Sunday, December 2

It's begining to look a lot like Christmas

Nature gives to every time and season some beauties of its own; and from morning to night, as from the cradle to the grave, it is but a succession of changes so gentle and easy that we can scarcely mark their progress.
Charles Dickens

It is the oddest thing. Ever since I have been here in England, I have had this uncontrollable urge to read. For those of you who knew me in my pre-European years know that I would rather staple my fingers to a car and be dragged 100 miles in parachute pants than flip through the pages of a book for more than 5 minutes. Well all that has changed my friends, I go to the library several times a week simply because I love books. It is becoming an addiction and obsession, and I just can't get enough!

This weekend was particularly fantastic in light of my new hobby. I went to Leed's castle, which is supposed to be one of the most beautiful castles in the world, and I attended the Charles Dickens Christmas Festival. First of all, the weather for the day was supposed to be dreadful, hurricane winds of up to 70 mph and constant rain--and I swear after that stinkin' Wales trip if another BUNAC "adventure" was wet windy and cold, I was not going. Luckily, the storm moved to Sunday and Saturday was absolutely beautiful.

First stop: Leeds Castle. It was amazing, and it could have been straight out of a fairy tale.

The grounds were one of the main reasons it was so incredible, just look at the Nessie imitation...You see, this saves me a trip to Loch Ness.

The grounds are well known for their fowl, especially a pair of albino peacocks (which I saw but didn't photograph...sorry folks) and black swans.

The whole structure of the castle was impressive, and like I said, the weather cooperated so I could get some nice pictures.

This is a very happy me outside the main portion of the castle

This is just one corner of the library inside Leeds, the books were all antique, old, and I was drooling just looking at them. I probably could have stayed in there forever. One day, when I make my fortune, I will have an old fashioned library like this one--and maybe I will let you tour it!

Also on the castle grounds we have a scientifically engineered maze, which--no matter how simple it may seem--was incredibly difficult and I was lost for longer than I would like to admit. It was all worth it though, because below the maze (the exit) was unlike anything I have ever seen before. Everything was intricately lined and decorated in sea shells, its hard to describe, so check out the pics and realize that everything you see is in a different color shell!

This one is a phoenix, in case you can't tell-it is a bit hard to see.

This was also on the castle grounds, I just want to meet the person who thought this was a good idea... no really, I do.

Now on to the Dickens Festival, which was defiantly a highlight! I have never been a part of anything like it before (I think I find myself saying that a lot these days) so it was an experience to remember! I took little bits of video to try and capture the feeling of what was going on- it doesn't quite do it justice- but it's not bad!

I guess it only fake snows here... but It's a nice effect!

There were so many people there, it was crazy!

So that pretty much covers my weekend, excluding only but a few things that I will write about later this week! In fact, I have every intention of writing tomorrow because my friend Marie, who has two amazing blogs, tagged me today--and since it is my first time being tagged by another blogger--I don't want to blow it by not following through on my tag. So look forward to that! And since you are looking, check out her blog which gets hits from all over the world, and was also featured in the Ensign. She is an amazing cook who has recipes that will make your tummy tingle! She also takes all her own pictures of the food she prepares, so this is the real deal guys, check it out--Marie's Food Blog, and Marie's other equally-as-good food blog. You won't be disappointed!


Nicole's mum said...

I loved your pictures of Leeds--it was really beautiful! Now, there's one more place we need to come and see! I think the Dickens festival looked like lots of fun--I know Aunt Dona will be commenting on this I am sure! I am glad you have finally learned to love to read. Your mom has loved it for a long time--now we have another thing in common! You look beautiful too! Can't wait to talk to you! Love, Mom

Marie said...

Aww Nicole, thanks so much for mentioning me. I am humbled, and also I am wondering why I have never gone to this wonderful festival and I live so close toooo!!!! Nor Leeds Castle! I have never been there either! Can you believe it! I really have to go now, for your wonderful narrative and pictures/video have whetted my appetite! So glad it was a better experience for you than wild and wooley, not to mention wet Wales! Looking forward to seeing your tag!

Amie said...

Hey! You still look like you are having a blast over there in England! Thanks for keeping your blog updated.I love reading about your life. Anyways, maybe I'll be able to come visit you soon. ;) We need to skype soon.

Dona and co. said...

Okay. I have not commented on this blog because really, it is just too much. I have no words. The Dickens festival? Really it is just too amazing. Let me repeat. I have NO words.

Dona and co. said...

Except DRAKE! (I just remembered I have a word.)

Toad and Sue said...

I love the video! And the pictures of Leeds. I love that castle.

I've had so much fun catching up on your blog! I feel like the biggest smuck for not getting to talk to you today--I'm so sorry. I wish so much I didn't have to give that dang talk. The last few weeks have been especially crazy for me but it should slow down, blah!

Anyway, so what are you reading? I want to start a family book club and go back and read the classics and then do a big conferenece call and discuss once a month or every other month or something, what do you think?

I love you Nicole and I really HATE that I didn't get to talk to you today. I hope you get to go to the Rodin and Orsay museums while you are in Paris--eat 2 to 5 crepes with nutella for me. Call me soon or tell me when to call you!

Anonymous said...

About the Dickens festival - is it anywhere near - "Ye Old Curiosity SHop" ? I have an old old ( antique) set of Dickens books and I'm going to enjoy a production of Dicken's "CHristmas Carol" this week so that's & thanks to you & your blog I'm feeling )like the Dickens" Hey! have I told you my Bob Crachit joke?

And about the library you photographed - you have a major, mutual lover of home libraries in your Aunt Dona. I'm glad you have acquired a voracious appetite for reading. ( you may like the package - Be sure to open it now

Colie's Dad said...

I just spent 30 minutes commenting on Dona's Blog, so I would feel guilty NOT commenting on my wonderful Daughter's Blog. Of course, I get to talk to her all the time, so I don't have much to say, and when I do it is always, "isn't she wonderful", or "isn't she fantastic"... stuff like that. Not too inspiring, I know. However, I will say, as I've said before. Now that Michelle and I have gotten to tour around London and Europe a little bit with Nicole, I literally HANG on every update to hear the places you are going and to see your pictures. "Aren't you fantistic!" Well, Nicole will probably not mention amidst all the wonderful experiences she is having, that she called me on the phone while I was Christmas shopping last Saturday. It was a pleasant surprise. She was in London checking out all the Christmas lights, etc. The family had gone home leaving her to wonder around London alone. She called me to tell me that seeing all the Christmas stuff made her a little homesick (that was about the first time I'd heard that in a LONG time). Anyway, she started to cry... I started to cry... everyone in the store stopped to see if I needed help. (Maybe they thought the gift I wanted was already taken or something). Anyway, looking back... it was fun to think that among all the wonderful, fun, exciting, and new experiences, she hasn't forgotten us completely yet! Just kidding! I can't believe it has been 4 months since we got to see you last, and 8 months since you've left "the colonies"! Time flies even when we are missing you tremendously. Keep updating! Love you TONS! Dad

Dona and co. said...

THAT was sweet.
Now update your drakin' blog.