Posts Tagged ‘holst’

A Cheltenham Composer

Our second Friday in England has been nice and relaxing. After running a few errands, Regan and I visited TangBerry’s, a restaurant near Cheltenham town center that advertised “great British food”. Their advertisement did not lie! For my brunch, I got a “half monty” – a smaller version of the classic Full English Breakfast. Even though my portion was not the largest available, it was too much for me to eat!


(Clockwise, from left: two hashbrowns, an egg, a sausage, a rasher of bacon, a fried tomato, one slice of black pudding, sautéed mushrooms, and baked beans. Not pictured: a slice of toast, and my Assam tea)

Although it was a cholesterol-laden feast, this plate of traditional greasy goodness was certainly appealing. To my surprise, the baked beans were the best part of the meal. They had a sweet freshness that I’ve never tasted in American baked beans, which added a new dimension to the entire meal. I appreciated the novelty of the entrée, and was glad to cross it off of my Britain bucket list…but I don’t think I would eat it again. It was a bit too much meat and grease for my liking.


Fun fact: TangBerry’s holds a world record for producing the world’s most expensive bacon sandwich. This sandwich, which costs a whopping 150 pounds, includes truffles, an egg, saffron, truffle oil, several types of rare breed bacon, and gold leaf. Though nobody was eating the “Bacon Bling” while we were in the cafe, I did get a glimpse of it’s place on the menu board. Yes indeed, it does exist.

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This afternoon, I went with some other Cedarvillians to the Gustav Holst birthplace and museum. Holst was a composer who lived around the turn of the 20th century, and composed one of my favorite orchestral pieces of music: The Planets suite. (If you listen closely to Mars and Jupiter, you can hear themes which John Williams borrowed for the Star Wars soundtracks.)

The part of the house I most appreciated came in the very first room. The piano Holst kept with him at his London home, on which he composed The Planets, was the centerpiece of the museum’s downstairs parlor. Though the public isn’t allowed to play on this gorgeous instrument, it was still a joy to see the keys from whence those wonderful melodies first echoed.

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Holst bought this piano used. The price? £12.

Holst only lived in this house for the first seven years of his life, but the curators have done an excellent job of preserving its Victorian charm. All four floors of the house are have been maintained to looks just as they did at the turn of the 20th century, and provide an educational experience for all visitors.

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Bells to ring for the servants...just like on Downton Abbey!

Bells to ring for the servants…just like on Downton Abbey!

After a relaxing afternoon, I made a throw-together lentil/pasta/tomato/spices stew thing for our dinner club (which apparently wasn’t too terrible, because we didn’t have any leftovers…). Then, several of us students got together and watched Atlantis: The Lost Empire, to indulge our inner children. ;)

That’s it for today. More adventures tomorrow!



She blinded me with science!

We are fortunate enough to be in town during the annual Cheltenham Science Festival. Each year, this festival brings in dozens of excellent speakers and puts on exhibitions that appeal to people with all levels of science knowledge. This year, some of the big-name speakers include James Watson (one of the co-discoverers of the helical structure of DNA) and Peter Higgs (one of the namesakes of the Higgs-Boson particle).

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Today after class, Steven and I decided to explore the wonders of the festival. Of the group of Cedarville students, Steven and I are the sole science majors, and thus the only ones interested in attending. Even so, we had a great time. We were privileged to listen to a lecture held by Jenifer Glynn, the sister of Rosalind Franklin.

IMG_1457Rosalind Franklin was a prominent scientist in the mid-20th century who studied the structure of carbon and analyzed the composition of the tobacco mosaic virus. She is most famous, however, for her contribution to the discovery of DNA’s helical structure. James Watson and Francis Crick used her discoveries (largely without her knowledge), and published their treatise on DNA’s structure before anyone else in the world. Franklin would have received the Nobel Prize for this discovery along with them, but died of ovarian cancer at the age of 37, five years before the prize was awarded. Although the story has a sad ending, Franklin accomplished significant works within her short life. It was neat to hear from Ms. Glynn, and to get a perspective of Franklin’s life outside of the lab.

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Incidentally, Gustav Holst, a Cheltenham native who wrote a series of pieces called The Planets, was Rosalind and Jenifer Franklin’s music instructor when they were children. A statue of him is installed in a fountain at the center of the park where the science festival is held.

This afternoon has been filled with the menial tasks associated with living on one’s own…doing laundry, buying groceries, making dinner, etc.

It was my first time using a laundromat!

It was my first time using a laundromat!

A group of the Cedarville students in my set of flats have joined with those living in the adjacent flats to form a sort of dinner club. One person makes (or buys) dinner for the group, on a rotation schedule. It saves a bit of money in the long run, and is a good way to build friendships. Tonight, we had pizza and vegetables. It was probably one of the more nutritious meals of late, and we had a lot of fun :)

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That’s all for this evening. Time to review for class tomorrow!