Friday, 20 July 2012

Repatriation and Review

I have officially been back stateside for 2 weeks now and am slowly readjusting to the American way of life. As I was packing up my things and planning my trip home people began to warn me about reverse culture shock and how difficult it can be to jump straight back into my old life. Because I have been looking forward to coming back home for so long I didn't really take it seriously, thinking I would be far to excited to have familiarity around me again. Little did I realize how difficult the transition would actually be. I began to realize that I had found in London the familiarity of 'home' I had been craving for so many months abroad. From learning my way on the buses, to accepting tube delays that could easily force you to get home an hour later than you hoped for. From new friends, to new foods to traveling experiences I would never be able to forget if I tried. I learned my way around a city that I have hopelessly fallen in love with all while completing a Master's program in Christian Education. The past 10 months have been a learning and growing experience that  I could not have predicted if I tried. Sure, I knew I would develop new skills and learn a thing or two about myself but the extent to which I feel I have grown up and matured is something I am still realizing on a daily basis. The last few months I spent in London I began to make a list of a few things I've learned this past year so I'll share a few of them with you:

1. There is no such thing as "on time" with public transportation. (Okay, fine, in England anyways. Germany was spot on every time, of course, and I definitely appreciated that) But I cannot express my frustration at waiting for buses and tubes that struggle to be even close to on time either making me extremely late to where I need to be or forcing me to leave the house 30 minutes early to ensure that I arrive on time. Needless to say, I am beyond ecstatic at having my car back and zipping to and from where I need to be. I can't say that I missed the traffic (nope not even a little bit) on the 405 hahaha but even then at least I am in the comfortable seats of my air conditioned car not packed into train cars next to smelly commuters playing their music too loud in an underground with zero air ventilation.

2. I can navigate my way around a city without the help of my phone, GPS, etc. Not that finding my way wouldn't have been made easier had I had access to these things but I really and truly enjoyed trying to find my way from Point A to Point B using maps next to the Boris Bikes or asking store owners standing in front of their shops if I was headed in the right direction. Even more exciting was when I realized I didn't need the maps or advice from people any more and had even found shortcuts for how to get to places I frequented. I know that my sense of direction isn't something most people in my life are comfortable with me relying on but I can proudly say I know how to wander the streets of London and not be afraid of getting lost. One time, Chris and I had time to kill after a day of being in the library and we thought we would try to get ourselves lost so we could explore something new. We each took turns saying left or right every time we would come to a new road and to our surprise, no matter how twisted we thought we were getting ourselves, we never could get lost. One or the other always knew where we were. Kinda cool, no?
In visiting so many new countries with languages I couldn't understand or accents so thick it felt foreign anyways, I didn't feel anxious in not knowing my way. I became comfortable with navigating my way around a city using public transportation or my favorite, WALKING.

3. Walking. Walking is officially a favorite means of travel though unfortunately not very practical in any place I live be it CA or AZ. I found this out the hard way when I tried to walk from Javi's house in Santa Monica to my beach in Playa del Rey and 2 hours 40 mins later I still had not reached the beach at which point Grace rescued me and we laid out for a few hours. Sure, I could have walked 30 minutes to Santa Monica beach but my sense of distance led me to believe it wouldn't take me more than an hour or so to walk to my favorite beach, Toes. Boy was I wrong! Anyways, it feels good to know that even walking has helped me to get in some of the best shape of my life. Of course it's been combined with lots of gym time and now that I'm back, Yoga, but my restless legs really do appreciate the exhaustion they feel as I climb into bed at night and they don't feel the need to keep moving.

4. I can be alone for days at a time and still be okay. It may not be preferred but it can happen and I don't panic. As much. When I had to move into the studio apartment my last few weeks in London I realized how much I actually enjoyed spending time alone with my country music blasting as loud as I want without wondering how much my roommates hate me for it. I enjoyed putting dishes where I wanted them and decorating how I felt was appropriate and if something was a mess I knew it was my mess and I didn't get irritated that other people left a mess in shared places.

The list of what I have learned about myself in this past year could go on for ages but I won't bore you all with that. My time home in CA and AZ has been absolutely amazing. From beach days to brunches to bike rides and runs on the beach. I've gotten back into yoga, reunited with some of the loves of my life including my most handsome Godson, Aiden who is such a little cuddle bug I'm ecstatic to be with him again.
I've had Mexican food more times than I can count since I've been home and eating tacos like they're going out of style.

It's been incredible catching up with family and friends and being reminded again just how much I was missed and loved back here at home. It may take some time to complete my readjustment to America but with the support system that I've had that has spanned oceans and countries I feel like I will be okay.  I am more confident in myself and believe that I really can do anything I put my mind to! London will always hold a special place in my heart and I can truly say I made friends who will last a life time. It's exciting to have friends abroad and know how easily we will be able to stay in touch.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me in this year and helped me get through the rough patches of loneliness and home sickness. I appreciate every person who has been a part of my growing experience. I am unbelievably grateful for the opportunities and experiences I have had this year and I know that I will never forget what I have learned. I'm not sure if this will be the last post on here or not. Who knows, maybe I'll start a new blog. Thank you for reading and supporting me this year.

Love from America!


Monday, 2 July 2012

Hunt Ball

My last few days in England have been very eventful and exciting filled with new friends, walks along dirt roads next to never ending fields, and a minor auto incident which left us stranded in the country for an extra day. There are so many things to remember from this weekend that this post will have a ridiculous amount of detail. Feel free to skip around through the pictures if the details get boring but being that this is one of the most British experiences I have had, I have to write everything.

The Hunt Ball is held in Yorkshire, in the north of England, about 4-5 hours from London and in the beautiful countryside. The sun is out about 18 hours of the day and I saw some of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets I've seen this year. The 5  of us driving up together (Sharlene, Will, Nick, Imogen and myself) left London at 9pm on Friday and arrived at Will's friends house around 1am. The car ride up didn't even feel that long as we played monopoly, sang along to the radio, and listened to stories of previous hunt ball experiences. Upon arrival Will's friend, Tom, who we were staying with, showed us the rooms we could use and then of course we stayed up a while longer listening to old friends reminisce about nothing and everything. It made me really happy just to be watching their interactions though I had little to contribute to the conversation. Not that that stops me from trying. Bed that night felt wonderful after having sat in a car for so long and we all slept soundly until about 8am when I then got up and waited for everyone else to get up. I read a book I just started on the drive up, The Other Boleyn Girl, because my friend Clemmy had it at home and I've always wanted to read it before I see the movie. I'm completely entranced by it and hopefully will finish tonight before I have to leave tomorrow.

Saturday morning was a slow start as everyone was still pretty tired. I wandered around the countryside for quite some time, pausing to sit on a bale of hay and just be in the silence. It probably sounds cheesy but having always lived in large cities I often forget how much noise pollution there is around me on a daily basis. I probably sat there for about 45 minutes with my eyes closed and the warm sun beating down on me. I had expected cold weather the entire weekend so I was pleasantly surprised to be comfortably sitting outside with no sweatshirt and my flip flops on. I got back from my walk to find the boys all playing FIFA and the girls nagging them to stop so we could go explore. When we got annoying enough the boys gave up and we went up the road (literally, a dirt road) to Tom's parents home to see the new house they are building. It is SO BEAUTIFUL and I would LOVE to have their master bedroom as my room. There are stairs that lead up to a walkway that goes around the entire room that is going to be a massive closet. Brilliant I say, brilliant!

Saturday afternoon/early evening was spent readying ourselves for the ball. A constant rotation of showers, hairdryers, flat irons and clothing came in and out of the bathroom and bedrooms. It was kind of exhilarating in a "I'm going to prom" kind of way! You know, that feeling you got senior year when the night of the dance comes around and you're giddy with excitement? Again, cheesy but that's how I felt. As everyone met up at Tom's house we all piled in to 3 or 4 cars and drove about 30 minutes to a most beautiful mansion where the Hunt Ball takes place every year. 3 large marquees were set up in the "backyard" which not surprising is also a kind of forest/massive lawns. I was in a complete state of shock having never been in such a place where people are actually living there! Sure, I've been inside castles and such here one lives in them!

Walking across the lawns to the first marquee our heels were sticking in the grass and Sharlene and I were giggling like children as we tried to rush to get out of the rain without tripping over 4inch heels. It was a funny site indeed! Inside the first tent we were welcomed by a champagne welcome before it was entertainment and dinner time. The entertainment was great because we had a front row seat from our awesome seats. It was an acrobatic crew who flipped and turned every which way and balanced one each other....I don't even know how to begin describing it but for those who have been to Venice beach, they were kinda like those 5 guys who jump over each other and such.

After a dinner of steak, salad, potatoes and some amazing fruity dessert lots of dancing ensued. All the men knew how to dance! Real dancing with twirls and spins and dips and proper footwork. It was so much fun! Now I really do want to take dance lessons so that I'll be able to twirl and know what I'm doing! Luckily all I had to do was follow and no one expects girls to lead hahaha I would have been in big trouble otherwise.

We were up until sunrise which was so beautiful and of course, un-capturable via my iPhone but especially watching it rise over the fields...stunning.

As all good things must, our time in the country was nearing its end. Or so we thought....after packing up the car and cramming ourselves into the car we headed off to the gas station to fill up. Will headed inside to pay while Nick began to fill up. Being that it was Will's car, Nick didn't realize that the car ran on diesel fuel not petrol and less than 5 minutes down the road the car started making funny vibrations and we immediately pulled over as Nick and Will instantly knew what had happened. After a brief panic moment everyone went in to action mode calling whoever they thought could be of assistance. We hopped over the fence on the pull off and sat with all the blankets we had brought on the grass in a field. It was actually quite comical as we imagined having to pop up the tent we brought and just camping out with the car over night. Luckily for us we eventually reached Will's father and some roadside assistance people who were able to correct the problem by midnight....about 9 hours after we started off. It was too late and the boys too tired to drive back to London that night so we stayed at Tom's so we could be rested for the long drive back. Since it was daytime and rush hour it took nearly 6 hours this time around and I was sore and tired and ready to get out of the car.

Putting in the right fuel this time!
You'll be hearing no complaints from me though when I speak of this wonderful weekend. It confirmed my love of England and my desire to explore even more in the future what this beautiful country has to offer!

It was a fantastic way to end my time here in London. And so, my next post will be coming from good ol' USofA!!! T- 11 hours my plane be taking off! 

Love from London,


Sunday, 24 June 2012

A New Church Experience

I know you all are very aware of how important my Catholic faith identity is to me. I have always enjoyed church from the days of children's liturgy as a little girl to life teen in high school and now studying here in London to do a master's in (what I often tell people) Jesus. I appreciate the traditions and rituals and comfort of knowing when to sit and stand and the words of my favorite songs that I itch to dance to and, to the huge embarassment of my lovely twinnie, I sometimes do!

However, if my program here has taught me something it's about being open to new styles of worship and church and how Jesus is celebrated among the different Christian churches. Being that my dissertation is largely on how to reach out to young people in our technology driven consumer culture I have been very interested in checking out other churches and experiencing something new to understand how the church impacts people depending on the setting. When my friend, Jeremy, invited me to come with him to his church, Hillsong, which perhaps you have heard of or participated in before. I specifically used the word 'participated' because Hillsong is a Christian Evangelical Church that is widely popular among young people as it is engaging, exciting, and LOUD.

Hillsong London is so big though that they hold their services in the Dominion Theatre on Tottenham Court Rd which is one of the largest west end theatres in London. Just to give you an idea about how big Hillsong is....the Dominion Theatre holds 2,182 seats and virtually ever seat was full! There are currently three services every Sunday and they are trying to add a fourth. If I had felt more confident I would have taken a picture inside but when I first walked in I had to ask Jeremy if this place was really considered to be a church. I won't lie, I was skeptical until the service started and let me explain why.

Walking out of Tottenham tube and into the theatre the first thing you can't help but notice is the band. Not just your typical 3-4 instrument ensemble but a full blown concert style band including strobe lights, flashing lights, and music video screens which not only played videos but had the words to all the songs projected on it. It was very overwhelming because people also treated it a little bit like a concert in that everyone was jumping around and waving their hands and shouting Alleluia! and Amen!

As the service continued however I started to really feel excited about being there and appreciate this worship style. It was energizing and renewing and although it will never be able to replace my love of the Catholic Mass and tradition (you can start breathing again Mommy, no panic attack necessary) I do plan on participating again. The sermon was inspirational and just awesome in how captivated we all were. The pastor was from America and his name is pastor Weems and Jeremy and I decided he was from Texas or Alabama because of his mid-west/southern-ish accent that we loved. He also made references to baseball which I think went over pretty much everyone else's heads but the Americans in the room. He was very excited and you could tell that he was really passionate and cared about every word he spoke! Anyways, on that note, I leave you with my favorite quote from him tonight:

Every supernatural move by God is predicated by a very natural move by humans. 

Love from London,

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Riding Horses

Six months ago, over Christmas break, Sharlene and I found a Groupon for horse back riding lessons in London and we just had to snatch it up! Unfortunately for us though this place was nearly impossible to get in touch with and Sharlene has spent months trying to call and email them. She finally got ahold of them and we set up a lesson for today! And for the first time in years I was back on a horse and loving every minute of it.
For the first part of our lesson they of course walked us around the stables and yards showing us how to clean the horses, put the saddle on, the layout of the woods and fields the property owns (absolutely stunning. It was very difficult to remember we were still in London). After all the introductions and tea break we were assigned our horses and began working on how to sit properly, hold the reigns, walk and then trot! I can proudly say that I was the only one in our group that was allowed to trot without having someone lead my horse. I guess I'm just a natural. HA! As if. But I won't lie and say I wasn't smiling widely when our instructor told the girl leading my horse that it was obviously unnecessary for her to be running next to me while I trotted my horse. I had such an awesome time that I have signed up for another lesson next week and the instructor said I definitely don't need the beginner lessons and to go straight to intermediate/advanced! Maybe I've missed my calling in life....

As I mentioned before the stables are on a huge piece of land with forests, trails, fields and more and I plan on going back at least one more time to take a trip through there as well. You can sign up for a group "hike" or individual one and I think for that I may just do the individual lesson. Anyways, that's about all but it really was a GREAT time and I am so happy I have found this love again!

Love from London,

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Beginning Of The End

The final countdown to my return home has officially begun. In less than 3 weeks I will be back in sunny California soaking up the sun and enjoying Independence Day fireworks with my love, Javi! I am jittery with excitement yet also starting to feel the anxieties of moving again and leaving behind London which I have truly come to love. When I say moving again I don't just mean moving back to the states, though I am well aware of the reverse culture shock I am going to experience for the first few days/weeks I am back but also, I have moved flats here in London. I'm over the drama of it now (kinda) but for the few of you who don't know the story you can just ask me if you want to know.
I wanted to show you guys a few pictures of my new 'home' which is really just a room with a bed, bathroom, stove, fridge, closet. Essentially everything I need as I hardly spend ANY time at home anyways.
The shower makes me laugh thought. If you take a look there is no tub or even step into the shower. It is just a curtain to separate the toilet from the stream of water and it really was bizarre the first time I stepped into it. It will do however as my time here isn't going to be long.

I continue to spend most of my days in Starbucks trying to pound out this dissertation before I leave here. In some ways, I am grateful for the miserable weather because if it was sunny and warm outside like when Laura visited I would be beyond irritable at being stuck inside. Chris and I set up a reward system for ourselves so that after every 5000 words we complete we get a prize. We have both passed the first 5000 words now which is very exciting and will be treating ourselves to dinner and drinks tonight after we finish our work! More exciting for me, I have officially passed the halfway mark of completing this paper ending yesterday at exactly 7600 words! For those of you who know how OCD I am about numbers, this seemed to be the perfect sign to me that I should stop for the day and give myself a break to watch The Office.
Yup, I have started to watch again from Season 1 and I am loving it all over again as it continues to make me laugh out loud, break my heart, and at times wish I could work in a place like this all over again. Oh! I just noticed, if you look at the picture of my desk area you can see that I had an episode playing while I took these pictures hahaha
So that's the new place and it may not be big but it does have all the essentials and although I never thought I'd say this, I do actually like living alone. Not that I'd want to do it for long but it's nice that I don't have to live with dirty people who don't clean up after themselves or who make loud noises early in the morning or cook food that smells bad or.....alright. I'm going to stop there.

Love from London,

Friday, 8 June 2012

Zoo Lates

Giraffe's and Lions and Penguins, oh my!
It's been a while since I've been to a zoo so when Chris told me about Zoo Lates I got really excited and we immediately went online to order our tickets in advance! Zoo Lates is an event that only happens during summer when the days are longer and the sun is out late and for anyone 18+ you can head to the zoo and walk around from 6-10 eating food of all kinds from the stands set up near the entrance and drinking a beer while looking at all of the adorable animals! It was Chris, Mel and I and we knew we wanted to try and see all of the animals before 9ish when most of them go to bed so we started at one end and we went as fast as we possibly could while still spending actual time with each animal.
Now the London Zoo is not quite like your average zoo. For starters it is much smaller than most but surprisingly large considering it is in the heart of London. However, when you walk through the entrance you immediately feel as though you are being transported into a different city. There is so much green and trees that reach up to the sky! I was truly shocked when halfway through I looked at Mel and Chris and said "you guys! We are in the middle of London watching penguins swim and monkeys swing from tree to tree!" I'm not sure why it felt so bizarre but it was so odd.
When it started raining a bit (as of course it inevitably would( we headed to the snake house where we were instantly drawn to the crowd surrounding the boa constrictor. I have never in my entire life in any other place or time or even movie seen a snake as wide and as long and as absolutely TERRIFYING as this one. I nearly screamed. As we craned our necks around the crowd we realized that everyone was staring at it because it had just been served dinner...a whole chicken. The snake was slowly coiling his body around the chicken's body until all you saw sticking out of the top was the poor chicken's legs. Then! THEN! Then....We saw him unhinging his jaw over and over to force the bird down his throat and you could literally see the chicken moving little by little down the snakes body. It was the most disgusting yet entrancing thing I've ever watched. I so badly wanted to avert my eyes and yet...I couldn't. For most of you that's probably more details than you needed as it is so I won't continue but we watched for a good 10 minutes before we forced ourselves to move on so we could fit in the rest of the animals!
Two of my all time favorite zoo animals are the monkeys and giraffes. I've always loved monkeys, probably because my parents always thought I was part monkey growing up, climbing trees and jumping around but giraffe's are just so beautiful too and I love them!!! So at the zoo I decided to buy myself a souvenir. A pet giraffe! Don't worry, he's a stuffed animal but he is quite large and a wonderful cuddle buddy! I saw him when we first walked into the gift shop before we began our tour of the zoo but I told myself not to get him (even though he was the LAST one of a special edition collection) and off we went to view the live animals. But at the end of our tour, as we were finishing up our ice creams, we went back into the gift shop and he was still there and I just knew I had to have him.
As the three of us were trying to come up with a name we decided it should be something that sounded African but none of us knew any African names. I thought he looked a little shy but you can't just call a giraffe shy! We started shouting out words that were made up but had us laughing so hard and Chris came up with Gadu. I told him he could have the middle name but I chose Geronimo for his middle name and his second middle name is Aibu which is swahili for shy!! So his full name comes out to Geronimo Gadu Aibu. I love him a lot and he has moved in quite nicely with the rest of my menagerie.

Love from London,

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

God Save The Queen!

When I return home in a few weeks and people ask me what my favorite part of being in London was I will easily be able to say, "The weekend I spent celebrating the Queen's Diamond Jubilee!" Not only is a diamond jubilee unlikely to ever happen again in our lifetime but the camaraderie and lively attitude of the entire city made me feel as happy as I have ever felt in this city. It truly hit home for me just how much I love London and being a part of so much history that is happening while I take off this year to study. Through rain, wind, endless crowds and at times, short tempers I was able to celebrate with friends (and approximately 1 million other proud British folks) the life of the Queen and the love that England and it's commonwealth have for her. Even for those who are self-proclaimed anti-monarchists seemed to join in the festivities as they recognized the importance of such an event!
The first part of the weekend I celebrated was on Sunday for the flotilla a.k.a. boat parade, down the River Thames. Over 1,000 boats flying flags from all the commonwealth territories and other such decorations floated down the river in a nearly 4 hour parade. We arrived at Westminster Bridge at approximately 10:30 and were greeted by swarms of people all trying to push their way to the front of the barriers by the bridge sides in an attempt to stake out the best position possible. We managed to secure a spot for 7 of us in a decent spot just a couple people behind the barrier. For the next 5 hours we played Uno, shared our picnic lunches and laughed at stories told by the Grampa who came alone to watch. Being that we were standing on Westminster Bridge and right next to Big Ben we also counted down every 15 minutes. Every time the bells rang one of us would say "oh! only 3 hours and 45 minutes to go!" or "yay! only 30 minutes to go!" you get the idea.
The Queen's Boat
As soon as the flotilla started to come by peopled pushed and shoved and I was jostled back a few places to where I couldn't really see much! Luckily, Will is very tall and I was able to sit on his shoulders to view the parade above everyone's heads!! The actual flotilla was like nothing I have ever seen. There was live music on one of the boats and all different shapes and sizes of crews rowing down the river. I took over 100 pictures I think but I'll just share with you the one carrying the Royal Family.
I wish it was better quality but oh well, I know they're there!
Monday afternoon was also an exciting day! Chris and I decided to try and get as close to Green Park as we would be allowed in hopes of hearing some of the concert and then we would head over to one of the street parties in Leicester Square. Little did we realize that walking up Pall Mall we were actually able to head right up to the front of the Gates to Buckingham Palace! It was remarkable! I'm so happy that both of us are little and able to slither and wiggle our way to the front of any crowd. There were at least 20 screens lining Pall Mall and the park so we parked ourselves in front of one of them and enjoyed the music from Sir Elton John, Ed Sheerhan, Sir Paul McCartney and so many other British artists. It blew me away how happy and joyful and excited everyone was! Just to be singing along and dancing in the street and jumping up and down waving our flags! I was also told that Javi's mom and sister saw us on the tv when clips were being replayed from it!!! We were sitting across from a camera and were hoping but had no idea what station it was for. Apparently an American one! yay! Anyways, the show that the light technicians put on was also incredible! At 9:30 when it was dark enough they started projecting pictures and movies on to the front of Buckingham Palace! It was stunning to see and the fireworks show at the very end rivaled ANY fireworks display I have ever witnessed on July 4th at home. I of course took hundreds of pictures and TONS of videos as well so anyone who wants to see those just let me know when I'm home!
At the end of the concert Chris and I literally skipped out of the park waving our flags hollering God Save the Queen and We Love London!!! laughing our way to the tube along with 50,000 others. We decided to walk rather far away because they were limiting access to tubes anyways because of the great crowds. It was exhausting but completely worth it.
Tuesday was a very special day as well and we arrived back to our spot from the concert the night before to watch the procession of the Royal family to and from St. Paul's Cathedral where her thanksgiving mass was held and also to see her wave from the balcony. We waited over 6 hours for that wave and let me tell you, it was more than worth it. When we first arrived at the park we pushed our way to the front of the palace gates again and managed to snag a really good view of the gates and a spot where we would easily be able to see the Queen pass by. Unfortunately, after she re-entered the palace the police started allowing people from the back of Pall Mall to come forward into the palace gates and I swear I thought there was going to be a riot! People at the front of the gates who had been waiting since 5am were furious that those who showed up late or at least much later than them were going to make it inside the palace gates and they were not. There was lots of boo-ing and chanting of "let us in!" and I actually felt a little light headed from being crushed by people trying to push past the barriers. Chris and I decided to try and run back towards where they were letting the crowds in but by the time we reached the pathway they had already closed it. So what did we do? Hopped the gates of course! It may have been a little reckless considering all the police and security around but we did NOT wait that long to see the wave just to be stopped by some metal barriers. We wiggled, slithered, pushed and maybe even shoved a little until BAM we were at the front just to the left of the balcony. We had a clear view of everything and my eyes were brimming with tears because we made it so close! It had been a very long few days of no sleep, lots of standing, and lots of high emotions which for someone who cries as easily as I do means something like this was going to make me tear up.
When the Royal family walked on to the balcony the crowds went wild and I was waving my flag like a maniac in between trying to take as many pictures as possible! I got quite a few good ones that I'm really proud of. There was a 60 gun salute, a fly-over including red white and blue smoke from the Red Arrows. It was absolutely stunning and I know that nothing in my life will ever be like this experience.
I hope that some of you were able to watch this on television, or even the clips and re-runs that BBC was playing throughout the weekend. If not, go look it up on youtube. You won't regret it.

The Royal Air Force fly-over ended the Jubilee weekend here and according to one paper the Queen was 'humbled' by it all. She truly is a remarkable woman though to many it seems she does not do much. She represents so much to so many people around the world and my time here has led me to respect her and appreciate the excitement of having royalty around. I love all things patriotic even if they aren't for my home country and I am truly unbelievably grateful that I was able to be in London for this unforgettable experience.
Yah, I'd say we had a pretty good spot!

Love from London,

P.S. For anyone who was interested in what story was that the Grampa told us here it is: When people find out that I was in the war they always want to know if I had to fight anyone. I always answer, "yah! As soon as I got married!" It was much funnier coming from him, probably because I forgot a few words or something but we laughed really hard. We then asked him if he wanted any chocolate to which he replied, "oh no, I'm trying to watch my figure!" and then patted his belly. So a little while later when we pulled out some veggies we asked him if he wanted some of those as they were healthier and he said, "oh no thanks, I'm trying to quit."