Posted by: jackterrett | April 22, 2010

Week Seven: Weir, Wolves, and Vampires

Another week, another friend visits me in the glorious City of Gardens – how popular am I???  Saturday morning I met up with my great friend and fellow XC runner from Middlebury, Ben Weir, who’s currently studying abroad in Ferrara, Italy and was wrapping up a couple of weeks of vacationing around Europe (good man saves the best until last!).  We spent the day in London, but instead of seeing all the tourist attractions (we’ve both seen them all before), we went to a Premiership football match that was playing in the city (Wolverhampton at Fulham).  I’d be meaning to go to one for quite some time, so I was as excited to see it as Ben was.  It was very clear when we got close to the stadium that we were in the right place.  Getting off the train, we were mobbed by a huge crowd of drunk, sweaty, fat men who were switching back and forth between singing/shouting “we shall not, we shall not be moved!” and “we are Wolves!”.  Clearly, we were in the middle of the Wolverhampton fan club, so we made sure not to mention any allegiance to Fulham, and sang along with the rest of them.  Huge mobs of people were heading towards the stadium from all directions and there were a great deal of Police Officers keeping everyone in check.  The match itself was riveting – we had seats right behind one of the goals (surrounded by Wolves fans as it was the away end, we made sure not to cheer for Fulham too much!) and everyone stood up in anxious anticipation every time the ball came near the goal.  Unfortunately, no goals were scored and it ended 0:0, although this seemed to please all our fellow Wolves as they were the underdogs going into the match and improved their chances of not getting relegated from the Premier League (in case you’re interested, at the end of the season, the bottom three teams out of twenty get relegated to the lower league for the following season).  After a quick photo-shoot outside the stadium (four attempts at one photo still did not yield great results – thanks Fulham fans!), we made our way home to Welwyn Garden City.  We polished off a great day by watching what critics call “the must-see movie of the year”: Twilight.  Both Ben and I thoroughly enjoyed it and are itching to watch the sequel New Moon!

Having had a taste of English sporting culture on Saturday, we decided to get a bit of an English history lesson on Sunday.  We kicked off the day with a casual run and then went to a famous historical site called Hatfield House.  Queen Elizabeth I spent her childhood here and the house itself was later built for King James I.  The house is a fairly typical stately home, but Ben and I really thrived in the picturesque gardens and grounds.  We went in search of the famous Oak Tree under which Queen Elizabeth I was sitting when she heard of her ascension to the throne in 1558, but were shocked to find that it’s been replaced with a puny new tree.  It was so small, you could barely sit under it (next to it maybe…), and so we immediately left the premises in anger and disgust (not really, the grounds were beautiful and walking around in the warm weather was fantastic, but we did feel a little cheated).  We finished off our short stay in Hatfield by visiting the Galleria (the local shopping mall) where we indulged in closing time stale snacks at Costa Coffee and searched for our next movie experience.  We couldn’t really top Twilight, so settled on ‘500 Days of Summer’ – a really good movie, although I can’t help feeling depressed after watching it (the very opposite of my post-Twilight high).

Ben had originally planned to go back to Italy bright and early Monday morning but, as I’m sure you’ve heard, some volcano in Iceland erupted engulfing the UK in a cloud of ash.  This resulted in Ben’s flight being cancelled indefinitely, so he stuck around for Monday and Tuesday, living it up in Gardens Central and getting as much British TV as he could possibly desire while I was bringing home the bacon at work.  Nevertheless, we filled our two extra evenings together with great English culinary delights: Fish & Chips and then Papa John’s pizza.  I bet no airline offered this sort of service!  What more could a stranded traveler ask for??

Oh, and on Wednesday morning, Ben ended up taking a train back to Italy (London to Paris to Milan to Ferrara)…about 24 hours door to door and a lot more expensive…  Damn volcano.

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