Thursday, September 27

A Spot of Tea

So here’s the gym I’ve been talking about for the past few days. It’s tiny compared to American standards, but it gets the job done. My favorite part is that they have wifi, so I’ve been hitting up the bike like nobody’s business and getting back to one of my loves: PINTEREST!! I can’t get Pinterest to come up on my laptop over here for some reason; anyways…I digress; I still need to figure out the conversion of my weight from pounds to kilograms or whatever they use here, because every machine needs my weight and I am totally guessing what the conversion is! I need to google that. 
Thursday I woke up to a rare occurrence here in Northern England, sunshine! I walked to the bus stop to head to the gym without a jacket or my umbrella because the sun was shinning and it wasn’t raining. I love walking to the bus stop early in the morning, between 8 and 8:30 because in Keele Village we live next to an elementary school, so I love seeing all the parents walk their kids in their precious uniforms every morning. Rain or shine, parents take the bus and walk all the way to school in their cute red and black uniforms. The girls wear red tights with a black jumper dress, and the boys wear black pants with a red shirt, a tie, and a blazer. It’s just so English. This morning all the kids were out laughing and playing in the “gardens” before school started; it was so nice to just close my eyes, hear the laughter and the warmth of the sunshine on my cheeks.
I caught the bus back to Hawthorns and changed into a town-appropriate outfit (my tennis shoes and Nike stuff just wasn’t going to cut it), heated up the other ‘sausage roll’ I bought from town yesterday, and headed out towards Stoke-on-Trent.
I go off the bus at the Stoke Train Station which is this absolutely stunning old building with some gorgeous architecture. I’ve been on a mission to find Mom & Kelly a hotel to stay in while they visit me so I marched into the train station to inquire about a hotel, but it turns out the ONLY hotel in Stoke-on-Trent is the “hotel-from-hell” as the people on TripAdvisor have dubbed it. So that was an epic fail. It looks like Mom & Kelly will be staying in Newcastle in a quaint cottage or B&B while they’re here :)
Although Stoke-on-Trent didn’t look like much of a town, and it was starting to drizzle (I’ve become smart and carry an umbrella in my Longchamp bag at all times), I decided to discover the town anyways. Staffordshire College is in Stoke-on-Trent which is where English students go from the ages of 16-18 or the “gap years” as they call them, which are the years between high school and when they go to university. It’s an optional two years of schooling, but it’s basically like a glorified high school, or so it appears.
So because of that, with the average age of residents of Stoke on Trent being 17, you can imagine the town was a bit…sketchy. However, I kept on walking because I saw a sign that said Hanley Park was up ahead. I drugged on through the cobblestone pathways and came across Hanley Park which had a beautiful and tranquil lake. It was a quiet little park, full of ducks and geese, an occasional older couple walking hand-in-hand and a few people feeding the pigeons. I walked all around the lake in the light drizzle enjoying the older couple ahead of me sharing an umbrella and occasionally stopping to stare off into the lake where the ducks quacked playfully. 
After finding my way out of Hanley Park, I caught the bus into Hanley City Center which was actually a large town. The town was bustling with people and pigeons! There was a town market again full of fresh fruits and vegetables and street vendors selling potato jackets (baked potatoes) and fish & chips! I wandered into some of the more metropolitan stores such as The Potteries, Gap, and TK Maxx! It wasn’t as cute and quaint as Newcastle but it was nice to experience the city-vibe in Northern England for a change of pace.
Oh, and on the way back to Newcastle I jumped off the bus at this old church I’d seen just to see what it was. It was St. Peter’s Church. The grave yard was mysterious and eerie but quite peaceful at the same time; and the church itself was a beautiful beacon on top of a hill, with grand gothic architecture elements. Very beautiful!
Now I’m sitting in the Chancellor’s Building coffee shop with a spot of Earl Gray tea and a chocolate muffin listening to the Pride & Prejudice soundtrack on my Mac. It’s been a full day of exploring towns, and now I’m quite ready for the bangers & mash my flatmates are going to prepare me tonight!!