Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Golden Scotland

   I am so very content. Today was a great day. Oh, should I mention we are in Scotland now. Just a minor detail. I was really sad to leave England though. The Lake District was magical. I could have stayed there forever. Scotland is pretty great so far too though. Our first stop was in Stirling! Apparently my family tree goes all the way back to Stirling in the 1700s. Fun fact for you. We went to Stirling Castle. This is the last castle we will see while on our trip. Can't say I am too disappointed about that. The view from this castle was gorgeous. The castle was up on a hill looking out over beautiful Scotland. What a welcome to the country, that and the bagpiper that performed. Couldn't ask for a better way to start this last leg of our journey.
   We made our way to our place of residency for the night which is at the University of Sterling campus. It is like a hotel though, and it rocks. We all have our own big room with double sized beds, TV, hot chocolate and wifi. Could not ask for anything better. Anne and I watched the USA take gold in the Women's team gymnastics competition and then we decided to be Olympians ourselves. We made our way to the great facilities they have here (BYU needs to step it up) and went on a run and then did laps in their Olympic sized pool. Now, after watching Michael Phelps become the most decorated Olympian Athlete with another gold, I am sitting in my room, watching P.S. I love You remembering when I was back in Ireland. Oh, how far we have come. 

 Welcome to Scotland.
Sterling Castle. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Another Summers Day

    Waking up in the Lake District is wonderful. I wish I could stay in this stop for the rest of our trip. I love it here. We drove through the green hills to William Wordsworth’s home. He wrote many of his poems from his home in the hillside. It was gorgeous. Reminded me a lot of Oregon, and girls camp actually, but probably prettier. We then made our way to another famous writer’s home, Beatrix Potter. If you don’t remember, she wrote Peter Rabbit. Her house and gardens were very eloquent. There were even little bunnies bounding around the grass. When you take a tour of her house you can see the places she used as inspiration for her illustrations. They would have the books open to a certain page and you could look at the drawing and then see the exact spot in the room. It was really cool to see that. It made me want to go back and read all these wonderful children stories. Beatrix Potter was also an important figure for the Lake District. She began to buy different farms and lands to give them to the national trust to save them from industrialization. 
    Okay, enough with authors. Sometimes, you just need to do something crazy. Anne and I have worn everything in our suitcases besides one item. Our swimsuits. So this thought led us to swimming in the middle of a lake in England. Our group has some crazy ideas sometime. Surprisingly, the water wasn’t that cold. The sun even came out! A big group of us made our way to the lake, found a good spot to go in and went for in. Swimming with the fish and everything. We were a little hesitant at first but then we started splashing, swimming around and having a good time. It was very fun! And what would a summer be without a dip in the lake? It makes it even better that we were in the Lake District. 

 William Wordsworth's house.  
 At Beatrix Potter's home. Pretty sure that is Peter Rabbit.
Just going swimming.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Turning Back the Clocks

    Preston, England is a very important place in the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was here that the first missionaries sent to Europe came. They traveled into Liverpool and then made their way up to Preston to preach the gospel. We were able to have a tour of important church history sites by the architect of the Preston Temple. We saw the apartments where the first missionaries stayed, the spot where they first started meeting for church that was outside of member’s homes, the river that the first new converts were baptized and the spot that missionaries would preach in the town center. At one point, 5,000 people gathered to hear them speak. 7,000-9,000 people went to the first baptism to watch too. It was incredible to hear the stories of these early members. 
    My favorite part was hearing our tour guide talk about his personal experience. 25 years ago, when he was the Bishop of the Preston ward, they were planning a 150th anniversary of the church beginning in Preston and he sent a letter inviting Gordon B. Hinckley to the celebration. At the time, President Hinckley was the first counselor in the First Presidency. To the Bishop’s surprise, President Hinckley accepted the invitation. Upon arrival, before visiting church history sites President Hinckley told the Bishop that he had somewhere to take him. They arrived Wodham Street. President Hinckley then pointed to the second house on the left, number 15, and said that was the house he stayed in for most of his time as a missionary when he had served 50 years earlier. He went up to the house, knocked on the door, explained the situation and was invited in. President Hinckley said that it was in the second floor room with the bay window that he received the infamous letter from his dad when he was struggling. His dad wrote, “forget yourself and go to work.” It was in that room that he knelt, prayed and dedicated his life to the mission and the gospel. It was amazing to sit there and look at the house, just an ordinary house, but imagine the significance it had on President Hinckley’s life as well on the world. 
    Now we are in Ambleside which is a part the Lake District. It is absolutely beautiful here. We are across the street from a lake, in an adorable little town. And of course we are watching the Olympics. How could we not?
 Outside the Preston Temple. 
 Second house in is where President Hinckley stayed while a missionary.
 Where the first missionaries stayed.
 Ribble River where the first converts in Britain were baptized.
Our cute hotel we are staying in. It is so adorable here. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

One of Those Days

   Do you ever have days where you just want to do nothing? I feel that everyone has those days. When on a study abroad you don't come by these days very often. And I wouldn't want to either. I want to enjoy the countries I am in, I want to go out and see the world. But today, I needed one of them. That does not mean I did not have fun though. We spent the morning in Liverpool so we explored the town a bit more. We went back to the Maritime Museum, did a little shopping, and went on a Ferris wheel. Yup, a Ferris wheel. This was a really split second decision. When you think Liverpool, you don't really think of going on a Ferris wheel. We had time to spare, so we did. I was checking my email and all the sudden Anne and Meg were like, let's go on it. Which is funny in itself because Anne hates heights. Then, I found myself up above the town while it started to rain outside. It was fun, beautiful, and random. Now, I am in Preston, England. Anne and I decided to hang out in the hotel after finding some food and recuperate and enjoy some more Olympics. Watching Micheal Phelps and Ryan Lochte is not a bad way to end the day. 
Liverpool Ferris wheel. 

Hey World

   We were are done with Shakespeare so off to the Beatles we go. A three hour drive later and we made it to Liverpool. Our first stop was not Beatles related though, we went to Maritime Museum. Basically, it was a museum about anything and everything relating to the sea. There was a special exhibit about the Titanic. It was pretty fascinating. I really enjoyed going through it and learning about the real facts surrounding the sinking and not just the movie version. (Though, the movie version has a lot of true facts in it.)
   Our group then went to The Beatles Story. Even if you are not a Beatles fan you would enjoy this museum. Not only are the Beatles a music icon but they became a part of the World’s history. There was a part in the museum that talked about "Beatle Mania". They scenes and stories were crazy! The police holding back crazy fans, people crying and screaming and pretty much being insane. Then I realized, it is a lot like Bieber Fever that has be going on these past few years. Not that I am putting Justin Bieber up to the same level as the Beatles because that would be outrageous statement. Just a thought.
   To end the night, we watched the opening ceremonies for the London Summer Olympics. THEY ARE HERE! Everyone as pumped as me? I just love the Olympics. It was fun to watch it with my friends, in a hotel room, in England. I mean, how unique! And during the boring parts (AKA all the teams walking in) we had a toga party! Normal right? What Olympic party wouldn't have a toga ipod dance party in the middle? A boring one at that! But I can say we watched it all, from the beginning with the scenes of the British farmlands to Hey Jude by Paul McCartney. Go World! And by that I mean, go USA. 

Anne and I started off our morning reading.
 Welcome to Liverpool.
 Maritime Museum. 
 The Beatles Story.
Toga ipod dance party. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Shakespear, We Meet Again

  Welcome to the land of all things Shakespeare aka Stratford upon Avon. We visited, Shakespeare's wife, Anne Hathaway's, cottage. My favorite part? The gardens. They were stunning. We walked, wandered, strolled through and saw beautiful flowers,  trees and butterflies. It felt like a beautiful summer day. And I guess, that's because it was! We then made our way to the birthplace of Shakespeare. I surprisingly, really enjoyed myself there. They had two actors that would act out scenes from Shakespeare's plays. You could name of anyone and they would know it by heart and start performing it. They did bits from Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, The Tame and The Shrew, Midsummer's Night Dream, Richard the III and others. It was a lot of fun to watch. They also had a little station for people to paint their own Coat of Arms. Okay, maybe it was meant for children but I went for it anyways. It was fun to paint in the sun.
   to end the night in a very Shakespeare way we went to see Twelfth Night. This was fantastic. It was set in a modern time but they still used the original script. They were so clever with the set and everything. All in all, it is hilarious. I was laughing the whole time. And I was able to follow the story (thank you She's the Man.) It was really well done.
 I told you Oxford was like Hogwarts. We had breakfast in the Great Hall.
 Anne Hathaway's cottage and gardens. 
 Romeo & Juliet.
 Arts and crafts time. 
 Where Shakespeare was born and lived.
 Cute bookstore.
Making wishes in the fountain before seeing Twelfth Night.