At home, summer doesn’t seem to really kick off until July first. This is Canada Day, and it is the day where we really let loose and be obnoxiously patriotic… in the most stereotypically polite way that we know how.
For a long time it was a bucket list item of mine to celebrate Canada Day in Trafalgar Square at the huge annual party held there. Luckily, I was able to do this last year as, unluckily, the event was cancelled this year due to lack of sponsorship or some other sadness.
But Canadians are resilient! We will not simply allow Canada Day to be cancelled. Cue Castle Canada Day! A new Canadian event, held at Herstmonceux Castle, which is actually owned by the Canadian university, Queens.
There was street hockey (although “street” is a bit of a loose term as it was held at the end of what would have once been a drawbridge), a castle tour, an amazing barbecue (again, loosely using the word “barbecue” as the food was of an incredibly high standard, served on actual plates rather than paper, by servers who wore bow ties), and excellent musical entertainment.
Here are some of my photos of the day. There’s probably more Castle than Canada Day in these photos, but what can I say, I have a bit of a castle obsession (as you know).
I’ve been putting off seeing Stonehenge for the year I’ve been here. I even lived in Salisbury when I first arrived, so Stonehenge maybe should have been one of the first landmarks I visited! But, no. I knew the way I wanted to see Stonehenge, and it wasn’t from behind a fence a hundred feet away. If I was going to Stonehenge I was going to get up close and personal. I was going to touch it. I was going to spend the night with it and form a long lasting emotional bond.
Cue summer solstice 2014.
I left Brighton around 4pm with the intent of meeting up with Katy and Chien at 6:30, which went off without a hitch. We then stopped by Sainsburys to stock up on some necessities, swung back to Katy’s to fetch her things, then found ourselves waiting for what would turn out to be an incredibly old-school bus, which would be filled with hippies and foreign people (she says, as if she is not foreign), complete with multi-lingual sing-alongs.
The walk from the bus was quite long, but luckily I quite enjoy long walks. This photo is from the first time I spotted Stonehenge. And you can just baaaaarely see it!
It’s too bad we had to walk in this direction because there was quite the show going on behind us.
Eventually we reached the stones which are MASSIVE. They always look quite small in photos but this is not the case. It was really cool to get up close to them, and even touch them!
21st Century Stonehenge:
I kept thinking “The little children of Stonehenge… what would they say to us if we were here… tonight?” (Oh come on you knew there would be a Spinal Tap reference in this entry.)
Stonehenge and I took a selfie! (Featuring Chien.)
Then came the night. At first we entertained ourselves by stuffing our faces with junk food and playing Cards Against Humanity. Yes, I understand the irony of playing such an awful game at a hippy festival and, yes, I am relishing in that irony and it will continue to be a steady theme of my life for the foreseeable future!
After dark, Katy and I ventured into the drum circle mosh pit of peace and love in the centre of the stones. This was really quite fun and random. The whole atmosphere can probably be described as “fun and random” actually. Lots of different people, some quite dressed up in robes with flowers in their hair, others sporting the jeans and hoodies combos favoured by myself and my friends. A whole lot of families were there, as well as students and 20-somethings. Overall it was a really good vibe. I felt quite safe even when walking to the toilets on my own at 2am!
Obviously there aren’t many photos from the night (which was freezing! I brought tons of clothes and a blanket and I still FROZE. If I ever go again I am seriously wearing a snowsuit). But I did get this one of a crazy guy who actually climbed on top of the stones. He then stayed there for several hours, taking selfies, before eventually jumping down and running for his damn life to try and avoid being arrested. Not sure how that worked out for him.
Around 2:30am the horizon started to get lighter and I started to get really excited for sunrise (not just because it meant I would soon be going somewhere warm to sleep, either). Basically I just stared at the horizon (and cracked open another cider) and waited for the day.
Also, as you can imagine, I looked pretty stunning myself at this time (mmm, grainy low light photos):
Then the sun rose. That’s a bit of an underwhelming point to end on, especially since seeing the sun rise is kind of the whole point. But, that’s just what happened. The Druids did their chanting, the Hare Krishna sang and danced, and the sun rose while we watched.
What a great way to start summer (even if there’s still a chance I will die of pneumonia from all of this).
So, it’s been a while. Maybe time for an update? But just a quick one.
Stuff I’ve done since May 3rd:
- May was relatively low key, in general. Just a lot of hanging out with friends and enjoying the increasingly warm weather. I’m quickly falling in love with living next to the sea. I can sit near the water for hours, or chase the sunset along the shore. It’s fairly idyllic.
- It was the 3 year anniversary of my graduation from post secondary at the end of May, which was pretty crazy. It’s really interesting to see how far I’ve come since then, in terms of both my career and just my life in general.
- I voted in the UK for the first time! There was an election for members of European parliament. It was interesting to learn about the different parties here and try to find one that closely matched my ideals.
- I saw Little Mix and it was awesome.
- Last weekend I went up to Telford to visit Jem and Katy. Usually I only see them every 3 to 4 months, but I made an executive decision to make more of an effort to see my friends as often as I can, even if it means 4 hours on several trains! Friends are so important and, I don’t mean to brag, but I have the best ones.
- M&S has started making gluten free quiche. This should not be an important news item but it is. You might think I am pathetic and sad but, in fact, I am very happy and fulfilled, because I have quiche.
- I saw The Fault in Our Stars film at an advanced screening last night! And I cried a lot.
Mainly I’m about to dive headfirst into a very busy summer.
Stuff I will be doing this summer:
- I’m kicking off summer in style by going to Stonehenge next weekend with Katy (not to be confused with the above mentioned Katy, who is actually a different Katy) and a whole myriad of other people to celebrate the solstice. We’re going to stay up all night and see the sunrise, which should be fairly interesting because 1) there will be lots of hippies, 2) I don’t do well with being tired and I get a biiiit delusional.
- On the 28th of June I have a very busy day wherein I will be checking out London’s Pride parade early on before heading to Herstmonceux Castle to celebrate Canada Day in the late afternoon/evening.
- On July 3rd I am beyond excited to be seeing Arcade Fire perform in Hyde Park! This is definitely a bucket list kind of show for me. Plus Jake Bugg is performing, and his song “Simple as This” is one I have already deemed one of my “songs of the summer.” I did impluse buy 2 tickets, but it’s kind of an awkward day (on a Thursday, starting in the afternoon) so I haven’t found anyone to go with yet! So, if you know me fairly well, can be in London for 3pm that day and want to come with, let me know. Haha.
- On the 12th I am seeing Broadway queen Kristin Chenoweth perform at Royal Albert Hall and, again, this is a dream come true for me. Kristin is one of my favourite performers in the world and I’ve always dreamt of seeing her on Broadway. This is a pretty good compromise! One of the reasons I wanted to move near London so badly was for the opportunity to see performers like Kristin and bands like Arcade Fire who don’t always make it to Calgary. So far I have not been disappointed!
- The weekend following I am off to Canada for nearly two weeks! I have a mountain drive planned, time with friends scheduled, and, of course, my friend Lissa’s wedding– in which I will be a bridesmaid!
- I will be flying back to England with my parents who will be with me for a few days before they go on their own tour around Paris, Edinburgh, Dublin and Bath.
- August is filled with a lot more visits to friends or visits from friends.
- And summer rounds up with an early September camping trip to Cornwall with Katy! (Stonehenge Katy)
Hopefully, I will post updates about all of these things after they happen and include lots of pictures. However, if I don’t I think you might understand that I’m quite busy. I mean, these are only the main points. I haven’t included general socializing, smaller events, trying to not develop crushes on relatively new friends, a few other gigs and the day-to-day things I need to do to keep my life going because I am “an adult” with “responsibilities” including “bills to pay.” These things obviously take up shockingly large chunks of my time.
So see you when I post new things or see you on the other side, I guess!