Who goes to the beach when it is snowing? Apparently this mate. Thankfully it wasn't sticking, but it was cold and windy. I almost canceled my day trip to the beach after getting to the train station and waiting on the bus, but now I'm happy I didn't. Hiking to Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove was a beautiful experience, even with the cold, snow, and overcast sky. Afterward I found my way to Lulworth Cove Inn's restaurant for lunch-- fish and chips followed by tea and a delicious dessert. I can't stop eating! Unfortunately, my main phone I use to male photos got too cold and stopped working temporarily, so I had to take more pics with my temporary UK phone. I wish I could have shared this experience with you personally. The photos do not fully capture the beauty of these sites. (Images are cropped in the image gallery. Click on individual images to see the whole view.)
My journey to the English seaside has brought me to Bournemouth along the Jurassic Coast in Dorset. I've enjoyed my time in Bournemouth and getting to meet the locals. My favorite place to eat is Ojo Rojo, located just down the hillside from the hotel. The food is delicious and the individuals who work there are very friendly and helpful. They've given advice on things to see and do around Bournemouth, and I've already had a great time. In a few minutes I will make my way to the train station for a bus tour of Lulworth Cove and the Durdle Door. It is very, very cold here today, but I am excited for this day trip.
After a final breakfast together, everyone heading out for a free weekend. The students made their way to London and I took the train to the beach and countryside of Dorset. Words of advice from students this morning as we departed ways for the weekend:
- "Don't fall off the side of the cliff during your hike. But if you do, make it count big time. Newsworthy."
- "Dr. Morgan, try to not go crazy on social media this weekend. I know you will be alone and the temptation will be there, but watch yourself."
- (and then said to the student who was going to be left at the train station with me for a few minutes): "Don't push Dr. Morgan in front of a train. That will get you sent home and we need you here."
I'm most excited for the students and the fun things they've planned for their free weekend, and I think I might even miss them. Bath certainly has been a splendid city to visit, and I look forward to our return to Cambridge next week.
After touring Wells Cathedral today we returned to Bath for a final afternoon and evening. I spent my time walking throughout the city and visiting some shops to purchase souvenirs. I tried to take in as much of the literary history of the city as I could. I also saw the church where William Wilberforce was married in 1797. I enjoyed tea and a crêpe at a local tea shop. The scenery of this city is breathtaking and the food has been delicious, especially at the hotel. I hope to return to Bath one day. (Images are cropped in the image gallery. Click on individual images to see the whole view.)
As we made our way into Wells on the coach, I could see the cathedral. The medieval, Gothic architecture extending high above the city demands one's attention from a distance. Once inside the cathedral, the atmosphere was one of quiet reflection and prayer. We spent a few hours inside the cathedral. I especially enjoyed the time of quiet prayer spent with the students as we were scattered throughout the Chapter House of Wells Cathedral. The stairway leading to this room shows centuries of wear from the footpath of those going to and from the chapter house and cloisters. The chapter house contains seating along the walls where individuals would meet to discuss cathedral business and legal proceedings. Before we left, the students sang a cappella and the acoustics of the room made it a particularly sacred moment for us. We then made our way to watch the chiming of the famous Wells Cathedral Clock, which is an astronomical clock. It was built before Copernicus discovered the sun was the center of the universe instead of Earth. So, the clock depicts the moon and sun rotating around the Earth. When the clock struck, as we were focused on it with much anticipation, we beheld the figures of two knights charging toward each other and, in the corner above the clock, a figure of a man (known as Jack Blandifers) hitting bells with a hammer and his heels. We enjoyed this very much. A highlight for the students was playing with Louis the Cat, who has free reign throughout the cathedral.
Also while in Wells, the great Andy Sinclair walked us to the Vicar's Close adjacent to the cathedral. This residential area from the 14th century claims to be the oldest such surviving in Europe. It has a couple dozen residences, a chapel with library, and a meeting hall. The streets are paved with setts (quaried stones). It is a beautiful street with walled-in gardens for front lawns. We saw several individuals tending to their gardens during our stroll through the area.
I have always enjoyed touring and spending times at cathedrals and older churches. Our visit to Wells Cathedral will long be a highlight for me. (Images are cropped in the image gallery. Click on individual images to see the whole view.)
If you've read much William Wordsworth, then you might be familiar with his "Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, On Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour. July 13, 1789." Today the CamFam traveled to this hidden gem of the abbey ruins along the River Wye. The abbey was founded in 1131. When King Henry VIII ordered the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th century to end monastic life in the area of his control, Tintern Abbey was surrendered in September 1536. All the valuables were transferred to the Royal Treasury and the lead roof was sold. Today the ruins are all that remain, but the site continues to offer tranquility and create a sense of sacredness and reverence. I spent some time in personal reflection there today while also trying to image what the normal routine of monastic life might have been like hundreds of years ago. This, I believe, will be one of my favorite places we visit on this trip. (Images are cropped in the image gallery. Click on individual images to see the whole view.)
We spent the day in Wales, the homeland of the Morgan family. At a store I bought my mother some jewelry and the shopkeeper said, "I am a Morgan. It is such a strong Welsh family name." I told her about Morgantown. 😉 (BTW, I have discovered I really like sheep.)
This morning I sat at breakfast overlooking the city of Bath and River Avon. It is an enchanting scene, particularly as the sun begins to rise. It was magnificent to watch the gray give way to pink, orange, and finally a bright blue. I sat in silence and pondered how in a few hours this same light would stretch across the ocean and shine upon my homeland. Soon it would beckon to a new day my friends on the East Coast, the hills of Tennessee, my beloved Morgantown, and on to the West Coast. In our different locations, still we will share this same light. All the joys and sorrows, good and evil, accomplishments and fear this day brings will occur under this same light. And as we share this light, perhaps we can see that even though we each are unique and quite different, in many ways we each are very much alike.
Our journey today in Wales took us to the village of Caerwent, where we toured the Roman ruins and walked throughout the village. I also managed to stop by a store and post office to purchase postcards and have them mailed back home to Mississippi. My Morgan ancestors came from Wales. It is a bit surreal to think generations ago my ancestors lived in this part of the world, even if it was not this village exactly. Caerwent is a beautiful area. (Images are cropped in the image gallery. Click on individual images to see the whole view.)
When we arrived in Chepstow, Wales and I first caught a glimpse of the castle ruins, I was in awe. Situated above the cliffs on River Wye, this Norman castle dates back to 1067 and was a place of military importance. In the first year of William the Conqueror's reign as King of England, he had the Chepstow Castle construction begin. I enjoyed finding my way through the castle ruins, as well as walking with students along the worn, narrow footpath at the side of the castle wall. (Images are cropped in the image gallery. Click on individual images to see the whole view.)