Thursday, March 26, 2009

"I want to go to Brighton Daddy!"

For those of you who have seen/read anything by Jane Austen you will know that Brighton is "where the husbands are to be found." This is why, of course, Kitty who is the speaker of the title of my blog wants to go there so badly. I had different reasons for wanting to go to Brighton yesterday and, I will have you all know, there were no husbands to be found.

We actually made two stops before we got to Brighton. Our first stop was at a castle called Bodiam Castle. Unlike some of the other castles we have seen, Bodiam was exactly what you see in your head when you picture a castle. The building was practically square with towers at each on of the corners and the best part was that it was set on a large, deep MoAT which, I decided, is definitely going to be a feature of my future home- I just want a moat, is that too much to ask for :) We explored the castle for a while and then it was back on the bus, heading off to Battle.This doorway was just my size.

Battle was our next stop and was the site of the Battle of Hastings which occurred in 1066 and was where William the Conqueror beat Harold, the previous kind of England and became the new King of England. We mostly just wandered around and looked at the battle field and also the ruins of Battle Abbey. There was a little bit of excitement when we reenacted the Battle of Hastings and when we found a bobsledding course outside of the Abbey- all in all, it was a pretty sweet stop.Me and Melissa in front of the battle fieldThis is us bobsledding in a five man sled...

After our bobsledding Battle adventure we headed off to Brighton. Brighton is on the southern coast by the sea and has been used as a get-a-way town in England for centuries. The first stop we made there was at the Royal Pavilion which was King George IV's seaside home. The Pavilion started its life as a farmhouse and then as George gained money and power was turned into and ornate palace fit for the King of England. Unfortunately there was no photography allowed in the Pavilion so you will just have to take my word for it when I say that it was pretty amazing!!!

Upon finishing at the Pavilion we were given the rest of the time in Brighton to simply explore. Most of us saw the pier with the rides and decided that is where we wanted to spend our time. It was so fun to feel like we were at the BEACH for the afternoon. We walked around the pier, took pictures and watched some of our brave friends ride a ride that took them way high over the water and spun them around- not exactly my idea of fun. It was a nice day and I got to see the ocean and that is my idea of fun! Thanks Brighton for providing us with such a great get-a-way even if there weren't any husbands found!The view of Brighton from the PierMe and Maddie just getting ready for summer

Sunday, March 22, 2009

NoRthEN EnglAnD!

Some of the most beautiful country I have ever seen came into view during our five day trip to the north that spanned from last Tuesday to Saturday (yesterday). It was a long trip but there was so much to see and the Professors planned a full schedule for us and kept us extremely busy! Relaying the entire trip would take far to much work on my part and would be far to boring for all of you so I will just hit the highlights and show the pictures!!

I saw Bronte country on Tuesday and, appropriately enough we watched Jane Erye on the bus that day. I liked Bronte country and the movie much more than I thought I would.This is a shot of the Bronte's home which is located by the church in the village of Hayworth where their father was the Parson. It all had a little bit of creepy feel to it- definitely not somewhere I would want to go in the dark but very cool!

Another highlight from Tuesday was getting put in the stalks at Bolton Castle- it wasn't as bad as you might think :)I couldn't go without throwing in a picture of the countryside- it was AMAZING! The landscape actually reminded me very much of Pennsylvania and I loved that about it!

Ok so that was Tuesday in a nut shell and I have a total of one picture from Wednesday due to the fact that I spent most of the day in bed (in a hostile, if you can call that bed...) because I had a pretty intense fever. I did get to kind of enjoy Fountains Abbey in the morning which is a large garden that has the ruins of an incredibly large abbey within its boundaries. We walked around the gardens and saw the water gardens and the ruins and I tried really hard not to pass out! Here is my one picture from Wednesday...
Thursday was a little bit less rough which was much appreciated!!! We traveled to the town of Durham in the morning where we saw Durham Cathedral and I climbed to the top of the tower- 325 steps- so I could see the view and this is how it looked!
After Durham we went to Chester's Fort which is the location of some of the ruins of the ancient Roman division between Scotland and England, Hadrian's Wall. It is no longer the actual border but it was fun to see it anyway!!This is just a couple of us walking on Hadrian's Wall- no big deal :)

After Hadrian's Wall we drove to Ambleside which is located in the heart of England's Lake District. If you have the opportunity to go to the Lake District before you die, take it! This was so beautiful! I loved looking out the window as we drove around the Lake District and just seeing what there was to see- it was AMAZING! Our hostile was right on the water and the window in my room look right over lake Windemere to the mountains beyond- talk about beautiful! If you don't believe me, see for you self!
Friday was another day of struggle for me. I had a fever all day so that accounts for the fact that I have absolutely zero pictures from this day of our trip- I apologize!

Saturday was a good day. We drove from Ambleside to Preston and while in Preston we got a tour of the church's historical sites. Preston was the first place that missionaries preached when they came to England and it is also one of the cities that President Hinckely served in while in England on his mission. It was cool to see the sights and to learn the history of the church in England! My favorite part of the day was our last stop. We stopped at the Preston, England Temple and got to explore the grounds a little bit. It is pretty cool that no matter what temple you go to, they all have that wonderful spirit about them. Even in a foreign country being at the temple felt like coming home. As we were waking around the grounds my friend Maddie said enthusiastically, "I'm getting married in the temple!!" It was nice to hear her say that and then to know that I also am going to get married in the temple, I made the decision long ago to settle for nothing less!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Henry the VIII and Tennis

This Wednesday we stayed fairly close to London but saw some pretty cool sights!!! Our first stop was Hampton Court Palace which is where Henry the VII lived and married his sixth wife. The palace was really beautiful! The best part was as we walked in, this lady asked me and Melissa and Maddie and Janna, "Would you like to wear a robe today as you tour the Palace?" Being the kind of girls that we are, we answered yes without a second of hesitation. We looked pretty stupid but it was fun. The palace was complete with characters dressed like Henry the VIII, Lady Katherine Parr and other assorted figures from the time period. It was a different kind of palace experience but a good one!

This is what happens when we have to wait too long to go inside- yea, we are holding up Dr. Crisler...So these are the robes we wore around pretty much the whole time we were in the Palace. It kind of made me feel like I was in Harry Potter, sometimes I wish I were a wizard :)This was in the gardens, Melissa become very attached to her robe...This view is from the outskirts of the gardens looking back at the Palace.On the way out we ran into King Henry himself and his brother in law, Sir Thomas Grey (brother of Lady Jane Grey who was Henry's 4th wife I think)

Ok! So after Hampton Court we boarded the coach and headed to the town of Wimbledon which is home to one of the most prestigious tennis tournaments in the world! The town of Wimbledon is a small, quaint, English town but near to the heart of it is the All England Lawn and Tennis Club which hosts The Championships at Wimbledon each year for about two weeks in the summer. So we got an extensive tour of the whole facility and it was so cool! We didn't get to see centre court unfortunately because they are building a new retractable roof on top of that one so there can be live tennis going on at all times throughout the whole tournament (this is sometimes a struggle at Wimbledon die to the weather). That was a bummer but we got to see so much besides that. We went to the top of Henman's Hill where fans sit and watch the over sized screen that is attached to the walls of court number one. We got to see the BBC broadcasting room and the press conference room. I sat in the same chairs as the players do when they sit for their press conferences- yea my bum and Andy Roddick's bum in the same chair. We finished our tour on court number 1. I learned that the courts are ripped up and reseeded at the end of each season. I also learned that no one ever plays on centre court or court number 1 except during the tournament. It was such a cool experience! We finished off our time there at the tennis museum learning all about the game through the ages. The museum was complete with a hologram of John McEnroe whom, I might add, is the only player to not be offered an honorary membership to the club upon winning Wimbledon on account of his horrible manners. Mr. McEnroe now has an excellent relationship with the club but it has also been a long time since he spoke to any officials there with his charming Manhattan phrasery (that's definitely not a word). It was another great Wednesday today- only four more left in my London experience, time is kind of flying by!
Welcome to Wimbledon!!
That is Centre Court behind us which we did not get to see.Me and Maddie and Court 18. The grass is perfect on each of the 19 courtsMaddie, Hilary and Me checking out court number 1.Just attending a mandatory post-match press conference. Players can get fined up to 20,000 dollars for not showing up.Stoked for Wimbledon '09!

Spring is Coming!

For those of you still experiencing snow and cold I thought I would share some London spring with you! I know I am nice, you don't have to tell me :) These little flowers are starting to pop up all over London. I found these particular flowers in St. James' Park and I just had to document them! Enjoy!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

A Weekend Get-a-Way

One of the coolest things about living in London is being able to travel to so many different places so easily. This weekend we decided that it would be fun to go to Scotland and see what Edinburgh had to offer us. We left the centre after classes on Thursday and were headed up the coast before dinner time! The train ride was so fun! It was about 4.5 hours and was full of beautiful scenery! At one point as we were riding along the ocean suddenly appeared, almost out of nowhere! It was so beautiful! I loved to watch the countryside and the seaside go by!

We got to Edinburgh at about 6:30 and set out to find the hostile that we were staying at. This was probably the sketchiest and scariest part of the trip. The hostile was kind of a little hole in the wall of a back alley but the inside was a lot more... or a lot less scary. The funniest part of the hostile situation was our roommate- his name was Arno. Yea, HIS name was Arno. At first this was a scary prospect but, when I came in after eating dinner and he was sitting on the floor with a bunch of the other girls and playing cards, all my fears vanished and I was suddenly ok with sleeping in the same general area as this skinny little french boy who had just moved to Edinburgh for an internship.This is what we came upon our first night in Edinburgh- it looks a little better in the day time. Imagine night time, a gang a few hundred feet away and having no idea where we were- that is how it felt.

So the first night really just consisted of getting there, finding the hostile, eating dinner and doing just a little bit of exploring. The next day was pretty jam packed. At the risk of this being too overly boring I will try to just give the highlights although the whole trip was kind of a highlight in itself so... we will see how this goes :)

Friday morning I woke up and ran around Edinburgh, I saw the castle and the Royal Mile- yea, running on the Royal Mile, not a big deal :) After coming back to the hostile and doing my best to clean myself up, we headed out to go see the castle. Edinburgh Castle is one of the biggest landmarks in the city and was pretty much amazing! It sits up high on a big rock formation over looking the whole city and makes for a pretty amazing sight to see!This is the back of the castle way up on it's rockThis is me and Hilary on a different side of the castleThis would be the front of the castle- hence the entrance :)

Ok! So the castle was cool! After the castle we walked down the Royal Mile which is the stretch of road leading up to the castle thereby making it royal by association I guess. It is a cool, shop lined street that is just old and full of history and so fun to be on and look at- in conclusion, it was a pretty great walk!! At the bottom of the Royal Mile we found ourselves at the base of Arthur's Seat. Arthur's Seat is a big hill, I don't think it is quite big enough to be termed a mountain- but it is a big hill that, if you hike to the top, you can see the whole city and everything else in the surrounding area. The view from the top was so amazing!! The hike up was a little bit of a struggle due to the mud and the overly heavy back pack that I only ever took off this whole weekend while I was sleeping. It was an adventure though and that is what this trip was all about!!!The view from about half way up... it gets betterWelcome to the top of the world!!!! So BEAUTIFUL!This is the whole group on top of the world- this was a great adventure to have together!

Ok, so getting down from the mountain was a little exciting but we did it and it was so worth it!!! Our next stop was the National Museum of Scotland. The museum was fun! It was a good break, sitting down was very very worth it!! I got to take my backpack off for like 10 minutes and that was pretty much heaven! After the museum we headed out, had dinner and then I headed back to the hostile because I was so beat! Clay- I took this picture for you in the museum because it made me think of you!

Ok, so day two! I went for a really good run this day since I knew better where I was going- it was incredible!! I then went back to the hostile and tried to clean up again for the day without really showering because showering in hostiles kind of scares me. So- we went out today and got some breakfast and then headed to the spot where we were supposed to meet our walking tour guide. The walking tour that we took was so good! It lasted 3.5 hours and took us all over the city and I learned so much! Some of my favorite stories include Maggie Dickson's story- she was convicted of hiding her pregnancy which was illegal and sentenced to death by hanging. When they hung Maggie she was simply knocked unconscious, not killed and so, on the way to the cemetery in the back of the hearse Maggie popped up out of her coffin and scared the driver out of his mind! She argued that they couldn't try her twice for the same crime and technically she was already dead so she opened up a pub on the grass market which was where she was "hanged" and every time there was a hanging she would go outside the pub and heckle the person on the gallows saying things like, "Don't worry, it's not that bad!" The pub- Maggie Dickson's Pub is still on the grass market today and it sure does make for a good story! Another story I liked that is not as positive is the story of the covenenters. The covenanters are the people who changed their religion and then were severely persecuted for it. There was a group of 500 of these people who were imprisoned by a man named "Bloody George McKenzie" in a completely open space with no cover at all in the dead of winter in Edinburgh. Even with the horrible experience that this was none of the covenenters went back on their new found religious beliefs- talk about dedication, this was a pretty inspiring story, sad, but inspiring!This is the Royal Mile where our walking tour started.This is the back of the coffee shop that JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter in. The top middle window is the window she would look out of and see...This school which was her inspiration for Hogwarts, School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.This is inside the pub that we stopped at for lunch, the very pub where I ate haggis and drank a delicious hot chocolate! It was also just fun to be in a Scottish pub!This is where the tour ended. This is Prince Street Gardens which used to be a lake but was drained and turned into a beautiful park!

After the tour we did just a little bit more exploring and then it was pretty much time to go to the station and catch our train back home to London. The train ride home was even nicer than the train rider there- our train was newer and the seats were more comfortable and there was more leg space- glorious! I discovered on this trip that I love train travel! I promised Clay a picture in front of a train so here it is and a couple more train pictures! Scotland was beautiful and the trip was amazing! I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to experience all of these amazing places!Here it is Clay! This is what the train looked like that I rode to Scotland!This is what the inside of the train looked like. There were regular seats like these and also seats that faced each other with tables in between them.

Just a Boat-ride Away

This week's trip was to Greenwich, a town that is located apporximately a 30 minute boat ride down the Thames. We took this picture on the boat which was on the river- it was an exciting prospect!!! The ride was pretty fun!! It was really cool to float right under the tower bridge and to see the city from a new perspective!

The highlights of Greenwich include, the National Maritime Museum, The Royal Observatory, The Royal Naval College and the Prime Meridian. Our first stop was the National Maritime Museum which was full of the history of sea travel. It was cool to see so much about boats and the ocean and the impact that the water has on England. I often forget that Great Britain is one big island but it surely is. You know you are in a Maritime Museum when the man and woman on the bathroom sign have sailor's caps on.

So after the museum, our whole group got together to see the show at the planetarium. I have discovered that I really like planetariums. It was cool to see the sky from a different point of view than I usually do. After the show we set out to find the Prime Meridian which is the line that seperates the eastern and western hemispheres. It didn't take too long to find since there were signs pointing us to where it was we needed to go. Even though it was just a line in the ground, it was pretty cool to straddle it and know that my right foot was in one hemisphere and my left in another- talk about being two places at once!The Prime Meridian sign and the clock that keeps time for the world which can't be seen because it is digital and I guess digital clocks and digital cameras don't really mesh well.This is me being in two places at one time- this was almost as cool as the picture that we took of us playing tug-o-war in two hemispheres.

After our pictures at the Prime Meridian we walked down the big hill and went to the Queen's House which was a pretty cool art gallery set up in a gorgeous old building that was supposidly used in some version of Sense and Sensibility- that was cool to know :) Next we walked over to the Royal Naval College which is now part of the Universtiy of Greewich but it was such a beautiful old campus. We made sure to see the painted hall which was a large room that was painted with a mural from floor to cieling, it was amazing. Another memorable stop we made was in the chapel where they were having a singing class and so not only did we get to see the amazingly beautiful chapel but we got to hear a pretty impressive free concert.This arch seperated the Royal Naval College from the banks of the Thames- it was right on the water, what a beautiful setting!

This marked the end of our Greenwich exploration. This Wednesday was a little different in the respect that it was up to us to get ourselves back to the centre. Today was the first time I have really utalized London DLR or dockland's light railway. This line took us all the way from Greenwich back to central London. It was a cool ride because I got to see some scenery that I have never seen before! Mom and Dad and Em if you guys liked the stuff you saw in this post or if you have the desire to stand in two hemispheres at once all you have to do is let me know because I can make that happen for you :)