Monday, February 28, 2011

Oui, Oui, Paris!

I am missing these girls today. 
How excellent would it be if they were here with me?

Not to diminish how much I miss them but, I'm going to Paris tomorrow. 
It's about time. 
We're all rushing around trying to create outfits from each others closets.
I'm teaching everyone phrases in French.
We're having a "French Film" night.
Oui, Oui!
Bonjour Paris :)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

My Life.

My life is wonderful.
I'm in London
And making wonderful plans for this summer. 
Check it out!


Something that my whole life has been leading up to.
My idol.
It's all coming true!!!!

An Afternoon Stroll

Yesterday I had one (or a series of) those moments you want to always remember.

It was a rough morning to start the day, all I wanted was a bagel and in the search of one our group got seperated. We didn't end up with bagels but we did get crepes and then chocolate covered strawberries and a fajita from Camden. Julie and I were trying to be productive and go to a museum but upon arrival to the tube stop we confessed how tired we were and all we wanted to do was get out of the rain and lay in our beds listening to music. 
So we did.

I had to prepare my talk for today (Sunday) and as I researched the topic of "godly sorrow" I was feeling glum. To remedy this I put on my rainboots and raincoat and decided to go on a walk. I walked outside to discover it wasn't raining anymore and the sun was making a much anticipated appearance. 

All I brought with me was my iPod and my camera. 
The essentials.
As I walked watching all the people walking with their dogs, feeding the birds, riding bikes, rollerblading, playing soccer (or football, whatever), playing with their kids or just strolling, my mood greatly improved. My mind immediately cleared and all I could do was just look at how beautiful Hyde Park was on a presumably rainy day that turned whimsical.
The first thing I noticed was the emergence of SPRING! There were daffodils in full bloom and other purple flowers on the verge of budding. The grass is always green here so a combination of the grass and flowers made for a great visual.

I kept walking and got to the lake on the far side of Hyde Park. The sun was lowering and it was creating unbelievable effects on the water and on the boat houses along the way.

I couldn't resist taking pictures of myself as I walked around. I found myself just having complete peace of mind and really just smiling at myself as I walked. (I did send a smile to a group of people I walked by and could faintly hear them calling after me, too bad I had my iPod in and "couldn't hear them" haha)

As I reluctantly headed home (mostly because I had to go to the bathroom but also because the sun was rapidly setting), the clouds were doing incredible things and making the sky even more miraculous than it was when I first entered the park. I walked along the far side of the park past the Albert Memorial (which I love) and through some covered paths. Who knew it was such a beautiful day for a walk in the park? :)

"The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be."
Anne Frank

Thursday, February 24, 2011

First Signs of Spring

I love Blog-worthy days!
Today was one of those days. 

It all started when I briefly opened my eyes at probably like 7ish this morning and saw sun coming through the window. I had a brief moment of joy and then rolled over and went back to sleep.
Then I woke up stressing about BYU Admissions, weird? Kind of. Not for me though, for Annie! And thankfully she was ACCEPTED! I sent frantic e-mails and facebook messages to my family to get the news. I finally heard officially during Art (sorry for my facebook during class Sis Crowe :/). 

So I pranced upstairs after class and announced to my room that Annie was IN! Maddy, Julie and I all had sisters waiting to hear and they all got in! They're taking us on sister dates next year whether they want to or not. 
Dining Plus here we come!

So as we all got ready today we were listening to music and bouncing around excited for the day. We all (mostly) wore our Oxford garb that we bought when we were there yesterday (I plan to move there someday and be a student because everything about it screams SARA!.. but that's another story) and we all actually did our hair. Big Day. Julie had some straightening action, Laura and Maddy did the usual curls, and then Laura curled my hair. 

We pranced downstairs where Blake and Ramzi were patiently waiting, sorry guys, and we headed down the street for Pizza Hut Buffet. Yes, we are in London and yes, we ate at Pizza Hut. It was wonderful. We all had 50 slices and 20 breadsticks between the 7 of us. We challenged the rest of the center to do the same. Then clearly that wasn't enough so we got Frog to cleanse the pallet. 

Note: Today was BEAUTIFUL it was at least 50 degrees and sunny. I had a sweater but took it off for the majority of the day. Keep that in mind.

So we then went to go do a walk for class and went to Hammersmith and walked along the Thames. SO GORGEOUS. We watched all the boaters paddle around and took a great number of pictures as we pranced along the river. It was so pretty.

Then we headed back into town for a bike ride! Yes, we just rented some bikes and tooled around Hyde Park on our bikes. Magical. I almost died a few times for 2 reasons: when was the last time I rode a bike? I don't know. Also, I have short legs and bikes are tall. Tragic, yet still fun.

I realize now that my lack of exciting details doesn't really portray how wonderful this day was. But again, the weather was completely and utterly BEAUTIFUL and I was so happy when I saw the sun all day long. Sunglasses and all. *sigh*

Now I'm watching Notting Hill while I in fact SIT in Notting Hill. Or down the street from it. :)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"Are you English?"

Just a quick story that MADE my day:

Julie and I were wandering around over by St. James' Park and Buckingham Palace and a couple stopped us. 
The woman asked me if I was English. 
She thought I looked English!?
I wanted to just say YES! YES! YES!
But that would clearly be a lie with my American accent. 
So I politely said, "Well no, but what do you need?"
She needed directions to the tube, so I led her in the right direction.
Then she and her husband thanked me in French, Merci!
I could have instructed them in French if I wanted!

What a success. 
I was mistaken to be English and I saw an opportunity to speak Francais. 

Yes, I am a Londoner.


We seem to have a problem of judging the amount of time it takes to do things. 
When I say this, I mean for shows. 
So we have to run.

The first time this happened was for The Woman in Black. We got off the tube (after some members of our group got stuck in the doors) and had to ask someone for directions to the theater. A nice man whipped out his iPhone and showed us how to get there and we took off running. Halfway up the massive hill that we were running up, we got exhausted and realized running was a mistake. Too bad. Had to keep running! We got there right before it started and then shook our heads at those that arrived 10 minutes into the show. tsk tsk. 
Like we had any room to talk.

Second time was for Swan Lake. Heather kept informing us of what time it was and that we weren't going to make it. Put your watch away Heather! So we run up the escalators (ugh) at the tube station, ask for directions and take off running. Luckily, this theater was literally right around the corner so our running was unnecessary. Made it in plenty of time.

Then last night: This was the worst of all. Blake, Lyse and I went to Frog and Tesco after dinner and upon arriving home realized everyone had left with our tickets to An Ideal Husband. So we look up what theater it's at and rely on maps to get us there. Of course the Central Line would be slightly delayed so after a long wait we got on the stinkin HOT tube and wait impatiently until we get to our stop. Ask someone for directions, follow them for like 2 minutes and then trusted our instincts. 


So we're running down streets with no clue as to where we're going so Blake (probably thinking all the while that he will NEVER trust girls ever again) asks for directions. The man says we're in for a "trek" and helped him out. 


So we ran.. no sprinted. I should note, we passed like 4 tube stops along the way that we could have gotten off at. So we're sprinting down all these streets, weaving through people, jumping over children, dodging cars etc etc. Eventually we spot the theater, pick up the pace and walk in realizing: oh wait, we don't have our tickets.

Dang it.

So luckily, the people know we're with our BYU group and let us wait until a good point to come into the theater. So we're waiting there as we sweat, take off our layers and pant for air. Then in prance Laura, Julie, Heather, Devon and Maddy. With our tickets. They were late too! haha. What a mess.
Now another note: Laura is always quite aggressive in getting our tickets for things so we can sit together and so that we can have good seats. Naturally she did this for An Ideal Husband. Meaning we had the 8 seats directly in between the professors and in front of everyone else. 


So we prance in late, all sweaty and exhausted feeling completely ridiculous, climbing over people and getting sarcastic comments from everyone in our group. 

So what have we learned? 
Leave EARLY for plays. 
You will embarrass yourself and you will be exhausted after running.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Think Of Me Fondly

This week was one of our first weeks in awhile that we spent a lot of our time here and London and not gallivanting around Europe. 

Tuesday we spent in Southall which is a "Little India" of sorts. We went to a Sikh temple where we fashioned scarves to cover our heads then went to an Indian style meal. I was not thrilled about this excursion because of my picky eating. I enjoyed a nice carb filled meal of rice and na'an and of course a Diet Coke. Luckily all ended well, meaning we got soaked on our walk back to the train and I couldn't see because I took off my glasses. :)

Wednesday: a group of us went to the London Temple. It was a great way to spend the day and it was beautiful! A great sunny day with some incredible puffy white clouds accentuating the sunshine. It really was a great activity and one of the highlights for sure. 

Thursday: Class filled day with a walk to fill the space in between. The walk took us around Parliament, Westminster Abbey and eventually to Buckingham Palace. Later that night we had a spur of the moment decision to go to The Phantom of the Opera. Excellent decision. It was sooooo good. When Christine started singing, I turned to Julie and was said, "Woah! That girl has got pipes!" That pretty much sums up the whole show. It was phenomenal. After it was over, our group ran into another group that happened to be there that same night! Of course, we got a picture.

Friday: Day Trip! We started off by going to Hampton Court Palace where Henry VIII lived during his reign. We still believe he was "out of control" (as Maddy likes to say). We also decided while we were there that for Halloween next year we will have a King Henry and his wives. So British. We also hit up the bridge right by Parliament so we could get a great view of Parliament, Big Ben, the London Eye and the London County Hall all lit up! It was pretty, we were freezing. 

Saturday: another day of Camden Market (aka food). I ate chocolate covered things, a chicken fajita, some apple cider. It was wonderful. I couldn't bring myself to eat anything else until we forced ourselves to go get dinner at like 9pm. It was excellent. 

Sunday: well. Church had no heat today. So we were freezing. However, my little favorite primary child Tommy shone. He shook hands with the other kids when they completed the tower they were building, he dragged me by the hand around to play with him. So darling! Church was followed by the usual makeshift lunch and skype dates. This time with my family and then with Colleen! So happy!

Not an exciting post. Apologies.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Love in London

I get the feeling the title of this post will give the impression that I have found love in London. 
It's just Valentine's Day.

Starting this morning. I was a mess this morning. Not the crying mess, just a tired wreck. Devon just laughed at me as I struggled to stand up, open my eyes and just wake up for breakfast. She then instructed me to just open the door and I would feel better. Low and behold, Ramzi made all the girls Valentines and left them in a beautiful display outside our bedroom door. Darling Boy! So that was sweet! 

Then I pulled myself together and as we were headed out for the afternoon we saw a huge bouquet of roses with a note saying they were for all the study abroad girls. Again sweet! Upon further investigation we discovered they were from the boys in our program. Who knew all these boys took such good care of us!? Darling.

After going to a museum for fine arts, Julie and I met up with Maddy and Laura (a successful meeting time without cell phones- WHAT!) for Ben's Cookies and shopping! We all treated ourselves to new underwear and other goodies from TopShop, wandered around Selfridges looking at chocolate and make-up. I arrived home to flowers from Mom and Dad, :) then dinner and getting ready for the BALLET!

We went to the Royal Opera House and saw Swan Lake which made me think immensely of the movie Swan Princess, rightly so. It was great. I was mesmerized by their feet and body control. All you ballerinas out there: respect. :) I wanted to walk in a more graceful manner all night. 

Of course we finished a classy event with a meeting of the finer things club. Mostly just bread and cheese. Fabulous none the less. 

Happy Valentine's Day from London, friends. I love you all!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Red Hot Chili Pipers

Okay, who has been to Scotland? 
If you haven't, close your eyes and imagine what it looks like. 
Lots of green, right? Hills? Kinda rainy? Sheep roaming around? Kilts? Charming Scotsmen everywhere? 
Okay open your eyes. 
That's exactly what it is and SO MUCH MORE!

I won't give the play by play of how our long weekend played out because while I think it is fabulous and so exciting, I fear others will not feel the same. I'll give some highlights, accompanied by PICTURES!

P.S. the title of this post in reference to a hot band called the "red hot chili pipers" that we discovered

Day One: wake up at the crack of dawn to lug our crap around tube stations and train stations to get to Edinburgh, Scotland, we had some good moment along the way. The best being Heather saying after discussing Chris Farley, "Chris Farley!? He's in my ward!" Oh Heather! Anyway, arrive and check into our hostel and hike up the Royal Mile to get to the Edinburgh castle. After exploring, checking out incredible views, and getting some historical facts we wandered around gift shops, saw a textile mill where all things plaid are made, went in the St. Giles Cathedral, pub for dinner then to top off the day Heather, Devon, Laura and I went to see Annie

(Yes I hated that music for a good portion of my life but what do you expect when your sister's name is Annie and that's the only movie you watch your whole childhood!?). We loved it despite the fact that the little Annie actress hardly cracked a smile. 

Day Two: Wake up bright and early to hike Arthur's Seat, forget Blake along the way, retrieve Blake to which all he can do is shake his head and reiterate, "Cooooooldblooded". Whoopsies. 

Notable hiking events:
1) Losing some stragglers along the way
2) Heather humiliating us by making the slowest appearance in a group photo
3) A beautiful blue sky
4) me slipping multiple times followed by falling on my butt and laughing hysterically
5) singing "The Hills Are Alive" as we frolic down the hills
6) discovering the ruins of an old chapel (photo op!)
7) Blake's confidence in his hiking boots failing him as he has his own slip n slide in the mud
8) laughing so hard at Blake that Devon also falls in the mud

As you can tell: rough day for Blake. After having a re-group after the hike we ate lunch at a place called "The Chocolate Soup". Yes it is as awesome as it sounds. There is real soup which is great and then there's chocolate. You can even get chocolate shots. Which people did indeed get, i refrained. Then we went over to "The Elephant House" where JK Rowling doodled on a napkin and it was there, that Harry Potter was born. We later returned to eat dinner there running into our professors and families. It is strange how in all these foreign cities we run into people from the program EVERYWHERE. 
Anyway, (feel free to tune out) Laura, Heather and I went down to the Holyrood Palace where Mary Queen of Scots spent her days and where the current monarchs reside when they visit Scotland. It was pretty cool PLUS they had some Abbey Ruins that were so pretty- we just love those, a mini Fountains Abbey (google it, we went there a few weeks ago).

After visiting the palace, we we meandered up the Royal Mile visiting various tourist shops, cemeteries, and of course our "Green Hill Faraway" that had GORGEOUS views as the sun was going down. 
We then returned to the "Elephant House" for dinner, discovering the bathroom's decor is Harry Potter themed and it included instructions to get to Tom Riddle's grave! So we decided to venture over to that cemetery. Remember how Blake was having a rough day? We had to drag him into the graveyard after the caretaker, through the light of his cigarette said, "you can come in." creeeeepy. We were rewarded with fried candy bars for fighting our fears and taking a picture with the grave. 

Well, after this our days are fun butttt not quite as exciting. We went to New Lanark where there was a thrilling ride entitled, "Annie MacLeoud" and we hiked to a waterfall that had a strange yellow tint to it. We then went to Stirling (no, not Sterling, VA), and went to see the castle there and then ate dinner at a place called the Kilted Kangaroo. Considereing there isn't much of a nightlife in Stirling we cooped ourselves up in our hostel that was in a cemetery and swapped boy stories and life stories, as usual. 
Final Day in Scotland: we hiked up William Wallace's monument (just for you Braveheart fans!), it was exhausting considering Laura and I booked it up the hill and the 246 stairs. Beautiful views... especially of boys in kilts. 

Oh Scotland, how I love you. In my previous post I stated that I wanted to live in Dulwich, I change my mind. I'll marry a Scotsman and live there forever. I'll even wear a kilt! It was such a fabulous weekend, with a lot of great memories made. We even had an eventful, 6-hour long train ride home where Blake, Julie, Devon and I kind of lost our minds. It's cool. It happens.

Scotland, I'll do my very best to come back. I miss you already.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I'm Moving!

Okay, I'm not moving. But I found my dream place to live. Julie and I went on a little excursion this morning to go to the Dulwich Picture Gallery for our Fine Arts class. As we walked down the street (because we got off the bus wayyyy too early), I realized that I will be living here for the rest of my life. It is right outside of the city, there's an H&M, Topshop and Pound World by the tube station plus there are little parks all over the place, not to mention the art gallery! As we walked, I pointed out the primary school my kids would attend, the salon where I could get my hair done, the cafe's I would eat at. 

All are welcome to visit me in Dulwich Village. 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

So Much Food, So Little Time

While most of my days here are spent looking at, thinking about, or eating treats: today was one of those days where I've done all three in excess.

Looking at: This morning at the Camden Market the following foods were available: chocolate/caramel filled churros, chocolate covered fruit, a fabulous donut/pastry stand, cupcakes, cookies, hot chocolate, and crepes. This does not even include all the other food stands with mexican, italian, indian, thai food etc etc etc. We just kept wishing we had larger appetites to eat it ALL.

Eating: we luckily ate a fair amount of the offered food. Starting with lunch. Laura and Julie ate some of the chicken getting thrown at them essentially from all the asian food options while I ate a large slice of pizza. Then we swiftly returned to the donut stand and then later went to get chocolate covered fruit.

Thinking about: Since our whole day has essentially been based around food (also it's World Nutella Day), we have been thinking about it throughout the entire day. We-- but mostly I--- have been bottomless pits trying to eat all this fabulous food!

Granted, I should clarify that my picky eating habits have persisted since being in London. I still have to avoid Indian food, eggs, ground beef etc etc. Luckily! This in no way applies to most desserts. As demonstrated by my eating habits today... and yesterday... and pretty much everyday. I'll start working on my summer workout plan.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Enchanted Palace

Today was such a good day I need to break routine and write about it. This blog has begun a record of notable things rather than everything I do. As it should be, right?

So this morning, our plan was to be out by 9:30am and get going. When we all woke up around 10, we realized that would not be possible. So we took our sweet time getting ready and Julie and I took an unusually long tube ride to get to the begininng of our London Walk. It was lovely wandering around together and finding a MEXICAN RESTAURANT. I love it. The best part about it, kind of, was that it was so windy. At one point I had to yell for Julie to hear what I was saying-- embarrassing.

After our excellent Burritos/tacos for lunch we went to Kensington Palace and the exhibit they have called the enchanted palace: AMAZING. It is in the Kensington Palace (obviously) and is all about the 7 princesses that have lived there over the years. You have to kind of investigate to figure out who the princesses were and in order to really understand it all you had to ask the "explainers". We learned so much about all these princesses that we want to just become their biggest fans and learn ALL about them!

Note: Mom and Dad, we're going here when you come.

Loved it. Best part about it was we asked one of the "explainers" to tell us about things and she informed us with a lot of interesting details and she even gave us some insight into all things British. We loved it. She talked to us about the upcoming marriage of William and Kate, Princess Diana and all the royals in general. It was great! Anyway, to all those planning on coming to London anytime soon. Add this to your to-do list!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Week of Fail= SUCCESS!

The title of this post comes from the fact that we had a lot of mishaps last week (sorry this pictures are late BTW), Dover castle was closed, had the night wrong for the Opera we were supposed to see, and went to go see a play and got lost and missed that. Oi. Still a great week, mostly just funny that we were all a mess. :)

Also- they're out of order.
Upon arrival to the Dover Castle-- it was closed. Julie and I not so happy, Devon and Heather- happy?
Chipotle in London? Yes please.
Les Miserables

Blake, me and Laura punting down the river Cam at Cambridge.

Student protest- check out Parliament down the street. That's where we came from and walked through all that. 

Finer Things Club (from left to right: Julie, Maddy, Blake, Ashley, Laura, me, Devon, Heather and Lyse)

Tea at Kensington Palace