Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Nottingham experience


Maybe you haven't heard too much about Nottingham. I'm going to write something about it because I was there some days ago. I'm going to start with the legend of the city.

Nottingham is known because of the Robin Hood's legend. According to the legend, Robin Hood was a man called Robin Longstride or Robin of Locksley. He was hidden in the Sherwood forest, near Nott'm. He was a great archer and defender of the poor people. He fought against the Nottingham's sheriff and the prince John Lackland (Juan sin tierra), who used the army and the police to take up the people's goods.

The Major Oak, a millenary tree in the Sherwood Forest.

Newstead Abbey

John Lackland

Many historians have tried to discover if Robin existed. They identified many possible men, but none coincides strictly with the legend. 

As I have said before, the legend says that Robin Hood was hidden in the Sherwood forest. We went to the forest and there, there is an abbey called Newstead Abbey where the poet Lord Byron lived for some years. Newstead Abbey wasn't an abbey when the poet lived there with his mum because when the king Henry VIII imposed Anglicanism in his territories, the monks were expelled from the monasteries.

Lord Byron

The city of Nott'm has around 300,000 inhabitants, however, it hasn't many historical buildings or places. The most interesting ones are the Council House, The City of Caves, the Nottingham Castle and the Galleries of Justice.

The City of Caves is the name used to call the caves dug behind the city some centuries ago. People dug them to have bigger houses without paying more taxes. Many of them formed a subterranean city. When we went there, the guide explained that they were also used as refuges during the Blitz, the constant bombing of the UK by the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) between the 7th September 1940 until 16th May 1941 (part of WW2). He said that one of the caves has capacity for around 8,000 people.

The City of Caves

Propaganda's poster against the Blitz.

The Galleries of Justice are also very interesting. There we could see what the justice was like some centuries ago. First of all, the guide explained us that the prisioners sentenced to death were hanged in public executions until 1864. He also said that the corpses of the executed were put up in public until they became descomposed. Then we saw the cells and the guide explained the way of life of the prisioners. 

Gallows in the Galleries of Justice

During the Victorian era (1837-1901, a period of expansion of the British Empire, but a period of big inequalities and opression of the enormous low class too), the guide said, the prisioners were submitted to very hard conditions. They were isolated in the cell 23 hours a day, and they went out to a small courtyard one hour a day. In this hour they had to wear a mask that covered all their faces, they couldn't speak with the other prisioners and they had to walk continuously on a line painted on the floor. Prisioners, children many times, lived only with their thinking and a lot of them became crazy. We could also see the names of the prisioners engraved by them on the walls of the courtyard some centuries ago.

Queen Victoria

We also visited the Nott'm Castle. It was a little boring but we could see the statue of Robin Hood there.

Robin Hood's statue

Apart from Newstead Abbey and the Sherwood forest, we did a trip to another place, Chatsworth House. It is the seat of the Duke of Devonshire, and has belonged to his family, the Cavendish family, one of the most influent families of the UK, since 1549. There we could see a lot of works of art, many of them were from Egypt. Around the house, there are kilometres of gardens and forests, and the River Derwent.

Chatsworth House

Chatsworth House

Now I'm going to write something about the meals. As you probably know, in the UK the breakfast is at seven o'clock more or less, but they don't usually eat eggs with bacon and things like that. They usually eat cold milk without chocolate, cereals and toasts. The lunch is at half past twelve and they usually have dinner at seven o'clock more or less. And if you like fast and spicy food, England is your country. I prefer cocido :)

In the house where I was living, there were two Chinese boys, two French boys, my host mother, my host brother and me, so it was a great multicultural experience. When I arrived my host brother went to school yet! He explained to me that in England, the students have six weeks of holidays in summer, but during the course they have one week of holidays every six weeks. The Chinese boys were hard followers of the "communist" regime and the French were good guys.

As you probably heard on TV, George of Cambridge, son of the Dukes of Cambridge, was born on the 22nd of July. I have added an article of the BBC:

The news usually say that the British Crown enjoys a great support of the population, but my family says to me that this is not true. 

I want to write something about the BBC too. The BBC is the public service of comunication of the UK. It's the biggest company of communication of the world, with 23,000 workers. But above all, it is known because it is an entity independent from the influence of the politicians and the private companies. So, it broadcasts very imparcial, reliable and objective news. The problem is that if you want to watch it in your house you have to pay around 150 pounds a year, so not all the people can enjoy good information. Here I put the website:

Regarding to the lessons, I think that they were enjoyable and we have a lot of time of breaks, but there you can learn a lot because we only practiced speaking, that is the best way of learning a language, not only learning grammar as in Spain. I don't know if the lessons in the rest English High Schools are in this way, but I think that it's a good way of learning. We were around 15 in the class, not 30 as in Spain.

Other famous places in the UK are the pubs. I'm sure you have heard about them. When I arrived I was surprised because there aren't too many pubs in the centre of the city. The centre is full of fast food restaurants like McDonalds, Burguer King, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, etc.

Pub of Nottingham

When we were there, the Rayo Vallecano played a match against the Notts County (one of the two football teams of the city), but we didn't go to watch it because we didn't know about it until two hours before the match started. The match finished with a draw (2-2). 

Notts County vs Rayo Vallecano

I invite you to travel to England and around the world as much as possible, you will enjoy, however it's better to go when you are older and you can work. Travelling enriches as much as reading because in addition to learn the language, when you travel you learn about other cultures, even if the globalization process is killing multiculturalism and transforming all the cultures in only one. And if you like buying things prices are lower than in Spain now! ahahah.

I hope that the post has been interesting for you! See you and enjoy the summer!

I'll put more photos.


Paqui Pérez Fons said...

Hello Salva

First of all, congratulations for your post! It’s very complete, there are very few mistakes and with it we can make a complete idea about your experience in Nottingham. I’m glad to know that you’ve enjoyed the experience and the money of the Junta has been well expended ;)

The mistakes are the following:

- They hid many possible men: I think that the verb “hid” doesn’t fit here. Maybe identified/speculated about?

- the poet Lord Byron lived for some years

- capacity for around…

- There we could see what the justice was like some centuries ago.

- decomposed

- they had to wear a mask… and they had to walk

- Prisioners, children many times

- Apart from.. You could also write “In addition to/Besides/As well as…

- and has belonged to his family…

- Now I'm going to write

- In the house where I was living,

- He explained to me

- independent from the influence

- it broadcasts very impartial

- you learn about/from other cultures

As you can see, the mistakes are small. You’re mastering the language!

Paqui Pérez Fons said...

And now my comments and questions about the contents:

I’ve found the story of the City of Caves very interesting. I didn’t know anything about it. Your explanation about justice during the Victorian era is also very interesting. The punishment of isolation for 23 hours a day is called solitary confinement. I’ve read that the normal sentence for prisoners who were not sentenced to death was one year of solitary confinement and three years of forced labour. During WW1 conscientious objectors were also sentenced to solitary confinement many times and when the confinement finished, they couldn’t speak with the other prisoners. Solitary confinement still exists in many countries and also in Guantanamo prison.

I admire the BBC model and I hope the Spanish public TV will be similar to it in the future. In France and in Italy people also pay to finance the public TV. They pay a fee for every TV monitor they have at home. In the USA there is also a very good public TV called PBS (the one of Sesame Street), partly financed by the government (around 15% of their budget) and another part is financed by the donations of the audience and cultural sponsors. It was created in 1970 because the commercial TV stations (ABC, CBS and NBC) had monopolized the market and that was a thread to pluralism (the same is happening now in Spain with the merger of Cuatro and Telecinco on one side and Antena 3 and La Sexta on the other side). Did your host family have the BBC at home?

I’m curious about the opinions of your Chinese mates about communism. Were they members of the Chinese elite? This could explain their opinion.

About the lessons, did you go to a language academy or to a British high school? Were there students from other countries in the lessons or only Spanish students? Did you have the chance to meet other Castilla –La Mancha students from Secciones Europeas? What was the level of English of your Spanish mates like?

As for the “colonization” of the big companies everywhere, as you said, it’s an example of economic globalization and monopoly capitalism. This is apparently a contradiction with the theory of economic liberalism, but it has been the result of evolution of capitalism (as Marx also predicted). In theory a free market economy will contribute to competition between different companies and consumers could enjoy better prices, but in the practice, producers have concentrated, merging with other companies, limiting competition and making many local companies disappear: pubs replaced by McDonald’s, small shops replaced by Carrefour… This is another contribution to uniformity and the pensée unique or monolithic thinking: many people doing the same things in the same places, consuming in a similar way, create a uniform lifestyle and this has also social, economic and cultural consequences. But this is a complicated topic to discuss with this heat.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed a lot and I wish your mind opened to new realities. Thanks for your extra effort in summer!

Pilar Quirós Iniesta said...

Hello Salva! Hello Paqui! I miss you and these great posts and comments on the blog! I really like your post, one of the most interesting things that I have found is the photo about Lord Byron and his funny clothes and hat, other thing in which I am agree with you is in the last one, we would travel all that we could around the world, maybe it has a big cost but there are many interesting and beutiful places in Spain for visiting! I was very happy when I kenw the new about your scholarship and I think also that you are the person who most merited it due to your big effort day by day! CONGRATULATIONS SALVA!
TO KNOW MORE: Today, 5th of August of 2013, it's the 74th anniversary from the execution of "The 13 roses", 13 women who were shooting in the cemetery of La Almudena, in Madrid, for being against the goverment of Franco and defend the liberty and equality.

Paqui Pérez Fons said...

Hello Pilar,

I can't believe that you miss the work on the blog ;) As you can see, we're not closed in summer and if anyone want to write something about your cultural experiences in summer, you can do it.

Lord Byron's painting was painted by Thomas Phillips, an English portrait painter, in 1813, after Lord Byron came back to Great Britain after doing the Grand Tour. This trip consisted of visiting important places related to Antiquity and Renaissance and it was like a rite of passage for young rich men. As Lord Byron was a nobleman, he also visited many places in the Mediterranean from 1809 to 1811. When he came back to Great Britain, Thomas Phillips painted him in Albanian dress, probably with some of the clothes he had bought in Greece. Some years later, Lord Byron was one of the most important supporters of the Greek independence and their fight against the Ottoman Empire.

If you want to learn more about Lord Byron and the Grand Tour, here you have some links:

Good point for remembering the 13 Roses. Also on this day in 1914 the Spanish government declared the neutrality of the country during WW1 :)

Pilar Quirós Iniesta said...

Thamks Paqui for answering my comment and thanks for the information about Lord Byron (you surprise to me day by day with all your kanowledges, I think that you are a encyclopedia).
Today also, is the day when Marilyn Monroe was found dead in 1962. Today we had learnt a little bit of history!!! :)

Salva Fuentes said...


The BBC is a good TV but in my opinion it should be free. My host family has it at home but I didn't watch it a lot.

Yes, the father of one of the Chinese guys was a Chinese civil servant. I don't know the situation of the other one because he didn't speak too much.

I went to a university (Nottingham Trent University). We used the classes because the students were on holidays. In my class we were 14 students (6 French and 8 Spagniards). Some of the Spanish students were from Secciones Europeas, but not many. However, I think that they have studied less subjects in English than us. The level of English of the 20 students of Spain was very different. Some of them had a really really good level and the level of the other students was so bad.

Thanks Paqui and thanks Pilar too! Remember that it's not necessary to be rich to travel. We travelled to Madrid for 10€.

Paqui Pérez Fons said...

I'm not an encyclopedia, Pilar, but I know how to use it ;) I knew that Lord Byron had been in Greece and also about the trip the rich people made to Italy and Greece, but I didn't know that it was called the Grand Tour. I looked for the painting and learned that it was painted after Lord Byron's Grand Tour, so I also learned a bit of history yesterday. That's why I like my job so much, because I learn things everyday!

Salva, the BBC could be free if they had commercials. As they don't have, they need a source of financement and that's why people have to pay for watching it. That's reality. If we consider that impartial and good information and culture are a right, everybody should have access to it and this would only be possible if the State finances it and offers it to everybody and this means taxes. Is culture something everybody has the right to access? Is public TV a luxury or a necessary service? More questions to think about ;)

Remember that we went to Madrid for 9 €! There are many interesting places to visit without spending a lot of money.


Paqui Pérez Fons said...

Hello again,

I've been reading about the BBC fee. Everybody can receive the TV signal at home, but they have to pay the license fee (around 11 pounds per month). There is a company in charge of checking if you've paid the license and if you own a TV and you don't pay, you can be fined with 1,000 pounds):

On this day in 1945 the city Hiroshima was bombed by the USA with a nuclear bomb: 90,000 people died immediately. By the end of 1945 the casualties were more than 140,000 and many more died in the following years due to radiation. On the 9th of August the city of Nagasaki was also bombed, causing 60,000 dead. The total number of killed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki has been estimated around 150,000-246,000.

The problems with nuclear power continue in Japan. Here you have this breaking news from Fukushima:


Raquel Ortiz Escribano said...

You all know a lot... I am astonished :O :O :O jajaja!
Paqui I will really miss you next year although history is a torture for me, you help me a lot when I ask for your help, you are the best one :) :) :)

Salva Fuentes said...


I think that good information should be a right and the BBC should be a right for all the British people, even if they must pay more taxes. And sorry! I didn't remember that the final price of the trip was 9€ ahahah.


Paqui Pérez Fons said...

Hello again,

Raquel, even if you don't study History next year, we'll keep in touch and if you want, we can also travel together again.

Salva, you're becoming more Keynesian everyday! I agree with you: culture and impartial information are a right and we need powerful public media, run by professionals and not by political commissars.

See you!

Raquel Ortiz Escribano said...

Ohhh Paqui I will love to travel together again !!!!!! :)
The trip to Madrid was the best experience of the year! jajaja