Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I love you... Most ardently.

So I found paradise today! It is located in Stourhead Gardens somewhere not too far from London in a place called Andover. We only spent about an hour here but I could have spent all day here or the rest of my life. A large amount of the excitement that surrounded the visit to these gardens stemmed from the fact that is the location where a scene from the new Pride and Prejudice was filmed. The scene is the one where Darcy confesses his love to Elizabeth, in the rain, under the cover of a structure in which I stood today! He first explains to her all the reasons why he should not like her and then says that he does like her that in fact he, "Loves her, most ardently." It is kind of the best movie line ever. Being there made me almost feel like I needed a Mr. Darcy to be in love with me most ardently but then I remembered that I was fine just the way I am but, it was fun to feel like Elizabeth Bennett for the day. I loved being in the gardens. I felt like everything was right there and nothing could go wrong! I had this funny feeling that even if something did go wrong that it would be ok because I was in the most beautiful place that I had ever been been in my life! It was also fun to take fun pictures and to pretend to be part of a Jane Austen novel.
The next stop we made on our trip this Wednesday was in Winchester. Of course, my friend Janna and I did our bus fun for everyone today. We wrote poems about some of the girls in our programs for the other girls to figure out and we sang again and we gave some news from home. I enjoy doing bus fun I won't lie. I think there might be something about the microphone, I have always kind of liked attention so it is a great job for me :) Winchester was kind of the low point for me today. It was cool and all but I was really tired and we saw a cathedral (which we have seen a lot of) and some ruins of a castle that were cool but I was so tired so it was hard to pay attention. It was fun though and I am glad that I had the opportunity to see it!!
The next part of the trip was really fun! I had my doubts because I was so tired and we were going to more castle ruins but these ruins were way fun! They were also located right on the water, the harbor which leads to the ocean, which made a pretty incredible back-drop. We climbed to the top of the ruins of the castle and looked out over the water and it was amazing! I was delighted to see how open and available the ruins were. We were allowed to pretty much climb around on whatever we wanted and just play among what was left of the castle that once stood there. I feel so lucky to be here and to have the opportunity to see the things that I am seeing. Today, as I was walking along the water by Portchester Castle, I had this amazing feeling of just loving where I was. I really am just thankful to be able to be here! I hope you all enjoy my pictures from Portchester almost as much as I enjoyed being there!Just posing on some ruins...Janna and the view from the top of the castle ruins.The beach?Right outside the castle wallWe got kind of artsy towards the end, I like this one mainly because it is black and white.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Bird's Eye View

For those of you who have ever been to London or have ever seen a picture of the London skyline you have most likely seen the large ferris wheel structure that sits on the bank of the Thames. Even though this picture looks a little bit like a back drop, I promise we were there today and, since the sun was shining, we decided to take a flight. The tickets were a little pricey but I figured that this is an experience that I can have no where else so I dished out the 15 pounds and got into the little glass capsule with my friends Maddie, Melissa and Hillary.
The ride was nothing short of breathe taking. I am not sure exactly what was taking my breathe, the height or the views. I never knew that I had any kind of a height problem but while I was in the eye and approaching the top I was feeling just a little bit nervous. Don't worry, everything was ok! My capsule didn't spontaneously break off and fall into the Thames or anything so, all in all, it was a success!
It was incredible to see London from the point of view that we did and on such a beautiful day! We were able to find Big Ben and Parliament (I would be a little worried if we couldn't :) we also saw Buckingham Palace, St. Paul's Cathedral, and Westminster Abbey. It was cool to be able to point out all those places and know what they were and where they were, I am starting to feel a little bit more like a Londoner!
I will share some more of the pictures that we took from the eye so everyone can get the full experience... or as full of an experience that you can from a blog :) It was tricky to get good shots because of the position of the sun- I am not as good as Rodg so, bear with my amateur pictures. Enjoy!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Recent Happenings

So here is an update since I have been such a slacker- I apologize immensely to those of you who enjoy reading this, I am not sure how many people that applies to but, I am sorry! The reason for my absence is that I have not taken many pictures since Wednesday so this post in going to be a lot more words than pictures but I guess we will see who the faithful are from who actually reads this post :)
Some quick updates! Thursday I found my souvenir, I bought a sweet rugby jersey, it is an English national team jersey and it is way cool! That purchase pretty much made my Thursday until our whole group went to a concert at Royal Festival Hall Thursday night- it was amazing. We heard the London Philharmonia play and they played Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto with this pianist who was amazing, I do not have words for just how talented he was. I had a perfect view of his hands and I could not take my eyes off of them, it was amazing!
Friday Maddie, Melissa and I went to the biggest mall in all of England- it was huge. This mall was so big that is felt overwhelming and I got very tired very quickly. This was the first time in my life that I have seen a Prada store. I also saw Versace, Dior and Tiffany's- I think there was a wealthy person part of the mall but there was also a regular person part of the mall and that is where we spent most of our time.
Saturday was pretty much a resting day, I did some homework, watched The Office and went for a run to a new park that I really liked called Holland Park- it was beautiful!!!
Sunday was pretty exciting! On the way to church, our train was cancelled so we had to find another train to church which was an adventure but we conquered! The three girls that I go to church with and I all spoke in Sacramet this week (so if we wouldn't have made it to church that would have made church pretty exciting for the bishopric :) Our talks went well! A member of the ward told me that he calls the girls from BYU "Brigham's Angels" because we make everything so much better! It was precious! I am the primary pianist/singing time organizer so I did that this Sunday. Singing time went well and I am really excited to get even more comfortable with my calling and the kids! All the kids in our primary are African and they are all wonderful, a little wild, but wonderful!
Today I went to the National Gallery for an assignment and then my friend Melissa and I decided that we wanted to walk home from there. I love the tube, don't get me wrong, but I find that since I do most of my traveling underground that I have zero sense of direction overground so today we decided to tackle this problem! Melissa and I walked home from Trafalgar Square today and I am counting that as a big accomplishment! On the way home we saw Green Park, Buckingham Palace and the gardens surrounding it, it was a beautiful walk and we got all the way home. This is what I saw on the way home and I had to take a picture. I think this is the first sunset I have seen since I have been here and it made me so incredibly happy!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

No, I didn't bathe at Stonehenge but I did go to Bath

Today, being a Wednesday, we took a group excursion! Today's trip was to Bath and Stonehenge and Salisbury. The day started early. We had to be on the bus and rolling by 7:15, the supplies for our lunches, which we put together ourselves, were out at 6:00 which means that I was up at 5:55. I do believe this is the first time I have seen a five as the first number on the clock in the year of 2009. Getting up early was pretty much worth it. With views like this one from the bus, it really was worth it! The views that we saw actually reminded me a lot of home, this is kind of what Pennsylvania looks like and, ironically, we passed through a hamlet called Pennsylvania. For the record, a community is a village when it has homes, a church and a pub. A community is a hamlet when it lacks either the church or the pub... just an FYI. Driving through the countryside also makes me think of Jane Austen novels like the part in Sense and Sensibility when Marianne is running through the fields and falls and is rescued by Willoughby who later turns out to be scum or in Pride and Prejudice when Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy meet in the field and confess their love to one another- nothing like this happened to me today but I thought about it all the same.
Turns out that Bath is called Bath because there are really baths there. There are remains of ancient Roman baths in the town of Bath so I learned today that the name of the town makes complete sense. I felt like this town was kind of what I envisioned when I pictured England in my mind. The streets were lined with buildings everywhere. We walked across the famous Plutney Bridge which is a bridge that has shops built right on it, it was pretty and there was a really cool Rugby shop from which I wanted to buy a rugby jersey but, they were really expensive, so I restrained. It was hard though!

So we left Bath and headed to Stonehenge. The drive was about an hour or so which brings me to some exciting news. I was recently made co-chair of the bus fun committee. As easy as this may sound, it is pretty intense. My friend Janna and I are in charge of planning activities to keep 40 girls and around eight faculty members happy and entertained. Today Janna and I gave news from home just weather and sports and stuff and then we did a couple of spotlights on different girls through music. We re-wrote a couple of Disney songs and then sang them for everyone and had them guess who we were singing about. It was fun and people enjoyed it so, stay tuned for more installments of Bus Fun!!
Getting to Stonehenge was a little less exciting than I expected it to be. The sight is set right next to the road and it is not quite as big as I thought but, it was fun to see. I feel like it is one of those things that I can say I have seen and feel really cool about it. Here is a couple of pictures from Stonehenge, they are pretty self explanatory.
Salisbury was nice but, unfortunately, at this part of the day I was pretty tired. We had this adorable British man give us a tour of the cathedral there. This cathedral is the highest point in England. The spire reaches to 404 feet and it amazes me that things could be built that high so long ago. Today's trip was wonderful. I feel like I learn so much here everyday and I am so thankful for this experience. I will leave you with a picture of the cathedral so you can experience Salisbury with me!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Guess Who I Met Today!!!!

I was going to lie and try to get everyone to believe that I met all these famous people today but then I decided that I didn't want to compromise my morals :) As today was inauguration day Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum decided that they would give free admission to Americans because the British people love Obama. So we all grabbed our passports and headed to the museum.
The museum was really fun! There is no way I would pay the normal price of like 25 pounds to view a large number of rather eerie looking wax figures but free was good! Free is my favorite price! We had a really great time taking funny pictures with all the figures, pretending to be famous and making fools of our selves. It is really fun getting to know the girls in my program better, getting to be better friends and getting to be more comfortable here. Here, on the right, is me and Maddie and Melissa with Zac Efron, aka, Troy Bolton from High School Musical 1, 2 and 3. They had an entire room dedicated to High School Musical and they took pictures of this scene and tired to sell them to you just like they do on amusement park rides... I guess standing by a fake Zac Efron is kind of like an amusement park ride, ok, maybe not :)
I felt as though I had to post this picture of me and Ringo and George and Paul and John. The Beatles seem even cooler in London, I am not sure why that is but that is how I feel :) So here are a couple of my favorite pictures from the day, I met some pretty famous wax figures.

There is the evidence, me giving advice to Tiger on a tough put and taking a victory lap with Lance. I only stood in a long line for one picture and that was this one with Barack Obama. We figured it was an appropriate thing to do since it was inauguration day and all. We were able to watch the inauguration ceremony today at the center. It felt good to be in touch with something that was going on back home. I won't take sides here but I will say that I have faith. I have faith in people and faith in our country. Things are in the Lord's hands and whatever needs to happen will happen. With a president that makes as good a wax statue as Barrack, we should be great right? I sure hope so.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Taking a Walk on the Wild Side!

So thanks to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. we, the students at BYU's London Centre, did not have class today. Even though Martin Luther King Day is not really recognized really at all in England we are still Americans (although if you heard my accent you might question, it's pretty convincing :). A couple of girls and I decided to make the most of our day off with a trip to the London Zoo. We hopped on the tube and rode it to Cambel Town on the Northern line, walked a little bit and there we were- well after getting lost in Regent's Park, there we were :)
The zoo was a great choice for today! the only thing that would have made it any better would have been a little bit warmer tempertures, but it wasn't that bad. We saw pretty much the whole zoo which was a pretty cool zoo and we had a great time doing it! It is so fun to be making new friends and enjoying so many different aspects of this study abroad experience! Here is a pictorial representation of our day. Enjoy!Maddie and Melissa, on the way to the zoo, we were a little excited.Practicing our fish faces- there are fish behind us if you can't tell.Just wanted to let everyone know it's ok to stop looking for Nemo... I found him.If you notice, Dory is in the background which explains why we all look forgetful- like Dory.This is the same reptile house as seen in Harry Potter, yea, pretty sweet!This was right before glass vanished...Me, just trying to fit in.Family portrait with the Giraffe family. Geoffrey is standing and Gemimia is seated :) I don't have words for this...Simba and Nala... obviously :)This was at the end of the day- all in all it was a great day!!!

Friday, January 16, 2009

"Do you think if we get stuck in here they would bury us here?"

(The great north door of the Abbey)

This is the question Maddie asked me when we were trying real hard to find our way out of Westminster Abbey and not doing so great. The whole situation was really my fault because the door we were supposed to go through was surrounded by a bunch of people with name tags on who looked very official and I have never been one who has liked to be disciplined so that made me a little nervous. We eventually did find our way out and we got to have a great conversation about what it would be like to be buried in the Abbey as Mary and Madeline; The Wanderers.
The Abbey was incredible. I know I use that word a lot to describe things here but it really was. The thing about the cathedrals around here is that they take centuries to build. This church has been a work in progress for centuries! That is something I can barely even comprehend. The Salt Lake Temple took 40 years to build and I thought that was a long time. There were generations of people who worked on this Abbey and did not get to see the completed project in their life time and that amazes me. We were not permitted to take pictures inside the actual Abbey so I cannot show just how intricate everything inside of the church was but you will have to take my word for it, or google it if you don't believe me :)
The other thing that really amazed me about the abbey was all the famous people who have been laid to rest there. Of course practically all of the monarchs are there but so is Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Geoffrey Chaucer, Charles Dickens, The Bronte Sisters, Jane Austen and almost William Shakespeare but he wrote in his epitaph that if anyone tried to move his bones there he would curse them so no one had the gumption to do it. The aforementioned is kind of an all star list that I felt really humbled to be in the same place as them even if it was just their bodies.
Something that I thought about while I was in the Abbey was how scary it must have been while Britain was getting bombed during WWII. It just seems that if one of the buildings that is part of the face of the city, like the Abbey, had been hit that it would have been nearly impossible to repair. I really don't think that this Abbey could be replicated simply because of it's history and everything that went into its coming to be. So, in summary, I spent the morning in awe of Westminster Abbey and all of the work that has gone into bringing this one of a kind church into existence.

This is the stained glass windows in the chapter house- I have come to really love stained glass, it is beautiful!

More stained glass that we found in the corridors of the cloister.

In case you can't read the sign, this in Britain's oldest door- that's a pretty big deal.

Me and Maddie in the gateway of the Chapter House, if you don't know what that is you should really brush up on your Cathedral terminology... or something :)

Some of us in the corridors of the Cloister waiting to get inside the Abbey.

Outside, just waiting to get in.

These are the great west towers and over this door, they are kind of cut off, are about 14 notable Christian martyrs including Martin Luther.