Monday, May 24, 2010

Good Day Sunshine

This weekend in London the weather has been beautiful! In fact it has been almost too warm. I think when the sun come out all the Londoners head to the parks and proceed to take off all their clothes. Saturday I wandered around Hyde Park. It was thick with sunbathers and footballers and frisbee throwers. Not that I can blame them for being outside; it was gorgeous weather. It's kind of shocking how many people live here in the city though. I can't imagine any of our parks in Salt Lake getting so crowded. And here EVERY park was full of people. There are a lot of parks in London, and they're big.

Anyway, Saturday morning Mike, Ben, Katherine and I rented paddle boats and went around our little lake in Regent's Park.


We had the option of a paddle boat or a rowboat. Mike and I started with a rowboat and quickly discovered that we both were really bad a rowing. Since we actually wanted to get out into the pond (and not waste the whole hour we had for the boats getting 20 ft away from the rental shack) we quickly exchanged our rowboat for a paddle boat. It was a very pleasant way to spend the morning. Regent's Park is so picturesque, and it was nice to see it all from a different perspective - on the boat.

Saturday afternoon I struck out by myself (I couldn't find anyone from my group after lunch) and headed to Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. I'm not really positive where one ends and the other starts. It's all one gigantic green space when you're there. Like I said, it was positively thick with people. I passed several hours wandering around people watching and hunting Peter Pan.


I also took a nap under a very lovely tree and snooped around Kensington Palace. I then headed out of the park and wandered around Kensington/Notting Hill (I walked up Notting Hill Gate, which is kind of the border between the two areas, as far as I can tell anyway). Off the main roads there were a bunch of adorable and colourful apartments. It was a really lovely neighborhood actually.

Anyway, I made my way over to Holland Park. Holland is a smaller park, but I think I like it better than Hyde. It's very shady and dense with trees and plants. It feels much more intimate. And by the time I got there, the weather had gotten really warm, so it was nice to wander around in the shade for a while. There is a theater in Holland Park too where they put on operas. I will have to see if I can catch one.

This is the little Japanese Garden in the center of Holland Park:

Kyoto Garden

You can't see it in this picture, because I am a very clever photographer, but there were a bunch of people lazing about. There were "keep off the grass" signs all over the place, but anywhere that it could be argued that people could be allowed, there were people lazing.

By the time I was done wandering Holland Park I was rather exhausted. I had been walking for about 4 hours straight. So I jumped on a bus and went back to the college.

Saturday night I managed to have another adventure with a group of people. A handful of guys said they were going to a jazz club. They said it was right off a certain tube stop, there would be a live band, and there was no cover. I was still pretty exhausted from walking around all afternoon, but it sounded fun so I allowed myself to get talked into going. Well, it took two trains to get to the stop. Once there we had to walk about 20 minutes before we found the place we were looking for. The club, as it turned out, was not free (there was a 9£ cover), it was fancy dress (people were in full out 1920's costume), and there was no band, just a DJ playing jazz tunes. If we had been more prepared, it might have been fun to go to this club. Most of the people I was with were dressed really casually. Plus none of us really wanted to pay a cover.

At that point we all decided to head back at least to the area near the college. By the time we got back to the tube station (we just made it before the tube stopped running), I was falling asleep on my feet. When we arrived back I fell into bed and slept.

Yesterday was another beautiful day. It was a pretty relaxed day too. I walked up to Primrose Hill, just north of Regent's Park, with Cameron and Matt. There was a little street fair going on in the area. It was kind of fun to walk through that. I bought some fudge at one of the booths (Rum & Raisin fudge, Mom. It's so rich!) and we all three got Churros. They were super fresh, we literally watched them being made, and really good. Then we walked up the hill. From the top of Primrose you can see a view of most of London. It was very impressive. Apparently (if you don't mind getting up really early and hopping the fence because the park is not open yet) that is a really nice place to watch the sunrise. I believe it. It would be really cool to see the sun rise over London.

Today is another not-much-going-on day. I'm planing on going swing dancing tonight so I don't want to spend all day walking around. It's just as well though because this is a heavy class week. I'm using the afternoon to get a little ahead with the reading and to write a short paper we have due on Wednesday. Now that I mention it, I suppose I should get to it. This blog has probably distracted me from working long enough.

And, of course, I have more pictures you can look at if you want.

Friday, May 21, 2010

London is Full of Nutters!

Let's see, the last time I posted was Tuesday afternoon, right? Tuesday evening we went as a class to South Bank for a backstage tour of The National Theater. It was really neat to see, especially since we will be seeing a play there as a class. At The National every evening thy have live music in the lobby for about an hour before the evening shows start. When we finished our tour the band was on so I sat and listened for a bit. When I turned around everyone in my class had vanished so I decided to wander around South Bank for a while by myself.

When the sun started to set, I made my way back home. I didn't really want to be wandering around London by myself at night. I decided to take a bus back rather than the tube. You get to see more that way. It took a while to find the proper bus stop, but when I did, did I ever get a treat. I was entertained until my bus came by the most amusing crazy man I've ever seen.

First thing he did was set down the 3 grocery bags he was carrying and then lay down on his back on the sidewalk. A few minutes later he rolled over on his stomach and yelled at a man standing a ways off "Why are you standing over there?" then, as some people walked around him he half mumbled "I'm about to be trod on there." So far he didn't seem too crazy. Next he walked out into the middle of the road, spread his arms and addressed God, I presume, and said "I'm accepted you gift!" then mumbled as he came back to the sidewalk, "but I don't know why you've given it to me."

He continued to mutter to himself for a while in a very amusing manner until a bus came by. He tried to get on and wasn't allowed for some reason. That set him off! "I don't want to ride your bus! Why would I want to get on your bus. London is full of Nutters! That's why I keep going back there." It was all I could do to keep from laughing at him. Unfortunately I didn't get a picture. I didn't dare; not sure what reaction I would have spurned.

Taking the bus back rather than the tube was really neat. The bus I was on went through Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus and Hyde Park Corner. It was really neat to see a big chunk of London, albeit briefly, without walking for ages.


Wednesday after class we all took the tube to Kilburn to see a play at The Tricycle Theater:


The play was Twelfth Night. The theater is quite small and intimate. There was a lot of interplay between the audience and the actors. At one point they actually passed a couple pizzas around to the crowd. It was a spectacular performance!

After the play a handful of us decided to just jump on a bus and see where we ended up. The bus we chose happened to go by Abbey Road, so when I saw the cross walk we all decided to disembark and do the Beatles thing.


Unfortunately it was basically rush hour and we had no plan of action so the picture isn't great. I think we'll try to go back sometime early in the morning and get better pictures.

When we were done with Abbey Road we got back on the bus and headed more into town. We ended up at Trafalgar Square. From there we wandered back to The National Theater to see if we could get tickets to Habit of Art, a play for which we saw the set during our tour. They were sold out, but Cameron and I decided to go see Women Beware Women there instead. We sat around drinking wine and listening to the band until our show started.

Women Beware Women was another really well done play. I didn't love it as much as Twelfth Night, but it was still quite good. We were in the Olivier theater, which is the biggest theater at the National. As such there was not really any way to have the audience interplay like at the Tricycle. Plus Women Beware Women is a really dark tragedy so... it was basically the opposite of the play we saw in the afternoon.


Which was yesterday, I forgot my camera. Much sadness. I went with a few people to The Tate Modern. That was spectacular. They have a really cool looking exhibition starting in June, so I will be going back. I can take all the pictures that I missed yesterday then. Some of the highlights: They had a full size marble statue of Rodin's The Kiss, several Picassos, a few Pollocks. I love modern art.

After the museum, we went across the river to St Paul's, but didn't want to pay to go in. They run tours and we missed the last one. We wanted to take the tour and didn't really want to pay 10£ twice. After that we walked down Fleet Street (I wanted to stop somewhere and get meat pies, but no one I was with got it). Finally we came back to the college around 5, quite exhausted from walking around all day.

Last night I went out with a group of people to a pub (or maybe I should call it a club, or a bar, I don't know. It looked like a pub to me, so I'm calling it a pub). There was a live band that covered a bunch of good rock songs. We danced and drank and had a generally great time. At about 1:30 we stumbled back to the dorms.

Today I'm really not doing anything. This afternoon I'm going to go out into the park and find a nice place to read. I am here for class, after all, so homework stuff must be done.

Even though I didn't have my camera yesterday, I still have a quite a few more pictures you can see. Go here to see them

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Greetings from London

Well, here I am! And, of course, I have been here since Saturday. I have been keeping myself so incredibly busy. I haven't had time to write more than a crude list of everything I've done in my journal. I don't know if this post will be any better. I'll just tell you what I've been up to.

I arrived at Heathrow around 8:15 local time. Our plane sat for an hour (after it we were all loaded on) at the gate before we were able to leave JFK so I was stuck on the plane an hour longer than expected. It wasn't so bad though: I was sitting next to a very attractive British man who was also very friendly. Unfortunately I didn't manage to get his name (or any contact information). There were about 12 of my fellow classmates on my same flight so we all made our way to Regent's College from the airport. We got a group rate for the Heathrow Express into town and from there half of us (the smart half, that didn't include me) took a taxi to Regent's. The other half took the tube.

College 7 This is where I'm staying. Regent's College is right in the middle of the park. This is a view from just inside the gate. It's in the middle of London, but also in the park so it's super peaceful. Just outside the gate, in the actual park itself, there are a million birds and flowers and gardens. It's absolutely lovely. This picture was taken right outside the gate:
Bird 2

So... Saturday afternoon we had orientation. Afterwards I went out with my roommate, Andrea, and another classmate, Andrew, to Angel in the Fields. When you think of a typical English Pub, what do you think of? Does it look like this:
  Angel in the Fields

That is an actual photo of Angel in the Fields. It's was a perfect English Pub and it's only about a 10 minute walk from where I'm staying. We had a couple pints and then wandered around to find some dinner.

By the time we finished eating and stumbled back to the college, I had been awake for close to 36 hours, except for the few uncomfortable hours I managed to sleep on the plane. Between that and the beer, plus wine we had with dinner, I easily fell right to sleep almost as soon as I returned to my room.

I woke up very naturally at around 6:30 in the morning. I would have probably liked to sleep a little more (both my roommates and several classmates slept until at least 11:00) but I couldn't really get back to sleep. Plus I am in feeking London! I was excited to explore. I took a shower first then set off by myself to explore my surroundings a little. I went into the Inner Circle of the park and had a look at some of the gardens. They are stunning! After that I wandered up Baker street for a little way then made my way back to the college.

By the time I returned, more of my classmates were awake. I went to the Refectory (English for Cafeteria) with my two roommates to get some lunch to take-away (take-out). We then proceeded to walk through the park to Camden Town. We walked up and down Camden High Street and through Camden Market and Camden Lock Market. All three of those things are mind-blowing awesome. All three of them together are amazing to the point of over-kill. By the time we exited Camden Lock Market and started back down Camden High Street, we were totally burned out. Camden High Street is a busy little shopping mecca. It's also the place where all the punks and goths and "alternative" sort of sub-cultures come together so just people watching is fascinating. The shops are all kind of punky-goth with a smattering of cheap touristy stuff and discount everything. It kind of reminded me of China-Town in NYC. Plus, all the buildings have these great facades:
Camden 3

The markets are even more interesting. Camden Market was mostly clothing. You walk into this... it's like a tent city or something. In about one square block (except it may have been much bigger... every time I thought it was ending there was another row shooting off somewhere) crammed full of booths (for lack of a better word) where people are selling things. Mostly clothes, as I said, but there were also some shoes and a little jewelry and accessories.

Camden Lock Market was a little more spread out and possibly not as big. There they also had lots of food vendors. Everything smelled delicious and as we walked down the row people were handing us samples left and right. We probably should have just walked through there for lunch instead of getting something at the Refectory. Camden Lock Market had more jewelry and accessories than Camden Market. I absolutely intend to go back (probably near the end of my trip so I don't have to worry about saving money for the rest of my trip) later. I'll probably just do Camden Lock though - I found it much more interesting personally.

As I said, we were kind of burned out by the time we finished with Camden. Plus it was starting to rain. We walked back in a downpour. I spent the rest of the day taking it easy and reading for class.

We had our first class in the morning. It looks to be very interesting and somewhat informal. We've started our discussion with Twelfth Night, which we are going to see tomorrow. It looks like the course will be a combination of literature and London history. I think that's pretty fantastic! It's nice to know things about the city as I'm going about.

After lunch quite a large group of us went to the Sherlock Holmes Museum, just across the street from the park. Then we all took the tube to Kings Cross to be super Harry Potter Nerds:


We thought maybe if we all pushed hard enough we would get through.

From there half the group stayed to wander around... there was some talk of a Charles Dickens museum. I went back with the other half for lunch then we headed to South Kensington and the Victoria and Albert Museum. That was extremely interesting, but we were only there for about 2 hours before it closed. 2 hours is not enough time to see the V&A. We did see quite a few very neat things though.

When the museum guards kicked us out we jumped back on the tube and took it one stop to Knightsbridge where we ate supper at Pizza on the Park. English Pizza is quite different. Three of the menu items (read: pizzas) had egg listed as a topping. Egg on pizza is not a happy combination. When we finished, the people I was with left for the LDS church for Family Home Evening. I didn't have much desire to join them. I decided to walk back to Regent's through Hyde park (just along the edge, I wouldn't call it seeing the park at all) bast Wellington Arch

Wellington Arch

 and The Marble Arch. It was a lovely stroll, but by the time I got back to my room my legs were about to fall off. I spent the rest of the evening reading and talking to classmates.

Today I haven't really done much at all. We had class this morning. Since then I've been lazing about in my room. Writing this, researching things to do, uploading photos, that sort of thing. I bought my bus ticket to Cardiff. I think I'm now finished with my computery stuff so I might go out into the park and read or write a little.

I'm wondering if I should try to blog every day. Mostly for my own benefit. It's nice to have a record of my day when it's still fresh in my head. Plus I'm doing so much that just a few days is... how long is this post? I haven't even really gone into any detail. That said, I really haven't had a lot of time to blog. I suppose it wouldn't take so long if I wasn't doing days at a time. I don't know. I guess we'll see.

I have a lot more pictures than I posted here. You can look at them Here.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Have You Got Anyone Named Alonso?

I'm jumping on a plane in a few hours and I'm about to shut off my computer and put in in my carry-on. So, this is the last time I'll be posting from the states for a while *grin*.

So, in the words of The Doctor:

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Shiny Shiny Blue-ness

Look! My blog is all pretty and new looking. I decided I should blog in blue. I had to keep the background dark because I've been posting forever in exciting and varied colors. I think it's nice to be able to read the archive. There are a lot of inanities I've thrown out into the void that you might find totally fascinating. If you were really bored. And creepy obsessed. I've been blogging since 2005! Isn't that nuts?

Anyway, enjoy the blue!

I'm busy busy busy getting ready to head off to London! I'm so incredibly excited. I promise I will update this blog at least once a week while I'm there. It's how my parents plan to keep track of what I'm up to, so if I don't keep things updated they will probably assume I'm dead. As much as that sounds like a great prank, I actually like my parents and don't really want to put them through that.

Speaking of parents:

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

Thursday, May 06, 2010

ROAR (It's Totally a Thing)

It should be no secret to you that I am not the biggest fan of text messaging. I've mentioned it here once or twice and even gave it up for a while in protest. Granted that was a long time ago and I do use text messaging fairly often. I've begrudgingly come around to the technology. I blame Job o' Death. I spent so much time menially talking on the phone then that the very thought of a telephonic conversation made me gag. Not really. Still, I didn't love phones for a long time after getting out of that disaster.

Anyway, I don't really mind text messaging anymore. Notice how I am not saying "texting" that word still makes me cringe. TEXT IS NOT A VERB PEOPLE!!!!! Yes, that did warrant full capitalization. "Texting" and phases like "Do you text?" are such horrendous bastardizations of the English language (which is enough of a bastard already) they make me want to lock the speaker/writer (Gods! it's worse if they write it! Writing, at least, calls for proper usage of language. I can forgive a slip of the tongue, but you can do better if you're writing) in a steel box full of rabid, sharp-toothed, squirrels!

Deep breath.

That rantage aside, I will come to my point. I accept text messaging. I use it. I still don't love it and feel like there are some conversations that should not happen via text. Small talk, as I have mentioned before, should not be done with text messaging. Important "deep conversations" should not be done with text messaging. Emoticons should never ever be in a text message unaccompanied by actual text (rare... rare exceptions may apply). Nor should they come at the end of every message you ever send :). It's really annoying :). Almost as annoying as ending every statement with "lol" :). In fact, "lol" should probably never ever enter your text message/IM/internet commenting vocabulary... lol :).

Silly, joking, insubstantial but still fun banter is ok as text messaging. It can be kind of fun that way, plus you can then have record of the conversation so you can say to friends (when you are hanging out with real people), "Look how clever and witty I am!" Text messages are also ok for: Arranging to meet up (especially if an exchange of address is required), conveying quick info (running late; can't find the cheese; zombies on 4th and main! Run!), getting information to several people at once (NOT spamming, that's different and totally unacceptable).

Sigh of a ninja. I feel better now. That rant has been building up for quite some time. I'm glad I got it off my chest.

In other news, I leave for London in one week and 15 hours!
I think I'm going to give my blog a makeover before I go. Be excited.