By Heather Walgren
Isn’t it horrible when someone leaves you hanging? Well, I have been back in the U.S. for two weeks. I called home before I left, so I did not send an email describing my last days in London. Worse, I want to start blogging about other topics. Don’t worry. For anyone I haven’t spoken with in the past few days I won’t jump into an unrelated topic until my next post.
London was great! I think I enjoyed it more my second time around… or maybe it was the fact that I was a tourist rather than a researcher. Regardless, we left Essex early Saturday morning. By 10 am we were settled into our B&B and ready to explore. I got to spend four hours in the British Museum, get my picture taken with Sherlock Holmes on Baker Street, visit the international headquarters of the Boys Scouts and go on a walking tour of one of London’s shopping districts.
Sunday I went through Green Park, St. James’ Park, walked around Buckingham Palace, and got to see the preparations for a parade, which I couldn’t attend. The parade celebrated 25 years since the Falkland Wars. Prince Charles, Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher were scheduled to speak. As I rushed across town to meet Jillian and MaLese at the church I found a memorial for the London Bombings during the Battle of Britain: it was a wall outside of the Victoria and Albert Museum that still had damage from the bombs. It created a silent contrast in my mind. I walked away from a parade that honored a war I don’t agree with and found a silent but powerful symbol of a war that needed to be fought. The scars in the wall bore a silent witness to the sacrifice the British people made during the 1940s.
On Monday MaLese and I went through Hyde Park, found a really neat tree, and went paddle boating on the Serpentine. Then we made our way through Kensington Gardens and went on a tour of Kensington Palace. After we ate we went to the tube stop to find Jillian and take her through the Gardens. After we took pictures with Peter Pan we headed to the Tower of London. Unfortunately, we got there a half an hour before it closed, so we were advised not to go in. Instead, we visited the gift shop, took pictures of Tower Bridge and went on a ferry ride down the Thames. As we reached Westminster Jillian bade us goodbye as she set out to meet a friend from Yorkshire and attend a concert. MaLese and I visited the shops in Trafalgar (hoping to find a few more souvenirs). Then we went on the Eye of London. Following this, I took MaLese through the Westminster Tube Station (the 5th Harry Potter movie used the station as part of the Ministry of Magic) and we went home.
We met up with Jillian and her friend, Sarah, at St. Paul’s Cathedral on Tuesday morning. We fed the birds, and then crossed the Millennial Bridge. We bought tickets for the evening’s performance of The Merchant of Venice. Then we walked down the waterfront until we could cross at Tower Bridge. MaLese and I went through the Tower of London while Jillian and Sarah sat on the grass. We saw the crown jewels as well as some of the other attractions. Following this we ran to Piccadilly to see a matinee of The Phantom of the Opera. During the performance Brad dropped off a bag of his books and jams he asked Jillian to take home. He told her it was a grocery sack. We found a large department store bag. I had been thinking of buying another suitcase, so I ran into a store and found something we could put his stuff in. We went to dinner then ran back to the Globe. The performance was brilliant. When we got out we strolled along the banks of the Thames and then headed home.
Wednesday morning found all of us preparing to go home. We left around 8:15. Our flights were around 12:30. After experiencing massive delays on the tube system we ran into Heathrow around 11:00. As MaLese headed for her terminal Jillian and I embarked on our airport security adventure. We got through to our terminal about 10 minutes before passengers started to board the flight. A very kind gentleman traded me seats, so Jillian and I could sit next to each other (a nice arrangement because both of us wanted to stay awake to minimize the jet lag). We arrived in Chicago with three hours to get through customs, collect our bags, recheck our bags, take the train to the other terminal, and go through security again. Oddly enough, it took less time for us to do this than it did for us to get through Heathrow. We had dinner, looked around the shops, and used our cell phones to call family. Both flights were very full, but the one to Salt Lake carried a surprising number of missionaries, returning from their missions. By the time we arrived in Salt Lake we had been awake for 21 hours and traveling for 20 of those hours.
I feel so blessed to have had this experience. I don’t think you can have an opportunity like this and not grow. Despite how much I love England (I am already planning on traveling their again) I was so grateful to be home. The trip feels like a closing chapter in my college experience. Although there is editing that needs to be done (I still have to go through all the research we brought back and complete some projects at work) I know that the BYU stage of my life is at an end, and I am okay with that. I am ready for some new adventures. Speaking of which, did any of you know you can go four wheeling in a 95’ Geo Metro?