**NOT YET FINNISHED, still have to finish 'Friday' but will finish this soon
It's hard to believe, but my final week on this trip, my six week journey on this Theatre Study Abroad has come to an end.
Overall I'm in a good place about it. I miss my family and my friends (incredibly) and look forward to seeing their faces and just being around the familiar. I am ready to go home.
While equally, on the other hand--I am desperately looking at all the sites and places on this trip that I ever felt any connection to (big ben, hyde park, national theatre, trafalgar square etc.) and wondering how long it will be till I see them again, promising myself it won't be as long as I fear.
The final week has been just PACKED with events and things that I did, and I will attempt to once again draw them from the depths of my shallow memory.
TUESDAY: We had our Shakespeare paper due this day, and I wrote it on 'The Values of Women found in Shakespeare', and believe it or not, I really enjoyed writing this paper. I had a lot of things to say about this topic from the productions and plays we had read over the course of this program and so I was motivated to fill the pages with my thoughts other than writing a lot of B.S. I didn't really care about. Tuesday was the day I got lost around Earl's Court, I got some last groceries to tide me over to the end of the week and enjoyed the beautiful parks of London on this day.
WEDNESDAY: This was a nice day and so my roommates, Katy Wroble & Sadie Moore and I decided to use our passes for the London 'Eye'. But before that, I succumed to the peer pressure that was around me and went shopping at Primark.
"Shopping in London?" I know expensive right? But this place wasn't, it is well known in London for having really cheap/stylish clothes. Primark is a mad house! It took me back to the sale days at department stores that my mother and I would do in the early mornings, just to catch the really good bargains. There were sooooooo many people there, bussling about, trying things on right in front of you, snatching the last size right before your grasp. I couldn't help myself, it was so cheap (even with the conversion) and I bought some clothes. After that I met up with my friends at the Eye. This thing first of all, is HUGE! It's ginormous, it's hard to fully comprehend even when your standing at the base of it, it is so huge. We got in this small cockpit type room with a bench at the center. Slowly our holding began to climb up with the wheel. We were moving so slowly it was hard to tell that we were moving at all.
That evening we saw our final program play together as a group. It was our 13th play, and our final contemporary play. I loved it, it was like nothing I had ever seen, because it wasn't exactly a play. It was Story of a Rabbit by Hugh Hughes, and he is a performance "one-man-show" type actor. He wrote the script, he "memorized" it, and he fully interacts with the audience. He shakes your hand and greets you at the door, offers you tea, and asks you if you are late "Why are you late?" --the play was a complete performance art piece about the actor and his memories of the death of his father in 2001. He compares it to the only other death he's been a part of, and that was a pet rabbit that he was looking after. The play was hilarious, and we discussed how it would be almost impossible to create a tangible 'script' of the show. It simply isn't supposed to be re-produced, yet it is a play.
THURSDAY: We had our final day of class on Thursday. We had our oral presentations on this day, and we all had five minutes to talk about main themes re-occurring in contemporary theatre these days. I decided that a main theme that is re-occurring in more and more plays is the idea of the 'better-ment' of man. About the differences of what man is, what man could be and if there is a difference between those two different images of man AND if there is a difference is it okay what we are. On this day, my dad was visiting from a lay-over on one of his flights so he was in London and we were able to spend the day together. We wandered along Southbank, I took him to my favorite restaurant Wagamama's and showed him bits of London that I had learned of through my own experiences. Thursday also saw the arrival of Coldplay's 4th album Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends. I loved it!! I had been able to listen to it for a few days prior so I knew what I was getting into...like I wouldn't love the music on a coldplay cd already. It was wonderful to have that Coldplay CD in my hands though.
That was the day I got lost around Edgeware and Finchly area...other than getting lost, the rest of the day was wonderful day spent with my dad and Coldplay's sweet serenades!
FRIDAY: Friday saw us off to Oxford! This was a great day! I was walking along with my program friends in the steps of literary genius's that Oxford had in it's history. I walked the footsteps of Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Phillip Pullman, Lewis Carol and the imagination of J.K. Rowling. The place had such energy, and it was incredible! All the Cotswold stone, and architecture just added such a history and reverence to the place. Oxford was definitely one of my favorite sights on this trip. Having just finished Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, it was real fun walking around picturing Lyra's oxford, walking along the rooftops. We also so a lot of film locations used in the Harry Potter films, like the main (not grand) staircase that's in the 1st movie, the infirmary, and the library. We went to the church where Lewis Carol got some of his inspiration for Alice through the Looking-Glass. Even more...I went on a pilgrimage almost to pay my respect to my most honored literary hero, J.R.R. Tolkien. We went to the pub where he and the rest of the 'Inklings' which included my other hero C.S. Lewis, would get together every Tuesday, share a drink and discuss ancient lore and languages. I also managed to get out to see his grave and pay my respects there!
SATURDAY: THIS DAY WAS CRAZY!! A bunch of the girls here and I planned this day for our "outing excursion of wonder". We reserved seats through a coach tour company 'Evans&Evans Tours', and we were off to Windsor Castle, home of the Queen, Bath (home of the Roman/Georgian baths) and STONEHENGE!!! Windsor castle was really cool, all set up on the hill. The surrounding town was really cute too. We wandered in through Windsor Castle and learned how to spot the difference in the flags on whether the Queen was there or away. (She was away, @ Buckingham Palace getting ready for Bush's visit). We visited the different rooms and saw the Doll House given to Queen Mary. This was a gift given to her by the people, different tradesmen created the biggest, most detailed miniature doll house. With tiny vacumes, sinks, lights, tables & chairs...the doll house even had electricity and complete and full plumbing!!! I would live there.
Then we got back on the bus. I really enjoyed myself, because I was in the front and had great views. Some of my favorite parts of this trip have been my opportunities to go outside of London to the quieter countryside of England, we drove through Somerset (where they filmed Hot Fuzz) and all these little towns...I saw sheep, and patch worked fields, thatched roof cottages with white washed walls. Ever reaching, ever stretching fields after fields as we made our way to Bath. I was really excited to see this city, not only is it an incredibly historical city (with the Roman baths, the Georgian/Neo-Classical architecture, and WWII history) but also it's literary significance, Jane Austen basing many of her novels in the city of Bath, having resided their for a time herself. Bath has definitely been one of my favorite sites visited so far. It was beautiful! The gorgeous buildings, all modeled in a very classic, cotswold stone. We wandered through the Roman baths, still with the steady green water. We saw the 'Sacred bath' with the gases still bubbling up from below. I drank the water offered from the spring, just like the aristocratic vacationers before me, coming to bath for my health, to relax and to drink 'the cures' to feel the health benefits. I visited the house Jane Austen lived in during her stay in Bath, which is now a Jane Austen literary museum. They had readings of Persuasion while I was there, and tons of posters of Mr. Darcy...I was tempted to buy one, but I resisted. After that it was back on the bus, and on our way to Stonehenge. Again, more gorgeous countryside...I loved our tour guide...this woman was so funny, she had a big fluff of white hair and she was from Scottland so she had a lovely accent.
"Did any of you drink the Cures? You know you definitely should, see Jill here (points to the driver) she's been drinking them and she looks great! And she's 95 years old!" ha ha ha. She had a lot of really interesting things to say, she was great at her job. I saw the Westbury White Horse on the plains of Salisbury--and slowly Stonehenge made it's way into view. I loved seeing Stonehenge. It was bigger than I'd imagined, and yet exactly as I pictured. I was on this tour with friends from the program Katy Wroble and Magen...when we got out of that bus and went to walk around the stones...we got so hyper! It was just so amazing, these beautiful towers of life in it's earliest stages---it was just an incredible sight.
That night, we went out clubbing for our final Saturday night in London. I had a lot of fun, don't get me wrong, but I remembered why clubbing isn't one of my favorite things...'Man Sharks'. Guys that just stand around watching you dance...bugs me, DO SOMETHING, don't just stand there. We had fun though, I really liked the club we were at, it was called 'The Moose', and it apparently plays Alfred Hitchcock movies on it's screens 24/7. (That's my kind of place) it was playing 'Rear Window' when we were there. It as a fun night to spend out with the people I've met on this program.
SUNDAY: Sunday was a real catch up day for me, as I began to get everything in order and make a priority list of things I absolutely couldn't go home without seeing. I know...it's true, you can live here for a month and a half and NOT see everything that London has to offer. I was bummed at first, some great things that I'll have to leave before seeing, but then I realized it'll be great to look forward to it when I return. I set off that morning to 'Speakers Corner'. Now...let me explain what that is, because before I came here I had never heard of it. Speakers corner is held every Sunday morning/afternoon near Marble Arch (northeast) corner of Hyde Park. It has so done since the beginning of the 1900's. Basically, you go to speakers corner...if you've got something to speak your mind about/complain about/preach about...you get up on your soap box (literally, men had step ladders) and start talking. At first I was totally intrigued in this idea. A total free speech zone, where people go to hear other peoples opinions...to converse and where speakers get a chance to just get stuff off their chest. I was warned of course that Speakers Corner is often controversial...people don't always want to hear what is being said. But it is a total free speech zone, including the other half (the listeners) you are free to heckle and bicker, and shout back at them if you don't agree. So I arrived....it was a mad house. My first idea's were, "Yeah, free speech, idea's...people go to talk about things maturely and converse. No....people were arguing...not even arguing...because no one was listening to each other at all, they were too busy shouting. Muslims attacking Christians, Christian's attacking the other, Anti-semitic, Racists, Communists, Sexists...they all were there! Some people were standing around offering 'Free Hugs', while the other gave proof why women should be subservient to men. One man, I enjoyed would just stand there and say in a soft voice "Jesus loves you, Jesus loves you...." over and over and over again. One boy was my age and he was actually speaking some sense, trying to tell people to focus on the similarities of religion rather than the hurt and the differences. No wonder people have such distorted views on religion as they do...It was crazy. Eventually I just had to leave, no "higher thinking" was going to happen there. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed myself...but kind of like Alice did I'm sure with the hare and Mad-hatter.
After that chaos I decided to go to a place of peace and solitude. So I went back to the Tower of London. I didn't get to stay very long the first time I went, so I went back to see the historical buildings I missed like the White Tower, the Bloody Tower and many others. One of my favorite things about london (among many) are just the number of historical sites you can visit...there are hundreds! I loved walking along through the tower gates and see the place where Ann Boleyn was beheaded, where the two young princes were 'murdered', and the huge ravens. I saw the Royal Jewels and took some home with me in my bag....
I wonder if they'll be missing those...
Today has been more of getting things checked off my list...buying a bunch of treats to take home so if you really want some (and my family doesn't get to them first) hit me up. I went to Harrod's today....and then this evening I had quite an adventure which I will quickly fill you up on.
COLDPLAY!!!!!Most of you probably know how much I love Coldplay's music and how they are my like #1 band, well I got to hear them tonight....through the venue's doors...ha ha.
Coldplay to premote their new album Viva la Vida or Death and all His Friends, which as I stated earlier came out on Thursday over here- they are throwing like 3 free concerts. One here (this evening) one tomorrow night I believe in Spain, and then one in a few weeks @ Madison Square Gardens in New York.
"Ellesse, why didn't you get tickets?"
Well I couldn't. They were giving them away for FREE, but by contest drawing only. I entered into the contest many times, but unfortunately my name just wasn't chosen. I couldn't even buy tickets off anyone, as the winner's name were put on the tickets and you could only get in with that and I.D. stating you were who you said you were. So, though their loyal fan was coincidentally in the same city as their performance I couldn't get in. I though I would swing by though to show my loyalty. It was so great! There were a lot of people standing outside, and I walked around the building to the side doors and was totally able to hear EVERYTHING! I heard the last three songs they played and the encore. They placed "Strawberry Swing" and "Lovers in Japan" and "Fix You", Chris was right there! I kept loitering around like the others after the show (even got invited to the after party) and who should I see with my own eyes!!! None other than Guy Berryman (bassist, and the cute one) and Johnny Buckland (lead guitarist) come out of the side door. It was incredible!! My favorite band, my favorite musicians...what a terrific night. I wandered home and said goodbye slowly to my beautiful city. I will return soon.
I head to the airport tomorrow morning and meet up with my dad. We'll fly to Calgary, where I'll stay until finally finishing my journey on Wednesday back in Salt Lake City.
Thank you for everyone who read and kept up with my blog. I kept getting feedback and encouragement and it was really nice to be so supported, I was very surprised.
I've decided to (as much as I can) keep it going. I'll certainly not have as many important events going on (at least not as much as London can always seem to offer) but I like doing it...like a weekly wrap up journal entry or something...so if you ever want to check in, I will continue to write. I also plan soon to do a "looking back" entry, where I look over some of the things I've learned over this trip.
Love you all!
I'll be seeing a lot of you soon, to which I am very excited.
I'm going to miss B.B.C.