Sunday, 30 November 2008

. . . Need . . . Sleep . . .

I'm surprised I don't meet myself coming. I'm normally insanely busy . . . but this term, even I've felt I'm trying to do too much. Now, for just one term, it hasn't been too bad. But I wouldn't want to go on like this ad infinitum. I'm really looking forward to the Christmas Holiday Sleep Time. And then, of course, I get to start over at BYU. There will be three big differences next term, though:
  1. I'm not teaching at multiple Universities. Only one. Only one. (Forgive me for that Cosby misquote.) Not having to deal with several Unies, and only having to travel to one is much easier. Even if I have to re-learn all the protocols and red tape.
  2. No PhD requirements! I'm not responsible for getting anything done on my PhD whilst I'm in the States. Yeay! Trying to teach a full term and do a full time PhD has been killer.
  3. No Church Calling. Well, I don't think, any way. I'm only going to be there for a couple of months. I guess they could give me a calling, but I don't really think they will. And if they do, it won't be 1st Counselor in the Young Women's. Don't get me wrong. I love my girls. And I've never been so happy as I have been working with them. But all 3 of those at the same time is pretty overwhelming. When I get back to the UK I expect to get a calling again. Maybe even quite a labour intensive one, but I won't be teaching at two Unis! I refuse!!!
Those three things will keep next term from getting quite so out of hand.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

A Day for the History Books

It snowed today. Actually, we had quite a lot of snow. Enough that the ground looked solidly white, not just a little flurry that never did anything. It was even still reasonably snowy after church. That's how much snow we got! Meant driving to the chapel was more interesting than normal. One of the other families in the ward followed me for maybe the last mile to the chapel, and when we arrived, they asked, 'Where are you from?' I laughed and said, 'Michigan, more or less. Why?' 'Well, we followed you from the traffic lights, and we were very impressed with your snow driving. We thought you might be snow trained.' I laughed again and said, 'Oh, yes. Definitely!'

But that, as impressive as it is, isn't the reason it's a day for the History Books. The BBC actually got the weather prediction right! They predicted lots of snow for Sunday way back on Friday! I'm in shock. Generally speaking, if the weathermen say 'sun', I bring an umbrella.

Another kind of funny side note. In Sunday School we were talking about the signs of the times, including an increase in disasters, weather out of season and severe weather. Someone in the class said, 'Yeah, just look at today's snow.' Ummm..... It's November. Late November. Snow accumulation of 2 inches does not count as a disaster. It isn't even severe weather, and a bit of snow in November certainly isn't out of season.... England is clearly not at all used to snow. Which is silly, considering they're roughly on the same latitude (London: 51.32 N) as Germany (Berlin: 52.30 N) and Russia (Moscow: 55.45 N)!

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

The name's Potter... Harry Potter.

Did I get your attention? Well, I hope so. Friday I had a fabulous evening involving Dinner and a Movie. How, you might ask, does that involve Harry Potter? Well . . . the dinner was held at Pembroke College, Cambridge. It was found in 1347 by Marie de St Pol, Countess of Pembroke. The dinner was held in the main hall, and seriously . . . it felt like we'd been transported into the Hall at Hogwarts. It was beautiful! And even more fun for me not knowing we'd be going!

Ok . . . let me start at the beginning. Sometime last week (Sunday? Monday? Something like that) I got a message from the Stake YSA Rep, Naomi, asking if I'd be interested in having a posh dinner in Cambridge, then going to see the new 007 movie, Quantum of Solace. Ummm . . . what's not to like?!? Of course I said yes. So I invited Sara (the American girl from my previous posts) to come along. All I knew was we were supposed to dress up like Bond Girls (insofar as our LDS Dress Standards Permit) and the dinner would be at 7.15. So, I dug out my posh formals, and dressed up! It was great fun. When we arrived, we discovered that Pembroke College was hosting a formal dinner, and Dan (one of the Cambridge YSAs) is a student there, so had managed to get us all invited. How cool is that? So we ended up having a fabulous dinner. The dessert was so good, but we'd had so much fabulous food, none of us finished it. Tragic, eh? Anyway, we learned all the traditional student games played at dinners: coining a drink (if a coin gets tossed into your drink, you have to guzzle it straight down), coining a dessert (same sort of thing, coin gets tossed into someone's dessert, and they have to eat it without hands) ridiculous toast making . . . Obviously the drunker you are, the more fun it is. Well, theoretically. We sober few managed to have a marvelous time, though!

A few photos from the evening:

After our delightful dinner, we headed over to the cinema for the movie. I liked it. It wasn't my favourite 007. I really prefer the old ones. Especially as you never get to see him getting his new gadgets since Q died. But . . . it was certainly action packed. There's even some Spanish in it, and it was fun to listen to it and compare it to the translations. Bits of it take place in Bolivia, and it reminded me of Chile. Chile's a lot nicer (not nearly so scruffy), but there were elements of Chile in there. Anyway, if you like an action movie, then you'll like Quantum of Solace. So, the combination of the location of the dinner, plus being dressed up as a Bond Girl . . . I felt like it was a cross between Harry Potter and James Bond. Quite a mix of genres!

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Bonfire Night Cum Christmas Decorating Party

The 5th of November (Remember, remember the 5th of November....) is Guy Fawkes Night (Bonfire Night) in England. Guy Fawkes tried to blow up parliament in the 1600's. He was hung, drawn and quartered for his efforts. And every year they remember it on Bonfire Night. And burn him in effigy! Yep. Really do. It fell on a Wednesday this year, though. And most of us just couldn't take the time off to enjoy it properly mid week. So the Ipswich YSA (plus a couple of Uni Friends) decided to have one on the following Saturday, at my house. And then today??? It RAINED!! So we switched to a Christmas Tree Decorating and Gingerbread Men Making party. Here're some photos:

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

The Most Horrific Sound: "Crunch"

Seriously . . . there are few sounds in the world that are more terrible than the crunch of two cars 'kissing'. And unfortunately, I was the recipient of said noise this evening. I was taking Sara home this evening after Young Womens, and the car in front of me decided to break. Apparently his turn had arrived. Only, he had left it a bit late, so had to step hard on his breaks. I initially started off by breaking pretty hard myself. Then realised that wasn't going to cut it, so stomped on it, and was kind of worried that I wasn't going to make it. I did. Then looked in the rear view mirror. And to my horror, I realised that the car behind me wasn't going to make it.

Time froze.


My back bumper did an amazing job. No injuries. No paint chipped, nor even a crack. No damage at all. But it still was not a happy sound! Not a fun way to end my eveing.

Photos from the Weekend

Sara (the lovely American girl I went around with this weekend) has this GREAT feature on her camera. It's essentially a filter that lets you choose what colour you want to allow to show through. We had fun :) I love taking photos, the goofier, the better. So here's a selection of photos:

Monday, 3 November 2008

Wistlestop Tours

I've had a crazy insane weekend. It's been great fun, but absolute insanity.

There's a lovely American uni student who's in my Ward (church congregation) attending Essex. She's only here for one term, which is just not long enough! So, after several chats about places she wanted to visit, or types of places she wanted to visit, I said I'd take her to Leeds Castle (which is near Maidstone, Kent... not Leeds, Yorkshire!), Dover Castle and Stonehenge this weekend.

So, Friday, after I finished teaching my class, I picked her up and we ran down to Leeds Castle. It has the most amazing Maze, ever. We played in the grounds, then got lost in the maze, and only left when they kicked us out at closing. Then we drove a bit further South, to Dover.

We stayed overnight in a town near Dover, called Margate. We had a lovely little hostess who took great care of us. She sent us to this amazing Indian food place, the Indian Princess. It was truly fantastic. They took our coats, then gave us glasses of Chardonnay (which we passed along to the gentlemen at the next table) and a couple of bites of an appetizer. Then we ordered an appetizer and our main meals. They were all marvelous. After the main dish, they brought over these interesting little slushy/sorbet things to clean our palates. They were ever so slightly peachy . . . and had pop-rocks on the top! Sounds bazaar, but was actually fantastic. We finished off with these amazing sweets. I had an ever so slightly rose flavoured vanilla creme brulee. Truly great stuff.

Saturday morning we headed up to Dover Castle, which is one of my favourite paces in the whole of the UK. It has so much fun history. There are the Medieval Tunnels, the Castle built by Henry II (1180's), Napoleonic War Era Tunnels, and Secret WWII Tunnels. Loads of great stuff. Only thing was.... it POURED the whole day. We looked like drowned rats. We were so wet, we kept the windows fogged the whole way home!

Sunday morning we went to church as usual. I have too many responsibilities to skive off very many weeks in a row. And I had to teach the Young Women lesson. So we drove home Saturday night, stayed at mine, went to church Sunday, and then went off to the SouthWest. We stayed over night at this wonderful little B&B. The couple was very sweet and attentive. They took great care of us, and brought our breakfast to our room (there was a lovely breakfast nook in the corner) this morning.

After our wonderful 'Full English Breakfast', we scooted over to Stonehenge. Now, Stonehenge is cool, but it's not something you really need to spend hours looking at. So we took a photo, and headed North. We ended up at Stratford-upon-Avon (you have to specify which one you are talking about. There are several.) So, we stopped off at Shakespeare's Birthplace (which was 'restored' in the 19th Century.... so it's not necessarily particularly accurate!) Then we went over to Anne Hathaway's house (his wife). But neither of those things took too long, so we zipped over to Warwick Castle, only 10 miles away. It's owned by the Madam Tussauds Company, so the displays are truly amazing.

When they finally kicked us out, we jumped back in the car and came home. It's been a long, fun weekend, but it's time to pay the piper. It's going to be a long week!