...The story of a girl in London, England


Day 34: A Day in The Life

Today I had to buckle down and get things done. With the Stratford trip this week, and homework piling up, and an empty refrigerator,I dedicated the day to being TOTALLY productive.

So, after class, I went straight to metrogate, pulled out my computer and my complete works, and started typing.Apparently I wasn't the only one with this idea, because the pc lab was full of people from the program with The Tempest on their laps. I wrote the paper in an hour flat, printed it, and headed home.

And on the way, I ran into Katie! Lugging her suitcase full of dirty clothes to do some laundry... so I handed her the paper, and kicked up my heals because I was rid of it!

The stretch home from metrogate is very familiar these days. There are towering trees without leaves lining the walk, and many cars parked in rows down the middle of the street. The houses on the left are all white faced, with black doors, some with a little black and white checked tile on the stairs. And the houses on the right are all different--some red, some white, and still others a combination of the two, striped, or trimmed in either color. There are wrought iron gates and fences, all intricate and different, and potted plants and ivy on the steps.And the scaffolding thats covered one house since the beginning of the trip is slowly disappearing.

Once at home I had a quick chat with the girls in the commons, and then dropped off my things. I hopped down the stairs to the second floor, poked my head in, and said hello to Rob and Rach, (who'd just come from Tesco, and were settling down to write their papers), and then I headed down High Street Kensington.

The Park on my right side, the many colored flats on my left, I walked past the first bus station, past the gentleman's club, past the stick and bowl restaurant, past two food, news, and wine shops, past the unisex salon, past the Goat Tavern, and the Giraffe, the Pizza Hut, and the McDonalds, the open air flower shop, and on into the strip of clothing stores... H&M, American Apparel, the Top Shop, TK Maxx, Jigsaw, Monsoon, (where this beautiful red ruffly dress in the window always calls my name), and then of course, Whole Foods, which is smack in the middle of all of them... And then past the High Street Tube station, and finally to Tesco.

Grocery shopping is easier now, partly because I know what I like, and partly because I know where it is. You know that the breads are on the left as you walk into the store, and the dairy is at the back. The fruit and vegetables are immediately to your right, and in the middle are the prebaked meals. Downstairs is tricky, but in the far left corner there's the medical/hygeinic stuff, and in the middle are the cookies, crackers, crisps, biscuits, and candy. You've got cereal along the wall near the lift, and jam or nutella right next to it. And then soup and pasta are in a corner in the back.

You get pretty good at walking in, grabbing a basket, navagating the crowd, getting your food, getting in the queue, and getting out. It's usually a good idea to just be quiet when you're shopping. If you don't say anything, they assume you're English, and they treat you better. But as soon as you open your mouth, well... your social status drops WAY down.

I hopped on the number 10 bus with my bag of groceries, and muched on some crunchies I'd bought on sale. Cadbury chocolate covered toffee and corn flakes... the best thing that ever happened to cereal, I think.

And then I hopped off at the Queen's Gate Bus Stop, and J-Walked across the street to the flats. I pulled out my keys, hanging on my BYU landiard, along with a red jump drive and a 50p London telephone booth souvenier keychain... and trudged up the four flights of stairs, getting slower and slower as I reached the top.

I put my groceries in their proper places, in my fridge in the dining room, and then I settled into a couch, with a computer, snacks, and a lot of blogging to do. The commons room is awfully comfortable... always just the right temperature, huge bay windows at one end, and three comfy couches to choose from. I'll put my feet up, look out the window, and fight the urge to fall asleep.

We had planned to make our weekly trek to My Old Dutch, but these plans were foiled due to exhaustion... and, more importantly, a rather lengthy protest outside our flat. Streams of people with signs and blow horns walked up and down High Street Kensington for a good hour. And the police blockades were rather discouraging... So, we opted out of braving the masses (who were adamantly shouting "Free Free Palestine")... Pancakes weren't quite worth the risk.

Instead I ate crisps and cheese and olives. Mom, can we have steak when I come home?

Around 6:00 we left for the Apollo Theatre, to see All My Sons. The space was amazing- we were in the balcony, and it was so vertical in nature that I could have actually reached out and touched the ceiling, if I'd had a hankering to do it. And you felt as though you could fall onto the stage at any moment... But nobody did. ;)

And the best part was the set. It actually looked like someone's backyard, complete with lawn. The grass grew taller around the edges of the furniture in the yard and the edges of the house and trees... and there were a couple of old apple boxes discarded against the stairs, and an old baseball glove forgotton in the weeds. There were weeping willow branches cascading over the white washed house, and a swinging screen door. The set was perfect. And the lighting!! My goodness... It was perfectly warm, like a summers day... and then again perfectly red and orange, casting long shaddows, like a summers sunset... and then again perfectly green and blue and black, like a summers night.

The artistry of the piece was breathtaking. And, I'll admit it, I cried at the end. But so did everyboy else. So I wasn't alone in that.

We walked to the tube station, and I sat wearily as the train bumped along... watching the people around me.

I walked back down High Street Kensington... past all the restaurants and clothing stores... and then I walked up the four flights of stairs, to the fifth floor, at 37 Hyde Park Gate, in the Borough of Kensington, in London, England.

And so ended another day in the life.


Day 33: There is somebody I'm longing to see...

I hope that he turns out to be
someone who'll watch over me... I'm a little lamb who's lost in the wood.
I know I could always be good To one who'll watch over me...

This song was stuck in my head all morning... I kept humming it, and singing little snatches... but I couldn't remember any of the words! Or the actual tune, for that matter. It was just floating around on my lips, in my mind, driving me mad, because I knew I loved it! If I could only remember the darn thing! I just couldn't put my finger on the song.

I woke up around 7:30 and began working on my talk for sacrament meeting. I've never given a 10 to 15 minute talk before today, and I was a little on the nervous side. But did you know that the church website has absolutely amazing resources for that sort of thing? All you have to do is click on the "prepare a talk" tab, and you're golden! Anyway, I worked on that, and hummed little pieces of the song I couldn't remember.

"da da da da da da, doo doo, da da... "

I ate breakfast-- some cereal and toast with jam-- and continued singing:
"da da da da da da, doo doo, da da... "

I went back to my talk... and hummed some more.

"da da da da da da, doo doo, da da... "

I jumped in the shower... and tried to think of another song I actually knew, but I just kept going back to that same tune.


On the tube I read through some old journal entries, from just before I left for London. It was interesting to see how I've grown. Small things, mostly. I'm not afraid of airports anymore. And I've come to appreciate life back home... the every day, in and out, boring, same old same old, life. This town is so busy, so full of things to do, you wear yourself out just deciding what to do with yourself! And it will be so nice to know how to cross the street again.

The Victoria line was quick today, so Miriam and I got off at Walthamstow Station and to the chapel with plenty of time to put a musical number together. (Ha. Yeah). A lot of good that extra week did us! We decided to sing, "There is Sunshine in My Soul Today". Happy, upbeat, and easy! Miriam sang soprano, and I sang soprano, alto, and tenor... (though not all at once). Miraculously, it came together. Thanks in great part to Debbie's excellent piano skills. THANK YOU Debbie. ;)

The talk went very well, actually... And afterward our adorable Bishop told me he was very impressed. And that my talk had shown great maturity, and that he was touched by what I had said. (Hooray! ...It is always good to get a hand shake and a heartfelt thank you). And the song went just swimmingly as well...

Primary, on the otherhand, was a little bit of a mess...

Today I realized that every time I thought my parents were being "mean", they were really just doing me a favor. So, thank you mom and dad! Thank you for yelling every now and then, and saying "no"... because, my GOODNESS... some of those kids need to learn how to take "no" for an answer!

... "No, Sean! You may not hit Holly!"
... "No, Merchant! You may not put chalk on your face!"
... "No, John! You may not eat your scriptures!"
... "No, Tiko! You may not run around the room screaming about how you hate the song Book of Mormon Stories!"
... "No!!!..."

Luckily I got to hide behind the piano and play Do as I'm Doing... over and over again... as Adam bawled, and Tiko yelled, and the poor primary president tried to keep the rest singing.

Yes, well... we have our off weeks....

I was the impromptu substitute for the 8-11 year olds sunday school class. You see, their teacher Esmerelda failed to mention that she was getting married... and that she wouldn't be around to teach anymore...

I entertained the idea of created a lesson on the spot, and thought better of it... and instead, we invited Merchant, Tiko, Nathan, Jemma, Jade, and Christina to ask whatever questions they had, about anything they liked.

Well, for fourty five minutes, we sat and talked with those nine and ten year olds about life... music, America, school, food, and any number of other things. And for the first time, Nathan became involved and animated in class... we talked with him about Harry Potter, and movies, and he just lit up all over. Jemma, who usually sat quietly in the corner, became excited over Taylor Swift, and other artists. Jade explained the school system in the UK, (which confused us to no end), and we described the things we'd done in high school, and college. For the first time, I felt as though they wanted to be friends. As though we were getting somewhere! And it was the best 45 minutes I've spent in that ward.

To end the class, we sat on the floor and played telephone. (Only here they call it Chinese Whispers). And we laughed ourselves silly, and had a grand old time. And I'm sure that will be one of my favorite memories from these last few weeks... playing with my Primary kids... and being their friend.

... The steps of Saint Pauls Cathedral are always covered with people... sitting, enjoying the weather, or just having a rest. And as we walked up them, we smiled triumphantly, knowing we were right on time to see the Evensong. ...

We sat down and listened to the organ, sounding ominous and strange in the high vaulted ceilings, and watched the funny little man direct the onlookers. He had dark black hair, and a thin pointy face. His lips pursed in a mousish manner, and he stepped on his toes, as though he were stepping on very small stones. He'd hop, from one place to another, shh-ing, and smiling, and blinking his eyes. And every now and then he'd stand very still, and importantly, and nod his head as though he knew something nobody else could ever know.

The organ faded, and we stirred in our seats expectantly, as the arms on the clock hit 5:00pm. But much to our surprise, the people surrounding us began to stand and exit slowly... and then we heard the usher say that was the end of the organ concert, and Mass would be at 6:00. Well... oops.

Turns out Evensong is at 5:00 on WEEKDAYS, but 3:00 on weekends. And so, we sat and stayed for Mass.

Saint Pauls has a surprisingly small amount of stained glass. It's mostly stone and light and space. The far end has lots of gold and green and purple and red--all colors of the liturgical calendar. And there is a beautiful, sprawling, black and white checkered tile floor. Th huge dome above you reveals a small dome above IT, and the sun sends a sharp ray of light through just one window at a time, leaving a streak across the emptyness above you. And the mosaics shimmer and dance as the light catches on the edges of each tiny tile. There are chandaliers, and trees outside the windows, and individually carved flowers on the high ceiling, and round all the high, sloping walls...

And during Mass, smoke pours out of a bowl on a metal pillar, adding a haze to the air, like gauze on your eyes...

It was an interesting experience, to be sure. We stood, and sat, and stood again. And listened to the words of the priest in cream and pink robes. And at one point, when we were invited to "give a sign of peace" to our neighbors, we turned and gave hugs and handshakes all around.

After Mass, we headed home. But not before walking past the London Eye, and the Thames, and across the bridge. ... I couldn't help it! It was oh, such a glorious day! Such a fabulously blue and sunny day! And the Thames was so lovely, and the sky was so pretty, and the breeze was so soft... the only flaw was all the tourists, who were, unfortunately, everywhere.

I used a pay to pee at Gloucester, because everyone else was too chicken, and we wanted to try it, at least once!

And then I ate some dinner, (for once!)... and I don't think I've ever been so full on a Sunday here.


I finally found the words to the song, and the tune, for that matter, (with the help of Annalee). We figured I'd heard it first on the movie Fame, and somehow, it just stuck in my head all these months, and finally resurfaced this fine Sunday morning. Of course, you'll never guess who sang it first... Ella Fitzgerald. :) I'm so predictable.

But I want all of you to know that I do miss you dearly. This has been a wonderful, amazing adventure... But it just isn't the same without you. And I can't wait to come home.

There is somebody I'm longing to see...
I hope that he turns out to be
Someone who'll watch over me...

Day 32: Being a Londoner

Today was the second adventure in Portobello Road, and heavens to Betsy, did I get WET! It was only drizzling when we left, but by the time I'd made it halfway to the booth with the one pound scarves it was really coming down. Unfortunately the brelly I purchased my first week here was utterly useless, and broke the second time I used it. (Though I had attempted once or twice to carry it at the top when it was raining so it wouldn't collapse, I gave that up quickly, and stopped bringing it altogether). So, I was quite forced to buy another. I hopped into a tourist shop and bought a cheap union jack brelly at the front for three pounds, and headed back into the pouring rain.
I am convinced that Portobello Road actually contains magical properties. Yes, I may be biased or brain washed because of Bed Knobs and Broom Sticks, but I tell you, no matter WHAT you are looking for... no matter HOW specific... you can always find it there.

I've been looking for plain gold earrings since about the second week here. No designs, no paint, so intricate holes... Just plain, solid, gold, teardrop shaped earrings. And heck if I could find them anywhere! We looked everywhere! Every day Rob would say, "today we're going to find your earings moo!" And every day our plans were frustrated. And then, I took a second trip to Portobello Road...

Well, I'm sure you can guess what happened. Just like my vintage leather side satchel, there they were, all of a sudden... the PERFECT earrings... just waiting for me to stumble upon them. And they were only 3 pounds!!

That's twice now that Portobello Road has fulfilled my little girl dreams!... how I will miss it when I'm gone!

On the way out I grabbed falafal for lunch... and my goodness, that was the BEST falafal I've had yet. Roasted eggplant, and hummus, and olives... MMM! So good.

Only trouble was, I had lost my dear friends Robyn and Rachel... and I didn't exactly know where the National Theatre was--which was where we needed to be in half an hour. So, I chewed on my falafal, and stopped some nice looking coppers to ask for directions... they whipped out their maps, and just as they sat debating whether I should go to embankment or some other station, Rob and Chach appeared! And all was well.

We had a backstage tour of the place, and it was excellent fun... even though we were a little on the late side, and sort of winded. Walking through the scene shops and prop shops and backstage areas made me think of home. It made me think of all the hours I spent rehearsing, and playing, and working, and laughing, and sweating in other theatres... It made me miss the stage.

I was able to grab a quick drink of water before the matinee, which was a very good thing, seeing as how I was totally parched. They don't believe in drinking fountains here. So it can be tricky business, staying hydrated. But, se la vi. (How on earth do you spell that anyway?) ...

The matinee of London Assurance was delightful. And it certainly helped that Miriam had cadbury caramels shoved in her bag to share... mmmmm... I don't know why all their chocolate is better than ours, but it isn't fair. And I shan't ever want to eat chocolate again, in the states. Even cadbury. Because it isn't the same.

One of the members of the cast played Roland in a Knights Tale, and one of the leading ladies played Aunt Petunia in Harry Potter. And she was DANG funny. Everything she did made you laugh... She could sit and do nothing, and you would laugh. Believe me. Miriam and I... we laughed. A lot.

After the show, Rob and I walked the streets near Embankment and Charring Cross station... feeling quite at home. We stopped off at Cranberry's, to get a few sweets--yogurt covered coconut, dried mango, and chocolate covered nuts... We watched people. We talked. We wandered up and down, enjoying the foggy day in London Towne, and as we sauntered slowly in our leather jackets, I felt like a Londoner.

It was a good feeling. Just... living.

We stumbled upon a place called the Somerset House, and knew it must be famous, but couldn't think why... There was a bride with a wedding party, getting ready to leave in an old red minicooper, covered in white streamers...

We stumbled upon a man in a dress...

We didn't QUITE stumble upon an open bar for dinner, as Lauren (Rob's sister) and her friend took us there. And for once, I didn't worry about how to order or whether I looked silly or out of place. We sat on the couches and ate a good meal. I watched people live their lives, talk to their friends, drink their beer... and wondered what they would do with their life...

And then I went home, and got in bed at 10:00.

Being a Londoner is exhausting. ;) Believe me. I know.


Day 31: Afternoon Tea and Tinkerbell

Today Robyn and I got up bright and early... (ahem, 10:00.... )... and headed to Primark! I don't know that I've discussed Primark much, if at all, but here's a quick recap: Primark=English Walmart, (only... lower priced, better quality, and no food or electronics... just clothes).

Primark just so happens to be the best place in London if you're a poor college student with a very limited wardrobe and a relatively limited residency. The stuff is cheap and cute, and if you don't love it, you don't have to feel badly about tossing it when you come home... (and this is helpful seeing as how your luggage can't be over 50 pounds, or whatever the weight requirement is).

However, there is one downside to this glorious store. It is in a state of absolute CHAOS whenever you go. And if you go on the weekend, well, then you're really in for it. The store actually looks as though it's being looted. (And to be honest, I'm sure it is being looted. I can't imagine that there aren't at least a few items that walk out of the doors unpaid for). At any rate, it took a little longer than originally anticipated. And this sad fact, combined with our HUGE underestimation of the size of Hyde Park, we were rather late for our afternooon tea!

Yes, afternoon tea. What a lovely thing that is! I believe that this is one thing that the English have absolutely right, and the Americans have absolutely wrong. Sitting down at two or three with a good cup of tea, jam and biscuits, finger sandwiches, and eclairs is quite possible the BEST thing you could ever do with your time at that particular hour. You are able to take a moment to BREATHE, just at the busiest time of day... And then begin again, more refreshed.

Yes, afternoon tea at the Orangerie was a huge success. We girls were absolutely giddy, all dressed up and straight backed and pinky extended. It was rather reminiscent of my 5th birthday party, which was, indeed, the best birthday party of all time. I had a princess dress, played croquet, and had tea and crumpets with all my little girl friends. What could honestly be better? I ordered fresh mint leaf tea, which was absolutely delicious. And just at our table there was cinnamon, orange, rosehip and hibiscus tea to boot! (Which, of course, I took the liberty of sampling).

Unfortunately we looked rather ridiculous, counting out our change at the end, and failing miserably because noone seems quite able to master the coinage in this silly town. There are just too many sizes and shapes and numbers to keep track of. But we were successful... eventually. And managed to escape relatively unscathed by the glares of high nosed Englishmen and women. ;)

There was a ten or eleven year old boy sitting next to me on the tube all decked out in his football garb, (soccer, in the states), and it made me miss home. Especially my darling brothers... who I beleive deserve a shout out!... Zander, you're my favorite little stud in the world! Dexter, I can't wait to come home and give you a hug! Riley, I wish you could be here to play in the castles with me! ... I love you all!!!

Anyway, I suppose another reason I might be thinking of you is because I saw Peter Pan tonight. (Not the real Peter Pan, but the show Peter Pan)... It was absolutely phenominal. I mean, WOW. One of the best shows I've seen in London.

It was over at the Barbican Center, and the space in and of itself was fantastic. The theatre is very modern, and gorgeous in its own way... and it lent itself to the fantasy and imagination of the piece. I could have simply sat and looked at the set, it was so beautiful. And the LIGHTING! ... (sigh)... All those reds and greens and blues and purples... It was really just a beautiful piece of art on the stage. And there was one underwater scene that absolutely took my breath away, because it was so PRETTY, and so real...

But it was also a very intriguing interpretation. It was set in Scotland, with traditional Scotish music, and history woven in. Hook even wore a black kilt! (I admit I'm a sucker for anything
Scotish... I mean the accents alone pretty much killed me...) But the whole thing had this dimension of ... reality. It was uncanny. And it was not just a happy little disney fairytale. Which I very much appreciated.

Tink was an actual ball of fire that they somehow tossed around the stage. And people appeared in beds, where there were only sheets before. And later, when we asked how these illusions were performed, they wouldn't tell us! (Apparently they'd been sworn to secrecy!)

Well, at any rate, I loved it. And I think I shall be very disappointed if I ever see Peter Pan again without Kilts, Bagpipes, and gruff Scotish "R's"...! ;)


Day 30: You've got a friend...

Today the stars were against us... the tube was running slow, the train was delayed... we waited at the station for a good fourty five minutes, and when we finally hopped aboard, we had to get off again, due to the fact that it was actually the wrong train. But, no matter, I had a play to read! And friends to keep me company.

You know, this was my first time on a London train. As mr. Brower would say, they are "smooth like buttah!"... at least in comparison to the jostling experience you get on the tube.
Anyway, it was well worth the travel time, the sitting time, the waiting time, and the reading time... we alighted at Shoreham Station, and headed out on our country walk!

The English countryside was breathtaking from a tour bus window. ... But that view was nothing compared to what I saw as I spent the day walking through it. Somehow the addition of the cool morning air, the sound of birds, the water in a brook, and wind in your eyes, made a world of difference.

We stopped first at a small church cemetary. The headstones covered in lichen and moss, all grey and green and yellow... and the grass growing wild and thick. The wooden walls of the little church were old and cracking, and the trees all swayed silently to some unheard rhythm in the air.

For the first time in the last month, I could breath! You never realize how dirty the air is, until you get outside it. And let me tell you, the air in good old London Town is outrageously difficult to breath... But not out there, in the country. It's beautiful... and clear, and clean.

We walked out of the churchyard, and onto a little path. It led us slowly past rolling hills filled with tall, wet grass, and blue, burning skies. You'd see a row of poplars going off at an angle in the distance, separating this field from that, or perhaps standing sentinel over a small country lane. And then there'd be one lone tree: big enough, thick enough, that you could spend forever reading a book at its base. Branches spread low over the earth. It would stand there, dozing in the bluish, foggy mist. And I'd watch, and wonder how many picnics it had sheltered, or how many children had skinned their knees trying to scurry up its trunk.

There came a break in the endless hedge on our right, and the path led us through the opening. The clouds billowed and bloomed above me, and the earth swelled up and down like waves, and it was so wet, and quiet, and filled with sound. There was a little white bird that flew from one tree to another. And great stone bridges that crossed the stream we followed from time to time. Brick walls, yellow and red and brown and green and purple, all at once: as though daring a rainbow or a painter's pallet to rival them in color, or texture, or interest.

We stopped at a place called the "Hop Stop". Did you know that a "Hop" is actually the part of the grain that is used to make Beer? Well, it is. And I saw them. Though I'm sure it would have been more interesting if I drank every now and again. ;) Though part Brewery, the Hop Stop was also a Lavender Farm. They sold lavender bread, lavender cookies, lavender ice cream, and lavender extract. We had a hay day, sharing our purchases, and trying new things...

A home made HoHo--which was gigantic and covered in sugar.
Victorian Lemonade--which contains only .5% alcohol! ;)
Ginger Beer--which burns your throat on the way down.
Cheese Straws--which were crispy and delicious.

Pistachio Ice cream! Lavender ice cream! Rum cake! English Crisps! Dried butter beans! And lavender shortbread!

It was one of the few times I've really felt like all of us were... friends. Talking and laughing and sharing and eating. Spending the day in the English Countryside.

Later as we continued our walk, we came across some horses grazing near the road. There was one little foal in particular, who was getting a lot of attention, and giving no notice. Everyone sat there and clucked and called, but to no avail. I walked up, and said "hello! is your name Joey?", and his little head shot up, and he walked straight to my beckoning fingers. Well, we laughed quite a lot at that. It was almost an exact reproduction of a scene in War Horse, where Albert names his horse. Anyway, I guess that means I'm Albert.... hmm... haha

We visited an Archaelogical site for some Roman Ruins... which were quite educational. But the best part was the lift. (Jill and I discovered it, and had a party). See, you had to push the button the whole time, and if you stopped, the lift stopped. So you could be stuck, halfway between floors, and since it was glass, you could see into both the one below, and the one abve. It was totally AWESOME.

Unfortunately Lancelot gave us a parental glare.

Anyway, after that, a lot of the group headed back to the train. But a small bunch of us went on to see some castle ruins. And, of course, I'm always up for castles.

We jumped around for a while, exploring the ancient walls... And then we all slowly congregated in a loose circle in the shade, some sitting on the grass, some leaning aginst the stone, all talking and laughing. The sun was shining, and the sky was blue, and we were just... basking in the English Countryside, without a care in the world. We played some games, quoted some movies, and even made our own! (A new episode of "Sassy Gay Friend", starring Christian and Paige!)...

It was so wonderful to just sit there, and know that we were friends. I mean, REALLY friends. Even if we didn't know a lot about each other. Even if we hadn't spent more than a month in one another's company. We were friends.

We took the train home and chatted the whole way. We played a ridiculous game at the station, where you say a word, and the other person has to say it backwards immediately, without thinking about it. (Most of the time your replies make absolutely no sense at all, but it makes you laugh till your sides hurt, and it's a good way to pass the time).

"Pickle!".... "Icklicklip!"
"Education!"... "Nickelubedid!"

... As we walked home... our friend, the man in the red sleeping bag, lay snoring in his usual place--by the brick wall, near the tree, at the corner, a block from our flats. And he was familiar. And the street was familiar. And the bus stop, and the lamp posts, and the black gum on the cement was all familiar... And the people I walked with were familiar. And I thought... How good it is to have a friend.


Day 29: I just want to be ok...

Sometimes you have to take a moment to breathe in and out, very slowly, ten times.

It might be because of a deadline at work, a particularly naughty child, a stupid driver, or even a slight miscommunication. But whatever it is, you have to remember... patience, like any other good quality, is generally demonstrated in times of difficulty, rather than in times of ease.


Yesterday I was telling Cameron that I could walk around in a man's T-shirt, with a belt and tights, and be totally fashionable. I don't know that he actually believed me. But when I got on the tube this morning, there she was... standing just a few feet away, a girl dressed in a man's large blue and green striped polo shirt and tights. Case and point. (I'm not kidding).

We walked out of the station, towards the Unicorn Theatre to see The Tempest. We went as a group, right after class, because the theatre would only allow us to enter as a group. And as we walked down the street, I noticed a guy standing around on the sidewalk with his friend, smoking. As our huge group began walking by, he quite accidentally dropped his cigarette. He stooped rather awkwardly to pick it up, and as he rose, I heard him say, "that is a very long line of beautiful girls." Haha. Poor guy. ;)

The Tempest
was an experience, to be sure. Our group of 40 college students was surrounded by junior high kids, all laughing and screaming uproariously as lightning struck and the ship wrecked in the first five minutes of the show. I looked around and noticed I was not alone in my staring... are all 12 year old children this... noisy? Or just the ones in the UK? ... I hope for my sake that it is a Europeon trend. ;)

Anyway, they settled down eventually. And the show was just lovely. The set alone was magnificent... it looked as though part of a ship wrecked boat had been plopped onto the stage. And the acting was good as well. Ariel was especially intriguing... he stood as though he were crushed or deformed-- and no one in the group could recreate his odd stance.

Now, Shakespeare's well and good... (and I know that I'll be blaspheming as I say this)... but his Tempest was nothing compared to who I saw later that evening!

You'll never guess... I nearly had a fit of convulsions due to excitement when we purchased our tickets the day before... .... and who was it?...


Now, if you don't know who Ingrid Michaelson is....
1). Shame on you!
2). Find her on the youtube immediately. As in... now.
3). Ok, but really... stop reading this, and open another tab...
4). Let me help you! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJOzdLwvTHA

Anyway, it was absolutely AMAZING. Seriously. She is amazing.

And she reminded me of me in the studio. (Mom, you're probably the only one that will appreciate that statement). But really. There weren't any whale noises, but there was certainly random beat boxing (spelling??), punny jokes, and random stream of consciousness rambling. It made me SO HAPPY. She was so hilarious, and human, and sincere. And I think that she must be a very fun person to jam with.

We were also in the VERY FRONT ROW. I kid you not. We stood there, leaning against the gate in front of the stage, and chatted with the photographers. We struck up a particularly entertaining conversation with a larger, older man, who was rather experienced, and happy to talk. We talked about his family, and his kids, and his job, and his life... and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I am learning again and again that it is the PEOPLE you meet, not the places you go, that really matter.


I suppose you're curious as to why I said that bit about patience at the beginning...

Yes, well, I shan't be telling you! (haha)

Sometimes the lesson learned is more important than the frustration experienced. So just rest assured that everything worked out, and I am all the wiser because of it.

In the wise words of Ingrid Michaelson, "I just want to be ok, be ok, be ok... I just want to be ok today."


Day 28: A Beautiful Mess!

Rachel's sporadic laughter as she sits, reading on the couch; the sounds of sarah's fingertips clicking away at her laptop; the buzz of the cars passing below, and the occasional jet; the crunch of potato chips: an odd assortment of instruments, working together to create the luxuriously lazy tune of a tuesday afternoon.

Yes, well... wasn't that poetic?

Today has been glorious, (despite the early 7:00 start, which made me wary). We spent the morning at the Tower of London-- more of a museum than a fortress, really, but quite enjoyable still. One of my favorite features, architecturally speaking, were the windows. Now, I admit, that isn't surprising, seeing as how I've always had a fetish for windows. (Big windows, Bay windows, window seats, shuttered windows, and of course, stained glass). But these windows were intriguing. There were some very skinny, very tall rectangular ones, set back into deep crevices in the walls, which I suppose were constructed with defense measures in mind. And then there were great, massive windows with intricate moldings, and ivy encroaching on their view. I liked the wavy, hand made window panes. And the heavy, black iron latches and bars. I kept stopping to look out windows, and I'm sure I don't know why-- but that I liked to look at them.

Then there were the staircases. Big, spiraling things. I climbed up and down these tight curling steps, feeling as though I'd stepped into a sea shell. Someday I'm going to have a spiral staircase. And I'll dress up nights, just for fun, so I can walk down the stairs and feel my dress draping after me, sliding from step to step.

They have these gigantic Ravens there... I mean they clip their wings and feed them and everything. Why, you ask? Well, according to legend, as long as the Ravens are at the London Tower, England can't be conquered. The things are absolutely MASSIVE. They eat several pounds of raw meat every day, and a raw egg, as well as a rabbit once a week! Let me tell you, I sure wouldn't want to get into a fight with one of those birds. They're bigger than most cats.

We saw the crown jewels of England, which includes the biggest diamond in the WORLD. It's called the African Star. And it was very very... big. And sparkly. And quite nice. But it seems to me that the English have this awful habit of taking other countries things. ... I mean, there's that diamond from Africa. And I was looking at the coronation sword, and it's got thistles and clovers ALL OVER it. (Scottish? Yes.) They stole bunches of stuff from the Scots. (But ironically, they DIDN'T get the actual Stone of Destiny, which is a funny story, so you should ask me about it later). Anyway, you'd think the English could find their own cool stuff. But apparently not. ;)

Among other things, I saw this GIGANTIC shotgun... it was almost eight feet long, and I still can't fathom how anybody could have actually used it. And a real honest to goodness wooden lance... those things are also huge. Lots of armor... lots of swords... lots of guns... not a lot of torture stuff, strangely. Carvings on the walls from past prisoners, which was cool. And even an indoor toilet! Which was a bench, with a hole, that went straight outside. Gross. And can you imagine the draft you'd get during the winter??

Throughout the exhibits there were things missing, here and there, and we found out why at 12:00 noon. The Queen brought parliament into session today, and she had to use some of the things that were on display to do it. And, lucky for us, they did a 12 round salute at the Tower to signify the event! We got to watch those great big guns with their gaurds, firing huge blanks into the sky, making ear splitting, rumbling bangs, and spewing smoke into the air. Impressive? Quite.

Well after that was over, we headed to the British Library. The stacks at the Library are closed, so you must be a member to see any books, or check anything out. So, why even bother going? Well... it just so happens that the British Library has a treasure trove of special documents on display...

Today, I saw, with my very own eyes, in person...

*Jane Austen's writing desk
*The original manuscript of Jane Eyre
*The earliest surviving manuscript of Beowulf
*A handwritten Wordsworth poem
*Handwritten works from Oscar Wilde and Virginia Woolfe
*The original, handwritten manuscript to HANDEL'S MESSIAH
*Handwritten music by Beethoven, Mozart, Hayden, and Schubert
*Shakespeare's first folio
*The original Alice in Wonderland manuscript
*Pages from Leonardo Davinci's notebook
*One of the first Gutenburg Bibles
*The Magna Carta

*Handwritten Beatles lyrics!!!

AHHH!! I think that all of my wishes and dreams really ARE coming true! Portobello Road, and now this! ... I stood there, five inches away from John Lennon and Paul McCartney's own handwriting. Seriously.

A Hard Day's Night, on the back of a birthday card.
Michelle, on the back of an envelope.
Yesterday... Ticket to Ride... I Want to Hold Your Hand... Help!
Even unpublished songs, one of them by George Harrison, written on the back of a sheet with directions to their publisher's house in Sussox.

There they were. Just... sitting there. Under the glass. The actual pieces of paper where The Beatles music first found an outlet into the real world... where they first put pen to paper...

So. Freaking. Cool.

And you know what the best part was? They were just as messy and crossed out and written over and doodled on as MY lyrics! I noticed that with all of the handwritten manuscripts, notes, and music... from every author... there were always changes, scribbles, chickenscratch, and mindless drawings... One sheet of music was half completed, and then turned into pictures of a cartoonistic man in a hat... with the words penned at the bottom, "waiting for the third symphony..."

It was a bonding moment with all the artists of the ages. We're all messy in the midst of the creative process, but so is life! And in the end, hopefully, you can make something beautiful out of the mess.


Oh, and just a quick PS... A tree fell on our trampoline back home.


Day 27: Tap, Still, or Sparkling?

Today in class we discussed Brechtian Theory. Yes. Well. ... 'Nuff said.

We went to Tesco to pick up some groceries, (which were much needed after our weekend trapsing about the British Isles). And inside my basket, among other things... there was...

Dragon Fruit (check),
Cheese and Onion Crisps (check),
Corner's Yogurt (check),
Stir Fry Fixins (check),
Milk Chocolate Digestives (check),
Curiously Cinnamon Cereal (check),
Part-Skimmed Milk (check),
Sunflower Seed Bread (check),
Raspberry Jam (check),
Salami (check),
Mango OJ (check),
Pasta (check),
Mixed Nuts (check)
Bueno Bars (check)...

Yeah. Ok. I got sort of a lot of food. I know. But I was shopping while hungry, and you know that whenever that happens, you're bound to end up with a lot of food. But maybe that means that this Sunday I won't be eating beans! I love the bus when I have groceries. It makes the walk so much shorter. Thank heaven for the multiplicity of double deckar buses around here... even if it IS impossible to get a picture of anything without a great big red vehicle getting in the way. I suppose it's just a trade off... I don't have to walk all the way home with a bunch of groceries, and as payment, the darn things get to be in all my pictures.

Jill, Annie, and I walked over to Hyde Park with one of the blankets from the couches in the commons. The plan was to read London Assurance, (one of the plays for this week). Yes well, the day was simply GORGEOUS. The perfect temperature, the sun shining, just a touch of humidity, and a few gigantic white clouds in the sky... (All of you in Utah who are reading this and looking at the snow... I'm very sorry, I don't mean to rub it in... really.) So of course I got about thirty pages in and fell asleep. It was immensely difficult not to, what with the birds chirping, and the lush, green, ten inch tall grass beneath me... Hyde Park is beautiful. I misjudged it the first time, because of that crabby ginger lady and her dog. But the place is like a great big green safe zone inside the city. Everyone can just... relax. There were people climbing trees, reading, talking, playing music, tossing frisbees, kicking footballs, napping, biking, tanning in the sun... What a day!

There was one little girl, who was no more than 2, (like little cindy loo who!)... She was walking in the park with her mum and dad, who were dressed in fancy white tennis outfits, and she marched up to this guy playing the guitar like she owned the place, and starting dancing around... shaking her arms, bobbing up and down, movin' what her mama gave her... It was THE CUTEST thing I have ever seen. And boy was she a saucy little maid. (Oh and don't worry... I have a video)... I was laughing so hard. It was adorable.

Also, just for the record, I'm not crazy. Rob and Chach thought I was crazy because I said that I saw green birds in some of the trees by Prince Albert's memorial the other day. Well, turns out, there is a colony of Canaries in Hyde Park! Ha! I knew I saw them.

We went back to My Old Dutch for dinner for our 5 pound Moday pancakes... and I gave in and had peaches and cream again. I just can't resist a giant crepe with peaches and cream!

You know, restaurants hate us Americans because of our tap water. In Europe you just DON'T drink tap water at a restaurant. (Maybe that's cuz it's gross). But at any rate they think we're totally ridiculous. They ask, you mean still water? Bottled water? ... And you say no, just tap water. (Because THAT doesn't cost you anything). They roll their eyes and go to fetch your uncultured, unfashionable stuff from the tap... shaking their heads at our inability to just order a good wine or sparkling water. (Which, consequently, is absolutely horrid. I mean, I'm not saying that plain water is brilliant either. But sparkling water is just disgusting. If you ever have the chance to drink it, DON'T.)

We sort of had to run to the show tonight... the tube was absolutely jam packed. And muggy beyond belief. I was squashed against a wall by two, large, middle aged men. That was... ahem... fun.

And then we had to run up two escalators, and down several blocks, to reach the theatre... ironically enough, we were running with about half the group and BOTH of our professors. Apparently EVERYONE underestimated the ammount of time it would take to get to the National Theatre on time.

But, all was well, and we made it before the doors closed. We were hot and sweaty, but we made it.

And the show was absolutely phenominal! It was a West End show called War Horse, and... well... as Mr. Brower would say, "I laughed, I cried, it was better than Cats!"

The puppetry was amazing. I hesitate in even using that word, because it has the wrong connotation. But, holy cow. There were so many little details that just made the animals REAL as anything you'd meet in a stable. They had everything, right down to the ear twitch and the tail flick and the pawing hoof in the ground. It was amazing. Not only the technical aspects of actually creating something that could move like a horse, but the ability of the actors to recreate those subtleties of another species using their own bodies, was incredible.

I couldn't believe the way they captured the brutality, and despair of war. My heart just ached for those people, and I kept thinking, Why? Why do we do this to ourselves?...

Though I came away a little depressed, the show was stunning. And I'm so glad I ran all the way to there to see it.


Day 26: It's too darn hot!

This day has been scorching. Absolutely, completely, TOO DARN HOT!

I mean, I'm not going to complain. It mean warm, sunny days in Scotland and Ireland. But honestly, I'm sweating like there's no tomorrow and all the windows are open! I thought England was supposed to be COLD, for pete's sake!

Primary was CA-RA-ZY. Absolutely nutso.

I don't even know what to say, except that Tiko causes more problems than any child I've ever met, and he's got to be the biggest terror in all of England. He made a boy two years older than himself bawl like a baby today. And what's worse! It was only minutes after he'd been brought back from his mother...

Ah well. At least I could sort of play the piano today. And sharing time went really well! Rachel and I planned it this morning before we left for church, (and I was a little worried it wouldn't come together). But, that was silly of me. I mean, what child doesn't like to open up a present? Even if there are only strips of paper with things relating to the Holy Ghost inside. :)

I was roped somehow into singing with the choir today... it was a song I'd never heard in my life, AND I was the only one singing Alto. But, you know, when there's only three choir members to begin with, I suppose that does make a difference after all.

Next week is going to be the Shamae Budd show. I'll be giving a ten to fifteen minute talk in sacrament meeting AND a musical number. We'll see how that one goes, eh? ;)

Anyway, everyone was pretty much a zombie today. We all got in late from our various travel destinations, and we all walked around for four days with backpacks we were living out of pulling at our shoulders. Not to mention waking up in the wee little hours of the mornin'. Good grief, I could hardly stay awake on the tube coming home.

But, all's well. I'm hotter than hades, but I'm sitting on a pillow with a laptop and an apple. I'm a happy camper.


And now it's time for the second installation of....

A Guide to The Englishman's English

If you think you're in line, you're really in the "Queue".

High School is "College", and college is "University".

"Trousers" are pants... And "Pants" are underwear.

"Jumpers" are jackets. And a "Jacket" (oddly enough) is in fact a baked potato.

If you have 5 "quid", you have 5 pounds.

"Twice zero" means double O.

And "half six" means 6:30.

"Reduce Speed Now" means slow.

And you park your car in the "Car Park". So don't ask for a parking lot, they don't have them here.

If you're a "Ginger" girl, you're a red head.

And the inttermission of a play is called the "Interval".

"Cutlery" is silverware. They're never called utensils.

And if you cut your finger, use a "Plaster"... (That's a bandaid at home).

The "Hobb" is the stove.

The "Boot" is the trunk.

And if someone wants to "Snog", say NO.

"Diversion" means detour.

A "Lead" is a leash.

And your "Brelly" comes in handy when it rains.

A "Reduction" is a discount.

And your "Fringe" is your bangs. (But we won't talk about what "Bang" means).

The "Tube" is the subway.

(But don't get confused, because the "Subway" does exist). Now listen. The "Tube" is the subway. The "Subway" is an underground footpath. And a "Footpath" is the sidewalk.

... Get it?...Got it? ... Good.


Day 25: Leaving

Today I left Scotland. ...

It was a horrible, horrible thing to do. Especially on a Saturday.

I mean, Saturdays are supposed to be fun.

Leaving Scotland isn't fun. If you ever go to Scotland, take my advice, and never leave. I promise. You'll be happier that way.


Today we slept in till after eight. It felt like heaven, after waking up at 4:00 or 4:30 the last couple days. We began getting ready at the pace of a snail, enjoying the leisurely attitude of those who have no where particularly important to go, no urgency to worry about.

We had boys for breakfast.

But not to eat. ... ;) See the Hostel provided free breakfast in the mornings--(which consisted of toast, various jams and nutella, and cereal). And we happened to be eating when a couple of chaps from Ontario came intot he kitchen to grab a bite. We ended up talking to them for a good half hour, and had a good time kidding around, and swapping stories.

They were sort of bummed when I told them we were leaving that day. But I think it was probably a good thing, because we found out that THEY were the drunk guys singing outside our window the night before. ;)

We walked up a close (one of those tight, steep, stairways between buildings that Edinburgh is famous for) to get to the Royal Mile. And after some deliberation, we walked up the road to St. Giles Cathedral.

It was beautiful. ... Part of the ceiling was painted bright blue and stark white, and the stones were all different shades of muted red and grey. Of course there were plaques and statues and stained glass... but there was one window in particular that caught my attention. It was just a frenzy of many colored squares... red and yellow and green and blue. It was placed behind the organ because, (I suppose), it didn't depict anything particularly religious, containing no figures or stories. But for some reason, that window behind the organ was more interesting than any of the others. Towering above me, completely abstract and flaming with color... the sun sending the reds and blues and yellows dancing on the wall behind me. I was fascniated, running my hand along the wall, turning my fingers into a rainbow. I stared up at the colors till my neck ached... And then I stared some more.

After that adventure, we wandered down the Royal Mile. There were street performers, singers, musicians... and booths with intricate rings and many colored bracelets. I was sorely tempted to get a piece of my hair wrapped in orange thread by a woman doing hair weavings... but I restrained myself.

There was one woman with so many piercings in her face, that you could barely see her skin... standing on a stool with flowers in her hair and a large patchwork umbrella over her head. I was absolutely astounded at the number of rings and studs and bars covering her eyebrows, and nose, and mouth, and cheeks... I wondered at how her skin didn't droop, or sag. I wondered how long it took to put them all in, and what she would look like if she took them all out... The other girls were sort of appalled. I was mostly amazed.

The architecture in Edinburgh amazes me. It is so old! So well kept! So PRETTY! The whole city has this feeling of timelessness... or... perhaps it is that it is stuck in time. I don't know how to explain it. But I love simply walking the streets, and looking up and down and around me.

We had lunch at a place called O'briens. It was cheap and delicious, and rather convenient. And I thoroughly enjoyed my tripple deckar sandwich. (Alright, I admit I was a little wary... bacon and chicken and coleslaw and tomatoes and cheese and lettuce and three slices of bread sounded like an odd combination, but I had no need to worry! It was delicious. Who even thinks of putting cole slaw on a sandwhich anyway??).

The girls were concerned that we wouldn't have enough time at the airport... so we left earlier than I would have liked. We did indeed sit around for a while, once we'd reached our gate. But it was probably all for the better, seeing as how Ashley has the worst luck in the history of mankind, and we had a billion things go wrong. First her boarding pass wouldn't work, then they took my contact solution and Brit's face wash, then I had to be patted down, and Ashley's bag had to be checked. ... It was an interesting experience. But I think I might actually be cured of my fear of airports! ... Even with all the little things that went awry, I wasn't too concerned.

... Of course, that might be due to the fact that I didn't want to leave.

I honestly cried on the airplane as the wheels left the ground... I sat and stared out the window and wished and wished that I could stay forever.

I've had Loch Lomond stuck in my head ever since. ... Our Scotland theme song.

In Ireland it was "Beautiful Day" by Bono.

And as we stepped out of the Stansted airport, we began singing our London song... "My girl". Because we DO have sunshine, even on the cloudy days. (It's always sunny here in the morning, no matter what the rest of the day might bring)... Because when it's cold outside, we DO have the month of May! (The one month that will be spent entirely in London). And because I always have my girls. Whenever things get hard.

As we walked up the stairs to our flat, I exclamed... "Girls! We're home!!!"...

And it was true. :)

I've HAVE made a home here in London. Just as I hoped I would.

And in 2 and a half weeks, I'll be leaving it.

And then I'll be coming home home. For real.

Can't wait to see you all! Love, hugs, and kisses! ...

Yours Truly,

Day 24: The Highlands

Did you know that Stairway to Heaven was written on Loch Ness? Or Did you know that the lyrics to Loch Lomond were found in the pocket of a dead Scottish soldier? Or that Scotland's national flower is not the thistle, but the Scottish Blubell? William Wallace was Robin Hood. And Mel Gibson got a lot of things wrong in the movie Braveheart. There is a place in Scotland that refuses anyone by the name of Campbell, because of a massacre committed by an English captain by that surname. The castle Doun is where Monty Pithon and the Holy Grail was filmed. Rob Roy was pretty much an Orangotan in a Kilt. And did you know that Roy means Red in Galic? The Highlander's language is Galic, which is similar to Gaelic in Ireland, but more gutteral. Ben means mountain. Glen means V shaped valley. A strafe is a flat bottomed valley, and a Loch is a lake. Wee means little, and bonnie means beautiful. And girls, if anybody says anything about your paps, slap them immediately!

I wish I could remember every single thing I learned on my tour of the Highlands today. No... I wish I had thought to bring a tape recorder in my backpack! Our tour guide was amazing. (And so was our Mercedes Benz tour bus)... He knew everything about everything Scottish. And he told stories in his deep voice, and rugged accent with the perfect gruff-ness and intensity. He even did sound effects! My goodness. The man was a genius. I could have listened to him all day... OH WAIT! I did. :)

And, to accompany his stories of blood and guts and revenge and war and brutality and hardship and feuding... I got to look out the window at places where everything actually happened!

Seriously. ...

The Scottish Highlands are beautiful. I mean, holy freakin' cow. (Not super eloquent, I know... but that's the best I can come up with).

It's so green. And rugged. And sprawling. And wild.

There are moors stretching out for miles, and high rounded mountains (or bens), and deep black Lochs, and dense forests... I mean, gosh it's pretty.

As we got out of the city, there were these ancient stone walls, stretching out over the rolling hills, going this way and that, marking the pastures. We got here just in time to see the little black headed, black footed lambs, following close behind their mothers. Jumping, and kicking, hopping and running along as fast as their little legs can carry them, tails bobbing up and down. We saw highland cattle, which are huge big hairy things. (I say "huge big" because Stevie our tour guide said it all the time). They are massive. And slow. But gentle, and goodn natured. We even got to meet one- his name was Hamish. And he was gigantic. (But if you ever meet Hamish, please don't kiss him. He's got bovine herpes. And it's catching).

Our first stop was at a look out point above one of the first Lochs. The grassy moor stretched out before us, and you just couldn't help but run. The springy turf just begged to be loped over-- frolicked in. It was a beautiful, sunny day. And our first steps in the highlands were not wasted. I ran around like there was no tomorrow... like when I was a kid, jumping over sagebrush and racing my feet.

I got tired faster than when I was a kid.

But I still ran through the highlands of Scotland, and I loved it. :)

You know the moors in the highlands are the biggest in the world. They're actually bogs, that have completely grown over, fertile as can be, the soil made up entirely of black peat. And they actually have excellent Ski Resorts in the highlands. (Well... resort might be pushing it). And one year, they got so much snow, they couldn't open... because there was too much snow! It had completely burried the lift. ... OOps.

We made it to Loch Ness by quarter to three, and just made it onto the boat. Loch Ness. As in, the Loch Ness Monster.

Yeah. I was there.

Good old Nessie didn't make any miraculous appearances, unfortunately. But I understand how she hides so well... That water is absolutely jet black. It's all to do with the peat content, but my goodness, it's spooky. You can't see more than a couple feet below the surface, if that! And the loche is a 1000 feet deep in the middle!

You know Nessie is all well and good... but the best part of that boat ride was the old couple sitting next to me. We got to talking, and by the end of the trip, we'd become fast friends. They were from the Lake district, and tonight was their last night of their two week Holiday in Scotland. We chatted about school, and travel, and everything else. And we decided that since she was ninety, and I was nineteen, we both had nines in our ages, so we could be good friends. ;) Her husband leaned over and said with a smile and a wink, "now you be nice to her. She was given an award by the queen, for lifelong service in nursing!" ... He was awfully proud of her, and when she asked what he was saying, I said "oh, nothing but that you're a wonderful lady!" and she laughed and shook her head.

When we left the boat I was sad to leave them. She and I gave each other a quick hug and a kiss on the cheek, and then I rushed to the bus while they waved with their canes.

I've found that the people are the most interesting part of any place. Seeing something beautiful is nice, but seeing something beautiful with someone dear to your heart is better.

I hope she has a happy, happy life. And I think she will always be my friend. The lady on Loche Ness. ;)

As we drove home listening to Stevie's advice on Whisky, I sat and stared as hard as I could at the landscapes flashing by. An outcropping of rock, a stream, a cluster of tall, slender trees. I tried to engrain it into my memory-- every single perfect moment... and I wished again and again under my breath that I would never forget. But stare as I did, I think I am still forgetting.

A scottish sunset in the countryside is something to behold. The sky is all white and blue and lavendar... passionate, and quiet, all at once. The sun sits behind a cloud, throwing light into the haze. The greens becomes greener. All the fields and trees deepen in hue. And everything is soft, blurred around the edges, and yet... the colors are seperate and distinct as if they'd only just come out of the artist's tube of paint.

If I can't remember anything else, I hope I can remember that.

... I fell in love today. I fell in love with Scotland, and I don't know if I'll ever be able to fall back out of love again. I don't know that I ever want to.

I love Scotland. I love it. I love the history, and the people, and the city, and the country, and the hills, and the clouds... I love everything about it. Oh! Scotland. How will I ever leave you?

Day 23: The Wee Little Town of Edinburgh.

6:20am. Ryanair to Edinburgh. Window Seat. (Yesssss...)

They play classiccal music on the airplanes here. It makes you feel extra fancy. (Not to mention the fact that you're flying to Scotland. That helps too).

We woke up today at 4:00am. A nice cab driver picked us up on our way to the bus stop--he said he'd take us to the airport for the same price as the bus would. And we happily agreed. It was much more comfortable, anyway. And we had a good chat with our Irish cab driver, who said we were good girls for staying away from the Guinness, (and I were glad he agreed).

The take off was beautiful. I mean absolutely breathtaking. At first there was a green patchwork quilt beneath me, then snatches of fog, then whispsy clouds masking the earth... like flying through skim milk, I should think. And after several moments the white started lighting up, and we broke through the tops of the clouds... which simply went on and on, stretching out in every direction... like something you could jump out and play on, sit on, sleep on. The sky was so blue it hurt your eyes. The sun glinting off the edge of the white clouds beneath you, turning all golden and shimmmering through the window. It was so beautiful, it made my heart hurt.

And as we left, I couldn't help thinking that I'd very much like to come back to Ireland someday. It is a beautiful country, filled with very happy people.

But, on to Scotland!!


I've become a lot better at crossing the street in Europe. I don't get taken by surprise when a car pops up out of nowhere anymore... I just expect to be nearly run over at every instant. But today, we were a little hesitant in our street crossing, seeing as how it was a new city and all... and as we teetered at the edge of the road, a car actually REVVED it's engine at us so we'd get a move on.. All I have to say is, it worked. And I squeeled.

Today when we got off the plane I was ready to pass out and die. I was so exhausted. But luckily, the other girls took charge and figured out where we needed to go, while I sat in a coma on a bench. We hopped on a bus, and made our way to Edinburgh. (Pronounced Edinbur-UH, by the way). And talked to a Sctosman about good places to eat and things to see. But of course, I was mostly listening to his accent, and less to his advice. A Scottish accent is perhaps one of the most attractive things I've ever heard come out of a man. It's horribly ... tough. And... well... Scottish.

But I digess.

It's so green here! Greener than Dublin. And the architecture is amazing! Everything is ancient. You can just FEEL how old the city is, walking through it. Cathedrals, castles, olf mansions houses, cobled streets, tiny alleyways (called closes), steep winding roads, and stone steps leading up and up, to the Royal Mile. I must say that I'd rather stay in Edinburgh than Dublin, if based only on the city itself. The people of Ireland still have the upperhand in generosity and kindness, but Edinburgh is GORGEOUS.

Our first stop was, of course, breakfast. We were absolutely starving. So, we found the Elephant House--the little cafe where J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter, looking out the window to Edinburgh castle. (Yeah, it's just right there smack in the middle of the city. This gigantic, ancient, castle, up on the cliff. But don't worry, we'll get there). The restaurant was perfect. There were elephants everywhere- drawings of elephants, pictures of elephants, elephant cartoons, wooden elephants, ivory, glass, jade, stone, and any number of other materials, shapes, and styles. They covered the shelves, and windows, and countertops. And breakfast wasn't bad either. Scrambled eggs and toast. Horribly European. I nearly got the Scottish breakfast, so I could try some Haggis first thing. But the black pudding frightened me off. Ah, well...

Anyway, after that it was off to the Hostel to drop off our things. Once we got ourselves settled in, and chatted with the rather... unique, but friendly, Scottish man in charge, we were off! To the Tartan and Wool Making mill.

Haven't much to say there, I'm afraid. Except that I'm sure I've never seen so many different plaids in one place in my entire life.

After that, we trecked up to Edinburgh Castle! It was 13 pounds well spent, I assure you. I mean, come on, it's a CASTLE for crying out loud! A real one!

Anyway, it was really cool. We stayed for about two hours... walked along the battlements, through the great hal and war memorials, down little passageways, and cobbled walkways. It was like a miniature self contained village. It even had its own church... the oldest buildling in Edinburgh, with tiny stained glass windows in the walls.

I saw the crown jewels and the stone of destiny, and cannons, and swords, and even the changing of the gaurd once or twice... (mm... men in kilts!) But the best part was walking along the walls of that great big castle, staring out over Edinburgh. You can see everything. The wind whips your hair around, and you breath and think... "Scotland!! I'm standing in a castle... in Scotland!" ...

I was convinced today that life couldn't possibly get any better.

We walked down an old switch back path down the mountain, marveling at the height of the castle and the GREEN surrounding us... and then we crossed the train tracks and met the other girls in Princes Park. We sat and talked on the grass there, near the fountain surrounded by flowers, and we relaxed. We laughed so hard we knew we must be absolutely crazy because of how little we'd slept. But it didn't really matter. You know?

Anyway, as we walked the city we saw men with their bag pipes, filling the air with typical Scottish tunes... and we even stopped to chat with one of them. We made our way through the streets, and then through an old, moss covered cemetary. The head stones all fading, and changing from grey to black--streak by streak. Blubells grew thick as weeds, clover grew up the stone walls, and the trees draped their long whispy branches across the monuments...

I love the old things. The real things. The moments of stillness... and history. The moments where you see the things that real people saw, years and years ago. Walk the same streets. Touch the same walls. In a library, or a cemetary, or a castle, or a pub.

We ate dinner, and (for once), had the problem of not being understood, rather than not understanding. It's amazing how an accent can change your own language into something entirely different, and foreign.

I ordered chocolate pie for dessert. It was an absolutely sinful thing to do. But I don't care. It was delicious.

And then, we headed home.

To sleep in our little Hostel, in the wee little town of Edinburgh.

DAy 22: A Day in Dublin

Well, we made it! (Barely). We hopped onto a taxi at 5:00am, headed to Baker Street, and found our bus stop right on time. Trouble was, the bus didn't show up until 20 minutes after it was scheduled to arrive. Let's just say I did a lot of praying today. Please, let us wake up. Please, let us find the bus stop. Please, let the bus come. Please, let us get there in time. Please! But of course, it all worked out. I'd have to say that's one thing I've learned over and over again the last few weeks... no matter what problem you get yourself into, it will ALWAYS work out in the end.

The airport didn't kill me, (which sounds ridiculous), but every time I have to go through them I think it might. I hate airport anxiety. But I think it's lessening, with all this travel. At any rate, we all got on the plane.

Everything seemed funny today. Waking up after three hours of sleep was funny. Searching for a bus stop was funny. Taking my shoes off in the airport was funny. Eating pringles was funny. You get my point. EVERYTHING was funny. I would just laugh and laugh, like I was delirious. There just comes a point in tired-ness when all you can do is laugh. And I was there.

It's so pretty in Dublin. There are all these doors... red ones, and yellow ones, and blue and green, mostly, though I did find a single pink one. All these colored doors! Down every street, all in a row. It was possibly the most adorable thing I've ever seen in a city.

And the ivy. There was ivy everywhere, growing up the sides of buildings, covering whole walls... green and lush and old fashioned.

We visited Trinity college, which was made up of several old buildings and some pretty landscaping. But, of course, my camera lens was more attracted to the bikes leaning on the fences. It had seen old collumned buildings before. ;) We visited a castle, right in the middle of town. It was smaller than imagined, but the gardens had a brick path in the shape of a giant celtic knot. Which was rather impressive.

We visited Christ's Church Cathedral, and then we went off to Saint Patrick's... only we got lost along the way, and I'm so very glad we did!

We stumbled upon a small entrance in the stone wall, which led us to Marsh's Library, rather than the cathedral we intended to see. We nearly left, but the elderly Irish gentleman manning the door said, "Wait now, where ye from? Stay just a bit, I won't charge ye"... Well, I'm never one to pass up free admittance. So, we thought we'd poke our heads in, just for a bit.

Marsh's Library is the oldest Public Library in Ireland. All the books are 300 to 400 years old. And it was beautiful. Those gigantic, cracking spines all in a row... shelf after shelf. It smelled like old paper and leather, and all the woodwork was intricate and worn. The rooms were so still, so quiet. You could hear the birds twittering outside the window in a green little courtyard, and the sun streamed in the old windows and warmed you up. I was moved almost to tears, sitting in this perfect, quiet, ancient place. You could feel the passion and knowledge and love that went into those books, filling the space around you.

The older gentlemen working there were so proud of the Library. So proud of Ireland. They could find a way to make you Irish, even me! My surname wasn't Irish, but they knew an important judge in Ireland whose name was Judge Budd, so I must be related. ... ;) I got lost, reading exerpts in the old books that had been layed out under glass, staring at the latin, and the old english... and then I simply sat on a bench, and sucked in the stillness. We stayed for over an hour. And I could have stayed for the better part of the afternoon. Somehow this FELT like Ireland. This place, steeped in history and patriotism, was Ireland. And I couldn't believe I'd nearly missed it!

On the way out, I handed the man 2 Euros. The price of admission. He looked confused, and I just said "It was worth it." ... and it was.

We got lunch at a cafe, and ate it in front of a gate to some private gardens we THOUGHT was a park. Boy, did we look homeless. But we were too tired to relocate.

We tried to pronounce all the Gaelic on the street signs, and failed miserably. Although I guess I can't actually claim failure, since I haven't the foggiest what succes may have sounded like.

A gray haired old woman on a bike stopped us to see where we were trying to get to... and gave us sound directions. Later in the day a cab driver stopped mid-street, rolled down his window, and asked the same thing. I suppose we may have a little weary. And lost. but I'm convinced that the people of Ireland are the NICEST people in the whole world. They go completely out of your way to be helpful... they did it again and again. It was sort of shocking, after living in London for the past three weeks... But I liked it.

Anyway, the last thing we did was to go to an Irish pub, just down the street from our Hostel. (Oh! The Hostel! It was called Isaac's, and it was really very nice. A little intimidating, to be sure, what with all the languages floating around, and the drunk men singing outside our window. But we enjoyed our stay). Anyway, going to a pub was my only request of the trip. And it did not dissapoint.

You know I really felt like I was in Ireland twice today. First at the library, and then at the pub. The Celtic. We walked in and looked a little foolish... completely out of place and entirely too innocent. But, I was determined. We figured it out, despite the blatant staring, ordered some food at the bar, and picked ourselves a corner table.

It was dim and cozy, with pictures tacked all over the walls, and a couple haphazardly on a ceiling panel. there was an ecclectic, thrown-together-over-years sort of feeling... men laughing over a pint near the window, a couple of women chatting comfortably, the bar tender making small talk. There were red topped, miss-matched stools and chairs, and the walls, tables, countertops, and rafters were all made of dark, knotted wood. Irish accents floated through the air, alog with some typical Irish pub music, sort of up beat and laid back, all at once.

We sat in an area that looked like what might have been the remains of an old cellar. The red brick curved upwards over our heads, and there were old black bottles stacked in the niche.

The soup was creamy and filling and delicious- a side of home made brown bread that was thick and moist to top it off.

A green flag with something in Gaelic was hung above the kitchen entrance, and our glasses left little brown rings on the wooden table.

And THIS, my friends, was Ireland. Pure and simple.

This was the end of my day in Dublin.