Jolly Old England

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Cymru (That's Welsh for "Wales")

This was written Saturday, October 1st. Due to delays in getting Internet access, it'll be a couple days before I get it posted.

Wales was interesting today. We got up, headed into Mumbles, and met up with the other students. The local family stay coordinator was late, apparently something happened with her plumbing or something like that. Anyway, we walked to what one girl called "Welsh Hallmark". It was a little gift shop. We're supposedly going by there tomorrow to an ice cream shop next door to taste their fresh ice cream.

The local coordinator has a son named Morgan, who is seven years old. He turned out to be pretty funny. (I took a picture of him.) At the gift shop, one of the students paid him 60p (approximately $1.20) to go bother another student. It totally backfired as Morgan started looking for things he could buy with his new found wealth.

After the gift shop, we hopped a bus to Swansea. The local coordinator showed us the mall, the "What! Pound Store" (where everything is just £1). We quickly started calling it the "Dollar-Ninety Store", given the exchange rate. But basically, it's the UK version of "The Dollar Store" or a "99 Center".

We walked around to a bank so some of the students could cash their traveler's cheques. In the US, you can use them at far more locations. In the UK, you can only cash them at banks or other money exchanging places, regardless of whether they're denominated in pounds sterling or dollars.

Next, we went to the Swansea Food Festival. (I think I got the name right.) There, we were given the option to taste Cockles (a type of shellfish), Laverbread (which is seaweed), and a couple types of cheese. I was going to try the Laverbread when I (like many of the students) thought it was bread. Our "host mum" told the four of us here that it was seaweed, but I thought that she meant it was a bread made from seaweed. So, I passed on that. I don't eat cheese (except as part of some other dish), so that was out. I would've tried the Cockles, but my stomach wasn't playing well with others, so I drank a 7up and it was all good.

After that, we headed to the Dylan Thomas Centre. Apparently, he is some sort of famous poet from Swansea. I'll admit it, I haven't heard of him before. I bought some candy there (two Kit-Kats, and two Twixes -- which I just realized are really weird looking when pluralized). I'm intending
to ration it over the next couple days. I ate half of a Kit-Kat while writing this e-mail. With everything being so expensive over here, I don't want to be wasting money on candy and pop like I can in the States. So, there's a chance that I'll actually start eating healthy because of this trip.

We walked down to the marina and then the beach. The beach was very large. It was low tide. I picked up a handful of seashells.

Earlier in the day, a girl in the group asked me to take her picture with a castle in the background. I said okay, and asked her to take mine as well. She did, but it didn't work. I didn't have her try again, since we were already holding up the group. At the beach, I asked her to take my picture. She "took" two. When I checked, they hadn't taken either. I figured she was probably only pushing the button down half-way, in which case it beeps. I had her take another one, so I finally have my first picture with me in it. I'm going to work to get more of those for you, Ana. :)

We left the beach and headed to the Quadant Shopping Centre again. I bought a golf-shirt-like shirt for the theme party during next week at Oxford. Since they were one for £15 or two for £20, I picked up another shirt. I can probably get away with wearing both (for everyday use) in
England, since it was a trendy store I was in, but I can wear the second one for sure. I also bought a hat, since I couldn't find mine when I was leaving the house, and I hadn't remembered it before.

After shopping, I met up with the other guys staying with this host family, and we took a bus back. We had homemade pizza for dinner. It was good. I actually ate a chicken pizza. It's still not as good as pepperoni, though. :)

I decided not to go out tonight. There is little point in sitting in a noisy, slightly smoky pub doing basically nothing and paying a couple pound for a juice when I can sit here and write (this blog entry, a letter, and e-mails) and drink free juice. My roommate also decided to
stay in and read.

WEATHER TODAY: Rainy, as always.

PICTURES: They're available here.


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