Friday, February 27, 2009

"Thou smellest of mountain goat"

For our Wednesday trip this week we traveled to Stratford Upon Avon which, some of you may know, is the birthplace of William Shakespeare. The title of this post is an example of how you might insult someone... Shakespeare style. Janna and I read some insults and some love lines during bus fun so all of the girls could be up on the local speak while we were in Stratford. The trip started out pretty early on Wednesday morning like usual and made our way to Stratford. The first day of our trip, Wednesday, consisted of seeing Mary Arden's home (Shakespeare's mother) and Anne Hathaway's Home (Shakespeare's wife who, I learned, was eight years older than Shakespeare and pregnant when they got married). We then went to see Shakespeare's birthplace and the house that he bought upon returning to Stratford from London. The last site we saw was Shakespeare's daughter's house. By this point we were pretty hungry so Melissa, Maddie, Hillary and I made ourselves a little picnic in the garden of Susanna Shakespeare's home- it was pretty picturesque.This is outside of Anne Hathaway's cottage.
This is after our picnic in the garden of Shakespeare's daughter's house.

We were given the rest of the afternoon to just explore Stratford. Our first stop was the river Avon. Avon would be the river which Stratford is set upon (hence Stratford Upon Avon). Upon reaching the river we decided that feeding the birds would be a nice and quiet activity. How wrong we were! The birds were crazy! It was like feeding the five thousand- I got bit by a goose, it was quite an experience.This is me and not the goose that bit me on the finger, this goose was nice!

After exploring the town we went to the hostile to settle ourselves in a little bit. This hostile was so so so much nicer than the one we stayed at in Wales. I felt a lot less dirty in this hostile than I did at the one in Wales and I appreciated that a lot! After getting settled into the hostile we baorded the coach and headed back to Stratford to have dinner and see The Tempest preformed by the Royal Shakespeare Company. Dinner was ok but the play was so so so good!!! Well I think a big reason why I liked it so much was because the actor who played Ferdinand was really really attractive and there was part where he acted without a shirt on. I think most of the reason why this excited me so much was because I have been boy deprieved for about two months- pretty sure that is the problem. The night at the hostile was not bad, not bad at all. The worst part of the stay was that it was freesing in our room but other than that it was wonderful! I even got to go for a half an hour run in the morning which was a wonderful blessing!!
Thursday was a pretty good day! We went to a beautiful Palace called Blenhem Palace and I loved it! This palace is the birthplace of Winston Churchill and where he proposed to his wife. It was such a beautiful place. The inside of the palace was grand and beautiful, it is still the home of the Duke of Marlborough so it was fun to think that people still live there. I had my "living in a fancy palace" fantasy again- I just couldn't help it. The coolest part of the palace was the grounds, the grounds were INCREDIBLE! I don't really have the wrokds to describe them so I will just show some pictures instead!This is the outside of the Palace, it looked like it belonged somewhere in Jane Austen's novels to me.This picture was taken in the "secret garden"This is the secret garden's gazeboThis is the secret garden's treeThis is the view from the bridge over then lake that is in front of the palace.This is the back of the Palace, it had beautiful water terraces!

On the way home from Blenhem Palace we stopped in two little towns in the Cotswalds. One was called Chipping Camden and the other called Bourton on the Water. They were quaint little towns that I am glad I got to see but they were not all that special so, they were nice stops on the way back to our home in London. The London Centre is starting to feel more and more like home every time I go away and come back so it was nice to get back here on Thursday night and sleep in "my own bed".
This is a telephone boothe in Chipping CamdenThis is the water referred to in the town name of Bourton on the Water

Sunday, February 22, 2009

All My Children

So today my primary kids sang in Sacrament meeting. I am the singing time extraordinaire in my ward. I am not saying that because I think I am extraordinary but more because I am expected to play the piano, teach the songs and conduct all in the same singing time- it is a fun juggling act and I LOVE it. I love my calling almost as much as I love the children in the Catford ward primary- they are so wonderful... they are crazy, but they are wonderful! Today, while they were singing in Sacrament I felt the spirit so strongly, I also felt a nice sense of accomplishment knowing that I had taught them the song they were singing, those were both very good feelings. Working with these kids strengthens my testimony of the fact that Heavenly Father loves all of His children. I have fallen in love with these kids and I have only known them a couple of weeks- Heavenly Father has known us all much longer and I know He loves us all much deeper. I am so thankful for the gospel and for the ties that it forms in our lives. Through the church I get to have a more meaningful relationship with so many more people here in England that I would not have met any other way- what a wonderful institution! Here are some pictures of the children that have strengthened my testimony and captured my heart.This is Muffaro, he is from Zimbabwe.Here is Malachi- I don't have words for him, I just love him!From left to right, Sariah, Muffaro and Nathan with the pictures they colored today.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Wednesday in Windsor

Another Wednesday has come and gone! I can hardly believe that February is almost done, it is a little bit crazy but I guess that's life! Today we went to Windsor to see the castle and some other sights along the way. I won't lie, the castle was my favorite part of the day! We got to the castle and the guard was just about to change. We watched as the band marched in and the guard changed, it was a pretty cool thing to see- granted, it was not the most exciting thing but I was impressed with how much tradition and nobility there was in the whole thing. I was a little taken aback when the royal marching band started to play the theme from Austin Powers... pretty funny.
Next we walked around the castle and found a bench on which we ate our sack lunches. While we were eating I saw something that made my day. Off in the distance there was a park and in the park there was a field hockey goal- it made me so happy! After lunch and my exciting field hockey goal sighting we went in and saw Queen Mary's Doll's House which was in between the size of a doll house and a real house and it was fully functional. The model was Buckingham Palace and there was an electric vacuum cleaner, the plates on the table were real silver and the plumbing actually worked. Talk about a doll house- it was impressive! Next we went to see the State Apartments which were my favorite part of the day. The rooms in this part of the castle are only open part of the year because during the rest of the year they are being used for state functions. The rooms were amazing! The walls were decorated all in gold and the paintings were incredible- everything was so noble and decadent, it really amazed me! I found myself wondering, somewhere in the middle of it all, what it would be like to live there and to come downstairs with my jammies and socks to get a bowl of cereal in the Royal kitchen... it was a fun fantasy! Upon exiting the State Apartments we got a really good view of where the Queen lives when she visits there and we were informed that she had just left two days before and would be there again on Friday- pretty cool!This was right after exiting the State Apartments and I felt like we needed to take a picture to try and capture the moment!This is the residence that the Queen had been in just days before we got there.

My next favorite part of the day came when we were leaving the castle. As we were leaving we saw a guard standing all by himself and we decided that since we were in London we needed to get a picture with a guard of course! So we all took turns taking pictures with this poor guy who could do nothing but stand there- that must be a weird feeling. You know that myth about the guards never smiling or laughing... not entirely true. I don't know if this guard was new but he lost it when we started taking pictures with him. Granted, we were being a little ridiculous and it just got worse once he started losing his composure but it was so funny! I hope we didn't get him in any trouble- I would certainly feel bad if we did.He was doing pretty well at this point.What a fun group!My apologies to Maddie and Melissa but this is the best picture of the poor guard totally losing it.

All the World's A Stage

Today we got to tour the globe theater and it was a pretty cool experience. I learned a lot about Shakespeare that I had not known before and really enjoyed it! The guide that we had that took us around was an actor and director and so funny! So here are some interesting facts... plays were rehearsed for approximately 3 hours before they were preformed that is all. They would start rehearsal at 10 and break for lunch at 1 and that was it. There were no full scripts, all that actors got was a scroll (a role) with their part on it and that was it. All that was given to them to cue them was three words so they didn't know what happened in between their lines- it could have been three lines or thirty minutes- crazy! I enjoyed learning all these fun facts and feeling a little bit more cultured :)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Introducing... The Green Boots!!

Well, here they are, the much anticipated green boots! Ok, I know they probably were not really anticipated but they make me happy. This is the purchase that I made in Chester I mentioned it in the Wales post and said it would later get its own post- I wasn't joking. I have never felt so happy about an article of clothing in my whole life, I put on the green boots and they make me happy- it works like magic, almost as good as reading scriptures :) (just wanted to throw that in there so no one out there in blog land worried that I was getting sacreligous over a pair of shoes) Really this post is mostly for mom because when I tried to describe them to her she said they sound like something I would only wear in London- false, these will be worn long after London! I do have to give credit to my friend Alyssa for the fun pictures. She is hoping to get accepted to BYU's photography program and I think she would fit in just fine, see for yourself!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Valentine's Day... With 40 Girls and 0 Boys

So we had Valentine's Day London style this year and the style was very feminine, I think that was mostly due to the fact that there are 40 girls and no boys in our program- just a guess. There was a group of girls that took it upon themselves to plan a pretty awesome party for the rest of us. The shindig was '40s themed and turned out really great! We all dressed up- we did our best to look like we were from the 40s and then we spent the evening together. The girls who planned did a wonderful job decorating, the centre was a great setting for our 40s bash, it was like a blast from the past! We all wrote down our favorite memory with a boy and then read them and had to guess whose was whose- it was pretty fun to get to know more about all the girls, some of the stories were pretty surprising... that is, it was surprising to find out who the story actually belonged to. After story time we exchanged our Valentine gifts. Earlier in the week we drew names and then bought gifts to give at our party- it was nice to get a little gift and it was fun to see how well we are all getting to know each other, some people were right on the money with their gifts. After the gifts we broke it down with a sweet dance party and yummy snacks- this party had all the elements of a good party (food, music, dancing, friends- I guess it missed one... boys) and we all had a wonderful time. Even one of our professors came with his wife, it was fun to have them there for a little while and to hear about their courtship and marriage. All in all, Valentine's was a good day, it was especially good when you take into account that I don't think I talked to a male under the age of 50 all day. I do believe that this was a one time thing :)Dr.Crisler wore a bow tie which he learned how to tie on Youtube. He and his wife also made us cute Valentines.There was dancing for sure!There were also definitely pictures taken...Told you there were pictures taken... the cool backdrop is courtesy of our kick butt party planning committee.

Wale Watching

No, I didn't spell Wale wrong... ok, I did leave off the "s" at the end but we are talking the country, not the large ocean mammal. This week we traveled to Crymu (that is Wales in Welsh... I learned just a couple very important words :) and it was beautiful!
Our first stop after a pretty long drive (don't worry, Janna and I did some bus fun to help keep everyone entertained) was the Museum of Welsh Life. This was an open air museum that featured different eras of life in Welsh history. In this picture, Maddie and I are in the door of a hut that we found in the "Celtic Village" portion of the museum. It was fun to see how life was in Wales so many years ago. This was really neat to me because, of course, I know American history and how people in America lived when the country was just getting started but I will admit my Welsh history is a little rusty... or was never actually in existence so it was fun to learn about!
After wandering around the part of the museum that looked mostly like the picture you see above- it was wooded and there were different models of houses and farms and some animals, we realized that on the other side of the museum there was a castle complete with beautiful gardens. With about 10 minutes left before our coach was going to be pulling out, we booked it to the castle and it was so worth it! There have been a couple of places that we have gone where I have just had to stop and let everything sink in because I go into sensory overload, these gardens were that kind of a place. See for yourself.Melissa and I were just adding to the decor.I tried my best to capture the over-all feel of the place in a picture...

After the Museum of Welsh Life we got back on the coach and headed to the Castle Coch (pronounced coke). This castle has been extremely well preserved and was very open in terms of what parts of the castle we could explore. The interiors have obviously been redone rather recently but I think they successfully kept the feel of the old castle even with the renovations. The grounds around the castle were wooded and reminded me very much of good ol' Pennsylvania and made me want home just a little bit.

So after the castle, we made our way to the place where we were going to stay for the night- the Cardiff Youth Hostile. Talk about an experience! The hostile was not too yucky but it was yucky enough for my first experience. The beds were kind of little. I could lay down flat but I can't speak for everyone there. The food was ok... the salad dressing was mayonnaise, I will let you pass judgement there. I have never woken up more times in one night then I did while sleeping here. I don't know what it was. I could have been that my body felt like I was abusing it by sleeping on the rock that I will sleeping on but, I am not sure. The morning was pretty alright- we ate some breakfast and got back on the bus for what turned out to be pretty much the longest ride of life. We drove from Cardiff to an island off the northwest coast called Anglesey. The scenery throughout the whole drive was pretty incredible. The rolling green hills were dotted with sheep everywhere you looked and the mountains were covered in snow. Eventually we reached the coast and drove along that for a long time and that also afforded some incredible views if you can imagine!

Upon reaching our destination we got to explore Beaumaris Castle which was pretty cool. This is the first castle that I have seen here with a real moat so that was pretty exciting! I actually did not see very much of the castle because not too long into our exploration we found what used to be the chapel and our director, who works in the college of music, asked us if we would sing a hymn there to test the acoustics. Long story short- they passed the test. Everything sounded so good when sung in the chapel so we stayed there and sang for a long time. The spirit in this old castle was amazing- it felt so good. There was a cute lady who came in and told us that our singing made the castle seem alive, I guess you could hear us from just about every part of the castle. I am sure that I will never forget this experience, it was incredible!

This was post- singing, in the chapel of Beaumaris Castle

The night we spent in Anglesey was nothing short of amazing. We stayed in the Buckeley Hotel which is right on the water. The views out our windows were breathe-taking! I went for a run that made me feel like I was in one of those Pontiac commercials that happened in the hills of some European country and had the little boy that said "zoom zoom"- it was really amazing! We also go to eat in the restaurant, sleep in comfortable beds and I even got to take a bubble bath- it doesn't get much better than that!

Friday was spent mostly getting back to London but we did make three stops. We stopped in Chester which is a small town in Wales that still has a fully intact city wall. I loved Chester! It was the cutest little town and the people there were so kind and friendly. That was a nice change from London, not that Londoners are mean, I think they are all just so busy that they forget to be friendly. I made an incredible purchase in Chester that will shortly have its very own post- stay tuned :) Our next stop was Shrewsbury where we saw the Shrewsbury Abbey which is responsible for the British House of Commons in Parliament because it was the site of one of the first meetings of Parliament. Our last stop was in Coventry. Here we saw the Coventry Cathedral which was mostly destroyed during the bombing in World War II so they built a new cathedral right by the ruins of the old cathedral but left the ruins standing as a reminder of what happened.
Maddie and me with our purchases on the streets of Chester.

Shrewsbury Abbey.This was on the floor of the Chapel of Unity in Coventry Cathedral... I like Africa...

Getting home was pretty long and kind of stretched some of the girls to the limit but, we made it! I was surprised at how good it felt to come "home" to the centre. This will never replace home with my family but after 3 days gone it was a pretty good substitution.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

London Bridge is... Still Standing

Don't let the popular children's rhyme confuse you, I promise that the London Bridge and the historic Tower of London are still standing and doing quite well! Yesterday, all of us went to the Tower of London and had as much time as we pleased to simply tour around and enjoy the history of the tower. I was impressed by the crown jewels (more bling that I have ever seen before in my life) and the towers where famous prisoners were held, prisoners like the Boleyn sisters and others. I saw the site where the execution of many of those prisoners took place- people like Lady Jane Grey and some of Henry's other wives. I am always just in awe at all of the history that is here, I love it. Even though today was rainy and cold, I loved the Tower of London and everything that it had to teach me.This is the Jewel House where are the crown jewels are held. The security inside this building is greater than anywhere in the Tower of London.This fountain is a memorial to some of the people who were executed near this spot. This list includes the Boleyn's and Lady Jane Grey.A nice shot of the London Bridge on a typical London day.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


I finally caved and went to see a show. A group of girls was going to see Wicked and I found it hard to say no, so I tagged along. Ticket sellers are more understanding here than they are in New York. I say that because in London there is a student ticket price and it is sweet! We payed 25 pounds (which is approximately 37 USD) to see Wicked- pretty good deal! It was fun to go out on the town and see a show. The production was pretty good. I do not think it was the same caliber as it is on Broadway but it was pretty good. I had a fun time being out with the girls and falling in love with Fiyero... again! It was especially fun to hear all the lines and songs with accents. My favorite had to be Dancing through life which was more like Doncing through life, it was excellent!
Our fingers are supposed to be W's... for Wicked...Maren, Maddie, Melissa, Mary... it was kind of an M thing.