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Monday, May 31, 2010

Sunday Sunday

Sunday May 30, 2010

We were early for church today! It seems that we're either 30 minutes early or 30 minutes late because of the way the trains run. It's an adventure getting to church every week. We had a very interesting joint meeting with Relief Society and Elder's Quorum. We watched a rather lengthy video about donating blood and then the Elder'r Quorum President spoke about the Ward Employment Program. Kinda random. There was no lesson or anything...Giving blood and the employment program are about helping those around you, so that was good to hear, but I think they would be better discussed outside of the church block or very briefly as announcements. That's not my decision though - I just thought it was a little odd to do those things in a joint EQ RS meeting. I still haven't done anything calling wise - I will be speaking in sacrament meeting on our last sunday though. I feel a bit useless in the ward - we have such an on-the-ball ward. I'm happy to just be there.

We had a really great devotional tonight - it was all music, so some people sang solos, duets, small groups, etc and then we sang some people's favorite hymns. It was really great. We sat near Professor Macfarlane, and right before we sang "Have I Done Any Good" he commented on how it sounded like a drinking song. Then he sang with so much gusto that Jess and I could not stop laughing the entire song. It really does sound like a drinking song! "So wake (drink) up, and do something more!" ha ha Professor Macfarlane is great. That was a rare irreverent moment in the evening - everything else was very spiritual and quite wonderful actually. I feel so fortunate to be here. Everyone is amazingly talented and kind and spiritual. It's been so great to get to spend time with them - I love it here! We all have been realizing that we only have 2.5 weeks left - crazy! It's gone by soooo fast. I can hardly believe it. I'm already starting to miss it here, and I haven't even left! I have so much I have left to do too... no regrets :)

In an Octupus's Garden, in the Shade

Saturday May 29, 2010

Today I woke up at 5:00 AM to make the pilgrmiage to Abbey Road! We thought the tube didn't open until 6 so we took a bus, but we didn't know which bus would take us so we hopped on one, got off, and then walked for about 45 minutes. Another group of our friends left at 6ish, took the tube, and got there the same time we did...lame...BUT, we did get to see some cool things on the way, like the Lord's Cricket Ground - that was a distinctly British experience. It also provided time for me to listen to the Abbey Road album on the way there to get in the mood.

Near Abbey Road there's a wall full of signatures of those who make the trek there - I signed my name in honor of my dad. He would have appreciated being there far more than I did - he's a much bigger fan. I included the names of our favorite songs. And now we are part of Beatles history! :) The pictures we took were very fun. We had to keep our eyes open for angry drivers - I think they get tired of people showing up to take pictures in their neighborhood and clogging up their crosswalk. But we got some sweet pictures - that's the key, right?

We were all really cranky and hungry afterwards due to lack of sleep, so we all took naps. I re-awoke at noon and then headed off to Camden Market with some friends. There, I purchased a sweet super hero comic messenger-type bag. It's really loud and bold, just like Camden Market itself. I actually think it's too loud for me to use...but I will try to own it. It is very me in subject matter. My friend Jess bargained down a t-shirt, a skill that I greatly lack. I'm just a big pushover, but she has it down to a science. I tried once though - I didn't succeed. I wanted to get a couple of Chelsea Football pins, but the guy wouldn't cut me a deal...I need more practice I guess.

We went to Pizza Hut for dinner - it was so good to have big, fluffy, American pizza. Italian pizza is good, but thin...and flat...and expensive. The Pizza Hut was actually a sit-down restaurant, something I've never seen for a Pizza-Hut before...We always just order delivery at home, or their just the counter places. While we waited for out pizza, we talked of things Harry Potter - it's fun to debate such things with other intense fans. There are so many fans of Jane Austen and the Brontes and Harry Potter here - I feel very at home with them.

After dinner we proceeded to do homework...blargh...silly school.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

All children grow up...except one.

Friday, May 28, 2010

First of all.... HAPPY BIRTHDAY DADDY! I hope it is a wonderful day for you! I love you sooooo much!

Today we had waffles for breakfast. Yummmmm….

And then we had class…not quite as fun as waffles but still good. My classes are going well so far. I can slowly feel myself getting less and less prepared for each class period as I want to play more and more. Time is of the essence.

Today we ventured out to Hampstead Heath and Keats’ House for our English class. It was interesting, but I feel I would have appreciated it more had I seen Bright Star or known more of Keats work and personal life. I knew basic facts, but I don’t think I had quite the respect for him as I should in order to truly appreciate what I saw. Still, it was fascinating.

After dinner we took off to the Barbican Theater to see Peter Pan!!! It was a Scottish retelling and so so good! I loved it. They set it in Edinburgh - I was just there! They all had Scottish accents and Peter was a teenager more than a child. They flying was cool - they opened the play with Peter walking down a wall. The sets were fun, I really loved the lighting, and the changes they made to play made it a bit darker, but also refreshing and new. The coolest part was Tinker Bell - she was a ball of flame. I have no idea how they did it - it flew around the stage and landed in people's hands and everything - so amazing. The play was just magical. My favorite part was the very end, when Peter returns to get Wendy and she's grown up. It was so emotional and powerfully acted. The moment where Peter is sobbing and then Jane wakes up and says, "Boy, why are you crying?" was soooooo great. Peter's happiness came back and he jumped into the air and began flying and then he crowed - yay for Peter Pan! I love the story. It's so sad yet wonderful. It made me want to watch Finding Neverland and Peter Pan and Hook. I loved it! And it was the least expensive play I've seen here too. Schweet!


Double, Double, Toil and Trouble

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Today was a magical day!

I finished all my homework in time – yay! – and went to class, learned stuff, then after class I found the most marvelous thing

I FOUND THE TARDIS!!! I walked out of the Earl’s Court tube station and there it was! It was probably one of my favorite London moments so far.

I got all giddy and giggly and I took many pictures and I just loved it. Pure magic. I waited around for a while to see if I could catch a glimpse of the Doctor, and…I dunno, maybe go with him…but he never came. He’s probably off saving the universe somewhere, so it’s okay. I’ll find him. And when I do, there will be none of this “should I stay or should I go” debate that his companions usually have. I already know what I’d do.

After dinner we all took off to the Globe Theatre to see Macbeth. I was so excited to see this play. Not because of the violence and gore we had been told was in it, of course, but because of who was in it – Elliot Cowan. Now, I know most of you are saying, “who?” but if you’d google his name you would learn that he played Mr. Darcy in Lost in Austen. Yes, I saw him, up close and personal, playing Macbeth. He was fabulous! And so attractive.

We were groundlings once again, but they put this black tarp over the crowd with holes for our heads (see picture). We were so close to the front. And as they started the play, the super super creepy witches ran along under the tarp grabbing people and snarling and being creepy. It was so scary. Terrifying even. And there was lots of blood…which I did not like. People covered in blood…yuck…but then Elliot came out. I was looking at my friend Jess when he first entered the stage. He came right up front and I turned and looked right into his eyes – we made eye contact. It was awesome. I thought it was very well acted, especially by Elliot. They had Scottish music throughout the performance and at the end during the curtain call they did a Scottish song and dance – I loved it! It was especially fun just getting back from Scotland. And now have a bit of a celebrity crush on Elliot Cowan…he clicked his heels as he left the stage ha ha loved it. Quite a talented person, methinks. I still can’t believe I saw him live!

All in all, a very wonderful day! TARDIS. Macbeth. Elliot. Yessssssssss.

You Take the High Road and I'll Take the Low Road

Monday, May 24 - Wednesday May 26, 2010

Three days in Scotland!

We began out Scottish excursion at King's Cross. Our train did not leave from Platform 9 3/4, unfortunately...but we did head up into the north! It took about 4.5 hours to get to Edinburgh from London, during which I read Macbeth and a bit of Wuthering Heights...kinda depressing, but still good :) My seat buddy was Kristen - see our cute selves to the left. Kristen must really love her water...

We trooped through Edinburgh to our hostel, Smart City (the name alone is wonderful ha ha) which was actually the nicest hostel we've stayed in so far. It was, dare I say, rather smart :)

We spent the afternoon up at Edinburgh Castle, where I proceeded to take my first awkward stand-next-to-the-guard-who-can't-move-or-smile-or-anything picture. I have resisted taking them because I feel like it's a little too awkward and a little too embarrassing, but I had to this time. He was in a kilt! We took some pictures with some guards inside the castle too. One of them pointed his gun at my friend Jenni for a picture. It made me nervous. My mom said never to point even a fake gun at people, and this was a trained soldier with a real gun! But it's okay - he didn't shoot her. And the picture rocked. We wandered about the castle for a bit - we saw the Scottish Crown Jewels and the Stone of Destiny (or Stone of Scone) upon which the monarchs of Britain (and Scotland, when they had one) are crowned. The view from the castle is wonderful - you can see the entirety of Edinburgh.

After the castle we saw a place that offered free samples of haggis - so of course we tried it! It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. And the lady told us there is worse things in hot dogs than in haggis, which I'm not sure made me feel better about my life...anyways, the haggis wasn't bad. I wouldn't want more than maybe two bites. We went shopping for souvenirs and on the Royal Mile and I found a blue police box...TARDIS? No...not quite...but maybe a distant cousin or something...I bought a Scotland Rugby shirt and I finally found a Cladagh ring! Those are the Celtic relationship rings that you flip a certain way depending on whether or not you're single. I have decided that everyone should have one. It would save a lot of time. There are kilts and rugby stuff everywhere, as opposed to London where you only see football stuff everywhere you go. Edinburgh is really like a mini London but with Scottish accents more than English ones. And Scotland has their own money! I had no idea. We actually learned that it's not even really legal tender, but they still use it. It's exactly the same as British pounds except they have Scottish people on them along with the Queen. It is a really interesting place, and quite beautiful.

On our second day in Scotland we decided to have an adventure and take a bus out to the sea. I've learned that you're not supposed to call it the coast. Scottish people don't know what you mean when you say that - to them it's the sea. After a lot of questions the nice people at the bus station told us where we could catch a bus that would take us to a beach called North Berwick.

For the small sum of 6.70 pounds we took said bus to the most beautiful stretch of beach. I was expecting craggy, rocky beaches in Scotland - nope! Sandy, lush, beautiful beaches is what they have, at least where we went. It was gorgeous! And the sun was shining and the waves were was heaven. We walked along the beach for a bit and reenacted Chariots of Fire (don't worry, we filmed it) and just marveled at the wonderful Scottish landscape. I love getting out of the city. I mean, the city is great and all, but the small towns outside of the city are where my favorite places have been. The British countryside is absolutely gorgeous.

After the beach we grabbed lunch and got on the bus again, which for some reason took around two hours to get back. We all fell asleep at some point on the bus, so I was afraid we had missed the stop we needed to get off at and would find ourselves back in North Berwick, which wouldn't be all bad, let's be honest. The bus did take us back to Edinburgh, however, and upon arriving my friend Stephanie and I saw the Edinburgh theater was showing Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. We both thought it might be fun if we could see it for cheap, so we went to the box office and purchased nosebleed tickets for 12 pounds.

Upon arrival back at the hostel I had the most wonderful thing waiting for me - Emily Anderson! She's interning in Edinburgh with Scottish Parliament and I had wanted to meet up with her, but had no means of communicating with her. She had apparently found some of the kids in our program by their handy dandy study abroad backpacks and asked if they knew me. They brought her back to the hostel and that's where I found her! It was such a wonderful moment. It was like having a bit of home find me here, which is always welcome. Emily came to dinner with us to the Elephant House Cafe, which is where J.K. Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter books!

We sat at a table where through the window you could see Edinburgh Castle looming up on the hillside, her inspiration for Hogwarts, and also a graveyard down below where, if you look hard enough, you can find headstones bearing the names of characters, such as Moody and Tom Riddle (though spelling is sometimes changed). It was so cool to sit there where she probably sat, thinking up the stories that had such a profound influence on my life. It was wonderful.
After the Cafe, Emily took us back down to the theater, where we bid farewell for the time being. Stephanie and I proceeded into the theater where they informed us they were re-seating the balcony seats because they weren't very busy that night - we ended up on the 7th row - 7th! We went from nosebleeds to 7th row!

So, we’re sitting there in our awesome seats and the play begins – and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The play was definitely made for children, with a few inappropriate jokes thrown in for the parents that didn’t really fit and worsened the show, I think. But the performers were fun, the songs are great, and the romance (which is always my favorite part of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) was really good – they definitely got all their key moments just right. But the best part, by far, was Chitty itself. There’s this one part where Chitty drives off a cliff with the characters in side – the stage went all black, and Chitty rose into the air and showed them falling in slow motion before sprouting wings and flying – it was the coolest thing I have ever seen, no joke. It looked totally legit, like the car was actually falling and then actually flying. I loved that part so much. That was my #1 favorite part. Other favorites included the romantic moments and the baron and baroness. Favorite songs included Truly Scrumptious, Toot Sweets, the title song, The Old Bamboo, and Posh. I’ve always loved the music. They added a few new songs, which were okay, and they shortened and improved Truly’s Lonely Man song which I was so grateful for since I could not hit the fast-forward button during it like I usually do with the movie. All in all, it was a very successful experience – I loved it!

Our final day in Edinburgh began with a hike to Arthur’s Seat. We didn’t go all the way up, but we took some awesome pictures overlooking Edinburgh – I am going to have so many awesome jumping pictures from all over England when I get home ha ha. We then got a tour of Scottish Parliament where I ran into Emily again! Yay! The Parliament building really stands out from the rest of the buildings in Edinburgh, but not in a way that I liked. They went all modern on it…I’m not the biggest fan. But being there and seeing the actual place where the Members of Scottish Parliament actually meet was really neat. We learned a bit more about Scottish parliament and how it functions. It’s interesting because they still have to report to British Parliament in Westminster – they’ve been given some powers and responsibilities, but they still are under British control.

After lunch we hopped back on a train at Waverly Station and headed home to London (I still can’t get over that London is my home!). The train ride was about 5 hours long. I got some homework done…but not much…which is why I spent much of the night and plan on waking up entirely too early to finish…this happens quite a bit, so no worries J

Lastly, but not leastly, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY IRISH TWIN JOSH! I love when May 26 roles around because I get to have a twin for 3 weeks. It's the best. I thought about Josh the whole time I was in Scotland - he would have loved it! I know he already loves Scotland, even though he's never been there. I wish he could have been there with me.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sundays are Favorite

This week was a challenge. I'm not complaining - I still love everything I'm doing, but I feel so tired all the time that sometimes I don't enjoy everything as I should. It's been so go go go all the time and we just finished up midterms that I feel like I'm going to collapse. But that's why we have a day of rest, right? To rejuvenate and remember how fortunate we are - that's exactly what today was. Church was wonderful - I once again don't really have an assignment. I feel bad because everyone else in our ward has like two assignments...but they did ask me to speak in sacrament meeting in a couple of weeks and to lead the opening hymn in Relief Society next week, so that's good. Also, I feel very happy with myself today because I totally went out of my comfort zone. Three times! At church the missionaries told us that two investigator girls our age would be coming to church today and that we should make them feel welcome. They sat right behind me in Relief Society, and the whole meeting I was freaking out about what to say to them. I wanted to say something, but I didn't want to make it fake or I sat there, freaking out - should I say something, should I not? What should I say? etc. Then, the meeting ended and I just turned around and smiled at them. I still didn't know what to say, but I made eye contact with them and said hello! I didn't run away like I normally would! Woo! One of the ward missionaries introduced me to the girls and told them I was a missionary from the university in America - ha ha, I was introduced as a missionary! That was fun. I didn't say much of anything to them. I just smiled and said it was nice to meet them before they were whisked off to Sunday School, but I talked to them! That probably doesn't mean anything to anyone but me and my parents (cuz they know how silly and shy I am - remember how phone calls used to scare me?), but it was a good moment for me. Then, I got out of my comfort zone again and made friends with this cute quiet Spanish woman in Sunday School! I was on a roll! Sacrament meeting was amazing. One of the guys in our group, Ryan, spoke on the Aaronic priesthood and shared some neat mission stories and testified of the priesthood. A guy from the ward also spoke - his testimony was so powerful. He converted as a young man against his parents' wishes and served a mission even though they didn't want him to and he testified of the power of the priesthood in his everyday life and how much of a difference it made. I love my ward.

We went on a walk through the beautiful Kensington Gardens today. It was wonderful. The weather has been absolutely gorgeous, which is ironic because I hear it's snowing back in Utah (tee hee hee). The parks here are insanely busy on Sundays, even more so when it's as beautiful as it was today. The landscape was picture perfect. One weird thing I've noticed is that people will just come and lie on the grass with their shirts off - I have seen several women in just their bras chilling out in the grass...odd...We also got whistled at today by some guys playing "football" (soccer for you Americans). That was an experience :)

Every Sunday night we have a devotional. I knew that our Stake Second Counselor was coming, but guess who he brought along! Alex Boye! From MoTab! He's one of the two black dudes in the whole choir - the way he described it, he and the other guy are licorice among a bunch of marshmallows ha ha. He is so cool and funny. He sang a song for us - great voice. And he gave a little spiritual thought as well - I don't know if you've heard it before, but he talked about "what it would be like if we treated our Book of Mormon like we treat our cell phones." Some interesting food for thought. His testimony was great to hear. Our 2nd counselor gave an amazing testimony as well of the power that we have and the light we have. He told us that we need to stand out, don't be average. He told us we could do anything with God. I loved their messages. They were just what I needed to hear to rejuvenate me and get me realizing how fortunate I am to be here and how I can't waste one second. I can get everything done that I need to with the help of the Lord. I love my life. I am so, so blessed :)

Stand in two hemispheres at once - check!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Today we went on an excursion to where time began! Well…not really where it began…but it’s where the Prime Meridian is, from which all time zones in the Western world are determined. We began by looking out across the Thames. We could see the Old Royal Naval College and the Old Royal Observatory up on the hill. The Old Royal Naval College is interestingly set up – it was once a palace for Henry VII, Henry VIII, Mary I, and Elizabeth I (wow) and later Charles II who rebuilt it in a two dome, two structure format because Henrietta Maria wanted to be able to see the Thames from her house behind it – talk about high maintenance! So there’s like this little window between all the buildings for the house.

We continued by taking a stroll underneath the Thames – yes, UNDER it – via the Greenwich Foot Tunnel. It was weird, thinking about the Thames above us. The ground of the tunnel was a bit wet, which made me rather nervous…but we lived so it’s all okay. When we came out of the tunnel we were supposed to see the Cutty Sark (which I was really excited about) but it was under conservation work – sad day!

We then went to the Royal Naval College to see the chapel and the painted hall. Both were amazing. The painted hall was entirely covered in paintings – the ceiling and every single wall was painted. It took something like 16 years to complete. The chapel was so intricately decorated. It was my favorite of the two.

We next went to the top of the hill to the Old Royal Observatory and there stood in two hemispheres at once! Check that off my lifetime to-do list! It was pretty epic. And we stayed to watch the ball on top of one of the turrets drop – it drops everyday at 1:00 PM and has since 1833 to give ships on the Thames a visual sign of the time. I planned on filming it drop, but it dropped so quickly that I actually missed it ha ha…but the video I got is hilarious.

We went to the Queen’s House and explored the halls – it had gorgeous artwork of ships and seas. We reenacted a scene from The Sound of Music on the steps – it was rather terrible, but amazingly funny. The video will eventually be on Facebook. We went into the National Maritime Museum and explored around there for a while as well.

To get home, we opted to take an awesome Thames cruise and we got to go under all the bridges and get some really awesome pictures, ending at Westminster and Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. It was so cool. I did get soaked down the back of my legs at one point, so now I can say that I’ve been in the Thames I guess, so that’s something. The boat ride was probably the highlight of the day.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The weekend began with an exhausting day trip...

We started at 7:30 AM (ugh...) and headed on the coach to Runnymede, the place where the Magna Carta was signed. The Magna Carta seems to be more important to American history than British history, which is why the American Bar Association placed the memorial in Runnymede instead of the British Bar. Our teacher said that British people probably would only vaguely know what the Magna Carta was, if at all. Their constitution is what we call "unwritten," meaning that it's known but not really written down in one document like the American one is. It's kind of an interesting concept to grasp. It seems that a lot of British things are just common knowledge amongst the people, like the rules of their government and the role of their monarchy. It's all a bit convoluted from an outsider's perspective, especially an American perspective because we feel the need to contractually write everything down.

Anyways, there's not much to do at memorials such as the one at Runnymede except spend a few minutes appreciating the monument and the surrounding landscape and then take jumping pictures, many of which don't work. But you have to keep trying until you get just the right pose - mission accomplished (see the biggest pic) :) There's also a monument to JFK that we visited nearby. That was neat.

After Runnymede we ventured on to Windsor Castle! The actual castle of the monarchs - sometimes they're even there when you are! They weren't when we were there, unfortunately, but we did get to explore the grounds.
We watched the changing of the guard, which was interesting. There's so much tradition and ceremony here in Britain. Everything is hundreds of years old and has like 745 different traditions surrounding it (there's another thing I have learned is very American - over exaggeration. Brits tend to comically understate everything).
The castle was ginormous - the largest medieval castle that's still inhabited. We also saw Queen Anne's Doll House, this huge miniature house with real electricity and running water - isn't that amazing? Apparently a lot of the artwork in the doll house were donated by the actual artists. The castle is gorgeous, inside and out. They have all those amazing original portraits that you see in history books - like the one of Henry VIII that everyone knows - on the walls there. The originals! It was amazing. And I have a hard time believing that it was someone's home - crazy!

Then we went to the home of John Milton (the poet). We went into his back garden and took a nap in the grass. Literally (see photo to right). We were all exhaustified. ha ha That was the best part. Milton actually only lived in the house for a few months during the Great Fire in London, but apparently it was instrumental in his writing of Paradise Lost. I must admit that I'm not the biggest fan of Milton. I think I mostly just don't understand his brilliance.
After Milton's House we went to Stoke Poges where Thomas Gray was inspired to write his famous Elegy. This is once again an artist for which I don't have the adequate appreciation...but the grounds surrounding the chapel were quite beautiful, which provided many much picture taking opportunities. That night I ate at Wagamama! My brother Scott told me I had to, and now I see why - it's soooo good! Loved it.

Saturday began with a brief trip to Portobello Road Market to purchase some gifts and then we went on a trip to Greenwich! We walked underneath the Thames - yes, underneath. There's a footpath.
And we dressed up as naval officers, hiked to the Royal Observatory, and stood on the Prime Meridian! I have now been in two hemispheres at once!
It was really fun. We also explored the Queen's House and the Maritime Museum next to it. I will give more details on this trip later in another post. And we rode a boat home along the Thames! It was so much fun. I was standing near the back of the boat, which I learned was rather dangerous - the engines kicked up a whole bunch of water and soaked my pants ha ha it was great. So now I can say I've been over the Thames, under the Thames, and in the Thames :) And tonight I ate Italian food with my pals and got a frozen orange juice thingy and I am utterly exhausted. My head hurts and I just want to sleep for an entire day. I just want to sleep sleep sleep...good thing Sunday is a day of rest - I need to be better at sleeping so I can more fully enjoy the sites we visit, especially next week because we're going to....SCOTLAND!!!! WOOHOO! I'm terribly excited. Oh, and I may have sited the Doctor here in London. We'll see if I can catch him, but it's probably won't be until after I get back from Scotland. Stay tuned!

Friday, May 21, 2010

A Walk on the Wild Side

We went on a walk south of the Thames last Saturday. It began at the Tower Bridge, a site we have seen before but I love to see over and over. It’s been around since 1894 and was originally brown in color, which I thought was rather interesting. I think brown would not be very pleasing as a color…they repainted it red, white, and blue in 1977 for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, so that’s why we see it as it is today. I would really like to see the center of the bridge go up to let a ship through, but I have not yet have that experience. We crossed the bridge and saw the City Hall (see picture at left) where the London Assembly meets and where the mayor’s office is located. In the Thames we saw the HMS Belfast (see picture to right), which I had never noticed before (something that baffles me, considering how large it is and how many times I’ve been to this area). It’s a World War II battleship that served throughout the entire war and is open to visitors. How cool is that? We didn’t go in though…at least not this time. We instead went to Tooley Street and walked past some museums that looked more like haunted houses than museums, like the London Dungeon (see picture to right). It was rather amusing – they had this stage where they were pretending to chop off a bystander’s head and the guy who was running the whole thing was speaking in some devilish growly voice. We then approached Borough High Street and found our way into Borough Market, where (as I already stated in a previous post) I was able to eat ostrich and kangaroo burgers. There was tons of amazing food there. Right next to the market is Southwark Cathedral. Though it was extremely loud outside, as soon as we walked into the cathedral there was absolute silence. I love the cathedrals here. I keep thinking what it would be like if our church constructed such buildings. They’re quite amazing – I love stained glass windows. We continued on down and saw a replica of the Golden Hine (see picture at left), the ship that Sir Francis Drake sailed around the world in – I want to play on it really badly, but that wasn’t allowed. So we kept walking and we found the Clink Prison Museum, which also looked more like a haunted house than a museum. We next passed the Globe, where we are going to see Macbeth next week (yay!), and then the Millennial Bridge (see picture at right) which I learned was opened then closed for renovations because it swayed when people walked on it – scary! We passed the Tate Modern, which I intend on coming back to soon to look at in more detail, mostly to see some Andy Warhol work. Further down the Thames we found the South Bank Centre and an open air second book market. They had so many books – I wanted to stay there for much longer than we could. We passed the Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, the National Theatre, and the National Film Theatre which I am interested in returning to sometime. There are noon concerts at the Royal Festival Hall which I think would be fun to attend. We finished our little tour by walking across Hungerford Bridge which was originally an unsuccessful pedestrian toll bridge. There are actually two Hungerford Bridges – the other one is up by the London Eye. They were originally supposed to be connected, but that probably won’t ever happen.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Week of Wonderful

It has been quite a bunch of days here in merry old England...I have a bit of catching up to do.

Friday May 14, 2010

Tonight we were all kinda pooped out, so we decided to head to the waffle stand in the nearby Whiteley's Mall and get a desert waffle. They were quite tasty, and I am keen to go back some time soon. There are more waffle houses here than anywhere I've ever seen. I don't know why they don't have waffle places in Provo - they'd make a killing. I dunno, maybe I just haven't seen them or something. After the waffles, we arranged to watch Emma in the classroom. We had about 10 girls and one boy - it was awesome. We watched the Gywneth Paltrow one - so good! I haven't seen it in so long, and I just finished reading the book for my English class so it was perfect timing. Jeremy Northam (Mr. Knightley) gets me every time. He is attractive. Our English teacher, Professor Young, absolutely loves Emma and whenever he talks about it he quotes "Badly done, Emma!" so forever more, that part of the movie, while being amazing in itself, will remind me of Professor Young.

I would like to take this moment to record some of my favorite class moments with Professor Young - his best quotes. When we were at Tintagel, Professor Young slipped and hit his head while trying to get to Merlin's Cave. In class, he was talking about it and this is what he said: "That's when you know you've experienced life - when you hit your head on a cave wall." ha ha Who knew the requirements for life experience were so simple? In referring to all the reading we have been doing in the class, Professor Young said, "I know, it's like you're rolling around in a garbage can...but that's not the right metaphor..." ha ha I don't think my English teacher meant to equate poetry with garbage...but who knows :) Professor Young is an awesome guy. Actually, every single one of the Professors here are great guys. I love them all.

Saturday May 15, 2010

I began the day by going to Portobello Road Market once again. I love it there! I got some really neat things, most of which are gifts for some of my favorite people (and, admittedly, some souvenirs for me...) After Portobello we went on a walk down the Thames and into Burrough Market where they have all sorts of amazing sweets and pastries and granola - pretty much anything you could ever want food wise. And guess what I had for lunch! My friend and I split ostrich and kangaroo burgers. Yes. Ostrich and kangaroo. I ate those animals. And it was sooooo good! I like the kangaroo one best - the meat was more flavorful. I never ever thought I would be eating such creatures, but I did it! (see pic at right)

After the markets we got crepes for dinner at a little crepe shop and then we did homework....lame, I know, to spend a Saturday night in London doing homework, but honestly everything shuts down pretty early here and we have to be up early the next day for church so it works well to do homework on Saturday nights sometimes.

Sunday May 16, 2010

Today we attended our ward in Wandsworth Common, though it took quite some doing to get there this time around. We ended up missing our train out there, so we had to wait around for like half an hour for the next one. We were pretty late to Relief Society, so I felt bad. Next week will be better. I have been assigned to the Relief Society, but ours is so strong I don't really know what they're going to have me do. Everyone is so great and on top of things. Our president said they would discuss me at their meeting this week. I really would like to be of service in the ward, but I don't have anything to do yet. It's a really neat ward. We had wonderful speakers in Sacrament meeting and the missionaries confirmed a young woman who was baptized on Saturday. It was such a neat experience. I haven't seen someone confirmed for such a long time. The Spirit was so strong in the room as she received her confirmation. When I see the missionaries do things like that, it makes me think of my brother Josh and all that he's doing. He is blessing the lives of so many people right now, and he gets to give them the gift of the Holy Ghost if they are worthy of it - that is so cool! I loved having that experience.

I have decided to worry as little as possible about homework on Sunday while I'm here. This resulted in a two hour nap today before dinner, which was absolutely glorious, let me tell you. Naps are favorite. We watched the CES fireside as a group in our classroom. It was really neat. Sundays are so nice and peaceful. I love it.

Monday May 17, 2010

Today was a school day - lots of class, and we're coming up on midterms so that's a bit frightening and strange, especially considering that we've only been here a few weeks. We're halfway done - weird! In the PM we saw a play called Eurydice. It was...shall I say...absurd? That sounds like a good way to describe it. It was probably the funniest thing I have ever seen, and I don't think it was supposed to be that funny. Okay, so I wasn't trying terribly hard to understand the absurdity. I'm sure it had very deep and emotional meaning. I just...avoid seeing it and laughed my head off the whole time. Here are my favorite quotes:

"You need a man with hands. Big hands, like potatoes. Hands that could carry a labor."

"I grow down. Like a turnip."

"Dear Eurydice: Last night, I dreamed we were making love, and your hair began to pour water out of the ends, and I was like, why is your hair spraying water?...and then you had to hold your knees up because you skinned your knee on a sharp, Orpheus."

"Don't stick your tongue inside a dead guys mouth. It tastes like oatmeal, and I know you don't like oatmeal."

Make sense? Don't worry, they don't even make sense in context. There was this part where Eurydice is following Orpheus and they were both running, but in place. It was like they were moon walking, but they were moon running or something. My friend Jessica came back to the center and did here hair in three crazy buns like Eurydice's and started moon running in front of a bunch of the other students and the professors. We all died laughing. One of the professors wasn't there, so we brought Jess back out when he showed up and she performed an encore. Professor Macfarlane totally did a double take when he saw her hair. It was a wonderful laugh. One other time, I was singing Little Mermaid as I walked to my dorm, not knowing that Professor Macfarlane was right behind me. He joined in with me with a bit of Phantom of the Opera - "Sing for me!" It was so funny. Our professors are great. Since seeing this wonderful play, it has become one of the most quoted bits of this experience.

Tuesday May 18, 2010

I spent much of last night and this morning doing homework. I will spend much of today in class or doing homework or study for my midterm on Tuesday for my British History and Politics class. The work load is actually almost unbearable. I never want to take spring or summer classes again, especially if I'm somewhere cool like London. It's hard to get the right balance and get everything done both school and London wise that I want to get done. But I'm muddling through. We'll see how it works out.

Wednesday May 19, 2010

Today was an amazing adventure! We began the day early early and drove to Stratford to see Shakespeare's birthplace! I'm not sure anyone else was terribly excited to be there, but I was so excited. I love Shakespeare! And they had this exhibit and videos and things that talked about his life and influence and showed clips from his plays. I nearly died when they showed some pictures from Hamlet with David Tennant, and I literally jumped up and down and squealed when they were talking about Shakespeare's ability with words and showed a clip from the Doctor Who episode "The Shakespeare Code" with David Tennant once again! I was so deliriously happy. Three of my favorite things - Doctor Who, David Tennant, and Shakespeare. It was like they knew I would be there. It was really neat to see Shakespeare's house - where he grew up and what his life must have been like.
We then headed to the church where Shakespeare was buried (see picture at right) and went for a stroll along the river Avon. It was gorgeous. I love Stratford. Let's face it - I love every place we go to. We went to Anne Hathaway's house (Shakespeare's wife) and had a tour of it. I must have looked really attractive because some random Asian guy in another tour group started taking pictures of me and my friend Jess. It was really awkward, but hilarious.
The gardens outside of the house were beautiful and having a tour of the house was very interesting. As we walked up the really steep spiral staircase inside the house to get to the upper level, I was thinking "man, someone falling down these stairs would not survive." They were deadly. And what would happen but on the way down I fall down the stairs. ha ha I slipped and mostly caught myself, but the noise of me banging down the stairs was terribly loud and the tour guide was more worried about the stairs being ruined than me, but it was so funny. I wasn't hurt at all (and neither were the stairs, thank heaven) so all was good. I couldn't stop laughing for some time. I thought I left my clutziness back in the States, but I guess not....

After Stratford we drove on to....OXFORD! The town was fun and I bought some t-shirts and such, but the best part was....drum roll please....we had tea in the Great Hall of Christ-church, where they filmed some of the Great Hall scenes in Harry Potter!!! AHHHH! I had tea at Hogwarts!!! Actually, it was hot cocoa....but still! And I was sorted at the front of the Great Hall! (Into BYU, of course :)
And we took pictures on the stairs leading up to the Great Hall, also used in the movies. You can probably recognize them from the pictures if you're a Harry Potter geek like me. We were all so excited. We bought round glasses at Primark the night before to complete our experience. It was such a cool experience - once in a lifetime, I think. The head of house at Christ-church is LDS - that's how we got such an amazing experience. So I went to Shakespeare land and Harry Potter land all in one day! What a day! Then I spent the entire evening studying for my Brit Politics midterm...blargh...but what an awesome day!

Thursday May 20, 2010

Today I took my midterm - I think it went well, but I'm mostly just glad it's over. After school we went to the Imperial War museum and explored the sections on World War I and II (my favorite eras of history) and the Holocaust exhibit, which was extremely moving. These eras amaze me, mostly for the triumph of the human spirit exhibited in each. I loved seeing the World Wars from the British side - they were involved in them long before and after the U.S. was and often had more invested and higher casualties. They stood up to Hitler and said no, even though they were a small island and severely outnumbered. It was such a cool museum to walk through.

After dinner, we took off to West End to see...wait for it....WICKED!!! I absolutely loved it. Our seats were amazing, the play was amazing, and the price was amazing! I am such a fortunate person. I can hardly believe I'm here seeing these plays for so cheap. And they're absolutely marvelous.

Fiyero was attractive, as he should be, and Elphaba and Glinda had fabulous voices. Glinda was so funny and Elphaba so powerful. It was interesting to hear the characters have British accents. It took me a while to get used to it, but it was definitely fun. I love this play. The music is so much fun. I got chills all over me when Defying Gravity started playing. We had an absolute blast.