Thursday, May 5, 2011

Reality TV and a Bonfire

If you know me at all you know how much I love TV. Love it. Especially reality shows. God, I seriously cannot get enough.

Lucky for me, Hannah shares the same obsession. While I was in Wales she introduced me to an AMAZING British reality show called The Only Way Is Essex. I may have become obsessed. I maybe may have made the theme song my ring tone. NBD. The show is a look into the lives of a group of shallow, spoiled, and altogether idiotic 20-somethings living in Essex, England. In other words, reality TV gold.
And while Hannah's Welsh friends didn't think too much of TOWIE (that's what us cool kids call it), they were so intrigued by American reality television. This led to me watching all three seasons of Laguna Beach while I was in Wales.

Yes, you read that correctly. Laguna Beach.

I'll be honest, I never actually watched Laguna Beach while it was on. I didn't even start watching The Hills until the last couple seasons. It was hilarious to watch the kids on the show, mostly because I'm the exact same age as them, and their high school experience couldn't have been more different than mine.

This led to a probing interview by Hannah's friend Sarah, a Welsh girl who can't get enough of American reality TV (a girl after my own heart!), about what American high schools are really like. The most important question she had was whether or not we had as many beach bonfires as the crew of Laguna Beach.

Considering I grew up in upstate New York, I found this question to be hilarious.

Nope. No beach bonfires for me.

But since we were in Swansea, and since Hannah lives on the beach, we decided to have a Laguna style beach bonfire of our own. We roasted hot dogs and made s'mores - a completely alien concept to my new Welsh friends! - and huddled around the fire until it burned down to nothing.

Swansea Beach

Swansea Conservatory

It was fun. Freezing, but fun. But honestly? I'd rather be applying lip gloss at the Sugar Hut with Amy and the rest of TOWIE.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Bath and Jane Austen

While I was in Wales, I hopped over to England for a day to take a trip to Bath.

I've never been to England before, so I was super excited to make my first trip there. Bath is an absolutely gorgeous city, actually an ancient city, founded by the Romans and gets its name from the Roman Baths in the center of the city. You can read about them here.

This is a wishing well inside the Roman Baths. So pretty, right? The well is actually like 10 meters deep and look how full it is with coins! Maybe I'm exaggerating...maybe it's only 3, but still! So many wishes!

While I'm a huge history nerd, I'm even more of an English major nerd. Have you ever heard the term "Janeite?" A lovely term used to describe only the most hardcore Jane Austen fans. After my trip to Bath, I think I've joined the ranks!

Here I am standing outside The Jane Austen Centre. Jane visited Bath many times throughout her life and actually there for about five years. The Jane Austen Centre is dedicated to telling the story of her time there. Apparently Jane's intimate knowledge of the city is reflected in Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, two Austen novels I've yet to read - eeks!

After tea and sandwiches and forcing myself to walk away from the gift shop and not spend every penny I had there, I spent the rest of the day walking around Bath, visiting museums, and taking ohhhh, 300 photos. Take a look!

The Royal Crescent.

The AMAZING fashion museum.

Pulteney Bridge over the River Avon


Sunday, May 1, 2011


I love a good tradition.
And, since I'm a big fat hopeless romantic, a romantic tradition is all the better.
In Wales they have a lovely tradition called Lovespoons.

Hannah I took a walk - a very long walk - to Mumbles and while we were there we visited The Lovespoon Gallery. A store that sells and celebrates the tradition of the Welsh Lovespoon.

Each lovespoon in the gallery is hand carved by a highly skilled craftsman, most from a single piece of wood. It was absolutely amazing how intricate some of them were!

The history of the lovespoon dates back to the mid 15th century, or at least that's when the earliest known lovespoon dates back to. They were carved by soldiers and sailors for their sweethearts while they were away, by men for the women they intended to marry. Here's an excerpt from the pamphlet I received from the Lovespoon Gallery:
"The giving of a lovespoon by a suitor and its acceptance or refusal by the lady of his choice developed into a ritual of betrothal or rejection amongst the country people of Wales. The custom died out in the nineteenth century...but the popularity of lovespoons has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years."
The designs on the lovespoons all have different meanings. For example a heart symbolizes love, while a lock and key symbolizes home and security. Balls carved into the wood represent the number of children you wish to have and a knot demonstrates everlasting love and togetherness.

Of course I had to buy one!
What do you think?

Now I just need someone to give it to!