Monday, August 9, 2010

I'm still kicking!

...but barely. 

So here's the deal: no, I am not dead. 
I know it's been a while (actually a week) since I blogged. 
Here's why:
  1. We are no longer allowed to upload pictures from the Centre, because our internet here is terrible. They say if everyone uploads pictures, then it stops working. So, if I want to blog, I have to set aside a long time to go to McDonalds or Burger King or something to knock out their internet instead.
  2. I haven't had much to blog about.  Finals are Wednesday and Thursday this week, and the pressure is on hard-core.  We have projects, reading, studying, and all that jazz to do.  Hence, everyone has been up until like 2 in the morning every night, getting practically no sleep, and NOT leaving the Centre.  Literally, today I left only to get gelato after a long day of homework.  Yesterday, I left only to go to church.  Saturday, I went to Brighton!! (That was my break. And I do need to blog about that. It was amazing.)  Friday, I left only to go on a walk.  You get the point.
  3. Going along with #2 about not having any time, I have been studying.  And writing.  And other fun stuff like that.  Alllllll theeee timeeeeee.  Woo. Hoo.
Anyway, tomorrow is a "reading day". 
Aka: study day.
But, I am going to wake up at like 5:30 and go to Abbey Road (so that there aren't too many cars and tourists) and the program is paying for us to have high tea tomorrow at Kensington Palace! That will be a good break from studying for a bit and tomorrow should be a good(ish) day. 

At any rate, I am going to try and do a real blog tomorrow.  With pictures and everything.
...We'll see if I can make it to the BK Lounge.
I'm not promising anything.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Trippin' through Northern England

The Lake District = very beautiful and relaxing
Therefore, expect many pictures and not many stories in this blog.

Monday morning, we hopped on board our lovely coach and skipped up toward Northern England.  Our first stop of the day was at Chatsworth Estate, a huge manor which is better known as Pemberley- Mr. Darcy's home in Pride and Prejudice.  Yes, we visited yet another filming place of P&P!  It is a gigantic and extremely lavish estate, which was very beautiful to walk around and explore!
me being proper...
they had fun clothes to try on!
they didn't smile then...:]
one of the prettiest things i have ever seen
I wore it.. no big deal.
I live here.
I am a wild animal tamer!
Iguana or the Little Mermaid?
You decide.
I am strong!
Don't worry, this is only the side of the estate. 
Imagine this x10 on the long side.

Our next stop was at this place called the Bronte Parsonage Museum.  
Remember the book Wuthering Heights? What about Jane Eyre?
Apparently, these books (as well as a few other famous ones) were written by sisters, and this was their home and church that we visited.
Pretty graveyard by their father's church

Next, we had a short stop at the Preston, England Temple!
We passed by the MTC too, which was fun because we could see hundreds of missionaries eating dinner in the cafeteria as we drove by! A little creepy I know, but it was cool.  

We have this little joke about how everything- literally, everything- that we go to see is under construction.  Well, our "luck" even carried over to the Temple... It was closed down and under construction too!

Luckily, they unlocked the gates and we were still able to walk around the grounds a little bit. They were really beautiful, with hydrangeas everywhere. Even though we only went on the grounds and we only had a few minutes, the Spirit was really strong... It is amazing how no matter where you go in the world, the church remains the same! I love it!

Finally, after a whole day of driving, we arrived in Ambleside.  It is a little hiking town in Northern England.  Our youth hostel was right on the lake (the lake was about 150 feet from the from the front door of the hostel.)  
A quick word about youth hostels: they are an interesting experience.  We were actually pleasantly surprised by how nice this one was, but it was still really weird having the toilet and showers being down the hall and shared with strangers! Luckily, it worked out so that we didn't have any strangers in our rooms with us... in hostels, you usually just book a bed (not a room), and you can end up in a bunk bed in a room with 7 or 8 strangers (boys and girls, men and women, whoever)! At any rate, we only had 4 girls in my room, which was really big and had 7 beds in it (3 bunks and 1 trundle), so we had plenty of room.  We had a big window facing out the front of the hostel over the lake.  Despite the window being completely infested with spiders (as was the rest of the room), and the food being nearly inedible (it really was disgusting), it was still overall better than I was expecting.

We were in Ambleside Monday and Tuesday nights, and headed out again on Wednesday morning.  Monday night was spent just wandering and hiking around the little town, getting to know it a little bit.   We also played ultimate frisbee in a parking lot with some random Brits who were on a high school trip backpacking around Ambleside.  We kicked their little British behinds... it was awesome.

Tuesday, we took a short trip from Ambleside to Dove Cottage and into the town of Grasmere.  Dove Cottage was the home of the poet William Wordsworth and his family.  It was alright, but not super exciting because I don't really know any of his poetry.  Grasmere is just the really cute town nearby Dove Cottage, which Wordsworth is buried in.  Grasmere is also famous for its old-style gingerbread.
Grasmere gingerbread... yummy!

After we returned to Ambleside, we headed into town, had a super yummy lunch, and asked around for a good hiking trail.  Apparently, in England, they don't know what a "hike" or a "trail" is.  Eventually, we figured this out and went on a "walk."  So anyway, we found a random walk (or hike, whatever!) and off we went to find some waterfalls!  It was gorgeous! Everything was ridiculously green and beautiful, the weather was perfect, and the walk was really fun.  

I left my mark in Ambleside!
(carved in the wooden bridge on the hike, along with thousands of other names:])
I'm on a big, scary ledge.  Trust me.
Master of the waterfall.
While we were hiking up the waterfall, there was a really slick rock, and I fell... twice. (Once on my butt and once on my stomach!) It was kind of really funny.
This is the evil rock. 
after I fell the second time...
we also found a really cool log with tons of money hammered into it! 
I put in a euro:] (since we can't use them in England anyway!)
When we got home, we stopped at a little stand by the hostel and got some ice cream.  By the way, the ice cream in the Lake District is amazing. They use organic milk from the local cows and blah blah blah, it is ridiculously good.
one last view outside our hostel
That day, we left Ambleside and headed towards York.  The first place we stopped was a fort along Hadrian's Wall.  Hadrian's Wall is an ancient Roman wall, most of which still stands today.\
On top of the wall.

Some of the remains of the fort.

Our next stop was at a place called....
Bede's World!!!
Actually, it wasn't that cool. (Despite it's amusement-park-sounding name.)  There has been an ongoing joke in my Bible and Christianity class about how "fun" Bede's World is... really, it was just a museum, old church, and farm area. 
As you can tell, we take museums very seriously.
It was fun to play with the animals though!

The next two days were spent in York.  (You know, like the "Old" York from which New York sprang... get it?)  It was a really fun, cute little town.  There were a few museums and touristy things to do there, but they were all expensive and no one really wanted to go.  So, basically all that we did for the next two days was explore around town.  The center of York is all narrow little roads, most of which are now closed to cars, lined with odd and fun shops. 

Unfortunately, I twisted my ankle when I fell during our hike, so I could hardly walk (and that was basically all we did in York), and I was really sick, so I didn't enjoy York as much as I would have otherwise.  Thursday morning the rest of the group went to the Fountains Abbey, which is the ruins of an Abbey and some really pretty, huge gardens around it (similar to Stourhead), but I had to stay at the hostel because I was sick and immobile.  
That night, we also did a "ghost walk"! There are several of them in York, and you basically walk around at n night while a guide tells you some history of the town and scary stories.  It wasn't super scary, but it was really fun and we made friends with our creepy tour guide.  

Friday morning, the last thing we did before leaving York was hit up the York Minster... the last church we are seeing on this trip! It was huge, beautiful, very Gothic, and had many interesting stories (except that our tour guide droned on about really random, insignificant things for about 2 hours... even the teachers were ready to stop!)

After that, we faced a six hour long drive home back to London.  We finally made it, and everyone crashed! Since then, I have just been hanging out in London and trying to catch up on our massive amounts of homework.   

Only about 3 weeks left here in London....
Boo!! As much as I miss everyone and everything at home, I love it here and want to stay longer!
Time to start cramming things into my schedule!:]