Sunday, November 18, 2012

a horse named louise.

Life is not complete unless you play soccer.

So, after much careful deliberation and consideration, there has been a change of plans for this week. It is Thanksgiving Break and we don’t have classes all week! I was planning to go to Ireland with some of the girls in the program but we decided it would be just fine to stay here in London. It gives me more time to explore as well as an excuse to come back in the future!

So, that Wednesday we got to Edinburgh (if I remember correctly…) and were able to explore a bit before it got too late. It is such a beautiful city, its relatively small and straight cobblestones everywhere.

The next day, we got a tour in the morning from a BYU alumni living in the area. We mostly saw Harry Potter sites—for example, The Elephant House, the cafĂ© where J.K. Rowling first started writing the series. After the tour we went to Edinburgh Castle, where we could see all of Edinburgh, the Firth of Forth, and it was so beautiful. It was super windy, so in my opinion, the weather was perfect. The castle was so awesome, we got a little tour that some of us just hopped into and followed the group. I love Scottish accents; they’re really hard to do. Try it, you’ll struggle.

I really loved Edinburgh. The people were really friendly, the city was walkable, and the sites were gorgeous. We went to a pub the second night and it was so fun! All of the pubs have cool backstories of how they got their names. The one we went to was called Maggie Dickson. She was hung in the square where the pub is built, along with quite a few other buildings, because she was accused of witchcraft. BUT when they buried her, she was actually still alive and was screaming to get out of the coffin. So they took her out and let her live because they decided it was the ‘will of God’ that she wasn’t actually killed. All the pubs apparently have some sort of story like that.

The 9th of November, we got to York earlier than we had anticipated so we got to walk around before it got too dark. The days are getting way shorter really quickly so daylight is getting sparse. Okay so that hotel we were at? BEAUTIFUL. It was such a nice commodity, especially having stayed in a hostel in Edinburgh; which wasn’t actually as bad or as scary as people were making it up to be. So the hotel was really nice and I could’ve stayed there another five nights.

But that evening, we walked around the medieval wall, explored some botanical gardens, found Shambles which is the oldest street in York apparently, got dinner at a Cornish Pasty shop, went to Evensong at York minster, and rode on the Wheel of York at night and the view was phenomenal. York is a really cool town…city? Either way, it has a lot to offer.

On our way back to London on that Saturday, we stopped in Haworth to see the Bronte house and in Derbyshire to see an old cotton mill. We’ll be reading Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte, for the big English class and for the smaller English class we just finished reading North and South, an industrial novel by Gaskell that involves a cotton mill. Hence why we stopped at those places. They were both really cool, but I was excited to get back to London. It was a long week.

The Church is still true and I love my ward. They have such strong testimonies and they’re so kind.

Monday, we went on a London walk after classes, through South Kensington just on the other side of Hyde Park. Tuesday, for the elective English class, we went to Kensington Palace to see the ‘Victoria Revealed’ exhibit. The palace is basically in Hyde Park so the walk there and back was gorgeous. The exhibit is all about Queen Victoria, which makes sense since that class is Victorian literature. The exhibit was so intense and I loved learning about her and her life and influence. The love story between her and Prince Albert is the most beautiful thing ever, and that’s coming from me. Not a romantic in the least. At most a closet romantic, but that’s still pushing it.

On our way back to the Centre, we walked through Kensington Gardens. I was with two of my friends and they had me jump so they could take a picture of it. They both got pretty good ones. My professor, who had just turned the corner, got the best one. How embarrassing.

Anyway. Wednesday, we went to the Tower of London! We saw the Crown Jewels, went through some really cool exhibits about the warfare back in the day, and enjoyed the general hype of being at another really old and famous castle-like structure.

Oh dear, it’s getting late. My word choice and sentences are getting worse and worse.

I’ll try to power through this.

Thursday, we had classes basically all day. I love the Religion class—I am so uneducated in the history of the church and plan on working on that, hopefully actually retaining the information.

Friday, we had a day trip to the Anne Hathaway Cottage, wherever that was, and Shakespeare’s house and Nash’s house in Stratford-upon-Avon. It was really cool to actually see the town and walk the streets. The guides at the Hathaway house were so nice and really knew their stuff. In Stratford-upon-Avon, every little shop and store had something Shakespeare in it.

A lot of the experience here is just walking and seeing the places. It’s hard to explain how that feels, so that’s why I take an absurd amount of pictures. Most of which will never make it to this blog but we can pretend. Just imagine cobblestone streets and a mix of old and new buildings.

Saturday, a fairly large group of us went to Holland Park and played soccer. In the mud. Everyone fell at least once. Of course, I fell at least five times. I was told that I had the best falls, which I’m not sure if I should be proud of or not. I think it was just because the first time I fell, my legs swung out from underneath me and I literally was parallel to the ground with some crazy amount of hang time. Then I fell on my side and was COVERED in mud. It was ridiculously fun.

That evening I went with some girls (because that is all there is here. Just girls. I’m dying a little bit) to a Christmas market in South Bend, right by the Thames in sight of the London Eye and Big Ben. We window shopped, went on a carousel, ate some food, and had a really good time. I felt like I was five years old riding that carousel on a horse named Louise. Oh, the joys of being a college student.

Today, I went to church on my own because the two girls I usually go with couldn’t come. One wasn’t feeling well and the other went to a closer ward because her mom is in town. A lot of families of students are visiting since we don’t have classes. Anyway, church was great, as usual. There was a girl visiting one of the girls in the ward from Stockholm, Sweden. She’s originally from Provo but lives in Sweden for some reason. I went to talk to her and ask her if she knew my friend who is serving his mission in Stockholm. Well turns out, though she doesn’t know him, she knows one of my friends in the program! Small world! My friend on his mission, Elder Dillon Papenfuss, was the front page of a local newspaper in Stockholm. It was all about missionaries, their lifestyle, and their work. I’m so proud of him and even wrote him last night!

London is wonderful. I stay up talking with some of the greatest people I’ve had the chance to meet; I see world famous sites, walk some of the oldest streets in the area, experience places, cuisines, and opportunities I never thought I would. It’s crazy to think that I only have less than a month left here!

So no one has asked any questions about anything so I’m assuming that I’m covering most of my bases here. Really, feedback is appreciated. If you want to know more about something, ASK! And I really tried to upload pictures...but the internet is soo spotty. I apologize. I know since there aren't pictures that only two or three people will actually read this post to here. I appreciate you for that.

25 days until I come home. 36 days until Christmas. 41 days until 2013. 84 days until my 20th birthday.

Man, I’m getting old.

There ya go.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

lake district.

Life is a perfect time to go skinny dipping.
So, these aren't really in chronological order... But they kind of are. For the most part. Also there are some from this past week that I haven't posted about yet but you can just enjoy them anyway. Sorry about the scatterbrained nature of this post but I am struggling right now and can't think of all the pictures I've been wanting to post up so I just picked some!
Dover Castle!

Fulham v. Everton football match! They tied and went into overtime. Soccer is where it's at.

Finally got on one of the lions...

M&M world! It was giant and it was awesome.

After we died our hair! You can't really tell in this picture but you can in some of these next ones.
Preston Temple, in Northern England! It was wonderful to be there and I can't wait for our day trip to the London temple!

Our walking tour of Preston, England. This is near the spot where the first baptisms were performed in the UK.

This is the house where President Gordon B. Hinckley lived when he was here.

Castlerigg Stone Circle formation on our way to Edinburgh today! One of my better poses...

Hadrian's wall! These girls are so amazing.

The other day when we went on a walk in Ambleside. SO COOL! This was recommended to us by our professors and it wasn't very hard, but slightly long. It was one that Wordsworth apparently went on while he lived here.

Also on our walk. Again, one of my better poses...
We're at our Bed and Breakfast in Ambleside! It was quaint, perfect, and I loved it.
This isn't a whole lot of detail but Monday morning we left and stopped in Preston to see the temple and other church history sites. It was really cool to see and hear about what happened here. Then we went to Ambleside, in the Lake District, and stayed there two nights. I would go there again in a heartbeat, it was gorgeous. No wonder Wordsworth is such a boss. Mostly we went on walks in the town, and on suggested hikes, and went to a Wordsworth workshop in Dove Cottage with important and really accomplished scholars. Dream come true right there. And in the LAKE DISTRICT no less.
This morning we left and made our way to Edinburgh, Scoland, stopping at Castlerigg Stone Circle where it was muddy, Hadrian's Wall where it was raining, and Carlisle for lunch. It was so much fun!We're here for tonight and tomorrow night, then off to York Friday morning for a night.
I am living the life. I am so happy to be here. Please feel free to ask questions or make requests of what you want to hear more about or what pictures you would want to see more of, etc. Let me know!

Obviously I was really excited about seeing Phantom. But really, I was. I feel obligated to see the movie now, but I don't think it would be as good. Oh well.

There ya go.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

black cherry.

Life is full of unexpected events.

A lot happened yesterday so I decided to share it all now before we head up North tomorrow morning.

Saturday was one of the best days I’ve had here so far. We started our day by finishing the theatre walk. Well, we stopped by Ben’s Cookies, a talked up bakery shop that we obviously had to try. It exceeded expectations.

We started near Trafalgar Square at M&M world. It is the largest M&M store in the world, supposedly. It was rival to Disneyworld as the happiest place on earth. The music was fun, the entire place inside and out was brightly colored, and I couldn’t stop smiling the whole time we were in there. So really, for a largely decent amount of time. It was literally a kid in a candy shop feeling, as well as situation.

We walked through Trafalgar Square and got pictures with the lions, of course. I wish it would’ve been recorded how pathetic and ridiculous I looked as I struggled to get up on top of the lion. After at least ten minutes I ended up getting there…and facing the wrong way.

Eventually I got turned the right way, with some difficulty, and then we continued on our way. The next area we were in was London Chinatown—it smelled amazing and it was so cool to see the extent of the variety of cultures that London has.

From there we made our way to Fulham via double-decker buses for the Fulham v. Everton football match. You must realize that I LOVE soccer. Football. Whatever. Either way, it’s the world’s favorite sport. It’s my favorite sport. I’ve already bought a soccer ball here and plan on picking it up again once I get back Winter semester, as well as continuing trying to play in Hyde Park every so often. We’ve only been able to do that once, but when we did, it was SO much fun. There were only seven of us and it was completely muddy and full of potholes.  How many times did I fall? Whatever you guessed, it was definitely more.

Here would be an awesome picture of me at the game. But the pictures just won't load. Super lame.

ANYWAY. Yeah, soccer is the best thing ever and I absolutely love going to games, let alone a premier league game in London. You remember how I said to get to my heart, you go through my stomach? Well, another way is to take me to soccer games. Then you’re set. Ooh, even better—get me food while at a soccer game.

The atmosphere was so energizing. The majority of the crowd was, on a scale from slightly to stumbling, intoxicated. The conversations I overheard were interesting, the noise level was invigorating, and the game was SO AWESOME! They never challenge each other, (and let’s be real, that’s on more of a lower level of skill—why risk losing possession when you can pass? But at the same time that’s when the good stuff happens) and when they actually do, they flop like crazy. And that is just annoying. Besides that, it reminded me that soccer guys are the way to go. I already knew that but it was a nice reminder. Bonus, the ratio was finally in our favor! There were definitely more guys than girls in the stands. I think that was the first time since being here that that has happened. That added to the already soaring heights of excitement.

We got watery hot chocolate and some really freaking good cheeseburgers while we enjoyed watching one of the most wonderful spectacles ever.

We made our way back to the center via the buses and stopped for dinner along the way. Note to self and everyone else—when you go to a place called ‘Waffle Palace’, don’t get a Panini. Get a waffle.
Or a milkshake! Or both. Anything but a Panini.

Backstory really quick. For the past couple years, one of my closest friends has been telling me if I dye my hair again, I should try for an auburn or burgundy color. I always brushed it off, not really thinking I would want to go through that process again. One of my good friends here has been talking up about dying our hair next semester when we get back to BYU with a two month dye that just washes out over time. I agreed to this deal and we’ve been looking forward to it. BUT.

So during our walk that morning, we found a little convenience store that caught our attention so we stopped in it. We looked around and lo and behold—temporary hair dye, comes out in 28 washes.

My friend looked at me, looked at the dark brown hair dye, and back to me. I looked at her, looked at the black cherry hair dye, and looked back at her. EASY.

So when we got back to the center that night, we had a hair dying party.

You'll just have to skype me to find out what my hair looks like because the picture won't load.
That was my Saturday! I had so much fun!

Today was Fast Sunday and one of the best Sundays I’ve had here as well. This weekend just rocked. In my ward there were three boys who announced their mission calls—I’m pretty sure that was the entirety of the Young Men. But how cool is that! They’re all going to different missions within England. I’m so excited for them. I don’t know their names but I’m still so excited. AND there was a baby blessing! And the testimonies that were shared were amazing. I am so grateful for the people in my ward and the opportunity I have to see their strength as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. They’re inspirational.

I was able to Skype for a couple hours with a good friend I made in Oregon from the summer after church and it was great! We hadn’t spoken in a while and it was fun to swap adventures, mine from London and other places we’ve been in Europe and his from his schooling and residing in Japan.

Tomorrow we are leaving to meander up north. I’ll be sure to try and blog quite a bit this week, if the internet permits.

Here are a few random things to know about where we are, what we do, and how we do it:

Tesco and Marcs and Spenser’s are the places to go grocery shopping. They’re close, cheap, and have the basics. If we want to go shopping for clothes of any kind, Primark is the place to go. It’s HUGE—imagine a classy Wal-mart without the crazies and cheap quality. Oxford Street has Primark and plenty more shopping opportunities.

I’ve still been keeping missionary hours to the best of my abilities and it’s worked out really well so far! I’ve also started preparing for a mission by reading Preach My Gospel and I love it.

We still take tour buses for day trips, though Peter is dearly missed. Bueno bars are one of the best chocolate bars ever. I really like Crunchies, too. It’s like honeycomb covered in chocolate. They have a lot more Cadbury chocolates here as well. Galaxy bars are also a prime choice. Pad Thai is delicious almost anywhere you go and it’s still one of my favorites.

The Tube is…an experience. It breaks down quite frequently, it gets overcrowded often, and is usually really hot. Some stations require you to go down two or three escalators to get to the train and there are ads everywhere for all sorts of things.

That’s all I can think of right now. I’m going to be in Scotland this week.

There ya go.

Friday, November 2, 2012


Life is better lived conscientiously and right now—don’t wait for tomorrow on something you could start today.

Well, it’s been a while. Again.

So the twenty-seventh, last Saturday, we were invited by the local stake to participate in preparing a local private school to be re-painted. Quite a few of our program went and we cleaned classrooms, cleaned walls and windows, taped edges and window panes, and started the painting. It was really fun and it felt great to help out in the local community.

The one picture I'm actually able to upload and it's not even a cool one.

Sunday, I finally got to attend my own ward!! It was so exciting! It took about forty minutes to get there via the Tube. The church building is really small, at least compared to most buildings in the States.
Here would be a picture of the church building, but, again, the internet is awful.

It really was just a chapel and a hallway that went into classrooms. The ward is so wonderful and I didn’t even get the opportunity to talk with many of the members. Funny story! Well it’s not a haha-funny but oh-what-a-small-world kind of funny. One of the guys there introduced himself when we first arrived and asked who we are, where we’re from, etc. Turns out he’s from Kent, Washington and when I asked him if he knew any Self’s, he said, “Oh Adam and Chris? No, not at all.” I already knew he and I would be friends due to his blatant use of sarcasm. He apparently was in the same ward as them! Crazy.

Monday, we went on a walk for our class, after going to our music class of course. It was the ‘Legal London’ walk. Basically through the area of where law firms and schools are, lots of businesses and offices, lots of attractive men in nice, clean cut suits. It was great!

We stopped at the Guildhall Museum and I saw a statue that I just became obsessed with immediately. It’s called Mignon by E Roscoe Mullins, based off of a character in a Goethe novel, “Willem Meister’s Apprentice”. She was just so life-like, I felt as though she was just going to start talking to me at any moment. She was mesmerizing and I can’t say exactly what it was.
You should just Google her. This is where her picture would be.

So, I’ve never seen the movie Phantom of the Opera all the way through. Yet Tuesday night, I went and saw a play/musical performance of it at Her Majesty’s Theatre. It was so indescribably awesome. The singing was angelic; the music in general was just pulsing through the crowd; the entire auditorium was just fabulously decorated and I loved it.

There would be a picture of me at the Theatre here, but there's not.

On Wednesday, Halloween, we went on another walk. Well, at least we got most of it done. It was through the Theater District of London. We didn’t dress up in costumes, I feel as though we were touristy looking enough. It was a chilly day, very blue skies with plenty of wind, and we stopped by Starbucks to get pumpkin spice steamers—it’s kind of our thing right now. It’s just pumpkin spice and steamed milk. It tastes like autumn and warms up the soul.

On one side of a building we walked by had pictures and short biographies of famous and otherwise influential people. It was interesting to see history literally written on the walls of London. In the courtyard of the Somerset House there is the making of an outdoor ice skating rink. How cool is that!

Further along the walk we found Drury Lane but did not see the muffin man. Slightly disappointing but I got over it fairly quickly.

I took a picture with the sign. It's really exciting. And not here.

My favorite part of the walk was the Covent Garden area. The streets around the square had lights and other decorations strung across from building to building, preparing for Christmas. The square itself was lined with shops and had even more shops and stands in the middle of it. It was quite crowded and the air was extremely thick with excitement. In the back of the square was a giant Christmas tree! It was during the day so the lights weren’t on, but it was still gorgeous. And huge.

Yay Christmas!

We finished our day in Trafalgar Square at the National Gallery. We only were able to see a few rooms due to time constraints but it was fantastic nonetheless. We had to be back an hour before dinner so I could fulfill my 10 days of being a part of the kitchen crew! Basically, about six other students and I help set up for dinner and breakfast and do the cleaning up afterwards.

Thursday was full of academia. A mid-term, 19 chapters to read for another class, and going to our religion class to end up conducting the class before turning the time over to our teacher. In between, I was able to go on a run through Hyde Park. I’m sure you’re sick of my repetition of saying this but it was gorgeous. The sky was fairly clear and blue; the trees were all sorts of colors, partially or fully changed, some even completely bare already. I’m convinced that everyone here owns at least one dog and they’re all cute dogs. Even the ‘ugly’ ones are adorable. I’m hoping this trend will overflow to the States.

Today, we took a trip to Dover and Canterbury. In Dover we were just in the castle and it was awesome! It was exciting to be in the town where the poem Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold was based off of, considering I just studied it again in one of the English classes I’m in. We went on a tour of the old wartime tunnels underneath the castle. I couldn’t take any pictures but we learned a lot about what they were used for and the buildup they were a part of leading up to WWII. The castle itself was awesome—my apologies, I’m running out of adjectives due to how I always write these blogs late at night. Problems of a student in London, right? Anyway, my favorite part of the castle was being up in the tower. The view was spectacular and I loved the wind, despite the already cold day.

Google Dover Castle, too. Imagine I'm in every picture that uploads.

Canterbury was just as cool—we went to the Canterbury Cathedral and took a guided tour with a Colin Stevens, an older gentleman with a vast knowledge of the history of the town and cathedral. If you have never read Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, I highly recommend it. It’s lengthy but certain stories are surprisingly, and sometimes scandalously, entertaining. Canterbury is, in short, a place where thousands of pilgrimages are made every year by people from all around the world. They come seeking miracles from visiting the crypt of Archbishop Thomas Beckett, one of the first Archbishops of the church when it was restored in whatever year that it happened. He was greatly revered in life and even still in death. His story was so interesting and I’m glad I got to hear it from someone who knew so much about it.

Google, again. Sorry guys, this isn't working out as nicely as I would've hoped.

I am so lucky to be here and am so grateful for this opportunity and those who’ve helped me to get here. Tomorrow we are going to a football match, Fulham v. Everton. Next week we have our week long trip up north, through parts of Scotland and northern England. The week after that we have classes, the next week is our Thanksgiving break, after that is our last two weeks of classes, and the last week is finals. That is a total of six more weeks here and only three of those weeks are going to have classes. Jealous?

There ya go.