Scotland and much much more.

Hmm, so this month sped by. And I’ve been so busy seeing England and doing homework, but unfortunately mostly homework, hence why I’m at home procrastinating on Halloween instead of out on the town. Despite the fact that I have two papers to write in the next twenty-four hours, I don’t really feel like that right now, so I’m going to finally write on my blog.

Today we had a “London study” at Greenwich. Here’s a little bit of trivia for you all: What is the easiest way to get to Greenwich? Riverboat. Although it’s not too difficult to take the tube to a DLR train. Anyway. We took a lovely river boat ride up to Greenwich were we explored some awesome science museums, I straddled the Prime Meridian, and found my favorite park in the greater London area. It was seriously one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen in my life as far as parks go.

Thursday we were able to go to a performance at the Royal Festival Hall. I love it here in London. It’s one of the only places where they have a building that’s sole purpose it to host orchestral concerts. Needless to say, ours was fantastic. Even though we were up at the back of the top balcony, I could still hear things well.

Wednesday we went to two very awesome places. First we went to Canterbury Cathedral and I saw the place were Saint Thomas A’ Becket’s brains were smeared on the floor. I also saw Edward the Black Prince’s effects, and walked down the steps were countless others came on their pilgrimage to the shrine. It was a pretty cool place.
Then we drove down to Chartwell, the family residence of Winston Churchill during a much of his life, though it was shut down during the war so as not to be a target of the bombings. Before he was the PM, the living room there was often referred to as the Country Foreign Relations Office because anyone who had information on the situation in Germany would often debrief Churchill seeing as he was the only one who would pay attention. It was easy to see where his inspiration came from. The property was beautiful and he was surrounded by books. Seriously, there were multiple book shelves in every room.

Tuesday I saw Lord Voldemort. Actually I saw Ralph Finnes, the actor who plays Lord Voldemort in a production of Oedipus. it was truly fascinating, because I’ve read the play numerous times, but it leaves you with a different impression when you see it live. For instance, I normally skim over the chorus parts, but the way that they portrayed the chorus in this production was really interesting and constitutes one of my highlights. And there are a few things that are more shocking when you see a performance. Like when Oedipus is making out with his wife, but you’re completely grossed out because you know it’s his mother. And when he clings to Antigone at the end and his blood stained hands smear over her face and clothes. I have to say, although it wasn’t my favorite play, it was done phenomenally well.

Well this was a week of performances because I got to go to another one on Monday. A colleague of one of our professors was doing a reading of one of his plays here to try and win over investors, and they needed a few seat fillers so we were kindly invited.
The play was called Sounds of Joy I believe and it discussed events surrounding Handel’s composing his masterpiece The Messiah. It was really good, and quite interesting to see a play at that stage in development.
I also sent in my ballot on Monday! Which was exciting but annoyingly expensive. I had to spend 8 pounds and that doesn’t even give me a time guarantee. Oh well, I couldn’t get around it.

Sunday was Stake Conference and we got a new Stake Presidency. I really enjoyed the addresses we got from the two area authorities. I believe one of them was from Spain and the other from Germany and it was just cool to really see the gospel as an international religion. We aren’t sequestered behind our own country’s barriers, we’re part of a single unit and or work is in unison.

This past weekend a group of us spent in Edinburgh. After class on Thursday (23rd) Michele, Jenny, Kelsy, Sabrina, and I made our way to Kings Cross Station and caught our train north. We got in a bit later than we’d planned (as a result of gale force winds and debris on the tracks we spent close to two hours at a stand still on the tracks). But it wasn’t too bad all things considered. We stayed with the sweetest missionary couple from Michele’s home ward and they had a pot of traditional Scottish gruel on the stove for us. So our first night ended pretty darn well.

The next day we took a bus into town and did the Royal Mile. This starts at Edinburgh Castle which was basically amazing. Some of the highlights are the Destiny Stone (which every Scottish and then English monarch has been coronated on for hundreds and hundreds of years), the room where Mary, Queen of Scots, gave birth to Elizabeth I’s successor James I, a really good demonstration of the history of all the weapons throughout Scottish history, and in the prison, a carved American flag from a colonial rebel during the Revolutionary War.
There were a few other interesting stops on the Royal mile and some interesting shops, but we didn’t spend that much time in them. The Royal mile ends at Hollyrood Palace and Park. In the Park there is a rather large craggy hill called Arthur’s seat. Even though it was windy and rainy we decided to climb it, and I’m soooo glad. It is probably one of my favorite memories from the trip. It’s windy anyway in Scotland, but at the top of this hill away from anything, I seriously was nearly blown off but it was worth it. I’ve seen a lot of views in the last week- Saint Mary’s in Cambridge and St. Paul’s of London.

That night we went to Mary Poppins which was amazing!!! There were a lot of interesting elements in the musical version that weren’t in the movie. For one thing, it’s quite a bit darker. I loved the song Temper, Temper, where the children’s toys put them on trial. It was super creepy. And then Mr. and Mrs. Banks played more of a role. It wasn’t just about the children learning to be better behaved, but also about the parents learning how to improve their marriage and be better parents. I really quite liked it.

My second favorite part of the trip was the Elephant House cafe where J.K. Rowling wrote a lot of Harry Potter. It was freezing and the wind was blowing horizontally outside, but life in this cafe could only be described as cozy. We sat and worked on our hot chocolate (and my milkshake) and wrote stories on napkins like Ms. Rowling did. It was just a really nice low-key morning, and I loved it.

The rest of my month is going to be really out of order because I’m too lazy to look up when everything was, but enjoy.

The week before last we visited St. Paul’s Cathedral. And I have to say that it’s my favorite of Christopher Wren’s. It’s magnificent inside and the view from the top is probably one of the best I’ve ever seen. I really understand why it’s one of the hallmarks of the city now.

The weekend before that a couple of us ventured out to Cambridge. My highlights were the lunch performance at Kettle’s Yard with a fantastic string quartet and then the art gallery in the house as well. It was really just a fascinating art gallery, probably one of my favorites. And another notable adventure we went on in Cambridge is we went to a sung Eucharist at King’s College Cathedral. For those of you who don’t know. I’m basically in love with the boys choir at this college and idolize their amazing talent so actually listening to them was a huge deal and one that didn’t disappoint. One thing I really liked that they did, that not a lot of other choirs do is they sang Latin versions of the songs rather than English.

The night before Cambridge the group went to Stratford-upon-avon and I stood in the room Shakespeare was born and it was cool. And then that night we went to the RSC’s production of Love’s Labour’s Lost (starring my Doctor: David Tennant, I know I was super excited) and it basically changed the way I view Shakespeare. It was a whole different level of performance and, oh my gosh, it was SOOOOO good. Make a point of seeing a RSC production before you die, because it is unbelievable.

And I have a few of my experiences posted from the North Trip, but I just wanted to add how much I love the lake district. It was like walking into the land of fairytales. I have never seen a more magical place. And the Haworth Parsonage (where the Brontes lived) is my all time favorite grave yard. They’re on the side of a moor and the grass is overgrown and they’re all crammed into the tiny churchyard. It’s cool. And you really get a better insight into the scenery they’re describing in their books. Those were my two additional favorite experiences from the trip. Well, I’m sure that I did some other things, but since I can’t remember them now, you’ll just have to talk to me when I get back and drag it out of me. I really should get focused on my paper so, I love you and I’ll talk to you soon (if you’re my family) and see you in two months or so otherwise.

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