Saturday, October 11, 2008

Priceless Trip to the North

I'm sure you've all noticed the facelift I've given my blog, although it's not exactly what I'd always dreamed my blog would look like, it's all my poor technical skills can manage.
As I write this post, I am once again tucked safely back on the third floor of 27 Palace Court. We just returned from the wild North yesterday, and while I had an absolutely fabulous time, it is nice to be able to be back in London and not be "coach sick" every other hour. Before we headed up North I had pretty much no idea what we were in for. Luckily I trust my professors enough to know that it would be well worth my time. This week's activities started out with a sobering visit to Quarry Bank Mill, a busy cotton mill during the industrial age. While I've been on this trip we've dropped in on mansion after mansion and almost every palace, but we've not seen much of how the majority of the population lived. Quarry Bank Mill was definitely an eye-opening experience. There are times I've wondered, as I've been here, why any of our ancestors would have wanted to leave this beautiful island, but after seeing the conditions of this huge textile mill, what with their 15-18 hour days, 2 meals, cotton filled lungs, body deformities from child labor and such meager pay that you have no other choice, it's a wonder why anyone stayed! This trip was by no means a downer though, we visited happy places like the cavern in Liverpool where the Beatles first performed, or the cottage in Ambleside where Beatrix Potter lived. We ended trip on almost the polar end of how we started it though; at Chatsworth.
We got scolded in perfect British form for taking this picture.
This "house" was like taking Buckingham Palace, mixing it with the Louvre, throw a few rolling dales in and then you have Chatsworth manor. The opulence of this place really just hit me like a punch to the face. When you go to a palace you expect to be bombarded with gold gilt and glittering crystals, but when you go to someone's home (who still lives there today) the whole palatial thing kind of catches
you off guard. As our guide was telling us about the 150 kilo solid silver chandelier, and the 15000 paintings, most by big names like Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo (not the turtles) someone in our group couldn't help but ask the question that was pressing all of our minds; how much? Of course he had to say that they were all priceless, but a very very conservative estimate was about 7 billion pounds. In paintings. Alone. All for this old couple with bad teeth. Maybe it was just because we had driven in the bus for about 3 hrs and my stomach had nothing but bad hostel food, but hearing that really just made me sick. All of that stuff, while beautiful, is really just stuff. We say it is priceless, but it is really just worthless. I had never realized how much it doesn't matter, than when I was surrounded by so much of it. The fact that I was surrounded by so many people that make life matter helped my perspective as well. It's so easy to get drawn into the material side of life, but it's so easy to forget it too. Whenever you laugh until you cry, or cry until you laugh you're a part of what really counts. My life may never be documented in a museum, or people won't travel thousands of miles to take a picture with a bronze effigy of me, but I can still appreciate a good laugh with a good friend.

1 comment:

Emma said...

In the end who really wants all that stuff anyway? All I could think about while reading this was, what a pain to clean! I barely handle our hut. Wink.