Life isn't just approaching quickly—it is right here, right now.
“Family Home Evening is the only argument that begins and ends with prayer” –President Kerr (you’ll know who that is by the end of this post)
Thanksgiving break happened November 19th-24th. No classes, no food provided, no structure, or anything! I stayed in the London Centre and it was really fun! Well, I didn’t stay IN the Centre the whole time, but instead of Ireland, I was here. Either way, I had lots of fun.
Monday, the 19th, we went on another walk, this time through Chelsea. It was brisk, windy day that was warmed up a bit by dinner at a pub around the corner from the Centre, called the Champion. I love pub food, just so you know. I mean food is great in general, but pub food is wonderful. That night a few of us had a makeshift FHE (Family Home Evening) and made a ‘thankful chain’, where we made a paper chain and on each link, individuals would write personalized notes on what they are grateful for. It was a great bonding experience and I really appreciated the time that I was, and am, able to spend with these wonderful people.
Tuesday, the 20th, we went on another walk through Mayfair and it passed the US Embassy! That was really cool to see, considering I hadn’t seen it yet. That night I went to the Queen’s Palace Theatre to get FIFTH ROW SEATS to see Les Misrables. It was really good; I’d never seen it before. Actually, I’ve never been to any of these shows before, but the majority of them I’ve done choir medley’s to, this one included.
Wednesday, the 21st, we went to the Lyceum Theatre to see The Lion King, the most exciting and interactive musical I’ve seen yet. The props were the best part—they had all sorts of crazy animal props including giraffes, elephants, birds, antelopes, etc. Some of the birds were at the end of strings on the top of really long poles and were swung around above the audience. Some of the antelopes were small wooden figures that were attached to a bicycle wheel and when it was spun, the antelopes moved as though they were galloping. It was way cool!
First row in the Royal Circle! This was our view and it was perfect.
Thursday, the 22nd and Thanksgiving, a group of about six of us were able to go to the London Temple to do Baptisms. It took about an hour and a half via train to get there and about an hour to get back. It was beautiful. The grounds are apparently the third largest Temple grounds in the world, after New Zealand and Oakland, if I remember correctly. The Temple workers were wonderful and I think we were the only members there who weren’t working at the Temple. They picked us up and drove us back to the train station, making it easier and cheaper for us. It was wonderful and we even get to go again on the 12th as a full program!
We got to the Centre just in time for Thanksgiving dinner, prepared by my music professor and his wife! It was all soo good and I loved it. Yay food.
Friday, the 23rd, a few other girls and myself got dinner at Byron’s (which if you ever are over here, go there) and then meandered to see Tower Bridge. It is so gorgeous and right next to the Tower of London. It’s not a particularly large bridge but we took our time to cross it. We struggled navigating the buses since we usually use the Tube but eventually were able to find our way back to the Centre.
There would be more pictures...but the internet hates me.
Saturday was mostly uneventful. Went to Portobello Market and then that evening accompanied my friend to her Stake Conference. Even though I’m technically assigned to a different Stake, she didn’t want to go alone since the majority of the other students had other plans or were travelling elsewhere. I am so glad I went—the last two speakers, the Kerrs, were a couple from Scotland and OHMYGOODNESS if I wasn’t already a big fan of the Scots, I sure am now. They were both so feisty, hilarious, and had such strong testimonies. I would’ve loved for them to keep going for another hour each of speaking and I would’ve been fine with that. If you’re interested in hearing more about it, email me or something. I would love to tell more about that meeting here, but I need to catch up. I’ve been slacking hardcore.
Sunday was church—my ward is still wonderful and I love attending with the members.
The 26th was a scheduled day trip to Hampton Court Palace, known for having housed King Henry VIII. It was a lovely estate, very large, and very pretty gardens. It was all the way out in Surrey! Any Harry Potter Fans out there? This is just a pre-curser to what is about to come your way. Just keep reading.
The 27th, that Tuesday, was a day for another walk, through Whitehall and the Pall Mall (pronounced pal mal). It ended in front of Buckingham Palace, which I had yet to see! So now I can say I’ve actually been to London. That evening a few other girls and I went to Tinseltown for Tinseltown/Temple Tuesday to get our weekly milkshakes.
The 28th, we went to Westminster Abbey! It’s so amazing how dense the city is, how close everything is to each other. It’s a completely walkable city. Anyway, I say that because you can see Westminster is within sight of the London Eye, Big Ben, and the Thames. That night, I went to the Prince Edward’s Theatre to see Jersey Boys! Another musical where I did a medley in choir for in high school, so singing along was so much fun. It’s the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons and it was not only really exciting but also informational! It was awesome and there was a standing ovation at the end which led to an encore performance of one of the songs. This is one of the biggest things I’ll miss—just going to shows. It’s so much fun.
The 29th, Thursday, I went with three of the other students to, wait for it, wait for it…
Warner Bros Studios Harry Potter Tour.
It was literally magical. I would go again. It had full sets from the movies, props from all eight movies, costumes worn by a great number of actors and actresses, and so many other super awesome things. I had butterbeer! Again. I had it in Florida at the Harry Potter world in the summer of 2011. It was still delicious. But here they had the Dursley’s house, the bridge at Hogwarts, the Knight Bus, Hagrid’s motorcycle, the chess pieces, the model of Hogwarts Castle that they use for shots that would be ‘flying over’ the school, and even more than that. It was crazy and I don’t think I stopped smiling the entire time. I was in complete bliss—this is my childhood. Harry Potter was my first chapter book and I remember I would reread them SO many times (an undisclosed double digit number) and one time in 2nd grade my mom wouldn’t let me read them again until I read something else. My 2nd grade teacher asked me why I had a different book on my desk and I remember her laughing because of how sad I was explaining what happened.
Anywho. It was life-changing.
The 30th, Friday, we took a day trip to Chawton and Bath to see Jane Austen sites and the Roman Baths. It was actually really cool because we’d just read Persuasion for our English class and then went to where Austen lived for a decent amount of her life! In Bath, we went to a fashion museum, going through a couple centuries worth of fashion. And the Roman Baths were really cool even though they smelled funny and there was even a spot where you could try some of the clean water and it tasted like nasty. Apparently that’s what water tastes like before the minerals are taken out—it was mostly iron that I could taste and it was warm. Double nasty. I prefer good old Northwest glacier water. Bath had a really cool Christmas market, and I walked with one of my friends to see the Royal Crescent just down the street from the Royal Circus.
The 1st, yesterday, I went on another walk (I only have one more I need to do!) and visited Pollock’s Toy Museum! It was small but showed toys from all over the world going back even to ancient Egyptian times! At least one stone mouse with a moving wooden tail and mouth. It was really interesting to see how much toys have changed and how much styles and time periods affect those kinds of things.
On the walk, we came to a shopping area called Leadenhall Market and there was a little stage and microphones in front of some of the Christmas decorations. There was music from the Harry Potter movies going on from the speakers but there wasn’t anyone on the stage or anything, so we didn’t really know what was going on. I was getting a picture with the tree and market when an actor dressed as Dumbledore comes out of nowhere and hops in the picture with me! Turns out it was a local group doing little shows in the area and they were doing a skit and a lady was dressed up as McGonagall and a guy dressed as Harry Potter. He mocked me while they were doing the show, mainly because it was super interactive anyway, but I felt special.
Today was the first day that the Victoria line, the metro train that I take to church, failed me. It was fine when we left and then we were halfway to the stop where our building is and it got suspended. So we ended up going back to the Centre and then attended a later meeting at a building we could just walk to. AKA the Singles Ward. Yikes.
So, I apologize for the excess of words and lack of pictures. I come back the 14th, 12 more days. This week will be fairly busy, but we’ll be done with classes on Thursday. Friday is a day trip to Oxford. Saturday I am planning to go to the Portobello Market for the last time and then the London Eye with a small group of other students. Sunday will be my last time in my ward here. Next Monday and Tuesday are finals and one of those nights I will be going to see a ballet, the Nutcracker. Next Wednesday is the big group Temple trip and Thursday is going to be packing and any last minute priorities.I would like to make a quick shout out to my dear friend, Preston Pierce. He just got called to the Oklahoma City, Oklahoma mission, Spanish speaking! He reports to the MTC on January 23rd, 2013! I am so excited for him and know he will be such a wonderful missionary! I am proud of him and can't wait to tell him that in person!
Time has always been an interesting concept to me. I feel as though I’ve been here for a very, very long time but at the same time, it has flown by.
There ya go.