Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I'm in Love, I'm in Love and I Don't Care Who Knows It!

Sometimes when I've just had a grueling day of seeing priceless works of art at the National Gallery, or am forced to go to the Royal Opera House to see Swan Lake for my Humanities class I just have to sit back and take some time for myself.

That's when I go to hummingbird.

This place is a dream come true. I have yet to eat one that hasn't completely rocked my world and given me an out of body experience. Let me just give you a preview of some of my faves: the Pina Colada one takes frosting to the next level with a soft coconut flavor, then has a sweet and slightly citrusy cake, and when you think they've done it all, you hit the real pineapple chunks at the bottom. Another highlight is the Lemon Curd, despite the word curd, nothing is curdish about it. The lemon frosting on top tastes like how clouds look when you fly over them at sunset, and then the cake below it offsets the tart frosting with sweet and somehow salty blend that rivals even kettle corn. Oh yeah, then there's a Nutella flavor. It would be unholy for me to cheapen this with words.

It is so fabulous it even makes you throw inhibitions and societal norms to the wind. On one of our recent excursions we paid the extra 45p so we could eat in and sit on one of their cute velvet stools soaking in the posh ambience. After standing awkwardly in the small shop that was full of customers that were just as happy as we were, we managed to get a little table from a nice couple that graciously gave up their coveted seats. After we had all devoured our own little baked dreams we couldn't help but joke about how funny it would be if we ate the rest of the cake the lady before us left behind. After a few awkward smiles and some shifty eyes, we all swallowed our pride and picked our forks right back up. We started at the edge with the frosting, the side that hadn't been touched by a stranger's fork, but things quickly progressed until we had eaten every last bite. Every one. Like a homeless person.

It may not have been my proudest moment, but I don't regret it for one second.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Fleeting Fall


Fall is here! And in honor of this beautiful season I have changed my page. Again. Now hopefully it looks a little less like seventh grader's myspace page and a little more like the blog of a gentlewoman and a scholar. I don't know how classy online profiling can be though... you can't help but feel that you're doing something creepy.
The changing seasons are always enjoyable for me. Seeing the season change on a completely different continent is especially enjoyable because it is actually quite similar to little Provo. The sweet smell of half rotten leaves coupled with the crackling of dried ones under foot still make me want to wrap up in a scarf and sip some apple cider. Even if the British put corn in their tomato sauce, wear a little less deodorant, and make the quest for an ice-cold Dr. Pepper like the search for the holy grail, we still share the same small world.
Going from one season to another always reminds me of the inconstancy of life. Just as all the seasons come and go, so will everything; good and bad. Which is important for me to remember while I'm on this never-going-to-happen-again trip. When I catch myself worrying about not studying enough or eating too many magnums (if you're not familiar with these divinely inspired ice cream bars I will pray for your soul. They taste like rainbows and laughter dipped in God's special stash of chocolate then frozen and sold at your local Tesco) that my few jeans I brought here will finally give up on me, I just have to remember that Fall will be over soon and I'll be back in Provo again waiting for the next great thing to come along.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Underground Rap


I think my entries have been a little flat, hopefully this little ditty about the London pub-trans will spice things up a bit.
This one is done to the musical score of Eazy E.
If that means anything to anyone.

Cruisin down Bayswater to my tube, yo.
Flash them the pass, walk through the do'
Sniffing up the urine and the B.O.
Waitin for the lift to come to my flo'
Chick gets on the mic and says "next lift"
and I smile a bit cause it smells like... poo

Elevator comes and we all pile in
Next thing I know I'm spooning an Asian
Of course it's awkward silence, but it's all cool though
I brought my Sudoku from my Lite Metro
The doors open and the wind's all up in my grill
Tears are blowin down my face it's so hard homie ya feel?

Barely make the train--Mind The Gap!
There never is a seat, man that's whack.
Holding to the bar like it's the iron rod
Staring at some strangers while listening to my Pod
Britney Spears comes on the phones and I can't help but nod,
I'm dancin to the beat even if I'm not usin my bod

Queensway, Lancaster, Marble Arch and Bond,
To say we're flying by, ain't too wrong.
The lights are flickering, but man I ain't scurred
I own this city now, London ya heard?
They's people all around, one's got a nasty cough
Then I holla to my peeps, "Dis where we gettin off".

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Priceless Trip to the North


I'm sure you've all noticed the facelift I've given my blog, although it's not exactly what I'd always dreamed my blog would look like, it's all my poor technical skills can manage.
As I write this post, I am once again tucked safely back on the third floor of 27 Palace Court. We just returned from the wild North yesterday, and while I had an absolutely fabulous time, it is nice to be able to be back in London and not be "coach sick" every other hour. Before we headed up North I had pretty much no idea what we were in for. Luckily I trust my professors enough to know that it would be well worth my time. This week's activities started out with a sobering visit to Quarry Bank Mill, a busy cotton mill during the industrial age. While I've been on this trip we've dropped in on mansion after mansion and almost every palace, but we've not seen much of how the majority of the population lived. Quarry Bank Mill was definitely an eye-opening experience. There are times I've wondered, as I've been here, why any of our ancestors would have wanted to leave this beautiful island, but after seeing the conditions of this huge textile mill, what with their 15-18 hour days, 2 meals, cotton filled lungs, body deformities from child labor and such meager pay that you have no other choice, it's a wonder why anyone stayed! This trip was by no means a downer though, we visited happy places like the cavern in Liverpool where the Beatles first performed, or the cottage in Ambleside where Beatrix Potter lived. We ended trip on almost the polar end of how we started it though; at Chatsworth.
We got scolded in perfect British form for taking this picture.
This "house" was like taking Buckingham Palace, mixing it with the Louvre, throw a few rolling dales in and then you have Chatsworth manor. The opulence of this place really just hit me like a punch to the face. When you go to a palace you expect to be bombarded with gold gilt and glittering crystals, but when you go to someone's home (who still lives there today) the whole palatial thing kind of catches
you off guard. As our guide was telling us about the 150 kilo solid silver chandelier, and the 15000 paintings, most by big names like Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo (not the turtles) someone in our group couldn't help but ask the question that was pressing all of our minds; how much? Of course he had to say that they were all priceless, but a very very conservative estimate was about 7 billion pounds. In paintings. Alone. All for this old couple with bad teeth. Maybe it was just because we had driven in the bus for about 3 hrs and my stomach had nothing but bad hostel food, but hearing that really just made me sick. All of that stuff, while beautiful, is really just stuff. We say it is priceless, but it is really just worthless. I had never realized how much it doesn't matter, than when I was surrounded by so much of it. The fact that I was surrounded by so many people that make life matter helped my perspective as well. It's so easy to get drawn into the material side of life, but it's so easy to forget it too. Whenever you laugh until you cry, or cry until you laugh you're a part of what really counts. My life may never be documented in a museum, or people won't travel thousands of miles to take a picture with a bronze effigy of me, but I can still appreciate a good laugh with a good friend.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Don't take things for Janet


Let me just preface this entry by explaining the title. My lovely friend told me a charming little story about her thinking the common phrase "take things for granted" was actually "take things for Janet" which happened to be the name of her older sister. It sounds like a cute juvenile story until you find out that she misunderstood this term until late into her teen years. Why I chose this as my title shall (hopefully) be clear to you at the end of this blog.
We visited Oxford today and thought it would be absolutely charming to go punting down this river and ogle the "fit gents on the football pitch". So we paid our deposit and got ready for a romantic getaway with four girls. Little did I know that balancing on the back of a very long boat with an even longer and heavier pole would not be the best plan. The happy and confident me above is pictured just after our very experienced guide pushed us off into the unknown and let me man the boat myself.
This lovely picture of me was taken only seconds after my happy pole got stuck in three feet of mud and in my attempts to pull it out, I wound up deeper in the mud than the pole. Amid frantic moans (I wasn't even coherent enough to think of obscenities) I made it to the river bank. Even closer to the "fit gents on the football pitch". Luckily the wind was blowing at roughly the speed of sound and the 60 degree weather went from crisp to frigid almost immediately. Luckily, I had friends there to help me laugh while I was pulling pond scum out of my hair, but it wasn't too long before we not-so-gracefully gave up. I braved the water again and we tied the boat up to a dock nearby and just headed back to the boat rental place on foot. After unceremoniously climbing three or more fences we got ourselves completely trapped on an island with no way across except to climb this bridge (that was not high enough for this to be a stunt equal of Jason Bourne, but high enough to rack up European medical costs should we have been unsuccessful). My friend Brooke and I got up pretty easily (despite the fact that the crotch on my soggy pants was about to my knees) but another one of our friends does not sit well with heights and she found herself halfway up (and halfway down), luckily for us (and the crowd we had gathered) she was coherent enough to spit out a few obscenities which only made the situation better. Then as she was hugging the side of the bridge with my hand firmly in her armpit and Brooke's leg under her elbow, this man that looked something like a Greek god mixed with a Calvin Klein model came and told us that there was a foot-bridge nearby.
Having crossed the bridge we made it down to the boat-rental and received quizzical (an understatement) looks from the men who were expecting us to come in from the river on their boat. We told them (in very animated terms) what happened and where the boat was and they were kind enough to jog down there and get it and not charge us an extra pence. Too kind.
We then had just enough time to hit up a souvenir store and buy me some matching Oxford sweats and big-T shirt (I looked like an Oxford crazed women's basketball player) before we had to be at Christ's Church for Evensong.


As soon as we got to Christ's Church we were regaling our friends with our epic story and didn't notice that half of our quite large company had already entered the courtyard to the Church. We hurried around the corner and walked into this beautiful sight:

Naturally we knew we had to bust out the camera and capture this priceless moment. What we didn't know was that this was strictly against the rules. We didn't know it until this very large man was yelling at us to get out. At first he didn't even tell us why to get out, just that we had to. Then when we found out that it was because we weren't supposed to have taken pictures we immediately explained that we had no idea, we were profusely sorry and we would delete the pictures. He told us that he had told our group (which we weren't with at the time) and we deliberately disobeyed him, and he didn't want us to delete our pictures because he wanted us to show everyone at home what cost us our ticket to see Evensong at Oxford. Power trip? We tried every trick in the book for him to let us back in (i.e. pointing out that there were no signs forbidding photography, we were out of earshot when he told our group, even our professor came back and tried to reason with him), all of which he either ignored or came back with his favorite phrase "that's your problem". When I had reached the point of exasperation, I finally tried to tell him that we were from a Christian college and just really wanted to attend evensong and I believe my exact words were "worship the Lord" (I was going for sympathy. OK, guilt). He then told us that Christians don't break rules, but after a little more pressure, he cracked and let us through. While running across the courtyard to catch the doors to the service before they closed I was thinking thoughts that definitely weren't worthy of worshiping the Lord. Although we got seats that made me feel like Rosa Parks, it didn't take long for me to calm down. In fact, as soon as they started singing the Lord's prayer I couldn't help but get teary eyed. Then when my friend whispered at how amazed she was that you could feel the spirit so strong in a place that is so different from our church, I couldn't hold back any longer. I started bawling. Not the single graceful tear down the cheek. The real deal. We're talking huge mascara-running tears, runny nose and catching breath. Normally this isn't my emotional expression of choice, but I just received such a strong testimony that the people who made all these sacrifices to build that church and many, many others did it for the same reason we make sacrifices for Jesus today. Although they didn't know about Joseph Smith or baptisms for the dead, they knew that there is an eternal God who loves them. I've always known that God is an eternal God but I've never felt it before now.
So I'm sitting in a pile of liquid emotions and I can't help but reflect upon the day. Although I could easily have interpreted it as a pretty crappy day what with me having to walk through upscale Oxford as a muddy mess, dropping 25 pounds (roughly $400 dollars with the current exchange rate) on a very touristy getup, almost crying because of a mean man with a vengeance, definitely crying an obscene amount in a chapel filled with stoic Brits... but this day couldn't have been more opposite. I found that I have made absolutely fabulous friends here who can make even the worst situation a hilarious adventure (or at worst a charming anecdote), nobody will ever doubt whether I have been to Oxford with all the merchandise I loaded up on, and I had a very necessary spiritual awakening. It's vital to appreciate things for what they are and not what you would have them be, and I'm no longer going to "take things for Janet".