Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Ambling Ramblings #7-More of London

I decided i needed to split my London posts in half as it was getting very long winded-this is what you get when you are an English and History major travelling some of the worlds most famous historic sites!
Our next day in London was much slower paced than our first day out on the town, but there was still no lazing about for us. We started our day with a rather long wander through Kensington Gardens, seeing the palace where Queen Victoria lived before she was crowned and other memorials to various royals from the past. Even though it is winter, the gardens were still quite lovely, and I did find a few roses and loved the trees and covered walkways that we could wend our way through! The grass was quite green and lovely and there were fountains, ponds, lakes, streams, moss covered bridges, monuments or buildings at every turn, making for wonderful photo opportunities! We then walked through Hyde Park (which is attached to Kensington Gardens) and found the famous Peter Pan statue which was smaller than I had expected it to be, but still worth finding. We then made our way back to Buckingham Palace to join the throngs waiting for the Changing of the Guard-I loved all the pomp and ceremony of the event which was well worth standing in the cold for an hour waiting! The marching band was my favorite part of it all, but i did enjoy the rest of it too! From the Palace we wandered the streets of London, spotting some well known places, before coming the the Victoria and Albert Museum-a place filled with hundreds of years of historical artifacts, from medieval paintings and religios relics to pieces from Queen Victoria's reign. Twas indeed any student of history's haven and I could easily have spent a week exploring it! I just find it so amazing to see things that people created or used or saw hundreds of years ago, that I can see now and to better understand where the world has come from and how people used to live.
Late in the afternoon, we braved the underground again to Baker Street to see the statue of the famous literary detectives Sherlock Holmes and then to go for a rather lengthy walk through another park to then catch a train back.
The next day was our final day in London (for this time at least) so we spent the morning at London Zoo before making our way to the international train station (making it only just in time! -we had cut it very fine to get there!!) to make our way to our next destination-the continent!

Ambling Ramblings #6- The London Dash

On to the next continent and into London-the great and historic metropolis. Marnie and I met up at heathrow and then we were off on our adventure. We managed to navigate the underground (which is a labyrinth of tunnels at each station) to find a train to take us to our accommodation. In London the trains run very regularly so there is very little wait time and the platforms for each line are well signed and fairly easy to navigate. On the first night we both crashed into bed as we were both tired and I was struggling with yet another time difference.
On our first day we went at a very fast pace and saw most of the iconic sights of London. First stop was St Paul's Cathedral where we sat on the steps (like the bird woman in Mary Poppins)and then walked through the amazing building. It truly made me stop and wonder in awe at the God that inspired men to create such a building in His honor and glory. The cathedral was definitely my favorite place, closely followed by our second stop, the replica of Shakespeare's Globe theatre. We managed to find our way across the Thames to the Globe where we went on a tour-it certainly made me appreciate and better understand the historical contest of his writing as well as giving me a deeper knowledge of how Shakespearean theatre works. We then walked along the Thames, taking in then sights towards the iconic Tower Bridge which we went up inside and walked along. There is so much history to be seen at every corner and the cobblestone walkways, lamp posts and buildings have been there for hundreds of years! I found it quite surreal to be walking the roads and past buildings that people I have studied, read about and written essays on walked down! From the Tower Bridge, we went to the Tower of London, where so many people were once imprisoned and beheaded. We saw the Traitor's Gate, the famous crows and the crown jewels (the highlight of which was Queen Victoria's small diamond crown that is seen in so many pictures of her). We also saw a lot of armour from kings from centuries past-all things that I had only ever seen pictures of! I loved seeing all of the historic relics in real life, now when I read or teach about them, I can say that I have been there and seen them myself and that they definitely are real!
By the time we had walked through the Tower, we were footsore and tired, so went on a ferry back down the river to Westminster where we saw Cleopatra's Needle, the London Eye and the replica of Sir Francis Drake's ship that the circumnavigated the globe in. Once at Westminster, we found the easily recognizable Big Ben attached the the Houses of Parliament as well as Westminster Abbey. This was another one of those awe inspiring places, seeing all of the tombs, plaques and headstones to great people who have shaped and influenced the world in so many ways, making it a better place for those who came before them because of their contributions to society. It was also fun to be at the place where the Royal Wedding was held last year!!
We have discovered that many things in London are fairly close together or in easy walking distance of each other, and from the Abbey, we walked to Buckingham Palace, via Trafalgar Square. Unfortunately I did not get to have tea with the Queen as I had dreamed of doing as a little girl(although she was at home while we were there), but I still enjoyed seeing the royal residence. We then walked around three sides of the palace grounds (it is a lot bigger than just what you see from the front!) towards Hyde Park and Kensington Park, which we walked through at a very brisk pace back to our hotel. By the end of this, we were both completely exhausted, sore and rather overwhelmed from absorbing all that we had seen and done! London truly is an amazing historic city from which so much of the world has been influenced.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Ambling Ramblings #5- Michigan Meanderings

After a week in Ohio, I ended up back in Michigan for a week with my 'second family' for more adventures. We went ice skating on the pond in the backyard, traipsing and frolicking with the dog in the snow, walking in the 'woodland' in the backyard, bowling (where I learned how to do it properly!) and did all kinds of other things. I came away with a nice big blue souvenir in the form of a bruise on my elbow-the result of a tickling war with my 'siblings'! I didn't want to leave when the time came, and will most certainly be back-hopefully in the fall/autumn as I imagine it would be beautiful at that time of year. Not that winter isn't beautiful-6 inches of snow covering everything is certainly picturesque and quite lovely, it's just cold, really, really cold and you can't do much outside or go many places as everything is shut and you have very limited daylight hours to do things in. I do like the cold and enjoy the snow, but I've seen it twice now on this side of the world, I just think next time i should definitely see a different season!

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Ambling Ramblings #4: Patches of Sunshine

I have discovered the great pleasure that comes from curling up in a patch of sunshine on a comfortable bed, surrounded by a pile of blankets and pillows with a good book and a journal full of empty pages simply waiting to be written on. After Church yesterday it was time for a nap for everyone and my bed just so happens to fall in a patch of sunshine in the early afternoon so I curled up in it and read most of a historical fiction novel entitled 'To Have and To Hold' (which I would highly recommend as a novel well worth reading). 2 hours passed most pleasurably although my back had a few kinks in it from being curled up for so long!
There are many little footprints and other strange markings in the snow this morning from the squirrels who have been scampering about looking for food and chasing each other up and down the tree outside the kitchen window. It will definitely be a shock to the system to return to summertime weather on the other side of the world after becoming quite acclimatised to the snow and freezing weather. It can sometimes be deceiving to look out the window at the sun shining brightly but then realize that it is below freezing outside!

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Ambling Ramblings #3-A Winter Wonderland

A breezy, snowy morning makes me very grateful for central heating, warm socks and the jumper (sweater) that Mum knitted for me!
The last 2 weeks have whizzed by, but have been full of fun and excitement. Being a part of a dear friend's wedding was a delightful experience and I loved every crazy minute of the preparation! The wedding was beautiful and it was 'warm' enough for us to get some photos outside.
My 'little brothers' in Michigan (I love having 'family' on all sides of the globe) have taken me out shooting in an effort to 'toughen' me up in preparation for a teaching career! I discovered that whilst I cannot shut one eye in order to aim, I can turn my left eye 'off' so that I can just focus through my right eye and hit 10/10 targets first try! Each day has been very busy (thus I haven't posted in a while) although I'm not sure what I've been busy doing!! I'm now a little bit further south than I was with more 'family' and having a marvelous time with old friends and meeting some new ones-I love being 'Auntie Naomi'!
I love how snow sits in the leaves of the bushes outside the window and fills the clefts in the tree branches. I saw 2 squirrels out the window yesterday as I was washing dishes :) They were scampering up and down a tree and chasing each other around in circles with their big busy tails swishing from side to side. I've also seen 2 deer, but not much other wildlife-I think it's all hibernating,which seems like an advisable thing to do-I may go and curl up with a book for a while and defrost my toes!