Claire in London

Claire is a junior majoring in history and anthropology, with a minor in political science, in Dedman College. In fall 2011 she is studying at King’s College London with IFSA-Butler, in partnership with SMU Abroad.

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White Cliffs and Dark Brews

Hello everybody!

So I finally found some time to put my pictures up from Dover and tell you all a little bit about my trip (even though it was almost two or three weeks ago that I went! Yikes!) If you’ve been reading my posts lately, you know how crazy things have been! It’s a mad rush between getting work done and doing all of the things that I wanted to do before I head home!

The papers are never ending, and it looks like I will probably have to bring some of them home with me. Although I am still hoping for the best and trying to knock out as many as possible before I head home on the 17th.

But back to Dover…

Looking back at the lighthouse

IFSA-Butler put together a great little day trip for the students to visit Dover Castle on the coast and the Shepherd Neame brewery in Faversham. At Dover, we got some free time to explore the complex, which is made up of the castle, an old lighthouse from the Roman era, a Saxon church, St. Mary in Castro and a small war museum.

Inside the chapel of St. Mary in Castro church

This site has significant historical importance, and there is evidence to suggest it was fortified during the Iron Age, even before the Roman’s arrival in the 1st century. On the march to his Westminster Abbey coronation in 1066, William the Conqueror had the castle rebuilt, and it has been militarily occupied ever since.  Its proximity to France (it is only a few miles across the channel to Calais) made it especially valuable to the English. And in World War II, following the Battle of Dunkirk, it became the frontline against Nazi invasion.

 

In this picture, you can see how close Dover (A) is to the French coast. Faversham (B) is in Kent, about a half hour closer to London (in the top left corner).

Walls of Dover castle

While there, we got to tour the Secret Wartime Tunnels, which were actually built right into the soft limestone during the Napoleonic Age.  Located right on the coast and extending for miles back into the cliff, these tunnels were a primary operating center for communication during World War II due to their security, privacy and anti-air raid benefits (though they had been updated a bit since Napoleon’s age!). It was really amazing to walk around deep inside them imagining how tense and anxious it would have been for everyone living there. The tour itself was really well done – I would highly recommend it if you ever make your way out to Dover. Probably the most amazing part to me was the stories of merchants and other private citizens who took their fishing boats and lifeboats out across the coast, into  a war zone, to help evacuate Allied soldiers from the coast of Dunkirk. These “little ships of Dunkirk” were just helping in any way they could and they ended up rescuing a significant number of these starving, wounded and terrified young men that otherwise probably would have never survived. All in all, a total of about 340,000 Allied troops were evacuated in just over a week. Pretty amazing stuff.

From there, we headed to Shepherd Neame Brewery in Faversham, Kent. This is Britain’s oldest brewery, established in 1698. (Though they have found evidence that Kentish brewers were operating there several hundreds of years before, even). We got to go inside the actual brewery where they explained the entire process of cultivating the malts, adding the hops and then the yeast. We got to sample different stages of malts and even tried hops. At the end, they served us samples and taught us how to evaluate ales and lagers (there’s a difference?!) based on clarity, smell, et cetera. Some of their more famous brews are the Spitfire (after the WWII plane, in commemoration of the Battle of Britain) and Bishop’s Finger, both of which I’ve seen in a few of the pubs in London.

 

It was a wonderful trip and very informative. I had a great time with my friends, as usual, and was so glad that I went.

Sweet girls!

I finished another paper at the end of last week and am breaking ground on my next one. Tomorrow evening I am attending a holiday tea that IFSA-Butler is putting on, which should be a lot of fun! It will be nice to get into the holiday spirit!  I’ve also just purchased a ticket to Oxford next week and will spend a day there – I am very much looking forward to it!

Wish me luck in finishing the rest of these papers!

Cheers,
Claire

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