Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Mermaids in England

As you may or may not know, I am kind of a mermaid fanatic. There are those who like vampires, zombies, ghosts, and the like, but for me, it's mermaids. The mermaid fandom has books, movies, artwork, jewelry, custom tails--you name it. Mermaids are a seriously lesser respected paranormal creature and finding fellow fans is always fun. Much like those who are banding together preparing for the upcoming zombie apocalypse, there is a similar mermaid fan community in the world of the inter-webs. And I may or may not even have my own mermaid blog...

So why is this relevant to my upcoming semester in London you ask? Well, because of the mermaid related sites I plan on visiting of course! There are several major mermaid legends in England. I definitely plan on visiting one location, but hopefully can make it to others as well.

The first is the Mermaid of Zennor. The small town of Zennor, Cornwall is the setting for my favorite book series, The Ingo Chronicles, by Helen Dunmore (above). It's a middle grade book I read in 7th grade and it's flawless.

In the very first chapter of Ingo the main character, Sapphire, recounts the ancient legend of the Zennor Mermaid. If you aren't familiar with the tale, click here. Basically, a mermaid sings by the coast and lures a man beneath the waves. Never to be seen again. Not only am I excited to visit the town of Zennor itself, but there is also a carving of the mermaid inside St. Senara's Church (pictured above left), where they say the man used to sing in the choir. I cannot wait to see it in person!

The next two locations are actually in Derbyshire, inside Peak District National Park. Both are inland bodies of water that claim to be home to a mermaid.

The first is the Mermaid's Pool (left). She is believed to rise to the surface on Midsummer’s Day or at midnight on Easter Eve with the ability to grant those who seek her out eternal life. Though, if in a bad mood, she just might drown you instead. A subterranean passage to the Atlantic Ocean is claimed as the reason for the pool's salty water.

The other location, Blake Mere, is farther South (pictured below). There are varying accounts about the origin of the mermaid. Some say that a sailor brought the mermaid here and others believe a girl was spitefully drowned and transformed into a mermaid.

Both these locations are in Derbyshire, but I also have Chatsworth House on my list of things to see, so I might be able to get everything in on a single trip to the area. I believe both locations may also require a hike and I would definitely want to be with a guide/in a group to see them.

Regardless of whether I make it to all these destinations or not, it's so much fun learning about all this stuff and finding out about the local cultures and myths. I'm sure there are several more mermaid tales around the various coasts and up into Scotland as well!


Sunday, July 20, 2014

I'm Going to London!

So, it's official--I'm going to London! In less than 7 short weeks I'll be walking along the River Thames (pronounced "Tems" as my mother keeps correcting me so I don't sound like an idiot) and livin it up every week in English tea houses. That's pretty much where the blog name came from. If you know me then you're already aware of my affinity for tea and traditional tea houses. I've been planning out all the sites and restaurants I want to get around to during my 15 weeks abroad. Tea houses make up WAY TOO MUCH of the list. I just can't help it though there are TOO MANY of them! They all look so amazing and delicious...

Anyway, so I'm going abroad through the CAPA program. I chose them because of the opportunity to live in a British homestay and the unique courses they offer. They're really focused on integrating the city of London into coursework and that got me excited. I'll be taking a class on British popular culture and another on the history of theatre in England. I really see this experience as a key component to my education. England is one of the best places an English major can go. So many of the places I've read about I'll be able to visit in person. I've already started a page where you can see my bucket list of things to see/eat/do while I'm away and I plan on linking the photo tab to a Flicker page soon.

Some of the things I cannot wait to do include...

COASTEERING! Doesn't this look like the most fun thing to do ever??

THE MINACK THEATRE! My inner theatre nerd is crying from the beauty.

THE JANE AUSTEN FESTIVAL! Hundreds dressed in authentic Regency garb. Need I say more?

And that's all just the beginning.

I plan on writing a few more posts before I leave on how I'm preparing and anything else that pops up along the way. Until then!