Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Obviously Thanksgiving isn't celebrated over here in the UK. So, today I am going about life as usual, going to my classes and working on my assignments. This evening they are having an American Thanksgiving meal for international students, so at least, I will get somewhat of a Thanksgiving meal.

I decided to celebrate thanksgiving by writing this special blog post. Mostly, I just had to write this for a job application and today just happened to be the perfect day to post it. So here you go:

10 things the Farmer's daughter is thankful for this year.

What the farmer’s daughter is thankful for this Thanksgiving:
  1. Her Dad: For showing her to love what you do and do what you love.
He was milking before I ever woke up and was milking when I went to bed. Farming is a way of life and you must love it to work hard 365 days a year.  Thank you dad, for showing me that in your words, “When the goin’ gets tough, the tough get goin’!”
  1. Her Mom: For showing her balance between work and life.
She would be feeding calves in the morning, delivering dad lunch at noon, and would be there to lead the after school 4-H meeting. She balanced farming, work, extracurriculars and family like a pro. Thank you mom, for always chauffeuring me to all my activities and making sure I got the chance to try everything, even if it meant you had to be the coach or start a 4-H club.
  1. The Early Mornings and Late Nights: For developing her work ethic.
Farming isn’t easy, and it the work is never done. Working alongside my dad every day, baling hay with the guys, spreading fresh straw in the barns, and feeding calves every day created a work ethic that will be valuable no matter where I end up in life. If I can do this, I can do anything. Thank you hard work, for never letting me quit.
  1. The Farm Dog: For never leaving her side and being her best friend growing up.
Doing chores for hours every day is always better with a sidekick, and my trusty farm dog, a collie named Lassie, never let me down. From lapping up the spilt milk in the barn to chasing me around on the 4-wheeler, I could always count on Lassie to keep me company. Thank you Lassie, for making sure I always had a friend.
  1. Saturday Night Milkings: For the quality family time.
While other kids my age were having sleepovers or going out on Saturday night, I spent every Saturday night milking the cows with my family. At the time, I complained, but now I know how valuable that time was. Thank you late night milkings, for showing me that my dad cannot dance.
  1. The Cows: For producing the milk.
Our family made our living off what these amazing animals produced. Not to mention it’s a tasty healthy product too!! There’s something special about spending an hour in the barn with your favorite show cow that puts a smile on your face. Thank you cows, for listening to me singing at the top of my lungs in the barn.
  1. The Indiana Sunset: for always reminding her to see the beauty in everyday things.
A beautiful Indiana sunset over the farm is something that takes your breath away. At the end of a long hard day, taking a minute to look at the sky painted pink and orange reminds you to see the beauty in every day and to ‘stop and smell the roses’. Thank you sunset, for a beautiful end to every summer day.
  1. The 4-H Fair: For friends that will last a lifetime, and the best week of the year.
There is nothing more fun than spending a week in the barn with your best friends. My best friends are the ones I met through 4-H, and I know that years from now, when it's our own kids that are showing animals at the county fair, I will always be able to count on them. The fair was my favorite week of the year, after all the dozens of hours of work I put into getting my projects ready, coming home with the purple banner made it all worth it. Thank you 4-H, for teaching me to win and lose graciously, and that while the banners fade, the friends and memories last forever.
  1. FFA: For developing her skills in leadership and communication
Joining FFA as a shy freshman and building my way up to chapter vice president broke me out of my shell. I know that I owe a lot of my success to the organization that gave me an identity and a vision for my future, and built my confidence to achieve that vision. Thank you FFA, for building my confidence in myself.
  1. The Dirty Boots: For the miles and the memories.
My dirty boots sit on the shelf falling apart at the soles, but they were there for every memory. When my 2000-pound cow Missy stepped on my foot and wouldn’t move, to the next year when Missy won Grand Champion and then years later when Missy took her last breaths. Thank you boots, for keeping my feet dry and keeping me sturdy through every chore, and every challenge, as well as through the tears, both joyful and sorrowful.
As Thanksgiving is upon us, what are you thankful for? I am forever grateful for the fact that I was raised on a dairy farm in southern Indiana. Thankful that I learned the most valuable life lessons and learned the way of life through the eyes of a farmer. I’m thankful that farming gave me a passion for agriculture and a career path, and wherever my life may lead, I am thankful that I always have a place back on the farm.

Monday, November 20, 2017


So I got back from Bath late on Monday night, Wednesday I was looking at my schedule for the rest of my 2 months (!!!) over here. I realized my time is flying and I am running out of weekends for my adventures. I knew I still really wanted to go to Scotland, and this weekend was my best shot. I tossed it around in my head, I have 2 papers due soon, I had just gotten back from Bath, and no one would be able to go with me. At about 8 pm Wednesday I decided to go for it (I mean when else am I going to be able to go to Scotland for a weekend) I booked a hostel and found a train ride that would work, I left Thursday at 3:00 pm.

The train journey was 7 hours long, and it was mostly in the dark. I tried to get some work done on the train, and actually managed to start an essay!! I arrived at Edinburgh Waverly train station at 10:30 Thursday night and walked the 15 minutes to my hostel (the hardest part is trying to orient yourself in the train station and go out the right exit, thankfully there are nice policemen to help!).

On Friday morning I ate breakfast at a cute little café and had the thickest piece of French toast I’ve ever seen, I’m serious it was like 2 inches thick. I then booked a city tour to see what the town had to offer. Edinburgh is unlike any other city I’ve visited, it is very mid-evil feeling, and has a clear divide through the center of town, with Old town being at the top of the hill, and new town at the bottom (mind you it’s called new town, but it was built in the 1700s). At the very top of the hill in the middle of town was the Edinburgh castle, the castle is probably not what you’re thinking. It’s a newer castle (in terms of castles) and is built more like its own village other than one large ominous structure. A lot of the buildings have been turned into museums for the tourists. I got to see the Crown Jewels of Scotland, which was really cool, even though they’re not needed anymore and haven’t been used since Queen Mary II was crowned in 1692. Since Scotland is a part of the UK it no longer has its own royalty. The castle is so huge I spent most of my afternoon here.
The castle sits on the top of this large rock hill

I’m not really sure how I found out about it or why I didn’t do more research, but I bought a ticket to La Clique Noël, it was a show being put on by Edinburgh Christmas market, so I was expecting a Christmas musical or something along those lines. Well, that is not what I got. It ended up being some sort of variety show, it started off with singing and dancing, but then it got a little weird. A self-proclaimed gay man came out in a blue skintight bunny suit, not really sure what the act was but it was amusing. The rest of the show included a sword swallower/fire breather, a hula-hoop man, and acrobats. I wasn’t quite sure whether to be entertained or confused most of the time, but it was quite the experience, at least the band was really good.

Well I’m a country girl at heart and can only spend so much time in the city, so, I booked a day tour to see the Scottish Highlands. I had to get up at 7 am to walk to the meeting point, and our bus left promptly at 8. We drove about 1.5 hours through the lowlands/farming country to a small town on the edge of the highlands where we got breakfast. Afterward we drove over a fault line to a new tectonic plate and entered the highlands, it is amazing how quickly the scenery and roads changed. We drove about another 1.5 hours with many pictures stops along the way to the valley of Glencoe (Glen means narrow valley in Gaelic). Glencoe is considered one of the most picturesque valleys in all of Scotland, and Scotland was just recently voted the most beautiful place in the world, so that’s saying something. It was a gorgeous view, with snowcapped mountains on either side. It is late fall, so only the tallest mountains have a layer of snow. We stopped at Glencoe visitor site before travelling about another 1.5 hours (with picture stops) to Fort Augustus. We had 1.5 hrs. here and I opted to go on the Loch Ness boat tour, a simple boat ride just a way around the Loch Ness (Loch=Lake in Gaelic. There are 39,000 Lochs in Scotland) Loch Ness is the largest Loch in Scotland and of course famous for the tales of its monster. Unfortunately, the scariest thing we saw was a wild goat. We then got back on the bus to head back toward Edinburgh. We had 2 quick stops along the way home, but it was dark now so it was a quick trip back to Edinburgh, and by quick I mean like 4 hours. The day was a lot of car time, but I’ve learned that’s the best way to see a lot. I wasn’t so bad our guide, Nick, was a great story teller and kept us entertained. We heard stories about the history of Scotland and important battles and Kings. We heard a lot about the highland Clans of Scotland as well.

The Perfect Mountain                                                     Searching for Nessie
 When I got back to Edinburgh, the Christmas market was open, I just did a quick walk through and decided I would go back tomorrow when it was less crowded. In Edinburgh today, there was a Scotland vs New Zealand Rugby match. I hear it was a really exciting game and the closest Scotland has ever come to beating New Zealand (for us Americans that don’t follow rugby, New Zealand is the best rugby team in the world). Every time we stopped on the way home our driver would turn on the game on the radio to get updates.
These 2 little boys were the most popular musicians of the day

I spent most of Sunday wandering around the cobbled streets of old town and just taking it all in, stopping occasionally to hear street musicians play the bagpipes. I walked around the Christmas market. This market is huge, it is known as one of the best Christmas markets in Europe, and most major European cities have Christmas markets. This weekend was opening weekend and they go for 7 weeks, I came the right time. They have the main market on Princes street in front of the castle, here they have all the shops, food stands, rides, and Santa Land for the kids with a Christmas tree maze. On George street, a couple streets over, they have an ice skating circle, a bunch of stages set up for shows, and Ice Land (not sure what this was) and some more shops. I walked around for a while taking it all in, getting a French lunch of potatoes and smoked sausage. I caught the 3 pm train back toward Wales.

“Better to see something once, than to hear about it a thousand times”

The Beautiful Bath and Stonehenge

It’s been a couple weeks.

I know I haven’t blogged in a while, I have been living a pretty boring life, trying to get ahead on classwork and trying to figure out what I am going to do with my life when I get home.

Last week I decided that it was time for an adventure and planned for a weekend trip to Bath in southern England, with an afternoon trip to Stonehenge. Since it was pretty last minute, no one could come with me, but I didn’t let that hold me back! It is nice to travel alone, you get to do what you want and don’t have to listen to anyone else. It also gets you out of your box and you meet new people.

So, prepare yourself, this one is a long one. I know I say this everytime, but this has seriously been my favorite weekend and it deserves a long blog, just so I can tell you about every perfect thing!! 😊

Saturday morning, I headed off on my journey, after hours of internet searching, I found a cheap way to get there. I took the Mega Bus to Cardiff, the capital of Wales, and from there, Bath was only an hour by train. When I arrived in Cardiff, the city was buzzing, and people were everywhere, I discovered that there was a national rugby game between Wales and Australia in Cardiff that day. It was five hours before kick-off and the streets were hopping, the pubs were already full, and vendors were selling all the necessities for a National Rugby game. It was tempting to stay in Cardiff for the day to take in the festivities. But I am glad I stuck with my original plan and got more time in Bath.

Bath is a small city in southern England built originally by the romans in the first century AD, and today the entire city is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site. That means, according to Wikipedia: “having cultural, historical, scientific or other form of significance, and is legally protected by international treaties. The sites are judged important to the collective interests of humanity. To be selected, a World Heritage Site must be an already classified landmark, unique in some respect as a geographically and historically identifiable place having special cultural or physical significance (such as an ancient ruin or historical structure, building, city, complex, desert, forest, island, lake, monument, or mountain). It may signify a remarkable, accomplishment of humanity, and serve as evidence of our intellectual history on the planet.” So basically, it is a really cool place. The moment I stepped out of the train station I could see the allure of the city. The entire city is built in the same honey-colored limestone blocks and gives the city a magical feel. It. Was. Gorgeous. Why is it called Bath, you say? The town has natural hot springs which the Romans found and made baths, a place of socializing and cleansing in the town square. The entire town flourished and developed around these baths. Bath became a popular place to be and people came from far away to visit the aptly named, Bath.

The first night I was there (Saturday) I got a bus tour around the city, I like to get a tour first thing to learn general facts and get a lay of the land. By the time the tour was finished it was getting late, so I stopped in the pub below my hostel for dinner. They were broadcasting the Wales Rugby game I was talking about and there were a ton of people there to watch. I stuck around to watch the end of an exciting game, and no matter how hard I tried I could not figure out the rules, and was very confused, but that didn’t stop me from cheering on Wales along with the locals. Unfortunately, Wales lost to Australia, despite their last- minute score (touchdown??:/). I then went up to my room for bed, I am sharing a room with girls from China, Italy, and Scotland (one reason hostels are great).

Bath Abbey
Sunday morning, I got up with every intention to head straight to the Roman Baths so I could beat the crowds. Along the way, I passed the Abbey and I heard music, so as I was walking by I was doing a little peeking through the door. A man then opened the door and asked if I was there for morning service, and I figured yeah that would be nice. So, I slipped in the back and got to go to church in a 500-year-old, breathtakingly beautiful Abbey. The service was a very nice Christian service, we sang hymns, listened to the sermon, and had communion. The service was about waiting, it ended up being just what I needed to hear as I am waiting to hear back from employers and waiting to see what the rest of my life holds. It’s a funny thing how God always leads you to where you should be.

After church, I went to the Roman Baths, still early enough to beat the crowds. The baths are no longer used, and the water is not filtered to today’s standards, so no one is allowed in the water (although there is a spa intown that uses the natural hot water and does traditional treatments!). Today the Baths are simply a museum and exhibition about the life of the Romans. It was neat to hear about the Romans and to walk in their footsteps. The Bath Structure itself built by the romans and maintained over the years, was beautiful, with the limestone and statues surrounding the baths.
The Baths with the Abbey in the Background                                                                 Sally Lunn's

After visiting the baths, I ate lunch at the oldest house in Bath, Sally Lunn’s Bun House. The restaurant has been there since 1680, that was before the United States was even a country, the house was built in 1480!!! Columbus hadn’t sailed the ocean blue yet and America hadn’t even been discovered!!! The restaurant is famous for Sally Lunn’s buns. They are huge and delicious. After lunch I got on a purple bus that took me to another UNESCO World Heritage Site, Stonehenge.

We drove through some pretty countryside, past a lot of fields, all while our guide pointed out and told us interesting facts. We arrived at Stonehenge about an hour later and had 2 hours to walk around the site and soak in as much as we could. WE got a little telephone looking thing, and every time we pressed a number we got more information about Stonehenge. I knew Stonehenge was old, but man is that place OLD!! It is over 5000 years old, before the pyramids and long before the Romans. It is one of the first human structures in this world. They hauled 60-ton stones for miles and miles before the invention of the wheel, I’m amazed. Then they carved the stones and hauled them up on their ends. No one knows for sure what the structure was built for, but the popular theories are a temple or a burial site.
                                                                        I know what you're thinking, and no I did not get this picture off the internet.
                                                                                I took it myself

Upon returning to Bath, it was already dark and time for dinner, I got dinner at a Caribbean restaurant, it was tropically refreshing after the bone-chilling winds at Stonehenge. It was Sunday, so a lot of shops and everything had already shut down, so I went back to my hostel. Tonight, a Polish girl joined us in our room.

Monday was my last day in Bath. I went and walked around their Central Market. There has been a market in this building for 700 Years!!! The history in this place just blows my mind! I then went to the Royal Crescent. It is a crescent of houses built in the late 18th century, the first resident moved in in 1776, the same year the declaration of independence was signed. They have refurbished House #1 to the state it was in in 1776 for the first tenant, and have decorated it in the same way. It was a real look into how the wealthy lived in England in the 1700’s. Fun Fact: Their makeup was made with lead and many women died young from lead poisoning.

After the museum I walked around the shopping district, the only thing I bought was a Jane Austen book. Jane Austen lived in Bath for a while with her family and every one pf her books references Bath in one way or another, but 2 of her books are set completely in Bath. I sat a listened to a street artist in front of the Abbey and the Baths, quite an interesting mix of cultures.

I caught the train back to Cardiff where I would catch my bus back to Aber. The Christmas market is in full swing in Cardiff, I had a couple minutes to get some real Spanish churros and walk around under the Christmas lights. England is trying real hard to get me to forget Thanksgiving.

“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.”
Gustave Flaubert