Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Week (almost) in Oxford...

This week was not incredibly eventful...but nothing is exciting after spending an unforgettable night at Stonehenge!

So, the basics about this week:
-practiced almost every day at Wadham College. nice organ. heavy touch. I need to get back on my piano technique!
-spent most of my time every day in the Bodleian Library special collections. no windows. lots of research. lots of digital photographs and notes.
-lots of World Cup watching...too bad the US just lost.

Today I met up with Ruth and had a nice chat as we wandered through Oxford. It was fun getting a tour by a "local." Afterwards, I met up with Sarah, a girl that is also headed to Cambridge tomorrow. Had fun getting to know another PKP-er.

Well, tomorrow I head to Cambridge. I can't wait!

p.s. no pictures this week, at least of sites. the only pictures were of my manuscripts...sorry! I'm sure there will be plenty starting tomorrow!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Summer Solstice!

So, since the last post, lots of adventures!

Sunday was fun! I got to go up in the organ loft during Evensong at Westminster Abbey. I talked with Jamie, the Assistant Organist that recently graduated from Cambridge, and the other organists at the Abbey. I learned a lot and had a good time. One of the fun parts was seeing the scrambling for the Psalm of the day; the music was nowhere in the loft, so Jamie ran to another building to get a copy. Of course, this was during the service...but then again, no one could see because of the choir screen. Another fun bit was hearing the duet organ recital in the evening. The finale was "The Stars and Stripes Forever!" It was really funny hearing that piece played in the heart of England, right in the center of government!

The evening, however, was when life really picked up! I met up with Heather and Emilie at the Waterloo station and we grabbed the train for Salisbury. There were A LOT of people getting on the train, and more got on with each successive stop. Between all the clues, we figured that most of the people on the train were headed to Stonehenge for the Solstice. We were right. When we got to Salisbury, we took the bus out to the site. There were tons of people there, and more kept arriving as the night wore on. We saw an interesting sculpture made of metal that appeared to represent a man praying, towards the stones. Then we got talked to by two men (named Jonathan and Jonathan) that were at the event to talk about Christianity with people searching for answers. There were lots of people there who need such help, but many were in...less than good states at the time. We saw lots of people drinking and smoking and cheering and having a good time. We saw some druids, and people having a good time dressed as druids. We made it to the central area of Stonehenge once in the night and decided that was enough for then, we had touched the stones. We settled in, talked, and people watched for a long portion of the night.
About 3 AM, the sun's first light was beginning to appear. We got up and grabbed some hot chocolate. We then found the charcoal heaters that were set up and warmed for a bit. As the light was getting stronger, we wandered over to get a spot on the ridge behind the stones. Everyone was waiting, waiting, waiting. We had a woman behind us that had a microphone and a small speaker that was presenting herself as the Stonehenge Center Stage, or somethingorother. She kept having people come up and announce things and got people playing music to step up to the mike. Such comedy! She also kept discussing the history of the summer solstice festival...according to her account, there is a colorful past! It didn't help that there were lots of clouds just on the horizon. However, the sun peeked out from the clouds just after sunrise and there was a loud cheer (after the many false alarms people gave). I got some good pictures (check them out!), despite not being in the perfectly aligned place. We were close...
Afterwards, we wandered into the circle, as people dispersed. Our tickets were off-peak, so we couldn't catch the train until 9:45, anyway. We got some better pictures and were able to see the middle. Of course, we touched the stones again. And our friends that led the Center Stage now were in the middle, discussing anti-government things. How fun!
We made our way back up the hillside to the bus and made it into town. I slipped off to a few seconds of sleep on the bus, but not much. We sat around the train station, with a growing crowd of people in similar situation to ourselves, waiting for 9:30 when we could even enter the station with our tickets. By the time we made it in, there were TONS of people waiting for the train. We got packed in (people standing in all the aisles and in the areas by the doors) and still not everyone made it on. Then we began the ride into London. I was standing, so much for my dreams of a nap! The most interesting part was watching people try to get on at each station we passed through. Obviously, hardly anyone was getting off, and you could see that every space on the train was filled with a body...but they still tried to get on. It was a tight squeeze, at times. Even better was the people who tried to move down the aisles to see if there was room in the next car... Some people!
Once we made it to London, Emilie and Heather ran off to get things done before their flights home tomorrow. I came home and got some things done (including, of course, a shower) before taking a nap! It felt great to get about 6 hours of sleep after not sleeping for 27 hours. I'm sure I could've kept going, but I would've been miserable and not enjoyed anything at all. Since then, I've been getting stuff completed...I leave in the morning for Oxford!

Other News:
-my supervision seems to be worked out for Cambridge
-I have an organ to practice in Oxford
-my honors thesis was (finally) approved
-world cup...

I'll try to post the pictures tonight. If the internet here is too slow or refuses to do so, I'll be sure to do it tomorrow at the Oxford library. Their internet will be able to handle it, I'm sure.

Friday, June 18, 2010


This week I have spent lots of time at the museums, specifically the National Portrait Gallery, National Gallery, and Transport Museum. The National Portrait Gallery was the best of the three. By walking through (over the afternoons of three days), I saw the history of England play out while the development of Western art was displayed. The National Gallery was fun, as they had lots of Rubens and Turner. It was amazing to see the paintings on the walls that have been in my art history textbooks. As far as the Transport Museum, it was fun to see the history of the tube system, but I really wanted to see a scale model of the tube doesn't exist yet.

In other news:
*Lots of World Cup!
*I practiced at the Hyde Park chapel today, will again tomorrow and on Monday.
*I'm headed to Westminster Abbey on Sunday to sit in the organ loft during Evensong and will join the choristers afterwards for food. The organist was recently a student at Cambridge, so good things will happen with that, hopefully.
*Stonehenge and the Summer Solstice happens on Monday morning. I will be there.
*Still no recently updated photos online.

...more to come as more happens!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Home, again!

The last full day of the study abroad program was busy, but fun. Jake and I went to Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guard. We didn't stay for all of the pageantry, but heard lots of fun band music and enjoyed the official event. Then we went to Harrod's so Jake could see it.
Next we went over to St. Paul's Cathedral. The tour was INCREDIBLE! Hearing about the history of the cathedral increased my knowledge of the history of London. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable. After the tour, we took the hike to the top of the was a lot of steps, but well worth it. At the first gallery, the whispering gallery, I enjoyed the view. However, the best part was experimenting with the whispering qualities of the gallery. Jake and I sat on opposite sides of the dome and spoke at normal levels and had a conversation; despite all the people walking around and talking, we heard each other quite clearly. Afterward, we headed up to the next level (outside), where we got some shots of the city. Then we made the final climb. We got to look through the oculus of the dome down at the floor — long way! Then onto the top outdoor gallery with high winds and great views! The stairs down were a little steep, but truly, the adventure was great!
For our last stop, we traveled across the Millennium Bridge and ducked into the Tate Modern. I was not impressed with much of the work. I think I will have to go see the Tate Britain and the National Gallery to be happy. However, the idea of housing a museum in an old power plant was fun.
Then we dashed home to change and run to the evening's concert. We heard the Philharmonia Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall. They played the Brahm's Violin Concerto and Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique. I enjoyed the concert, but the best parts were the encore by the soloist (when he played part of Bach's Violin Partita No. 3) and the final bits of the Berlioz. The orchestra was good, but not as engaging as I would've liked.
The rest of the night was spent packing and getting ready for the next round of summer adventures.
Steve and I woke up bright and early to catch the bus, to the tube, to the train, to the airport. On the way, we had to deliver our bags to the left luggage desk at the train station. Luckily we made our flight in plenty of time. On the way, however, we had to check our carry-on weight...let's just say that our pockets got very full and I wore a book to drop both bags below the 10 kg weight limit. We explored the National Museum (unimpressive) once we got to Dublin and ate at a Korean BBQ for dinner since it was the only thing open when we woke up from our naps!
For Saturday, we took a tour of the Guinness factory. It is probably the most impressive museum that I've seen since being in Europe, and perhaps ever. They have done an incredible job of flow and presenting the right amount of information alongside items and images. I didn't partake of the samples, but partook of the view at the Gravity Bar at the top; the highest viewpoint in Dublin. The rest of the day was spent exploring the various churches of Dublin and the Book of Kells at Trinity College. We watched the game...I was mad that England didn't win. I know, I know, I'm from the US and need to support them. I do, but I support England more since I'm living here for the summer and want to cheer them on in this football-crazed country for as long as possible!
On Sunday, we traveled by train from coast to coast. We traveled to Galway and had a peaceful day visiting their cathedral, seeing the seashore, and walking the streets of the city. If I had to move to Ireland, I think I would live there. I liked the feel much more than I did in Dublin. The only downside is the strong wind off the ocean. All of the trees grow at an angle due to the constant wind. As far as the scenery...I've decided that Ireland is no greener than the East Coast...I'm sure a few people think me blasphemous for saying that! It is true, though. Replace the sheep with cows and I would've been in Virginia.
Yesterday, we wandered the streets of Dublin, focusing on reaching the edge of town by the docks. We saw the bridges of Dublin and I loved them. The flight back was fine, and they didn't even weigh our bags. Once back in London, we picked up our bags and made our way to my new place in Southwark. I like where I am living for the week. It is really new and well done. Once I was settled, I went into town to say hello and goodbye to Jake and Phil ahead of their departure for the US today. All three of us, after being gone for the weekend (they were in Paris) , commented on how good it was to be "home" again. It really does feel that way. Ireland was nice, but London and England is now home. It is going to be hard to go home at the end of the summer. Thank goodness that I have over two more months!

As far as pictures go...there will be more up sometime during this next week. Patience!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Well, I'll address the topic of the blog first. Tonight we saw the English National Ballet perform Swan Lake. It was a fantastic production, and it was more exciting knowing that it was opening night. They produced it in-the-round at Royal Albert Hall. At one point there were 60 ballerinas dancing on stage! I think I might like ballet better than opera...

Anywho, the other joy of today was figuring out most of my travel plans for the next little break. I am going to Dublin for the weekend, and then I will stay in London for a week. I'll take a one day trip out to Stonehenge to be there for the summer solstice festivities — fun times! Then I am headed out to Oxford for about a week to do research. Then, on to Cambridge for the beginning of classes! Hard to believe that we are winding down the official London trip...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Cambridge, round 2

Today we returned to Cambridge. The only disappointing bit was how rushed it all was. But we were rushing to great things, that is for sure. We started with a visit with John Rutter. He was a lot funnier than I imagined him to be. We got a group photo, so when it comes to us via e-mail, I'll try to add it to the picture file. Then we went to the rehearsal and evensong performance for King's College Choir. It was amazing! And even more amazing to realize that I will be there as a student in less than three weeks!!! Afterward, we dashed over and attended evensong at St. John's College. All in all, a fulfilling day. I only took a few pictures, but they've been added.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Another Weekly Accounting

Monday, May 31

For the afternoon, Emily, Phil, Matt, and I went to “the pancake house” for a wonderful lunch and then wandered through Harrod’s and the surrounding stores. They are VERY expensive! I’m not going to return to the USA with an authentic Burberry scarf...but I did get 6 Prestat (Harrod’s) chocolates. They are the chocolate makers for the queen. And these were just as expensive as the Fortnum & Mason chocolates, but I think these were actually larger…

The evening was a trip to the Tesco Express down by Gloucester Road (to avoid the anti-Israeli protest happening on High Street near “Embassy Row.” Luckily the area wasn’t turned into a war zone by the protesters!

Tuesday, June 1

LONG. Very Long. Paul Spicer’s morning sessions were interactive and kept my attention, but the afternoon ones were 100% scripted. I’m sure if he had given the exact same words on the fly, it would have kept my attention. The attitude he had since he was reading created an aura of boredom. If the afternoon sessions had involved some interactions with “the audience,” then we as students would’ve paid better attention.

As a side note, lunch was at a little French patisserie down the street from our flats. As we walked to and from, the weather was typical English: light rain. I loved it and was glad to experience my vision of England in person.

After our sessions with Paul Spicer concluded, Jake, Emily, and I headed out to see Robin Hood. It was a great film! The adventure was getting there. We took the tube and walked to where we were supposed to be, according to the internet map provided by the cinema. There was no cinema in sight, and it should’ve been visible since there were 14 screens at the cinema. We walked through some sketchy parts of town that I won’t see again, I’m sure of it. Eventually we made it to the Westfield’s mall where the cinema was located. Of course, it was really close to where we started, just in a slightly different direction.

Of course, we also had difficulties getting our tickets out of the machine, so we waited in a line for a bit. By that point, it was after 8, and the movie started at 7:45. But when we walked in, there were still 15 minutes of previews and commercials going. I’m glad that we didn’t have to sit through all of those previews, but I was antsy the whole time waiting in a line. The movie, as I said, was incredibly done. Creating the back story for Robin Hood and ending where most films start was a brilliant move.

Wednesday, June 2

I got the opportunity to practice the organ for two hours. I got through quite a lot of repertoire, which was good. I feel real hope for my recital in the fall. It has been wonderful getting practice in while I’ve been in London. I was afraid that things would fall apart before I got to Cambridge, which would’ve been devastating, at least mentally.

The opera itself was an experience. The seats we were in were most uncomfortable because there was no leg room. But the building was incredibly opulent. During the second act, there was some excitement in our area of the theatre. A woman got sick and, of course, a whole lot of commotion commenced: people standing up and moving around. Things turned out in the end, but the dramatic music played by the orchestra really fit the moment well!

Two things were disappointing in the opera, on a very generic level. The third act scenery was weird. It had a futuristic, artsy feel that stood in opposition to the traditional settings of the previous acts. Also, the death of Tosca was anti-dramatic. For an “opera diva” to just fall off the balcony instead of deliberately leaping was disappointing.

Thursday, June 3

I enjoyed the tour of Canterbury Cathedral, but found it interesting that our guide was not a member of the Anglican, or even Catholic, faith. I loved being in the cathedral and seeing the living story of the Anglican faith. Following Becket’s pathway of assassination was exciting, as well. I would love to see this site during the heyday of the pilgrimages to Canterbury; I’ll be sure to do so in the next life.

After the guided tour, we headed over to the St. Augustine Abbey site a block away. It is a very old site. I couldn’t believe the date that we were seeing on grave markers. Sister Hall commented that it was probably the oldest site we’ve been to on our trip, and I think she is right. That means it is the oldest site I’ve been to before.

Then we ran to catch our punt tour. There were 12 of us in the boat. We had a most enjoyable ride; I would love to own a punt and nap on a lazy river, or read a pleasant book on it. The tour guide gave us a great history of the area around Canterbury and told us the stories of the four other Archbishops of Canterbury that were killed. Their deaths were most interesting; for example, one was killed by his drunken captors as they threw beef bones at him.

We had enough time after the boat tour to stop in at Marks & Spencer to grab dinner food. As we walked toward the food hall, we saw the England football display (since M&S is the official clothier of the national team). A few of us bought jackets and Phil got a tie. The tie was really nice, so I might have to get one.

Friday, June 4

Brother Wimmer gave an excellent presentation on the World Wars and the history surrounding them from a British perspective. I have always loved 20th century history, and the British viewpoint was enlightening. I gained a whole new perspective and appreciation for the strength of the British people and their armed forces. It was hard, though, to think that a whole village’s male population could be wiped out in one action.

The War Museum was fascinating. I hope to go back before my time in England is done, we saw so little of it in the few hours we were there. I didn’t even get through all of the WWII exhibit, yet alone the post-WWII and Holocaust exhibits. I still haven’t gone to the Holocaust Museum in DC, so I want to go here where it is a free museum. Seeing a war museum from the viewpoint of the British also taught me a lot and helped me understand things that had been glossed over in previous studies of the world wars.

After our time at the museum, Phil, Jake, and I dragged Oliver, Emily, and Steve to the Savoy theatre to help us in entering the ticket lottery for Legally Blonde. We got there a few minutes before the actual drawing, entered our names, and waited. A few minutes after the hour, someone came out and told us that everyone who had entered the drawing was a winner for the night. Oh well for Emily, Steve, and Oliver...I’m glad they came, though; it was fun to visit with them and would’ve been useful if an actual drawing had taken place. It was nice getting seats for the stalls at £25 apiece.

The show was funny. An interesting side note is the theatre: instead of being built up, the stall seat holders walked further and further underground to get to their seats. Part of that has to do with the building being on a bit of a hill, but not entirely. Our seats were comfortable, but since we didn’t rush to the front of the queue when the tickets were given away, the balcony obstructed the top foot or two of the stage. No, we didn’t really miss anything, but it was distracting.

On our way home, we grabbed some Wafflemeister waffles for the tube ride home. They are so good. We joked about franchising in Provo. We think it would turn out; after all, there are lots of frozen yogurt stands in Provo, the waffle stand would be the new trend. We would take over the J Dawgs stand… The likelihood of this taking place: slim to none; the fun in dreaming and discussing: great! I’m sad that in a week we will be split up.

Saturday, June 5

Did I wake up on time? No. Did we leave on time? Not exactly. But we did go to Portobello Road once Jake, Phil, and I were awake. We decided to take the bus all the way there since it was so close and was such a good day. While we waited at the bus stop, Miriam walked up and we traveled there with her. We wandered down Portobello Road and this time we made it to the end, which actually isn’t much further than we had gone the last time we ventured there. We each got a pastry at a little stand, and they were huge! I looked at some prints for quite a while and almost bought one or two, but I decided to wait on purchasing any.

When we got back to the flat, we decided that some food and a short rest would be good before traveling to St. Paul’s. And Phil had decided not to go, so it was up to Jake and I to go. However, Jake’s nap started going long and then I decided to take a short nap. We both woke up to shouts of protestors going by on the street. At 4 PM. That ruled out our St. Paul’s trip! However, it meant we got to watch the thousands of protestors marching past our flat on their way to the Israeli embassy. Israel is not being wise with these aid ships. I’m not sure of all their options, of course, but the way they are acting and portraying their actions is not winning them any friends in the international arena. I’ll admit, watching all the protestors en masse, it was the first time that I’ve been nervous and a little scared since being in London; there weren’t very many police officers in sight, and they didn’t have guns, anyway. I wish the officers here carried guns.

Phil, Jake, and I then journeyed to dinner at the Trafalgar. It was gloriously delicious, but our sadness came with dessert. The rush made it so they couldn’t bring us the fabulous brownie that we wanted to try. Oh well, this means I’ll have to return sometime soon. We made it to the concert of The Creation barely on time.

After the concert, Steve, Emily, Jake, Phil, and I went to the Sloane Square My Old Dutch restaurant. I had another pear pancake. So good!

Sunday, June 7

When the time came for our Windsor trip, the coach was practically empty. It turned out that there was a whole host of people a hundred yards away, just visiting. It was good that everyone came, but I was rather excited for a quiet bus ride to catch up on my sleep. However, my sleep didn’t really happen because we had the BEST coach driver in the world. As we drove through London, he acted as a tour guide. I really enjoyed it, particularly since we hadn’t driven through that specific part of town before. I wish he had been our driver through all of our time in London. I found out after we arrived in Windsor that Nathan had been requesting this particular driver the entire time we’ve been here and this was the first time we could get him. Nathan had gotten several bits of advice to do so. I’m so glad that he did.

After we got to Windsor, Jake, Phil, and I tagged up with Nathan and Sister Hall to go through the castle and estate. Alan and his wife were with us for a bit, and then went on their own way. The estate was incredible and the interior was breathtaking! There were so many paintings inside! I loved seeing the originals that I’ve grown up seeing in all my history books. And the decor was phenomenally well-kept, after all the years of use.

Something I was unaware of before today, there was a fire that destroyed much of the structure in 1992. Hardly any of the artifacts were destroyed, but much of the building itself suffered. The reworking looked just like other parts of the house. I’m greatly impressed with the level of craftsmanship they were able to afford. And apparently the final product came out under budget.

After the time spent traipsing across the grounds and through the house, we waited for entrance for evensong. The interior of the chapel was gorgeous, and I was sitting in on of the Knights of the Garters’ seats. I didn’t recognize the name, but it was cool to think of all the people that have sat there: heads of state from around the world, various politicians of England (folks like Margaret Thatcher and Winston Churchill), and many great men from across the countryside.


So, today was good. We enjoyed our session with the only LDS professional singer in England today. Then we worked on plans for the time after London. Things aren't all finalized, but closer. The best part of today was seeing Wicked tonight! Yes, this was the second time in my time here, but it was so worth it. We walked up to the theatre with less than 30 minutes before the show and bought our tickets at 7:10. And, most surprising of all, the show got a standing ovation by the audience. I'm pretty sure that is the first I've seen since we've been in London.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


Well, time is short. It is late. I'll compose the actual story for the past week tomorrow, but the pictures have been added. Enjoy now, or wait until tomorrow when the text is available.