Archive for the 'Nottingham' Category

Nottingham

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For nearly 800 years, the story of Robin Hood has been told and retold countless times. It’s become an archetype of sorts that anyone with a sense of moral fortitude can relate to; rob from the rich and give to the poor, help the meek at the expense of the mighty. Robin is the medieval Jack Bauer, the Jason Bourne of the dark ages. He’s the guy that’s been screwed by the system, and is seeking a type retribution that answers to a higher form of justice.

But lofty ideals will only get you so far in a materialistic world. Don’t bother robbing from the rich when you can solicit to the middle class. The legend of Robin Hood is a goldmine for the city of Nottingham which, incidentally, is where I spent the past weekend. To be clear, I didn’t fly across the continent to commune with a man in tights, but rather to hang out with an equally righteous young man: Mr. Christopher Temple.

For those who haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Chris, here’s a brief introduction. He’s an Englishman through and through, hailing from The North, near the Scottish border. He spent 2006-07 studying at Bucknell, which is where I met him. Chris is the sort of guy that anyone can get a long with. He’s a titan when he’s on the rugby pitch, and a gentleman when he’s off. He can also drink just about anyone under the table, but you won’t hear him boast about it like your typical American Fratty McToughguy. No, when Christopher Temple drinks, he’s not out to prove anything, and his pride’s not on the line. He’s just a thirsty man in need of drink and conversation.

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At any rate, Chris was my host over the weekend — and what a fantastic time it was. I arrived Thursday night and left early Sunday morning. Chris had class on Friday, so I spent the day touring Nottingham. It’s a small city, light on the charm but heavy on the authenticity. It’s no frills; non-gimmicky — what you see is what you get. Refreshing, really. The crown jewel of the city is Nottingham Castle which, funny enough, isn’t actually there anymore. It was torn down in the 17th century, after the English civil war. Some of the ramparts still exist, quietly surrounding a mansion that was erected on the site after the castle was demolished. It’s a museum now, with family-friendly historical and artistic exhibits. It also offers an impressive view of the city and the surrounding countryside. Not a bad place to spend a few hours.

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Lunch was had in Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, a pub at the foot of the acropolis that the castle complex is situated on (a few of its rooms, in fact, are actually burrowed into the sandstone outcrop). Founded in 1182, it claims to be the oldest pub in England. Whether or not that is true is not up to me to decide but, suffice to say, the fish and chips were good, the Guinness was cold, and the house ale, “Olde Trip,” wasn’t bad, either.

Friday night we went to a small gathering of Chris’ friends at a house where a few of them reside. I was somewhat of a guest of honor, and to celebrate his friends arranged for us to play a couple of American drinking games, namely beer pong and flip cup. These are, of course, staples of the American college student’s existence, but for many of the Nottingham students, it was their first time playing. And it was an absolute blast — hands down, the most fun I’ve had since I’ve been in Europe. Great people, great conversation, great fun.

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After hanging out there for a few hours, we headed downtown to a local club, where the fun levels continued to soar. Highlights include being bought drinks almost the entire night, every dude on the dance floor taking off their shirts and spinning them over their heads when the DJ played the Baywatch theme song, and being treated to a genuine hamburger — an elusive thing in Italy — before we headed home. All around, it was a great night.

Saturday was spent lounging around, chatting and watching rugby. I still don’t totally understand the rules of the game, but, I have to say, I’ve never seen a more war-like sport. A guy goes down with an injury and the game doesn’t even stop. The medics run out on the field to tend to the injured, while these massive men hurl themselves at each other with no regard for life or limb. You half expect to see a coach call in an air strike while the grunts on the ground try to hold the line.

Sunday morning I caught a 6:30am flight back to that city where all roads lead. I can’t emphasize enough what an awesome time I had in Nottingham. Hanging out with Chris, meeting his friends, speaking English — it was great. A big thanks to Chris and his housemates, especially Rob and Paul, for all of their hospitality.

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