Birthdays, and Paris, and Bats- Oh My!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything- life has been a little crazy lately!  I guess at least it’s not boring.

On the 28th of October, there was this big party at my school’s Student Union, called “Come in Your Socs.”  For some background, they call clubs here societies (not sure why), and basically this was a big dress up party for all the societies around campus to show off their style.  I went with the Christian Union, and our theme was Noah’s Ark, so my friend Clem and I decided to go as bats.  We planned on getting black bin bags from the student shop on campus.  Unfortunately for us, when we went to the student shop at 4 o’clock on Wednesday, there were no black bin bags.  We walked away feeling pretty dejected, not sure what we were going to do for wings, when we noticed that all the bins around campus had black bin bags inside.  Don’t worry, we didn’t empty the used bin bags or anything, but we did grab the extra bags from the bottom of the bin!  We successfully made wings, and fortunately had grabbed an extra bag, as Thea decided to join us in being bats.  We had a really fun night running around flapping our wings, and the CU ended up winning best dressed!

The next day, my mum arrived from the states!  She got to campus about 2 o’clock, so I brought her to the on campus cafe, Crosslands, and introduced her to the girls.  It was nice having a quiet afternoon to catch up, and in the evening we went to dinner at an Italian restaurant in Egham.

On Friday, after my classes finished, mum and I went into Windsor for the afternoon.  We took a tour of the castle, which was so cool.  I really enjoyed seeing Queen Mary’s doll house, which is probably as big as my bedroom at home.  It was pretty amazing.  We grabbed some coffee and ice cream after touring the castle before heading back to campus to meet Thea and Rhys for dinner on campus.  After eating, mum went back to the hotel, and we went to a costume party for a bit, which was quite fun. People here don’t seem to get quite as into Halloween as we do in the states, so it was fun to dress up.

Halloween morning, mum and I went into London to do some shopping on Oxford Street.  It was so nice just walking around London.  We went into Harrods, which was very cool, and then Clem and Thea surprised me with an afternoon tea at this adorable cafe called “The Mad Hatter” for my birthday!  It was so much fun, and everything was beyond delicious.  Mum and I spent some more of the afternoon walking around Jubilee Market, and then Allison joined us all for dinner at an Indian restaurant!  We then headed back to campus, Mum headed back to the hotel, and we met up with the rest of the girls to go to Medicine.  It was so fun to see Allison meet all my friends from here, and even though it was a bit of a hard night (as everyone who has ever seen me the night before my birthday can attest to), I felt so blessed to be surrounded by so many of the people I loved, and had a fun night in the end.

Sunday morning, we started out the day with a celebratory brunch at Monkey’s- which turns out, is not only a pub, but also does a killer English breakfast! (I’m going to be so sad when I return to the states, and beans are no longer okay to put on toast.)  We gorged ourselves on all the food, before heading into Egham for a bit. We had some big plans for a picnic, but the weather refused to cooperate unfortunately, and we ended up settling for ice cream sundaes instead.  At this point, Allison unfortunately had to leave, so Mum and I walked her to the train before we FaceTimed with my dad and sister for a bit.  We then returned to Monkey’s with the gang, because even in England, I had to have at least one drink on my 21st birthday.  I had an absolute blast- my friends serenaded with Taylor Swift, I actually found a seat in Monkey’s, and I got to celebrate my birthday with my mum!  It was such a good end to a great day.

Monday, Mum and I headed into Oxford for the day!  We went for a walking tour of the school, and I got to see the tree where Draco Malfoy gets turned into a ferret in the Goblet of Fire- which was definitely the highlight of the tour.  We then got picked up at the train station by Jen Clarke, my parents’ friend from Winnipeg, and had dinner with her and her son before spending the night.  The food was fantastic, it was so nice to have a home cooked meal, and it was a really nice evening.

We headed back into London the next day, and spent most of the day just sightseeing and walking around. Mum really wanted Shepard’s Pie for dinner, so we found a cool little pub, and had an amazing supper before going to see Miss Saigon on the West End with Allison!  The show was beyond amazing- I’m so glad that I got to see it, it was so sad, and the music was beautiful.

We spent the next day in London as well.  Mum and I decided to tour the Tower of London which was SO COOL!  I’m a big fan of The Other Boleyn Girl and The Tudors, so getting to see this castle was a pretty big deal for me, because it’s where Anne Boleyn, Katheryn Howard, and Lady Jane Grey all got beheaded, and were held before they were killed.  It was just so full of history, there was so much to learn about what had taken place in the castle, and on the grounds.  After the tower, mum and I grabbed some Nando’s, and then went back to Oxford Street for some more shopping.  We met up with Olivia and Allison for dinner in London, and then took the train back to the hotel.

Thursday was Mum’s last real day in England.  We went into Windsor again for some last minute shopping, and then I went to an Imagine Dragons concert in the evening at the O2 arena with Thea!  Her friend got sick, and wasn’t able to go, so I got to go with her instead!  It was an amazing show, the band is really incredible to watch live.

Friday morning was really early, as Clem, Thea, and I were catching a 7:30 flight to Paris.  We landed, went to our hostel to drop our stuff, and then went to explore the city.  We were starving, so we grabbed baguettes at a patisserie, and then spent the afternoon looking around the Centre Pompidou, a modern art museum, for a few hours.  After we’d seen the art, we decided to go to Notre Dame.  It was so beautiful to see, even though it wasn’t quite sunny enough for the stained glass windows to look their best.  Following this we had dinner at Cafe Quasimodo- I had a croque monsieur and a crepe for dessert. We ended the evening at a coffee shop, and had warm drinks before we went back to our hostel, and basically collapsed into bed.

Saturday was just more exploring.  We started the day with a very Parisian breakfast of coffee, a croissant, and orange juice, before making our way to the Seine.  We saw the Love Locks Bridge, made our way to Shakespeare and Company- a bookstore, and went to point zero- the point from which all else in Paris originates.  We all stood on the point, which means that we’ll return to Paris at some point.  We spent the afternoon at the Louvre, and saw the Mona Lisa, which I don’t get the hype for, and some other art as well.  I particularly enjoyed the statues.  We had a lovely dinner at a cafe, and Clem and I devoured a plate of escargots.  Afterwards, we wandered a bit further into the city, and found a place called “Student Bar,” so we had a drink before heading back to the hostel.

Sunday morning started out the same, with finding a place for breakfast.  We then did what every tourist in Paris has to do, and went to the Eiffel Tower.  We decided to forgo climbing it, and just stood underneath for a bit, before continuing on to L’Arc de Triomphe.  That, we did climb, and got to see some amazing views of the city.  After that, we meandered down the Champs Elysee, and stopped in Laduree, the macaron shop, to pick up a snack for later.  We spent the rest of the afternoon in La Musee D’Orsay, which was a nice mix of modern and older art, something we all really enjoyed.  We found another cafe for dinner and had more escargots, and a croque madame before picking up some chocolat chaud and a crepe for dessert by the Seine.  I also ate two of my macarons, and let me tell you, the rose macaron was probably the greatest thing I have ever eaten in my entire life. If you ever get the chance to try one- seize it.

Monday we flew back to Royal Holloway early in the morning!  I caught up on some reading during the day, between catching up with friends, and made it to Monkey’s Monday, although I begged off pretty early, due to sheer exhaustion.

Tuesday and Wednesday I spent writing a paper, catching up with my friends and my reading, and getting some much needed sleep.  Travel, while wonderful, definitely wears you out. It’s worth it though.

Thursday was a bit more eventful- as in I did more than spend time in my room, the dining hall, and the library.  I went to my 9am lecture, and spent the rest of the morning reading The Tempest in the quad, enjoying the sun, which has been getting less and less common to see.  I had lunch with Issy and Thea, and spent the rest of the afternoon finishing The Tempest before my seminar at 5.  After my seminar, I grabbed dinner with some friends, and then rushed off to CU.  After CU, I headed to Em’s room, where we decided to go to the Rainbow Rave being held at Medicine.  It may have been a last minute decision, but it was definitely a good one.  I had a great night, and was really glad Em and I decided to go out!

Friday, I was exhausted from staying out so late the night before.  I spent the morning doing some reading, before I got lunch with the girls.  Then, I went back to my room for a bit before getting a second lunch with Rhys, and then getting coffee with Em- it’s a good thing I’m perpetually hungry.  I spent some time with Thea before she left for the weekend, got dinner with Clem and Liv, and then went out with Em again.  I ended up begging off early again, however, due to lack of sleep.

Saturday was quiet, I spent the day working and watching Netflix before getting dinner with Issy.  She and I spent the evening together, and watched Anna Karenina before going to bed.

Sunday, Issy and I went into Egham to get some desperately needed groceries.  We grabbed brunch together, and then I locked myself in my room until dinner to work on a paper.  Overall, a nice, quiet weekend.

I can’t believe how quickly time is going here- it seems like I’ve just arrived, and I know I’ll be leaving before I know it, which breaks my heart.  That’s not today though, so I’m just trying to seize every day, and enjoy the time I have left as much as I possibly can.

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