Monday, January 31, 2011

Do You Hear the People Sing?

First of all: it is after midnight and I am still awake. This is weird because I am always the first to give up and roll over to sleep every single night. But here I am too happy to sleep.

Today was the day that we saw Les Miserables. Okay, I've seen it in DC and saw our high school production twice. Maybe it was the magic of seeing it London? Maybe it was the people we were with? Maybe it was me? Who knows. All I know, is that I love it ALLLLLL over again.

The night all started with all of us getting all dressed up to go see it. That made it more fun. We looked cute and felt cute and were off to see a musical on the West End in London. Magical. So we zip over on the tube and as we're walking over we round the corner to see "LES MISERABLES" everywhere. So of course we start taking pictures, getting really giddy, and walking faster to get there (out of excitement and because we were cold). Scurry in to find our seats, take some pictures, tell Julie not to cry and indulge in the music. sigghhhhhhh. Bliss.

After seeing it this time, it reconfirmed my love for Eponine and "On My Own". She is by far my favorite character. Of course I liked Jean Valjean but that's just obvious. PLUS in this production, Javier's voice was aaaaamazing, plus he was Black. Yes.

After the final bows, we all wiped our tears and skipped the whole way home. We sang, we chattered and most of all we were excited that the night wasn't even over.

We have established a "Finer Things Club" here at the Centre. If you are an Office fan you will remember when Pam, Toby and Oscar get together for their finer things club to discuss literature and other things of substance. Our club consists of eating and laughing. Today was the ultimate club gathering. We ate lots of bread with cheese, pesto, and olive oil. We also had some nice juices, some grapes and a lot of chocolate. It was great.

A night of sophistication in London-- or lack thereof I suppose. We embarrass ourselves in public. That's okay. Oh but wait, the sophistication continues. We're having tea at Kensington Palace tomorrow.

I'll leave you with my favorite line from the music of Les Miserables :)
"To Love Another Person is to See the Face of God."

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Parliament Protests

This morning we had a scheduled tour at Parliament. It was great! Unfortunately you can't take any pictures inside but it was a great tour! We walked the same route that the Queen herself takes when she visits Parliament every year. The new Parliament building was built in like 1840 so it was during Queen Victoria's reign and our tour guide kept referring to her as, "The Young Queen". We kept looking at each other because we watched "Young Victoria" last night and knew alllllll about our dear Queen Victoria.

Note: I am obsessed with Victoria & Albert and everything they've ever done.

Anyway, our tour was really interesting and quite informative. Another interesting tidbit is that we were in a room where the Tudors and the Stewarts had their portraits and our guide was explaining the succession from King Henry VII down to Elizabeth I. Except, on the other wall their was a portrait of Lady Jane Grey and she did not even mention dear Jane and her reign for the short nine days before Queen Mary. It was so interesting, mostly considering I just read Nine Days A Queen and feel for sweet Jane. Random but, I thought it interesting.

Heather and I in front of Parliament
So after our tour we were making the walk from Parliament to Trafalgar Square to go to the National Gallery for our art class. As we were walking, we quickly realized that we were walking against the protest that was held today by students, angry about raising tuition. It was pretty exciting! There were people chanting "Revolution, Revolution!" (among other things), holding banners, banging on drums, and lighting flares. It was awesome. It was peaceful and safe Mom, I promise. We just caught the protest bug as we walked by and resisted the temptation to join in. Instead we just took pictures. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

What A Prankster....

So I have this friend, Maddy. It's fun to tease her. She doesn't brush her hair sometimes, she throws her computer at Julie, has a re-group on Thursdays and today she lost all her pajama bottoms.

Okay, so she didn't lose them. Julie and I may have taken them and hidden them. So when it came time for her to get ready for bed she was frantically running around looking for her other half of her pajamas. Naturally I was laughing hysterically on my bed unable to control my giggling. Eventually she said, "Sara! What did you do with them!" For some reason I always get blamed for EVERYTHING. Granted, most of the time I am involved if not behind it all but this time- I had my partner in crime Julie.

It all turned out great. Maddy found her PJ's in Laura's drawer and is now fully clad in her floral pajama set. It sure made for a good laugh though. Oh Maddy, pull yourself together :)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

London Film

On Monday a group of us went to see the King's Speech. I realize in the States it has an R rating but I justified it for myself because I'm in London and it's applicable to my life.

It was AWESOME. Colin Firth was great and so was Geoffry Rush. We went to the quaint theater down the street where we paid 3 pounds for the movie. They had renovated an old theater (as in plays) to a movie theater so they had some balconies, great velvet seats, it was so fun. We had zero leg room and the lady behind me's knees were pulling on my hair but the movie made up for it.

The best part about it was that there was a scene in Regent Park and coincidently I had been there that VERY day walking down the same path as Colin Firth! Then they had a scene at Buckingham Palace, been there too! It was so cool! The funniest thing was that every time Winston Churchill came onscreen everyone in the theater would laugh and the hair pulling woman behind me said under her breath, "oh, how ridiculous". It was like we were being excluded from some big English joke. Granted, his character is played by the same guy who plays Wormtail on Harry Potter, so maybe that was why he was ridiculous? Who knows.

Anyway, the movie was FABULOUS, and I just loved seeing it here. It may not have been as good in Provo. Sorry.

As for the rest of my life in London? Well, I've done some shopping this week and we had a trip to Dover and Canterbury today which, was fun yet kind of a bust considering we couldn't do everything as planned. I had some quality sleeping time on the bus which was needed after kitchen crew this week. It wears you out for SURE. So, I guess it was a success because I got to sleep and then we got some Mexican food once we got back to London, nothing could have made me happier. Oh but WAIT, I got goldfish from my mom. 

Life is Lovely.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

18 Years Young

Considering I am an awful older sister because Annie will not receive a present from me this year for her birthday: A blog post, just for her.

Our family events would just not be the same without Annie doing something to make everyone laugh, make a weird face, or shushing her. She is just too lively to control. The story we all like to share that illustrates this is that she was talking to my dad about getting a new car for college, and her argument to rid herself of the civic was, "Dad, it's not big enough for my personality!" So true sister but I think you're stuck with the civic and will have to wait on that range rover. Maybe you'll get the bike you dream of one day :)

Who knew that after you stole my blanket it would become your favorite item so many years later and that we would grow out of this phase.

Happy Birthday from the land of our ancestors Annie, I'll say hello to Canterbury and Dover for you tomorrow as you celebrate and get spoiled :)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Week of Ibis

Strawberry Fields in Liverpool
Fountains Abbey
How most of our trips are spent

Be a statue!
Preston Temple
Sleepover girls, at our charades game
Beatles Museum- ignore my scarf that is taking over my body

All You Need is Love

Well after a weekend of bus rides, hotel rooms and essentially ridiculous antics, we're back in London. Home sweet home. Who knew I'd be happy to get back to a room of 14 girls and bunk beds?

Our first adventure was taking the morning to drive to Fountains Abbey right outside of York up north. It was such a pretty place and even though we unfortunately didn't have too much time there, it was really great to walk around and see the beautiful place we were in. It was an area that was secluded from everything and had trees and a great little rive running through it. We have gotten pretty lucky with a mostly sunny week and that made it even more fun.

We were left to entertain ourselves in York that night after we checked into our hotel. Which was much nicer than expected and Laura and I loved having a bathroom for just the two of us. But surprisingly, York shuts down at around 5:30pm so we ate dinner and just hung out in the hotel trying to get to know everyone in our group better and just having a lot of fun. Julie and Maddy came to our room for a sleep-over which resulted in our guests getting most of the covers and most of the bed. We also came to realize the evolution of "the sleepover": first sleepovers you stay up late, eating, talking, playing games. Then you get into the stage of turning a movie on, talking and falling asleep at a normal hour. And finally, as evident from this weekend, you read and go to bed without talking too much. Have we grown up or just gotten boring? Or is that the same thing? :)

The next morning we walked the Roman Wall in York and went to the York Minster/Cathedral. I've realized that having a guided tour is much better than wandering around on your own, it is much more interesting. It is really great to walk around these cathedrals and Abbey's but I may be nearing a point where, you see one- you've seen 'em all. Then we went to Preston.

We went on a church history tour in Preston which, despite the freezing weather, was really interesting. We saw where the first missionaries in England (and later President Hinckley) preached the Gospel, where the missionaries lived, where the saying "Truth will Prevail" came from, and where the first baptisms were. We ended the tour by going to the Preston Temple which we timed PERFECTLY because we got there right at sunset so it was beautiful. After seeing all the Catholic/Church of England Abbeys and Cathedrals, it was nice to see a temple :)

We ended up in Liverpool that night, set free to entertain ourselves again. We went to dinner and then returned to the hotel where we entertained ourselves by playing charades, listening to the Beatles and really getting to the bottom of everyones personal lives. We had the quite the night of hilariously, bizarre things happening.

In the morning, after another (this time forced) sleepover, we went to the Beatles Museum in Liverpool. It was fun to BE where all that musical history began. We then got mexican food for lunch- the happiest I've been since I ate my first crepe here, and returned to the bus to trek home.

We had a GREAT weekend of getting to know everyone better, seeing fun things and just getting out of London to see the rest of England. I'm starting to realize how little I care about what is going on in the U.S. the more I spend my time here. Who knows what's going on on Grey's Anatomy! I guess I'll find out in a few months, but for now I am loving London.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Defying Gravity

Before I get to the main event of this week thus far, a quick recap!

Unfortunately, I'm not too exciting. I've spent a lot of time doing homework, granted my homework in London is somewhat different then "Provo Homework". I did have to do a bunch of reading on Sunday and pretty much everyday but it's also included being out and about in London.

First thing was the Victoria and Albert Museum- so far my favorite. I realize I haven't been to that many yet BUT I love just wandering around that beautiful building and I looooove the hall of sculptures right down the middle. They're mostly sculptures of greek/roman gods and goddesses. I don't know why they enchant me so much haha.

Then today we did a walk for our London Walks class (original right?), we crossed across the Thames and tooled around by the river walking by the Globe Theater, a cathedral, the Borough Market, the London Bridge and across the Tower Bridge to the Tower of London. It is such a beautifully, sunny day which made it GREAT! Cold but sunny :) After our walk we went over to the Museum of London- cool but not as great as Victoria and Albert, of course.

Now the main event: Wicked. We went to the Apollo Victoria to see it last night and I was excited but I've seen it before so not jumping out of my skin excited. Then it started and I remembered why I loved it. It is clever and Elphiba always blows me away! Loved every minute-- especially how excited everyone that hadn't seen it before was :)

Tomorrow morning we're headed North for a couple days. We'll be back on Saturday and I'll be sure to update on Sunday as usual :)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

I've Only Been Here a Week!?

It seems impossible that it's only been like 10 days that I've been here! We've just done so much! I know these pictures may not be that exciting but I feel as if the pictures with people IN THEM are more interesting than just "things". Enjoy!
Harrods :) The most wonderful store!
Crepes are the dessert of choice and this one is probably my favorite one, it has strawberries, white chocolate and whipped cream. Delish!
Stonehenge! This is on the opposite side of it, you can get a lot closer to it on the other side but I'll have to steal other peoples pictures for those shots

The British Museum. This is where we had to do our "homework" for two of our classes this week. Had to look at artifacts and then sketch our favorite and least favorite pieces of art. My kind of homework

Right across the street from the museum they had a great little portrayal of life in London :)

The Roman Baths. Which was so cool, mostly just a great building with a lot of history.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Secrets to London

Okay, I have to be honest. I'm slightly weary of blogging. Who knew the day would come. It's only because I write the same things in multiple e-mails and in my journal so it all just seems repetitive but it's okay. I understand people read this. I'll keep writing. :)

Life in London has started to consist of two things: walking and food. I'm hoping one will cancel out the other but we'll just have to see at the end I suppose. 

The walking we do is around museums and other various historical sites. Since my last post we have walked around Soho, Chinatown, Trafalgar Square, Victoria and Albert Museum, British Museum, around Salisbury Cathedral, Stonehenge, Bath, going to Chicago and 39 Steps, Portobello Road,  and Camden Market. Phew. This doesn't even include a lot of getting lost and walking to and from tubes and such. Phew. Considering we've done so much walking today, just thinking about it makes me exhausted.

Now fooooooood :) We get fed breakfast and dinner here at the center so we're on our own for lunch and treats. And we definitely eat treats. We have gone out for crepes probably at least 3 times this week and then cookies and other things. We just need something sweet after every meal so we have to get it somehow! My favorite so far has been a raspberry tart I got at Patisserie Valerie and the strawberry cream crepe at Creme de la Crepe. Yum. Also, every time we go to the grocery store we buy the three essentials: candy, bread and cheese. Good cheese is super cheap here and so good so that has become a great midnight snack.

Another thing to know about London- any accent or ethnicity is acceptable, except being an American. No one else gets looked down on or annoyed at unless you are an obnoxious, stupid American. It's okay. I've accepted it and still refuse to fake an English accent.

Well there you have it: the secret ingredients to a great London adventure. And it's still only just beginning. I'm sure I'll go get a treat tonight in fact.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sundays in London

Today was the first sunday here in London and we went to our assigned wards. We were all put in groups of three or so and assigned to two different stakes in the area the Hyde Park Stake and my stake (which the name has left me for now). We didn't get our "assignments" (not callings) yet but I'll get an e-mail in the next week or so about what it is. We meet in a school building and it is a REALLY small ward. We are already on the schedule to teach relief society and give talks in sacrament meeting. We had to take the tube, to the train and then walk a couple blocks to the building. Today we had a very eventful trip there. Didn't know what we were doing first of all, then on the train a woman told us that she loved our accents, aren't they the ones with accents? She was really nice and really intrigued about the United States. We got lost while trying to find our building and a man in a McDonalds was really great to help us find our way then we saw a man we met on the train and he yelled across the street to us, "OH! It's the New Yorkers!"... almost. haha. It was fun, it's very different from any ward I've ever been in, but that's the point!

Since my last post we have done more exploring of course! Two nights ago we ventured to Picadelly Circus which was a little bit like a mini Times Square, then to Chinatown which was like any other Chinatown. BUT we found the BEST dessert place. I ordered the raspberry tart which looked tasty and when the woman handed it to me she said that I ordered the best thing in the house- SCORE. And she was right. I died and went to heaven it was so good and I'm STILL raving about it.

Yesterday we slept in which I think really helped to fix the jet lag, and we headed to Buckingham Palace to watch the changing of the guard, the Queen was "in residence" but she didn't say hello unfortunately. It was mostly just fun to people watch, so much diversity! I love it! We were freezing our butts off though so we decided to venture over to Harrods to "warm up".

I kept thinking about Parent Trap when we were there when the mom tells "Annie", "let's go get lost in Harrods". She was NOT kidding. I quite literally got lost looking at all the expensive wonderful things. Just about EVERYTHING was out of my price range but it was really fun to just venture through. So we were starving of course after that so we decided to get something to eat (elsewhere). We eventually chose this Chinese restaurant. MISTAKE! we were charged $5 for our water and no one spoke. It was so uncomfortable and we did not know what the etiquette was and we just couldn't wait to get out of there. Never go to a restaurant without researching haha.

So then we had a play to get to (The Woman in Black- creepy crawly but good!), and we were running suuuuper late. So we RAN everywhere we went. A girl got caught in a tube door, some got ditched on a platform, lost a pack of gum, almost got hit by cars, got yelled at by car drivers, and finally: arrived just in time to get in.

After the play we went over to Camden Gardens and got cookies from Big Ben's cookies and dinner at a pizza place and just explored all the fun shops. There was a group of strings players playing and they were quite entertaining, one man would continually play but chase after people, give seducing poses and just creep. It was hilarious. That night we returned to the Center for a night of chatting and laughing.

It's only been like 4 days and I'm already having the time of my life! Holy London!

Pictures of Week 1!

Okay so I only have limited access to internet where I can post pictures so I'm going to try and add some like once a week on here of the previous week. Here are some of my London Excursions so far:

I look awful, but that was the best dessert I have ever had

ENJOY! Happy to explain pictures if warranted :)

Friday, January 7, 2011

A Foggy Day in London Town

I'm pretty sure I underestimated the weather here. I knew it would rain, I knew it would be foggy- but seriously. It RAINS and is ALWAYS foggy. I don't really mind it too much though with my boots, an umbrella and a rain jacket. Plus, I've accepted that I will NEVER do my hair (variations of "the ponytail" will be great!)

Two updates in a row, this is great! Today we woke up to go over to the Tower of London, which was somewhat depressing through a lot of it but the Crown Jewels seriously made up for it. So many shiny, huge diamonds. I was just standing there in the rain staring at everything in awe. It's just so pretty seeing everything in person.

After that, we had a very non-authentic lunch at Subway, hopped back on the Tube and went to Westminster Abbey. My favorite place BY FAR, even though I'm sure it'll change. It was so cool to just see all the different people that were buried there, how huge it was, how beautiful the building itself was, and just how much history is in that one place. We snuck some secret pictures (didn't get caught, phew) and just wandered around looking at who was there. It was SO gorgeous.

Thennnn we just ventured around over to Trafalgar Square and more Tube riding. A lot of close calls with cabs-- as in, almost getting run down. I really need to learn to look left for cars coming. They do after all drive on the other side of the road.

I'm so so sorry that I don't have pictures yet, I have them on my computer but can't download them using my internet here at the Center. I'll have to just do "photo posts" here and there. Tomorrow we have a play and the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. Who knows what else will happen though. We've done a lot of wandering around just staring at things lately, it's just as amusing as doing anything else so far!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Just Touched Down in Londontown

I'm here! I got to London.... yesterday? today? 2 days ago? Who knows. All I know is today is Thursday and I'm still jet lagged, close to recovery I think. Throughout my travels I think I slept like 15 minutes in each airport and like an hour on the plane. So basically 24+ hours without sleep, but we HAD to acclimate so we just kept on staying awake and made it until like 9:30 before I passed out.

Besides the jet lag however, things are GREAT here on the island. No culture shock to speak of and we are just wandering around London trying to get used to our surroundings. Today for example we decided to go get dessert and just hopped on the tube, picked a station and started walking around. We ended up grabbing a waffle from a waffle stand then heading over to King's cross to embrace our inner Harry Potter and visit platform 9 3/4. (Which proved to be hard to find!) -Pictures to come-

Loving Life in London. I'll try and keep this updated but our internet at the center is TERRIBLE, I'm currently sitting in a McDonalds a couple blocks away so this will be the place to blog. Love to all from Londontown!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I'm Off!

Okay, the time has come! I'm off on my European adventure :)
I'm really excited and anxious to just BE there! 
This will be an amazing experience and can't wait to get started!
See everyone in a few months!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Remembering 2010

As I sat on my couch in pajamas this year with my parents, a few of my friends, and Annie's friends raging downstairs, I rang in the year 2011. I have to admit, I don't really like New Years, a lot of hype for like a five second celebration. It is a great symbol though to reflect on the past year. I have to say, I can't think of any seriously defining, extra exciting events that have happened but it has been a good year.

I've traveled around some I suppose. Trips around Utah, Idaho, Arizona, North Carolina, New York and of COURSE, Virginia and Washington D.C.

I've mostly just made a lot of great memories, with great people. I'll post some of my favorite pictures as a highlight of my life in the year 2010.












Holy Pictures! I really do document my life even if I feel like I don't. Hope everyone's not sick of looking at me. Happy new year :) Time to start new memories!