May 22, 2008

Hampton Court

Yesterday, being Wednesday, was our trip to Hampton Court. The way our professors were talking, we thought we would be there for a couple hours, but we ended up spending the whole day and were even late for dinner!

Hampton Court was built during the reign of Henry VII by Cardinal Wolesy (who fell from the King's favor when he told Henry he couldn't have a divorce). Wolesy told Henry that it was fit for a king, and therefore Henry took it over. We started our audio tour in the Great Hall, which I had always pictured as being bigger, but it wasn't that large at all. There were tapestries on the walls that Henry had bought to show off his money; they were made with real gold and silver thread. IT was hard to tell that fact, because they had become very faded over the years (as compared to the tapestries in the private rooms which were still bright and colorful). We went through all of Henry's rooms, in the Tudor part of the house, ending with the "haunted" passageway. When Henry accused his fifth wife, Catherine Howard, of adultery, the guards came to take her to the Tower of London to be executed. In that passageway it's said that she broke away from the guards and ran down it, begging her husband for mercy. She was eventually executed for treason, but her ghost is said to haunt the hallway. They have a video of it on Youtube, I believe, if you'd like to see her ghost. The ghost of Jane Seymour, who died giving birth to Henry's only son, is also said to haunt the the palace.

The house is built in several different parts. When Willliam and Mary of Orange became the King and Queen after Charles I, they liked Hampton Court so much that they wanted to add to it. So the front is Tudor and part was built by Christopher Wren (who designed St. Paul's Cathedral), and part if Georgian. In on of William's bedrooms (which had beds but weren't used so much as bedrooms as they were for meetings with the highs and mightys) there is a picture of Venus. It seems that she is looking toward the bed when you first walk in the room, but as you move across the room, she "follows" you and by the time you reach the opposite door, she is staring at the fireplace which is opposite the bed. That was pretty darn cool!

The last thing we saw inside the house was the kitchens. Did you know that geese were considered fish? I don't remember the reason, but I thought it was pretty odd. Our director's wife saw us as we were exploring the kitchens, and she told us that she thought cooking for 50 was bad, until she learned that the cooks at Hampton Court regularly cooked for 600 or more! And without the modern conveniences that she enjoys! Craziness.

After the house we went out into the gardens. The is a maze about a third of an acre in area, which is the only remaining part of the garden from William of Orange's time. The object is to get to the centre and back out again. It was a lot of fun, and we did make it to the center! We got stickers on the way out--hooray! We spent a lot of time in the rose garden as well, but then we saw that time and had to head home.

I'm still loving it in London, and I hope that everyone is having a great time back at home. Remember, if you want pictures, ask Mom.

May 19, 2008

Scotland and York

I would just like to apologize to everyone for not blogging in a while. To make up for it, here is a really long post about my four day trip to Scotland and York!

Last week was a good week to be gone because our hot water at the Centre had stopped working on Monday. I found out the hard way on Tuesday morning when I hopped in on the shower. Jessi (a friend of mine that I met on the trip) and I decided to brave the coldness and take a shower at 3:30 Wednesday morning. I was out before her, and when she turned off the shower, she said, "Whitney? That was SO not worth it!" I wholeheartedly agreed!

We left at four in the morning, so the first hour or so on the train was me sleeping, but eventually I talked to Jessi, and Jenny (another companion on our trip) most of the way there and looked at the English countryside. When we reached Edinburgh, all fifty of us trudged from the train station to our Hostel. Our hostel was really nice; brand new, and HOT water! Yay! We dropped off our stuff in our rooms and made our beds before we went on a "small" hike that Dr. Talbot had planned for us. This included walking up to the Royal Mile, then down in until we reached the new parliament building, and on to the Crags. We walked up the hill to Arthur's Seat, from which we could see all of Edinburgh. I never knew it was so big! It was beautiful and the sun came out and shown in the blue sky for us! The only time we saw it the whole trip! After walking down the mountain, we just walked along the Royal Mile and looked in at shops. We stopped in at a Christmas Shop because Jenny collects ornaments and we found out that the shopkeeper is LDS! It was really cool to just randomly meet someone all the way over here that is a member of the church!

I went to a pub for dinner and I ate HAGGIS! We asked the bartender if he actually liked Haggis, and he said that "if it's down properly, it's gorgeous!" We were all too scared to actually order it, but he brought out some for us to try and it wasn't that bad! That was quite exciting and my first pub experience. There wasn't much to do after dinner because everything closes at five in Edinburgh, unless you want to get drunk (which we didn't), so we headed back to the hostel. Besides, we were exhausted!

The next morning we went to Edinburgh Castle to see the changing of the guards which they were doing because it was the Church of Scotland's general assembly. It was really cool! Bagpipes (speaking of which there is this CD for sale in all the souvenir shops called the Red Hot Chilli Pipers--bagpipes playing popular rock songs, very entertaining) and Scottish soldiers in kilts (speaking of kilts some of the boys in our program bought some and wore them that night)! After the changing were went to the Tartan Mill and I found the Salmon tartan! It's called the Perthshire District, and unfortunately I was unable to buy some because they said they would have to order it, but you can look at it here: It's the red one.

We just spent the day wandering around Edinburgh again. We went into New Town to eat lunch at Jenner's and to go to the National Gallery, and then we headed back to Old Town and went to the writer's museum were we learned a lot about Robert Louis Stevenson. Did you know that he spent some time in Monterey CA, and that is wife is American? And on his birth certificate his middle name is LEWIS, but he changed it when he went to France to LOUIS. I bought Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde while there since Stevenson is from Edinburgh. I ate sponge pudding, which isn't a pudding at all, but a cake, and then we headed back out on the town. The Scots are a lot friendlier than the English, but they still thought we were crazy! In fact, they probably thought we were drunk, we were singing songs and prancing down the streets. Funny thing about Edinburgh, it never gets dark! It was 9:30 at night and it was still REALLY light out. They said that in the northern part of the country is really does stay light all night long during this part of the year.

The next morning we had to wake up early again to catch our train to York. Our hostel in York was established in the 50s and I don't think anything has been changed about it in the past 50 years. We put our bags away and then a small group of us went with one of our professors and his family to go on a walking tour. At first, we were all wondering what there was to do in York for two days, but the walking tour was so amazing that all doubts were taken from our minds! We walked along the old Roman walls and learned how the walls were built on by several different groups of people. Very cool. And it was a good way to get to know the city. Guy Fawkes was born in York...on my birthday too! After the tour we ate at a cute little tea room on Shambles. I think I'm going to come home a little heavier than I left--there is way too much yummy food! Especially chocolate!

In York I went to see the minster (which is the fifth church to be built on that site, and it took over 400 years to be built) during evensong, and to see the Scarlet Pimpernel at the Royal Theatre. I only paid 5 pounds and it was 5 pounds worth of entertainment, unfortunately. I also had my first real English breakfast! It was really good! And for lunch the second day I had a Cornish pasty. I can't believe that I hadn't ever had one before!

As fun as this trip was we were all excited to get back "home" to the Centre. I wanted to take a shower, but we learned that there wasn't any hot water yet! Oh no! So I had to take a shower in the professor's flats. A lot more happened, and if you want, e-mail Mom and Dad and they can send you pictures and a more detailed account.

Love you and miss you all!

May 2, 2008

Big Ben and the London Eye

So yesterday we walked around Parliament, Westminster Abbey, and Lambeth. It was so beautiful, and the day was gorgeous (which from what I hear is a lot better than I can say for Utah!). It did rain, but I have decided that God meant London to be wet, because as beautiful as London is, it is more beautiful when it's wet.

We walked along the Thames, and even though I don't think it is usually called beautiful, I think it is. We were able to walk along the Tower Bridge, and the London Bridge, and the Lambeth Bridge, and the Westminster Bridge. I was able to get several views of the London Eye, from several differen bridges. I also got a lot of beautiful pictures of Parliament and Big Ben. I even heard Big Ben chime!

Congrats Lloyd on your new granddaughter! She is beautiful! I would love to hear anymore exciting news!

May 1, 2008

The London Centre gets Wicked

Hey everyone! So, I wanted to share a little bit about where I'm staying!

The BYU London Centre is an old building in Kensington that has served many uses. Shackleton lived here, and it was a hospital during WWII and even survived the air raids when many of the surrounding houses were damaged. It's a beautiful building, about five stories high (unfortunately for our boys who have to live on the fifth floor). My room is just off the front entrance. There are rumors of a hidden treasure, and a ghost! (Sorry about the picture...I'm still trying to figure this whole blogging thing out!)

Yesterday we all went to see Wicked. It was an amazing musical. My favorite part was probably during the end of the song "Defying Gravity" and Elphaba was hoisted up. All that was lit was her face and upper body, and it was very haunting.

I'm getting the hang of the Tube system now, and even rode on my first double decker bus yesterday. I'm starting to recognize some places, but I've been around a lot of London, and everytime there is something new and exciting to see! On my next post I will put up some more pictures of the things I saw today!

Love you all!