Tuesday, May 31, 2011

the simple life.

"To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter... to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird's nest or a wildflower in spring - these are some of the rewards of the simple life. "
John Burroughs

Today began in the country. Kent to be specific. I could have stayed there for the rest of my life and been perfectly content. immediately stepping off the train into quaint kent, you could smell a difference. the air was fresh, clean. no smoke, no smogg. just fresh.

Before the country though, there was the train. sad series of events. i left my tickets at home, and didnt realize until we were half way there. so i had to buy new ones. my card wouldnt work. cali bought them for me. 14 pounds later im on the train. to later find out rodger had an extra ticket in case someone forgot. and no one ever came to check. it was an expensive lesson to learn. but it could have been worse. the train ride was grand. i slept like a baby the whole way.
waiting for the train. lauren, chelsey, me, and cali. i sure do like the people on our program.
while waiting for the train i got sick of holding my bag. in the process of setting it down it got stuck on my bum. yes it is true, i have a large enough bum to hold bag with no hands. embarassing.

we got there and George (i think his name was george- it was the same guy who gave the devotional on war in london) was waiting with two of his brothers and a grandson to take us on our walk through kent. they were the cutest old men i have met in my life! they helped us cross the street and would tease us. loved them.

Our trusty tour guide, George and Rodger.
the walk started through the town. the cottages were the cutest things i have ever seen. Chelsey and I were talking how we wanted to come back to Kent at Christmas time and sit by a fire reading a book, sipping hot chocolate. think the Holiday (the movie) and you have kent. the first stop was supposed to be a castle to eat lunch but unfortunately it was closed due to vandalism. dumb vandals. but we instead went down by the river to eat lunch and it was absolutely perfect.
eating with our legs hanging over the edge. perfect.
our lunch buddies. they enjoyed our bread. hobnobs. and anything else. i was tempted to throw some jalapeno cheese but realized that might be a little mean.
while we sat and ate i talked with one of George's brothers- Ron, maybe. He tested me on my history, and the whole time i flew by the seat of my pants praying i would know the answer. first question. where was your president born. thank you news on the way to london. hawaii. what other historical even happened there? pearl harbor- december 7th i think. phew. what was the name of the main ship? uhh...USS...arizona? thank you US History for being stored way back in my mind. 

the weather was beautiful but fickle. one moment it would be as sunny as could be, the next moment a nice england rain. i loved it.

after lunch we continued walking and ended up and an old roman villa. it was excavated and you could go inside and they had an exhibition on it. it was fun to look at, but after being in rome it wasnt anything too special. it was fun to read about roman life though.

ashlee, elly, and i made mosaics using tiles
kiersten dressed up in roman clothing
and cali and i learned how to play a game. after finally figuring it our, and just starting to enjoy it we got scared that we would be left. but no worries we will make our own board and play some other time and it shall be epic.

The walk continued. the countryside was absolutely amazing. rolling hills. green everywhere with dabs of colored flowers. i loved it. i wish a camera could accurately capture the beauty.

while walking we came across some horses. they came up to the fence and we were able to pet them. carley had carrots on her so she fed one of the horses. she was the cutest thing ever. 
a little bit down the road was this guy. a mix between cow and horse? i think so. i think his name should be monet. pronouced moooo-neigh. badumbchu
a duck under a barbed wire fence and the field was all yours. i just wanted to stay and soak in everything but the walk continued on. i

which was okay because we passed cool castles
and went into a shop that sold lavender ice cream- supposedly in tasted like pouporii. but they had this metal heart decoration that i loved. but didnt get. it was so very lovely.
the whole shop was filled with lavender. as we walked there were fields and fields of lavender. so beautiful.
cali in the beautiful countryside 
making a wish. this guy was tricky. when you first blew nothing happened. it took a good deal of lung power to get the seeds to fly away.
 the next part was probably my favorite. we made our way to an old church. parts of the church dated back to the 11th century. the grounds, the church, everything was beautiful. i didnt take pictures inside but the here is the outside and grounds..

 it was so peaceful to just sit and think in this old church. as i sat pondering i couldnt help but think how grateful i am for the restoration and for joseph smith. for the knowledge we have because a fourteen year old boy gave a humble prayer. as a sat thinking i could hear rodger and george talking behind me about having us sing a hymn. they then turned to who to have lead. i braced myself. five seconds later i heard my name. we sang four songs as a group. because i have been given much, i need thee every hour, i know that my redeemer lives, and the spirit of god. it was such an amazing experience standing at the front of this old old chapel singing these hymns. The sound was beautiful, and it was so peaceful. i was so grateful for that experience.

sadly, the time came to an end and we headed home. following suit i slept on the way home. when i woke up i made eye contact with rodger to which he said ellie's awake. and then continued to comment that i had been bobbing. im a head bobber. its the worst. i think i need to do neck exercises because i cant support my head while sleeping.

we made it home and quickly ate and got ready to go to the ballet, Manon, at the Royal Opera House. The ballet was wonderful. The group was Cami, Ashlee, Lauren, and me. our tickets were all spread out so we could get the cheapest tickets. only 6 pounds! but we were the luckiest. my original seat (or place to stand because it was a standing spot) was awful. my short stature made it so i couldnt see a thing. i had been over talking with cami and lauren before going to my seat. and lauren came and told me that there was an open seat next to her because a woman's daughter couldnt come. the seat was grand. it was the absolute last row but dead center so you could see everything perfectly. at the interval we all moved down to where ashlee was because there were three open seats next to her, and then right as the lights went down we moved down three rows where there were 4 open seats. so 4 different seats in one performance. not too shabby. the performance itself was absolutely amazing. i love the ballet. the dancers were wonderful, and make it all look so easy. i was scared that the 3 hour performance would be boring. after all there are no words and it is just classical music the entire time, but i was enthralled. there was always so much going on on stage, and you were constantly trying to figure out what was going on (we didnt buy a program that had the synopsis in it, at the first interval i talked with an usher to make sure we had figured out who everyone was and how they were related correctly...we had) the time flew, and the story was understood. it was a sad one. at one point a gun is fired and i nearly jumped a mile. it took a good five minutes to get my heart rate back to normal. it was just so fun to be at the ballet, we all got dressed up, and i felt so proper and cultured. i loved it.

before leaving for the ballet. ashlee, lauren, me, and cami.
new seat next to lauren. so excited for the show.
yay manon!
joining ashlee during the first interval.
the royal opera house was absolutely beautiful. also i have decided that i will have a daughter who is a ballerina. yep. its the truth.

 the end of an amazing day.

Monday, May 30, 2011

just another manic monday.

i have no idea what inspired that title. minus the fact that the song popped into my head at the exact moment i was going to type a title. and today is going to be short and concise. are you ready for that.

we had class in the morning. like usual. we talked a lot about our upcoming trip to stratford. it will be grand. we will be stopping lots of exciting places along the way which will be exciting! while hearing about everything. i started making to-do lists. i love lists. its weird. but they are just the best things ever. there was a list of things needed from home for efy, a list of possible expenses before we leave london, a list of things to take home to people. you name it and i had a list for it.

cali got a picture during class. welcome to our class room. notice dezi is falling asleep, this is a normal occurrence for the whole class. well at least me.
after class ashlee and i ran to primark. well more like got very delayed in getting to primark. we tried to go to the less busy hammersmith one, but after waiting for 15 minutes realized that the tube was closed where we were trying to get so we went to marble arch. it was packed (especially because it was a bank holiday) but we were efficient and got in and out fairly quickly. we were supposed to look for dresses for the ballet but i forgot. i just got some shoes i had wanted, tights, and some hair things that were supposed to be for my nieces but im falling in love with them. stink.

when i got home cali was off row boating so cami and i went for a run. it was a wonderful run. it started off rough, my calves were extremely tight. dumb. but 20 minutes in i was feeling great and felt like i could run forever. it helped that we were having a great conversation so i wasnt thinking about what i was putting my body through. but 5ish miles later we called it a day.

then it was home for food and productivity. aka write a paper.

after everything was caught up on we got ready to go see flare path with the group when the news came rippling in that the show was no longer happening. i guess there was a mix up with the tickets. we were way bummed because it was one show that we were really excited to see. so what do we do. we go and get student tickets. we got on the tube, jumped off at picadilly circus, and realized we had no clue where to go from there. we found the theater got in line, and payed 21 pounds for restricted view (that wasnt that resticted) tickets. cami lucked out and ended up getting hers for free because the computer froze on her and it took a long time, so to apologize they refunded her. amazing.

cami and i before the show.
the show itself was wonderful. bragging rights. sienna miller was in it. so that was exciting to see. the show was touching. it dealt with air force wives in Britain during wwII. it was well done, and we loved the costumes. the teddy in the show wasnt what i was expecting but he did a great job. there is one point where he comes back from an air raid and has a melt down to his wife (sienna miller) and it was absolutely phenomenal. also during the show there was an adorable couple in front of us who was on holiday here to see theater so we talked about shows we had been to and they had been to. it was grand.

this guy was amazing. he was playing when the saints come marching in on a traffic cone outside of the show. it was spectacular!
the end.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

a day of rest.

 i love sundays. love love love them.

today was stake/regional conference. which means instead of leaving the flat at 7 30 we left at 9 15. instead of traveling for an hour and a half via tube, train, and possibly bus, we walked 10 minutes and were there.

i got there early to make get a spot and to just take time to read my scriptures and ponder. my study has recently been focusing on the savior and his ministry. i love the lessons we can learn from the savior.

the conference itself was wonderful! absolutely wonderful. it was broadcast from the conference in salt lake and we got to hear from a member of the seventy, Barbara Thompson, L. Tom Perry, and President Monson. it was phenomenal. some of the gems.
  • bind yourselves to act on the impressions you receive, take notes, make the change, otherwise it is useless 
  • the lord doesn't put us through a test to give us a grade. it is to change us through the process 
  • we limit ourselves in so many ways. we limit our potential, we limit our change. we think to ourselves "i cant do that" when in fact we can. especially with the lord on our side. 
  • act on promptings you have immediately. dont wait to become better. have faith, and take the jump 
  • things come without warning, we must steady ourselves and then move on. but we can strengthen ourselves for those times through prayer, scripture study, and following the prophet. 
  • everyone is someone's mother, father, son, daughter, friend- treat them as such. how would you want someone to treat your family. 
  • if you dont try, you dont do, and if we dont do then why are we here? 
  • see christ in every face you see, and act accordingly 
it was chalked full of great lessons and things to ponder on. i wish i could go back and watch it five more times to get those little things you miss as your mind wanders. today mine wandered a lot to efy. what i needed to have my parents bring to the airport from home. how i would get to the first session from the airport. what i would miss in the two day i wont be there. how i have no idea what im doing. as my mind started reeling out of control. i stopped. and just realized everything would be fine, and worrying would do absolutely nothing.

we came home and it was off to the kitchen along with everyone else. i think at one point there were 12 girls in the kitchen. after a delicious lunch it was time to blog, and figure things out for efy. emails. training. and watching videos later. i was still feeling a little uneasy, but a little bit better. recommendation- dont go straight from london to efy. give yourself time to prepare. just a thought.

a sunday nap was in order and was wonderful- and then we had our sunday devotional. and it was wonderful. adding it to the already wonderful sunday. addison, patrick, and preston talked about their missions and shared some great insights. one of my favorite things was the very first thing addison talked about. he talked about psalms 37 which in his words says- "do good, trust God, and dont worry" how applicable to life. especially to the worries we feel.

other random tidbits of the day.
we tried a mars bar today- after hearing all the rage our expectations were set high. expectations were not met. its like a three musketeers but not as good in my opinion. it tasted funny. 
its this beautiful girls birthday today. happy birthday lauren! 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

divin' into dover.

Have fun storming the castle!
-Princess Bride

Today we got to be princess in a medieval castle. we got to let the wind whip through our hair and make us feel like we could jump and fly away. we got to explore deep tunnels, and old abandon ruins. we got to travel back in time. today we went to dover.

it was a wonderful morning of very low stress. the five of us: me, elly, cali, cami, and ashlee, were the only ones going so we felt no rush to be ready by a certain time. we left when we were ready, and headed to the train station. and then off to dover. we had a little bit of a wait before the train so people explored cuff links and i read about adele. i love her newish song "someone like you" and it was interesting to read about what went on behind the song. then it was on the train for the hour plus ride to dover priory. does anyone know what a priory is? the country side was beautiful! unfortunately i didnt see too much of it because i was out like a light.

some of the interesting dressed people one sees in london. also the tube and train station were crazy because of the huge futbol match vs barcelona today.
the lot of us sleeping on the train.
 after having our train car attached to another train, and going through some very long tunnels, we made it to the last stop. dover. we got of the train. walked out of the station. and all stopped. "which way?" none of us had taken the time to figure out where exactly we were going or how to get there. luckily the castle is high on a hill, so we knew we wanted to get there. but for a second we all were very confused as to where to walk. lucky for us england likes to help its tourists out and post signs so we were able to find the castle.
which way? ahhh crud.
this picture is for my dad. on the way we passed a BP, it was one of the first gas stations i have noticed in england. go BP. and look, dover castle in the background. ps i would support you dad if you decided to transfer to london, and would visit you all the time, also mom- make sure dad looks at this one :)
after much up hill walking (our work out for the day) we made it to the castle! it was grand. everywhere you looked there was something new and beautiful. i constantly had my camera out taking pictures, it reminded me of Rome. we first we the the naval look out. They had used the castle during World War II. how cool is that. while walking to the castle it was windy. when we got up there it was like a freakin' tornado! but we got to see the white cliffs of dover which were amazing. and look of the english channel. one day- i will swim that. actually probably not, but that would definitely be amazing to say you had done.

look at those white cliffs. and they arent even painted that way.
getting blown away in the wind. i swore if i jumped high enough i would get blown away. unfortunately it didnt quite work, but it was pretty darn close.
we then headed up to explore more of the castle grounds. next stop was the army barracks. seen below. however, they were closed for renovation, but we explored the grounds on the way to the great hall, and i learned that i am a 13 year old boy. big guns and cannons excite me. a lot. i thought they were the coolest things ever. dont worry, im still a girl for multiple reasons, but especially because i was in love with all the flowers. 
the army barracks.

yay cannons! they were the coolest things ever. i want one for christmas.
but the pretty flowers growing atop the old walls, and everywhere were my favorite.
it was fun to walk along the "hedge" for lack of a better way of saying it- that over looked the channel, and the surrounding land. there were lots of little of little cubby holes where they would put the gun powder which were fun to explore. it was great to just have this whole castle to run around and explore!

exploring one of the cubby holes
on the hedge.
while exploring we saw a battle reenactment. 
we found this one little tunnel and decided to see where it went- and it went to one of the most beautiful places i have ever seen. it looked out over the valley, and the water, and was absolutely gorgeous. we might have broken the rules and done a little climbing for picture purposes, but it was well worth it. it is amazing to think of how old the buildings were. from what we read it looks like they were from the 12th century, and that they are still standing. elly's favorite part was the fact that all the stones were different shapes and sizes, rather the the very neat and tidy bricks we use now. each building was like a magnificent puzzle.

flynn rider: i could get used to a view like this. yep, used to it, guys i want a castle.

after much exploration above ground, we made out way underground to the tunnels. they were amazing, and confusing. we hit a lot of dead ends, or doors that had been boarded up, and despite it being a little creepy at times- so cool. we found a new meaning for the word flash light as we used the red light your camera makes before you take a picture with flash to find our way around, or see down dark tunnels. cami and i found a tunnel that was three feet above the ground that we wanted to climb in and explore, but realized it might not be the smartest, and just looked like another dead end. after weaving and wandering we made our way up the way we came out.

 then it was off to the great hall. or the actual castle. so fun. they had the castle set up like an actual castle. with a kitchen, bedrooms, a throne room, churches, an armory, and much much more.

we were the three witches from Macbeth in the kitchen.. 
we found a medieval whirl pool... 
and met the king. the king and i had a nice conversation about where he was from. he came from Normandy, and we were actually speaking fluent french the whole time. it was a grand ole time.
while exploring the castle there were actors, such as the king, and we recognized one of them from the tower of london skit. she was the one who poisoned the man. i talked with her for a bit, and it turns out they are a touring company who goes to tower of london, dover, and hampstead court. later as we passed her and "her husband" he pointed to us and said "arent those your ladies in waiting". it was perfect, and perfect for being inside a castle.

the castle was impeccable. the stairs were so fun as they would be spiraling up but then there would be a set that split off and took you to another floor. the design was so intense and confusing. i couldnt help but think of them trying to make the castle.

One of my favorite parts of the castle though, was the roof access! You could go up to the very very tippy top. which of course meant another tornado. but a very very beautiful tornado, which let you look out over the whole city of dover. however when you stuck your head through the little holes you couldnt breathe because of the wind. it was ridiculous!

while sitting up there elly started singing "in a minute, in a while" and i finished with "i will do it with a smile" we then went on to freak out at the fact that the other one knew the procrastination song from Brite Music. It was a grand bonding moment. then in talking about Safety Kids, Ashlee chimed in with "I know my number, my telephone number" it was perfect. and the most wonderful thing of my life. I love reliving my childhood with other people. i feel like im "out of the loop" often times when people talk about old cartoons, because we didnt watch much tv, and the shows i did watch i dont remember much of... however, Barney. i loved you dearly. so it was fun to find someone to connect with.

 after exploring the great hall, we went on to explore the rest of the grounds. we went to arthur hall, which had cartoons playing telling the history of the norman conquest, and talked about refurbishing the castle. and then went to the Princess of Wales regiment museum, which was interesting. after that we started making our way down towards the "dressing station" where we had a tour of the underground hospital used in WWII.

by this point we were all freezing and tired. but we didnt want to miss out on something that would be way cool. our tour wasnt for another 30 minutes, and we had seen the rest of the castle. we had heard the it was an hour long, and started seriously contemplating not doing it when elly went and asked some questions. it turned out there was a tour leaving in 5 minutes we could go on, and it was only 20 minutes. so we were in. the tour was interesting, and showed what it would have been like to be there during an air raid. there are times i wish i could magically transport back to the time to really get a feel of what it would have been like to be there when it was working, rather than walking around and seeing how they have set it up to look like it did. anyone know of a good time machine i could use?

after the tour we headed down towards the channel to see the beach and the cliffs once more. but not without passing some beautiful things along the way. there was this adorable street that had the most picturesque light post (see below) so we all had to take pictures. i realized i have absolutely no upper body strength as i tried to lift myself up and failed miserably, and then there was this pretty old garden type thing. it was abandoned but had some amazing old architecture and wild flowers. also along the way we passed a door where there were a collection of stickers from the castle. we obviously had to add ours to the lots.

the picturesque road. and pretty wild flowers. these floweres were everywhere and were absolutely beautiful.

 the door where all the stickers were. it was so bright and colorful. i absolutely loved it.

 we eventually made it to the water, and ashlee and i just had a wonderful time chatting up on the boardwalk looking over the water, feeling no need to go down to the actual water. as it was rocky and cold. but after getting lovingly chastised we made our way down to touch the english channel.

it was an adventure trying to get a picture with the water because it would come high and you would have to try to out run the water while on the little pebbles. there was a lot of laughter.

we then made our way back to the train station looking for a place to eat. however, the town was dead. we were looking into going to a pub to get some fish n' chips when some guys yelled. come on girls, come have a beer. that made out decision easy, and we walked away. cami heard them say something along the lines of "i dont think they spoke english" as we walked away. we had no luck, and ended up grabbing some mcdonalds (i was craving fries like none other) before getting back to the train station.

we did pass an ellie's cafe! unfortunately is was closed.
 the train ride home was much like the train ride out with lots of sleeping beauties, but seemed to take forever. i would fall asleep and wake up every ten minutes thinking i had been asleep for hours. but we eventually made it home!

 before coming back to the flat we stopped by sainsbury's to get some corners (these delicious yogurt things with mix-ins in the corner. amazing!) and when at sainsbury- we ended coming away with lots more than just the planned corners...all under the delicious category. we came back and watched 10 things i hate about you on elly's bed while sharing a mini strawberry cheesecake. elly then, being the doll she is, cut my hair. cheepest hair cut ever. it just cost me a gallon of ice cream. she did a wonderful job! i basically just said go, and she went. she mainly just added layers which will "help my curl" and trimmed the ends. we ended up watching part of stick it while doing this. so much for the "not watching movies or tv" goal. but i figure its okay if it is involved in bonding moments.

she has mad skills. she did this all will right handed scissors for her left handed cutting, and with a wide toothed comb. she is the bestest.
it was a great and tiring day, and one that made me want to be a princess with a castle. anyone know of any castles for sale?