There and back again

This is the account of my trip to the west and the last week back in London, because I’ve been shirking my blogging duties.

Sept 17: Wednesday started our trip to the west. The first place we visited was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen: Stourhead. It was unbelievable. I seriously didn’t realize places like that existed outside my imagination or the movies. I walked around the grounds in complete awe the entire time. And to prove my point: they did all the lake scene of the new Pride and Prejudice so apparently I’m not the only person who thinks it’s amazing.
That night we stayed in Penzance and ran out to the beach first thing. I never thought my first touch of the Atlantic would be on this side of it, but life is full of surprises. And opposing the fierce prefaced warnings of our advisers, the hostel experiences weren’t too bad.

Sept 18: The next morning we went to the place that ties for the most beautiful place on earth and that is Porthcurno beach, near Penzance. The water was clearer than anything I’ve ever seen before and then there were the most magnificent cliffs making up the coast line which would recede at intervals into sandy beaches. And instead of tropical greenery, the vegetation was a rich mossy forest variety. It was amazing to climb to the top of the overlook and see for miles. There really aren’t words…

Sept 19: We spent this day in Lyme, which in case you don’t know, is where a pivotal part of Persuasion takes place and Jane Austen as well as many others vacationed. I have to say, for spending these three days outside, we were lucky enough to get three of the sunniest days of the season. It’s been such great weather for the last week in fact. I haven’t even pulled out my umbrella except for the Mary Poppins picture I took with it. But going back to Lyme… Once again it was just a beautiful landscape. A lot of the people went out to the edge of the Cobb and sat down with out feet dangling and laughed and talked as we looked out over the Cornish coastline. Seriously, I could live in Cornwall someday, I just loved it.
In the afternoon we were at St. Michael’s Mount where the Archangel Michael is supposed to have been seen, and because of this story became a place of great pilgrimage. What’s even more interesting, is on the other side of the channel off the coast of France there is another mount to the Archangel Michael and chapel and the building of them was not related. But anyway, we got to go to the mount and tour the castle that is still there. A really cool part of this site is that at high tide it is a island, but at low tide there is a pathway that leads to it from the shore.

Sept 20: So most of the group had gone to the National Gallery before this week, but I hadn’t gotten there, so I set off to mend that mistake on this bright Saturday morning. I just went through the 1500-1600 exhibit because that alone took me almost three hours, but it was unbelievable. First of all, I’m a big fan of a lot of Renaissance art so it was huge, but even if I hadn’t, it’s HUGE to see a real Leonardo da Vinci. “Virgin on the Rocks” and “Virgin and the Child with Saint Anne and John the Baptist” are the two at the gallery and they were so unbelievably beautiful. The thing you don’t usually understand is how massive the paintings are. They dwarf you as you stand before them. He really was brilliant. But besides his paintings I’ve discovered a great love for the artist Holbein’s portraits. For that matter, I’ve found that I generally enjoy portraits from this era quite a bit. For instance, my preferred painting of Raphael is “Catherine of Alexandria” and “An Elderly Couple” by Jan Gossaer. There is something raw and human about them that really speaks to me. Anyway, I must say that it was a wonderful way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Sept 21: Sundays aren’t too eventful, except for the fact that I really like my ward. A lot of them are converts to the church and it was interesting, because in Relief Society we were discussing a really deep doctrinal issue, one I had never encountered before, and to see the actual learning and discovering process happen all around is unbelievable. To see how we have our faith in the gospel and then expand it as we learn and reflect on new doctrine until we accept that as well. And how we’re there to help each other through that process. I’m really glad I’m in such a great ward.

Sept 22: Mostly I just did school work; however, that night Jo and I went to see Timon of Athens at the Globe. I have to admit that Timon is not my favorite of Shakespeare’s plays and when I’ve read all of them, will likely still be near the bottom, but the actors did a really good job with it. And the staging was phenomenal. There was a net above the open arena where the figurative vultures, Timons debt collectors, would lurk and sometimes bungee among the audience. In fact one of them did just that on the other side of Jo. So I commend them on that, but in general the play drags on and is really rather crude. But I’m still glad I was able to see it, because there aren’t very many opportunities to see that play performed, and fewer still that are worth sitting through.

Sept 23: Basically this day was consumed with prepping for a project I did Wednesday morning (which went rather well) and writing a paper so I’ll forgo the details.

Sept 24: The program went to see A Mid Summer Night’s Dream at the Globe. And once again, this isn’t my favorite play by Shakespeare, but now I realize where it gathers its mystique. It’s hysterical when performed. I had the opportunity of reading the play for my Shakespeare class just a few days prior, and there were several jokes that I thought only worth a small smile when reading, that caused me to laugh out loud in the theatre. Especially the final play within a play performed by the common people with many many mishaps.
They also did quite a lot with the costuming. The faeries were fantastic with an 80’s punker influence mixed with Elizabethan period clothing. It was a somewhat darker interpretation of their characters, but it contributed significantly to the mood. I really enjoyed the 4 young lovers, which were really quite a bore on paper, but came alive in their silly endeavors on stage. The only real disappointment for me was Puck, who I envision taking the play, but who somewhat faded into the background in this version.

Sept: 25 Yesterday was a busy day, I stopped by an old church called St. Anne’s for my religion class, but after that I was able to stop into the Museum of London, which is pretty cool in how it outlines the history of the city. And then an interview with three crime writers who focus on the Victorian period. That was quite interesting since it really applies to what we’ve been discussing in the mystery class so far and hearing it’s relevance on fiction of today, and why it works was really cool. I like their insight into Victorian motive. There was a reason to keep things hidden in that time–anything embarrassing could be detrimental to your reputation and take you from society forever. A lot was at stake. And then Anne Perry talked about the question of suspicion, and how well we know the people in our lives. It was all very interesting.
After that I had to go to Westminster Abbey for a class and that was just basically amazing, but once again I’ve already posted my thoughts about it for an assignment, so I won’t repeat except to add that Poet’s Corner was fantastic. I think some of the tourists thought I was weird because I was freaking out over Charles Dickens and Lord Byron and Chaucer and Tennyson and everyone else there. It was awesome.
And lastly for Thursday, which also happens to be one of the highlights for my week, I saw Ivanov starring Kenneth Branagh. It was probably one of the best plays I’ve ever seen in my entire life. First of all the subject matter is so intense and so thought provoking, but then multiply that with the skill of the acting and it was phenomenal. It’s about a man who in the last year has lost all drive and passion in his life and through this process has also leached the happiness out of the lives of those around him. While few of us have ever felt these emotions in such extreme, I think it resonates with everyone. We have all had experiences where we’re agitated and discontent without knowing why. It addresses the effects that we have on others, it addresses how we should deal with our problems, and it addresses those who made assumptions about Ivanov that were, from the point of view shown to the audience, false. It was literally brilliant and worth paying 10 pounds to stand through for sure.

Sept 26: And finally today. Well, I was wandering around trying to find someone to fix my computer when a literal miracle happened. I opened it for the computer analyst and the problem was suddenly gone. I don’t know how it happened, but I am so unbelievably grateful that this invaluable part of my life is restored. It’s kind of sad that I’m so reliant on it, but I think that’s just part of the life of a student.

And that was my run down of the last week. I sincerely hope that this will satisfy you. And I will try to keep my absences short so I am not forced to make anymore entries of this length.

Love you all and hope you’re keeping busy and happy,
Tracy

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