To add my own quick update to all of the Bing trip posts: two weekends ago the Stanford-in-Oxford crew traveled to York, in northern England. No gorgeous seaside views or amazing cheeses here, but we did get to see miles of sprawling green countryside, as well as several old manor houses and estates from the 17th and 18th centuries. It was just like stepping into a classic British novel!
York itself was a town still very much possessing shades of the medieval, with well-preserved stone walls surrounding the older heart of the city. We took a walk around these walls, near where the moat used to be (very much like being a sentry on duty, peering in between the turrets), and also visited York Minster, the towering cathedral that is one of the best-known icons of the city. This building was a stunning display of Gothic architecture, but brighter and cheerier inside than other Gothic buildings I've seen, such as the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. It still wasn't quite as visually overwhelming as St. Paul's Cathedral in London, though.
After York, our last stop was Rievaulx Abbey, an old monastic ruin from the 13th century. The entire place had a haunting, yet serene air with its walls and pillars of half-crumbled stone, grass and moss taking over what had clearly once been a spectacular structure. We clambered over the ruins, took pictures, and breathed in the picturesque air of the hills and surrounding countryside against the roughened stones of the ruins.
All in all, the Bing trip was a great weekend out of Oxford, one which I really enjoyed but some others complained a bit about - I guess old country houses and churches didn't fit their idea of entertainment... Still, it's these historical places that have been my favorite part about England so far.
(Much more about York and many other UK shenanigans on my other blog - http://anglobibliophile.blogspot.com! Please check it out! Sorry, I don't feel like writing long updates in two places.)