Wednesday, September 30, 2009

39 girls do Northern England- Day 5, Liverpool and Chatsworth

Today we were in Liverpool all morning. The first thing we did was head over to Albert Docks. This is where around nine million immigrants left England in search for a new life. Of this nine million many were newly converted Latter-Day Saints heading to America to begin their journey west. A sculpture stands on the docks in honor of all the Mormon families who did this. It was a really powerful experience to be in the place where many of our ancestors began their lives in the church. We sang a verse of "Come Come Ye Saints" and as was expected I was pretty emotional. I just love the pioneers and I forget that for many of them their journey west really began back here in England.
After that powerful experience we did something a little lighter...we went to the Beatles Museum! My dad was so excited I was going to Liverpool because the Beatles were born here, so I was pretty excited to get to that museum. It was really cool and a lot of fun. I came out of there completely educated on the life of the Beatles. They were pretty interesting guys, but I can't deny that their music is timeless and fabulous. I have a feeling it will be around for many years to come. After we gave the giftshop some excellent business we grabbed a quick lunch, boarded the coach, and were on our way to Chatsworth!

      The Beatles Museum!

Chatsworth was amazing! It is an enormous estate that has been around for centuries and still has a Duke and Duchess currently living in it. It is also where scenes from the latest Pride and Prejudice were filmed. We toured the inside of the house first and then went out on the grounds. The rooms were incredible. They were so old, but so timeless, elegant, and classic. I love old estates. I think they're beautiful. We walked through the "statue room" that Kiera Knightley walks through too, so that was a lot of fun.

The Statue Room
The grounds were incredible as well. They have hundreds of acres of gardens, grass, fountains, and scenery. I think I liked the outside even more than the inside. We walked around for a while and took some fun pictures in front of the house. We all felt like we should have been born in that era, wearing Victorian clothing, and living in estates like Chatsworth. We were sad to say goodbye when it was time to leave. Our journey back to London took about 3 hours. We stopped for some dinner at a rest stop and I surprisingly has some really good tomato soup and a grilled cheese. Delicious. When we walked through the doors of 27 Palace Court around 10:30pm  I have never been so happy to be there. We were home! We were tired, and ready to be back in London, but it really was a great week!


39 girls do Northern England, Day 4 Preston

The River Rubble, where the first baptisms occured

Day 4 was filled with church history. We said goodbye to the Lake District and drove to Preston. This is where the first missionaries in England came and preached. We met our tourguide for the day here and he took us all around the city. We saw where the first missionaries preached, where they lived, and where the first baptisms in England took place. He also led us to a Japanese Garden where a plaque was placed in honor of the missionaries that have come through Preston. It was really interesting, but we were all feeling cold and tired so it was a little exhausting.
When we left Preston behind we drove through two smaller towns and ended in Chorley, where the Preston Temple is. It was really cool to see the temple. We were given some time to wander the grounds, take pictures, and just enjoy ourselves. It's always amazing to me to see other temples and realize how huge the Salt Lake temple really is. You could circle this entire temple in under five minutes. Crazy. After that we drove to Liverpool, checked into our final hostel, and were sent on our own to find dinner. We went the most amazing outdoor mall with every shop possible and had Mexican food! It tasted so good. I felt like I was in America and it was a good feeling. That night we fell asleep to Pride and Prejudice. Long, but good day.

       Preston Temple

39 girls do Northern England-Day 3, Dove Cottage and Hilltop Farm


Dove Cottage
This morning we got up, packed up, and headed to Dove Cottage, the home of William Wordsworth. Professor Paxman had read us a few poems by him so it was cool to be in his home and see where he wrote his plays. We were given a guided tour and then were free to wander through the museum and the garden. We were told to be on the bus at 11:15am so we were careful to be on time. Nicole and Brooke, however, weren't as careful and we actually left them behind! I never thought we would actually do that, but clearly I was wrong. We later found out they walked 3 hours to our next hostel. It was kind of funny, but I felt pretty bad about it.

After we left Dove Cottage (and 2 of our girls) we went on a country drive through the Lake District. It was really pretty, but those windy roads were not doing us any good. I was beyond ready to get off the coach when we finished. I think everyone felt the same way. A group of us decided to go to Hilltop Farm aka Beatrix Potter's home. We took a ferry across the lake and then while waiting for our shuttle were fed random snacks by the cute Evans'. I love Professor Evans and his wife Jaelyn. They take such good care of us. I would have gone hungry that day without them.

Hilltop Farm

Hilltop farm was a lot of fun. We saw Beatrix Potter's house and had fun wandering through her gardens. We even saw Peter and Flopsy hopping through the forrest! Not even kidding. A bunch of us bought The Tale of Peter Rabbit in the bookshop as a fun memorabilia. Afterwards Courtney, Cath, and I went on a walk with Jaelyn. She is so sweet. We all just love chatting with her. It was a really gorgeous walk too. I could not get over how green the grass is up there. It's seriously incredible. We were a little chilled so we had some hot cocoa before heading back to our hostel.

Our Family Portrait

This hostel was again satisfactory. I had an amazing view of the lake from my window, and I was in a two person room with Sarah. Courtney, Cath, and I decided to walk to the nearest town just to get out and move around. It was really great. We just window shopped and chatted about life. When we got back we had dinner and started watching You've Got Mail in Cath's room, but of course everyone ended up falling asleep. It was a great day!

Hostel Life

39 girls do Northern England- Day 2, Fountains Abbey

                                                           A Mary Poppins Moment

Today we got up, got dressed, and hit the road for a place called Fountains Abbey. I had no idea what this place was like, but I can now say it is one of the prettiest places I have ever been. We had a short 15 minute walk to the actual abbey, and the walk itself was gorgeous (see pictures above). When we got the abbey I was in awe. It is a bunch of ruins that date back to the 1100s. The monks left York and came here and built it. It's massive, but so beautiful. It is so old that grass has grown within it, on it, and around it. They gave us 2 hours to wander the grounds and enjoy ourselves. We took millions of pictures in the abbey and then Cath, Abby, and I wandered down to the water garden. It was amazing as well. It is a manmade lake that was built in the 1700s. It was so green and peaceful and pretty. There were statues and other structures along the way that made it really neat. I honestly couldn't get enough of it. When it was time to head back to the bus I was sad to say goodbye.



After we left the Abbey we stopped in a small town for lunch. I got a delicious tuna melt panini. Nothing could have tasted better. From there our coach took us to the Lake District. We checked in to our hostel (I roomed with Cath, Courtney, and Jennifer) and then went to town for a few hours. The Lake District is gorgeous. It has the prettiest scenery. There's just green grass, green mountains, and peaceful blue lakes everywhere. Cath, Abby, Kristin, and I ended up wandering through a few of the shops and stopping for a Diet Coke at Costa Coffee. When it was time we drove back to our hostel, ate an adequate dinner, and headed to bed. It was a great day!

39 girls do Northern England-Day 1, York

Bronte Sisters House

Today we left for our big week of traveling. We were up and at 'em at 6am, and out the door at 7am. Abs, Annie, Cath, and I snagged the back row of the bus (with a seat to spare!) and quickly made ourselves comfortable for the long ride. After a long 3 hour drive/nap we arrived at the Bronte sister's house. These three sisters are known for their books such as Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. Surprisingly I haven't read either of them, but I am definitely going to now. It was neat to see where they lived and wrote their famous novels. We were there just an hour or so and then we were on our way to Yorkshire.

York Minster

When we arrived in Yorkshire we went directly to York Minster. It is a huge cathedral. I actually came here last year on my Europe trip '08, but it was much more informative this time around. We had a tour guide take us through the entire building and show us what each room meant and tell us about all the history involved with it. I really enjoyed it. I learned that one of their stain glass windows is the largest in the world. It was getting redone at the time, but looks like it will be spectacular. I wish I could be there to see it when it's complete. After our tour we climbed to the top of the tower. It was freezing, but totally worth it and then we stayed for Evensong. That was a cool experience as well. From there we were sent to go find some dinner and a group of us ended up at McDonald's. It tasted so good. All i really need in life is a Happy Meal with chicken mcnuggets to make me happy...not to mention the toy and ice cream cone I got to top it off! When we finished our luxurious meal we headed to our first hostel. It was actually pretty nice. I roomed with Lauren, Sarah, and Si Cong. There was a common room just down the hall so a bunch of us ended up watching Friends on TV. The episode that Annie and I quote nonstop was on ("You're from Yonkers...your last name is Bufumonteezee!") so it really was the perfect ending to our first day!

On top of York Minster!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Off to Hogwarts!

Dear Mum and Dad,

            I have some news… I know you thought I was coming to London for a BYU Study Abroad, but the truth is I’m a witch. I received my acceptance letter this summer, and I report to Hogwarts on September 18. I made it through Platform nine and three-quarters and am safely riding on the Hogwarts Express right now. I’ll see you at Christmas alright? Don’t worry, I’ll write!



Thursday, September 17, 2009

"As you Like It" and we did.

On Monday night our entire group went to Shakespeare's "As You Like It" at the globe theatre. I was interested to see it because I was the lead in this exact play in 6th grade, and wasn't sure if these professionals could measure up. Unfortunately it barely outdid my childhood performance and really was fabulous. To get there we took the tube to "St. Paul's" and I saw St. Paul's cathedral up close for the first time. It is the most incredible structure. First of all it's massive, and second of all everything down to the last detail is totally precise and perfect. I can't wait to go inside of it. On our way there the lighting was just perfect and there was an amazing sunset. After leaving St. Paul's behind we got to cross the Millennium Bridge (from Harry Potter 6)!
 I was truly loving it. We took a bunch of pictures and I was definitely feeling the Harry Potter magic. Laugh if you want, but I'll never deny HP. Anyways, we eventually made it across the bridge and into the Globe Theatre. It was really cool. It's round, and tall, and I felt like I had crossed into a different century. We got ourselves situated and when the play started I realized that this was going to be a real, legitmate, Shakespeare play. I'm not sure how I forgot that, but I did, and suddenly I was really excited. The play was so good. First of all the actors were great, and second of all it was really funny. I knew it was a comedy, but seeing it come to life makes it that much more apparent...and I laughed a lot. When it was over we wandered back to our home and called it a night. Oh Shakespeare...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

We went to India...In London.

On Friday we took an interesting trip to Southall. I say interesting because to be quite honest I didn't really like it. It's basically the India inside of London. Our first stop here was the Sikh Temple. We had to covere our heads with scarves, remove our shoes, and enter their temple room and sit there for 20 minutes. I didn't really get much out of it because I didn't really understand it. I learned here that I hate Indian food as well. We had to eat a blob of brown goo (made out of wheat, butter, brown sugar, and flour) after exiting the temple and I literally had to gag it down. It gets better too...we went down the stairs and were given an entire tray of food. I think I maybe had 2 bites before giving up and returning my tray. It really just didn't sit well with me at all. After leaving the Sikh temple we made our way to a Hindu Temple. Again, it was hard for me to grasp a whole lot when I don't understand the culture or religion at all. I did my best though, to get out of it what I could. From there we had to go to larger more elaborate Hindu Temple. By this point I was just ready to put this all behind me so a group of us hurried over there, got in, got out, and headed to McDonald's. I wish I was kidding, but I'm really not. On the way there we did look through a few shops and bought some self-serve hena though. When we got there I ordered myself a chicken nugget happy meal and finally felt at home. We spent the next hour in there talking, eating, and creating hena designs on our hands. It was the best part of my day. At 5pm we met up with the rest of the group at an Indian Cuisine retaurant. Great... Luckily I was pretty full from my Happy Meal so I just tried a few dishes (none including curry). At 6pm things finally turned around when we left Southall and headed to Hyde Park for the Peter Pan performance. It was amazing! I already have a love for Peter Pan and this was no exception. It was inside a large round tent so they were able to project scenery on the ceiling, fly, and just do amazing and creative things. I was so happy to be there. It made me feel like my day was actually worth something. When it was over Catherine and I walked back to the flat and went to bed totally exhausted from a culturally exhausting day.


On Wednesday we had our first day trip to Dover and Canterbury. Catherine and I got up early and went for a morning run aka sprint because we had to hurry so we could shower and eat breakfast. It was intense, but definitely worth it. At 8am we were on the coach (as they say in England) and on our way to Dover. Mandi, LeAnn, Abby, Cath, and I managed to snag the back row, so we enjoyed getting seated and comfortable for the 2 hour drive. I predictably fell asleep almost immediately and woke up as we were arriving at the Dover Castle completely refreshed and ready to get going. They gave us 2 hours to wander the grounds and castle and we happily took advantage. Everyone was full of energy and wanting to take pictures every 15 was great. Really though, we were having a lot of fun. I think the change of scenery had everybody really excited and revived from the city. As we continued making our way toward the castle the 5 of us went to an "Admiral Lookout" as they called it and it was absolutely admiral. We decided to have a "Dover photo shoot". It was too hard to resist with the wind blowing, the tripod waiting, and self-timer so conveniently placed on our cameras. We were sitting, laying, standing, posing, and just having a fabulous time. Well we eventually made it up to the castle where we met the "Dover King". He was very serious about his job and forced us to remain below him at all times. After we left him behind we climbed to the top of the castle and took some more pictures, of course! The wind was getting the best of us though, so we did the best we could. At 12:30pm we met back at the coach and enjoyed our sack lunches on the way to the beach. The beach was beautiful. We had a perfect view of the famous Whitecliffs of Dover, and you could even see the coast of France across the English Channel. After wandering around there for a little while we hopped back on the coach and had quick drive to Canterbury.

Canterbury was a charming little town with lots of shops and lots of people. The best part about it though was the famous cathedral. It's massive, and so old, and beautiful. We were lucky enough to get a tour of it from the sweetest old man. He took us through every inch of it and explained all the history behind it. We learned about the monks, the kings, and how the architecture and stain glass windows came to be. I really enjoyed it. By the time we were finished it was time to head back to the coach. Catherine and I made a quick stop by McDonald's to pick up a Diet Coke with extra ice (of course), and then we hopped on the coach and were on our way. When we got back to our flat everyone was pretty hungry so we all went out in search of food. Cath and I picked up some tomato mozerella sandwiches from a cafe down the street and it tasted delicious. I went to bed that night exhausted, but totally happy with the day we spent in Dover and Canterbury.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Life as a Londoner

On September 2, 2009 I became an official resident of 27 Palace Court, and since then life has been amazing. Catherine and I were put in Dorm 3. It's perfect for us because it holds 14 girls, has a view of the street, and is just simply the best room. We're both on top bunks on opposite sides of the room. My bunkmate's name is Mandi and she is hilarious. From the first second we met I knew that we were going to have the best time together. Cath's bunkmate is LeAnn and she's beyond great too. The four of us clicked right away and by day 3 I felt like I'd known them for ten years. I love it. There are a ton of other cute girls too. All the girls in our room are so fun. Abby got put upstairs, but she's down here a lot so it's all working out. In the past week we've explored the streets, gone running in Hyde Park, figured out the tube, seen multiple museums, taken a night run to Big Ben, eaten cupcakes on Portobello road, celebrated a birthday, gone to church, eaten too much cake, stayed up late chatting and doing crunches, attempted doing homework, shopped, and laughed and laughed and laughed. I can't believe it has really only been 7 days. I already feel right at home and like I've lived here for years. It's fabulous! Some favorite rituals we're beginning to have are Treat Day Fridays, one pound grapes, DC runs, computer time, and quoting every Friends episode imaginable. LeAnn and I literally talk about a different one every day. The birthday we celebrated on Saturday was Mandi's. My bunkmate is 20! A group of us went to Wagamama's for dinner and had birthday cake afterwards. It was a ton of fun. At church on Sunday I found out I will be going to the Lee Valley ward. I don't know much about it, but I do know there is a large Primary and Young Women's so I will probably be serving in one of those areas. I am really excited about it! Classes started on Monday and they are going to require a lot of hard work. I think I forgot that coming to London included actual school. I'm in Humanities, Shakespeare, Biology, Religion, and Cultural Studies. Clearly the fact that we're in London does not mean school isn't just as hard as it would be at home. I better get ready to hit the books! But besides that all I can say is London is proving to be incredible so far! I wouldn't choose to be anywhere else right now! I just love it!