Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Walking Through the City

I was interested to go on this walk and discover a little more about London. From what I have seen so far I have realized that it is always an interesting and fun mix of the old and the new. The financial side of town wasn't much different. At times there would be towering works of modern architecture and at others there would be a church that is hundreds of years old tucked between two other buildings . . . just waiting to be discovered. Another element of London that I was excited to see on this walk was the pubs and other eating establishments scattered throughout the walk. I have noticed that a lot of restaurants and pubs have interesting names so I decided to focus on some of the interesting ones that I found.

There is the simple, such as "Great British Grub."

Or there's the more traditional, like "Lamb's Tavern."

There's the interesting, like "Fuzzy's Grub" here.

Or there's pubs based on peoples names . . . at least I think it's based on someone's name.

I thought this one was funny, especially with the horns and the tail.

There's also the historical such as "Ye Olde Mitre" which, unlike stores in the US with the name "Ye Olde," it really is OLD.

I took a picture of The Jamaica Wine House not necessarily because of its name but because it is standing on the historical spot where the first coffee house in London stood many, many years ago.
But the winner of the day had to be . . .
another drum roll . . .
some trumpets . . .

"Hung Drawn and Quartered." Need I say more? In the past, London has not been known for its food, but the names of the pubs make up for everything else . . . almost.

Happy Birthday Laura, Emilee, and Sam!!!

Yesterday was a big birthday day at the center. My roommate Laura turned 20, my friend Emilee turned 21, and another girl from the Center, Sam, turned 20 as well! Unfortunately, we all had classes in the morning and then we all parted ways to get the things done that we needed to so that we could play later. After dinner a group of us took two of the birthday girls, Laura and Emilee (Sam was doing stuff with another group of girls), and headed out on the town. The first stop, as requested by the birthday girls, was a little gourmet chocolate shop called Cocomia. Now I am not really a chocolate person, so I wasn't as giddy and intoxicated with chocolate pleasure as the rest of the girls, I just went along for the fun of it. Even though there were ten of us, as soon as we walked into the shop the woman told us: "I will make you try some of our chocolates," and she proceeded to have us sample almost the entire shop. Then we each bought a few chocolates. It was expensive, about 2 pounds (4 dollars) for a little square of chocolate, but it was pretty amazing and I'm not even a chocolate girl as I already said. If you are ever in London, and a big chocolate fan, visit Cocomia because the girls fell in love last night!
Most of the group inside Cocomia.

After we dragged ourselves from the Cocomia we rushed off to see Hairspray, which is the top rated musical in London right now (imagine that). We got to the theatre about 20 minutes before the show started and were all able to get tickets with our student discount cards for 20 pounds, about 30 pounds cheeper than regular price. Here is our view from the nose-bleeds of London theatre, but the performance was amazing! At one point two of the characters started cracking up and we had a improv moment which was hilarious!!! It was a really fun night . . . Happy Birthday Girlies!

The Three Hour Tour . . . Well Almost

When we got to the London Center we were assigned different wards to attend and help out in (about 3-4 students per ward). I was assigned to the Crystal Palace ward with one of my roommates, Kayla, and another girl from the center, Jenny.

Crystal Palace, Week 1:

  • At 7:00 am we leave the Center, get on the tube, and travel to Victoria station.
  • From Victoria we catch the 8:51 train to Orpington and get off at the Penge East stop.
  • The map and the directions we were given don't quite match so we decide to follow the map.
  • The map gets us totally lost so we head back towards the station and follow the directions.
  • We find our ward, held in a elementary, or primary school.
  • We have about 10 minutes to spare before the meeting begins at 10 am.
Crystal Palace, Week 2:

  • At 7:00 am we leave the Center, get on the tube, and travel to Victoria station.
  • We catch the 8:51 train to Orpington and get off at the Penge East stop.
  • We remember our way and reach Malcolm Primary School with a half hour to spare.
  • We have got this church thing under control.
Crystal Palace, Week 3:

  • At 7:00 am we leave the Center, get on the tube, and travel to Victoria station.
  • We catch the 8:51 train to Orpington.
  • As the train leaves Victoria station we all become absorbed in our books and activities.
  • I begin thinking in my head: "This seems like a really long train ride . . . oh well, I must just be tired."
  • Then my roommate Kayla says: "Guys, I don't recognize any of these stops . . . "
  • And that's when we know . . .

Kayla after we figure out that somehow the 8:51 train to Orpington, which we always take, is somehow taking a different route today. One that will not take us to church. We decided the safest thing to do was to ride the train all the way out to Orpington and figure everything out there. By the time we reach Orpington it is 9:40.

Orpington station on Sunday morning.

Kayla and Jenny showing their chagrin. We went and talked to the people in the ticket office and they informed us that the line from Victoria was having some work done on it for the day . . . thus the new route. They then told us that we had to catch the train back to Victoria at 10:08 and get off at another stop along the way.

It was a chilly morning so we spent our half hour wait in the stinky waiting room, which was a little warmer than outside. We then caught the 10:08 train to Victoria . . . already 8 minutes late for church. We were able to get off at the stop we were told to and then found the ticket office there to see what we had to do next. The woman informed us that because the line was closed we would have to take a railway service bus, free of charge thankfully. The bus ride was an adventure but we got to Penge East station around 11:00 am and then walked to church, arriving at 11:10 . . . just as Sacrament meeting got out.

Malcolm Primary School with an LDS sign outside. I know this is a bad picture but we were over an hour late for church what were you expecting?! It was my first day in Primary and everything went really well, but we had to leave ten minutes early to catch the bus back to a station so that we could get back home. Whew! What an adventuresome day. Next time we will know to check the stops as well as the platform!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Wide Open Spaces!!!

Since we got to party for most of the week last week we got to work for it this week. Instead of having classes two or three times this week we had them four times!!! (I don't know how I'm going to go back to school Winter semester when I used to such a great schedule). Regardless of how many times we had class this week, it still would have been a very heavy homework week.

On Monday we all visited the Globe theatre for a tour, after the tour some of us went to Westminster Abbey. It was fun to see the Abbey for the second time within a couple of weeks because I was able to go to the places that I loved most, like, the Lady's Chapel and Poet's Corner. Tuesday - Friday we had classes and homework, homework, homework . . . Huzzah!!! On Wednesday we were able to go out and have a little fun at a matinee performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Globe. We were groundings huddled around the stage . . . luckily the rain held during that time period, and it was hilarious! It's fun to read Shakespeare but even better to see it performed, especially by some of the world's best Shakespeare performers. By the end of the week we were all beat. We went out and wandered around for a bit before relaxing and watching a movie.

Saturday totally made the whole week's effort worth the pain. We went on a country walk in Kent (just for you dad) and I realized how much I love the country and open spaces, something which is very accessible in Utah and the West. I don't think I could live for long without seeing the mountains or open country. It was beautiful!!! The leaves are starting to change and the weather was gorgeous (Rain in England? I don't know why everyone keeps saying that!).

Becky, Katie, and Hillary on the train.

Some more of our train crew: Emilee, Kaitlyn, Kayla, and Michael.

This is the beautiful landscape that we were walking through all day. We only had one uphill climb that got my heart rate up slightly but other than that it was just a relaxing day and my heart was so happy to be out in the wide open spaces. I was shocked that we were just trompin' through people's fields . . . they had already been harvested but this would be a big no-no at home!

After we had been walking a while our tour guide . . . a gentleman from one of the stakes we attend who takes every BYU London group on this walk, took us across this golf course driving range. I couldn't help but think of Papa Mac and Val down in St. George playing golf themselves. It was quite comical to watch 30+ people marching through the driving range with golfers waiting for us to pass at the top of the hill, they were pretty good for not trying to hit some fresh targets (I would have been tempted). Emilee was excited about it though.

After we had made it safely across the driving range we began the next leg of our walk. We discovered that the road was lined with blackberry bushes and we all enjoyed eating as we made our way along. From left to right: Annie, Natalie, Megan, and Lindsey eating blackberries.

For lunch we stopped at Eynsford Castle, or the ruins of an old Roman castle. We didn't have long to eat but we enjoyed the sunshine and a little break. Our lunch crew: Michael, Bethany, Katie, Emilee, Kaitlyn, Laura, and Kayla.

As our journey continued we came across this beautiful bridge and stream . . .

A really, really, old church.

At one point we stopped at this hops farm, thus my picture of hops above, where they were selling some pretty cool stuff. Aside from growing hops they also grow lavender, fruit, corn, etc. Some people in our group bought lavender ice cream and I had a taste. You may be asking yourself: "What does lavender ice cream taste like?" Well let me explain to you: it tastes like lavender smells. It was actually kind of good. Some of the other girls bought Ginger Beer, kind of like Apple Beer . . . but Ginger if you get where I'm going. Anyways, it was okay. It had this bite to it that got you right in the back of the throat, it was fun to try some new things. I ended up getting some frozen raspberries which were delicious!

We finished off our walk around mid-afternoon. I wish we could have kept going but it was time to go home. Here is some of the group at the end of the walk, waiting for the train . . . please note all the books, they were all much more studious than I!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Amazing Grace

On Sunday night we watched the movie Amazing Grace, the story of William Wilberforce and his struggle to abolish the slave trade in England, for one of my classes. I have seen the movie before . . . but not since I have returned home from Ghana. Before the movie started I told myself that I was going to keep it together, I had cried the first time I saw the movie but I knew what was coming so I wouldn't embarrass myself in front of the whole program. I didn't last long. Luckily for me the room was dark but I had to get up and leave about 20 minutes into the movie so I could go get a tissue and have a little cry away from everyone else. But as I watched the film, focused mostly on the English politics of the situation, all I could think about was the things that I have seen on the African side of the spectrum. I saw in my mind the slave castles, the dungeons, the stories . . .
Here is a partial view of Cape Coast Castle. Much of the African slave trade was based in Ghana, with three slave castles along the coast. Cape Coast Castle was one of the biggest. It is here where slaves were bartered for, imprisoned, punished, beaten, killed, and, if they survived, sent from their homeland forever. I can't even explain to you the dark, overpressing spirit that covered this castle.
This picture shows the entrance to the male dungeons. The room that you can see directly above the entrance is the first Anglican church in Ghana. The first Christian church . . .

Here is another view of the church . . . this time we are on the upper level looking at the door to the church on the right. The small square on the ground you can see is a trap door where you could check on your slave in the dungeon before walking into church. The walls could not block out the sounds of pain, suffering and death from below. I am horrified by the thought of Christians going to church with all this around them and feeling good about the world.
One of the male dungeons, this tiny space would be filled with hundreds of men. The small window you can see above was their only source of light and fresh air. Food and water would be thrown down once in a while from another hole. There was no way to get away from their own blood and sewage.
The Cell, or Cape Coast Castle's version of the death chamber for misbehaving slaves.

I cried because I just don't understand how people can treat their brothers and sisters in such a way. I cried because I have lived with, taught, and love the people of Ghana. The picture above is of some of our children. They love to learn! Look at them just soaking in the book Where the Wild Things Are.
Some of the children I love at worship service. They are so adorable!!!
Needless to say that by the end of the movie I was a mess. I had hidden myself in a corner so that I wouldn't disturb anyone but when the lights came on everyone knew. My face was bright red, I was shaking, my eyes were bloodshot, my nose was stuffy, and I was trying to stay somewhat composed. My roommates and close friends knew immediately why I was crying and were so sweet, but everyone else was a little baffled. Professor Paul asked me if it was the first time I had seen the movie and I tried to explain to her in that tear-studdering voice that I had just been to Africa this summer. It took me a while to calm down but I was grateful for the reminder of my love of the people of Ghana. I am so grateful to the strong men and women of this world like William Wilberforce who have dedicated their lives to making this world a better place.

Monday, September 22, 2008

English Paradise

On Thursday we woke up and headed to the beach, about 2 miles from Lands End. Once again we lucked out with the weather because there was not a cloud in the sky and the water was so clear and gorgeous . . . to top it all off the beach was actually sandy! Not the typical rocky beach that I have seen most other places in England.

Here is a view of the beach from the amazing sea-side, cliff walk we took. We climbed up and up a bunch of stone steps to the top of the cliffs and enjoyed the views. You can see some of the group down bellow on the beach and the beautiful water and cliffs everywhere else.

I somehow I felt like I wasn't in England anymore. With the rock steps and cliffs and blue ocean I felt like a was in Greece or some Mediterranean country.

Me on the cliffs looking out towards Lands' End. As I was standing on this rock I was suddenly struck with the overpowering need to go swimming. I was able to convince three other girls to come with me and we climbed over the rocks to a semi-hidden cove and took a little dip. The water was a bit chilly but not nearly as bad as some of the water I've swam in.

Happy after the swim. Kaitlyn, Me, Emilee, and Hilary . . . everyone but myself were novices when it came to things like . . . oh, um . . . skinny-dipping. It felt great to introduce them to such a wonderful world of adventure and what a great way to start, in England, in the Atlantic Ocean, on a sunny day!
Talyn, Emilee, Me, Katie, and Kaitlyn jumping in exhilaration on the beach.
Later that day we made our way to St. Michael's Mount, an island when the tide is high but a peninsula when the tide is low. We were able to walk out to the island and tour the castle, which was interesting.
Walking out to St. Michael's Mount (you can see the castle on top).

The Harbor at St. Michael's.

Gorgeous water and sailboat. (P.S. - some of the pictures that I have posted, such as this one, are not mine but from others in the program. This one is from Emilee.)

We stayed the night in Exeter and the next day visited Lyme (which I have already posted about) before travelling home the rest of the day.

The Garden of Eden - English Style

On Wednesday, 17 September we left for our trip to the West of England. Our first stop on the way was an estate called Stourhead . . . one of the most beautiful places I have been in England. The architecture of the estate is after the Palladian style and all gorgeous but the main attraction is the huge gardens surrounding the lake.

Here we are (Hilary, Katie, Bethany, and I) infront of the main house, it wasn't even open but none of us really cared, we were too excited for the gardens.

It was a gorgeous day. It started out a little overcast but it was warm and the sun eventually came out. Here is a glimpse of the gardens and their reflection in the lake.

One of the temples found on the grounds from across the lake.

The walk around the lake was about two miles and full of amazing sites.

If you are familiar with the new Pride and Prejudice movie with Keira Knightley you might recognize this structure. This is the place where Lizzy finds shelter from the rain and Mr. Darcy appears and proposes/amost kisses her and she refuses. As would be expected, we all enjoyed taking pictures and letting our imaginations run wild!

After Stourhead we headed to the house Thomas Hardy was born in and then made our way to Penzance . . . yes like the Pirates of Penzance, to stay the night in the YMCA hostel.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

"Catch Me!!"

I felt much more confident in understanding the importance of Lyme to the plot of Jane Austin's work Persuasion than I did in Bath. It was especially fun to visit after watching the movie the day before on the bus, though the weather could not be more opposite. After driving through the gorgeous countryside of Cornwall and Devonshire we arrived in Lyme to the excitement of all. We wandered the city . . . looking for food mostly but we happened across a fossil shop that we couldn't help going into. I hadn't known, until one of the professors informed me, that the Victorians had been extremely interested in collecting fossils and things of the past and Lyme was a hot spot for collectors. While wandering the shop I came across a giant map labeled "Green River Fossils." Who knew that I could find Utah fossils all the way in England? They also most definitely had geodes . . .

Side Note (you can skip this if you're not interesting in reminiscing): Alex Tingey - do you remember our family trip to Capitol Reef National Park when you taught me how to find geodes and we spent the whole hike finding them and breaking them open? I will always remember how fun that was and how you were the coolest cousin ever . . . I still have some of those geodes!!!

Anyways, back to Lyme. It was fun to learn something new about the hobbies of the people of the Victorian age. When we left the skinny, skinny main street we came upon this:

No wonder people have been drawn to Lyme for holiday. Though I imagine that the weather would usually be a little more blustery and wet. There was a lot going on . . . restaurants, swimming, sun bathing, ice cream eating, strolls along the Cob, etc.

After lunch most of the program converged upon the Cob. Here are a few of us (Becky, Kayla, Emilee, Kaitlyn, and Me) on the Cob.

Here is my reenactment of the infamous scene between Louisa Musgrove and Captin Wentworth. For those of you who are not familiar with this scene, let me lay it out for you. Louisa is enjoying jumping off the steps into Captain Wentworth's arms but after a few jumps he tells her she must not jump anymore or she will hurt herself. As she runs up the stairs again she insists she must and proceeds to throw herself off the steps while yelling "Catch me!" Captain Wentworth, who was clearly not prepared watches as she falls to the ground seemingly lifeless. After quite a long recovery Louisa's health returns, Captain Wentworth gets the girl of his dreams (not Louisa, you'll just have to read it), etc, etc. Of course, our focus was on the jump and treacherous fall.

The interesting thing that this reenactment brought about was the discussion about women. After reading the book, watching the movie, and seeing the Cob for myself it was interesting to make a judgement for myself. As the book says: "There was no wound, no blood, no visible bruise; but her eyes were closed, she breathed not, her face was like death." The stairs of the Cob are pretty high and if you fell off the top I'm pretty sure you would be hurt. But, if Louisa was hopping off the stairs into Captain Wentworth's arms, which she was, then she wasn't that high from the ground. If I had jumped from that high and fell down I would have been embarrassed and maybe a little scratched up but I'd most likely be fine. So here's my question . . . are women that much stronger today than they were 200 years ago? Or is it that we have been taught to be stronger mentally? Any suggestions?