Posts Tagged ‘sherlock’

A walk in the park with Sherlock

We have been incredibly blessed with beautiful weather here in Cheltenham. Almost every day this week, we have had temperatures around 70 F, with lots of lovely sun. Because of this gorgeous weather, Dr. Calhoun decided (with student encouragement) that our class would meet in a park this morning. We were quite excited!

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The setting was beautiful, and it was nice not to be cooped up in a stuffy classroom. However, traditional English weather decided to play some tricks on us. Instead of the sunny 70s, and the temperature dipped down into the high 50s, with an intermittent breeze and a thick layer of rain-heavy clouds. We still had class outside, but because many of us had dressed for considerably warmer weather, we were released for the day considerably earlier than usual.

The highlight of my day came not when class got out early, but as we were walking to class. Our route takes us directly past Spencer’s Café, where some of us ate lunch on Sunday. We had heard rumors that the film crew from the BBC show Sherlock had filmed at the café several weeks ago, but we had no confirmation. This morning, however, we received our proof.


Our usual path was blocked by several people in fluorescent vests, lots of equipment, and some camera men. That’s right – the Sherlock film crew was back. As soon as we realized what was going on, we stopped dead in our tracks with looks of awe and amazement on our faces. (And yes, we girls fell into fits of excited giggles. It was pretty silly.) One of the men standing near the camera with a look of authority on his face (I think he may have been the director) saw our looks of wonderment and chuckled at us. I sort of wanted to stick around to see if Benedict Cumberbatch or Martin Freeman were on the set anywhere, but we had to get to class. Regardless, it was still super exciting!


For lunch, I had a chicken tikka ‘toastie’. Toasties are essentially what Americans would call paninis. However, the English also have their paninis. Here, paninis tend to be made on baguettes, whereas toasties are made on traditional “square” bread. Chicken tikka is available in almost every cafe you visit. This variant of British Indian food was my first exposure to the cuisine. It resembled chicken salad, except it was made with curry and a tomato cream sauce; the curry added a rich, complex flavor to the dish. I definitely want to find a recipe for this, so I can make it upon coming home. :)

Tomorrow, our Cedarville group will take our first field trip! We shall travel to Stratford-upon-Avon, to see Hamlet performed in Shakespeare’s hometown! Since Shakespeare is fabulous, and Hamlet is one of my favorite plays, I’m super duper stoked.

That’s about all I have for the night. Cheers!


PS – In England, the term “cheers” does not always refer to drinking. (I haven’t participated in any drinking in this country, so I don’t actually know if they say it in that context…) Instead, “cheers” is a term one says instead of “see you later” or “have a good day”. Clerks and cashiers in shops frequently use the term.


Our first Sunday in Cheltenham! How exciting! This is the first time I’ve been outside of the US and have been able to choose my own Sunday activities, so I was excited to join a group of Cedarville students and walk down to a local church. We visited Trinity Cheltenham, which meets in a beautiful restored church building. Listening to the message, and looking at the website, I’m still a bit fuzzy on where they stand theologically, but was obvious that the people attending the service loved Jesus.  I was really encouraged to see that the church had a lot of outreach programs.


It seemed like a juxtaposition, to have the drums and band set up where the altar usually stands.

Worship consisted of a contemporary band (like at Cedarville), but some of the songs were a little different. My favorite was a kids song, which the congregation sang just before the little ones were released to children’s church. One of the verses went something like this: “God is big and God is great,/ He’s so fab and He’s my mate.” I love hearing all these British terms, especially when we get to use them to worship our awesome God. :D

After church, our group had lunch at Spencer’s Café. For all of you fans of the BBC drama Sherlock, keep an eye open for Spencer’s when you watch the upcoming the third season – apparently a crew was filming some scenes here just a couple of weeks ago.

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The food was delicious. I had a brie and cranberry baguette panini. Oh man. I think it was the best grilled cheese sandwich I’ve ever eaten. (But that also has something to do with the fact that brie is my favorite cheese….)

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We relaxed for a while after lunch, and then took an outing to Sandford Park. This part of Cheltenham was especially beautiful, full of lovely trees and well-kept lawns.

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We chose this spot to spend about two hours, reading and writing and doing some preparatory homework.

We chose this spot to spend about two hours, reading and writing and doing some preparatory homework.

The locals were also enjoying the gorgeous weather. We saw lots of people on bicycles, as well as a group of guys playing cricket.

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We took the scenic route home, and had the chance to interact with some locals…

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Overall, it was a lovely, relaxing Sunday.




Our third day

Wednesday was our final day in London. However, before we Cedarvillians left the hostel at noon, a few of us decided to squeeze in just a tad bit more sightseeing. Four of us girls took the tube up to Baker Street, where we visited 221b – the address of the world’s most famous detective, Sherlock Holmes. We hoped to tour the museum, but quickly realized we wouldn’t have time, so instead we took full advantage of the gift shop.

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"Who needs a mystery? Yeah, we need a mystery..." Oh wait, that's the Mary Kate and Ashley detectives song. Just kidding...

“Who needs a mystery — yeah, we need a mystery…”
Oh wait, that’s the Mary Kate and Ashley detectives song. Just kidding…

Even this portion of the building seemed historical. A few of the workers were dressed in period costumes, and the gorgeous hardwood floor creaked wherever you stepped. One of the rooms even featured an enormous, domed skylight (which perhaps serves as evidence that the sun actually shines in London sometimes?).

Another exciting part of our adventure was the opportunity to travel through Baker Street tube station. This section of the tube was much older than any others I had previously visited. In fact, this station was one of the very first on the tube, and is one of the founding stations of the world’s first underground rail service, which celebrates its 150th anniversary this year.


This station held a great deal of character. The walls were made of brick, and modestly decorated with vintage signs. The ticket hall featured a great deal of adornments that appeared original as well. The walls near the platform displayed maps of the original underground, allowing even the causal tourist to see how much the system has grown over its lifetime. This station, like so much of London, was packed full of wonderful historic value.


It looks like something out of an old movie. I love it.

It looks like something out of an old movie. I love it.

Precisely at noon, our group departed the hostel on a private bus for Cheltenham. Our driver was quite funny, and extremely informative, making sure we knew the history of some of the more famous buildings and locations we passed. For instance, he pointed out a statue in a park near our hostel, and told us that it is on a list of the ten worst statues in London. It is a figure of one William Hosskinson, a member of Parliament during the 1830’s. However, he is most famous not for his political actions, but for being the first person ever killed by a locomotive. The train was traveling at approximately four miles per hour.

After about an hour and a half on the bus, we began to enter the Cotswold region of England. This portion of the country is known for its rolling hillsides, gorgeous vistas, and quaint towns. From the Middle Ages through the early nineteenth century, this region was renowned for producing some of the best wool in Europe. Sheep farming was one of the most lucrative occupations at that time, as a person could easily earn a great deal of money. However, when the Industrial Revolution occurred, and the production of cotton became much cheaper, the bottom fell out of the Cotswold wool market, leaving many people extremely poor. According to Rick Steeves, this major depression of old accounts for the quaintness of the region.

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The yellow fields were incredibly vibrant to behold. Our resident directors informed us that these fields grew rapeseed, from which Canola oil originates.

Finally, we arrived at our destination. Here in Cheltenham, we are staying not in quaint cottages, but in a lovely building in which each of us get our own room! Although the hostel was an unforgettable experience, we all appreciate not having to share a room with nine other people.

My room, pre-unpacking.

My room, pre-unpacking.

Last night, our two Resident Directors gave us a brief orientation to the town, and showed us how to get to the downtown area. They also took our group out to dinner. We ate a most delicious meal at Toby Carvery, a restaurant just outside of Cheltenham.

On the way back to town, a few of us struck up a conversation with one of the locals, who was also returning to Cheltenham.

“Oh, you’re all from America, eh?” he grinned. “One o’ your lot just won the cheese rolling competition, just last week. You see that break in the trees back there?” He pointed behind us, to a hill about half a mile from the Carvery. “That’s where they do it.” I was quite excited to learn this little tidbit. For years, I’ve seen highlights (although they’re more like lowlights, since most people look like they’re getting hurt…) of the Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling and Wake, in which hundreds of people chase a wheel of Gloucester cheese down an incredibly steep hill. It looks like a very painful sport, but it was neat to see where the event actually occurs.

After returning to town, a few us us got some breakfast fixings from Tesco (yes! Crumpets!) before finishing our day. Cheltenham is a beautiful town, and I’m really looking forward to getting to know it better.