Tuesday, December 30, 2008

the one with oxford pictures

Well, I am finally over my jet-lag. This is made obvious by the fact that I now sleep in until 9.30 or 10 AM, even though my alarm is set for 7.30. Yay.I must say that while I enjoy not getting up at 5.30 before an alarm goes off, I feel that I cheat my days shorter. Oh well. I'm sure I'll get over it soon.
The past week has been a whirlwind of family and church Christmas celebrations. At one such event, I was reminded that I had not put pictures up from my last day when I went to Oxford.I promised I would fix that. So --here goes!

[This is where Joy Davidman lived with her two boys whilst she was in Oxford]
[This is Headington Quarry Parish Church where Lewis worshiped.]

[This is Lewis's earthly resting place. Men must endure their going hence.]

[The Kilns. The white door leads to Lewis's room.]

[Jack's desk. The actual desk is not original, but everything on it is.]

I'll try to put up different pictures with more stories as time goes by, and as I continue to miss London. It is hard being back here and almost harder to see this as 'home'. I'm starting to think it was all a dream and I know some of my other friends are feeling the same way.
One thing I need to get use to is my 'big' room here! Wow! It doesn't mean I have more room, it just means I have more room to put stuff. AND it's more to clean. That's the un-fun part right now. So I should get on that...right.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

the traveler returns

'Well, I'm back' to quote Samwise Gamgee. It is so good to be home! I had a safe flight, though my flight was delayed for some reason by a half an hour. It was okay though, because somehow I got a seat upgrade and had more room to get comfy. In addition to the cool seat, I got sleep on this flight. This is what enabled me to stay up until 2 or 3 AM (London time) which was like 10pm USA time.
I've done really well getting back into the swing of things at home. It is so great getting to see my sisters and my parents again. I remembered some things in my house differently and it was so odd to be walking through my house again. It took me a bit to get used to everything again. My bed, however, was almost exactly as I remembered it. :)
I'm so excited that I'm home for Christmas! I've wrapped all my presents and am eagerly looking forward to Christmas Eve service at Fleetwood Bible Church. How I missed FBC!
Well my duties since being home, mainly laundry, needs doing. So I will go do that and finish "The Muppet's Christmas Carol"--it is the best Christmas movie of all time.
Happy Christmas to my faithful readers!

Friday, December 12, 2008

the last post from across the pond

Well, it has once again been far too long. My deepest apologies and all of that. When you have three essays due in one week, there is hardly time for sleeping, let alone updating all you beautiful people.
The last week (yes,it has been at least a week since my last blog) has been a blur of colours and activities. We had our last GSE outing-- dinner at an Indian restaurant-- and then our last LMU event -- dinner at a neat pizza place and then a trip on the London Eye. I handed in my last two essays on Thursday and then visited the largest bookstore in the world (that's what I was told anyway...) called Waterstones. It had 5 levels full of books. It was like heaven. :) Well, actually, I had my "This is just like heaven" moment today. Don't worry, I'm getting there.
The reason I had to do all that crazy work to get three essays done by Thursday was so that I could go to Oxford to day. My last full day in England and I spent it walking up and down Oxford and Headington Quarry with my dear friend Miriam, who I met at St. Giles. The first thing we did when we got to Oxford was run all over creation trying to find Holy Trinity Church, where C.S. Lewis went to church. I am in shock and awe that who live in Headtington do NOT know where this is! I mean come on! Anyway, we found it and took loads of pictures. Yes, you will notice I do not have them up here. I seemed to have packed that bit of stuff and don't feel like trying to find it. I will post once I get home.
After the church, we went to find his house. Insert the same shock and awe here. Not know where The Kilns is? Seriously Oxford. What kind of a literary place are you? Once we found it, we took pictures of the OUTSIDE because you had to call to make an appointment for tours. I looked at Miriam, who was teaching me the importance of just asking for things (like directions and information), and said, "I should call, shouldn't I? I'll call." And I did. A lovely woman answered the phone and when I asked about tours, she said they were on three days during the week, and one wasn't Friday. She asked if I wanted to come tomorrow, but I told her that I was going home. She told me to come around to the front of the house and she would let us in and we would chat. Yay God! So I walk/run to the front of the house and enter the world that belonged to Jack Lewis. I want to, but I can't even begin to describe my experience there. My mind was on over load and all I could think was "C. S. Lewis was here!" The house was cold, as I think is befitting of an English house, but it felt homey. Donna, the woman on the phone, gave us a tour and we talked for at least an hour or two. I saw the wardrobe and the spaces in the attic. I saw the infamous bath room, and his amazing library. Even now, I am having a hard time describing what I saw. This was my "I'm in heaven" moment, if you hadn't caught that. I will write more when I put pictures up, promise!
I am staring at an empty room full of clutter. Half of my stuff is packed, and the other half is strewn over my bed. I have about a thousand things I am thinking of, and none of those things has anything to do with packing. But, as I must pack and leave to get to most of the things I am thinking of, I should probably do that.
Tomorrow, I fly home.
Tomorrow, I see my family :) Tomorrow I get on a plane, turn my back on a country I have learned to love, and leave. Tomorrow I leave the place where I learned to stand on my own two feet. Tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

the Thanksgiving/Stratford/Oxford post that is a bit late...

I'd love to use the excuse that these last few days have been uneventful, hence the need not to post. Alas, that is untrue. I was just being lazy...well, that and all of a sudden school has consumed my life. But the end is in sight, and after a refreshing time at Bible study and Christmas decorating at Pete's (Bible study leader) flat, I feel it is time for an update. Lucky you.
Last week was Thanksgiving, as you Americans remember. However, it kind of sneaked up on me here. Rachel's parents came in for the weekend and we all went to this smoke house for a full Thanksgiving dinner. And when I mean full Thanksgiving dinner, I mean it was a 'I'm still eating leftovers' kind of a full Thanksgiving meal. (For real, I am. Just had a cold turkey sandwich. Bring on the turkey coma!) It was an interesting experience, spending Thanksgiving with people who aren't my family. It made me miss them a bit more, but I had a great time.

This past Sunday, my GSE trip was to Stratford-upon-Avon and Oxford. It was delightful--except for that fact that it rained the entire time we were in Oxford. Actually, the day didn't start so delightfully. It all started when I woke up an hour after my alarm went off. Yeah, I'm great at the whole 'morning' thing. NOT. I got ready in good time though, and if I hadn't forgot my roommate's shoes I would have been fine. But the shoes were forgotten, and of course the Piccadilly line-which is never late- was running late. Very late. So I pick up another line and take it half way to where I needed to be with the intention of picking up the Piccadilly there. As I'm transferring from the Victoria to the Piccadilly, running like the awkward person that I am, I hear the beep-beep-beep of the doors getting ready to close. I turn the corner, run up to the train and-- the doors close on my face. Yay. Five minutes later ( I want to take this moment to say that when you are waiting for a train, five minutes feels like 5 days) I get on the train to Earl's Court. As I'm willing the train to move faster, I'm trying to text my leader to tell him the lines are running slow and that I will be there. As soon as the train pulls up to the platform, I dash off and start running to the exit. So I'm running with my messenger bag on one shoulder, bag of shoes in the other AND I'm trying to text people to let them know I'm coming. Thankfully I didn't drop anything as I leave the station, nor did I get run over by a car whilst crossing the street to get to the bus that hadn't left yet. Yay God.

[Anne Hathaway's house]

After driving for about two hours, we arrive in Stratford-upon-Avon. It is all hyphenated because it means the town of Stratford that in on the River Avon. (For those of you Anglo-Saxon, English-y major people, you know that the word 'avon' is just the word for river, so its really the river River, which I find amusing.) It was a great town, but over populated for my taste. We got to see Anne Hathaway's house and Shakespeare's birthplace. I used my excellent map following abilities (okay, Michael gave great visual directions as well...) I made my way down to Holy Trinity Church, the church Shakespeare is buried in.
[William Shakespeare's grave at Holy Trinity]

I think those are the most important parts of a trip to Stratford. Everything else is just "Oh we think Shakespeare spat here, so we will charge you oodles of money to look at that spot." A bit of an exaggeration, but not too far off. According to Pauline Frommer (who wrote my excellent guide book) the locals of Stratford didn't care too much about the house Shakespeare was born in years ago. However when P. T. Barnum offered to buy it and ship it to America stone-for-stone, they all of a sudden loved it. Riiight.[All Soul's College]
Next stop was Oxford. In the rain. It wouldn't have been so bad, but it was also quite late in the day, limiting what you could see. I climbed to the top of St. Mary's Chapel to get the best view of Oxford, which is really best when the sun is out. I saw the Bodleian Library, but couldn't go in. I also found Magdalen College, but couldn't go into that either. I did however get into The Eagle and the Child, which is almost more important.
[The Eagle and the Child and the back room where the Inklings met to make amazing literature. Oh, and a picture of C. S. Lewis {to the right of the clock} :) ]
School is coming to an end, which is something I desperately need. I've already had my end of term break down, I think, so I should be able to knock out the rest of my course work without any problems. I get a little jealous when I think about all this work I still have to do, and how the students who aren't leaving for home have until 16 January to turn these papers in. Booger. Ah well, such is life.
Tomorrow I will be wicked. No, I haven't regressed into a past decade--I'm going to see 'Wicked'! I'm so excited! Tower of London tour on Saturday, but basically I"ll be working on school work all weekend.
Less than 10 days til I see home!

Monday, November 24, 2008

the one with pictures from Scotland

So here they are--pictures from Scotland. Trust me, you are glad I waited. If I hadn't, I would have missed all the great pictures on the train ride home...that and I didn't have my camera cord with me this past weekend...
To finish the weekend...dinner was a bit of a bust. They somehow forgot we had a reservation (even though our leader made the reservation that same day...) so that caused a bit of a problem. I got fish and chips with mushy peas, which seemed odd because it
was a bit more of a posh place. I wasn't expecting fish, chips and mushy peas to be on the menu. Everything was good, though, so I suppose that evened everything out.
Another four hour train ride...complete with naps and novel reading. This time, though, it was light out so I could see the Scottish country side. Wow. It's amazing. I'll let you decide for yourself though...
So here we go! This first picture is of Edinburgh Castle. It was beautiful. From the top of the tower, you can see for miles. It's really something to see...
This is the Castle, up close and personal.
This church was outside of my hotel window. It looked sad and abused, but it was still a church. And I loved that you can still tell what it is even though the years haven't been kind to it. I hope I can live a life that reflects that...that I never forget who I am and Whose I am.

So these next two pictures are the ones I took from the train. Aren't you glad you had to wait? This train ride home is, I am quite confidant, when I fell in love with Scotland. Wow. It has everything really. Town, city, country--you name it! And the hills...the beautiful hills with the snow...Before I keep going and rant and rave, I'll let the pictures do the talking...
We'll I hope you've enjoyed the visual smorgasbord (as Dr. Tom would say) of Scotland pictures. Somehow, time has again sneaked up on me and it is way past my bedtime. I keep reminding myself that even though my time here is almost up, I still have classes. You see how successful I've been with that. I'll just put this on my list of things to do over Christmas break: sleep.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

the post from Scotland

Hello from Scotland! Now before you all get excited, there are no pictures with this post. I've spoiled you, I know. But at least I'm updating, right?
Friday we took a four hour train ride to Edinburgh. That was fun...yeah.
This morning, after a delicious Scottish breakfast (which is very similar to an English breakfast--actually, it's the exact same thing just a different country) we went to see Edinburgh by bus tour. No, not an enclosed, warm bus tour. It was the kind with the double decker bus with a bit of the top open. Guess where we sat? Yup. In the freezing cold! It was really nice though. You couldn't feel your face or toes after a while, so it wasn't so bad.
After the tour, we went to Edinburgh Castle. It was sooo beautiful! (Oh and Dad, I have inherited your propensity to take FOREVER in museums/ tour-y places. Thank you, so much. :) )
After I spent a few hours there walking around in the freezing cold (not an exaggeration, by the way) I walked back through the Grassmarket to my hotel. For those who like places with a bit of an interesting history, they used to hang people in the Grassmarket. There is also a pub here called 'The Last Drop' which I found very clever.
Tonight is a GSE dinner, which is great for two reasons: I don't have to make it/ clean it up and it's 'free'. Meh. I've paid for it already so I'll enjoy myself. That means starters and maybe even dessert! And that shows you how much I eat when I cook for myself!
Well the gloves I'm wearing are getting in my way a bit...so I think I'll sign off here. Cheers from cold Scotland!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

the day trip to stonehenge & bath and other adventures

I like day trips, I really do. Spending an entire day without school work or having to worry about anything like that is really a nice break. BUT...(come on, you knew there had to be a 'but' in all of this!) no day can be a complete success when you need to be somewhere by 8.45 and haven't had enough coffee to make your eyes look awake. The streets of London were e.m.p.t.y when we left for Earl's Court to meet the crew. I mean no people, nothing. Weird.

One perk of the day was seeing the rooftops where they filmed the beginning of 'Marry Poppins' when she is flying over London. We got to Stonehenge after probably an hour and a half in a bus, and was suddenly struck by this thought: Gee. I thought it would be bigger. Didn't you?
Maybe this picture isn't the best since I might have used the zoom on my camera, but really, I felt slightly disappointed. And then I felt guilty about being disappointed. Then to combat the guilt, I listened to a lot of stuff on my audio guide about Stonehenge, barrows, and what the henge possibly was used for. Then I got bored...it was actually quite a vicious cycle. I shut up the guilty, disappointed whiner inside of me with a cup of hot coffee and a 'Stonehenge Rock Cake' so in the end, it all worked out.
We had quite a long trip into Bath, but it was completely worth it. Bath is such a beautiful town. It has a really homey feel to it, and I might like it more than Brighton. So for those of you looking to live here...well, take that into consideration while you plan.
Very similar to how Stonehenge was 'just a bunch of rocks', Bath was just a lot of hot water. (It was also interesting to see the signs that told you not to touch or drink the water, due to its contamination. Hmm...so much for their healing qualities.) The old stone work was beautiful and curious to learn that so many people would come just to hang out in a big bath because it 'might' cure them.

Behind the Baths was the Bath Abbey. I didn't get a chance to go in, but it was really quite beautiful, even from the outside. This picture is really neat because you see many different types of architecture in one place.
One thing that I actually found interesting this day was seeing a house where Jane Austen stayed when her father came to Bath. I visited the front of the house, number 4 Sydney Place. I went to the park right across the road from this house to the park where she and her sister would walk. It was really neat. I also visited the Jane Austen Center which was full of pictures of the original Mr. Darcy, dear Collin Firth.
We made one more stop on our way out of Bath. This is the Royal Crescent designed by John Wood, the Younger. Though it looks quite palatial, it is really 30 houses all joined together. According to Wikipedia (all the profs here swear by it), a lot of the houses have been turned into flats, and there is a Royal Crescent Hotel that occupies numbers 15 and 16. If you go to Wiki and look up the Royal Crescent, they have a really cool panoramic view of the Crescent, because there really is no way to put it all in one picture. It's huge.
I am sorry this post comes off a bit...jaded. I am started to tire of endless audio guides and huge museums of really old things. Even new museums, like the Tate Modern I'm tired of. Well, that is a bad example because the Tate Modern deals with a lot of well, modern, art and I find it to be a bit of rubbish.
Speaking of the Tate Modern, I had a curious thing happen to me on my way there yesterday. I was coming out of the St. Paul's Tube stop and decided to cut through the gardens at St. Paul's to save time. As I turn the corner to the garden, this squirrel (oh, sorry. Sonya this story is about a squirrel. You can stop reading if you want to, I won't mind.) races around the corner, walks/runs OVER my foot, pauses, then runs off as I shake it off of my foot. SERIOUSLY. A squirrel stepped on my foot. It was so weird! But that is one thing I've noticed here. The animals (birds and apparently squirrels too...) have no fear of people. They just come right up to you. And I suppose the Narnian squirrels like to step on humans feet.
It's a weekend in Scotland for me, which comes at a perfect time. I need this break! The next two weeks are going to be slow, but the last week is just packed with papers. I promise to work ahead on them, mum. Don't worry.
Off to finish one last essay for this week. Then I can take a break. Oh, but I have to do laundry before Scotland. Oh joy.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

the slightly successful saturday

Saturday I had grand plans. I had the day planned out and I was going to stick to it. Right. Well the plan was to take a walking tour (guided by yours truly) of Westminster. I would start at Westminster Abbey and end up at the National Gallery. I had a lunch packed, a book for reading on the Tube, my guide book and my camera. Oh and since it IS London, I grabbed my umbrella before I left. Well I got to Westminster and as I come out of the Tube stop, it's raining. Not just a light spring rain--oh no! That would have been too easy. No this was heavy, blowing, chill-you-to-the-bone, make-your-socks-wet rain. It was cascading down the steps outside of the Tube stop. Picture a waterfall. It was like that, minus the topical feel I'm sure most of you are imagining. Yeah. (You can't really tell in this picture, which is outside the Tube stop, but I promise you it was raining.)

Well I trudged (To trudge: the slow, weary, depressing yet determined walk of a man who has nothing left in life except the impulse to simply soldier on.) over to Westminster Abbey and found quite a queue as well as an admission price I was not expecting. Did I see the line for tickets paid with credit cards? Of course not! So I trudge back to the only cash point I could find, and by the time I made it back to the Abbey, they had closed for the day. So now my pants were soaked up to my knees, my back pack was wet, my jacket was wet, I was cold AND wet. And hungry. But I did snatch a picture before I walked, since by now the rain had slowed/stopped, back to the tube.
The next leg of my journey was inspired by a history professor I had at Alvernia last fall. This has nothing to do with that class, thank heaven. Dr. Silbey was in London working on his dissertation and posted this picture on his Facebook. I thought, since it was near-ish to where I would be, that I would try to find it. So with umbrella in one hand and my directions from Google maps in the other, I went looking for 1 Mandela Way, the home of this tank.
The tank was very (Ha. London speak for less than a half hour of walking between the two places) close to the Imperial War Museum, where Dr. Silbey worked on his dissertation. It was really quite amazing. Because I went on the day before Remembrance Day (like the Americans Veteran's Day), the Museum was packed with families and veterans, all wearing poppy's on their lapels. (Dr. Silbey, THIS is the part that reminded me of class and all that talk of patriotism. See, I tried to pay attention!)
After an hour of two (not nearly enough time to get through everything) in the museum, I started my walk home. Well, my walk at least to the Tube. By this time it had stopped raining, which was great. I was still a bit damp and cold from my days adventures, so I treated myself to a Toffee Nut Latte from Starbucks. It was one of their many holiday treats, and was served in a red cup--one more sign that Christmas is coming soon!

(Here's a picture of me in front of a flat building near the pretty tank)

Friday, November 7, 2008

the empty weekend and the song that goes like this...

Well, faithful readers (or maybe not so faithful readers), I bring you an update! Now, don't get all excited, because nothing much happened. I am sorry.
Last Friday I went to see Quantum of Solace on it's opening night here in London! Rachel and I got all dressed up and went down to Odeon for the new Bond flick. (Meagan, these pictures are for you!) The theater was simply amazing and totally not like any of the theaters back home.
This is inside (obviously). Our movie was up those stairs and to the right.
This is me and my delightful date, Rachel. Sunday was another wonderful day at St. Giles. Rachel came to church with me and after service we were both invited to a wonderful lunch at Mark and Inge's. I am getting spoiled :) They are the sweetest people! I don't know how they got all of that food cooked in such a tiny little kitchen, or how every week they are able to fit two more people at their already packed table. But they do it, and I am blessed every week!
I went to see a show this past Wednesday. LMU got tickets for the study abroad students to see Spamalot. Getting to the theatre was a bit of a chore. My roommate and I got off at a Tube station that was a bit of a walk away from the theatre and then it started to rain. Of course, no one had brought an umbrella so by the time we got to the theatre we were a bit damp around the edges. Something happened with our seats, and we got an upgrade. We had, I think, the best seats in the house. We weren't on level with the stage, but not in the balcony either. Perfect seats. It was a very funny show...and those songs get stuck in your head like a bad Disney Land ride.
This weekend is also a bit empty. I will be doing homework most of the time, and later today I'm going to go out and do some exploring. Oh, and grocery shopping. Drat.

Two bits of happy news before I sign off. I found Little Women on youtube. The ENTIRE movie! It was the one movie I wish I had brought with me, but now I have it online! It is the funniest movie. It makes me feel more at home.
Attention Twilight fans! Road trip to England for the 19 December release? Let me know!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

the Fulhm vs. Wigan football match

Tonight was my first British football match! It was so exciting! It was a match between Fulham and Wigan, played at Fulham's home stadium.

It was SO cold! I had two pairs of socks, two pairs of gloves, three shirts and a hat and I was STILL cold! It was really fun though. I can't remember the last time I was at a football (I mean, soccer for you American kids) match. I think it had to be in high school with Mrs. Mac all bundled up with blankets. I could have used them tonight, Mrs. Mac!
When we got off the tube, Michael told us we were sitting in the cheering section and that we had better cheer for the "whites" or else we would be in trouble. The "whites", of course were Fuhlam, and they killed Wigan 2-0. Yay! We had really good seats, as you can tell from some of these pictures. To give you an idea of how close we were, someone missed the net and the ball went into the crowd shown in this picture. Yeah, really close to the pitch...
I did have a wonderful time, though. I suppose I need to watch more football when I get home...and not the American kind!
Please excuse me, I need to go thaw... :)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

the "old stone buildings" in Cambridge

I was lucky enough to be able to talk to my uncle last week before my big trip to Cambridge. He had been to Cambridge years ago, and told me that pretty much all I would see would be big, old stone buildings. Basically, he was right :)
Cambridge was wonderful. We saw King's College and also took a tour of King's College Chapel. If I'm remembering my facts, it took over 200 years to complete and went through three different time periods of construction. I'm sure I didn't appreciate it as much as I should have, what with it being a big, old stone building, but it was truly amazing. I just realised this picture is a bit fuzzy, but it was the best one I had that shows how massive this chapel was. This one is of the same side of the chapel, just taken on the outside.

This is the Mathematical Bridge that is over the river Cam. Traditionally, it was supposed to have been constructed without nails by Newton. Curious students took the bridge apart after his death and were unsuccessful in putting it back together with nuts and bolts. However, Queen's College (the building on the right is the President's Lodge) put out a statement that said not only had Newton died before the bridge was constructed, but that "Only a pedant could claim that the bridge was originally built without nails."

I have another Newton story for you. This tree, this apple tree, was supposed to be where Newton got hit on the head by an apple and got that grand idea...what was it again? Oh, that one that makes me fall over...gravity. Yeah, that's the one. And no, it's not the same tree as the one he sat under, but it's supposed to be in the same place. After walking through the different colleges, I walked about town by myself. I visited the Fitzwilliam Museum which looked a lot like the other museums I've been to see. It is sad when all of the art work starts blurring together. It is really nice that most of the museums are free so you don't have to worry about spending one hour or one minute in them. Of course, then they hammer you in the gift shop. :)
This week is week 5, so it's almost half-way through the term. I handed in my first paper last week, and will have another one due in another week or so. It is refreshing to know that I'm "almost" done with this term, scary to know that I still have a lot of stuff to do, and sad that I'm "almost" done with my time here in London. It's hard to believe I've been here for more than a month!
I had another wonderful Sunday at St. Giles. I finally got to meet Pastor David and his wife Alyson and they are both very lovely. Pastor David speaks with almost the same enthusiasm that Pastor Tim uses so I felt quite at home. I also noticed that in the sermon notes section, Pastor David had included thoughts from A. W. Tozer and C.S. Lewis, so I knew that the sermon was going to be good.
Speaking of Lewis,
(all of you non-book/Lewis lovers, just go ahead and take nap for a moment) one highlight I had on my trip to Cambridge was seeing scholarly works by Lewis in the Cambridge University Press bookstore! Yes, I took pictures...

Tomorrow is a GSE event. We are going to a football match. And yes, I do mean soccer. We are seeing, in the words of my coordinator, the "mighty Fulham take on the fearsome Wigan". I have no idea who either of those teams are, but will probably be singing football songs by the end of the match!

Monday, October 20, 2008

the trip to the Sea

I'm back from the sea...and wish I could go back! It was an absolutely beautiful weekend! It was sunny, but unfortunately, far from warm! We left from Victoria Station Friday evening for a one hour train ride to Brighton, then walked about 15 minutes to our hotel. I don't think that paints the picture accurately. We aren't just talking 10 people leisurely walking down a road for 15 minutes. No-- we are talking 10 girls, most of us having carry on sized suitcases on wheels, stumbling down uneven side walks, and almost getting hit by cars every time we crossed the street! THAT is perhaps somewhere near close to the actual experience. As a side note, I will be more aware of what I pack next time. Dragging along a suitcase with at least 3 sets of clothes that you knew you wouldn't have time to wear is not a very encouraging thing.
This first picture is of Victoria Station. There weren't any unattended handbags that I could see, but then, I didn't go to the cloakroom. I would have taken a picture of "the Brighton line" but we were running down the platform to make sure we would all get seats, so I didn't exactly have time to do that.

After we made it to our hotel and I climbed the steps with my very heavy suitcase, a bunch of us went out to dinner. We found this amazing little Italian place, Bella Italia. I forget exactly what I had, but let me tell you, it was some of the best pasta I've ever had! After dinner, we hung out and wandered around Brighton for a while. Saturday, after a gigantic English breakfast in the hotel basement (and lots of coffee), we went to the Royal Pavilion. We took an audio tour of the elaborately decorated palace where George, Prince Regent liked to entertain guests. The inside was almost completely decorated in a Chinese theme, which was curious because all people knew about the Orient was through a few peoples sketches and tales.

After the Pavilion tour, we were free for the afternoon to wander around Brighton some more. I walked along the sea front and along the Pier with my roommate and another girl from the program. Later, I went in search of a book store I had seen on my way into Brighton and then just wandered the streets a bit.

This next picture is of the West Pier. It caught fire twice in 2003. Some plans for reconstruction were rejected, but a new plan is now in the works. There is no visible sign of new construction or restoration, but they expect it to be finished in 2010. Personally, I like it this way. Another pier, the Brighton Pier, is a short way down the sea front and is packed with games, rides, and food booths. I think one Pier is enough for one beach, but what do I know? In this picture, there is a lump in the water close to the shore. This is all that remains of the Concert Hall. You can also see what is left of the boardwalk if you look closer to the shore.

Friday evening we all met for dinner at a Mexican restaurant. It was called El Mexicana. Very original, no? The food was amazing! After that we hung out at a place called the Fishbowl. It was a really neat place, but there was hardly enough seating. Breakfast again the next day, then we caught the train back to Victoria Station. I had some time after breakfast, so I went back onto the beach. My dad would have loved it--there wasn't any sand! Instead there were rocks, well, perhaps pebbles would be a better word. It sure made walking along the water hard because you feet would sink with every step you took! Not as messy as sand, though, so I guess it's worth the trade off.

Just a little bit of homework today since I did most of it before I left for the weekend. I might go back and see the British Library again. And then sometime I have to go grocery shopping. AGAIN.
(P.S. Mom, thanks for all the shopping you do for us! I really REALLY appreciate it! :] )

Friday, October 17, 2008

the end of week three

Today is the last day of Week 3 of classes, which means I've been here 4 weeks already! I can't believe it! It hardly feels like I've been here a whole month. There is still so much to do and see! That being said, I'm so glad the weekend is here! It's been a full 3 weeks, so our trip to Brighton comes at a great time!
I got me some "culture" this week. I went to see the musical "Blood Brothers" with my GSE group at the Phoenix Theatre on Tuesday. It's been playing in that theatre for 20 years! It was a really good show, but really sad.
Yesterday was so nice that I walked home from school. I found a new way that landed me close to St. Gile's, my church for while I'm here. So I took some pictures of it and of Inge and Mark's home. I was also reminded that is officially fall! So to honor that realisation, I crunched some leaves while I walked home.

I went down to Regent's Canal again. It FINALLY was sunny enough (by my book) to take pictures to share with you!

I went to see the British Library! It was so amazing. I got to see the ORIGINAL "Jane Eyre" manuscript (Reader--I married him.). I saw some Jane Austen text and Shakespeare folios! (I read Sonnet 116 out of these, to those of you who care!) There were portions of the book of Hebrews and a Gutenberg Bible. I could have stayed there forever!
Today was homework day, as every Friday usually is for me. Jessica, my roommate, and I went for English breakfast before we commenced our studying. We went to a little place down the road called "The Other Side" and got 2 eggs, 2 bacon strips, sausage, hash brown, grilled tomato, beans, toast, mushrooms (Jessica ate mine), and coffee. Wow! It was really good! After that, we went in search of a cafe. We found this little place that had too loud music, but really good coffee. It was cozy and we stayed for a few hours. I got so much work done!
We leave for Brighton in about an hour, so I'd better get packing! Just kidding Mom! I'm already packed. We will be gone for the weekend, returning Sunday afternoon. Must not forget to take the journal along on the trip. Like the girls in "The Importance of Being Ernest" said, I need to have something sensational to read on the train!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

the day the sun shone

It was another beautiful day in Islington today. The sun was shinning (which made the walk to and from church glorious) and I was blessed by God's people (read: Inge and Mark had me over for lunch again!). It was more than just good food and a lovely day, though. The pastor at St. Giles comes home this evening, so the same man who spoke last week spoke again. We sang a song that we sing back home, though it was quite a bit slower here... oh well. I was invited and stayed for cell groups after church. It was funny because some of the old biddies were almost late and Francis came running saying, "You can't start without me!" Of course, we didn't. Maureen was told to make sure she had her glasses on, and our group was cut a few minutes short when Ian, who has health problems, announced he had to use the toilet. What a way to end the meeting! God is at work though, as those who have "Experienced God", and I am learning to see that. I am continually amazed that God never gives up on me and that He never stops giving me second chances at things. This morning, Dominic shared with us Romans 3:23-24. He pointed out especially verse 24 which says that we have been "justified freely by grace", that it is a gift. FREE! As Sonya V. says, "Free is my favourite colour!" Amen to that sister!
I would have pictures from Regent's Canal here, but I forgot to take my camera with me today. I do have some, but the sun isn't out. I want to show you that when the sun hits that Canal just right, the whole place lights up. Look for those in an upcoming post! (Also, the blister on my heel from my FLATS that I wore to the museum on Saturday was hurting, so I didn't want to go back to my room, get my camera, and go back to the Canal.)
The shoe shopping saga will continue Monday if my feet stop hurting. Class as usual this week...snore.

Friday, October 10, 2008

the day Lisa came to town!

Cheerio to the restless natives! I have been told by quite a few of you that it has been a week since my last post. Indeed it has been! I am learning that school in the states is pretty much the same as school here. That is the reason I give for lack of an update. :)
But truly, my week has just been about school. Since my trips with GSE are on the weekend, I really don't do too much else (to the dismay of everyone, I know) during the week. When that changes, you will be the first to know!
Wednesday I went down by Regent's Canal. I didn't get any new pictures, but I will get some this week. I needed to finish Sense and Sensibility because I just HAD to make sure that everything ended well. And, as all of the Austen nuts squeal, that's exactly what happened! The view of the canal was pretty amazing, though. We have been getting lots of sunshine with highs in the mid-60's, so my trip to the canal was sun-laden and breezy. Basically, it was the best kind of day to be out reading.
Thursday I actually had plans! Lisa, a friend I made at Alvernia who did a study abroad program there for a year, was over in London on business for a few days so we met up. This picture is of Tower Bridge, the bridge I walked across to find Lisa.
We spent the evening walking around town and talking. We went to Oxford Circus and did some shopping. (We almost bought these hats...but decided against them!)
We walked until I couldn't walk any more (yes, it was those boots!) and then got coffee at a Starbucks.
We had a wonderful time chatting and drinking our coffee (well, I had coffee) and tried to stretch out time out as long as we could. All in all, and besides swollen feet, it was a wonderful day.
Today involved a trip to Tesco's (No, Kris, not the gas station!), and then Holloway Road for new shoes. I made it to Holloway Road, but the shoe store closed before I got there. It's ok, I like my feet to hurt all the time...
Tomorrow we go to the National Gallery and Tate Modern. It should be lots of fun! The Gallery doesn't allow photos, so I can't promise any from that. Maybe, though, I'll get to see St. Martin-in-the-Fields. If I do, expect pictures from that! Cheers to you all!
(P.S. Light problem in the room is all fixed. The light fixed itself, basically. If it hadn't, the maintenance guy only took three days to get to us, so we would have been fine! [seriously!])