Sunday, March 23

London, Me, and My Camera

It is bank holiday weekend, I had the day off, and I was long overdue for a date with my camera. It has been far too long since I took it out for a proper shooting, and what better place than London to take pictures? It feels so good to wake up in the morning and say to myself, 'hmmm... I think I'll go to London today!' and within the hour set my sights on Westminster. It is really great. So off I went with the intent of using up my freshly charged battery and all my memory disc space, and if you know me at all, you know that is not necessarily a hard thing to do.



I love riding the train into London. My favorite part-the part that takes my breath away every single time- is when the train leaves Waterloo station bound for Charing Cross, and you cross the river Themes and you can see Big Ben and houses of Parliament peering through the center of the London Eye. It is fantastic, and I swear no matter how many times I have done or will do that train ride, that particular view will forever implant a smile on my face.

First stop off the train was Trafalgar Square, which- I have to say- is beautiful at any time of year. I was fortunate enough in 2007 to see both Paris and London at Christmas time, and Trafalgar square was one of my favorites. I love the hustle and bustle, all the people climbing on the lions, taking pictures in front of the fountains going in the background, Big Ben barely visible in the distance, and the buses and taxis honking furiously at wandering tourists. It is great. Because it was a nice sunny day, I decided to take my photographic tour on foot instead of using my tube pass. From Trafalgar Square I walked towards Big Ben via the Millennial Bridge, coming out on the opposite side of the Themes as Ben near the London Eye. It was here that I hoped to capture some nice pictures of both landmarks.

I saw these guys while I was crossing Millennial Bridge, they were a happy bunch, and I gave them my pocket change--enough for them to buy a gum ball to share.

I don't know what it is about the giant ferris wheel that inspires me to take pictures of it, but this one is indeed the best one I have ever taken of the Eye.


This is my favorite one of Big Ben that I got all day, and I was really pleased that most of my pictures turned out nicely. Personally, I could take pictures of just this area all day, because every time I look out of the lens of my camera to Big Ben I think "OH!" and get right back in there snapping. To me, it looks picture worthy all the time.

From there, I made my way to St. James' Park. This is what inspired me to go in the first place because they were having the "spring walking tour" of the Gardens, it was kind of like an opening for spring. It was so beautiful, the trees were draped in pink buds, and the ground blanketed with patchwork flowers whose colors could have inspired Capitan Hook to sing.

This is probably my favorite picture of the day, taken in St. James' Park. One thing I notice every time I am in London is all the Asians with big cameras. I mean, it seems like every time I see a person from an Asian country, they are sporting a 400 pound camera from their neck--it's insane...and it gives me the urge to move to Japan....

Next stop: Buckingham Palace, which is right by the gardens. For some reason today the street was all blocked off from any cars, so I was able to wander freely in the middle of the road and thus had the opportunity to snap this picture of myself. I balanced it on this plastic road thing that had water in it, careful that my camera didn't fall in--and much to my surprise, I caught a cool reflection making this picture one of the oddest/most interesting photos I have of myself.

Cool Huh?
From Buckingham Palace I walked to one of my other favorite hot-spots, Covent Garden. There is this little outdoor/indoor cafe that I absolutely love, and I stopped for lunch--a jacket potato with beans and cheese...yum.


After a quick browse through the shops and such, I moved on to my next destination: Leicester square. Because I was walking, and because I had been having very good luck with my sense of direction, it's only natural that I would take a wrong turn and get lost at this point. Yes, I ended up in China Town instead of Leicester Square, but it was definitely worth seeing! And it did happen to be on my list of places to go, even though I ended up there by accident.


Usually when I go to Leicester Square I grab a small ice cream from Ben and Jerry's and sit on the park bench and watch all the people go by. It is one of the highlights of any day in London for me...but today was a little different. When I finally arrived in the square, you can imagine my overall shock as I came upon this:

It was pure madness. There were police everywhere, and a bunch of people dressed in traditional Indian costumes dancing and jumping up and down, waving their hands in the air and singing this strange chant. And how about that guy up front? What a job to witness this crowd without cracking a smile...such a sport! I watched the scene for a few minutes, and then moved on without indulging in my ice cream tradition.

The Next stop on my route was Piccadilly Circus, and it was here that I got just the picture I was hoping for. Any tourists in London today were able to get a real feel for English weather--because out of nowhere it just started to rain, then snow seconds later, and then within 15 minutes you could see blue skies again. I was thankful for this turn of events because it got all the people out of my way to take my pictures!

I like Piccadilly Circus because it reminds me of Times Square in New York, It has a similar look though not quite so lavish, but they have the same basic feel which I love.

From Piccadilly I took my first tube ride of the day to Tower Hill, which would have been quite the walk and frankly, I didn't feel like trekking it. You see, I have seen tower bridge, but I have never actually crossed it, so that was on my list of things to do. Although I did take some pictures, none of them are particularly wall-worthy, but I will put this one up just to show that I was on the bridge, which really was great. I walked from one end to the other, only to discover that the other side had nothing to it...and it started to pour with rain...so my leisurely stroll turned in to a mad dash back the direction I had come (don't worry, I finished the whole length of the bridge before turning back!)


Once the rain really kicked in, I did what any sane person with aching feet would do, and headed back home. It was about 5:00 at this point, and I had put in a good day full of sight seeing and picture taking! I have decided that every other trip to London will be a museum trip, so next time I am thinking...transport museum? Maybe War Museum? Tate Modern? I don't know! I guess you will have to stay tuned to find out...


Now to end this very long blog posting I don't want to put aside the fact that it is Easter Sunday. Today we actually got snow sticking to the ground, of which I am going to take pictures of soon... it makes everything so beautiful! I have never seen our neck of the woods covered in Snow so I am really enjoying this. Looks like my camera will get another good outing later today! (or tomorrow!!) This morning I woke up to crazy knocking and giddy yelps of joy I got outside my door at an insanely unreasonable hour from children excited about what the Easter Bunny had left them, and me. I got a big chocolate Lindt Egg that much resembled the one in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and I think the kids were more excited than I was! And I always get pretty excited at the idea of chocolate... Anyways, that crazy bunny left a trail of tiny eggs leading all through the house and out to the garden, where on the rabbit hutch, they found their easter bunnies frozen in the snow. They were so excited! I really enjoy holidays here because they are all different in their own way to what I am used to at home, and I love experiencing how other people do things.
Hallmark must make serious money in this country, because it seems like every time there is a holiday, people are handing out cards! Personally, I think it is great. It makes me feel so good when I get a greeting card here. People were hading out little goody bags, and chocolate eggs and bunnies to each other, it was so great. I don't know if that is in general here or just in the ward, but I loved it. The thing about the ward is when you walk in the doors on any given Sunday, you feel like you have just walked into a family reunion. I am especially grateful for the members who go out of their way to let me know I am loved and that they are there for me-particularly on holidays because I think they can sense the element of homesickness I carry with me. They have really helped make this Easter special for me. Last night I was invited to go to a scripture/gospel topic study group with a few ward members. It was great to get to study and learn and talk about sacred things and learn of Christ on the Eve of Easter. It put me in the right Spirit to enter into Easter Sunday, and I am so grateful for that! Even though my family is far away I feel like I am a part of the ward family here, as well as part of the Traynor family. I read this article today and really loved it, so I share it with you, along with my Easter Greeting, and may we all take time out to ponder on the true meaning of Easter and our Risen Lord today.

HAPPY EASTER!

Monday, March 10

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

THE GOOD: To start with, it is good that I am writing in my blog. That is one box I can tick off my to-do list now. I could just stop here and feel completely content! But I won't...Ill keep writing.
Some
thing that has been continually bringing a smile to my face is the trampolining class I am taking over at the leisure center. The first thing I thought about when I heard "Adult Trampolining Class " was a bunch of women in their 50s holding hands bouncing and giggling as they bounced together on the equipment. Now I know this idea might seem a little far fetched, but honestly, I expected nothing less. My first day in class the coach said, and I quote, "ok do 25 jumps superstar!" And I, feeling about 5 years old, did my jumps and scuttled off the trampoline. All of this was most likely accompanied by massive eye-rolling when nobody was looking. Then we moved on to jumps, you know, tuck jumps, straddle jumps, pike jumps...and when I had my turn at those it startled the coach and she said "so you have done trampolining before!" No, not trampolining, but my impressive 'tuck jump' comes from my past gymnastics training. Once finding this out, she decided to move me on to more advanced skills, you know, ones where you are airborne and your legs fly over your head and your body twists in the air. Now that's what I am talking about! I guess, being formally trained in gymnastics, I was taught to do things quick and tight--like a back flip on the floor is a lot quicker than one 8 feet in the air on the trampoline. So, because of my tendency to rush my stunts, I have been added to a crew she fondly calls, the "Scary Squad". This is a group of now 3 that frequently give minor heart attacks to our coaches. If you ask me, she gets scared way too easy, because I honestly haven't done anything that scary. So did you know that trampolining is an actual sport? I really had no idea before this. These guys train and go to competitions and wear leotards...the whole shebang. The coach said that I should consider being on the team, but unfortunately this option is closed to me because of the outrageous fee involved with becoming a 'club member', not to mention training hours are during working hours which, just can't happen. So I enjoy my 2x/week class where I get my adrenaline pumping. Also, my third bit of good news, the gymnastics coach from the gym just down the road came to watch the trampolining and discovered from my 'style' that I used to do gymnastics. We got talking a bit and he invited me down to his gym to help coach his girls on Saturdays. So, this Saturday, I am going to step foot in a gym for the first time in about 6 years...and I am really looking forward to it!!


THE BAD:

I will spare the details for the world wide web, and just announce that my only bit of "bad" news, which is both good and bad depending on how you look at it, is that I cannot leave the country. That's right, I am Britain Bound! Bound not like going there, but bound as in stuck here. If I leave, says my passport stamp, I won't be admitted back in. So there you have it, my hopeful excursions to Brussels and Denmark are officially off the charts, which leaves me to explore the more domestic opportunities--which are cool too. It's just a weird feeling not being able to leave somewhere under the threat that you can't come back. But at least I am here, and that I am very happy about!!


THE
UGLY


Now, I was warned about the British weather before I came here, but honestly, I thought to myself "what could be worse than Utah Weather?" in the sense that one day you are running through the sprinklers in your bikini and the next your strapping your skies on to catch some powder. The weather here changes on a dime, and though snow is relativity rare in these parts, heavy rain and winds are not. We had a huge storm come in last night, and the wind has been howling and the rain pounding ever since. When I drove the kids to school this morning there were loads of trees in the road, branches poking out of places there shouldn't even be branches, and cars blowing out tires like it was the fourth of July. Luckily, I swerved and twisted my way around natures obstacle course and passed with flying colors. I felt a little like James Bond again...a feeling I get every now and again when driving on the back roads here.


Life

is not about

waiting for the storm to pass

It’s about learning to

Dance In the

Rain