Monday, May 28, 2012

Where'd all the good people go?

I'm still playing catch up for the last couple of days. My blogging time is becoming more limited, and my drive to stay up into the early hours of the morning to write about my adventures has been a little weak because of this nasty sinus infection I've had. But here are the updates:

Saturday, 26 May 2012:

Woke up early and stole away to Portobello Market. I went by myself, and I had a really good time! It was fun to take my time wandering down the road, soaking up the crazy environment as I went. I arrived about the time that it opened, and within twenty minutes there were hordes of people crowding the streets. It's funny to observe the market-goers... I love to play a game with myself (apparently I play a lot of those) where I guess which ones are Americans (often wearing cargo capris, tennis shoes, and a backpack), which tourists just arrived (they're the ones that are going nuts over the souvenir shops that you can find on every corner of London), etc. I got a few things at the market, mostly some small gifts for family and friends. Oh, and I found the best frozen yogurt I've ever had! It was a big cup of fresh mixed berries with vanilla yogurt piled on top... I might have to go back next Saturday just for that.

In the few times that I've shopped the markets, I've learned several keys to working the system. Anyone who plans to shop the European markets in the near future may find the tips useful:
It's quite helpful to get ready for the day before you go. You need to look nice and presentable. Deals are often given to the "pretty girls." With that in mind, be careful not to wear too much flashy jewelry or fancy clothing, because they'll try to get more money out of you. Find a good balance. If you're a lady, always try to buy from male sellers, particularly the younger ones. Flirt if you must, but beware of the creepy ones. Show them that you can hold your own and that you know how to make a good bargain. Don't ever buy something without first trying to haggle the price. Always argue. For any market, go in the morning, before everyone else. The vendors often give in to haggling for their "first customer." Before you buy something, make your way around the market and check for cheaper prices. Many of the same products are often sold at different booths, and some are substantially cheaper than others. Hm, what else? Oh, prices are always higher at the front of the market, but are less expensive toward the end of the road. I would recommend starting at the end and working backwards. When haggling, ask for the price, then take a very long time to think about it. Stick around the booth, and make your internal debate (about whether or not to give in) extra obvious. Slowly put the item back in it's place; at this point, they'll usually offer a slightly better deal. Consider it, but politely refuse and begin to walk away. Almost always, they'll shout a new price at you. If the price fits your wallet, do it. If not, continue to walk away and find something that will.

On Saturday afternoon, I saw Misterman at the National Theatre. It's a one-man show starring Cillian Murphy, the creepy blue-eyed beauty in Red Eye, Inception, and several other big movies. If I've ever seen an abstract show, this was it. The acting was beyond incredible, but the story was dark and haunting. I left the show thinking about JJ's song Where'd All the Good People Go, feeling a little bit disgusted by the world.

In the evening, the world just grew more corrupt when my group went to see Duchess of Malfi. It wasn't my favorite play to read, but it was even worse to watch live. Don't get me wrong... the acting, set, lighting, and staging were all awesome, but it's difficult for me to really appreciate a show that's full of blatantly inappropriate and disturbing scenes. Some of the girls loved it, but I'm learning that I'm not a fan of the dark. Brittany says that my corruption's gotta happen sometime. I beg to differ.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Four of us gave talks in our ward on Sunday. I spoke about finding joy in the journey, which was a fun one to study and prepare for. I really really enjoy giving talks. Helping in the nursery was easier than ever... we had two little girls and five adults, so we had some great conversations about ambitions and professions and dating and such. There was a really nice family from Provo visiting the ward, and I had a good time getting to know them and asking their advice about a few things. Next week is our last week in the London North ward, and I'm going to miss it!

Monday, 28 May 2012

Class was entertaining this morning. The theatre class was split into four groups and each group was assigned a scene from a play to reenact for the class, so we laughed as two of the groups performed theirs. Then Phil was in one of his crazy moods and got the class laughing and everyone was talking at once and it was complete chaos, but it made me realize how close we've become as a group. Although we struggled a little bit to mesh at the beginning, I think we all feel like a big family now.

I just got back from a run in Hyde Park. It's bloody hot, but it felt so good. It's gonna be sad to go back to Utah and have to run the same routes without being surrounded by bright gardens and ponds and statues and hundreds of people picnicking. At least it won't be humid, I guess, but I'd gladly take the humidity if I could keep the scenery. And I live right across the street from it all. This is a pretty cool opportunity.

Tonight I'm going to see Noises Off with Taylor. It's supposed to be a great comedy, so we'll see how it turns out. Tomorrow the whole group is heading to Stratford early in the morning. I may not be able to take my computer; if that's the case, I'll report back in a few days. Cheers!


**Later on....

Noises Off was the second best show I've seen in London, next to Wicked. It was HILARIOUS. Taylor and I laughed our heads off the whole time, and continued laughing the whole tube ride home. We were in the front row and were practically spat upon, but that just made it all the better. I love London theatre.

Greatest show ever.

Our extremely close view of the stage.

Taylor's face when we saw how close we were... we had to look up a bit the whole show. Notice the worker in the background staring us down for taking a photo in the theatre. Priceless.

Friday, May 25, 2012


Our last completely free day is almost over.

I spent the day in Hampstead with Hillary, Abby, Taylor, Caroline, and Brittany. First, we found a cute cafe with a cute waiter. Ok, I didn't think he was that cute, but the other girls drooled over him. The cafe was called Ginger and White, and it served all kinds of cakes and muffins and pastries. Caroline and I shared one of my favorites: pumpkin cake with vanilla frosting. I'll admit, I'm a sucker for anything pumpkin.

Yep, that's him. "Hey Brittany, smile... move your head a little to the left.... perfect."

Welcome to Hampstead.
We walked around and around the little town, following directions from the "London Walks" book which educated us about several places along the way. We stopped at a very old-looking cemetery that would've freaked me out in the dark, but during the day it was bursting with long green grass, tall trees, vines, and bright flowers.

By and large, the greatest visit of the day was to Parliament Hill. To get there, we walked at least a couple of miles through a large forested area, stopping to enjoy several pretty areas along the way. Once we finally reached it, the view quite literally took my breath away. There on top of that hill, I could see the entire city of London, though it seemed to go on forever. I wish I could've captured it through a camera, but the pictures just don't suffice. The six of us spread ourselves across the hill and each took some time to digest the world around us. I took out my journal and began to write. I wrote the lyrics to "For the Beauty of the Earth," because the song was all too fitting for the way I was feeling. "For the beauty of each hour, of the day and of the night; hill and vale, and tree and flower, sun and moon and stars of light. Lord of all, to thee (I) raise this (my) joyful hymn of praise..." As I sat there in that tall grass, I thought about the concept of beauty. Here's a snippet of the journal entry:

"...During moments like these, I thank my God for allowing me this time on earth. It's a challenging life on earth, no matter who you are; it can be very discouraging at times. I believe that that's why God created scenery like this. That is why God created beauty. Beautiful landscapes, beautiful art, beautiful people, beautiful moments. It's beauty that helps us through the ugly and keeps us close to our Maker. It lets us know that He's always right there, keeping watch of his precious creations. It brings happiness, and has a way of broadening perspectives. What would we do without it? Would a life without beauty be any life at all?"


London in background.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Hampton Court, Science&Fashion, Mission Talk, Les Mis.

Yesterday was the first official day I haven't blogged while I've been here... oopsies. It wasn't terribly exciting... we had class in the morning then went to Chariots of Fire at the Hampstead Theatre on Dreary Lane. Fun (and disappointing) fact: there is no muffin shop on Dreary Lane. Before the show, we walked around the Swiss Cottage Farmers Market just across the street, and I finally tried some chicken paella. It looked much better than it tasted, but it was still pretty good. After the show, I came home and accidentally fell asleep around 8:30pm. It was good because I'd been feeling sick, but I was still a little angry at myself for letting a free evening slip by. I counted the days up today, and I only have 4 evenings left that aren't planned out for me! I'm gonna have to start cramming a few things into the schedule.

I love the Farmer's Market!
Today was busy and productive. The group went to Hampton Court, known best for being the home of King Henry VIII. I think I enjoyed the palace even more thanWindsor, which is saying something. The inside was elaborate and beautiful, but my favorite part was taking a stroll through the manicured gardens. I LOVE GARDENS. As I wandered, I couldn't help but picture Jane and Mr. Bingley or Lizzy and Mr. Darcy walking arm in arm around the grounds, conversing about profound things and fanning themselves for air as they went. If I could live during any time period other than the current time, it would be the time of Pride and Prejudice because of the elegant speech. In Hampton Court, there were actors dressed up like specific characters from King Henry and King Williams' time. One artist told me that he would love to paint me as Minerva... "those eyes, those beautiful eyes... there is wonderful intelligence behind those eyes." He told Taylor that he could do wonders with her bone structure. Another lady told me that I had beautiful dark hair, but that I needed to curl it tight like hers if I wanted to be "in fashion." She said to relay that message to my servant. I wanted to ask her if she'd show me how to curl it without the use of a curling iron, since it would definitely come in handy while I'm here!

Hampton Court.

King William's Toilet. Comfy, eh?

William's "Music Room."

The floors reminded me of Chatsworth, Mr. Darcy's home.
This is the artist who wanted to paint Taylor and I. 

Gardens, gardens, gardens.
Pathway in the manicured gardens.

Royal tennis courts. 

Taylor and Caroline and I stopped at the Science Museum and the V&A (again) on the way back. The former was a little strange, but we were all in a crazy mood so it was fun to laugh at the ridiculous things and still admire the interesting ones.  The reason we stopped at the V&A was to see their new fashion exhibit. It was neat, and I accidentally snuck into the ballgown exhibit... I had no idea that I needed a ticket and no one stopped me from going in. Their bad, right?

Life-size model of Apollo 11.

A piece of the moon! If you're wondering, it looks nothing like cheese.

The neuroscience secretary in me...

V&A fashion exhibit.

On the way back to the flat, we wanted to get a closer look at the newly renovated LDS chapel near the museums; the same one that we attended stake conference at last Sunday. It's unlike any church I've been in. There's a statue of Christ in the front, and right inside is a visitors center. On one side of the hall is the chapel, and on the other is the baptismal font, which is often open to spectators while a baptism is being performed. We sat and talked with the sister missionaries for almost an hour; they asked us questions and I interrogated them about when and how they decided that they wanted to serve a mission. They shared some great stories, and they did all they could to convince me that I need to go.

LES MISERABLES WAS INCREDIBLE. Nothing will ever compare to Wicked in my book, but it was still very impressive. Every time I go to a musical, it makes me wish I would have been a MDT major. It only lasts a few hours, until I remember how much I love my major and how much I can do with it, but I definitely miss acting.

The days are going by far too fast. I'm beyond excited to come home, but I also know that I'll never have an opportunity quite like this one again. It'll be over in two weeks! I'm putting any and all stressors away and living in the moment for the next fourteen days.