Sunday, April 6

April (snow) Showers

I used to think it was rude and I would get a little offended when my mom would admit to us during a break from school that she was, in fact, looking forward to the end of the holiday. Suddenly I find myself in the same situation, and feeling guilty that I ever harbored those feelings towards my Mother! The kids have been out of school since March 13, and they won't go back to school until April 15. Only 9 more days... yes, I am actually counting down! Not because I don't love them, and it's not because I don't enjoy their company. I am looking forward to a quiet afternoon of walking the dog and cleaning the house (never thought I'd say that!), a morning of getting up early and socializing with my long time absent friends at the gym. And last but not least, I am looking forward to the time I will be able to spend writing in this blog, because I will have more time and energy for it once the normal routine is back in swing.
Last week, I sat down at my calendar and it really hit home that I do not have much time left here. There is so much I want to do, and so little time to do it!! I have been trying to make the most of my time, but somehow I just don't feel like I have utilized my weekends like I should. So I have been getting busy on that!! Recently I have had three trips out. One to London, one to Hever Castle, and one to the London Temple.

London: Maybe you will recall me saying in my last blog that my next trip to London would be centered around a museum visit--and I am proud to report that I followed through with that. First off, Sarah was running a huge big deal 6,000 person event at the QEII (Queen Elizabeth the II Conference Center) so I dropped in to see what that was all about. It was really a fantastic event, and I got a name tag and everything! I never realized how much work went into an event such as this one, and I was lucky to get a backstage pass to the whole thing. There were a number of famous people who dropped in, including the prime minister, royal family, business tycoons and civil servants. I didn't get to see most of the above, but I did get to see Peter Jones, someone I frequently see on television, and who is kind of a big wig here. He is the UK version of Donald Trump (but nicer I think), everyone knows him, and he is all over reality TV. He is producing and on the panel of judges on American Inventor, which is a spin off of the UK hit Dragons Den. It was really cool to get to see him.
After parading around the event, I went to the War Cabinet Rooms and Churchill Museum which was, in a word, FANTASTIC.

The cool thing about the Cabinet War Rooms, is that they are kept exactly how they were at the time of WWII. Almost nothing has changed. This underground bunker reinforced with concrete and steel overhead and all around, was where some of the most important decisions of WWII were made. This is where the intelligence came in and went out, where Churchill spent countless hours arguing and debating and decision-making, where the first completely secure trans-Atlantic telephone line was established so that the Prime Minister could speak to the President of the USA. It was fascinating and enlightening.

The main room with Churchill's seat in the center at the back, the wooden one, everything is original and just how it was at the time of the war (wax figures not included.)

Many of the coolest things I was not able to capture on camera, but they had a lot of great technology representing the life of Winston Churchill, along with good information about his life and his accomplishments which i found very inspiring and fascinating. Definitely one of my favorite museums in London!

Next Stop: National Gallery and with my guided tour in my trusty Rick Steves London 2008 guidebook. It was really great. No pictures were allowed in the National Gallery, shame, but I was very impressed with the paintings pointed out in Rick's tour.

Here I am nonchalantly snapping pics of myself on the steps of the Gallery in Trafalgar Square.
I always feel like an idiot when doing this.

Today was another first, a French tourist asked me for directions, and I knew exactly what they were talking about and pointed them in the right direction. I never thought that would happen--because anybody who has so much as been to the mall with me knows that I can walk in and immediately be incapable of finding the exit. Luckily, the place they were going was the place i had just come from, so they were safe in my hands...I think!

Hever: I didn't fully realize until today just how close Hever Castle is to me. Google Maps quoted me an 11 minute drive, and it only took me 15, which is really impressive because usually I get lost. Today was such a lovely day, and Sarah gave me the day off because the weather was so insanely nice. I have been to the castle and gardens once before last August, when my Mom was here. Unfortunately the day we went it was poring with rain and the gardens were not as enjoyable as they could have been. So this was perfect. One thing that I have noticed (and you can't help but notice) is that in the spring, there are Daphadills everywhere! On the side of the road, in gardens, in sidewalks, EV-RY-WHERE. It's so beautiful! So naturally, these flowers were abundant on the castle grounds.

I really like Hever, to me it looks how an English Castle should look

These purple pretties were my favorite. The scent that they gave off was divine, and I could have stayed there forever!

A very large section of the Gardens is a collection of statues and art brought from Italy in 1905, most of the works dating back 2,000 years.

London Temple: It was so wonderful to finally get the chance to attend the London Temple. You know it is a novelty to me, to have to drive 40 minutes just to get to the temple. I won't write much else about my experiences here, but know that it was so great to get to go, it was so beautiful, and the highlight of my week!

Today: If you didn't get a good look at the weather in all of my pictures, I invite you to look again. Did you see how nice it was? When I was in London I walked around in a T-Shirt and was fine, In Hever I was in a T-shirt again and was actually hot. At the temple I walked around the grounds in a skirt and it was great. Here is a picture of what I woke up to this morning.

I am glad I saw the gardens before all the flowers were frosted and killed!

...And it is still snowing...


Marie said...

I love, Love, LOVE Hever Castle! I have been there a bazillion times and I hope that I get to go a bazillion times more! I love the gardens, the castle, the little doll house exhibit, I LOVE IT ALL! I just think it's amazing. The last time my youngest son was here we went there one day and they just happened to be having a jousting tournament and that day I did see someone famous as Henry the 8th himself was there and Anne Bolyn as well, who quite obviously was an imposter as we all know what happened to her! Anyways, it was a great day and we picnic'ed on the grounds and the sun was shining. Fabulous. One thing about the British is that when the sun shines they get out there and they enjoy it! What's amazing to me is also that they don't let a bit of rain stop them from getting on with their lives either! Isn't the snow beautiful! A rare treat to be sure, but breathtakingly beautiful nonetheless! XXOO
We shall miss you when you go you know. *sniff *sniff

Tami said...

Love the pictures! Seeing all that you have the chance to do makes me realize how much we didn't really see in London! I guess one of the perks of being there longer than a couple days! Made me laugh about the snow! It's amazing how quick the weather can turn! I am certainly ready for summer (it was snowing a little here an hour ago!). Brendan needs to get out and run! Keep posting about your amazing adventures! Love ya!

skousenmom said...

Wow, Nicole! As usual you take phenomenal photos! I wish I could have seen Hever Castle when the sun was shining. It was still beautiful though! Sounds like your April has been like ours. There was snow on the ground yesterday morning and today we were in our t-shirts and actually got to take the horses out for a ride. Can't wait to go riding with you when you get back, and Siera and Jake our good enough you can go riding with them too! Can't wait to see you! Love Mom

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