Prairie Pictures on the Farm

Prairie Pictures on the Farm

This past week, I went out to my grandparents plot of land outside of Grinnell to take some pictures of the prairie. The farm has always been a wonderfully peaceful place for me to go, and is one of my favorite things about being in Grinnell. It's such an amazing opportunity to get to immerse myself in the pure, unspoiled Iowa prairie. Enjoy the pictures below, and many thanks to my grandparents for making it all possible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My wonderful grandparents.

The photographer, out-standing in his field.

 

A Fun Day at the V&A (…And Natural History Museum)

A Fun Day at the V&A (…And Natural History Museum)

Today was a massive museum day!

 

I started with the Victoria and Albert Museum. It is such a vast, amazing space filled with countless treasures. I explored various rooms for a few hours, marveling at all of the incredible handiwork. It always astounds me to realize how much incredible stuff was made before the advent of modern technologies like computers or even electricity. I just see so much potential in the human race by looking at our past and seeing the marvels we could make in the old past, and dreaming of the incredible, unimaginably awesome things the future will hold.

 

After the V&A, I traveled to the nearby Natural History Museum. Its imposing exterior is matched by the majestic interior, filled to the brim with scientific treasures. I went through a special exhibit on the museum's most valuable acquisitions (including a Neanderthal skull and a first edition of On The Origin of the Species), an exhibit on evolution, and the museum's giant collection of minerals. The collection was housed in a massive hall lined with rows on rows of display cases. It was a geology enthusiast's dream, and totally ROCKED! (Okay… awful pun, I apologize.)

 

After all of the museum walking, I was hungry, so I swung into Chinatown to grab a cheap Baozi (steam bun), then headed off to the gym. After the gym, I made a supper that used up almost the last of our food stocks! The end is near! All in all, a good day!

 

 

Buddha From the V&A

Another Buddha

…And Yet Another Buddha.

 

Exquisite Arabian Carpet

 

Bronze Statue

 

Ivory Framed in Wood

V&A Courtyard

 

Entrance to the Natural History Museum

 

Darwin

FIRST EDITION!!!

 

Gibbon

The Rock Hall

 

Malachite

 

 

Topaz (Mom's Favorite)

 

Agate

 

Magnificent Opals!

 

Big Ben Strikes Again!

Big Ben Strikes Again!

Today was a very photo-tastic day!

I ventured over to Trafalgar Square today, hoping for some pictures of the square and of Nelson's column before I visited the National Gallery to see the paintings. However, as soon as I got to Trafalgar Square, I could see the beautiful light illuminating Big Ben and Parliament and knew I had to get some pictures. I hurried down Whitehall towards them and got to the area near Westminster as the clock struck three.

The light was absolutely perfect and I managed to snag some phenomenal shots. Check them out below. After the photoshoot, I headed back to the National Gallery and got to see some amazing paintings by Van Gogh, Monet, and more! Post-art-viewing, I headed to Leicester Square to check out the discount tickets for shows. I lucked out and managed to snag a seat for Wicked at an awesome price. After that, I hit the gym for a massive workout and then went to the grocery. All in all, a good day!

 

Nelson's Column

 

Down Whitehall

 

 

Big Ben

Parliament

Ben and Skies

Sepia-Toned

London Icons

I See the Eye

Perfect Light

The National Gallery

 

Big Ben Strikes Again!

Big Ben Strikes Again!

Today was a very photo-tastic day!

I ventured over to Trafalgar Square today, hoping for some pictures of the square and of Nelson's column before I visited the National Gallery to see the paintings. However, as soon as I got to Trafalgar Square, I could see the beautiful light illuminating Big Ben and Parliament and knew I had to get some pictures. I hurried down Whitehall towards them and got to the area near Westminster as the clock struck three.

The light was absolutely perfect and I managed to snag some phenomenal shots. Check them out below. After the photoshoot, I headed back to the National Gallery and got to see some amazing paintings by Van Gogh, Monet, and more! Post-art-viewing, I headed to Leicester Square to check out the discount tickets for shows. I lucked out and managed to snag a seat for Wicked at an awesome price. After that, I hit the gym for a massive workout and then went to the grocery. All in all, a good day!

 

Nelson's Column

 

Down Whitehall

 

 

Big Ben

Parliament

Ben and Skies

Sepia-Toned

London Icons

I See the Eye

Perfect Light

The National Gallery

 

Spectacular Scotland, Day 3

Spectacular Scotland, Day 3

Today was another day full of food, adventures, and climbing things in Edinburgh, Scotland.

I began my day with another hearty Scottish Breakfast, as well as a bowl of porridge, juice, and tea. It was filling, dense, and exactly what I needed to fuel my day. I then checked out of my room. I was sorry to say goodbye to NB's Bed & Breakfast. It was a phenomenal place to stay; the comfortable and clean room combined with a stupendous staff made for one of my best travel experiences ever.

 

An Egg-cellent Way to Start My Day

Next, I made my way down to bus station, stored my duffel bag in a locker in the station, and went back to the center of town. Edinburgh is a city positively glowing with holiday spirit. I walked around the streets admiring the decorations until I made it back to the Scott Monument. I had read that one could pay a small fee and climb up the hollow interior all the way to the top! Of course, if there is one thing I apparently cannot resist in cities, it's climbing insanely tall monuments to take photographs. So, after 287 steps (some of them climbed sideways, as my shoulders couldn't fit widthwise inside the top spire's staircase), I made it to the very top of the monument! It was beautifully clear, and with the holiday celebrations all around the center plaza, I got some really fun shots.

Festive Decorations!

 

It's a Long Way Up.

 

Ferris Wheel, Shot Halfway Up

 

Gorgeous Hidden Interior in the First Level Up

 

View From the Top

 

Self-Portrait!

 

Another View From the Top

Next up was a trip to the Museum of Scotland. It looked immense and really cool! Inside were some amazing displays. They included everything from industrial design throughout time, to world cultures, to animal adaptations, to geology. It was amazing to see some of the treasures the museum has. I particularly enjoyed the rock samples and the Lewis Chess Pieces. It's always quite fun to see in-person things that I've only seen in textbooks. After the museum, I made my way to a local pie shop, Piemaker's, for a quite delicious red pepper and chicken snack pie.

 

Lighthouse Reflectors

 

The Second Edition of Darwin's Origin of the Species


Beautifully Designed Wall Sconce by Frank Llyod Wright

What a Car!

 

Typewriters

Pallasite

 

Amethyst

 

 

Buddha

Another Buddha

 

The Famed Lewis Chess Pieces

 

Great Humor, Great Pie at Piemakers

 

Next, I made my way to the Elephant House yet again to bask in the Mecca of the Harry Potter world. I had a pot of tea and read from the seventh book. I also left my own message in the bathroom. It's one of my favorite lines from the entire series, and I think is also reflective of the amazing world the JK Rowling created for all of us and the power of our collective imaginations.

Of course it's all happening in your head, Harry, but why on Earth should that mean it's not real?

-Dumbledore (Book 7, Page 723.)

I finished my day with some adventuring on the Royal Mile. I watched a street performer for quite awhile; he was a combination of comedian and contortionist, which was very entertaining, especially as he had a very polished show. I then caught a quick fish and chips dinner at a pub with my friend, Kate, who also ended up visiting Edinburgh this weekend. Finally, I boarded my bus to go back home to London. All in all, a good day.

The Entertainer

 

He Attracted a Massive Crowd

 

 

Spectacular Scotland, Day 2

Spectacular Scotland, Day 2

It's been an amazing day full of adventure here in Edinburgh.

In short, I ate a full Scottish breakfast, toured the Bank of Scotland Museum, went on a whiskey distillery tour, visited St. Giles Cathedral, climbed the 250 meter mountain/hill Arthur's Seat, ate a delicious sandwich, and visited the “Birthplace of Harry Potter”, the cafe where JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter.

 

I began my day with a hearty breakfast cooked to order at my bed & breakfast. The full Scottish Breakfast included sausages, bacon, eggs, haggis, tomato, beans, toast, porridge, tea, orange juice, and apple juice. Needless to say, I was thrilled to have such a hearty breakfast to start off my day. I ate it all up, and headed down into town.

 

The Scottish Breakfast

 

After that filling breakfast, I rode the bus into town, and swung into the Bank of Scotland Museum. It was incredible, with an impressive display of artifacts, including a display of shiny copper banknote print blocks. I enjoyed browsing through the free-admission museum as my food digested. The staff were also very friendly and knowledgable!

 

 

Old Bank Keys

After the bank, I ventured up the hill to see another of Scotland's treasures, its whiskey. I had the whiskey tour highly recommended by many, so I paid my fee and ventured into the building to explore the world of whiskey. Luckily, my tour group was really small, (only an English couple and myself) so we got a great deal of attention and care from our guide. After a quick introduction to the process of actually making whiskey, we made our way to a tasting room, where she explained the four most important whiskey production regions in Scotland and the various influences geography have on the character of the whiskey. We then were able to try one type of whiskey from a region of our choice. As we enjoyed our selection, we moved into the room housing the extensive collection of whiskey bottles in the museum. It was an astonishing sight, with the beautifully lit shelves filling a massive room from the floor to ceiling with whiskey bottles. The museum bought the collection from a Brazilian whiskey enthusiast. The collection contains over 3384 bottles, of which none have been opened. After touring the collection room, we finished our tour in the tasting room, where we were each given a small portion of each of the four regions' whiskey to try, as well as some still Scottish Water to add to the whiskey to taste. It was an incredible experience.

 

The Tour Whiskeys

 

One Portion of the Collection

 

 

Nice “Books”

 

Expensive Bottle Decorated With Real Silver

 

Each Chess Piece Contains Whiskey… Checkmate?

 

 

My Tasting Set

Next, I walked down the Royal Mile to St. Giles Cathedral. It was a glorious Gothic-style building with amazing stained glass and interiors. Absolutely stunning, inside and out!

St. Giles

Interior of St. Giles

 

Impressive Organ

 

Exquisite Celtic Cross

 

Next, I made my way down to the corner of the town and began my ascent of Arthur's Seat, a massive hill/tiny mountain that towers over the city. I took a semi-unconventional route up, which was quicker, had fewer people, but was more vertical (read difficult) and unpaved for most of it. It was awesome, and I enjoyed taking pictures along the way. The view when I finally clambered up over the last few rocks to make it to the peak (at 250 meters above sea level) was absolutely breathtaking! I took a bunch of pictures and enjoyed soaking in the amazing view. The day was amazingly clear and I could see for miles, making the climb all the more worth it.

 

Early Shot, the High Point is Arthur's Seat

 

Not Sure If I'll Make It

 

Ice on the Path Looked Like a River Stopped in Time

 

Nearly Halfway

 

View From the Seat

Another View

 

Success

 

See For Miles

 

Edinburgh Far Below

 

 

After all of that climbing, I needed some refreshment. Luckily, a sandwich store on my way into town vanquished my hunger, with an amazing Cajun Chicken Panini, tomato basil soup, and crisps. Now that my stomach stopped its whining, I could move onto finding the “Birthplace of Harry Potter”, the Elephant House. JK Rowling wrote much of the first book here, where she famously could barely afford one cup of coffee. (She doesn't have that problem anymore.) It was wonderful, and while the place didn't play up its famous importance besides a few articles and postcards, the bathrooms were a shrine to Rowling. Graffiti from fans covered the walls. Some were funny, some were strange, but some were deeply moving. It's amazing how that one series has connected a generation worldwide. It was so great to see where it all started. Finally, I went home to my B&B, exhausted but happy with an amazing day.

 

 

Sandwich

The

The Elephant House

 

Magically Delicious Cocoa

 

The Deathly Hallows

 

Touching Quote.

 

Spectacular Scotland, Day 1

Spectacular Scotland, Day 1

After a nice, long bus journey from London (nine hours!), I arrived in Edinburgh! I had a few hours to kill before I could check into my hotel, so I began wandering around the city as the sun began rising. Edinburgh is absolutely picturesque and very walkable. So began my day's adventures!

 

I started by making my way down the main road towards the castle on a craggy patch of rock that dominates the city. As I climbed the hill, I began to realize just how excellently strategically placed the castle was. In other words, it was a steep, arduous climb, especially with a backpack and duffel bag on my back.

Eventually, I made it to the top and was greeted by a spectacular view. The castle was simply magnificent. I made my way into the castle, paid for a ticket and audio guide, and explored every nook and cranny in the castle. I saw the views from the various embankments, the old cannons, the famous one o'clock gun, the Crown Jewels of Scotland, the Stone of Destiny, old prison keeps, a war museum, a small chapel, and tons (quite literally, I suppose…) of incredible stone architecture. I also learned a great deal of Scottish history from the audio guide, including the stories of the Scottish/English wars and truces, and the castle's varioussieges and rebuildings. It was fascinating, and the history major in me was in pure heaven. The photographer in me was also thrilled, as the high vantage point gave me a ton of great shooting opportunities.

After the castle, I made my way down to a Christmas festival and enjoyed a brunch of a burger and a small piece of dark chocolate covered marzipan for dessert. There were a bunch of fun stands, and it was great to browse and see the attractions set up for the festival, including a Ferris wheel!

Eventually, I made my way to my lodgings, a little bed and breakfast (NB's Bed & Breakfast) twenty-five minutes by walking from the city center. I made it there, and was greeted by the incredibly friendly and helpful staff. They made sure that I was settled nicely into the room and then helped advise me on a bunch of various things to do. (The staff and this B&B are phenomenal. If you are ever in Edinburgh, I highly recommend it. They even upgraded my room for free! Also, funnily enough, another one of the Eric Mistry's of the world has stayed here before. I guess it's just where Eric Mistry's like to stay when they come to Scotland.)

I showered, got cleaned up, and headed (on the staff's advice) to the local coffee shop, Piece Box, for coffee and a supper. It was a phenomenally cute, really friendly place with great staff, excellent coffee, and delicious food! I got myself a mocha and the goat cheese and chorizo sandwich with red pepper relish on wheat bread, served with potato salad. It was a great way to cap off my day! I then retired to my room, relaxed and planned out my day for tomorrow! Stay tuned! All in all, a good day. Pictures galore below.

 

The Castle on the hill.

 

Up at the Top

 

Self-Portrait

 

King and Guardian

 

 

The Famed Edinburgh “One O'Clock Gun”

A gun has been fired from the northern ramparts at 1 PM every day except for Sundays and Christmas since the mid 1800's to provide an audio signal of the time to the ships in the harbor. Why one o'clock and not noon? According to the audio guide, “The Scots, being frugal, decided that one shot per day was cheaper than twelve.”

The Northern View

 

 

Pistols and Surgical Tools inside the War Museum

 

Display of Prosthetics Through the Years at the War Museum

 

The Southern View

 

Box Made By French Prisoner of War.

Prisoners of war contained in the castle could make various items from the meager everyday items in their cells to sell to townspeople every week in exchange for food, tobacco, and stationary to write home on. This particular example is made out of STRAW!

 

Incredible Stained Glass in the Chapel

 

View From the Top of the Castle

 

Christmas Market

 

Ferris Wheel and Scott Monument

 

My Cozy Room

 

My Supper!

 

Hampstead Heath

Hampstead Heath

Today, I visited Hampstead and got to enjoy a nice bit of nature just outside the city.

 

I began my morning by visiting with Professor Prevost about my paper at her flat in Hampstead, then enjoyed some great conversation with Professor Guenther as well. After all of that, I made my way to Hampstead Heath, a massive park right outside of Hampstead.

Though it was pretty chilly, I was well-protected from the elements. I walked all around the park, seeing lots of beautiful paths, and catching some great shots of some of the birds. It was a very hilly area, but I was rewarded with climbing by a spectacular view of London from one of the higher hills.

After my adventures around the Heath, I decided to warm up with a nice cup of warm cider from a nearby pub. It was nice and toasty, and I enjoyed reading the news in a comfortable armchair as I waited. Later tonight, I will head via bus to Edinburgh, Scotland. Stay tuned! Pictures below.

Seagull

 

Swans

 

The Fields

 

Bench with a Tree-Window

London from the Heath

Trekking through the Forest

 

Hot Cider Reward

 

Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving!

What a day! Some good, some bad, but overall, a day to be thankful!

The good: Thanksgiving with my Grinnell-In-London friends hosted by Professor Vinter and Family and chatting with my family around the world!

The bad: My cousin, Alyssa, had her apartment broken into and she lost a lot of valuables. Luckily, she wasn't home or hurt, and is being extremely brave about it.

 

I'll begin with Alyssa's apartment. Apparently someone had gotten into her building during the day, kicked down the door to her apartment, and made off with the visible small electronics. As soon as I heard, I rushed to her apartment, spoke with her, her friends, the police, and the locksmith. The police were very thorough and the locksmith promised he'd bring some materials to augment the door to prevent this from happening again. Luckily, no one was hurt and nothing totally irreplaceable was taken.

After the burglary was all sorted out, I made my way to Professor Vinter's home for the Thanksgiving Party! Everyone had made a dish, so we had a broad range of delicious foods to fill up with! Professor Vinter and her family made a phenomenal turkey as well, which really brought the holiday spirit to the party. I made my special Mac and Cheese, filled with sautéed garlic and four types of cheese, including pieces of Brie atop the noodles. Some of my apartment-mate soffered to take it for me when I told them about Alyssa's incident, so it made it to the party safely. I arrived to a wonderful spread of food and filled up promptly. It was all so delicious and it was wonderful to get together as a full group to really enjoy the holiday. After the food settled, we set out another spread of desserts! Luckily, the second-stomach (the one reserved for desserts) was available, as we had a ton of delicious options to choose from. We laughed, shared great food and conversation, and enjoyed an awesome Thanksgiving!

It was a good day to remember and be thankful for the bonds of friendship and family. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Alyssa's front door

 

A closer look

 

The Spread

 

Desserts!

 

Group Shot!

 

Baby Grace, Adorable as Usual.

 

How many plates, Teddy?

 

Sharing Conversations

 

Sharing Dessert

 

Lorraine and Aniela

 

Greg and Vilma

 

Superb Sunday Shenanigans

Superb Sunday Shenanigans

What a day! In short: woke up, gym, home, breakfast, Bricklane Market, Monument, St. Paul's, fancy Afternoon Tea, home! In more detail…

 

After a nice, long workout at the gym and a hearty breakfast of eggs on beans and rice, I joined Chrissy, Lauren, and Caitlin for a jaunt to Bricklane Market, my absolute favorite London market. It's a magical place filled with amazing food, creative clothing, and some other astounding goods. I started out the market with a steamed bun, and it was delicious! Next, I made my way to a stand selling leather briefcases, satchels, and purses. I have been waiting for months to purchase a briefcase from this stand. I have searched everywhere that I have traveled for something else, but nothing compared in price, quality, or beauty. I finally decided to get it, and I could not be happier. It's perfect, and definitely something I'll treasure for life. Check it out:

Well Worth The Wait…

Next, we browsed around the various clothing sellers, whose wares varied from vintage to designer to somewhere in between. I swung by the vendor who I had bought my leather jacket from, as he always has nice, but inexpensive items, and found an absolute steal. In a effort to reduce inventory, he was selling some items for only five pounds. Including… a perfect pinstriped navy suit. I tried it on and it fit me like it was tailored for me. Another market win!

Happy with that success, we made our way back to the food area, where I got some Thai food. (A mixed plate that included green curry and panang curry on rice!) It was delicious!

Next, we made our way via tube to the Monument! I had been before, but Chrissy was visiting, so I figured it was definitely something worth seeing. 311 steps later, we emerged onto the platform. It was stunning. We watched the sun go down (by 4:30) and then made our way down the stairs yet again.

We then walked to St. Paul's, which was gorgeous and illuminated at night. We walked around it, got some pictures, then made our way via tube to meet up with a larger group for afternoon tea!

Afternoon tea was a delight! We each received our own teapots and a range of finger sandwiches, scones, and little desserts. It was a wonderful way to top off the day! We shared plenty of tea and conversation.

Finally, we made it home. All in all, a good day.

 

Steam Buns at the Market

 

Thai Curries!

On Top of the Monument!

 

View from the Monument

 

Tower Bridge View from the Monument

 

The Shard and the Sunset

 

Illuminated St. Paul's

Tea Time!

 

Adriyel Enjoying Tea!

 

Nibbles

 

Tea Done Right