I love London. It is a city full of life — vibrant, bustling, soothingly cacophonous. There are people of every shape and color. I love it. People talk over one another, all trying to be heard at the same moment. They move in a piece of artwork; they constantly flow around and by each other, interacting with space. There is a rhythm to the city. The beat is kept by the regular changing of traffic lights. The roar of cars are the bass and the horns are melody. It cannot be contained. It is a upbeat dance at Westminster and Trafalgar, and a romantic waltz in Kensington Gardens and right along the Thames at night. There is something magical about the history, art, and passion. Don’t just trust me. Go see for yourself.
The last few days on the program were crazy. We had been travelling all week, and finals were fast approaching. That doesn’t mean we stopped enjoying the City!
We visited the Tower of London again, which currently has an incredible WWI memorial. There are 800,000+ red poppies. Each one represents a life taken during the Great War.
We got to see 39 Steps! It was hysterical. Totally funny — and clean! The cast of four plays over a 100 roles in the 2 hour show. I highly recommend it.
We also had our last Sunday in our wonderful ward. We had our bad days, but overall I loved being a part of the primary. The kids were so sweet when sending us off. I’ll always remember my calling in the ward as a highlight of my experience in London.
That night, we had a powerful sharing meeting. It wasn’t really a testimony meeting, but it was an opportunity for people to express their thoughts at the end of the program. It was almost two and a half hours long, but it didn’t feel like that. We had really become a family over the course of the summer. It’s amazing what throwing 47 people in a house together can do. (I think the crazy long coach rides helped too.)
Monday we had finals. We knocked them out in the morning, and then had the rest of the day to ourselves. It was mostly spent packing. It was a good weekend. Even while studying all the way through it. :)
I loved Brighton. Like, “I want to go back there on vacation” loved it. It might just have been because of the fabulous company I was blessed with. I’m not going to say anything more. Just enjoy these pictures:
We had tons of fun and laughs and terrible pictures that I’m not sharing. (Sorry.) Our hotel that you see above was built in 1559, and it was a REALLY nice place. Our group was split between two hotels, and we definitely got the better end of the deal. The fictional Lydia Bennett might have stayed in our hotel! (#nerdalert)
The pier was very Sovereign Light Café. Let me just leave that here for you…
Brighton was everything I wanted it to be. It was a fabulous last outing in England.
I’m here! I promise! Sorry I haven’t been posting. This week has been ridiculous. We had a day trip Monday, an overnight trip Wednesday-Thursday, and multiple homework assignments due before today. I’ve made it though! We did have a lot of fun this week.
Monday, we visited Dover and Canterbury. We explored Dover Castle before checking out the white cliffs. I didn’t know very much about Dover Castle before going there, so it was interesting to learn more. It also has a really neat WWI and WWII history, so you should check that out if you’re curious. Of course, the white cliffs were beautiful.
We also had a bit of fun.
I think I’m ready for power. I rock that throne. (I even have enemies!) I don’t want to have power for power’s sake. That doesn’t make any sense. But I think I could handle responsibility. I felt that way walking through the Houses of Parliament too. I was strutting down the stairs in the man hall and it hit me: “I could totally do this.” I just have some big dreams, and I think I could make a difference in this crazy world.
ANYWAY. That got a little heavier than I was anticipating. We left Dover and made our way to Canterbury. It was a trek made by pilgrims throughout history. I was able to walk (read: ride a coach) in their footsteps. We stopped at St. Augustine’s Abbey (or what is left of it). It’s not St. Augustine of Hippo, mind you. This is another St. Augustine. Of Canterbury. Yup. I don’t know everything about Anglican saints. I’ll have to look it up.
We might have had just a little bit too much fun in the ruins of a crypt. You know. Once you start living in history, it ceases being something to stare at and becomes part of your present. When I see historical sights here (so like, hundreds of years old), I just want to explore. No more staying on the sidewalk. It’s awesome that you’re able to interact with the sights here. They want you to explore! I think nothing honors the past more than it becoming part of someone’s life today.
Then we went to the cathedral. I visited Canterbury Cathedral. (!!) I’m still freaking out a little bit. There was such a strong and peaceful spirit inside. It was so interesting. I loved it. Talk about the human experience.
“Yet do not miss the moral, my good men.
For Saint Paul says that all that’s written well
Is written down some useful truth to tell.
Then take the wheat and let the chaff lie still.”
― Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales
Saturday, we woke up earlier than usual (for a Saturday). We headed over to Portobello Road market. We were able to haggle the prices down on some really fun stuff. I finally got a claddagh ring! (I’ve only wanted one for years.) It’s just a fun place. Here’s some fun snapshots of the morning.
I left for Hogwarts today. I had my books, robes, Ravenclaw garb, owl, wand, and all. I headed over to King’s Cross station and found platform 9 and 3/4. (It’s important to take it at a bit of a run.)
I also met Hermione Granger! It was really cool to see her there…
(She was very excited to be recognized for who she is — a powerful, capable girl!)
Three of my best friends and I were leaving together. We are all in different houses, so we people think we’re super cute. Well, what can I say?
Inter-house friendships are so fun! It keeps life interesting. Intra-house friendships are great too. Hogwarts is just the best.
In other news, I have one more weekend here in London. I cannot believe how fast time has gone by. This has been a magical experience!
This past week, some of us went to BBC Proms. We went to an evening of Mozart, Jonathan Dove, and company. The music was incredible, and it was at Royal Albert Hall, which was a dream.
However, the people around us were some of the strangest people I have ever seen in my life. For example, there was a sharply dressed man with a Victorian mustache and a teddy bear. This is a grown man with a teddy bear at RAH. Not only did he bring it, it participated in conversation, and he put it up between the bars so it could see. It was very interesting. That is just one of the many people who were at the prom. It was an experience!
What a lovely day we had. I understand why the Beatles were interested in a summer cottage there (if it’s not too dear, of course). We woke up early and rode our coach to Portsmouth. Once there, we rode onto a ferry and got off the coach to enjoy the sunshine. We have had very un-English weather for our trip, but it was perfect for a ferry ride.
Once we docked, we boarded the coach again. We rolled off and headed to Carisbrooke Castle. Carisbrooke is where Charles I was held prisoner before his execution. It’s too bad that it has such a sad history — it’s beautiful!
After Carisbrooke, we made our way over to Osbourne House. It was the vacation home of one of my favorite couples and their family. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert would take their family to Osbourne to be able to raise their children more normally. However, there is nothing normal about this house. It’s GORGEOUS.
Albert even had a miniature house, garden, and fort built for the children to learn and play in. It was darling.
They also had a private beach. That was beautiful as well, but my camera focused on what’s important.
No really. It was worth it. Strawberry and chocolate ice cream, meringue, whipped cream, and strawberry sauce. Incredible.
We then had a relaxing ferry trip back to Portsmouth and a long drive back to London. It was a blast.
I’ve been in London for a while, so I made a stop in the Western Hemisphere. Then I hopped back over to the Eastern, and I went back again. Then I was suspended in space. All in a matter of seconds. It was awesome.
That’s what it looks like to be suspended in space. Well, partially suspended. I was about 56º too far north to be completely in space. What is this gibberish? THE PRIME MERIDIAN. It’s a line that wraps all the way around the globe, up and down. It established longitude, which allowed sailors to determine how far east or west they were. It’s pretty sweet, actually. I love geography. I love learning about the world, how it works, and how that impacts us in our cultures, interactions, and beliefs. So visiting the city of Greenwich was a dream come true for me.
In addition to the Royal Observatory, it’s a really cool place. There’s a Naval College that was the school for many British heroes. There are works by Inigo Jones and Christopher Wren. It should be on your “To-Visit” list.