Sunday, December 16, 2012

Exam Week? I laugh at thee.

Okay, how's this for an exam.  Write an essay, on your own, of what you think about what you learned.  Oh, and share your artwork you've spent the last while making.

Seriously, this exam period was the easiest and lowest stress I have ever had.

On the 3rd of December I got up early and joined the group of girls and John and Chris who spent Saturday mornings playing soccer-- I had previously been too lazy to wake up on time to join.  However, I managed to get quite an adrenaline rush that time, playing in Hyde Park.

The next day would be my last at the London Center, so I started packing my stuff.  Technically, I knew I'd be back, so it wasn't the last day, but close enough.  That just basically let me leave a bit of stuff there to have lighter loads whilst traipsing across Wales.  I also practiced piano for the sake of my primary class.

Sunday was the next day (also my Dad's birthday) and a Fast Sunday.  We spent the day at church getting ready for the primary program.  After, I helped out with dinner and packed up the rest of my stuff, then we had carol singing and hot chocolate to celebrate the end of the semester and say goodbye.  People were already trailing out, and some had been gone for a while.  My time to leave came shortly after carol singing, and I found my way to a train station and hopped on a little train to Wales.

Slightly Different Buildings

The day after Canterbury saw us going to the London Temple.  Of the two, Canterbury Cathedral is larger, more ornate, older, more spiky, and I prefer the London Temple.  Even if the architecture makes it look a bit like a box with a spire.  We went in and all the people with limited-use recommends (all of us but maybe 2 of the girls and the leaders) did baptisms.  We sat in a waiting room as they were taking us in groups and sang hymns until it was our turn.  After that, we spent time wandering the grounds, which were quite nice, and some time in the visitor's center, where I watched Mr Kreuger's Christmas with Eve, our art professor's daughter. 

We all re-boarded the bus after that and returned to the London Center.  This trip may have been a bit shorter, but I very much enjoyed it.  (I actually got the pens for my aforementioned art project after returning home that day.  Incidentally, this was Dec. 1.)

Pictures pending.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Hooly Blisful Martir For to Seke

Yes, to Canterbury I wende.  And let me tell you, it's amazing.

This was a 2-day trip for us.  We started out by going to the cathedral--but of course--which, I have to say, is the most beautiful cathedral I've seen.  Or at least my favorite.  And yes, it beats out Notre Dame and all the rest.  Even with some construction.  And the acoustics are amazing! Which made it rough when someone dropped a pipe, but otherwise it was fantastic.
The outside was pretty itself, but for me, the real beauty was inside.  The stained glass was really impressive, too; it was all painted with saints and biblical characters and kings and so forth.  

We got the tour around the whole thing.  You all know the story of Thomas a Becket, I hope.  If not, watch this movie.  Even if you have, watch this movie.  Ha, tricked you, they're completely different movies.  And the long documentary is here.  Long story short, Henry II was an idiot, who had some idiot knights who tried to gain favor, and they beat a very good man, the Archbishop of Canterbury, to death in the cathedral.  
Wish I'd gotten my own picture of this, but I didn't.  There are four swords here for the four knights, because the light is carefully done here.  I believe the intent was to keep it more simple and elegant.  Of course, Canterbury was a holy place before this, and the seat of the Archbishop of the entire Church of England. 

They also had a very pretty creche out front.  Everywhere was starting to look like Christmas.

After this, we went walking around the city.  There was an open-air market (unfortunately just closing down) with some fascinating books and gizmos and toys and so forth.  We also found a beautiful old ruined castle.  It was a bit smaller than some of the others I'd seen, but still nice.  What there was of it, anyway.

We also ended up in thrift stores and I believe that's where I got a few old books, including Nineteen Eighty-Four, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Twelfth Night, and a book of Norse legends.  (They were 2 for 1, so I got all four for a pound twenty.)  I also noticed this on the way out of town:

Also, reading Nineteen Eighty-Four that day made me feel like the Thought Police were going to get me for just looking at the thing.  I was almost looking over my shoulder, expecting them to pop out of nowhere.

Anyway, we went to the Evensong at Canterbury Cathedral that night.  I think I'd learned to like it better, or at least to appreciate it more.  The first Evensong we went to threw me off because it was so different, but now, listening to the songs and feeling the spirit they're given in was really very nice.  Different still, yes, but not so much strange.

Friday, November 23, 2012

A Few Projects and a Bit of Christmas

This covers the 28th and 29th of November.  Our last religion class was on the 28th.  I really enjoyed that class--our teacher was engaging and enthusiastic about the subject, which was itself fascinating.  Most of our grade for that class was a project of something about the history of the LDS church in England or the UK.
For my project, I decided to use some skills learned previously and translate some hymns into Welsh.  If I recall correctly, they were Mae Ysbryd Duw, Prynwyr Israel, and Si Gallwch Fynd y Golob.  Or, for the non-Cymraeg, The Spirit of God, Redeemer of Israel, and If You Could Hie to Kolob.  To translate these, I used a mix of a list of rhyming Welsh words, a dictionary, a lexicon, my knowledge of Welsh, and Google Translate.  Before anyone gets off on me, I want to tell you something about that list of rhyming Welsh words.  It was a list, and there were Welsh words, and there was nothing else.  So what I'd normally do is translate a line how I wanted it, in rhythm, take a list of the words that rhymed, stick the whole thing in Google Translate, see if I could find a word that rhymed and made sense, check it with the dictionary, and put that in rhythm.  If I couldn't find anything, I re-did the verse.  It may seem time-consuming but it was really exciting.  For my class presentation, I sang my translation of The Spirit of God.

     Mae Ysbryd Duw'n llosgi fel tan cadarn dros y byd
     Y dyddiau diwethab yn dod yn llachar
     Y brudia o hen yn caelu dychwelyd
     Ac angelion yn dod i ymweld ar ddaear

     Mae'r Duw yn ymestyn doethineb seintau
     Adfer eu barnwyr a phob un mor ar y dechrau
     Y ddaear yn derbyn gogoniant Duw a phwerau
     Y llen dros ei dechrau godi gwarchae

     Canu a gweddi gyda byddinoedd y Nefoedd
     Hosanna, Hosanna, i Dduw a'r Oen
     Gadewch i ni ogoniant i'r rhai ar uchel
     O hyn ymlaen yn ac am byth amen a amen

Roughly translated, that's:
The Spirit of God burns like a fire over the earth
The last days become bright
The divinity of before has returned
And angels are coming to visit the earth

The wisdom of God is extended to the saints
Restoring their judges and all as at first
The earth receives the glory of God and its powers
The curtain over the earth no longer besieges it

Sing and shout with the armies of Heaven
Hosanna, Hosanna to God and the Lam
Let us give glory to those on high
From now and on forever amen and amen

Oh, and quick not-at-all-complete guide:  u=e, f=v, y=u (not always but just run with it), dd=soft th, like father, and ll=*blowing spit on you*

I was proud of that.  Don't take my Welsh grammar as 100%, but I think it's pretty good.  Also, the chorus was easy because it doesn't rhyme.  The hardest part was "The veil o'er the earth is beginning to burst."

Well, enough of that.  My other project was making negative space, I've mentioned it before.  I put five boxes on a large sheet of paper, in an arrangement approximating this > shape, and on the 29th, I walked with it strapped to a huge board, along with my pencils, to the Museum of Natural History, or whichever way those words were, but it's awesome and I'd go back in a heartbeat, to sketch a skeleton.  After wandering, I decided on a related-to-a-mammoth skeleton, because it had big bones, cool spaces, and most importantly, places I could rest my board and still see it.  This did require standing most of the time.  I ended up vaguely relating the body parts to their general positions on the actual skeleton (ribs in the middle, hip on the end, head in front) and took each box from a slightly different position (I did the head looking down from above) and amused myself watching the elementary school kids run all over the place.  In case you're wondering, kids are indeed the same everywhere, even if a few of the kids I saw were dressed positively nattily.

When I got it home, I eventually inked it all in with a brief hiatus to get more pens, and I liked how it turned out.  It happened that another girl did a negative-space fossil, but hers was an entire brontosaurus.  I liked mine, though, because it was different and inked in the background rather than pencilled, so the lines and negative space were sharper.  The hard part with that was delineating the boxes, as I decided not to draw lines around them, and walking through Hyde Park with a huge board in the wind.

Anyway, on to the Christmas!  And by on, I mean back, because it happened between the one project and the other on the evening of the 28th.  We all found our way to St. Paul's to watch an advent program, which was very interesting.  Not too much Christmas music, and much like the Evensongs.  But I'll get to more of that later.  I say not Christmas, but that's because it's not my experience of Christmas.  (As I sit here listening to Mannheim Steamroller holiday music which wouldn't be allowed anywhere near a Church of England/Catholic advent.)  It was focused aroud Christ, as Christmas should be, but not the birth, which I'd assume would be at a later Advent.  It started with the Old Testament, I believe.  I remember something about Adam and Eve.  This has a lot to do with the fact that I was sketching something like that in my program.  It was a lot bigger than an Evensong, actually.  They had a huge procession that made its way slowly down the aisle.  By slowly, I mean they moved forward a bit, stopped to speak and sing, moved forward while speaking and singing, stopped again to do the get the idea.  It really was beautiful; not something I'd do every day, but the ceremony of the whole thing was very impressive.  Lots of smoke and incense and candles and old formal garb and so forth.  Although I did allow myself a little laugh at the "The House of the Lord shall be built upon the tops of the mountains" bit.  Overall a very pleasant evening.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Religion and Music

I'd been to an awful lot of Catholic/Church of England churches this trip, but our Religion Professor had asked us to go to a different church while we were in London.  It was really for extra credit, but I was curious, so on the 26th, Nicole and I struck out for John Wesley's Methodist chapel.  Here is a photo of him:

His parish is my campus, being from BYU.  (Due to picture quality/size, you may not be able to see that underneath the photo, it says The World is my Parish.) The basement of this place had a lot of information on the founding of the Methodist church and a video; John Wesley started the church, but his brother and a group of friends started the idea.  They were called Methodists because they lived according to a rather strict "method" of life that was, as far as I could see, very faith-filled and service-based. The chapel had preserved the original chapel, as seen below.
 Incidentally, this is where some of the first LDS missionaries taught, until they baptized so many people the preachers decided they were at risk of losing their congregations and kicked them out.  I thought the window on the ceiling was pretty, too, and here that is.
 We also saw his grave in the back, which has several other people in it, too.
 After that, Nicole and I both decided we wanted to head out a little further and visit another location of interest.
 Quite frankly, I feel bad for anyone who lives near there.  This was the end of November, not exactly prime tourism season, and the cars still had to wait five minutes per car with all the people crossing the road there.  And standing in the middle of the road.  So we just leaned over and got our pictures when the traffic was low on that road.
We also saw the Beatles' Abbey Road studio, which has graffiti all over the wall that probably added an inch of thickness to the concrete.  And they had lots of security.  It was quite a lot of fun, though.

I also worked on my final project for art--it involved drawing something from a few different points of view, and I'd finally found a good pattern for arranging it after seeing a picture in the museum at Oxford whose underlying structure was something like this <. It was a picture of Gabriel on the point fighting a dragon representing Satan, while on the other side were representations of heaven and hell, and the picture divided going up or down.  I decided to structure mine like this >, with five boxes coming to a point.

Essay Essay

As promised, the essay I read in class.  Just to warn you, it's random and wandering, and you may have seen it on my alternate FB page.  It's unrevised, and if you read/understand it, you'll probably understand why.

You know what? Essays are starting to annoy me. I start writing something, I feel like I have a good idea going, and suddenly everything I was writing feels cheap. Senseless, pointless, tawdry drivel spat onto a page with no clear direction, no point, and not really worth all that much. I tried to write something deep and personal and found myself circling so much that after going a long way, I'd only managed to penetrate a layer or two, such being the nature of spirals. I tried to go with a direct approach and ran into a hard wall that sent me staggering backwards, banner torn and troops gone, after just the initial charge. I tried to write out something of my thoughts on home, and where did that go? I had a page down and felt like I was a paragraph away from being out of things to say. Maybe it's me; maybe I have trouble sharing anything. That's it, I'm just a selfish person. You can't have my memories, you aren't allowed to see my feelings or my thoughts. Stay away, they're mine.
But it's not like I'm the Giver. If I put my memories on a page, they're not going to disappear. I don't need to worry about it. For example, if I tell you about the Halloween when my mom, as usual, had us split up the spoils of the night so we could all get an equal amount and make sure we had treats that we liked, and to make sure we didn't eat it all at once so she could mete out candy to us on a slower basis—it worked, we managed to still have candy throughout the year as she did this—and then she split the piles that were left after we took all that would fit in our little candy tubs into chocolate, chewy candy, and hard candy, then the chocolate pile mysteriously disappeared...along with my dad, and we pursued him to his room where he'd locked himself in his closet until we finally managed to dig him out, scour the closet, and eventually found a box marked “Radioactive! Poison! Explosive! Keep out!” in words and symbols containing—you guessed it—all our chocolate, that memory is still mine. Sharing that memory hasn't cheapened it, much less dissolved it from my mind.
What do I share? I don't share much. Sarah noted the other day “You realize ninety percent of the things she says are jokes, right?” as I'd told someone very seriously, as is my custom, some nonsense thing about their food at dinner. It's true, I joke constantly. It's my way of getting along with people, of relating to them, of making, having, keeping friends. I feel rather proud of myself when someone believes my occasionally-well-constructed ridiculous stories. Like when I was on track and the girl next to me was speculating on where wind comes from. I knew it had something to do with pressure and if I'd thought much I could have brought it to mind, but I wasn't a weather student, I was in AP Biology. So I drew on that store of knowledge and told her it was created by the trees. They create energy from the sun but with so many receptors and creators there's an awful lot of ATP and it's hard to store energy—trees don't grow fat—so they send out chemical signals which trees use to communicate, which is completely true for alerting neighboring trees to the presence of diseases and warning them to build up resistance, so they all begin shaking their branches to release that extra energy. And that's where the wind comes from. She looked at me astonished. “Really?” “Yep.” “I thought it was low-pressure systems or something like that.” “No, it's all the trees.” “Oh. … Really?” “No, I'm lying.” Another start from her, and then we both cracked up. It's not about the fooling people, it's not about feeling smart or feeling some sense of superiority, I just like the jolt of going against convention even when I fully intend on following it. Ask me to pass the butter, say, and 4 of 5 times I'll probably look at you like you're stupid and say no even as I reach for the butter dish. Or pat, as the case may be. But it's not like that's sharing a part of me. I don't try to get people to like me by offering part of my soul, you could say, but by trying to make them laugh. I hate seeing people sad, I'd much rather see them smile and I like to make them smile.
But like I said, I don't offer my soul, and if I don't like seeing other people crying, I hate hate hate hate crying myself. Multiply that by factor (I feel a hole in the pit of my stomach seeing other people cry)/(I don't like seeing other people crying) if you want to get an accurate measure of how I feel on the subject.. I think that's how it goes mathematically to cancel out the lesser amount on the bottom. (And now my mathematician friend will say I'm letting my own inner mathematician show and I might not let him ever see this because I know there's a bit of mathematician in there hiding but I'm not about to admit that to him.) See, crying for me feels like not a healthy release of emotion that you need to let out, like people say it is. If it's in public, it calls others' attention to you whether in an “Oh, that's disgusting, keep it to yourself” way or a “You poor girl, come here and let me make it feel better” way. If I'm going to get sympathy or attention, it'd blasted well better not be regulated by my personal tear flow. It turns it into a call for attention and also a positive reinforcement for a negative action, in my opinion. Even worse is if someone responds with pity or condescension. Do not do that to me. It won't make me feel better; it won't make me feel anything but angry at you. My mother is the only one whose job it is to mother me, and she trusts my independence, so don't you even think about trying. It's degrading, it's demeaning, and I loathe it. And crying in public feels like I'm sending out this “Pity the child! She's just an ickle little wee thing who needs your mothering!” Crying in private is no good either. It makes me feel like a miserable ball of soggy wetness and it's not like anything is going to feel better after; if anything, it compounds the problem, whatever it may be, and adds the problem of a stuffy nose, burning eyes, and other physical discomforts that accompany crying. There is no “good cry.”
Of course, maybe all that is to cover my distaste for “offering my soul,” as I put it. Why don't I? I don't think it was a choice originally; I liked letting other people know how I felt when I was little. Of course, since that was generally happy unless upset by a skinned knee or a black eye from running into my brother going around a corner at top speed, that was decently easy. But as I got older and people grew more complex and everything got ridiculously complicated, even talking, I found that every time I tried to share my emotions, they got jumbled up, misunderstood, brushed aside, or just didn't come out, so I tried less. This is basically the reason you're reading this essay and not my attempt to figure myself out. This is all essentially just surface stuff. I will openly and freely say that I hate crying. I'll tell people I've built myself a shell and if they want to try to break it, good luck, they'd better have a wealth of diamond-tipped cutting tools at their disposal and not mind breaking several in the process. I've put lots of time and energy into it, and when I really put time and energy into something, it turns out well, I don't care what it is.
All of this whole mess, bundled up into a tangled, knotty, irregular lump of randomity with one of those “Hi, my name is...” stuck on, tattered and looking like it's spent the better part of a year in the bottom of a not-so-neat 5th grader's backpack, with my name on it in bold but quick calligraphy, is what tries to unravel a little bit, just one piece of chenille stick from the mass, to turn into a personal essay and maybe that's why it's so hard. So it's easier to dab a bit of ink on the surface and roll it over the page, coming up with something simple but strange and twisted like this essay, giving you a surface imprint of who this “Elizabeth” is, something that you might not even recognize when you see the rest of it, like a simple amateur sketch that just looks like “Generic Individual” rather than “This One Specifically.” Because trying to dig out the thoughts on that one specific topic, that one particular thing that I wanted to express, leads into a mass, wanders off, gets lost, and leaves me either on a completely different thread or having hopelessly lost the original entirely, or just jabs me into a thumbtack that's been lying in wait to make me beat a hasty, completely undignified retreat. So it never gets to the paper, or if it does, I look at the paper, glance around hastily and suspiciously, then slowly suck that paper into the mass that is me, hiding it in the recesses where you'd have to dig around quite a bit to find it.
So I don't write personal essays; why don't I just write other essays, thoughts on life and so forth? Stuff like climbing mountains and praying. Why don't I stick with that? The problem with all of this is there's this sense of guilt or obligation roaming around me rather freely, and when this annoying posse peers out and sees personal essays by everyone else showing something deep and special to them, an exploration like I have found myself incapable of, it scatters and rushes to my brain and my fingers, all over, saying “Look at that! Why can't you do that? Come on, fingers, get a move on. Hash that soul out on paper. Look here, brain, you're in a personal essay class. What were you writing? Do you think that qualifies as personal? No good. Redo!” And once they start, it's hard to get them to stop, but the rest of me rebels so strongly at giving out that person of me that I end up never being able to produce anything that begins to be personal but only after much anguish and suffering. Okay, I exaggerate, but the end result is my essays just tend to peter out. Even like this one is doing...right about now.

(Incidentally, the "mathematician friend" I mentioned was Bryan, who read this before I remembered that was in there, and started teasing me about it immediately.)

What am I thankful for? Oh, *that's* a tough one.

In case you're wondering about timetable, the day in Oxford was November 22.  Which made the next day the 23rd, which I spent on projects and making Christmas postcards for family.  The next day, though, we had no classes, due to some random American holiday we decided we'd celebrate. Something about there being a lot of Americans in the center or something like that.

No, really, Thanksgiving was great.  I did kind of miss the fact that I didn't get to go to my family's houses because that is kind of the point of Thanksgiving.  Instead, I called home and talked to as many family members as I could.  There was an awful lot of baking and cooking going on downstairs in the kitchen, and before too long,  by which I mean 2:00, we had a magnificent Thanksgiving feast going on.  There were probably at least 5 turkeys, a tray or two of stuffing per table, potatoes, sweet potatoes, salad, rolls--everything you'd want for a Thanksgiving dinner but on a grand scale.  Or a 30-person scale.  I think we had at least a dozen pies after.  I kind of missed out on several of those, due to being really full for a good several hours.  That evening, we had a party  upstairs celebrating the fact that we were now officially in Christmas season.  We watched Nightmare Before Christmas, about half of The Hogfather, and Tangled.  All well-respected Christmas traditions, right?  (Hey, sitting around on the floor with your friends, everyone wrapped up in blankets--that's a good Christmas feeling.)

The day after that was also short, as we had an art show set up on the back stairs and in the art studio, complete with little hors d'oeuvres.  There are some extremely talented artists in this program.  I have to admit, my favorite was probably Madeline's cave--she had built it with foam around Christmas lights with little mirrors hanging inside of it, and it looked positively magical.  I told her, and still stand by the idea, that I could live in a place like that (preferably made of something firmer than foam).  Still, though, the other ones were amazing.  About halfway through the scheduled time, we went to the classroom and had some readings.  There were some fun essays, some really amusing or very serious stories, and my essay.  I wasn't planning on reading any, but John asked me to so I did.  I'll post it next.  Put some more work into my projects for art. It was a good few days.

For your viewing pleasure: Some external photos of the London Center.  I actually took them the day after this, but I thought I'd give you some pictures anyway.

Just Another College Town

We spent the day after Stratford in Oxford.  We'd stayed at hostels overnight; the one I was in was very comfortable.  The guy who ran it was very kind and enormously excited to make us a full English breakfast, because he was very proud of his cooking.  He got our table a pot of hot chocolate and lots and lots of toast while breakfasts were cooking.  Have I described these breakfasts before?  You've got toast, eggs, bacon (fried ham), sausage (this was the best I'd had in that it tasted the least like cardboard), and juice...and fried mushrooms, tomatoes, beans, and if you really wanted it, blood pudding.  I never had that last one.  But the rest of it was really quite good and very filling.

Anyway, we went on to Oxford from there and all unloaded at one end and walked up the streets to their museum.  Unlike Cambridge, we'd already let them know exactly what was happening and they didn't have a problem with us coming in en masse.  The museum was beautiful--I'll have to post some of my sketchbook from the trip sometime.  I spent a good several hours there sketching and so forth, and then we had wander time until Evensong.  I know a lot of people went on the "Harry Potter" tour to their assembly hall or something which was used as Hogwart's great hall.  You know, with the candles.  I didn't want to spend the money, though, and was more interested in seeing what an English college town looked like.  I ended up wandering around a lot on my own and discovered that, aside from the fact that the houses are a lot closer together, their shopping district is far larger than Provo, they have cobbled streets rather than paved, and the whole city gets into the decorating for Christmas spirit, it felt familiar.

We went on into the cathedral for Evensong.  We'd had seats reserved for us on one side that were reasonably comfortable--high-backed chairs with arms, padding on the seats, and a little stool.  It was directly across from where the choir was and the whole lot was mostly lit by candles.  The choir filed in later; they all wore the traditional choir robes and they were mostly young boys.  The two preachers were in darker robes, and they sat at one end of the aisle with us and the choir facing each other on either side.  The whole program was written out, with all the words the speakers said and instructions for those of us listening.  The music was beautiful, but it was a very different type of worship than I'm accustomed to.  I spent a lot of the time feeling slightly out-of-place and wondering what I was supposed to do, but the music was beautiful.

(Sorry, no pictures today.)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Home of the Bard

For reference for the rest of this entry:

So I left off about at Anne Hathaway's house, right?  Well, after that, we went to the Holy Trinity Church in Stratford where a famous author is buried.  Bet you can't guess who that is.

And from the outside:

And our professor's daughter inside with the dress-up clothes being put on her.  She was kind of a favorite.  Can't guess many girls and one small child...

Next, we walked down the road a little ways more and ended up in Stratford.  We went to the place where his house used to be when he was writing his plays.  He's so creative--he called it New Place.  It was a big house, beautiful gardens, practically a mansion by Stratford standards, and now looks approximately like a hole in the ground.  Why?  Because when he died, some other people inherited it, and because Shakespeare was famous, they got tourists.  And they didn't like tourists.  So they decided it would be a brilliant idea to destroy the house.  And cut down the tree given to Shakespeare by King James.  Because they're smart like that.  So they're digging out the area to see the foundations, might even be restoring it at some point, which would be cool.  They did have several displays there about the various plays and a bit on Shakespeare's life in the house next door.  I'd say if you're ever there, worth a visit.  The gardens are pretty incredible.  There were hedges everywhere, little almost-maze-like flower beds, and an arbor that had apples growing over it.  I still want some sort of arbor that I can walk through and pick fruit as it hangs over my head.  Brilliant gardening.
The house hole and gardens
Okay, very small portion thereof.

After that, we went along to find his birthplace.  Now that was interesting.  I believe it is the actual house.  You come up to it on one side down a street lined with shops--one of them is only kind of a knock-off of the Leaky Cauldron, called Magic Alley which was definitely not referencing Diagon Alley nor was the sign out front a rip-off of anything Potter-esque.  And across the street was a restaurant called the Food of Love.  Can't guess where that name possibly came from. we found the birthplace in a large visitor's center.  Big.  Can't miss it.  Walked in, told them our group, and we were ushered into an intro thing.  And by ushered in, I mean she pointed, a door opened, and we were on our own on a guided tour through an automated path with videos of "So, this dude called Shakespeare...heard of him?"  When one video ended, a door would open on the opposite side and we'd walk into another room where another video awaited us.  Finally we walked down a hall of fame banner walk of all the famous people who had ever been in a Shakespeare play (including David Tennant because who doesn't like him? Especially in the UK?) and finally we went to the house.

The house was very nice.  It looked like this from the side we came out on:
You'll notice it's getting towards evening.  (Although technically this was after we came out.) Long and busy day and it wasn't over yet.  The tour started in the front room where they had an enormous bed to show off how awesome they were that they could afford such expensive furniture...but of course they didn't sleep on it; far too expensive.  We also saw his father's glove-making shop (there were some cool soft rabbit skin gloves with a slit for riding or doing a Vulcan salute).  As it happens, his father did rather well for himself as he was a glove maker, the mayor, and either black market salesman or smuggler.  One way or another, illicit dealings on the side.

We went through the rest of the house and I had a long talk with one guide in the children's bedroom (toys everywhere) about tourism and writing and books and literature.  Very important things.  I wish I could remember more detail of the conversation, but that's what I get for waiting 7 months to write about it.

We were coming to the close of the day and a few of us wandered around the town for a while looking at the shops before going to a good ol' English pub for dinner--heavy wooden tables, sign out front, and everything.  We got our food and the guy asked what we wanted to drink--"Water, please."  And he gave us this look that I was rather getting used to of "'re in a pub and you want what?"

We then went to the Shakespeare statue.  I'd give you pictures but my camera doesn't work well in the dark.  He was surrounded by Hamlet, Lady Macbeth, and so on.  This was for a short time.  We trotted on down the road to the Swan Theatre to watch Measure for Measure by the RSC.  The duke was a very good actor, as was Isabella, and they did have fun putting on their play but...well... Certain parts of it were rather disturbing and our professor was kind of upset that he'd brought his teenage boys to see it.  Little too much black leather and such.  I also found a shirt I like....

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A wizard is never late. But then, I'm no wizard.

What are you talking about?  I've definitely been here the whole time, keeping you updated.  And said updates have definitely been in a timely fashion.  I don't know what you're thinking, but stop laughing at me.

Anyway, so...after that last time, what did I get up to?  Ah, there were fun things, I assure you.  For example, the day after, we were invited downstairs to the Magalhaes' for a ward activity for the Portugese ward.  Then again, it ended up being a singles ward activity, as the only people there were young singles.  Which was odd, because I had been getting used to being in a family ward.  But not so weird, I guess, since I was in a large group of single ladies.  And Chris.  Anyway, the party was fun--they had delicious food (Really great beans and rice, awesome desserts, and I think there were chips or something.  Hey, it was a while ago, give me a break!) (I mean...I'm on top of this...yeah...)  So we ate, we danced (some), and generally enjoyed ourselves.

The next day was Saturday; I went in the morning to a book signing.  I kind of found it amusing that I was going to a book signing for a professor from BYU (Brandon Sanderson), but I wanted to read his new book.  I was 1/3 of the way through by the time I got there, too...Hey, when I start reading his books, I find myself rather...sucked in.  They're hard to put down.  Speaking of which, you should all read his books.

The next day, I was giving a talk in Sacrament Meeting, as was one of the other girls in our ward group.  I'd based mine on President Uchtdorf's talk from the October General Conference.  That morning, the printer was fussy, the tube threw us off because part of the route had closed, I almost fell on my face on the way out of the tube station, the bus was late and didn't come until sacrament meeting was half over and we finally got to church with 15 minutes left of the meeting and the bishopric was almost visibly sweating.  The other speaker must have been going for 30 minutes by that time, but we both got 5 minutes for our talks and I tried to make sure I kept it short so we finished on time.  It was a good experience, though, even with all of the trouble.

The next day...oh, the next day!  Hopped on a bus in the morning and drove over to a wonderful little town on the river Avon where they apparently forded Strats, whatever those may be..  It was a cool day and we got off at Anne Hathaway's house.  It was actually a rather large house for the time, as her father was quite well-off.  I especially liked the clockwork spit-turning mechanism.