Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Chapter Three

This past week we went to the West of England.  I really had no idea where we were going or where the west of England was and what there was to do there.  I just got on the bus and hoped that it would be an exciting three days... and it was.  The west of England is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.  

Our first stop was Stourhead Estate.... my future home.... I wish. It was so beautiful and had a mansion that could house probably about 100 people comfortably.  The mansion wasn't even the most impressive part of the estate.  The gardens were.  They surrounded a lake and were filled with dense trees and perfectly manicured lawns.  I can't even express how beautiful it was.  So here are a few pictures that will attempt to do so (although it is a rather poor attempt).  

The next place we went was Thomas Hardy's cottage. I didn't really know who Tom Hardy was. He is an author... a pretty famous one. But aside from that his cottage was cute.  It was nice to see a real country cottage.  The inside was tiny! 
So basically I didn't know that the water in Britain looked like Hawaii.  We went to this cove and it was beautiful! I live by the beach, and I am still amazed.  The water was crystal clear blue and perfectly picturesque.  It was surrounded by cliffs topped with bright green grass.  The whole place was beautiful.  Again. My description can't do it justice.  

The next place we went was St. Michael's Mount.  It was magical. That's really the only way to describe it.  St. Michael's is an island off the coast of Penzance and when the tide goes out you can walk to it on this little old path, but when the tide goes in you have to ride on a boat to get to it.  On top of the island is this old castle and a family still lives in it! How awesome would that be? But it was the first castle I have seen on my trip and it was beautiful.  It was amazing to think that there had been battles on the same ground that I was walking on (and I know there were from the really cheesy documentary we watched about it).  Really though. Things like this are only supposed to exist in fairy tales.   

After St. Michael's Mount we drove about 3 hours to Exeter and stayed the night at a youth hostel... real fun, it really wasn't that bad.  The next morning we wen to Exeter Cathedral, which was absolutely gorgeous.  The building had so much history and portions of it dated back to 1112 AD.  Most of it was in the gothic style, which is just beautiful.  I can't imagine the sacrifice that must have gone into the extreme detail and ornamentation of the building, not to mention the building itself.  The pictures below really don't illustrate how impressive it was.  It was hard to get good ones because the lighting was funny and there were people everywhere, but anyways these were the best I could do.  

After Exeter we drove to this darling town called Lyme Regis.  It was so cute! The beachfront was lined with little shops and cafes, and these cute bright colored sheds.  I got the most delicious ice cream I have ever had in my life... and I have had a lot of ice cream.  We were so lucky to have beautiful weather the entire week.  We just sat out on the Cobb (a pier thing) and attempted to take in the beauty and maybe get a little sun. Unfortunately I am still just as white as I always am.  At least I fit in among all the fair-skinned Londoners.   

So basically this trip was amazing and this really is a brief and inadequate description of the trip and leaves out many details such as our excruciatingly long bus ride and our stay at the really classy YMCA (and I really can't help but put a picture up of the YMCA, so here you go).  

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Chapter Two

My uncle Roger came to visit me in London! It was so fun. I can't even say how nice it was to have family around... don't get me wrong the first week was fun, but kind of hard because I didn't know everyone yet.  So getting a break was just the thing I needed.  We went to this delicious Italian restaurant that had this cute little old Italian man.  So rather than adding that to my list of brief highlights I decided to do another post.  The visit deserved that! 

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Chapter One

Hello all! I have created this lovely blog for all things London, and I suppose all things Lauren... well really all things about Lauren's study abroad in London.  

So I have been in London a week and I am loving it! I have already learned so much and have seen so much and I still have a little more than three whole months left.  It has been kind of hectic, and kind of stressful, and now I am kind of tired, but it has already been one of the best experiences of my life.  

This is my new home... the BYU London Center. I love it! All five stories of it! I live right down the street from Kensington Gardens and Kensington Palace,  it is such a nice location.  I share a room with 12 other girls... which is fun? Really, it is fun, and I really love all of the girls here... and the one boy that is in our group as well.  I have already met so many amazing people and I know we will all become really close throughout the semester.  

I am a little overwhelmed by how much I have done, and am not going to do a day by day debriefing of all things Lauren in London... it would be a bit too much, for you and for me.  So here are the highlights of the past two weeks. 

Tuesday, September 9
Today we started an assignment for my London Walks class (yes I get credits for walking around London).  The walk followed the path of the old Roman wall that surrounded the ancient city.  It was amazing to think that there are still remnants of that wall.  Anyhow, as exciting as ancient walls are, I enjoyed seeing the real current London a little bit more than thinking about the ancient wall.  

I got to see awesome things like the tower of London, with my new friends...

And finding awesome churches, like this one, where mother goose was buried.  I know the door doesn't exactly tell you a lot about the church, but I liked the picture. So I am putting it on here.  
Okay so maybe I am a nerd, but this was my favorite spot of the walk.  It contains remnants of all of the time periods in London's history (well most of them).  The mossy rock in the right hand corner is part of an old Roman tower that was on the Roman wall.  The brick strip on the left hand side is pre-WWII, as are the other walls.  They were all bombed during the WWII air raids.  They found the Roman wall when cleaning up the remnants of the bombings.  Then there is a contemporary building on the right and an old church on the left.  That is exactly how London is though, there are these beautiful old cathedrals, with a modern skyscraper right next door.  They build new in with the old.  I love it.  It is so amazing to be able to walk through the city and see over a thousand of years of history.  Anyways, nerdy moment for the day. I thought it was awesome though.  

Wednesday, September 10
Today we went to Bath and Stonehenge.  The whole day was so amazing (I will be saying that a lot, because everything I have done has been amazing)!  Stonehenge was so cool.  There isn't a whole lot to know about Stonehenge except for the fact that they don't know a whole lot about Stonehenge.  So after seeing how awesome it is we just took a bunch of awesome stonehenge pictures.  It was really fun though, and although they don't know a lot about Stonehenge there is a lot of history behind it.  The rocks apparently came from some mountains in Wales.  It is amazing to think that somehow these ancient people brought these huge rocks to this random field.... I am assuming that whatever it was used for was pretty important.   

After Stonehenge we drove to Bath.  For those of you who are unaware (as I was), Bath has a very long history.  The city started as a Roman temple.  There are ancient baths in Bath (who would have guessed).  The amazing part is that the baths that you see when you are there still use the original drainage and pumping systems, as well as the original sealant for the baths. The picture below is of the baths and Bath Abbey (which was also beautiful).

The city was also home to Jane Austen and two of her books were set there. Anyways enough history. I loved Bath! It was perfect, like out of a book.  The whole city was absolutely pristine and looks as though it hasn't changed since the time that Jane Austen lived there.  Around every corner there were charming houses and gardens.  We went and had a tea at the Pump Room and drank the healing bath water.  It was lovely.... that's really the perfect word for Bath. Lovely. 

I really think I must fast-forward through the rest of the week as this is taking much to long to write.  And really Bath and Stonehenge were the highlights to the week, and I have so much more I must tell you about.  So highlights of the rest of the week were: 

Parliament: went on a tour with the group, absolutely amazing how much history and tradition there is in British government.
National Gallery: I have fallen in love with art. I have never before been so awestruck by it, I cannot believe the amount of detail and beauty in each painting. My favorite was "Madonna of the Rocks" by Leonardo Da Vinci.  
Walk Along the Thames: It is a really fun area of London and has a different feel than central London. 
Portobello Road: So fun. It is this awesome market with antiques and fun shops.  I got cute new shoes and a new wallet to hold all of the change that they give you in Britain! That is one thing I am still getting used to.
Thames Festival: I ate delicious Moroccan food.  It was delicious.  
Vivaldi Concert: I hadn't really ever love loved classical music, like I liked it, but never loved it.  This concert was so amazing.  I love classical music now. 
The Tube: I love the tube. It is a great place to people watch, and a great way to get around London.  I think I have a pretty good handle on it now, although I still have to use the tube map. 

I feel awful for skipping over such amazing portions of the week, but it might take me a whole week to explain them in detail. Everything I have done has been so amazing... that's really the only way to describe it.  Amazing.