Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween in Notting Hill

So this was as good as I could do this year. Festive but no costume. After work on friday night I forced myself to go to a Halloween party that someone in the singles ward here was putting on. Shannon had told me about it, but I didn't know when she would get there or anything. So I prayed hard and headed in. I walked in to a bunch of strangers. I headed to the drink table, got a drink and tried to act cool and like I was supposed to be there. It's been a long time since I have felt like I was back in junior high. Lauren called and saved me temporarily. While I was out talking to her I saw Shannon (the one girl I know) walk in. I went back in and said hi and she was with another girl, Monica....who I had been emailing before. Shannon had sent out this email of a bunch of other girls who were heading out here about the same time. So I met her. She seems really nice and I also met Annie who was another girl on that email list. So it was not the most fun, but I did make some essential connections.

Saturday I decided to head to the Notting Hill to go to the antique market featured in the movie. Turns out it was on Portobello road (featured in Mary many famous places!)

I thought this was quite an ingenious way to advertise pizza in a very Brittish way.

I cannot imagine what this place would be like in the summer, it was totally packed!

I came across this great band playing on the corner....the Ryan O'Riley Band....I am kicking myself now for not paying the five pounds for their cd.

I wandered through all the antiques. Tons of jewelry and dishes of course.

And other things that were a little more elaborate.

Then I came upon the food section of the market. Not only fresh food but they had food being prepaired from all over the world.

When I had wandered through the whole market I just kept on wandering through town until I came upon this charming little path. This city is just full of beautiful things to discover.
I found out friday night that this weekend is stake conference. So I went to the saturday night meeting. Admittedly I went more to see if I could drum up something to do with the girls I met than to listen to the messages. So of course, I didn't get much out of the meeting, but I did meet up with Monica, Shannon and Annie. They have been here a little longer than me so are better connected. So I felt like I was just following them around, which I hate. Nothing makes me feel more lame, but I really didn't have an option honestly. So I hung around with them until it was decided to get some food and go to the house of some of the boys in the ward. It took an hour to get there (these people are really into traveling!) There were 2 other american girls there (there really are lots of us here) and three English guys. We just sat around and talked. I would not put it down in the record books as the most exciting Halloween ever, but I suppose this is a necessary part of starting over.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wandering London Bridge

This morning I went into the town of Wimbledon to use the internet and had an intersting shopping experience. At work you are not allowed to wear a watch for infection control purposes so you have to get one that pins on your shirt. The girls at work said I could get one at a store called Argos. I went there today and this is how it works. There are all these catalogs and you pick your item out of the book and write down the number and then go to a little kiosk and put the number in and pay. Then you go to this other desk where it comes out on a conveyor belt from giant vending machine or something in the back....weird!
I came into town after that to pick up my uniform for work's a dress! Haha! That should be intersting. My hospital is right by London Bridge. This photo is taken from London Bridge which is commonly mistaken for Tower Bridge, the one in this picture. In 1968, an American, Robert P McCulloch paid $2.5 million dollars to buy London Bridge under the mistaken belief that he was buying Tower Bridge. The then London Bridge was taken down, transported to America and reconstructed at Lake Havasu City in Arizona. Hence why "London Bridge" became so popular. I didn't even take a picutre of it. It looks like an overpass over the river.
This is "The Monument" which commemorates a 1666 (not sure if those numbers are just a coincidence) fire that burned for three days in London. I is the tallest stone free standing stone column in the world.
From here I checked out this little tiny church St. Magnus. They were having a book sale so I left with a new book and another unexpected addition, a homeless Polish woman. She followed me out and said she was having a really bad day and needed to talk to someone. So I told her she could walk with me. We walked by the river and she wanted to sit down and we stopped and she told me her sob story. I told her I had to go after about 20 minutes and she said she would just walk with me at which point she asked me to buy her lunch. So about an hour and four pounds later we parted ways. It was interesting to pass an hour with her and remember that she too is a child of God. His heart must break all the time.

The tower of London is right on the river....I didn't go in, I am saving it for when Jason comes!

Then I walked over to St. Katherines docks, which are all these little dock areas just off the river with a mix of new boats and a few old sailing ships.

Then I wandered down Shad Thames which is an old port. These are all old warehouses and those walkways used to used to move cargo from the riverside into storage. Now there are small shops and restaurants along the street.
City Hall....very unusual spacy building.

Tower Bridge at dusk.

This is the walkway along the river. Really dreamy on a fall evening (well about 4:30). Come on prince charming!!! You were supposed to be here! Hehe

The HMS Belfast, Europes only surviving WWII big gun ship.

And this is where I find myself now. At a Starbucks in the open air Hay's Galleria. This statue in the middle I really liked, it reminds me of something you would see in a little boys dreams. I spent a little too much time on facebook this morning remembering all of my wonderful friends and family back home, so I was a little homesick, but had a good day in the end.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Back to Work

So here it is..... Guy's Hospital. It is under the same trust as St. Thomas'. It is right by London Bridge in town. It was quite a day....

This morning I got up at 5:30, left the house at six, walked to the underground, took the underground and changed trains twice and walked in the door at 7. Full hour commute which is rediculous to me but very common for many Londoners. Yikes!

I went to the floor at 7:30 as assigned and found the "Ward Sister" (sounds churcie but she is basically the manager).

I had just showed up in my street clothes as directed so she sent me downstairs to reception to get some scrubs. I couldn't find that anywhere so I when to the front desk and they sent me to the basement...

I finally found the Linen room and there was no one there so I found some shelfs with scrubs on them so I grabbed a few and headed back up to the ward.

From what I found out during the day, this unit was recently moved into a nice new location and somehow in the process they have tons of new staff. So today there was the ward sister, a charge nurse and Penny who has been there four years. The two other nurses there were both new grads of about two weeks working on their own. I was assigned to work with Penny who already had a new grad and a student working with her. As a result I ended up working for most of the day with the student nurse....what! It really is baptism by fire around here. We had 9 patients! Granted most of them were pretty capable of taking care of themselves but still it was just complete chaos. I felt completly useless and spent most of the day following people around. So that piece wasn't exactly encouraging. The redeeming factor was that the people I worked with were really great. A lot of them were my age and really friendly and helpful, so once I figure out what is going on I think it will be fine.

Shift ended at 8:30, left by 8:45 home by 10pm. So glad I don't have to work tomorrow!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Hangin' with Hannah

Today I caught up with my "old" friend Hannah. It was so great to see her again! Amazing how two weeks in Ireland will bring people together. We just wandered around town for quite a while catching up on our adventures since the last time we saw eachother and eventually ended up on Oxford street....which was pretty much the last thing I wanted to do since last time I was there it was insane. But I was just so happy to hang out with her that I really didn't care what we did.

We went into this huge Primark. It was literally about as bad as Disneyland inside. We laughed a ton as we pushed through millions of shoppers. The checkout line was at least 50 people long (and there are 4 checkouts with about 20 cash registers each) and there were guys in orange traffic vests directing traffic. Ha! It was an experience I am glad I had once. And in the end I got a shirt, a belt, a set of five earrings, a scarf 7 pairs of socks and a pair of shoes for 17 pounds.

Hannah and I should both get our schedules tomorrow and then we are going to plan another trip! Yeah for fun friends!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

At Home in Wimbledon

Today I moved into somwhere semi permanent. There is no company housing available so I am staying for a month with a friend of the owner of the travel nursing company in Wimbledon. As my good luck would have it she lives in this beautiful 2 million pound house. Fantastic!
This is my little cupboard room. Its tiny but perfect. I have a little tv, a wardrobe and I even have my own sink right in the room. Amazing! It was so nice to unpack!

Wimbledon is a really beautiful little town. The fall colors are fantastic! Well, nothing like Maryland, but much better than San Diego. This is going to be a fun little town to explore for the next month.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Day In

Today I spent most of the day at Laurens house. It was grey and drizzly and perfect for cuddling in pj's. I did go running....but then I shut myself inside.
So by about 4pm Jason was getting to work in the morning and I caught him on gmail chat and was asking him a bunch of questions about how to fix my itunes. So he said to just download this logmein thing and he remotly wired into my computer. Of course, he fixed everything.

It was really funny but some how seeing him fix my computer and move my little mouse arrow around it was like he was here. And when he logged out I felt like he had just left and I felt really sad. Sounds so weird and pathetic but it's true!
So my day was great because I got to spend a couple of hours hanging out with Jason. And he is coming over here as my birthday present and for christmas...yeah!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Oxford Street

Today things finally got going with my job. I will be starting next tuesday on a surgical unit for patients that have had cancer tumors removed. Just nice to know I will have a job. I went into the office today to sign a contract to start working! They told me also that there is no company housing available for the next month but that i can rent a room from the owners friend. She lives in a 2 million pound house in wimbeldon....sweet!

So, to celebrate I walked down to Oxford steet close by and did some shopping. Well, not too much since the funds are getting low. It was mostly really crowded. By the time I finally traveled the hour and a half back to Laurens house through a crowded underground I was very happy to not be surrounded by people.
Tonight James (the one who hooked me up with Charlotte and Lauren) came to town and we headed to the cinema. We saw "The Invention of Lies". I would not recommend it, but it was very relaxing after a day of crowds and shopping. There is nothing better than good friends...thanks James!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Camden Market

This afternoon I met up with Lauren in Camden Market. It is this really huge street market with jundreds of shops with food, homemade crafts, antiques, clothing shops and awesome charity shops.
I really liked this piano/organ shop. How beautiful. For a while the owner was in the shop playing classical music. Fantastic atmosphere.

Like I said....great food. Lauren and I shared this fantastic belgian waffle covered in nutella, then bananna slices topped with icecream and chocolate sauce. This is what happiness looks like in a food form...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Temple Days

Lauren's parents are serving a mission at the London temple as the 1st counselors in the temple presidency, so since Lauren was going to be working, they invited me to come to the stay at their house at the temple for a few days.
This is the view out the window....not bad!
Monday evening I went with her parents to a dinner put on for all the temple workers (they are mostly full time workers). There was a brother who died recently from cancer and his wife is from Thailand. His dying wish was that she would make a big thai dinner for all the workers in his honor. So I happened to be in the right place at the right time and the Brook's invited me to go along. AMAZING! I love thai food....and even better home made.
Tuesday I spent the day in the temple which was of course fantastic! I have been doing things almost completly for myself for the last two months so it was really nice to serve a little. I also spent some time in the visitors center catching up on some old church movie favorites and other than that I just relaxed at the Brooks' flat and recoverd from two months on the road. Just what the doctor ordered.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Preston Temple

This morning we went to church with the boys in Leeds and then headed west to Chorley which is where Lauren's friends baby was being blessed. Conventiently it was at the chapel right next to the temple! So beautiful. It wasn't open of course, but the gates were open and we walked around the's cold!
It is also right next to the Missionary Training Center so it was fun to see where Daren spend his time as a missionary. I thought of him as well on the drive home when we drove through Birmingham. Now we are back in Essex which is just east of London. I am going to stay here with Lauren until I start work. She is so great!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Leeds and York

This morning we layed in bed until about 10! Dreamy! Eventually we got ready and went with Ross and Chris to the Leeds City Museum. I thought it would be really lame, but was actually one of the better museums I have seen.....starting with these judge wigs you could try on. Don't Lauren and I look fantastic! She informed me that Lawers still acutally have to wear wigs in the court room! How rediculous!

After the museum we wandered around the downtown area for a while and then since the boys could not make a decision about where to eat we went back to their house and made sandwiches and sat around for literally several hours. When it finally started getting dark we decided it was time to do something else, so we decided on York.
The old castle walls still surround the down town area which is full of all these cute little shops and restaurants.

We walked to the York Abbey. Chris was trying to argue that it was more impressive than Notre Dame. No way! Beautiful but can't beat Notre Dame.

This is the crew that went to York. Chris, Rob ("Hot Rob" as dubbed by two friends in SD), Lauren, Ross and me. They all go to Leeds University. The Young Single Adult scene is really different here. It is not unusual for people to drive 3 or 4 hours to a YSA dance in one night, so the whole country is close friend. Kind of fun.

Here we are in front of the abbey.

While we were walking around the abbey this group of about 150 people spontaneously came out of a side street following this man, so we thought we would find out what was going on and meshed in with the group. Turned out to be one of the famous Ghost Hunt walks of York. This guy was a fantastic story teller and took us to a bunch of the haunted parts of the city and told us the ghost stories. It was so amazing, I will definitly have to come back to York.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Porto to London to Leeds

Today the London experience finally began....sort of. It started off this morning at 7 when I caught the metro to the airport in Porto Portugal. This involved a major repacking of my bags so I could make the 15 kilo weight limit for Ryan air. In the end I had to throw away all my hair products and was wearing about half of my clothing. In my opinion budget airlines are degrading! Blasted poverty!

So I showed up in London about noon....only to realize that the Stanstead airport is about an hour train ride from London, so train to the Metro station.

I went into the office of my travel nursing agency and met Roz my recruiter who I have been talking to for the last 6 months on the phone. I had an unusual experience meeting her. You know how when you read a book you have this mental image of how someone is and then you see the movie and they have cast the actor all wrong. Same thing here. I was picturing Roz as a portly middle aged woman with mousy brown hair, no idea why. Turns out Roz is a thin woman from Singapore in her early thirties. Imposter! No, she was really nice. I got a bunch of paperwork finished and should hopefully start working in the next two weeks. The postal strike here is slowing everything up.

From the office I got back on the metro. This face is showing my distress at being on the underground during rush hour with a suit case. Yikes!

I headed across town to meet up with Lauren. I met Lauren Brooks at the YSA convention. She is best friends with Charlotte and I had asked her previously if I could stay with her until I start working. She said that was fine as long as I was ok accompanying her to Leeds for the weekend. So I met her at a train station outside of London and we made the 4 hour drive up north. We got there about 10pm, so it was a big travel day.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


This morning I went with Ty and Lauren to do some shopping which turned into getting lost/exploring the city. Portugal really is charming. By about noon I said goodbye to my new friends and hopped a bus to Porto. The drive was really beautiful.
One recommendation I got from the hostel of things to see was this book shop. It looked like something out of Harry Potter.
After that I wandered around the downtown area for a while and did some shopping. I found a big fluffy sweater to wear tomorrow when I return to winter tomorrow(yikes!) I got a pineapple soda with a straw (heaven).
From there I headed down to the river front and wandered and had some dinner and enjoyed the scenery.
The views were really stunning, there are all these buildings built on the steep slope of the river. So I enjoyed my last night of relative warm weather. It is much cooler just 3 hours north. London is going to be tough!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sintra and Cascais

This morning we headed to Sintra about 30 minutes from Lisbon. It was actually really nice to get out of the city and into a little pueblo. Small but amazing...we took a bus up to the top of this mountain in the forrest to this 19th century castle. Pena Castle.
It was built by one of the rulers of Portugal in the 1800's. It was really cool to see a more contemporary castle, it was almost all covered in really cool mosaics. Inside they had a bunch of rooms with all the original furniture. Incredible! The queen had about 5 rooms just for herself all really lavislhly decorated. I wish we could have taken pictures....even the maid's quarters were amazing.

The view is not bad either! The king had great taste.

This is Ty(Australia) and Lauren (New Orleans) who I met yesterday. Excellent travel companions.... we pretty much had the perfect day. From here we went and had lunch in the old town.
I think I have a picture like this from every country I have been in, but I still can't get over how beautiful these little walk ways are. I had this traditional Portugese plate....basically hash browns with cured, salted cod in it. Probably the most filling meal I have ever had....didn't get hungry for hours. From there we took the wildest bus ride ever. We think the driver must be a retired Nascar racer.....hardly any brakes were used during the whole windy ride and when people wanted to get off they had about 2 seconds while the bus was still rolling. Quite an adventure....which got us to the beach in Cascais....
Beautiful beach, and exactly what I needed....just to relax in the sun. The water was pretty cold to get in but felt really refreshing. So we pretty much just laid around and slept on the beach all afternoon. Dreamy!

And then back to the hostle in the Baxia district, all the streets here are pedestrian streets with this really beautiful decorative tiles. The hostels here are really amazing, besides just being clean, they are actually really nice. For example, they had crepes with nutella, fruit, bread and cheese and cereal and juice for breakfast this morning. Fantastic. Plus there is just a fun group of people that are staying here. I have met lots of really nice people from all over the world. Traveling alone really is tough a lot of the time but days like this are when it pays off. I met Ty and Lauren and they were great travel friends I never would have met if I wasn't here by myself.

We got some dinner.....even though I still wasn't hungry since lunch and then went to listen to some traditional Portuguese music called Fado. It is a lot like flamenco but sadder. They say it is because all the men were always at sea, so they were lonely. This place we went seemed really local as well. A bunch of old guys singing with their friends. Really an amazing day.