Monday, November 30, 2009

Hanging with Hannah

Last night Hannah and I both worked, so we got to ride the bus together. We had to work again tonight so we met up with some friends for dinner at our favorite pub "Witherspoons" and then bussed it to work again. So fun to have her around! Dang we look great in our uniforms! haha!

Saturday, November 28, 2009


This weekend I got together some of my favorite friends to have a classic Thanksgiving dinner. But before it got too American, I had tea and crumpets for breakfast.....haha! A crumpet is a little like an english muffin. To make it a fully American weekend I made some cornbread and had it Mann style with syrup....yummy. I actually started cooking on friday night. I made the pumpkin pie (which is like the cherry on top of thanksgiving dinner). I had to go to a specialty shop earliler in the week to find the canned pumpkin.....cost me about 6 dollars for one can. Totally worth it.
Saturday morning, just to stick to another very American tradition I went and did a 10K run....which I think we subconsciously do so we don't feel bad about the millions of calories we consume. Certainly worked for me! Then the cooking began. Here is the result....turkey, stuffing, homemade "Aunt Karen" rolls, green beans, candied yams, corn on the cob, ambrosia, mashed potatoes and gravy....excellent!

Here is the group that came. Charlotte, Stewart, Lauren's nephew and neice, Lauren and Josh. Josh is from America and a great cook, so he helped me a lot with dinner and it turned out beautifully!

And here Charlotte and Lauren are displaying the best part. The pumpkin pie turned out really great. Everyone, including myself was really impressed. It was so fun to celebrate Thanksgiving and to be greatful for such wonderful friends!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Imperial War Museum

So as I said, I just recently moved to a new part of town, which happens to be about a 10 minute walk from my good old Aussie friend, Hannah! How fun! We got together today to go see the Imperial War museum.

They had tons of really cool old war machinery, like this mini submarine. Not sure I would want to be bobbing in the great blue ocean in this little thing.

The building it's self was pretty amazing as well. We only took in a little of the museum as it was huge. We went and saw the Holocaust section. Every time I learn about that and see the horrible pictures I think two things. First of all, how sensless war really is and two, I marvel that one man could lead so many people to be so completly evil. So anyway, it was an educational experience. Mostly it was just great to be with an old friend and know that we are living close together now and can do things often!

The Uniform

Ta-da! Here is my lovely Nurses uniform! It is not that cute but actually pretty comfortable. I also have a little upside down watch pinned to my lapel, they are not allowed to wear watches here for infection prevention purposes, so all the nurses have these special watch pins.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

St. Thomas Hospital

This morning I got on the bus, which only takes a half hour to get to work, much better, and showed up outside St Thomas Hospital just in time to hear Big Ben ring 7am. Dreamy!
St. Thomas Hospital was founded sometime in the 12th century and was named after Thomas Becket.
The wall of the HDU (High Dependancy Unit - like a stepdown unit from ICU) is all windows, and this is the view. Not bad! There are 3 nurses on duty and 4 patients in the HDU. I was on extra so I really didn't have that much to do since none of our patients were very sick....although, one lady did cough her guts out today....literally. Her abdominal incision opened a little and when she coughed a bit of her intestines came out. I walked in to see the doctor calmly shoving them back in. A little creepy/cool.

This is the view from the corner Day Room. Once I figure out the routine here I think I am going to really like it.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Goodbye Wimbledon, Hello Southwick

This morning I went on my last run in Wimbledon Park. This is the duck and boating pond.
This trail runs around the whole of the park. There are always lots of people our with their perfectly trained dogs and their two perfect children (one toddler and one infant) - I really think these two thing are requirements for living in this area!

And of course the tennis courts. The famous "Wimbledon Lawn and Tennis Club" is just behind the park.
So I said ado to my home there, packed up all my stuff (which has of course miraculously expanded to fill up both my suitcases and a large hand bag and one grocery bag - I looked rediculous. I headed to the train - annoying! Luckily it wasn't rush hour.
Once I got to Southwick (pronounced Suthick) I was hoping to find a taxi....none. The bus driver thought he knew where to tell me to get off.....never trust directions from a bus driver. After sitting infront of some convenience store tearing up after a taxi service said they couldn't come get me for a while some little old ladies pointed me in the right direction so I started walking - with all my stuff.
My arms are beginning to hurt at this point. Normal sidewalk turned to cobblestone once I got into the neighborhood. My house is on this tiny little street - which no one had heard of and which my map was not helping me find. After asking about 15 people and dragging my luggage over cobblestone roads for literally over an hour I called the office and had someone find where I was and direct me to where I was going. Left the house at 1 - got there at 4. I was so happy to arrive!

Can't see it real well, but there it is! #3! It is a three story house. Four bedroom and four bathrooms on this cute little culdesac. Now that I think about it, this is just the kind of place where people with two perfect little children and a perfect dog would live...better than murderers I guess.
So here it is! My new "home" (for two months). I love iit! I have a double bed and a big wardrobe.

And my very own bathroom....yeah! Everything in there is tiny and reminds me of a cruise ship bathroom, but it's in my room and all mine! Yeah! I think I am going to like being home.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

York and Leeds Take 2

Saturday morning, after working a night shift, I hopped on a bus to Leeds and met up with Charlotte, James, Lauren and Emily who had come up to Leeds to visit some friends. We headed off directly to York, which was all covered in christmas lights. It felt very cozy. That's the York Minstrel in the background.
This is the crew that went...Rob, Ross, Jamie, Lauren, Emily, James and Charlotte. I played the tourist and broke out my camera every five minutes.

We mostly wandered around the pedestrian shopping streets and enjoyed the general splendor of the city. We did spent about 45 minutes trying to get everyone to decide on where to eat, that is the only problem with sight seeing in large groups.

We learned that at the York Minster there would be a choral evensong service that night, so we decided to pop in and enjoy that. It was about an hour service with a choir singing and readings of the bible. The organ and the choir sounded really incredible in that old building with such amazing accoustics. The best thing was that we got to all stand and sing "Abide with Me" with the choir and organ. So fantastic! I am going to have to go to one again at christmas time.

The other great thing is that we got to look around the church for free when they usually charge an admission fee. Also, I have never seen the inside of a cathedral at night, it changed the feeling significantly.

After the evensong we wandeder around a part of town called "the Shambles" which are these skinny little medieval streets lined with little shops and restaurants. They were all decorated with christmas things as well.
That evening we had a chill night. We stayed at Rob and Jamies house so we headed back there with some icecream and chatted and watche a movie. It's always entertaining to be with good friends.
Sunday we went to church then Lauren and I made a yummy spagetti dinner for us all. At dinner something kind of funny happened. We were all talking about different sports and Lauren was talking about how her and her sisters have influenced a lot what her brother does and she said, "All us girls made him camp" To which I said, very naturally, "I love camping" - to which everyone to my suprise busted up laughing. When they all caught their breath and calmed down they explained to me that "camp" means feminine.....well why do you need to say camp! Can't you just say feminine. So I am slowly catching on to all the English-isms.
We hung around and rested for a little while longer and then James, Charlotte, Emily, Lauren and I all crammed into Lauren's little fiesta for the 4 hour drive home. We got pretty cozy back there.

When we got close to home on the motorway, this car full of boys passed us, so naturally we started car flirting and just being silly since we were bored after so long in the car. Then Lauren says jokingly, "Emily, you should flash them" To which Emily has a stroke of brilliance in that she was wearing two shirts. So at one point when they overtook us, this was what they got. We all got a good laugh out of that.
It was a lot of traveling for a little over twenty four hours, but it was totally worth being with good friends.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Borough Market

Today I went to the Borough Market which is right by where I work. On fridays and saturdays they have food booths set up with food from all over the world. It smelled amazing! Besides that they had a great fruit and veggie area. I opted for the fruits and veggies since I had just eaten some great indian food with Sandy (my Scotish friend) and his girlfriend who are in town for the weekend. Great to catch up with Sandy.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Famous People of Yesterday and Today

This afternoon I went to the National Portrait Gallery. I didn't think it was going to be that interesting but it was cool to learn some of the history of England through the portraits and their descriptions as well as look into the faces of people like Jane austin, Charles Dickens and the Bronte sisters. I saw paintings of Henry VIII and his most famous wives. Catherine his first for whom he forsook catholicism so he could divorce her since she had not produced a male heir. I saw Anne Boelyn, his second wife who was eventually beheadded and her as well as his next 4 wives. Woah!

I saw William Shakespear and learned that he wore a gold hoop earring. I saw Sir Francis Drake who is one of the most famous seafarers in England. Turns out that not only was a good navigator, but also a good pirate. He pillaged spanish cities so much that it became a large reason why Phillip II decided to send the spanish Armada against the English in the 16th century. Who knew he was not just famous but infamous.

I also saw James Cook...who met his fate after many successful sea voyages when he was killed by Hawaiian natives who had previously worshiped him as a God....very interesting.

Among the other famous people there were Charles Darwin, Lord Kelvin (absolute Zero), James Joyce, Aldous Huxley, T.S. Eliot, Beatrix Potter, Winston Churchill, Alexander Flemming (the inventor of Penicillin) and even some more modern famous people like the stars of Harry Potter.
Turned out to be more interesting than expected.

As I started to walk toward London Bridge to work I saw this big crowd of screaming girls and decided to investigate. It was the world premier of the new Zach Effron movie "Me and Orson Wells", so I thought I would stick around and check it out. After a lot of screaming and waiting, the man of the hour came down the red carpet.

At first he was chatting with the media and doing his interviews.

Then the screams really got going when he came our way. I got quite a few elbows in the face as cameras went in to get the perfect shot.

It was really fun to see him in real life. I got my elbows in some peoples faces as well I'm sure.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

London Temple

Monday night I met up with Lauren and went back to her house with here where we met up with her parents. Her mom had made a really yummy classic english roast, which included roast chicken, roast potatoes and parsnips, brocolli, brussel sprouts and yorkshire pudding with gravy. Very tasty! And even better because it's home made. Her dad told me all about the best places to ski in switzerland. Then I headed out with her parents to drive the hour to the temple. They are so nice to let me stay with them! The lights are all up on the temple for christmas which was beautiful. Tuesday I spent the day in the temple, which was fantastic of course. For all these busy travel and work days it is really nice to have a chance to be quiet and pensive and do something for others.

Monday, November 16, 2009

London Walking Tour

This morning the walking tour started out infront of the Wellington Arch in Hyde Park.

So something funny happened as the tour started. It was a pretty big group so the tour guide was going around pointing at everyone and having them yell out where they are from. There were a couple people a ways infront of me that said they were from California, so I am thinking that I should meet them and find out where. I was so caught up in thinking about this that when the guide pointed at me I yelled out "Canada".....what! The girl before me had said she was from Canada. I felt sooo blonde! I had to fess up too because that girl asked me where in Canada I was from.... hehe.... we ended up hanging out for the rest of the day though.

Anyway...Duke Wellington was an extremely popular leader in England. This arch comemorates when he overtook Napoleon in the battle of Waterloo. The statue on the top is the goddess of Peace.
Hyde park is really beautiful in the fall.

While we were coming up on Buckingham pallace, the Queens horse guards passed by. They all get such great hats!

Buckingham Pallace. The Union Jack flag was flying over the palace which apparently means she is not at home. No tea with the queen today... Queen Victoria is on the front of the statue behind me. She is the longest reigning Queen to date. She ruled for 63 years. The current Queen, Elizabeth is getting close to overtaking that record.

This is Prince Charles house. Again...the Union Jack, not at home either.

One of the guard boxes behind his house was unoccupied, so we got to stop and take some cheezy tourist pictures.

Then we moved on to Trafalga square, which comemorates some other famous battle which I can't remember at this point.

We came through this really beautiful arch. You can see that the road here is red. That's becuase this road leads directly to Buckingham palace.

Here is the whole group in front of a museum dedicated to the Horseguards. The canadian, Jen, is to my right. The guy in the beanie just behind me also hung out with us this afternoon. Darren from Australia.

Next we went by Churchill's War Cabinet Bunker, where the tour guide shared with us some of his favorite Churchill quotes. One I particularly liked was once at a party when a woman came up to him and said "Churchill, you're drunk!" And he came back with, "Well, you're ugly and at least when I wake up in the morning I'll be sober" Hehe....that would have been splashed across every tabloid around if it had come from one of our politicians.
We finished off the tour and the Ausi, Canadian and I went and got some lunch and then headed to the National Gallery to go on an hour tour there. You would think you could cover quite a bit of art in an hour. We only got through about 5 paintings. The tour guide was very passionate about all the pieces she talked about, none of which I particularly enjoyed. It did teach me though that there is so much to art that I don't understand, and that what I look at for a quick second holds tons of meaning. It is always interesting to meet passionate people.

We got done at the mueseum about 4:45 - it is already getting dark so early! So it was a great day and I met some more interesting international friends.

As I wandered back to the underground, I walked past the Centaph. This is where the Queen had placed her poppy wreath on Remembrance Sunday. I of course could not see her at all, but she was there!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

London travel on a Sunday

Today I really missed my car.

Had to work today. I have to be there at 7:30. Underground doesn't open until 7 on a sunday which doesn't give me enough time to get there. So I decided I would take an overground train. I got up at 5:15. Left the house at 5:40 to walk to the train station 20 minutes from my house. Caught the 6:12 train, which turns out was closed to the station I needed to go to, so I was redirected to a bus that took me to another bus which was supposed to take me close to work. Once I was on the driver rudely informed me that the bus didn't go there so he told me where to get off to get to the underground. After wandering around lost for a while I found the station and got to work late at 7:40! What would normally take me an hour and 2 pound 20 cost me 8 pounds and 2 hours! Transport here is normally great...but not on a Sunday.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


I started off my day in Cambridge by visiting Kings College which is the oldest of the colleges.

Everything about it was majestic. On the left is the chapel which I was able to tour.

The ceiling of the chapel was really amazing. The wooden piece that the organ sits on was a gift to the college from King Henry VIII. They don't have the exact time it was gifted but it has his and Anne Boleyn's initials, so it must have been between during the three years they were married before he had her beheaded....yikes! I really need to read up on that.

Everything inside was just so detailed and ornate. The foundations of the college were laid by King Henry VI in the 1400's!

This is the view of the chapel from the entrance.

This is the endtrance into Trinity College, the largest of the Cambridge Colleges.

The Cam River runs through the campus. There are tons of really beautiful little bridges crossing it and "punting" is very popular there. Which is kind of like the gandolas in Venice. They are wider and flatter and are pushed with a pole by the students.

A picturesque entrance to the college.

The autumn colors were amazing.

This is the clock tower made famous by the movie "Chariots of Fire"

This is a statue of Issac Newton who studied here. The Another famous alum....Charles Darwin.

They planted this apple tree in Newtons honor. I went into the library there and they had a bunch of his things including a lettter Newton wrote to another scientist with a drawing on it of a rock falling to the earth, and the book he wrote, "Principia" where he first outlined the three laws of motion and the law of gravity with his own hand written corrections. So incredible to think about him sitting there in the 1600's writing those things! The library also had one of the original manuscripts for "Winnie the Pooh". The authors A.A and Christopher Robin Milne both studied in the Trinity College.

After that I spent some time just wandering around town, it is a charming little town. I found this really cool old school candy shoppe. So cute!

This is just one of the city streets in the pedestrian shopping district. I saw people with those graduation robes on all over the place, seems like an odd time but must have been a graduation day for one of the colleges.

I ended the afternoon visiting the Fitzwilliam Museum. They had a few pieces from Henri Matisse (who is one of my favorites) and by Picasso and some sketches by Leonardo Da Vinchi. They also had an original score by Handle - incredible that his mind could come up with music for an entire orchestra - truly a gifted man.

I really liked this painting a lot. it is by Crispin van den Brueck. The reason I liked it is because when I see artwork from the 1600's I often wonder if people were just really homely back then or of painting styles just made people look that way. This painting confirmed it for me. People were not so different back then. These look like two guys you would see walking around a college campus today....just trade out the tunic for a hoodie and we could be friends. hehe

This is a sketch by Martin Schongauer called "The tribulations of Saint Anthony". I really liked it because it put into a picture what pride and envy and hatred might look like in an "animal"form. It also liked it because this kind of temptation is very likely what we deal with on a daily basis. We are in a constant battle with some very ugly creatures as Saint Anthony is in this sketch.