Saturday, October 30, 2010


Thursday morning we set out bright and early on an overnight trip to Wales! Our first stop of the morning-after a teaser stop that can't count because we didn't even get out of the coach-was BIG PIT.

Epic name I know.

It is basically an old coal mine that they give tours on now. We all suited up and toured the big pit. It was basically awesome. After the tour we explored the exhibitions, including the bath house. We also talked to a worker there where we found out that the mine is haunted.

Scary, right!

Next up we went to Welsh World!! Well it was really called something cheesy like St. Fagans Outdoor Welsh museum. Yea, Welsh World is much better. And, sadly I forgot my camera on this 2.5 hour adventure through time. Lucky for me Rachel always manages to get creeper pics of me. Example:

That night we stayed in Cardiff at our trusty E tap hotel. (E tap is also the sketch hotel from Paris. Which was pre-super sketch hostel of Northern England. So, since that experience E tap is basically five star in my book)

Once we got checked in we grouped up and headed out on the town. Cardiff was a nice little city, and it was fun to walk around, and see the castle that night. The best discovery we found that night was by far the mall there however. It had this very awesome electronic map/guide/GPS thing. Here is how it worked: you clicked on your category (in our case dinner), it brought up all the options in the mall (there were a million) and then it came up with a little digital map of how you should get to said destination. (up the escalator, out the door, down the block and on your left-except in picture form!) Gourmet Burger Kitchen was never so easy to find as that night!

After that we wandered for awhile, before heading back to the hotel and calling it a night. I may have been asleep when my roommate Julie came in at 10:00.

Luckily I woke up for a little bit to chat with this sweet girl, and get to know her better. It was so fun rooming with someone different than normal, and I loved getting to know her better!

The first thing we did Friday morning was leave Wales.

Tony(the coach driver) isn't too fond of the Welsh-he has too much English national pride for that to be possible.

We trekked onward back to England, and to some great church history sites. First let it be stated that England definitely looks out for it's people.

"You mean old people have just as many rights and young people?"

"Yes Michael, thats right."

Now for the serious stuff. Our first stop was at the Benbow Pond. Not to be confused with the Benbow Farm which the church does not own but is right next to the pond which the church does own. Those poor people.

Anyways, it was here in this very pond that hundreds of saints were baptized by missionaries named Wilford Woodruff, and Brigham Young.

And it was this Benbow family that sacrificed to make it possible. They were some of the first to join, and because of their excitement and readiness to be baptized many others were too.

This is the water in our sacred space. The birth. The beginning.

Next was Malvern Beacon. This hilltop was dedicated by Brigham Young and it was here that they came to receive great revelation-to the hill tops.

This was the blood for our day. The sacrifice.

It was here that Brigham collected over a hundred pounds from recently baptized saints to go and get the Book of Mormon published, and the hymnal as well.

And it was here that we discussed the sacrifice these new converts really made. The Benbows gave up their entire fortune and farm to pay for 40 families to emigrate to be with the saints. People left their homes, their jobs, their friends, their families to gather with people and a prophet that they'd never met. And people still do that today.

Friday though Malvern Beacon was also a place of fun. I've never experienced such fast wind in my entire life. This does not fully capture the sheer force of the wind. You could literally lean into it, and it would hold you up. It was amazing. And the view was really beautiful!

After lunch and a quick stop at a local parish we made it to our final destination-the Gadfield Elms chapel. This is the first chapel that the saints had... ever. Including America. Thats right, the English beat us to it. We did have the Kirtland temple first though if you want to get technical.

This was our spirit that day. The place where we felt the reason for the sacrifices, and the baptisms. And it came when we started singing.

I had the best day seeing these sights, and feeling of the spirit that is at them. I loved our little over night trip to Wales.

On the way back we watched the last 2 hours of the latest BBC version of Emma-and it was wonderful.

Of course, this road trip, as they all do here-involved a Welcome Break!!! Yay!!

And all welcome breaks here involve me finding some kind of treasure. Like these gems:
Did you know you have to special order these reversible hats?
"I'd like the 8 piece chicken bites, bbq sauce, a diet coke and a sombrero please."
Not even joking. That was a direct quote!
Overall it was great! I've never seen such grey skies as in Wales. It was truly gorgeous. And the church history sites were amazing.
And the welcome break was more than welcome!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Regular Day in London

Most of the time when I post here I tell you all how great it is to live here in London!

Because it is great.

But there are just average days here as well, like today for example.

Today where I just went to classes, studied, laughed with my friends, ate dinner, and studied some more.

Obviously we have an exam coming up.

So, I just wanted to let you all know, as well as have this reminder to myself down the road, that there are sometimes just those days.

But at least today it's one of those days in London!!!

PS-The best part about today, speculating who all of Taylor Swift's new songs are about.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Week With No Heat (Part 1 of 1, aka this is really long)

(Mom-grab a diet coke and cuddle in on the couch-this is a long one!)
So, as previously mentioned Tuesday night I went to Joshua Radin in concert. It is a well known fact that concerts are stinky, sweaty affairs-as is anything where so many people are jammed in so tight a space. Throw in the weed and people drinking and you your stink factor increases drastically. As all of us came in and gathered on the stairs to chat and brag about our evenings one of the other girls comes in, a little confused and utters the words that would have ruined any other night:

"There is no hot water"

Say what? You mean to tell me that the 20 of us that smell like dealers on a Friday, with sweaty hair and little patience can't have hot showers.

Now, any other day of the week I wouldn't have minded. (Mikhael Doe stop reading here...) If we're being frank, my shower habits are not the very best here anyways because of what an ordeal it is to shower here in the first place. However, this was a night that I needed desperately to shower.

When I finally came upstairs I turned on all of our showers just to check. Ice cold. Literally, had I left it running we would have had ice lollies in the morning. Dave, our resident director, assured us that he fixed it and that hot showers would be had by all come morning.
Morning came, and we all loaded the coach sans showers. Still ice.

It didn't stop us from having a great day though! We got to do all sorts of fun things. Our first stop was a Jane Austen's house. There Jessica and I took this picture: which is super unflattering but now a gem, considering how much trouble it got us in to. Let it be stated that their were no signs warning us against the use of flash photography.

Some girls even got to play the piano there. It was a lovely experience to learn about the woman behind the novels we're dissecting so intently (Up now is a close second favorite-Emma!)

And after that it was the best time of any field trip day, Lunch time!

Note the delicious looking sack lunch. Complete with fruit, biscuits, crisps, pb&j, and a Galaxy bar. The greatest part about lunch on the coach is that after you usually have time to plug in the ipod and take a nice little nap!

Not too long though because we soon reached our next stop, Salisbury Cathedral:
Here we toured all around. We even got to see a legible page of the original Magna Carta. It was amazing. I even found my name in it.... well my last name, which I guess is kinda famous around here.

Our final stop of the day was pretty cool I guess.

Just kidding it was awesome. Literally, I was in awe. Because we saw this:

Don't let the seemingly good weather fool you however. It was actually freezing. So cold that now when I get super super cold I think "Well, at least it wasn't as bad as Stonehenge."

So cold that I've been in freezers warmer.

So cold that Everest seems doable.
So cold that I think Jack and Rose are officially whimps. She so could have held on.

Seriously. Cold.

After walking around, taking it all in, and enjoying the beauty of it we headed back to the city. We dropped our stuff off and headed down to Whole Foods for dinner. They are a health food store, but upstairs there is a cafeteria style place to eat. It was there that I got my first burrito in over 2 months. It was a little bit of heaven. I was a little bit in love.
As we got ready for bed that night (still no hot water) we realized that it was also freezing.

Literally, I swear once I could see my breath while laying in my bed. Ok, maybe that an exaggeration, but only a little. Also, I was coming down with a bit of a cold so my options were:

1-bundle up, get under my covers and stay there or

2-take an ice shower and risk getting pneumonia and dying
I kinda promised my parents I'd make it back alive so option one won out.

Thursday I slept late. I went to class in sweats, and wrapped in my blanket. Saint Tate even checked on me to make sure I was still ok, I was. I was just cold. Freezing to be exact.
I had to get some humanities work done so I headed out to the N.G. by myself to look at Hogarth's Marriage a la mode. The national gallery was warm and I've never had such a strong desire to move into that place.

By that night it was apparent that the heater and the hot water were both broken. And Dr. Seeley, at devotional suggested we fast for 5 minutes before dinner was ready for them to miraculously be fixed. So spiritual here.
The next morning brought more... ice.

Luckily we were doing another day trip! So, on to the coach we headed and Tony was as accommodating as ever and not only blasted the heat but brought us Master and Commander to watch as we headed to see this:
The victory. Thats right, the Victory. The one that fought in the Battle of Trafalgar, the one that Admiral Nelson died on. That very one! Taking a tour of this amazing ship is one of my favorite things we've done here. It was so interesting, and I learned so much by doing this! For example, did you know that we get the term Spanish Omelet because the cannon balls would puree men's heads and have their remains splatter against the sails? Thats what I learned.

We also stopped at a Cadbury outlet :)

Before heading to Brighton! Lets just say I now understand Lydia's desire, and Kitty's jealousy much more. This place is awesome!

Notice that there is no sand, all the beach is little pebbles! It is so different. I was giddy with excitement at seeing such a fun place. And you want to know the best part-it was all free time! Free time to explore=adventures I'll always remember. Including rides on the pier and crepes!

There were also vicious seagulls. Gross!

It was gorgeous though, and I had so much fun playing around here!

As we were heading back to the city we had one stop left. Tony came over the speaker and said "I hope your enjoying this beautiful scenery, because in about 2 miles we'll be coming up on something that should be.... familiar to you."

And it was. Familiar is the perfect word to describe how I felt.

Isn't it beautiful. Familiar without being there? Amazing right?

Now, I had wandered all around the grounds, which are truly stunning, when one of my friends sought me out and said that anyone that has their recommend is welcome to stay and do baptisms. Well, I was in luck-I had my recommend.

I wandered inside and apologized for my clothing. A very sweet brother told me that as long as I have my recommend I'm worthy, and thats all I need.

(Note the Sperrys, and traveling pants I wore into the temple)

I felt so out of place in such clothes. It's amazing how much of a difference it makes. It's true that that is not the important part though, and once I was in my clothes I just felt peace. I was able to take some quiet time there and reflect, read and ponder. I felt renewed, happy and peaceful. It was exactly what I needed.

It was warm. It was familiar. It was home.

And that night when we finally got back from this temple trip we had hot water. I've never been so immediately blessed for going to the temple!

It really was a great week, especially considering how cold it was!

And yes, I did shower. See, this story has a very happy ending!

(I know this was a long post but lets be real, I'm selfish. I write these for me more than for you, whoever you are. And I fully expect the only other person to make it through this to be the woman that gave birth to me! So, don't worry!)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Joshua Radin

Basically one of the best decisions I've made while in this country was to go to the Joshua Radin concert last Tuesday. It was with great anticipation that we approached the Roundhouse for what was Joshua Radin's largest headlining concert.
After maneuvering our way pretty close(these Brits have no idea about the art of maneuvering) and two mediocre opening acts our shoes were sticking to the beer on the ground, and the smell of weed was slowly increasing.

(Side note-is weed legal in Europe? Because it is everywhere. Disgusting.)
It was at that moment that he appeared.

Him. Joshua. Joshua Radin. The Joshua Radin. My lover.

(I wish)

He started out with one my my favorites-No Envy, No Fear-before telling us in his much deeper than anticipated voice how much it meant to him to play here, and for us, and how great we were-at this moment I swear he looked right at me as if to say

"Nicole, I'm talking to you. Thank you for being here."

I can't just make this kind of stuff up people.

He proceeded to play my favorite of his-Everything'll Be Alright. It was beautiful, and by this point I may or may not have felt a little misty eyed.

The night continued in much the same fashion:

Joshua played a song amazingly well. The drunk man standing next to us sang along way too loud. We enjoyed Joshua. Joshua looked right at me. He spoke in his attractive voice. He took a swig of his whiskey. We fell in love.


Much like lather, rinsing and repeating. Just this time I get a better result than clean hair :)

It's true that I did not get a song dedicated to me like Grace or Molly (two other girls here with BYU), or a kiss on my hand like my friend Morgan, but those looks I got do not lie.

I loved Think I'll Go Inside and She Belonged to Me, which you can hear on his new album. They both mention England where he has been spending lots of time the last few months. It's cool to me to hear him sing and mention things that mean so much to him, that also mean a lot to me now.

And, when he talked about Brand New Day I felt that I could totally relate. He explained how he had been depressed, writing songs on his couch in his underwear for 4 years(I may have oh oh-ed at the nothing but underwear comment...) and one day he just woke up and the world was beautiful, and he was ok. Sometimes it just takes time, you know? Time to heal.
That is one lesson I can definitely appreciate.

Overall, I was super impressed with his talent, graciousness, and his love for the audience. It was one of the very best concerts I've ever been to and I'm so glad that I got to go!
And of course he is too, since we're in love and all ;)
(thanks for being patient with my little girl style crush!)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Need a Break? Head North!

I know, it's taken me awhile to post this.
However, I've given this post a lot of thought. Then I thought about it a little more. And then some more too.
Well, I finally put all these thoughts into action, and decided the best way to tell you about the north trip is to say as little as possible. So, here one word at a time, and in no particular order is the North Trip:
(dim the lights)

PRESTON: FREEZING (getting the point of these?)


(London Mom and Dad-aka Dr and Sister Seeley, and Sister and Saint Tate!)

(stunning right? I think so!)
(one of the girls, in a different picture kind of fell in a little bit...and got soaked from her waist down, she was a trooper though!)






(I told you I'm not at BYU)
(not a made of word, btw)


Other great things:
Pepsi Drunk
Boat Rides
Hostel Dance Parties
Praying that I wouldn't get diseases
Rubber Hamburgers
Gingerbread Ghosts
Welcome Break
(yep we bought them!)
Yea, so pretty great trip. York was stunning. Except for the hostel which was disgusting. Ambleside was even better. Everything looked like fall and Halloween.
Oh and it was freezing.
Overall, amazing week!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I Love When We Do Things For Fun

I mean, most everything here in London is fun for us. But not everything is done simply with the intent of having fun. For example-as fun as the V&A is we never say:

"Oh it would be so fun to walk around and look for picturesque paintings today"

It usually goes like this:

"Oh we really need to do that field assignment for Jane Austen so lets head out to the V&A"

And we grab our Oyster cards and head to Queensway. However sometimes we do things with the sole intent of:

"Hey, I could be reading my Humanities book or running to the millions of field assignments Saint Tate assigned but lets hit up the Natural History Museum"
(Oh yea-a giant fetus from Uterus room of the Natural History Museum. The sign says it's eight times a normal size-if this is eight times a normal size I'm never giving birth. Try a million times bigger!)
Or Hard Rock

(Don't even try to tell me this doesn't look like heaven. And, we're planning on Hard Rock in Dublin for Thanksgiving Dinner. Yea, we're still American inside)

Or Phantom of the Opera.

Which are just a few of those "just for fun" things we've been up to lately.

Along with watching What Happens in Vegas and playing MASH. Yep, you're never too old to play MASH-especially when you live with 38 girls.

So, life is good here. From the "just for fun" to the "need to do" I have a good time all around.

Only one regret so far-not being able to watch Utah football. My boys better head to a bowl game so I can watch them play at least once this season! Other than that-no complaints!

PS-I'm heading North for the week. Not really sure what that entails, but I know it will be beautiful! I'll blog when I get back. Hopefully it won't take me as long as Paris to recover from :)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Tor, Stourhead and Bath

On Wednesday we went on one of our fabulous day trips. I was a little worried when we started out because this week, like last weeks trip to Stratford, we were sans-Tony.

Thats right. No Tony.

We were heartbroken. Not that those other coach drivers aren't nice and all, but seriously-we really like Tony. He is endearing.

Despite this minor set back we ended up having a wonderful day. We first went to Glastonbury where we saw the ruins of what was once a beautiful Cathedral, it is also where King Arthur and Guenevere are supposedly buried. We took a group picture, and enjoyed the scenery.
Then we saw London mom and dad (dr. and sister seeley) hugging so we took a picture. After teasing them they began to pose for more pictures, and then even request more pictures. Who do they think they are? ha ha ha
After that we hiked the most monstrous hill I've seen since being in England, to reach the tower at the top-Tor. Now there are all sorts of rumors/ideas about this place, but my favorite is that the English people fervently believe that Joseph of Aramatheia brought the Christ child here. It used to be an island, and the story goes that they sailed out and brought Christ here. Who knows if it's true? I'm not ruling anything out. Either way it was a beautiful place.

Next up was the picturesque garden of Stourhead. Some of you may know this as the scene of Darcy proposing to Elizabeth in the rain. I stood where Kiera Knightly once did. ha ha It was absolutely stunning though. I loved it there.
After that it was on to Bath. (say it with the accent!) We explored the Roman Baths, and even had the water in the Pump Room before making our way up to the Assembly (Upper) Rooms. I felt very much like I was in Persuasion as I took a turn about the room and danced around. It was beautiful. Bath was a very cute little town, and I loved exploring and being there. We had a pastry for dinner, and peeked around the Cathedral before getting back on the coach to head back to London.

Can I just say-the English countryside is more beautiful than anything else I've seen. It is stunning in it's various shades of green, with the fog covering a soft field on which a herd of sheep quietly graze. I know that sounds extreme-but I assure you that it is not.

My time here in London is going so quickly. This week I've also been busy attending class, hitting up the National Gallery, the V&A, the Natural History museum, Keats House, Kenwood (also gorgeous), and a shoe gallery on Oxford. (Shoe gallery wins for surpassing expectations, natural history for being most entertaining, and National Gallery for most inspiring). I only have 60 days left in London. I'm not counting down, I swear my friend is (she is engaged so it's ok). But I've decided to make sure I live up the next 60 days as much as possible.

So, today I'm off to Phantom at Her Royal Majesty's Theater.

And Monday we head out for a week on the North Trip. And it's looking promising that Tony will be with us.

Living it up over here? You bet!