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 café 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.