Sunday, May 30, 2010

It's been awhile...

Well, I've been slacking in the blog department recently. Have no fear, the rest will be a short summary for each day of the past week. I'll also be adding photos to the slideshow, so take a look.


Today we adventured to a neighborhood a little ways away. It seemed very unassuming, but houses the BBC recording studios. We had a good time listening to the BBC Singers rehearse again and then ate a wonderful (and inexpensive) lunch in the canteen. Afterwards, Josh, Jake, Phil, and I launched into our own adventure for the afternoon.

We first explored Fortnum and Mason’s. The 5-star grocery/department store just off Piccadilly Circus. So many good things. I bought a slice of cheesecake and three chocolates. The chocolates each cost £1, but they were worth it. I am just going to make sure that I don’t return and spend more money! (As a side note, the normal-sized-box of Lucky Charms costs £8!) I do think everyone should at least take a walk through the store to see all the amazing things and the staff dressed in coat and tails.

After our first exploration, we ventured over to the banking district to visit the Bank of England. They have a museum that is decent. The most enjoyable parts of the museum were the gold bar that you get to hold and the discussions of the modern currency. The gold bar weighs over 25 pounds and is worth just more than £327,000!


Today I woke up, still feeling a sore throat. However, I wasn’t going to let that cancel my part in the Canterbury adventure. I took some meds and felt quite well as we ran to catch the bus. The adventure of the morning was getting Jake to the bus. It turns out that due to the Queen’s opening of Parliament, a lot of streets were closed, including the place we were to meet the bus on the banks of the Thames. So we all met up outside the tube station and walked across the Westminster Bridge to an area behind Marriott. Jake wasn’t with us because he woke up later than he should’ve. We were in text contact with him while he was in the tube and we were crossing the bridge. He was stuck in the tube, not moving. We were able to redirect his path to hopefully meet up with us before the bus left. We started to think there was hope as the bus driver was opening the engine compartment to look at something. Jake called and we told him to run across the bridge to us. He made it! In time for us to call the trip off.

So, the bus was overheating, thus the looking “under the hood.” The driver said it would work out, but Dr. Staheli and Sister Hall decided they didn’t want to get stranded on the side of the freeway somewhere. The decision was made to go on the London Eye and see WarHorse in the evening. We wandered over to the Eye and ate lunch before catching our “flight.”

The flight was incredible. It was tons of fun and the view was great. Most of our pod was BYU people. We took many photos of each other and the various sights of London. It helped to get my own view and understanding of the geography from above.

When we finished our flight, we found out that there weren’t enough tickets for everyone to go to WarHorse, so they were turning us loose for the day. The decision was made that Steve, Emily, Jake, Phil, Nathan, Sister Hall, Oliver (Sister Hall’s son), and I would head to the Tower for the afternoon.

The Tower was incredible! The tour was a little lackluster, due to our Beefeater, but the experience was good. Hearing the historical stories again, this time where the events actually happened was memorable. After taking afternoon tea at the little cafe, we went to see the crown jewels. They were very impressive. Interestingly, a few things from the collection were missing with labels stating: In Use. That was a neat idea; the queen was officially opening Parliament and needed her state crown, the sword of state, and two maces for the event. The idea of a living museum was fun; both the fact that pieces are still used and the fact that pieces get created and made from time to time.

After we finished at the Tower, Jake, Phil, and I went to get our tickets for Mamma Mia! The show was so much fun! Especially after the seriousness of Les Mis, the laughter was most welcome. The costumes were fun and the sets were well-crafted. The stone patio flooring that became a disco floor was fun, as was the wooden walkway that could morph in various ways into a raised dock. The idea of having a sing-along at the end for encores is really innovative and fun, especially with everyone standing and dancing along.


Today was a bit hazy...I’ve been in recovery mode for most of the day. I woke up unsure if I wanted to do anything, but decided that I needed to be in our last day of class before the break. I was happy that my throat was mostly feeling better and the illness had moved on to the exhausted, achy phase. I was able to get ready just in time for class.

Class was hard to stay awake and aware through, but I managed somehow. That being said, I loved getting home and crawling into bed. I slept for a few hours until it was time to get ready for the concert. Once again, it was hard to get going, but I really wanted to hear the concert. Phil, Josh, and I made it to the concert just as it was about to start. The concert was great, but being sick made it hard for me to concentrate.


Today was decent, but not amazing. Most of the morning was lazy. We decided to go to the Indian place that Robert had recommended for dinner. It was incredible! The flavors were great and the cost was comparable to the prices we would find in Provo.

Watching The Lion King was a phenomenal experience! The opening scene was worth every penny I paid! (And the fact that our tickets were only £21 was a nice touch, too!) Seeing the animals and sets made the day worth living. Really, I would be content to sit down and watch the opening scene about five times in a row and go home. It is that good. I also liked the costumes were just right: not too crazy, but very innovative. I’m not surprised that it won all the Tony awards it did. That being said, I’m not surprised it didn’t win the Tony awards centering on music and acting, that isn’t the show’s goal.


The temple trip took all of the day, but was completely worth it. We left pretty much on time and caught our train at Victoria station with a bit of time to spare. It took us a minute or two to figure out how to reclaim the tickets we had purchased online, but things ran smoothly.

As we walked in, we grabbed our clothes from the rental desk. This turned into a humorous moment. I was the last to pay. Emily and Jake had used £10 notes to pay for their rental clothing. I only had £20 notes, so that was what I used. The woman apologized and said she would have to pay me in change. I was unsure of what that meant, but soon found out. I got a £5 note and the other £10+ came in the form of coinage!

What made this even funnier was the gelato experience last night. Jake paid for his with 3 £1 coins. I paid using a £5 note after him. Instead of giving me 2 £1 coins for change, the girl counted out a handful of coins to give me my change. The moral of the story: don’t follow Jake when paying for something with cash!

Anyway, the temple was fun. I’ve not been a patron for so long, it was good to be on the receiving end of the experience.

Walking out of the session into the celestial room was amazing! The room is very regal in its design, as it should be in England. After all, when I think of royalty, I think of England. The ceiling was a glorious blue sky with clouds throughout. The chairs were gold and there were huge mirrors. It was a great place.

After we finished in the temple, we walked around the grounds for a bit. They are gorgeous. I wish I could see the grounds as they were before the temple had been built; apparently the site was a prize-winning garden. We noticed that the stream, though, had backed itself up on the grate. It became the quest to clean it out and help the stagnant water disappear. Admittedly, Emilie and I just watched while Josh and Jake made it their quest.

The cab driver took us to the wrong station. We ended up hopping on the train anyway. Luckily, the conductor of the train was really friendly and let us ride the train; part of that had to do with the fact that we could’ve bought our tickets for half-price if we had purchased them as a block of four pass. Well, I was nice of him, because we weren’t in the mood to deal with problems.


Today was lots of fun! Phil and I adventured on Portobello Road. We walked down the road for quite a while. There were tons of things to see. It would be fun to be a collector and search the stalls for specific items. We wandered past lots of good foods, also. Eventually we found the bag stall that I had been told about. I found a bag that I purchased for £10. I’m happy to have my bag — my pockets are free of junk! The whole time we were walking, it was misting on and off. Well, shortly after getting the bag and doing more exploring, the rain began. We found our way to another tube stop and hopped on.

Our next stop was the TKTS booth in Leicester Square. We picked up tickets for Chicago. They were the most expensive tickets I’ve gotten so far, at £35, but I can’t really complain. They were for the sixth row and normally go for close to £60. After that we dashed over to Piccadilly Circus to stop in at Lilywhite’s. We picked up England polos for £5! I will probably go back and get an official soccer jacket in a few days. We were just running short on time.

We had to make it over to Westminster Abbey in time for the rehearsal. We made it just as the group was heading to enter the Abbey. Phil and I were pretty lucky. I enjoyed the rehearsal and evensong, especially since the hymns centered on the monarchy, with God Save the Queen and I Vow to Thee My Country. The best part, however, was when the Assistant Organist, James McVinnie, invited the organists in our group to see the organ before the service began. It is a marvelous instrument. Even better, though, was the invite he gave after evensong to come back whenever and to e-mail them so I could sit up in the loft and see the organ in action. I can’t wait to take advantage of that!

After we finished at the Abbey, Phil and I headed off for Covent Garden to get a bite to eat before the show. We had great salads at a little cafe and then went into the show. I enjoyed the show. The dancing and singing were likely the best we've seen since getting here.

Not too much happened today. Life is good.

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