Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Little Snogs

So we stumbled upon this great frozen yogurt place called "Snog" the other night. For those of you who do not know, "snogging" is the equivalent to "making out" or kissing in Britain. Besides being completely delicious and really quite healthy, it led to endless jokes for the rest of the night. We plan to go back very soon.

I have been trying to go running quite a bit while I'm here. Lucky for me, Kensington Gardens and Hyde park are just across the street and they are perfect for running. While I was running around the park, I discovered this beautiful flower path. I walked under this huge canopy of leaves bowing over the walkway. I couldn't help but stop running and look up in awe. Later I went back to the flower path to do some homework and take a picture of this tree. Sadly, the picture does not do it justice.

When classes are over, we often just hop on the tube and walk around the city. Tonight we walked along the Thames river by St. Paul's cathedral. The evening was beautiful, the dome of St. Paul's glistened, and I got to enjoy to wonderful company of these sweet girls. It is nice to make a whole new handful of friends.

We weren't looking for it, but we simply stumbled upon the Globe theatre. Being the thespian that I am, I knew I had to snatch a photo. We saw "Richard III" last night (in a different theatre) and it was the most amazing acting and directing I have seen in a very long time. We will be watching "Alls well that ends well" as groundlings in July. This means that I will get the experience of standing right under the actors for a good 2 hours. More on that later!

Apparently, there are these random, painted upright pianos around the city because of this City of London Festival. We couldn't help sitting and playing this old piano here in front of Tower Bridge. Talk about a photo opportunity!! I started playing a little Ben Folds, but the keys were sticking together and I didn't continue for very long. What an experience to play the piano in front of the Thames river.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

London Lady

Home Sweet Home
I cannot begin to tell you how long it takes to upload pictures to my blog here. Because of this, I may be a bit slow with blogging and have less pictures than I had planned. Oh well... So I am officially in London now. The BYU Centre is incredible. The church really scored when they secured this prime real estate right off of Kensington Gardens. The flat is old enough to have had Queen Victoria and Brigham Young stay at the Flat (which they didn't of course, but you get the idea). The woodwork of the building, the ceilings, and the porcelain fireplaces are spectacular. However, with it being so old, it is awfully creaky. You cannot move in the house without being heard. I am living on the top floor with eleven other girls. The room is kind of divided in two, so it is more like 5 other girls. Being on the top floor means that I get a lot of stair exercise and it is always warm at night.

(Allie and me at Kensington gardens)

Our first full day here, we walked to Westminster Abbey from our flat. My feet were so tired by the end of the day. Westminster Abbey is pretty spectacular. I was floored by the incredible fan vaults in the chapel ceiling. I kept looking up and then looking down to see who I was walking over. Among other greats, I saw the tombs of  William Wilberforce, Queen Elizabeth I, Queen Mary (bloody Mary), Many Edwards and Henrys, Mary Queen of Scots, Dickens, Handel, Darwin, and more. I stood in the "poet's corner" and just soaked in the scene of all these amazing writers all being honored together. And Yes, I did imagine myself as Kate Middleton walking gracefully down the cathedral in her glorious white dress.
Saturday was our "Free day," so I started it out with the most gorgeous run through Kensington Gardens. I think this is going to have to be a daily occurrence. We also went to Portabello Market, which was drenched with people walking from shop to shop. I actually purchased a wallet and an 1882 edition of Robert Browning's poetry (one of my favorites). I had to barder for the book, but I am glad that I did. In the afternoon, a group of us headed to the Victoria and Albert Museum. The walls of the museum display blast marks from the bombings of World War II. I cannot imagine what it would have been like to have those kind of effects of war so close to your home.

We also decided to try our luck at getting tickets to an evening show. We knew it would be a bit hard because it was a Saturday evening, but two girls and I scored some amazing tickets to see "Jersey Boys" for only 25 pounds. I love student discounts. We had amazing seats, and the performance glowed with energy. The audience adored the familiarity of the fantastically sung "You're just too good to be true," "Oh what a night," and "Big girls don't cry." The show did have some heavy language, but overall It was a fantastic performance. I'm afraid most of my money is going to go to these student discount theatre tickets. So if you wonder why I didn't bring you back a mug, or a key chain, or another little trinket, it is because I spent most of my money to see these shows. Can you blame me?

BRITISH PHRASE OF THE DAY: "Shivery Bite" = when you have a little snack while you are swimming.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Last Days in Scotland

Broughty Castle (note the kids jumping in th puddle)
Heidi, the kids, and I went to Broughty Castle in the morning one day. This little castle is right on the river Tay. The workers of the Dundee mill used to often holiday at Broughty ferry. This castle is now mostly a museum, but it was fun to see the view over the Tay.
Later in the afternoon, Heidi and I went to Arbroath Abbey. This huge abbey is in ruins now, but it is still so impressive. It is known for its historical connection to Robert the Bruce's letter of Scotland's declaration of independance that he sent to the Pope in order to gain acceptance from the Pope. It lead to a truce between the English King Edward and King Robert of Scotland.

Among the ruins of Arbroath Abbey

How sad it was to leave Scotland, but I will actually be coming back soon on a tour to Edinburgh. I was so lucky to be able to stay with my amazing Family. Not only did the feed me and pay for me constantly, but they also entertained me. Thanks again Heidi and Andrew!
BRITISH PHRASE OF THE DAY - "I'm cheesed off" = I'm angry

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

St. Andrews and good ol' Dundee

Me with Isla swinging at the park in St. Andrews
After leaving Crail, we headed to the town of St. Andrews, known for it's university, golf course, and the place where Kate and William met. We spent a bit of time playing at a park (may I add that playgrounds in the UK are far cooler than parks in the USA. It is probably because they aren't afraid of getting sued like parks in America), and then we headed to the old 13th century St. Andrews Cathedral. Sitting right on the sea front here, the ruins of this gigantic cathedral spread across the most perfect green grass. I walked along the parts of the cathedral imagining what this spectacular edifice must have been like back in its day. I was even tempted to lay down in an old, stone, opened coffin...I don't know what part of me desired this, but I thought it might be interesting to see if I could fit.
Me with the ruins of St. Andrews Cathedral

My Incredible family! Andrew, Adam, Heidi, and Isla. I couldn't ask for better hosts.
After prancing around the ruins imagining I was some old saint making a pilgrimage, we headed to the city for some lunch. I enjoyed seeing all of the uniformed college students swarming the food joints. I wondered if they could tell that I was an American tourist. If the camera bag didn't give it away, I'm sure the fact that I tried to pay for my sandwich with Euros instead of Pounds did me in. We had the most delicious Ice cream in St. Andrews. It is the home of fifty something flavors including Sky Blue (I was intrigued as to who decided to put a taste to a color). My delicious flavor was Orange Marscapone Sherbet...Yes, it tasted even better than it sounds. It is now on my top five for best Ice cream flavors. 
After St. Andrews, we went on to Dundee (the home of my Cousin Heidi and her family) Dundee is on the river Tay. I went to this great museum today called Verdant Works factory, and my eyes were opened to the history of Dundee. It is known for the 3 Js : Jam, Journalism, and Jute. Basically, it was full of Jute factories that produced Jute from India to make canvas bags, sails, coverings for pioneer wagons, etc. How interesting right?
I was told that the best place to have Fish and Chips was in Scotland. Here is a picture of my delicious fish and chips meal. Chips = fries and Crisps= chips
BRITISH WORD OF THE DAY:  "Chinwag" = a Chat

Monday, June 20, 2011

Crail, Scotland

Welcome To CRAIL
The View from my bedroom window
Welcome to Crail! The most charming wee sea town on the East Neuk of Scotland. My cousin Heidi and her darling family let me join in on their little vacation this weekend. Our house was right on the Harbour, giving us the most glorious views. 
This is our house in Crail 
Lucky for us, the Crail Food Festival was happening during the two days we were there. There were booths set up right outside our front door with lobster, crab, venison, salmon, crepes, smoothies, fresh fruits, cheese, and fresh broccoli. We purchased some broccoli and strawberries that had been picked just that morning and they were quite "moreish" (british for so good that you want seconds).
The festival from our front door

I wandered about the village a couple times just to get a feel for this little sea town. Andrew's mother Anne was with us, and she had owned a flat in Crail before. She shared many stories of the town with me as we wandered around. It was a bit rainy, but the sun came out enough to make it a glorious trip. 
A typical home on the shore. Note the great gardens.
Found this beautiful flower on my little walk.

One morning, we traveled over to Kellie Castle. Sadly, the castle was not open yet, but the gardens were breathtaking. I have never seen such luscious flowers, herbs, vegetables, and everything else green. It was fun to chase Adam around on the green grass. I must say that I thought I would actually be able to catch him, but this five year old out runs me easily. Glad i'm getting my exercise! 
Isla, Heidi, Me, Anne, and Adam in the gardens of Kellie Castle
Kelli Castle
I wish I had more time to share with you  stories of  looking for crabs, watching children games on the shore, seeing a doukett for the first time, eating and loving haggis, but "I'm a wee bit shattered" due to jet lag. Tune in next time for pictures from St. Andrews and my official first dish of Scotland's finest Fish and Chips.

NEW BRITISH PHRASE OF THE DAY: "I'm a bit peckish" = I am a bit hungry.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

"Kiss You Up"

It is definitely an adventure living with an almost 2 yr old girl. Being the youngest of 5, having these little nieces and nephews around has been the best Mommy 101 class I could ever take. I've learned the art of diaper changing, opening the door while simultaneously pushing the stroller through, catching the bowl before it gets thrown on the floor, playing peek-a-boo, making houses out of sheets, memorizing all the words to "Winnie the Pooh", and the list goes on and on.
Grace is one of the smartest little girls I know. She loves to sing and knows almost all the words to favorites such as "Winnie the Pooh", "I've been working on the railroad", and "Zip a dee Doo dah." She also talks up a storm with all her fun grown up phrases. It must be from living with a house full of grownups, but she has quite the vocabulary and understanding of phrases like "I appreciate that". 
One of my new favorite things she says is, "I kiss you up!" She has begun loving the classic story of Sleeping Beauty, and breaks out into "I know you, I walked with you once upon a dream" in full voice even in the middle of a quiet library. I guess because Aurora wakes up from the kiss of her prince, Grace has taken to kissing people to wake them up. If I am a bit tired and am lying down on the floor, she comes over to me and says, "I kiss you up" and then gently puts her tiny puckered lips to mine with a little smacking noise. 
I can't think of a better way to wake up than being "kissed up" by such a cutie pie...well I guess being kissed by a prince wouldn't be too bad either. 
I am sure going to miss this cute girl "kissing me up" when I head on my big adventure next week.