Jun 20, 2008

The Last Time

I'm home now, and while I'm happy to be home, it makes me sad to have left the United Kingdom. For my last post I wanted to make a list of things that are different over there than here; some of them were things that were hard to get used to, or that I just thought were fun or interesting.

*Marshmallows are a big deal over there; they are advertised big deal if they are in something.
*In houses you need to go into a different room to wash your hands after using the bathroom
*Some public toilets cost money (if you can find one!)
*Instead of exit, it's the way out
*People don't talk on their mobiles as much in public
*They are called mobiles
*Everyone smokes
*Prices aren't consistent, you have to shop around a lot
*TJ Maxx is called TK Maxx (never found out why)
*No one talks on the Tube
*There are no drinking fountains, which is really annoying
*Street musicians are called buskers and they are really good! They were my favorite part of riding the Tube. Plus they play the coolest things: harps, plastic buckets, the xylophone, and I even saw a guy pushing his piano down the street
*"At weekends"
*They aren't purses, but handbags. "You're in the mother country now!"
*Everything is under construction!
*Baby nappy changer units
*Surname instead of last name
*Coaches instead of buses
*The cars; I don't think I saw one that was boxy, but all had smooth curves
*Need to turn the outlets on "which is actually a really good idea"
*Rubbish/litter bins
*Social propriety, there is more nudity, sex, and swearing that is acceptable
*No programs at concerts and plays unless you want to pay for them
*Plasters instead of band-aids
*American food is ethnic
*Free newspapers, more than just fluff
*Free museums
*Hen part instead of bachelorette
*To let or For Hire instead of for rent (to let is used for buildings, for hire is objects)
*Ice Cream sold at interval of every play
*Spellings of words; ie, programme, colour
*Toy boy instead of boy toy
*Crisps are chips, chips are french fries
*Pants are underwear, trousers are pants
*Jumper instead of sweater
*Sweets instead of candy
*Poems and scriptures on the Tube
*Interval instead of Intermission
*Pubs instead of bars
*Lollies instead of suckers
*Tanktops are called vests
*Toilet not bathroom (though they do call it a lot of different things; lavatory, loo, toilet)
*Out door markets!
*Car park instead of parking lots, not that there were very many of them
*Magdelan is pronounced "maudlin" at Cambridge and Oxford
*Smoothies are not smoothies, just blended juice

There are more, but I can't remember too many right now. I love you all, and I'm happy to be able to see you all soon.

Jun 15, 2008

Blenheim and Oxford

Happy Father's Day:
Grandpa and Grandpa, Dad, Lloyd, Scott, LaMar, Bryan, Lynn, Adam, Michael, Ken, Cody, Jake, and Patrick. I hope I didn't forget anyone! Happy Father's Day to you all.

This last Wednesday was our last day trip as a group. We went to Blenheim Palace first, which is still the residence of the Duke of Marlborough. It was a beautiful mansion house, with beautiful gardens. It was also the house where Winston Churchill was born, as the Dukes of Marlborough are from the Churchill family. Of course, it was by accident, but he said that it was one of the best decisions he made. We had a really great tour guide for the house, but I would have liked to have more time. We hardly got to see any of the gardens, and the house has a lot of history connected to it--it was used as a boy's school in the War.

After two hours at Blenheim, we headed to Oxford. I loved Oxford! I was able to go into two colleges, Merton which was free, and Christ Church. Christ Church was beautiful and the alma mater of Christopher Wren, and Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll). The main hall was going to be used in the first Harry Potter movie as the Great Hall, but it was too small, so they made an exact replica of the hall and that's what they used. Another cool thing about the Great Hall is if you walk in and count five windows down on the left hand side, you can see a likeness of Alice in Wonderland, as well as the White Rabbit.

Out in the courtyard is Tom's Tower. The tower was built by Christopher Wren to house the bell called Tom. At 9:05 every night Tom rings 109 times. 109 because that was the number of graduates in the first graduating class of Christ Church and at 9:05 because that is what the time is according to Greenwich Meantime. And because it used to b curfew for students of Christ Church. Christ Church also has it's own cathedral which was beautiful.

After Christ Church, I climbed to the top of the University Chapel of St. Mary the Virgin. Oxford is called the "city of spires" and it is! We were able to see almost the whole city from the top of the church. That was fun. Then it was on to Blackwell's! Blackwell's is the largest bookshop in all of England--the basement holds 3 miles of shelving and thousands unpon thousands of books, and that's just the basement! I spent a little too much money there, but it was definitely worth it! I had to get books by both JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis since they both taught there.

After browsing at Blackwell's I went to the Eagle and Child pub which is where every Tuesday morning the Inklings used to meet to discuss their books and the world. The Inklings consisted of Tolkien, Lewis, Lewis's brother, and eventually Tolkien's son Christopher with several others. I probably sat in the very same place they did! How cool is that?!

I went to see Dirty Dancing Thursday night, and on Friday was our country walk with a man in my ward, Bro. Chittock. IF you remember, he was the one who came and talked to us about what it was like being a child during the Blitz. The walk was beautiful! We went to Kent and saw the hops farms, and woods and farmers fields. It was about nine miles and took us in a circuitous route. We spent most of the day doing that.

Yesterday I finally went to Westminster Abbey! It was definitely worth every pound! I loved it and stood among the graves, tombs and memorials of genius. It was amazing. Last night I saw Gone With the Wind the musical in its last night. That was interesting, but I saw the stars and stripes for the first time in 7 weeks! It was an odd feeling, seeing that, here.

Well, I only have about three more days here! Bittersweet feelings. Love you all!

Jun 10, 2008

Brother Chittock's Talk

This probably won't be a very long post, but I just wanted to tell you all about a really cool thing that I got to hear about today. We had a member of our stake, and of my ward, Brother Chittock came to talk to us about what it was life to be a child during the Blitz.

He was about three during the evacuation at the beginning of the war. It was amazing to hear from someone who was actually there, to tell about what it was like. He would talk about how he and his brother would like up at the sky during clear nights in the summer and could see the German pilots and the RAF pilots fighting in the air. He thought it looked like a game; like big fun. It was so interesting and so amazing to hear about how people would just go on with life: walking through rubble on their way to work, and just trying to make it.

I have more notes and interesting facts that I wrote down while he was talking to us, but I just wanted to mention a little bit now. On Friday he is taking us for a walk in Kent and is going to talk a little more to us about the war and other sites of interesting historical value.

Love you all

Jun 9, 2008

Bath, Stourhead, and Stonehenge

Last weekend we went on an overnight trip to Bath. I absolutely loved Bath, it was so beautiful! I feel like I use the word beautiful to describe everything, but all other words escape me and I just can't think of any other way to describe it. The modern day city of Bath was built completely in the Georgian style, so all the buildings and houses are uniform. The first thing we did was go to the Roman Baths, which have been around for thousands of years since the Romans first came and conquered England. They were a bit expensive and as such I wouldn't go again, but if you ever go to Bath, you have to go to the baths. It's interesting, and they are the whole reason that there is a Bath. There were painted pigs all over the city (and the city surrounding it) so as we walked around we tried to keep an eye out for those. We only got 16, but it gave a whole new meaning to our trip in Bath. I also made a visit to the Jane Austen centre, which I didn't tour, but it was my Austen pilgrimage. We just wandered around and looked at the beautiful city and surrounding countryside.

The next morning we headed off to Stourhead, an very large estate. The gardens were designed by a man called Hoare who loved the Neoclassical style instead of the French style of gardening that was a bit more popular. This means that Hoare's garden is more of a wilderness instead of an ordered garden. It was so...breathtaking. The lake, and the greenness of it all, along with the birds singing and the blue sky made it that much better. We followed that path around the garden (which you have to take counterclockwise because that is how it was designed to be walked) and eventually wound up at the Temple of Apollo which was used for the first proposal scene in the new Pride and Prejudice movie. We were only able to go into the house for a few quick minutes because we needed to get on the bus to head off to our next destination, but the Duke of Marbury still lives in the house and therefore we were unable to go upstairs, but it was a beautiful mansion house.

Our next destination was Stonehenge! If ever you decide to go there, a half hour is probably all you would need, but it was a cool place to see. My mate and I came up with several theories of why Stonehenge existed, all of them ridiculous. Because we were a school tour we weren't able to use the audio tour (which seemed strange...why would students want to be educated anyway?) but really, how much could be said about a bunch of really old rocks that no one knows anything about?

Stonehenge was the end of our trip, but when we got back Jessi (my mate) and I went to see the new musical Never Forget which is based on the music by a 90s British boy band by the name of Take That. We had no idea who they were before we went, and we were surprised by how big they apparently were in England! The whole audience was singing along with every single song, and cheering loudly. At the end everyone got up and danced and sang along with the actors. We did too, but we mostly just laughed. It was crazy! But so much fun, and something really completely British.

Love you all and I'll see you in only 10 more days! Ack!

Jun 5, 2008

Greenwich, and Abbey Road

Yesterday Jenny and I went to Greenwich, which is claimed as the "First City in the World" because it is the home of the Prime Meridian of the world. That is where the time zones start and stop. I stood with one foot on either side of the line, which meant that I stood in two different time zones! That was intense! We went to the Maritime Museum and looked at all the ships and stuff, then we went up to the observatory and looked at the clocks. There is supposed to be an amazing fish and chips place by the station for only 3 pounds, but it was so close to dinner time that I didn't want to ruin my dinner--especially since we were going to have calzones! I get fed WAY too good here!

Today we made the trek out to Abbey Road, for our Beatles pilgrimage. I wrote on the wall outside Abbey Road studios, and then we took pictures of ourselves walking across the Zebra. So much fun...though we went down wrong roads twice. And got whistled at by construction workers. Fun fun. You'd think they had never seen a female before.

I've been having a lot of fun here! Seeing plays (including Phantom of the Opera!) and trying to fit everything in that I can.

Love you all!

Jun 2, 2008

The Tower, Cambridge, and Cornwall

This last week was a mighty busy one for me, as are the weeks to follow! There's so much to do and I only have two weeks left! Oh no!

So I started off the week on Tuesday by spending the day at the Tower of London. Oh my gosh! Thank you LaMar! It was amazing! We went on the Yeoman tour, and our guide was really great. We had some problems with helicopters though--there was once when there were two helicopters just hovering over the Thames for about 5 minutes! He was going to talk to us outside, but took us into the Chapel instead. Of course, the minute we went into the Chapel the copters left. So the Chapel was really interesting. In Queen Victoria's time they took up the floors because they were in bad disrepair and they found over 1000 bodies! Some of them headless! Out of them they only identified 33. Among the 33 there was Anne Boleyn, Lady Jane Grey, and Catherine Howard (the one that haunts Hampton Court). They were given a proper burial and now rest under the altar in the chapel. Every week fresh red roses are put on Anne's grave.

After the tour we went off by ourselves and looked at the crown jewels, which were very shiny. I really liked the first room in the jewery. It had a chair for every known monarch of England as well as their crests. After the jewels was the White Tower. The first thing we saw was the place where the bones of the two young princes who were mysteriously kidnapped and murdered were found. Freaky. As we wandered through the White Tower (which is actually a palace) I was thinking how creepy it was that people actually lived there, but then I remembered that back in the day it wasn't creepy because it didn't have the history it does now. Then we went to walk around the walls, and I might have sat in the very window that Lady Elizabeth sat in when she was held prisoner there! You never know! The only thing that we didn't get to see and I wish we could have but I needed to get back for kitchen duty was the Beauchamps Tower. This was the tower that the princes were taken from before they were murdered. But it was a nice day out.

That night we went to see Pygmalion! That was awesome. It's so cool to see things that take place in England and know the places that they are talking about! Or to recognize something in the background.

Wednesday all of us headed out to Cambridge. We went punting on the Cam the very first thing and I think I would have been happy to just sit in the punt and go up and down the river all day! It was so relaxing! We saw a lot of bridges and most of the colleges! We ended up going during one of the worst times because it was exams! We couldn't go into any of the colleges! But we did see King's College Chapel which is the largest open nave in England, meaning that there are no pillars holding the ceiling up. It was a nice day out. That night my friend Jessi and I went to a show in the West End called Into the Hoods. It was AMAZING! It's a hip hop revival of Sondheim's Into the Woods. They told they story using popular hip hop songs (but not just hip hop, other genres as well) and the dancing was so cool. It was very original and the first of it's kind to get into the West End. Next time you're in London, you should try and see it!

The next day was the start of my free weekend. Three of my mates and I decided to head down to Cornwall and stay in Penzance. We went to St. Michael's Mount which is an island that you can walk out to if the tide is low. Unfortunately, the tide wasn't low while we were there, but we were able to walk on the beach, feel the sand beneath our toes, and the water around our ankles. And the castle on the island was fabulous. After that we went to Land's End where there is nothing. I did find out that from that point Provo is 5374 miles away. Sad! It made me a little homesick! But not for too long!

We headed down to Porthcurno beach. It was gorgeous! Nothing could do it justice, it's something you have to see for yourself, but I'll try. Beautiful white sandy beach, water that was a thousand different shades of blue, surrounding by cliffs that were green and red. I swam in the Atlantic Ocean! It was freezing! We ate real Cornish pasties on the beach, then walked up the cliff to see a play at the Minack Theatre. So this theatre was built entirely on a cliff, so as you're watching a play you have the ocean for a background. It was so beautiful.

Unfortunately, all good things have to come to an end, and on Saturday I returned to London. But I like London, it's almost becoming a sort of home to me now. I know that I will miss it when I return to the states.

Today I went to Samuel Johnson's house. He made the first comprehensive English dictionary! Cool guy, but a little obsessed with his cat...
I also walked the entire perimeter of Kensington Gardens. I saw Peter Pan, which made me happy!

Love you all and wish you could share in my joy! See you in two!