Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Weeks Four, Five and Six - Recap

These last weeks were equal parts awesome and stressful.  So...basically, every week of my life.  The Palaeography professors have been throwing a lot at us, making me a very panicked note taker.    Old English and Old Norse are awesome, as always (The Old English translation is taking me longer than expected though).  Age of Vikings was good, but I've developed a tendency to run out of coffee that day so I fall asleep for like 2 minutes (also I kinda sorta had a presentation while I was sick as a dog.  It was not fun.).  LATIN is...well, it's LATIN. What else can I say about it that I haven't already said? 

Intro to Art History was cool though.  We were getting a lecture on stained glass construction and symbology in the friggin' YORK MINSTER.  It was too cool.  There was a choir practice that started about 20 mins after lecture started so the prof had to compete with the choir, who were doing an epic 'sanctus domine' rendition worthy of a movie trailer.  Understandably I was amused, even if it made it hard to listen to the prof.  
Dear Headless Statues in York Minster, I still don't get you.  Sincerely, Me.

However, Intro to Art history is over and Reading the Bayeux Tapestry has begun.  It's not been BAD by any stretch of the imagination, but it began with a required presentation and that sort of sucked.

The notable non class stuff has been the following:

Week 4: Halloween Party - Party prep initially, in my case, mainly consisted of chatting with flatmates as they worked on constructing their costumes and digging through my iTunes for additions to the music for the night.  Then several flatmates and I got bored and decorated the SHIT out of the place in three hours.  It looked awesome.  I didn't have my camera on me though, so I had to snag some of my roomies pictures of the place off of facebook for this.

After that I intended to go to a recreation of a veneration mass one of my flatmates was helping to put together, but I got the sense that I was still needed for set up and so didn't go.  Ended up just being superfluous for a few hours and regretted staying home.

After that I went, changed into my costume (I be a pirate, arrr.  My costume is to the right.) and screwed around with my flatmates until the guests started arriving.  We had something like 70+ people here, so things got cramped really fast.  Also, our booze mix was pretty strong so people we getting pretty knackered within the hour.  The music was alright for the first bit, and I hung out with a couple of really cool PhD students.  However, I seem to have this limit on how long I can be social before I start wanting to be by myself and I hit that about 3 and a half hours in, and retreated back to the annex. I then got on Skype and watched Cutthroat Island with a friend (which I've written an article on that will go up on Media Masochists Anonymous soon).

LARP -  My mission was last, so I was monstering the first two.  In the first one, I was a thug involved in drug smuggling that got killed pretty quickly and then I ran to the end of the thing to play a second thug who finished the trade off and went into a bar.  Second mission I was a zombie, which was five shades of awesome.  My mission (killing Dragonkin) was...less successful that I would have liked, but I survived.  The week after involved defending the fort of Hollow Tree and it was awesome, but basically a continuation of the previous week's mission. Unfortunately, I got really sick the following week and haven't been back since.  Hopefully I'll make it this Sunday though.
 I have no pictures from the LARP or my D&D group, so enjoy another picture of the Halloween Party!

D&D - I've been part of a Skype D&D group pretty much since I got here (maybe a little before), but a few weeks ago myself, a flatmate and three other people from the Sci Fi and Fantasy society put together a 3.5 edition campaign.  We're keeping it pretty basic (a huge disappointment to me because I like playing monster characters like the Mind Flayers, Bugbears and Minotaurs) and round robin-ing the DMing duties.  As of this Monday I've been DMing be honest, I've done a lot worse.  I'm pretty rusty at running a campaign, but it's a lot of fun and given our group has quite a few newbies in it, I think that's ultimately what matters.

Grocery Shopping - This is something that just sort of scrapes my scabbard, but this blog is dedicated to my thoughts (read: whiny nitpicks) so I'll go ahead and ask, what is with the proportions here?  I mean you go out to eat and you spend 3 pounds to get a HUGE sandwich, but I get two measly chicken breasts at the supermarket?  The hell, guys?  I mean, yes buying stuff at Trader Joe's probably was pricier in the long run, but when I got chicken I got a ginormous bag o' chicken breasts that lasted me a couple of months.  I'm not asking for that much food, but I'd like to go grocery shopping every other week and not have to make another midweek run to the Sainsbury's for anything other than milk, thank you very much.

To be fair though, everything I've gotten frozen here has been flat out amazing.  Their frozen pizza, garlic bread and prepared meals are awesome.  It's not much of a trade off, but it definitely helps.

Illness - Before I wrap this up, I should probably address why this article is waaaaay late.  Aside from the usual classwork interfering with my writing time business, because that's old hat by now to anyone who has ever read anything I write.  About the Tuesday after the Halloween party, I caught a cold.  This was not really a problem, aside from semi killing my ability to focus, until last Wednesday when I got really ill.  Like 'oh-god-everything-aches-I'm-probably-running-a-fever-please-let-me-go-home-I'm-clearly-miserable' sort of ill.  I recovered considerably after a good night's rest, but I was still running at about 48% for the rest of the week.  Hell, even after a weekend of doing nothing but sleeping and hiding in my room as a self-imposed quarantine I'm still only at about 87%.  Still, that's a pretty quick recovery and I'm grateful for that if nothing else.

So there is my much delayed article, next time....I will probably rant about classwork some more among other things.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Week Three - Classes and Societies

Okay, it's nerd-out time.  This was the first week that I had all my classes.  I had a weird little pseudo-class at the LATIN briefing last Friday but I don't count that. Also, this was the first week that I attended any of the club stuff so I'm giving you guys my general impressions of both things that I wrote down right after they happened (or as close I could manage), without giving you a blow by blow of the class/meeting itself....because that would be boring.  

Palaeography - Palaeography is the study of ancient texts, both the development of how they are written (this is specifically known as codicology) and the writing contained with in them.  Anyone who wants to study any sort of literature in the middle ages has to have it, so, unsurprisingly, I'm taking it.  It's a skill module, meaning it's only about an hour and a half class, which is nice.  However, it means they're going to be trying to cram in as much information as humanly possible.

So far, my impression of the class is good.  Our work load is not graded, but rather for self-enrichment, which I like a great deal.  On top of that, it really is fascinating to see how writing developed.  Unfortunately a lot of it is in LATIN so I have to suffer through it in more than one class, but I'll deal if only because it means I'll be able to read Beowulf and all kinds of other fun documents in their original formats, which is beyond cool.

LATIN- Ah, yes, LATIN.  How I loathe thee, yet need thee for my studies.  My prof here is loads better than the one I had at UCSB for LATIN 2 though, which is an instant plus in my book.  I'm still not enthused about having to retake LATIN, but at least this class seems survivable.  Sort of.  It's at 9:00 in the morning and that hurts.

Age of Vikings - God, what genius thought an archaeology course should take place first thing in the morning?  Whoever they are, they need to get punched.  

So far this class is interesting, but I'm a little worried about it.  The focus is on the aspects of Viking culture that aren't commonly touched upon.  Fine.  We have to give presentations. Also, fine.  Our readings are very pedantic scientific papers that I could summarize in 3 sentences.  That worries me.  Hopefully it'll get better once we're out of the intro stuff but at this point I really can't say.

I thank God I was nerdy enough that I thought taking Archaeology at JC was cool, though.  It's going to be a huge help.

Old Norse - This is being taught by one of my flatmates, which is both a little awkward and kind of cool.  So far it looks like this is going to be a blast.  There's a significant amount of bleed over from Old English in some regards, so I'm not as thrown as I thought I'd be.  Of all the classes I've had so far, this is the one I'm really looking forward to sinking my teeth into.

Old English - Oh, Old English, I missed you.  I mean I've worked on it on my own, but it's nice to have it as a class again.  We're basically just doing translations and discussion, but the cool thing is because we're an advanced class we get to pick the texts.  This is so going to be fun, I just need to decide on the texts I would like to propose we translate. That's really hard because the texts I've liked, I've already translated either on my own or in class, and the texts I haven't translated, I don't know that much about.

Core Course: Intro to Art History - So far this class seems good, though there are a couple of students who are on that "Catholics were/are a bunch of controlling pricks" wavelength that is part of the reason none of my courses have much to do with religion (Well, that and I don't want to have to defend my religion every class.  You believe something different, that's cool in my book, I have zero problem with anyone of another faith, but please extend me the same courtesy).  Other than that, though the prof was enthusiastic and it was some very fun discussions.

We had to draw our version of the nativity though.  I do not think my dignity will ever recover.

Medieval Society - I...don't really know what I think of these guys yet.  They're definitely different than SCA, that's for sure.  There is no real game plan as to what we're doing as a club and pretty much the welcome feast was less a 'Hey, welcome to the group.  Here's what we're thinking of doing for the term' and more an excuse for everyone to get drunk on Strongbow and act like tits.

Still they seem enthusiastic and I'll give them the benefit of the doubt right now.  They get two more meetings and if I still feel like we're doing nothing, I'll quit and go do something else.

Old English/Old Norse Reading Group - This was fun.  We met up at a pub at about 5:30 on Wed and just sat around drinking and translating Old Norse.  As I mentioned on the Old Norse section, there's a significant amount of similarities with Old English so I managed better than I thought I would.

The group was bigger than I thought it would be, but they were all cool, so that just made it fun.  A bunch of us from the Old Norse class just walked over in a group too.

Sci Fi/ Fantasty Society - Holy crap, these guys are awesome.  I ended up staying the entire meeting and not only do they run some truly awesome D&D campaigns, they actually have a LARP going that doesn't sound completely devoid of anything except people being embarrassing.  These guys are hardcore enough that they made a friggin' manual for the LARP.  They're having a "convention" this weekend and I'm totally in on that.

Convention - I officially take back anything bad I've ever said about LARPing ever.  I had an absolute blast and I will definitely be doing this while I'm here in York.  They took some pictures of us in kit too, so if I can find 'em, I'll post them.

Also, in a moment of complete fail, I managed to lock myself out of my room last night.  This is the second time I've been locked out, thus marking me queen of idiots for a while.

Next week: LARP, Halloween Party and the prep that went into it along with whatever randomness I feel that I need to share.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Week Two - 8 Random Things About York and the CMS

Jesus Christ on toast, this place is amazing!  I knew the department here was fantastic when I applied, now I'm just blown away by the place.

This week was all the orientation stuff here at the Centre for Medieval studies.  It was a bit overwhelming, especially on Monday when they threw EVERYTHING at us.  Also that same day we had a LATIN test, which I completely panicked at.  I think I did fairly well, but the entire time I was taking it there was a chorus of "crapcrapcrapcrap I'm so boned" running through the back of my head.

(Note: Since the time of writing the above paragraph, I found out I was placed in the beginners LATIN.  Nothing to stress about, but I obviously didn't do as well as I'd thought.)

Something I'm becoming very aware of that's quite different from the college mentality in the states is the drinking culture.  You're encouraged to drink and, in fact, some of the research/reading groups meet at pubs.  It's a social thing though, not the way that I saw it in the states, where people drink mostly to get drunk.  It's kind of nice really.  It helps that all the CMS (Centre for Medieval Studies) people are completely nerdy/awesome and I'm really enjoying getting to know them.

I'll avoid giving you a blow-by-blow of the week this time.  Instead, I'm going to list a few things I noticed/found out on week two here.

1.) Apparently PBR (Pabst Blue Ribbon for those who aren't beer drinkers) is really big over here.  If you don't get why this is odd to me, let me explain.  In Santa Barbara (and CA at large), PBR is just above cow piss and Corona in terms of cheap bad beverages.  If you want something good and cheap, you get a Coors or a Bud.  Here, PBR is like...THE American Beer.  I've seen it on tap more than I've seen Bud, which is bizarre as hell.  Also, more expensive beers in the States (Stella Artois, Fosters, Guiness, etc.) is ridiculously cheap here and considered on the level of Coors back home.  It's....wierd, like someone just took the normal ranking of beers and turned them on their heads.

Still, the local lagers here are fantastic, so I'm not complaining.  I'm underwhelmed by Carling though.  Heard Strongbow is better and I'll have to find out for myself if that's true or not.

2.) No matter where I go, if I'm at a grocery store and have to bag my crap, I will have a mini panic attack.  I thought, for some weird reason known only to the inner workings of my mind, that being out of pushy California would stop me from acting like I'm trying to get through security at an airport when I'm at the checkout line, but that's just not the case.  I get all shaky and sort of flail about, trying to get everything bagged as quickly as possible while also trying to pay my total and not hit the cashier in the face with something.  Not the most dignified behavior in the world.

3.)  I need to eat more regularly here because of the drinking culture.  Back in SB, I had a couple of Gin and Tonics Sunday night while making Salmon, or I had a beer if I went out somewhere other than In-n-Out Burger.  When I got home for the summer, I drank a bit more regularly, but it was always with a meal and I don't, you now, FORGET TO EAT at home the way I do when I'm on my own and get fixated on stuff.  However, I've discovered half a pint of lager will make me the most obnoxiously talkative person on the planet if I've had nothing to eat since breakfast.  And, given that I don't like feeling like I need to punch myself in the face when I sober up, yeah, I'll be eating more regularly.

4.)Apparently the bureaucracy of Academia sucks everywhere.  Hearing some of the PhD students talk, it sounds like unless you're doing research or actually have a medieval studies program at the school you're working at; you're probably going to be teaching classes in your area whether you want to or not.  I sort of knew that, but I'd hoped maybe over here it'd be less of a problem since, you know, all the sites and stuff are here, but alas, Medieval Studies apparently only interests us select few.

Also, on the bureaucracy thing.  They're taking a fridge from us.  We're low on fridge space for 30+ people and they're taking a fridge away.  We're raising cain about it, but, come on people.  You fill the place to capacity and then take away something we NEED?  Are you daft? What the hell are you thinking?! Arrrrgh.

5.) One washer/dryer set + 30 odd people = complete fail.  This has probably been one of the most irritating things all week.  I went down on three separate occasions with the intent of doing laundry, only to find that everything was in use or someone had left all their shit in the dryer.  I did finally get it all done, but Jesus Christ in a handbasket, it took me far longer than it should have.

6.)Nobody makes strong coffee here.  I'm not joking.  Even the expresso is weaker than what we have stateside.  It's depressing since I drink my coffee Norwegian black and I can't make the strength I like.  It tastes like I'm just drinking slightly bitter milk and that's just not right.

7.)  Whatever function you are at, it will end up moving to a pub.  Everything except my LATIN briefing did that this past week.  Orientation is over?  Awesome, let's go to the pub.  Oh, we're throwing a meet and greet for the CMS?  Let's head to the pub as it winds down.  Old English/Old Norse reading group?  To the Pub!  Not that I'm complaining much, half pints are cheap and I only get one, but it just seems to be where everything ends up, as opposed to SB where you stayed at the party and drank or go to someone's house and drink socially.

8.) York is full of nerds and God bless it for that.  There is a Sci Fi/ Fantasy society (totally joining it), a Medieval re-enactment society (also joining), The Lords of Misrule (medieval drama group, no joke), Medieval Choir, the list goes on.  It honestly makes me a very happy nerd.  I'm so glad I came here.  I really do feel like I fit in.  I mean, Christ, someone's running a PERSONA D&D GAME, how bleedin' awesome is that?!  I mean its PERSONA!

Until next time dear Blogger (which may or may not be late based on my work load).

(also, in cause you're wondering, yes, I will always type LATIN in big letters to express my loathing.)

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Week One - Culture Shock

This last week has been interesting, for lack of a better word.  There are a lot of pros and cons to living in a country that's still sort of similar to the U.S. of A, and that makes for a very odd experience.  Sometimes I'll feel just like I'm back in California except everyone has an accent, and other times I'll feel like I just flew through a rip in the multiverse and landed on an Earth where everyone speaks English, but they wear pants on their heads.  And if that analogy makes no sense, I apologize, I'm still not used to the timezone here and have been sleeping badly.

I'll start by saying that I've been moved in for a week now.  My room is not fancy, but it's bigger than my room at UCSB, the kitchen is nice and, while I do have to go out to use the bathroom and shower, it's just across the hall.  All-in-all a pretty good set up.

Now as for how the week went, I'll do a day by day summary because...why the hell not?  I'm not going to do this every post, I just thought it'd be a way to streamline this week since it was crammed full of stuff.

Day 1 (Friday) - Jetlagged and groggy, my mom and I dragged ourselves out of bed for a very good breakfast (though I find that the way they grind sausage here in the U.K. just...wierds me out.  seems mealy) and decided to wander the town to get our bearings. Had an enjoyable walk through the museum gardens and a fun visit to the parts of York Minster that we didn't have to pay to see.  Left the Minster and immediately got lost. Wandered around town until we spotted a recognizable store by random chance.  Made it back to B&B, checked out registration info online as well as possible shopping sites.  Got grumpy at each other and sniped for a while before mom went out.  Fell asleep.  Mom was back after I woke up, we apologized and then went out to the Bay Horse again.  Dinner was awesome. Also, Copper Dragon may be my new favorite lager.

Day 2 (Saturday) - Jet lag still hadn't worn off, but the breakfast was still good. Picked up my keys and checked out my room before catching a bus out to shopping center on the edge of town to get what we needed.  Went to Asda, found nothing.  Hit a Boots, found a few things.  A blister I'd gotten yesterday forced me to take a break so mom wandered off to check out the other stores while I tried to block out my feet aching with some Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition.  Mom came back and we went into a huge Sainsbury's.  Found everything except an extension chord, a good clock radio and a carrier for my shower crap.  Came home, went to church at St. Wilfrid's which mom and I now suspect is placed super close to the minster as a passive-aggressive take that to the Episcopalians.  Ate dinner at The Coach house.  Took them a damn hour and a half to get us our salad.  Food wasn't as good as the Bay Horse.  Lager was still good though.

Day 3 (Sunday) -   Went to the Minster again.  Went into the main church and the catacombs area.  The main church is beautiful, but there's something melancholic about it.  The same goes for the ruins of St. Mary's Abbey, though on both counts it may just be me. Still I enjoyed my visit, especially to the catacombs.

Then had to catch the bus to go a compulsory fire safety lecture.  Was about as exciting as I expected, meaning at about paint drying level.  Still met some people from the other off-campus housing facility and they're pretty cool.  Met mom at the bus stop and we went to Plunkets for dinner.  They make a mean charred steak sammich, which included a free beer.  Unfortunately it was a San Miguel's, which I normally don't care for.

Also, mom found a bucket (finally) for me to use as a shower carrier for now while I was at the fire safety thing.

Day 4 (Monday) - Day two of the Holy Quest for The Extension Chord begins.  Found a Starbucks.  Praised god and got a latte. Went looking for W.H. Smith.  Got lost.  Wandered around for half an hour before finding it two blocks from where we started.  Checked three other shops before we got so tired we didn't care anymore.  Went back to my place which was now mostly moved into.  Mom tried to help me fix my shelf, and punctured her finger. Wasn't serious, thankfully, since this place has no first aid kit. They've got everything for an emergency BUT a first aid kit actually.  After getting the last of my stuff up, mom went back to the B&B and I spent my first night in my accomodations.  Found out both toilets on my floor are busted and the shower stays hot for 10 minutes.  Annoying but fixable.
Day 5 (Tuesday) - Mom's last full day in York.  Woke up and had breakfast with her at the B&B.  Went back to my accomodations, fire alarm went off while I was still in socks.  Went outside and stood around in the rain while they checked to make sure everyone was out.  Found myself ready to choke someone.

After that fiasco we took the walk along the city walls.  Gorgeous walk, even if the day was a bit threatening. Went over to Argos, finally found extension chord.  There was much rejoicing. Did grocery shopping.  We did dinner at the Bay Horse, I had the duck, which was fantastic.  They also make a mean Gin and Tonic.  I may be in love.

Also, this is a bit tangental, but I have to bring it up. Why does no one have Tanqueray here?  It's a London Gin, so why the hell can I get it California, but not in the U.K.?  I mean, I like Bombay Sapphire alright, but you can't beat Tanqueray.
my new home for the year.

Day 6 (Wednesday) - Mom checked out of the B&B and dropped her stuff off at my room. Went to the Yorkshire museum (was a bit disappointed at their collection) and the Minster again.  Enjoyed that much more now that I don't have to do a lot of running around.  Had a late lunch at a high end burger joint (three words I never thought I'd say together in a sentence) and got a Starbucks latte afterwards.  Wandered the town until after we finished our lattes.  Came back to my place and mom got her boarding pass etc, etc, after which she left for the train station.  Felt a little homesick afterwards.  

Met a good chunk of the building residents at the residents meeting with our tutor.  They all seem like pretty nice people.  I hope my opinion of them stays this good throughout the year.  Debated about going to a pub, but didn't want to go alone. so I made dinner and hung out at the room.  Was going to crash early, then realized I didn't have anything to do the next day and mom was in London.  This led to staying up stupidly late.

Day 7 (Thursday) -  Intended to sleep in an hour (meaning I'd get up at 9:15 in the morning instead of 8).  Was thwarted by repair guys who decided to test the alarm and scare me into falling off the bed at 8:30.  Was understandably pissed.  But, they fixed the toilets, which is awesome.  Shower temperature still stinks, but I'll just have to take shorter showers.

Went to Jorvik Viking museum.  Totally want to work there if I can, the place is un-freaking-believable.  They have some of the site open so you can see what they've dug up and a huge number of artifacts on display.  Plus they've got a campy Pirates of the Caribbean type ride there about the vikings.  The only way that could be cooler is if Odin stood on a bolt of lightning and played a guitar solo at the end of the ride.

Met up with my roomies and went out for karaoke at a local pub.  I didn't get drunk, but I did end up getting up and singing "Don't Stop Believing" with the group. Also, while there had my first Rum and Coke.  Find that I rather like rum now that I've tried it.

Day 8 (Friday) - Orientation stuff on campus today.  It was mostly applicable to the grads on campus, so it really didn't apply to me much. Oh, also helped plan the bitchin' Halloween party that Constantine House apparently gives every year.  We're still in the phase of getting stuff approved, but I'm looking forward to getting to do this.
The game that is currently making me forget to eat dinner

Day 9 (Saturday) - Hung around my room for most of the day.  Played some Tales of Monkey Island. Participated in a D&D campaign (or two) with some friends on Skype.  Went to bed.  Kind of a boring day, but it was nice to not do anything for a bit. 

St. Wilfrid's

Day 10 (Sunday) - Went to church at St. Wilfrid's and found out that the pastor knows the area where I'm from, more proof that the world is indeed a place of odd coincidences. Wandered about with a roomie for a good chunk of the afternoon, started looking into and then just sort of hung out at my room before crashing early.

So that was my first week here in York, a bit stressful and overwhelming, but not bad.  The people here are super helpful and friendly, which is both great (since, as I've established I have the complete opposite of a sense of direction) and very different to how people are on the West Coast.  There'll be a pretty quick follow up to this post since I was a bit of a procrastinator in getting this one up.

Until next time.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Introduction - The flight over (among other things)

Like most people with an internet connection and who briefly lived through the Myspace era (or, the Livejournal age, if anyone still remembers that), I have decided to start a blog.  It's going to be weekly, (or bi-weekly, depending on how I feel about it) and focused on my experiences as an American living for a year here in the United Kingdom.  More specifically, York.

My reasons for moving over here and how I got here are a little convoluted.  Those of you reading this blog by following my links on Twitter or DeviantArt already know the tribulations of my time as an undergraduate English major at UCSB.  For those of you new to my particular flavor of ramblings, I'll give you the short version.  I've been a long time Medieval enthusiast and my time at UCSB only strengthened that.  I decided to make that my major as a Masters student and started looking at colleges.  One of my profs recommended looking abroad so I applied to several schools and, after much frustration and a few meltdowns, I got into all three schools in the U.K. that I'd applied to.  I was ecstatic about this and ended up choosing to study in York. The program was amazing and, after the headache that is the visa application process, I was set to come over ad be a part of it.

My flight to Heathrow, London was last week.  My mom was going to come with me to help me get settled in, which I was profoundly grateful for because, at the very least, I'd have someone with me who was just as lost as I was.  We were packed, we had a plan to get to the airport (my aunt in the area was giving us a lift to the San Francisco airport), everything was awesome.  Of course, this was the point that my chronic bad luck decided he hadn't gut punched me in a while and decided to do so in the form of a flat tire on my Aunt's car.

We were stuck on a stretch of freeway with no buildings, one sign that was supremely unhelpful in telling us just where the hell we were and near no exits.  My aunt called my uncle to get us a taxi to the airport and then called Triple A.  Neither could find us, but fortunately after 5-10 minutes of my mom slowly and quietly panicking, a nice gent on a Harley Davidson pulled off and helped us out.  We got the airport on time, amazingly, when we ran into another problem.

I don't know how many readers here have flown Virgin Atlantic before (this was my first time), but they assign you seating and somehow my mom and I were like three seats away from each other.  It turned out that they couldn't fix it when we were checking in, so we went through the rigamarole of going through security knowing we'd probably spend the flight trying to talk to each other over some dude's sweaty fat rolls.  However, another nice guy working the check-in got us seats together.

With two major problems righting themselves, I foolishly figured the rest of the flight would be jake.  Unfortunately, my record of having some of the worst travel luck ever decided to hold out and we got suck around some truly assholish people who kept talking/laughing/ walking around the plane as noisily as humanly possible.  This made the possibility of actually, you know, getting SLEEP on the flight pretty much impossible.  Luckily, I had the foresight to load Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition and The Oregon Trail on my mom's iPod touch (as well as Tales of Monkey Island on the lappy), which kept me from strangling the jerks.  Not that I would have regretted it much beyond the fact that the murder charges would have kept me from making it through customs.

Speaking of customs, it was pretty easy.  Of course, I have no criminal record and haven't ever been out of the states, so that helped a ton.  However, given they tell you to expect an hour or so with Customs, I was extremely pleased to be out of there so quickly.

After some glazey-eyed wandering around, my mom and I found the entrance to the tube system in London.  We bickered for a bit before we figured out which line we needed to get on, and did so. The ride itself was pretty boring beyond making sure somebody didn't step on our three 50 pound pieces of luggage.

We got off at King's Cross, wandered some more, then figured out we had to take three different elevators to get up to the National Rail level.  That sounds a little annoying for most people, but when you've gotten zero sleep, spent 24 hours in the same clothes and have just spent the last hour hauling around ridiculously heavy pieces of luggage, it fills you with an urge to just stop and beat your head against a wall.

Luckily there was a fairly nice guy (either that or he pitied the rather pathetic looking pair of Americans who looked close to a meltdown) working the counter who directed us to the right line and helped my mom get set up for her return later.

A pretty calm train ride to York and a short cab ride later, we were at our bed and breakfast, The Tree Tops.  It was a super nice place, problem was, we were stupid and requested the Minster view room which was on the third floor. It was a special sort of hell getting all our luggage up there.  However, we were in York and come the next day we could start getting used to the place.

But food and sleep came first.  On the recommendation of the woman running our B&B (who was completely awesome by the way, I should make note of that) we went to The Bay Horse pub.  Nice little place with a great menu.  The best meals I've had so far here in York have been there.  Also, they have fantastic beers on draft and make a mean Gin and Tonic, which makes them winners in my book.

It may have just been that food was such utter shit on the plane (I won't bother making an airline food joke because everyone and their mom's dog has already done so), but that meal on the first night in York was the greatest thing ever.  I honestly wish I had a picture of it to share with you guys, but my camera had been with my luggage and, to be honest, I devoured it pretty damn quick. 

Thus ended my trip getting to York.