A Day in Haworth!

On Friday 17th November, a friend and I rolled sleepily out of bed and walked down to university, where we got on a minibus which would take us to Haworth, Yorkshire. It was a trip with the English society, because the main tourist attraction in Haworth is, of course, the Brontë Parsonage.

DSC00496

I’ll confess now that I’ve only actually read Jane Eyre, and the first time I didn’t even like it all that much (it improved on second reading, many years later). But the Brontë sisters are undoubtedly famous, so it was a good opportunity to take. The parsonage is a good couple of hours away from the Liverpool, so we didn’t get there until around midday. It was raining most of the way there, but by the time we eventually stopped, it was just a bit gloomy, weather-wise (the irony was not lost on us).

So our first stop was getting our tickets to the parsonage! The student tickets cost around £6 (I think the standard adult ticket was £7-8), and apparently they stay valid for a whole year. I don’t know when I’d get the opportunity to go back within a year, but it’s still cool.

DSC00515

We decided to go around the parsonage before finding something to eat. The house itself had quite a few rooms – it was modest, which I guess you would expect. This year the parsonage has been promoting the story of Branwell Brontë (the brother, if you’re not familiar… I wasn’t), but next year is the celebration of Emily Brontë’s 200th birthday, and the museum has something rather special in mind.

The above photo is one of what will be a unique, handwritten manuscript of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, in a tribute to her as the original manuscript is lost. Curated by Clare Towmey, visitors to the parsonage can take the opportunity to write one line each in the manuscript, and then it will be exhibited at the museum all of next year.

The session to write in the manuscript happened at 4pm on the Friday I went, and while our trip had split up into our various groups basically as soon as we got off the minibus, it was amusing to see all of us pool into the house at about ten to four, eager to take part. To tell the truth, it did feel very strange to sit in the Brontë house, writing in a Brontë manuscript. My line was “by my employer. Hareton would not open his fingers, so I”, but again, I haven’t actually read it so it doesn’t actually mean anything to me. Don’t worry, it’s on the to-read list…

DSC00549DSC00561DSC00595

In between our two trips to the house, I spent some time wandering up and down the high street, mostly just to take photographs. My Instagram is soon to be filled with them. It’s a very pretty place, and clearly takes pride in its Brontë legacy with the amount of references to it and merchandise sold to do with it.

More of our time, however, was spent in the graveyard behind the church by the parsonage. Now, my mum has always liked graveyards, as morbid as it may be, and I’ve never really understood it – but we thought we’d see if we could find the Brontë graves. We were very much unsuccessful, for reasons to be explained, but while we were there, loitering, a man approached us and asked if we would like to help wind up the church clock.

DSC00618

Figuring hey, why not – we had time to kill, after all – we agreed. Now, you know those doors on the sides of churches that look really small and old, and you walk past them and vaguely wonder if anyone ever actually uses them? It turns out, yes! The man opened the tiny door and led us up what has to have been the narrowest set of stone spiral stairs I have ever come across. They were so narrow that there was a rope hanging from top to bottom for the express purpose of semi-dragging yourself up so you didn’t tumble back down.

We emerged into a small room with a high ceiling, where the man lifted a long ladder and placed it against a balcony, where the clock mechanism is (as you can see below).

DSC00626

It was a few minutes to three at this point, so we hurried (albeit unsteadily) up the ladder so we could watch as the clock turned three and set the bells off. I’ll admit, it was actually really interesting to see the mechanism go. The man was telling us about the history of the clock tower, and how the clock mechanism had been working since the late 1800s, when it was installed.

Winding the clock turned out to mean winding three separate parts of the clock, one at a time. When you wind it (using some form of crank that attaches to the mechanism), the ropes pull up these ginormous weights – and I mean ginormous. The first one must have been over a metre long, almost a foot thick, and completely solid metal. The other two got progressively smaller, but winding them up was honestly a bit of a workout. The whole process took around 40 minutes.

We signed a book afterwards, which it appears people have been doing for quite a long time, to say that we’d been there – we were also showed the time when a member of Japanese royalty signed the book in 1999, and then on the next page, a few Japanese tourists did it and, according to the man, were thrilled to realise that the royalty had been there only a short while before them.

 

DSC00636

All in all, my day in Haworth was pretty great. I definitely didn’t expect to end up in a clock tower or writing in a Brontë manuscript! Plus, the trip would have been totally worth it for the photography opportunities anyway. And hey, maybe my mum’s right and good things do come from hanging out in graveyards.

Katy x

A Day in London: Lenin’s House, Greek Artefacts, Westminster Abbey!

One of the (admittedly very limited) perks of where I live is how fast you can access London while not actually living inside it. So when a friend texted me saying she had a ticket returning from London that she needed to use, and suggested a day together in London, I was all for it. To stick to our budgets, we planned the day in advance and had a list of things we wanted to see which went in a convenient line towards the Thames.

We were considering looking around the Platform 9 3/4 shop as our first stop, seeing as we would both be arriving at King’s Cross within minutes of each other, but as it’s the summer holidays, there was quite the queue going on. How I miss the days when it first arrived, and even when the trolley sticking out of the wall first arrived, and you could look around with no problems… Alas, those days are long gone. (Unless you arrive at King’s Cross around midnight after seeing a show at the West End on a Thursday night, in which case it’s usually deserted and you can take photos no problem. I’ve done this many times.)

DSC00113.JPG

So, our first stop was the British Library. Neither of us had visited it before, and while you can’t see much of it without being a member, the atrium was pretty cool, and the shop was really good. A lot of the books they had on display at the front of the shop were to do with the 1917 Russian Revolution and the years afterwards, as they are currently running an exhibition on it.

There were some really ornate copies of the books as well; one of my favourites was this copy of Tolstoy’s War and Peace

Once we’d spent a good half an hour or so having a nosy around and buying postcards and the like, we headed for our second destination of the day: the British Museum. We had travelcards, so we could have just saved ourselves the time (and the rain) by hopping on the bus or the tube, but if you’re having a leisurely day in London, why miss out on the sights? Plus, I’d brought my new camera with me and was determined to get some good shots, like this one of the Bloomsbury Coffee House:

And this one of Ghandi in Tavistock Square (a place which I had never heard of but hey-ho, that’s what exploring is for):

Not to mention that we also found, rather by accident, the former residence of Vladimir Lenin, who had spent a brief time living in London a few years after the 1905 Revolution. We found this rather fitting, considering the exhibition we had just left. It looks surprisingly humble, sandwiched between a B&B and what is now Albany Hotel. I would definitely recommend blue-plaque-spotting in London, even just for the amusing ones – two doors down from Lenin’s was Jerome K Jerome, an English writer with just a great name.

DSC00127DSC00126

Some considerable time later, we arrived at the British Museum. I’ve been there a few times before over the years, though not recently. We mainly just wanted to see the Greek and Roman galleries while we were there – after all, you can take history students out of the classroom and all they’ll do is find the history in the real world. Who isn’t at least slightly curious about those two ancient civilisations anyway? I won’t bore you with all the photos of the galleries, just the highlights:

DSC00144DSC00150DSC00167DSC00180DSC00185

(You may notice, as I have, that a lot of the artefacts in the British Museum are either headless, limbless, or torso-less. A lot of the Egyptian artefacts are missing noses. We actually saw a sign in one of the Greek galleries which informed us that the heads of the statues we were standing in front of were in a gallery in Greece. That’s the real definition of being all over the place!)

Our third destination of the day was a particular favourite of mine: Trafalgar Square. I don’t know why I like it so much, but it just always has such a good atmosphere whenever I’m there. It feels a bit like its own little world, to be honest. We didn’t make it inside the National Gallery, but we did find two Pikachus, two floating Yodas, a floating Grim Reaper, and a Mad Hatter (who jumped out at me and made me scream) wandering around, together with a guitar-playing busker. There was also a thumb statue which I’m fairly certain wasn’t there two years ago, when I last visited… Trafalgar Square can be the most bizarre place.

DSC00223DSC00227

Time was moving on by this point, so we had to skip the National Gallery in order to make it to somewhere my friend was particularly keen to visit: Westminster Abbey. By the time we left Trafalgar Square, we had actually missed the standard weekday last entry to the Abbey, but on Wednesdays they have half price late entry until 6pm – again, highly recommend. I only have limited photos of Westminster Abbey as photos inside the building are not allowed, but I’ll give you a brief rundown of what’s inside…

DSC00247

When you get inside, it’s a sort of one-way system. The first object (is object the right word?) of note is the tomb of Queen Elizabeth I, which was about as stately and extravagant as you’d imagine. You can walk all the way around it; it’s in a small room off the main floor. Next is Henry VII’s Lady Chapel, which includes the RAF Chapel and Battle of Britain window. On the other side of the Lady Chapel is the tomb of Mary Queen of Scots, again as extravagant as you’d expect. Then there’s Poets’ Corner, where you can find burials and commemorations of the likes of Shakespeare, Jane Austen, and Charles Dickens.

On the other side of the Abbey, you have Scientists’ Corner, where you’ll find Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin. There’s the Grave of the Unknown Warrior and a Sir Winston Churchill memorial, and finally, the Coronation Chair.

DSC00250

And that’s about all we got up to! When we left Westminster Abbey, we got the tube back to King’s Cross rather than walk all the way back up again. I love days exploring cities like this, I always find things I wasn’t looking for, especially in London. Here’s hoping for many more days like it in the future…

Katy x

Art, Prison, and Engines: Exploring Liverpool!

With my first year of university wrapped up, a friend and I decided it was finally time to explore. We’ve been so busy ever since we got here that we’ve simply not been able to. So, this last weekend, we set aside three straight days. Here’s what we got up to!

Friday: Walker Art Gallery

If you’ve ever been to Liverpool, you’ll likely have seen the incredible buildings across the road from Lime Street station. St George’s Hall, the World Museum, the Central Library, and Walker Art Gallery. I’ve walked past them dozens of times, and only really been in the library.

Stumbled upon a #monet painting #artgallery #landscape #beautiful #tourist

A post shared by Katy Bennett (@thekatybennett) on

So our first stop was the art gallery. It had around a dozen galleries, from medieval European art to contemporary pieces. There was an early copy of the Mona Lisa, as well as a Monet painting (above). I quite liked how low-key it was; compared to the museums and galleries I’ve been to in London, there was actually space to look and pause without being somehow forced out of the way.

We spent a good couple of hours at this gallery, just taking it in. I will admit, we were a bit immature for a little while when we discovered that Snapchat filters would respond to the paintings… I won’t put those photos in…

DSCN2624.JPG

Saturday: Cathedral and Many, Many Miles

Saturday brought our trip to Chester! If you recall, I first visited Chester back in February and wrote a post about it, but that time was very purpose-orientated for a module I was studying. This time, we hopped on a bus, and had no agenda. We walked around the entire city wall, struggled to find the cathedral entrance, found out Google was sadly misinformed and that the castle is closed to the public, and ate food in a Grade 2 listed building.

A little side note, but I am impressed by the bus fares up here. It was £2 for a return journey that took over three hours in total, probably closer to four. At home it’s about £2 to go all of ten minutes.

DSCN2662DSCN2666

The weather the whole weekend was gorgeous. It rained a tiny bit but other than that, it was great. My friend happens to have an extremely friendly face and gets stopped all the time by people asking for directions etc., so when we were on our way out of the cathedral she got stopped for a survey. Of course. The woman asking the questions seemed quite amused at the fact we weren’t on a trip, but had simply sat on the bus from one end of the line to the other!

During the course of the day, we managed to walk almost the entire circumference of the city wall. When we reached the Phoenix Tower/King Charles Tower, the small room inside was open, so we sat there for a solid 40 minutes discussing which periods of history we’ve covered so far – yes, we’re complete nerds… The member of staff there found us amusing, though, so there’s that.

Sunday: Prison and A Lot of Rope

Directly opposite Lime Street Station is a huge building with a war memorial in front of it. That building is St George’s Hall, previously an ambiguous building I’d walk past every time I went into town.

Turns out, it was an old prison, courthouse, and hall for various events! The cells have certain sections of the walls preserved, where inmates wrote their names and sentences. The corridors have a lot of information about past practises carried out by prison guards, and the various forms of punishment. It was actually really fascinating. Oh, and the hall here is where part of Fantastic Beasts was filmed, just FYI.

Afterwards, we wandered down to Albert Dock. I’ve been here fairly regularly, but not done a whole lot. When we arrived, we were pleasantly surprised to find we could go on a couple of the ships docked there! The first one was a proper pirate-y ship, ropes and all.

Out and about and ended up on a ship! I love Liverpool 😂 #tourist #explore #albertdock #smoothsailing #nofilter

A post shared by Katy Bennett (@thekatybennett) on

IMG_20170604_124544IMG_20170604_124758

The second was a ship that’s been through a lot. The guys on board told us a lot of its history. It was built in 1903 (before the first flight – woah), has very similar engines to the Titanic, spent years falling into disrepair, and took over £3 million to restore.

They took us to various parts of the ship, including the engine room, which was really amazing. It’s really an incredible sight, to see where the magic actually happens. I’d highly recommend seeing a ship’s engine room if you can, it should be a bucket list thing. I can’t imagine much of what’s produced today lasting the next hundred or so years, but back then, things were built to last.

IMG_20170604_132044IMG_20170604_133159IMG_20170604_133532

We finished the day (and our weekend of exploring) with the Museum of Liverpool across the other side of the dock. It incorporated a huge amount of the city’s history, from the First World War, to the Beatles, to now. The pair of us are history students, we can’t help but be attracted to all the historic places and activities of the city.


So there you have it! That’s pretty much what we got up to over the last weekend. I know Liverpool has a raging reputation for the clubbing and nightlife available here, but if you do come visit, I’d really encourage you to explore the way we did. Even though Chester technically isn’t Liverpool, but y’know. The history of this city is amazing, and the sights are great.

Before you go, please feel free to go follow me on my Instagram and Twitter accounts – it’s where I’m most active!

Katy x