Monday, May 30, 2011

an abbey here, an abbey there

Yesterday we had Stake Conference at church. Some of us decided that this would be a great time to go have church at Westminster Abbey. First of all, let me help you with the pronunciation. Its west-min-ster. Not west-min-i-ster. There is no extra 'i.' Ok, now that we've cleared up that little pet we decided to go to the Sung Eucharist basically because it was at a good time. None of us have any idea what the differences between services are. Nor do I really even understand the whole church thing out here because I thought that Westminster was a Church of England church. But then the pastor (I think that's what he's called..) said something about the Catholic church so I'm thinking that maybe they still reference the Catholic church since the Church of England was only created so that Henry VIII could get a divorce. Who knows, but enough with the history lesson. I hadn't been in the Abby before this, but it was way pretty. I'm more excited to go back on the tour though and see all the places people were buried. So many great people were buried there. We walked past Isaac Newton and I sat next to William Blake. Pretty cool stuff. Anyways, so most of the service was sung (hence the 'Sung' in the title of the service) by this amazing choir. I mean seriously they sounded beautiful. Apparently they had a bunch of little boys in the choir too but I missed out on those. Probably because Tara's head was in my way. Or because I'm just kind of oblivious sometimes. I couldn't tell you what the sermon was about because I may have fallen asleep during that part...but I do know that he referenced Shakespeare at the very beginning of it. I'm not going to describe everything that happened, but basically I prefer my own church over church at Westminster Abbey. It was cool to say that we've done it, but it was just kind of a weird experience. Especially since most of the people there I'm pretty sure were tourists, which just makes church feel kind of fake.

After the service, Tara, Amy and I went to the Tate Modern. As you may have guessed, this is a museum full of Modern art. If you've heard me talk about my visit to the MOMA in NYC, your probably wondering why I subjected myself to another modern art museum. Well, here's what I was thinking. The MOMA, though definitely not my favorite museum, did have some pretty interesting stuff in it, and I feel like the Tate Modern is just one of the museums you have to visit if your in London long term. That was a poor decision on my part. There was some Picasso there, which is always cool to see just because it's Picasso. And they had this statue called "The Kiss" that I liked. I was able to get through the entire 5th floor ok and I wasn't completely hating it. But then I went down to the 3rd floor. (Just in case your wondering why I went to all these random floors, the 5th and 3rd floors are the permanent galleries). The 3rd floor was the weirdest thing I've ever experienced. I went into one of the galleries and decided there was no way I could do the rest of the floor. So instead I found the gallery full of Picasso and peaced out of there. I was disappointed because I didn't see Monet's "Waterlilies" but Amy told me that we could peek our heads back in there and she would take me to it real fast so I didn't have to torture myself finding it.

Tara and Amy were working on stuff for their art class at the museum so I just came home and hung out around the Centre. Nothing else super exciting happened. Corey, Amy, Tara and I watched Northanger Abbey after dinner. It's a Jane Austen movie, but it's way different than any of her other stuff. And the kissing scene at the end of the movie was so incredibly awkward, we ended up watching it three times while laughing our heads off.

There will probably be no exciting news from today as I've decided to dedicate my day to homework so that I can enjoy the rest of my week. Wednesday afternoon is the start of our free travel weekend. I'm staying here in England but because I won't have any classes or any planned activities with the group, I want to be absolutely free to do all of the exciting things I have planned. I bet your dying to here all about these plans, but that just stinks for you because you'll just have to wait until it actually happens.

P.S. I just spelled checked this here post and I definitely wrote that someone 'sayed' something. Sometimes I wonder if I'm really in the right major...

Sunday, May 29, 2011

future olympian bicyclist. no big deal.

Yesterday was dubbed Harry Potter Day. Amy, Tara and I went to all of the Harry Potter sight's we hadn't already seen. Our first stop was platform 9 3/4, which to our great disappointment, was closed. They are doing construction where the actual platform is, so instead they just had this dumb plastic wall thing outside King's Cross Station. Pretty sad. But we took pictures anyways, since it's the best we could do. The next stop was the street where Harry, Ron and Hermione apparate to in the seventh movie after the wedding. The cafe isn't real, but the street sure is and it's call Shaftesbury Avenue, just in case you were curious. While we were checking that out, we found this tourist shop that we stopped in and FINALLY found Kate Middleton engagement rings. I promptly bought one and fulfilled my souvenir wishes. The next stop on Harry Potter tour was the Ministry of Magic. We had high hopes for this because the building looks absolutely wonderful in pictures. The building they used was Great Scotland Yard and we only had partial directions of how to get there, so once we didn't know where else to go, we just started asking random people on the street. Tara went up to one guy and asked him if he was a muggle, to which he answered no. Tara relied with "Oh, perfect, then can you tell me where the Ministry of Magic is?" He couldn't, and walked away giving us pretty strange looks, which just made it all the more funny. Finally we found where everyone was telling us to go, but they all directed us to New Scotland Yard instead of Great Scotland Yard. So disappointing. We had no idea where to go, so we ended up back on the tube to go find Diagon Ally. We did indeed find it, but it's normally a market and it's only open on weekdays, so there wasn't anyone there, which was also kind of sad. So overall Harry Potter Day didn't go quite as successfully as we had hoped, but it was fun nonetheless.

After we finished all of our Harry Potter sights, we went to the Tate Britain museum. Tara and Amy had to go for their art class and I just went along because I hadn't been yet. It was not my favorite museum. There were some cool exhibits, like the ones that had real paintings of actual things in them (ex: the Romantic exhibit was cool). But most of the museum was more modern stuff and I'm not really a modern art person. There was a painting of Ophelia from Hamlet called Ophelia (profound, I know) that my high school teacher showed our class when we read Hamlet, so I was pretty excited about that because it's what I always picture when I think of Ophelia (because you know I think of her so often). That's one of my favorite things about going to all of the museums here. I get to see all of these paintings that I've seen pictures of but now they are just right there for me to see whenever I want to see them. But anyways, I didn't stay very long and came back and did some homework and tried to get my blog to post my Scotland stories.

Once Tara and Amy got back from doing the stuff they had to do at the museum, we went on a walk for class. This walk was through a bunch of London's parks so we decided to bike through them instead of walk. London has this great bike rental system, which I think it wonderful and every city should have it. Our professor has some family visiting from Lincoln, England and so one of their cousins, Jared, came on the bike ride with us too. I was pretty hesitant about this bike ride at first because the last time I rode a bike was a good 10 years ago. I was way out of practice and just kept picturing myself falling flat on my face. But I sucked it up and went along anyways. That's one thing I feel like I've done more in London than I ever have in my whole life. I'm pretty much willing to do anything here, including things I wouldn't have done back home. But it always turns out great...maybe that's a lesson for me? So we get the bikes and we head of and it's really true when they say you never forget how to ride a bike. I didn't have any troubles at all! I mean it started out a little wobbly but once I got started it was fabulous. I was pretty pro. Minus that I wouldn't go over curbs because I still thought I might die, so I just walked the bike over the curbs. haha

Once we had finished our bike ride, we went over to Trafalgar Square because it's one of our favorite places. There was a football game (soccer in America) yesterday between Manchester United and Barcelona. Barcelona won 3-1 and even though we're Manchester fans, we celebrated with the Barcelona fans in Trafalgar Square, just for the fun of it. And fun it was. There were police officer everywhere and fans were lighting up flares but the police just sat there and watched. It was great. There was just excitement in the air. The only not so great part was the couple who were basically eating each other because they were making out so badly. Gross.

Time to get the homework'll have to come back to hear about today's adventures.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

a wee bit of scotland

I warn you now, this post could probably win an award for worlds longest post. I typed it up in Word and it was over 10 pages long double spaces. So just like my last trip post, I've broken it up into logical places so you can take a break when you get bored. And then when you feel like being tortured some more, you can easily come back and finish reading. enjoy.
also, for some reason it's not letting upload pictures. so hopefully i can get that to work in another post later so you can actually see the things I'm talking about.

sleeping beauty ugly

We left for our trip North this morning. It started with a bright and early wake up at 6 so that we could pack up and head out before 7:30. Then it was a three hour bus ride to Lincoln, where we stopped to eat our lunches we made before we left and check out this castle. Here’s the thing about castles. In my mind, castles are these great big cool magical things. Like the Disneyland castles. Ok maybe not like the Disneyland castles, but definitely bigger than the castles that we’ve seen so far. The places they call palaces are more like the castles in my mind but the places they call castles are more like…mansions. So still big and pretty cool, just not as big and cool as I thought they would be. Anyways. So then we drove another couple of hours to York, where we stayed the night. Here’s my problem with busses though. I cannot stay awake for the life of me. It is a serious problem. I fall asleep whether I want to or not. And then I don’t even fall asleep looking cute; I just look like a freak. I either have my mouth wide open and my neck lolled to one side or I have my whole entire head hanging forward and rolling around all crazy. I am not a normal person when it comes to sleeping while sitting. I’m sure many a people have laughed at me while sleeping on the bus.

Once we got to York, it was only 3ish so we had the rest of the day to explore. We basically just got lost but that’s ok, it was still cool. We found a little street market that was closing down for the day so we got a bucket of strawberries for only1 pound. And then we wandered some more and try to get into this castle and this castle museum and this Viking museum and a few other things and all of them cost a buttload to get in so we vetoed them all. Finally we decided just to get some dinner because apparently the whole town shuts down at 5:30. Every shop we tried to go into was closed. But then we discovered that none of the places to eat open until 6. So for that half an hour, your just stuck doing nothing. Finally we got into this little Italian place that had early bird specials from 6-7, which is a weird early bird time seeing as how I find that a pretty normal eating time. It was a good little restaurant, though I definitely prefer my mom’s spaghetti. After dinner we searched for something to do until 7:30 but with no real avail. We ended up eating warm cookie dough from Pizza Hunt and standing in the cold until our Ghost Tour started at 7:30.

I was pretty terrified of the Ghost Tour when we were standing there waiting for it to start. I don’t always do so well with scary things but I figured it couldn’t be too bad because it was still light outside. It doesn’t get dark around here until pretty late. So this older guy (he was grey haired so I’m allowed to say older) dressed up in like olden time clothing walks down the street with a super creepy face creepily ringing this bell. So we all conglomerate around him, because that’s what you do when you see creepy people on the street right? He starts us on our tour and let me just give you the short version of things. First of all, not scary. At all. Second of all, pretty funny so worth the money in the end. Third of all, he was kind of a dirty old man…there were definitely some dirty jokes stuck in all of his little stories. Anyways, short summary of it all because I don’t really even remember any of his ghost stories, it was funny but not scary but still cool.

After Ghost Hunt, the town was still closed down so we just went back to the hotel. There were only two people to a room and the hotel people had assigned us rooms alphabetically. Crazily, Tara and I ended up in the same room, which ended up being perfect because then we could all watch a movie and not bother anyone else’s roommate. So Tara, Kaylee, Amy and I watched Shakespeare in Love, which was in the Centre and was rated for age 15 and up in UK ratings. But UK definitely has a more liberal rating system because if you weren’t already aware, Shakespeare in Love has quite a bit of nudity in it. We ended up fast-forwarding through various scenes, thinking that once we had gotten through one, we would be safe for the rest of the movie. It was a good plot line but the unnecessary naked people in it made for quite a problem so it won’t be on my list of movies to watch again.

dumbledore’s army

We started out the day going to York Minster. This is another one of the England’s many cathedrals. If I remember correctly, it’s the largest cathedral in the northern part of England. But every cathedral says they are the biggest somehow so I could potentially be making that fact up. But it is really famous. We got a tour around it, which was nice. It makes cathedrals so much more interesting when we actually get information about them while looking at them. Otherwise, as one particular friend likes to say, it’s just “another flipping cathedral.” The windows in York Minster were absolutely amazing. There were so many of them and a lot of them had been fixed up so they were really clear and pretty. They are in the process of restoring a bunch of the windows and the ones that have already been fixed up are some of the coolest stain glassed windows I’ve ever seen. I didn’t know before that visit that when the stain glass windows would get cracks in them, to fix it they would just put another line of lead in it. This is why they are so hard to tell what the heck they are pictures of most of the time. I thought they were just always crazy complicated pictures but this is not so. They are actually very understandable when there is only lead in the original places. I think the stained glass windows were my favorite part of the whole minster, but it was a great place as a whole.

After the minster we had a little over an hour to explore before we had to get back on the bus. As we had already discovered yesterday, basically nothing it free. But we did find the ruins of St. Mary’s Cathedral. Or Abby. Or something. I don’t remember but they were these great big ruins and they were awesome. The best part you ask. Well the best part would have to be the man who was basically naked and sun bathing right in front of the ruins. All he had on were these super tiny shorts. I took a picture for you all to appreciate the view as well. It reminded me of the time my parents took a picture of mr. thong man in Mexico forever ago. If you don’t know that story, then you’re probably better off, but anyways. Here’s the question you should all be asking instead. What the heck was this man doing sunbathing in front of these ruins? He really had no better place to do his sun bathing? What a crazy.

After this fun filled experience, it was time to go back to the hotel to get on the bus. It was quite a walk and so we walked along the top of the city wall. Once we got to the bus, we drove the 5 hours to Edinburgh. I must have a lot more experience with long car rides than some of my fellow study abroaders because 5 hours doesn’t seem like a particularly long drive to me, but some people thought it was an insanely long ride. I’m glad I’ve had lots of long driving experience or I’m sure the drive would have freaking stunk. Once we got to the hostel, the rooms were assigned again. This was sort of disappointing only because me and some of the other girls already had great plans for rooming together, but that’s ok. We have a great group in our room and it’s fabulous.

By this time, it was time to eat so we went to The Elephant House, which is the cafĂ© where J.K. Rowling started writing Harry Potter. It is a great place. Not only was the toilet seat in the bathroom decorated with an assortment of Harry Potter pictures, there was a place to sign up for Dumbledore’s Army, directions to Tom Riddle’s grave and the food was the bomb. I would love to be able to go there all the time. Not necessarily for the Harry Potter aspects, but because it’s just a great atmosphere.

Edinburgh is dumb just like York and everything closes way early so there were slim pickings on what to do after dinner. We ended up climbing Calton hill, which is basically a hill with a bunch of old ruins and monuments. It was beyond description. I’ll just let you look at pictures so you can see what I saw. Except for obviously I saw it in a much cooler way than you will be seeing it as. Sorry to rub it in…While at Calton Hill, we had climbed one of the monuments for some pictures. Kaylee hadn’t come up yet and Amy was calling to her to come over except that Kaylee was walking sort of behind these two guys who thought Amy was talking to them at first. So one of us saved it by saying Kaylee’s name but the boys still came over anyways and offered to help Kaylee up and take our picture. It was kind of awkward at first but then we started talking to them. One of them lives in Edinburgh but is originally from Ireland and the other is from Long Beach, California. Mr. California was just visiting and Mr. Ireland was showing him the sights. Hannah and I ended up talking to Mr. Ireland, which was cool because we could talk to him about both Ireland and Edinburgh. I love talking to the locals.

After the ruins, we just ended up coming back to the hostel. Nothing to exciting but the day was long enough without a huge party to end the night.

finding nessy

So this morning we got up early and went to Tom Riddles grave because nothing was open yet (even though it was 8. What is wrong with these people?). It’s pretty legit. And there was a grave for a Moody, a Black and a McGonagall. Looks like maybe Rowling went to gravesites for name inspirations. Afterwards, the stores were finally started to open so we went looking in those but then we saw the rest of our group walking to the castle, where we had plans for a tour. We joined up with them then instead of meeting them at the castle.

The Edinburgh castle is way sweet. We took a free tour from one of the worker dudes at the castle and he basically just showed us the different places we could check out while we were there. But he was really nice and answered a bunch of questions Tara, Hannah and I asked him after the tour. It’s interesting how different the Scottish accent is compared to the English accent. I mean they are so close but their accents are completely different. I think that the Scottish are a tad bit more difficult to understand. Ok, maybe more than a tad bit. Some of them are super hard to understand. I feel like they talk really fast so it just doesn’t work very well. But back to the castle. The coolest part was probably the Crown Jewels. They were gorgeous and there was this little museum thing before you got to the jewels that told a bunch of the Scottish history which I really liked because I didn’t know hardly anything about Scottish history. I mean even though their history is so closely linked to England presently and they have been ruled by the same monarchs for quite some time, they still have a very different history and I didn’t know basically any of it. I will definitely be catching up on my Scottish history when I get him, especially about Queen Mary. And no, this is not a joke. What else am I going to do this summer?

We spent quite a while at the castle so by the time we left, it was lunch time. We were so impressed by The Elephant House yesterday, we decided to go back for lunch. The food really is delicious and the place is so cute. Then after lunch we went back to the shops for some souvenir junkola. Basically every store had the same stuff and it was all pretty expensive, so I didn’t buy much and sorry family but you aren’t getting much. Once we had finished, we went to the train station with plans to go to Loch Ness to find Nessy. Yes, this is a serious plan. Yes, I wanted to go so badly. And yes, Nessy and I are on a first name basis. We went to the info desk at the train station so that we could get there in the most efficient way. And she informs us that it takes 4 hours to get there. And the train doesn’t leave until 4. Dreams of finding Nessie were shattered and I sat in the station and cried. OK. Maybe I didn’t cry, but it was pretty devastating. I can’t believe I’m leaving Scotland without seeing the Loch Ness Monster…

Since all of our hopes and dreams had been thrown out the window, we decided to go back into town to find a dance studio. Tara wanted to find someone that would teach a highland dance class so she could do a little Scottish jig. We found the dance studio and they found us an available class that was a 20 minute bus ride away. It didn’t start right away so we decided to go to the Loch Ness Experience. Sounds freaking exciting right? Well we get into the theater for this thrilling event and we stick our 3D glasses on and our big DJ headphones so we can hear and get ready for the ride. And about 15 minutes in, I fall asleep. Quite the experience, let me tell you. It was this weird, old documentary with a bunch of information I could have found out on Wikipedia. Oh well. I learned some new stuff about Nessy and that’s better than nothing I suppose.

Afterwards, we went back to the hostel. I decided that I didn’t particularly want to spend my money on a highland dance class so I let Hannah and Tara do their thing while I went off with some of the other girls. We didn’t do much, just grabbed some dinner and then came back and we are now watching Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. A great way to end the night, if I do say so myself.

my pet sheep

This morning was a pretty chill morning. We were leaving Edinburgh at 10 and there really wasn’t really a whole lot more I wanted to do there. I absolutely loved Scotland, it was by far one of my favorite destinations, but everything I would have done couldn’t really be done real fast this morning. So instead I slept in, which was really weird because I haven’t done that the whole time I’ve been in the U.K. Scotland is a beautiful place and everyone was so nice. I feel like I got to know the people of Scotland so well even though we weren’t there for very long. And I love all the sheep farms. I have decided, after driving past the thousands of sheep we’ve passed while on the bus the past couple of days, that I will be getting a pet sheep when I have a house. And it will be an indoor sheep that is potty trained and I will shave it often so that it just stays small and cute and we will frolic in the grasses together and it will be absolutely wonderful. I hope whoever marries me is okay with this plan. Also, in case you were wondering, no I did not eat haggis, nor did I ever have plans too. Sorry but that’s disgusting.

The bus ride was just another bus ride. Nothing exciting there. It was about four hours until we got to Windermere in the Lake District. The Lake District is mostly private land but then the government turned it into a National Park. It feels like real England here and I’m loving it. It’s so nice to be away from the city and in a little village with indescribably beautiful scenery all around. We went on this boat ride around the lake which was cool except that Loch Ness would have been cooler…but anyways. Then we wandered around the little town and it was super cute , except that just like every other place we’ve been too, everything closes super early.

Once we got to the hostel, we grabbed a room key and we got to choose our roommates and there are eight of us in the room. We all went walking around the hostel because we’re on this hill in the middle of all the beautiful greenery. It’s been raining off and on all day. I really can’t describe how Englandy it finally feels. I mean London is great and I absolutely love it there, but I love the quaint little village England a ton too. And maybe I feel that way more than usual because I’m pretty tired of big giant city all the time. I hope you can get just a glimpse of the amazing area we’re in from the pictures.

Now we’re just all hanging out at the hostel. It’s a super cute hostel and is pretty homey feeling. Because it’s raining and we’re a pretty good walk from town, there really isn’t any other option than just hanging around the hostel, but that’s ok. It’s refreshing to have an earlier night in. That was probably the most boring thing you’ve ever read, but it just hasn’t been the most eventful day but don’t give up on me, tomorrow could hold stories that will amaze you. Or maybe make you fall of your chair laughing. Or maybe make you fall of your chair asleep. Who knows. You’ll just have to wait about...mmm…2 seconds to find out…

“i don’t care if i die”

This morning started out packing up everything again and loading it on the bus. We drove about 45 minutes to some other town in the Lake District to check out the Beatrix Potter museum or something along those lines. I don't think anyone was really excited about this. We all just wanted to be on our way 'home' as we now call the Centre in London. I didn't even know who the heck Beatrix Potter was or that she wrote Peter Rabbit until this trip and I don't think I've ever even read Peter Rabbit. So clearly I was being a super happy camper about this stop. We got there about 25 minutes before it opens so we just wandered around yet another town. The whole wandering random towns that all look the same is getting kind of old too. I don't feel the need to wander around every town we stop in. But anyways. Enough negative nancy. So we wait until 10:30 and our professor reads the sign again and finds out that it actually doesn't open until 11 on Fridays. So again we wait. At 11 we all come back together and are informed that it actually just isn't open today....Seriously. Pretty ridiculous. And I blame it all on our stupid travel agent who had been less than impressive this whole trip. (She doesn't even have everything planned out for us for the next two weeks. Uh hello? We kind of need to have that done.) Even though the museum is closed, we are still forced to wander around for another 45 minutes so I end up at this bakery and buy an entire loaf of delicious bread for lunch. Super exciting stop.

After the non-existent visit to Beatrix Potter, we drive another 45 minutes (ish) to get to this place where we are going to hike. It was a beautiful area and I had no problem hiking. Our professor made it sound like it was just kind of a stroll through and he said it was shorter and easier than our last hike so I was thinking it was going to be more of a walk than anything else. It definitely started out that way. We were on a paved road and when we got off the paved road it was a pretty clear path. We saw a cool sculpture by this artist who does random sculptures in nature without expecting them to stay put. This one was turned into a sort of wall thing though, so I'm thinking it'll stay there for a while. We also walked past a pretty little river/waterfall. and past a giant old slate quarry. So it started out great. But then we got to the part where he told us we were going to hike up the top of the mountain where there is no path and the whole side of the mountain is muddy from the rain the day before. Sounds great huh? Yeah it was. By the time we reached the top, almost all of us had muddy brown covered shoes. And then we got to climb back down the muddy mountain. Fabulous. It was really pretty once we got to the top though, I just wish I had been a little more prepared for what we were going to be doing because it definitely wasn't a stroll through nature. My favorite part of the hike though was toward the end when we were walking on the paved road to the bus and I suggested we switch sides of the road so that we were facing oncoming traffic and that way we wouldn't die on the side of the road. Kaylee just goes "I don't care if I die," summing up the entirety of our day. Exhausted and partially annoyed, we were all ready to be done and get home.

Once we finished our hike, the next stop was a bathroom and then home. They wanted to make the bathroom stop a dinner stop as well, so we drove for about an hour and 45 minutes before stopping again to use the bathroom and grab some food. Then finally it was home free. Another 5 hours on the bus, playing name that tune and dancing like freaks in the middle of the aisle and finally we are back in London. It was a great trip but it's nice to be back to the familiar.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

see ya later alligator

This is mostly for my family members who don't already know so they don't think I died with my lack of blogging. I'm heading off to Scotland and probably won't have internet so you'll have to hold out on the adventures until the end of the week.

previously omited thoughts

Another Sunday with not much to tell. Dean and Kathy Hughes gave us a little fireside which was pretty sweet. Kathy served as the 1st counselor of the General Relief Society presidency when Bonnie Parkin was president. They had some really great things to share with us and I enjoyed in thouroghly. But that was probably the most exciting thing that's happened today.

So instead of boring you with all the small details of my day, I'm going to share some thoughts that don't really fit into any other posts.

Thought Number 1: Where has all the rain gone?
Everyone said it would be cold and rainy in London. It's not. It's sunny and warm. And I did not bring appropriate clothing for warm weather. But I am appreciative of the lack of rain. Minus the other part where I haven't used the stupid rain boots I bought solely based on the fact that I thought it would rain every day. It's semi rained twice but never enough to need rain clothes or really even an umbrella. Secretly (or maybe not so secretly because I'm posting it on my blog) I would find it just a tad humorous if it rained the whole time my parents were here. Just because that would be so ironic.

Thought Number 2: Where are the freaking toilets? And trash cans?
London is the worst city for public restrooms and trash cans. They are NO WHERE TO BE FOUND. It's the worst. Especially when your walking around all day and can never find a stupid toilet. But it's ok, I haven't wet my pants yet, so things are good so far.

Ok here's the thing. I had a lot more random thoughts. But it's kind of late and they've all escaped me. Sooo you'll just have to wait for random thoughts blog post number 2. =]

Saturday, May 21, 2011

i met my future husband at hogwarts

I'm going to fast forward things and tell you all about today and then I'll rewind and let you know about Thursday and Friday.

So this morning Dean Hughes, who is an author and has written tons of books including the popular LDS series "Children of the Promise," came and talked to our literature class. He is in town to do some research for a new book and Dr. Crowe is friends with him. He and his wife are staying in the spare room of the Centre and they are also doing a fireside for us tomorrow. It was really cool to hear him speak.

Afterwards we went to Oxford for the day. Some of us had been planning this trip for over a week and then a bunch of other people happened to plan it on the same day so we all took the train together but then ended up splitting up. The train to Oxford was even more like the Hogwarts Express than our train ride to Cambridge. First of all, we had about 5 minutes to get on our train before it left so we were running through the station, just like Harry and the Weasleys do in The Chamber of Secrets. Except that we were actually able to get on the platform and onto the train. Sadly, no flying car rides for us. The train ride there kind of sucked. It was way crowded so we ended up standing most of the time and it was super hot.

Once we got there, we weren't really sure where we were going. We need of a few destinations we eventually wanted to end up at but we had no idea how to get there. We (as in Tara, Kaylee, Hannah and I) decided we would follow the other group of kids that came until we had a general idea of where to go. We followed them until we stumbled upon this museum. We went inside for maybe 30 min but it was pretty cool. They had a bunch of ancient stuff from Cyprus so it there were a lot of the god and goddess stuff. We enjoyed a giant, naked statue of Zeus and some painted pots like the pot of ladies in Hercules before moving on to further adventures.

So basically after that we just kind of walked down this street that had a lot of people in it. It kind of looked like a street market but we weren't really sure. And we did know that we were kind of going in the right direction towards the college. So basically that was exciting. haha I guess it was just a randomly pedestrianized street because there wasn't anything too special about it. But after that, we followed this little map we had found to the Oxford Castle, which we thought had a tower so you could see the city from above. But it didn't. It was still pretty cool to see. It made us laugh though because part of it used to be a prison, until pretty recently, and now it's a hotel. That's be an interesting place to stay. In front of the castle were some little cart seller people. This one guy was selling fudge and he asked if we wanted a sample so we went over there and were talking to him. He asked us to sign this petition because the city was trying to shut the cart seller people down because they though it detracted from the coolness. We were happy to sign it, because we like cart seller people, and because we got to sign a petition so that's just cool.

Afterwards, we somehow found ourselves on this street of shops. Ok, we didn't just find ourselves there randomly but I don't remember how we got there. Once we were there, we ended up stopping in this fudge shop that has literally been in every town we've visited. But their fudge is pretty awesome, so we usually go in just for samples. Anyways, the fudge shop workers were way cool. They were talking to us for forever and they were way funny. This one married guy was selling Tara fudge and Tara handed him this bill that was beyond beat up. He laughed at her, looked at it more closely and then goes on to tell her that it's a really old bill that they don't use anymore. And then he keeps looking at it and tells her that it's counterfeit money. Except the whole time he's telling us this, he's laughing and kind of making a joke out of it, so we're all laughing. And then this younger worker kid started talking to us and he was asking Hannah and Kaylee if people in America say "hella." Hannah replied that she didn't hear it. I wasn't fully paying attention at this point because Tara and I were still talking to married guy. But once I realized what was going on, I was like oh yeah, I hear it all the time in California. So then worker kid continues on to imitate PERFECTLY a Southern CA accent. Not even just an American accent, but literally a surfer dude from Southern California. It was so funny and since that moment I decided that I was going to marry him. Even though he looked like he was high school age so that could cause some problems...

After fudge shop experience, we found some of the different colleges of Oxford (if you don't quite understand what I'm talking about when I say that, please read my previous post on Cambridge. Same system). They were gorgeous and just amazing. We went into one and found the Hogwarts infirmary. Um legit? Yeah. So we paid our one pound to go check it out. This is also where they filmed the dance practice scene in the Goblet of Fire. Look familiar?

We also went up into the tower of the chapel of one of the other colleges. We got to see the whole city and it was fabulous. It wasn't nearly as high as St. Paul's, but I was more than ok with that. The stairs up were still a little scary because they were pretty skinny and steep so there were some times I thought I was going to fall down them at the end but clearly, I lived to tell the tale.

After this adventure we were pretty lost. We navigated our way back to the fudge shop street where they had a bunch of souvenir shops and we looked through those. Once we had fulfilled our souvenir urges, we headed over to Christ Church college to see the Hogwarts Great Hall. We had no idea how to get there so we stopped and asked fudge shop boys because married guy was standing outside telling people to come get free samples. He had no idea how to get there so he went inside and asked. Worker kid knew how to get there so they both came back out and has worker kid (aka future husband) was giving us directions, he pulls out his cigarettes. And all my dreams were shattered. I can't marry funny fudge kid because he freaking smokes. Ugh.

We head off in the direction stupid fudge kid tells us and we still end up getting lost along the way and we go a super long way to get there. We end up in the back and the security dude informs us that they stop letting people in at 4:30. And it's 4:28 and we have to get to the front of the building, which was really far away because there's a courtyard in the middle of the building. So we hauled butt to the other side of the building, looking like ridiculous freaks. And we get there as they shut the doors. We tried to convince the dude to let us in anyways because we were just barely past 4:30 but to no avail. We saw no Great Hall and once again my dreams were shattered. He did inform us that the actual filming didn't happen there, it was just inspiration for what the Great Hall looks like so that shattered my dreams a tad less, but it still was such a disappointment.

By this time, we had nothing else we really wanted to do except food. There is a pub called The Eagle and Child and C.S. Lewis and J.R. Tolkien would go there and chat so after walking across town, we ate there. This other American kid was there and he wanted to talk to us for quite some time, but he was a little too enthusiastic for my taste. I mean super nice, but way too excited to be there. It made for some humorous moments though.

On our trip home, they brought around a trolley through the train where you could buy food. Can you say Hogwarts Express even more!! It was great.

Ok so Thursday. Not a ton to tell. We had class as usual and then I just kind of hung around and I think I may have taken a short nap before dinner. After dinner, we had a group event to see "As You Like It" at the Globe. We had pretty crappy seats compared to the last time we went to the Globe. But it was still good. I didn't like this play quite as much as I liked the first Shakespeare I went to, but I didn't hate it and it's just a lot of fun to see a play in that sort of setting. That's basically the extent of the happenings of Thursday.

Friday, Tara, Hannah and I got up early to run to Primark, which if I haven't talked about before, is an incredibly cheap department store. Tara and I needed to return some things and we wanted to get there before the lines got insanely crazy. After Primark, we went over the the theater where Phantom of the Opera plays to see if we could get tickets and where we met up with Amy. We couldn't get cheap ones because they don't do any discounts so we're going to try to get the cheap ones on a weekday. This is the play I want to see the most, so I really want it to somehow work out, but I also don't want to pay 40+ pounds to see it. After this little escapade, we went back to the Globe to do a tour that group had planned out. It was an interesting tour, but probably not something I would have done if it wasn't already planned as part of our school stuff. They didn't really tell us anything too interesting about the Globe and a lot of the stuff they showed us were things I had already seen on my own. We did get to see part a practice of one of the other plays, which was sweet. After, we decided to get tickets for the play because the standing seats are only 5 pounds and we thought it would be a cool experience plus see an interesting play for way cheap. It's not for a couple of weeks though. Then we went and finished one of the walks we had started for our walks class and did another walk after that. We're trying to get them finished. Even though they are interesting and take us through parts of town we wouldn't normally go in, they are pretty time consuming. We then went home for dinner and Tara, Hannah and I went to Charing Cross Road (aka bookstore road). We went through some of the smaller stores I hadn't been in. I love them because they have all these cool antique books you could never find in the states. There were so many I want to buy but then I realize that it's just not practical to buy them because I would never really do anything with them. Our trip home after checking out the bookstores was a little crazy. We weren't paying very close attention and missed our stop by quite a few stops and then had to navigate our way back through a few different lines. It was ridiculous but we were also laughing histarically the whole time.

I realized that I completely forgot to mention a pretty important part of our visit to Cambridge earlier this week. Brother and Sister Tanner (like the Sister Tanner that served in the General Relief Society and the General Young Women presidency's) went to the chapel with us. They were in town visiting for a couple of days because Brother Tanner had to talk at something. They are getting ready to serve as mission president and wife in Brazil. It was so cool to have them there. She is such a nice lady.

Friday, May 20, 2011

a harry potter moment

We spent the day in Cambridge on Wednesday. It was quite the experience. We took the tube to King's Cross Station so we could catch the train to Cambridge. Sadly, we didn't have time before the train left to see platform 9 3/4 but no worries, I will be back there. Amy, Kaylee, Tara and I were traveling there together. Even though it was an event for our entire group, we were kind of on our own for parts of the day. Getting on the train was probably the closest thing I've experienced so far to a real Harry Potter experience. I felt like I was headed off to Hogwarts and it was a fabulous moment.

The train ride took about an hour and we had a good time chatting about whatever girls chat about. Once we got there, we had about an hour before we were supposed to meet up with everyone else. We weren't completely sure where we were going because none of us had ever been to Cambridge before. They just told us to meet at Pembroke College and we were supposed to figure it out from there. There was a map outside the train station so we figured out the streets we needed to find and it didn't prove to be too difficult, just super far away. It took us over a half an hour to walk there but when we arrived no one else was there yet. There was a big sign saying that the College was closed due to exams, but we decided that we looked enough like students that it wouldn't matter. We walked right into their courtyard and ate our lunch. Eventually was saw some of our group walk past so we went and joined them.

Let me explain a few things at this point in the story that may help you understand some things better. Cambridge is made up of multiple colleges. The easiest way to understand what a college is, is to compare it to a sorority or fraternity. Or even better, each one is sort of like a house of Hogwarts. Similar to Gryffidor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw, Cambrige has various houses the students join. Each student just picks what college they want to be in, it isn't divided by what your studying or anything. Each college has a chapel, a garden, a hall (for eating and for sleeping) and a library. Almost all, or maybe all, of the colleges used to be monasteries. So each college is a part of Cambridge. Exams are not the sort of exams we thing of. As an undergraduate at Cambridge, you study for three years and you don't take any finals or anything like that. At the end of your three years, you take your "finals" or exams based on your past three years of education. Can you imagine how stressful that would be? Too stressful for me and we all know how much I stress anyways. I'm pretty sure exams would about kill me from how high my stress level would get.

Ok, so now that you have some explanations, let me continue. Once everyone gathered outside Pembroke, this professor from BYU that does a summer program at Cambridge met us and took us into the chapel. He gave us some info about the school and then had us split up into groups and go with some of the LDS students to different parts of Cambridge. My group went to the Wren Library which was pretty sweet. They have all these old documents and original letters and stuff. Basically cool stuff that nerdy English major people would find cool. Ok...maybe there were non English major people there, but you catch my drift. They would only let so many people into the library at a time to look at the displays so we had to wait outside for everyone else. While we were waiting I learned the strangest thing. No one is allowed to walk on the grass. And people actually follow that rule. Only really important people are allowed to walk on the grass, like the professors and stuff. But their professors aren't like a US professor. According to the student who led us around, the professors are more like the directors of departments. So anyways, we kept getting yelled at for stepping on the grass. Like even just accidentally stepping on the edge is no good.

After Wren Library we headed over to King's College. This is one of the more prestigious colleges. We got to tour their chapel, which normally you have to pay for but someone that is somehow connected to BYU got us in for free. It was a pretty chapel. When we first got there though, we went in semi the wrong way but all we had to do was go across this chain rope kind of thing that was pretty low to the ground and easy to step over. So that's what I did, just stepped over. Well this lady that works for the school opened up one of the connecting things so people could walk through right as I stepped over and she definitely glared me down. I'm thinking it was another one of those don't walk on the grass type things. Whatever, just call me a dumb American.

After, we went punting down the river which was freaking ridiculous. If you don't know what this is, it's sort of like a gondola. You have someone standing on the back with a long pole and you stick the pole in the bottom of the river bed and push off to get the boat to move. So here's the deal though. They have pro punters. But we didn't get to go with the pros. We punted ourselves. It was quite the experience. Tara started out and she was pretty pro at it. Then I tried and I wouldn't say I was horrible but I wasn't pro. Besides the fact that I was pretty much positive I would eventually fall in the Cam River if I got too crazy about my punting. So I was a tad bit on the more careful side. Some of the other punters in our boat were a little crazy and not so good at directing. But that's ok, we can't all be awesome at everything we do. But here the ridiculous part. We had some struggles along the way, so we were cutting it pretty close to making it back on time. We had 10 minutes to get back and we were probably 20 feet from the dock and it took us another 30 minutes to get 20 feet. How exactly does that happen you ask? Well, let me tell you. Tara the pro was punting again but this is a pretty high traffic area. Somehow we got turned around in the wrong direction so we needed to flip our boat around so the front was facing the dock. Every time we were on our way towards turning, we would get hit by another boat and we'd start going the other way, or the punt would get messed up a tad. It was crazy. We just sat there going in every direction but the one we wanted. For a good part of the time we were near one of the other punting companies dock and they kept trying to give us directions. Eventually they just sat there and laughed at us. Finally we got close enough to the dock that one of the pro punters could jump in our boat and get us where we wanted to be but it was a long process before that happened. It was pretty funny though and we had a good time.

Once our punting experience was over, we just wandered around Cambridge. It's a cute town and I liked it, but I don't think I would ever go there for an extended amount of time. A day trip was long enough for me. Once we got back to London, I found out that some of the LDS students had offered to take us to one of the formal dinners they have sometimes. They have the big long tables and they all wear robes and whatnot. Can you say ultimate Harry Potter experience!! I may have to go back for that, but we'll see....

P.S. I know I still suck at blogging in a timely manner. Please forgive me and just like reading it when its there.

P.S.S. Grandma, I hope you noticed that I omitted all "really cool's" in this post, just for you. =]

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

i know i suck. don't rub it in.

Behind on the posting again. It's a problem, I understand. I'll try to be more on top of things again.

Sunday was pretty similar to every Sunday. Except that there are a few exciting moments I can share. First, public transportation basically stinks on the weekends. I think they are trying to make a bunch of improvements for when they have the Olympics here next year, so every weekend part of the tube is closed and sometimes part of the train lines are closed. Pretty annoying. So this week to get to church, we literally had to use every form of public transportation. First we took the two different tube lines to get to the train station. The train wouldn't take us as far as we needed it too so we had to take a bus to the tram station. Finally we took the tram and then walked the rest of the way. Needless to say, we were about 2 minutes late because of all of the crazyness. But here's the thing I think is great. When we got there, they were just finishing the opening song. At 10:02!!! If your a member of the church, you realize how monumental this is. I have never attended church in America where we actually started on time. At 10:02, there would still be a stream of people walking in.

Also on Sunday, I taught my first lesson. It was for the young women and they were really nice about it. It probably wasn't the best lesson ever but it wasn't horrible. It was super short though so we had a lot of chatting time afterwards, which I really enjoyed because we just got to talk about normal life. I love talking to the people at church because they give me a real view of what life in Britain is like. And it's cool to hear what they want to know about America.

Monday I had class and then I did some stuff for work. I got my summer students assigned to me already and I'm excited to hear their responses back form my first e-mail to them. Hannah and I also went to the Science Museum to look at a few exhibits for a class assignment. I'm writing a paper on how the invention of the combine harvester-thresher changed society. I though all you tractor people (aka mainly Kale and Grandpa) would think that was cool. They have a whole exhibit on farming and they have big old (and some not so old) tractors all over the place. I was going to take a picture for you guys but then I was silly and grabbed my camera without putting the battery back in after charging it.

Monday night our whole group went and saw Le Miserables. This wasn't originally on our list of things to do but they had extra money, which I was glad of because it wasn't more money out of my pocket to see it. It was pretty amazing. It was a tad bit confusing at first because I had trouble understanding everything that was being said. Some of the actors had pretty heavy accents and the entire thing is sung so the mixture of the two made comprehension difficult at points. That and the fact that I had no idea what it was about before hand, I'd just heard really good things about it and wanted to see it. It was definitely a good one and I'd totally see it again (cough, cough Mom and Dad). But really, it was awesome and so different than any other play I've seen.

Today we went to my new favorite place. Ok, you're probably thinking that I have about a million new favorite places all the time, which is true. So just humor me because they're all my favorite. But anyways, we went to Hampton Court and it was the freaking best. Unfortunatly I didn't get to see the whole thing because we weren't there long enough, but not to fret my dears, I'll just make sure that's something I can go do again when my parents get here. =] But really, it was beyond amazing. Maybe I just feel that way because I'm passionate about the Tudor dynasty (and Hampton Court was Henry VIII palace, in case you weren't aware). It makes me even more excited to see Tower of London and Hever Castle, both of which have Tudor connections. Also, Tara and I met the King. And got a picture with him. Beat that. Except the assistant to the king was standing a little too close to me during the picture. He was literally right up against me like we've known each other for forever. Little awkward. But then we also talked to them after our picture. Well more specifically, we talked to Master Thyn (pronounced thin but spelling it the way it sounds doesn't look as cool), the master of the household. He was being a tad flirtatious and the King had to remind him and inform us that he was married and had 9 children. (Warning, this part may be inappropriate for children...) So then Master Thyn is like "Oh yes. She just keeps popping them out, though I'm not sure how. We've only had sex 9 times." hahahahaha It was pretty funny people. And then right after the King was just like, "Well we have to be off now." It was great.

Awkward guy, me, the King, Master Thyn and Tara at Hampton Court

After Hampton we went to Downe to see Down House, which is Charles Darwins house. I know this might not sound that cool, but we just finished reading a book called "Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith" for my literature class. You should read it. For real. It gives you an entirely different perspective on Darwin. So anyways, it was way cool to see his house after just finishing a book about his life and about all of the things that happened in that house. They have an awesome garden and the house is way bigger than I expected. It was pretty fabulous. Great day overall.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

catching up

So this is going to be a gigantically long post. But it's broken up into days, so if you need to take a break, I've provided logical spots for you to do so.

I realize that it's been a while since I've updated this here blog. But I am not to blame. The fact that western England feels is necessary to charge you for wifi everywhere wifi exists is to blame for my being so behind. Now that I'm back in London, you'll get to catch up on the adventures.

Day One: onto the western frontier

We left for Bristol on Tuesday at 8. Except that the bus didn't get here until 8:30. No big deal. I just got up 30 minutes early so I could stand on the sidewalk. Anyways. Our first stop was Stonehenge, which is in the county of Wiltshire. We spent about an hour there and it was really cool. But kind of not as cool as everyone always talks about. I mean, it's giant and it's old but it's basically just a place to take a couple of pictures. Maybe if we would have done the audio tour it would have been cooler  but we just walked around it so it was basically just a big pile of rocks that I can now say I've been too. There is a rope that blocks you from getting very close to the circle so we just admired. There were also a bunch of burial mounds that you can see from the stone circle, which was cool. And it's located in an absolutely gorgeous area. Green, rolling hills all around and no civilization to be spotted. After Stonehenge, we went to Avebury Circle, which I have to say is a million times cooler than Stonehedge. It's another stone circle but a ton bigger than Stonehenge. Like the actual circle is bigger, not the stones. And there actually three circles, one big outside circle and two smaller inside circles (kind of like two eyes). Stonehenge is about as big as one of the small inside circles. Avebury is also located in Wiltshire, the middle of the village of Avebury. The whole outside circle isn't there anymore because the town is built over the top of it. But not only is it bigger, you can actually walk right up to the stone and touch them. I touched ancient rocks folks. And some of them I sat on. Can you say the same? I thought not. Ok, maybe your not that excited about my ancient rock touching, but I mean these rocks are older than Christ. By a lot. According to Wikipedia (because I can't remember the dates they told us when we were there) it was constructed around 2600 BC. That is crazy. Crazy people. I hope you understand how my mind was kind of blown. Anyways, we also had this hilarious tour guide through Avebury. Her name was Pat and she was great. She had on of the best accents of all time and rolled all of her 'r's and kept saying how 'fab' everything was.

After those adventures we headed to Caen Hill Locks in Devizes, which is also in Wiltshire county (p.s. counties in England are like the states of the U.S. which is why I'm telling you them. Plus then you can see on a map kind of where we were.) So here the thing about the locks. None of us wanted to be there. Apart from one of our directors who was eating it up. He was a kid in a candy store at those locks. But the rest of us didn't see the difference between this canal and the Regent's canal we had already walked in London. So I didn't have the best attitude. But sometimes I need to be a tad bit more patient and open minded. As the walk continued, we ended up being able to help this guy get his boat through the locks, which was pretty sweet. Once I knew how the locks worked and all that jazz and saw someone actually using them, I was a lot more interested and enjoyed the stop more.

Our final stop for that day was the hostel in Bristol, which is in Gloucestershire county. It was actually a really nice hostel. Almost cheap hotel quality. And better than the Nazi camps I was imagining in my head, minus all the dead bodies and actual Nazi's. There were four to a room. Kaylee, Tara and Amy S. were in my room. We lucked out and had our own bathroom in our room, though most everyone else had to share the hallway bathroom. We had two bunk beds and it was fun to have actually roommates rather than just a herd of people sharing a giant room.

Day Two: bathing

We started off this day with an included breakfast in the hostel. Not Holiday Inn quality but it was still nice to have some bacon thrown in with my cereal. Then it was off to Bath, which is in Somerset county. In case your unaware, which would be kind of silly of you and you should probably brush up on your historical sites if you really don't know what Bath already is, but it's a town that contains a Roman bath house from back in the day when Rome ruled London. The British didn't actually use it that much, cuz they thought it was weird. (Uh duh. Who wants to bath with everyone else literally hanging out in front of you). But the elite did use it and thought they were really cool because they were so Roman. I don't know how cool they actually were, but their bath house was pretty cool. The water was disgusting looking, but you could just walk right up to the pool and sit next to it. They only thing you couldn't touch was the water because it wasn't sanitary. We got a little audio tour and you got to choose what sections you listened to, which was nice. When you first walk in, you walk around this little balcony thing that overlooks the main pool, but before you get down to the pools, there's a museum thing you walk through. One of the things I thought was most interesting was this section about curses. People would write messages to different gods asking them to curse someone else because they stole something or whatever. Most of the time the offender did something pretty trivial. Then they would throw the curse into the spring that provided the water to the pools so that the gods would grant them their curses. After the museum, you go into the pools. There is the big pool in the center and then there are two smaller pools through an east passageway and a west passageway. Once you leave the pools, they have some of the water from the spring that you can drink because people back in the day thought it had healing powers. I didn't find out about this little feature until after I left so I didn't try it but I heard it was super yummy and tastes like sulfur. Don't worry Mom and Dad, we'll be trying some on our trip to Bath. They also have a new spa sort of thing that uses the same spring that fill the Roman baths. I didn't go in it because I didn't even bring a swimming suit to Europe with me, but I heard it was pretty sweet.

After the bath house, they just told us to wander around Bath. We ended up getting super split up and Kaylee and I went walking around. We saw The Circus, which is a circle of houses and then we went to the Royal Crescent, which was the other thing I was pretty excited about seeing in Bath. I wanted to go into the museum that they had, but it was 6 pounds and I was too cheap to pay for it. We basically just walked around Bath until there was nothing else to see. And then we still had an hour and a half before we were leaving. So the amount of time spent in Bath could have been cut down some. It's more of a half day adventure rather than an all day adventure. But still a good adventure.

Then we just went back to Bristol because they wanted us to explore what was around there. About 30 of us ended up going to see the play Jekyll and Hyde. It was quite the experience folks. I really didn't know the details of the story but there were some shockers. For instance the song that says "b****" every other line. Or the prostitute that essentially gets raped on stage. We were all a little surprised at these things, especially since one of our directors wife's was there with some of her kids and the other director and his wife were there. But none of us were expecting those things and it was still an enjoyable play despite those aspects, though I probably wouldn't recommend it now that I know the details. I think maybe plays should get a rating, just like movies, so these things can be avoided.

Day Three: whales?

Day three started out at Tintern Abby, which is in Wales. That's right, I've now been to Wales folks. I wish I was really cool and had my passport stamped again. Just so that I could have another stamp in my passport. But unfortunately, Wales is still part of the UK, even though it's another country. Tintern Abby was pretty sweet. It's this super old falling apart Abby. And it's gorgeous, even though there's not much left. It surrounded by awesome scenery and it was just great. We also could go touch the ruins and stuff, which was great. If you couldn't tell, I enjoy the things I can actually touch and interact with much more than the things I just have to look at.

After Tintern Abby, we headed back into Gloucestershire and went to Chipping Campden, which is part of the Cotswold district. This is basically like the vacation homes for people when their tired of the city. It was a really pretty place but we had to eat lunch there and it was way expensive and there wasn't really anything to do there so we just wandered around aimlessly.

After this we went a a 4 1/2 mile walk/hike. I was not excited about this at all. But it actually wasn't that bad and it was a good way to experience part of the English culture because the English love to walk and they have walking trails all over the place, included a lot that go through private property, which is what our walk did. It was super pretty though and we could see for miles at some parts of the walk. It was nice to be away from the city and just walk through the fields.

Day Four: slippery slope of death

This was our last day of the trip. Some of us went and saw a couple of Banksy paintings. Banksy is a street artist and his work is awesome. It almost always is some commentary on politics and he never repeats a painting. He was raised in Bristol, so a lot of his paintings are around there. They used to get painted over because people just thought it was graffiti but eventually he became well known and it was sort of an honor to have a Banksy painted on your building.

We headed for Wells in Somerset county to see another cathedral. I think we're all pretty churched out. There are a million abby's and cathedrals out here and they all start looking the same. So although it was cool, I wouldn't have died if I didn't see it.

After Wells we went to Durdle Door beach in Dorset county. We had to climb up this giant hill and then back down the other side to get to the beach. But now I can say that I've touched the Atlantic Ocean. New accomplishment in life. And there was this cool rock arch thing that's famous. It was really pretty and basically the same kind of beach as the ones in Northern California (aka windy and cold) but it was rocky instead of sandy. And it was a different ocean. and a different country. Cool stuff.

Then it was time for the long, long ride home. And to top off this long ride, we had to stop for dinner when we were 90 minutes away from London. My long road trip instincts hated this. Why would we stop when we're that close. But alas, I was not driving and so we stopped.

It really was a great trip, just super exhausting and it's nice to be back in London.

Monday, May 9, 2011

not the most exciting post ever

Sunday was basically the same as last Sunday. Church was great and they asked me to teach Young Women's the coming Sunday. After dinner I was able to have a great chat with my professors and some of the other students. I absolutely love my professors. They are the greatest. I also got to talk to my family for a while which was fabulous.

Today wasn't very exciting either. We had class, which is always really good. I really enjoy both my history and my literature class. Afterwards Hannah and I attempted one of our required walks. It was a really pretty walk along the Thames and we found the absolutely gorgeous church. We were only able to finish half of the walk because Hannah had to be back to the centre to help with dinner. One day we'll go back to finish it.

After dinner, Tara, Catherine and I went on another walk. It wasn't a super eventful walk but it was a quick one. We did see one of the houses that Charles Dickens lived in so that was pretty cool. Other than that, nothing too exciting happened unless you count the couple making out in the tube station. ;]

I got a pretty awesome compliment today though. As Tara, Catherine and I were walking to the tube station, I was telling a story and this man in front of us commented as we walked past that he enjoyed my accent. I thought it was pretty cool since usually I'm the one saying that.

We head for Bath tomorrow and we'll be over there until Friday afternoon. I'm pretty excited about it. I'll update you on all my adventures most likely when I return to London because I'm not totally positive I'll have internet access.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

roads and markets

Last night I was convinced to get up and be ready by 7 this morning to go take pictures at Abby Road (the road made famous by the Beatles). I wasn't exactly ecstatic about this idea, but went along with it anyways because sometimes you just have to seize the day. It actually was pretty cool. We were all able to take pictures along the crosswalk without getting hit by cars, which is surprising because pedestrians don't have the right of way here so basically you can easily die if your standing in the middle of the road taking pictures. But we all lived through the experience. And now I can check that off my list as something I've done in my life.

Writing on the wall outside Abby Road Studios.
(The actually picture of us walking across the road isn't on my camera so that'll come later.)

After Abby Road, we kind of got split up but Tara, Hannah, Sidney and I went to Portobello Market. Its super close to our house and it's giant. It literally takes up the entire road and just keeps going and going for forever. There were tons of people too. It was really cool though. Lots of antiques, especially antique jewelry. There is a whole food section with fresh fruits and vegetable. There was an entire bread stand with tons of different kinds of bread loafs. There were chocolate covered churro's which I'm sure I'll have to go to with my dad because he is a churro freak. I bought these amazing pictures of London. They were a tad pricey but they are souvenirs I'll actually use so it was worth it too me. We also found scarfs for 1 pound and Tara and I went a little crazy. But not too crazy. I just loved walking around and looking at everything and wishing I had tons of money to buy everything I saw. Also, I just really like markets and this was by far the coolest one I've ever been too.

Then it was home again for some homework and then another walk for class. This walk was around the Soho and Trafalgar Square area. It started at a cute toy museum and a little park. After that it was just a strange walk through some strange parts of town. We saw a lot of XXX show locations, lingerie stores, etc. Probably not a part of town I'll ever visit again. But then it ended at Charing Cross Road (aka where are all the bookstores are) and also where Tara and I found our favorite gelato shop. So of course, we had to get gelato before making the trip back home. =]

Laura, Molly, Sidney, Shelisa, Tara at the toy museum.

Friday, May 6, 2011

where are the candles?

Last nights candlelight concert at St. Martin's-in-the-Field was definitely not what I expected. At all. Let me first explain to you what I had imagined it would be like. First it's a concert right? So I'm thinking it'll be a little local band playing some catchy music and we can all socialize and have a little party. Kind of like a concert in the park type of thing. Then I'm thinking well the location is St. Martin's-in-the-Field. A field people. Once again, concert in the park type thing going on. Then the candlelight part comes in. So I'm assuming that we'd all be given a little candle and it would be super awesome looking and basically it was just all fabulous in my imagination.

Too bad my imagination is a lot cooler than reality sometimes. Here's what actually happened. We get there and it's one of London's many church's. It is not however, a field. Nor is there even any fields around because it 's in the middle of the city. But that's ok. I can live with it being in a church. Their always pretty cool looking on the inside so whatever. Then we take our seats and they are probably the most uncomfortable seats in the whole world. The backs are stick straight (this is a real analogy right? cuz if you think about it, most sticks aren't really straight at all....but anyways, they were extremely straight backed chairs) and the seat part is barely big enough for your butt. But once again, I'm like it's cool. I can live through an hour concert on a crappy chair. No biggy. Well then I find out that the candlelight part is basically a lie. There are like maybe 20 tea light candles around the church. Not enough to make a significant difference in the lighting. And then they don't even turn the lights off, they just slightly dim them. That was definitely a disappointment. But here's the icing on the cake. The whole concert was freaking classical music. Yep, that's right ladies and gentleman. Not what I was expecting at all. Ok, so it's not like I absolutely hate classical music or anything, but the only time I listen to it is when I'm doing homework and I need some non-distracting background noise. Classical music is not my idea of a concert. And here's what happened while said concert was going on. I fell asleep. Sorry music players, but I was really tired and I didn't care so much about your music. Then, just when I think it may be over, they have a 20 minute intermission, followed by another 90 minutes of music. So long.

Alright, alright so it really wasn't the most horrible thing of my life. It just failed to meet my expectations. And according to some person in my study abroad group, going to a concert at St. Martin's is one of the cool things to do when your in London, so at least now I can say I've done it.

Today, Tara, Kaylee and I went to Primark, which is this su[er cheap department store. It was great. Except it was also a freaking madhouse. I ended up buying a bunch of stuff that I will be returning because I was too frustrated to try them on. The line to even get a dressing room was literally 15 minutes long. But it was another good London experience and really, you can't beat their prices. Because it was such a madhouse, we all ended up getting split up and could never find each other, so we all went home on our own. After eating leftovers for lunch, Tara and I headed to the Victoria and Albert Museum, which I have decided is my favorite Museum of any I have ever been too. It was way way cool. Then we headed back home for dinner and I have since spent my night doing homework. I know, it's lame, but I have to get it done sometime.

I decided that I also need to go on a little rant about food. I love it. First of all, my family should be especially proud to know that I have eaten everything that has been put before me. I haven't been picky at all and have just been trying everything. Even for lunch when we go grab something to eat, I just order whatever because I have no idea what it is or what's in it and I just hope that it doesn't make me want to throw up. This has worked out surprisingly well for me. I can honestly say that the only food I wanted to throw up was the split pea soup. Because let's just face the facts, no one wants to eat split pea soup. It's disgusting and there's no way around that. Even the hot dogs we had weren't absolutely horrible, though that's probably because the buns were fabulous. Bread here is seriously amazing. I mean the hamburger and hot dog buns are like rolls. All of the bread is just soo yummy. Last night for dinner, we had fish and chips and once again I surprised myself by not hating it. It really didn't even have a fishy taste and I wouldn't mind eating it again. But let's get down to the really good stuff. Dessert. I will probably leave London weighing an extra 100 pounds. Ok, not really, because that would be disgusting. But they just have the most amazing desserts here. My new favorite place you ask? Gino's gelato. So amazing. Tara and I already decided that it will be a frequent stop, even if we have to take the tube like 5 stops to get there. So anyways, I just had to go on a little rant about how really the food doesn't suck here like everyone says it does and also that I am really proud of myself for being less picky and eating whatever is on the table.

P.S. I'm just going to add a disclaimer that I don't reread any of these posts. I've noticed some spelling errors in some of my other posts and your just going to have to deal with them because although I'm in editing and I do love to edit, I just am not willing to spend the extra time rereading these.