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Now that I’ve covered the inside, I’ll describe the surrounding areas of the Manor. It sits in a beautiful green landscape, surrounded by farmland. There are wheat fields and bales of straw, and wooded land connected to the grounds.
We’ve spent lots of time rambling the walks nearby and taken dozens of pictures. The gardens have hundreds of plants and flowers. The roses smell wonderful! There are three caretakers who keep up the gardens and pleasure grounds. The first day we got here we took off our shoes to walk through the grass because it is so soft and springy. It is perfectly manicured and as green as can be. Harlaxton is known for its stone lions, but there are also dragons and wolves. There is a huge stone gazebo and several wrought-iron gates.
The weather here is lovely. As it is England, it has rained nearly every day, but it’s not like rain at home, where it will rain for a long time and get everything soaking wet. It rains softly, gently. The temperature is nearly perfect—it’s more or less 65 degrees Fahrenheit, 20 degrees Celsius, but fluctuates as the sun goes in and out. When it rains it can be quite cool, but the direct sun feels very warm. Some days it doesn’t rain at all. There is always a soft breeze, and gorgeous clouds.
Sometimes there will be a middling day where you can hear thunder in the distance, with dark clouds in one part of the sky and sunshine in another. There have already been a few sun-showers here, which makes me so excited because it is rarer at home. There is a bench hidden behind some climbing vines under a stone awning, where it is nice to sit and study when the rain is pattering down. There are lots of great places to study outside.
The Manor has an attached village (also called Harlaxton) left over from former days, where there is still a country church with a very Gothic-looking country church yard. The first Sunday they held a welcome service for Harlaxton students, which was fascinating as I’ve never attended an Anglican service or any similar type of service. The church was built around 1175, and includes traditional stonework, stained glass and a magnificent old organ. Of course there are people buried under the floors, and Latin inscriptions everywhere.
Margaret Thatcher was born here, and Isaac Newton lived here as a boy. He went to school in nearby Grantham, and may have carved some graffiti in the church.
Learning to be British
I’ve gotten quite a taste of British culture here, even outside of classes. Besides riding in cars on the opposite side of the road, we use British currency (pounds sterling) and eat British food (so far: Yorkshire pudding, roast beef, shepherd’s pie, and of course, fish and chips). Most of the teachers and staff are British, which has caused me to start thinking in a British accent all the time!
There is shuttle to nearby Grantham, where there is a shopping center. It’s a similar concept to an American mall, but there are small shops that open directly on the sidewalk. Instead of mall shops, the equivalents of Walgreen’s and Kroger are set up like this (Wilkinson’s and Morrison’s) My favorite store so far is Poundland—like the Dollar Tree! And since they have a one-pound coin, it’s very convenient.
One of the differences over here is a smaller, more space-efficient mentality. Americans are more used to luxury vehicles, supersized meals and value-sized products. However, the stores have an abundance of American movies and music, which was comforting.
There is a London trip coming up, so expect more great travel stories and pictures!