, was the wind! It was upwards of 50 miles/hour. 

After a morning there, we went to Michael's grandmother's house for Sunday lunch, which was a delicious home-cooked meal in a house that could have been from the mid-1930s to look at - it was everything that a nice old British place should be. We spent the afternoon at Little Moreton Hall, an old Tudor black and white house, and then wandered Bolton for a while. 

The next morning was off to Wales! We spent three days living at Michael's caravan (which is a motor home, not just the gypsy trailer I was somewhat expecting!) at the north tip of Anglesey, the top of Wales. It was a place rich in Welsh culture, with dragon images everywhere and the Welsh language being spoken and written. 

Let me just say, it is a crazy language. Their words are so long and phonetically impossible! For example, one town we visited was called "Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch."
I dare you to pronounce it! 

The purpose of our trip to Wales was to tour castles. Wales was conquered by the English king, Edward I, in the 1280s, and he built a series of magnificent castles to prove it. We toured the Edwardian castles of Caernarfon, Conwy, Beaumaris, and Harlech. They were incredible buildings! I was absolutely amazed at the size and intricacy they managed to build before any real sophisticated tools could be used.

Throughout all of this, the incredible wind continued; in fact, while we were at Conwy, the first castle we went to, the wind was technically classed as a hurricane! It was so strong and it was raining so heavily that the castle itself was closed at first, so we explored the town walls in a hurricane. Rather an extreme form of tourism! 

We also saw the palace of the Marquis of Anglesey at Plas Newydd which showed the development of key houses into something later than castles (I preferred the castles!), and the Victorian castle of Penrhyn which was amazing. it was built in the 1830s, in a style called "Norman revival," so it looked like one of the old castles on the outside, but on the inside it was a palace, with a different room representing each major period of British history. Simply incredible - you should do a Google image search and see it! 

We also toured a 1910s resort town, Llandudno, and a whole host of other notable sites around Wales. I could write for so very long about it, I really liked Wales! 

After my time there, I boarded a train for London. Once I finally arrived in London, for my first time, I met my friend, Peter, at the train station, and we did a walking tour of everywhere I had heard of, from Trafalgar Square to Buckingham Palace and St. Paul's Cathedral, and so many more. 

We also spent three hours wandering the British Museum, which is another thing that I think everyone should do at some point! The enormous wealth and variety of things hosted in this one museum were incredible. We went back to Peter's house for the next three nights, in a small village in Sussex called Mayfair. 



Jonathon Farrell, son of Geoff and Sandra Farrell of Huron-Kinloss, has just returned from his year of study at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, through a student exchange program at Queen's University, Kingston, where he is a third-year student.

The next day was London again, where we saw Shakespeare's "All's Well that Ends Well" at the Globe Theatre, the re-creation of the one Shakespeare's acting troupe would have used. It was a great experience! The following day was a time of rest and recovery, until later on.

We did a tour of the village, and concluded the day with a few miles hiking in the Downs, right near the Cliffs of Dover. Though I did not see them, I figure, why see everything in one trip? Now I have an excuse to go back! The day ended with a bonfire on top of the foggy downs. What a great time. 

The next morning, I was heading back to Edinburgh to catch a flight. This gave me one more night at my (now former) roommate Angus' house, and my friend, Jonathan, also came to see me off. So, one last night there and then home!

The flight was uneventful, so that is good. And I have been home for a few days now, dropped into the middle of a late planting season. No time to get used to being home before being busy! I have not yet found time to unpack! I may do that now.

Thank you all for reading my letters all year! I have had the time of my life having these experiences, and hearing from you that you have enjoyed them second-hand has been wonderful. With any luck, I will be having more great adventures in the future! I will let you know if I do!




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Friday, June 03, 2011