Wednesday, November 4, 2009

LONDON!!!

I was at the airport tonight trying to trade my voucher for a flight to NJ for Thanksgiving. Over the PA they announced a delay in a flight to London Heathrow and a pang of memory flooded over me. London was such a wonderful trip and it went by too fast. I am going to post some pictures of London, just a few of my favorites.

One of our first stops, and one of my favorites, was the Tower of London. This is the prison that was primarily reserved for traitors to the crown or high treason crimes. This is also where the be-headings occurred. The first picture is a view of it from the Thames River, but you really can't tell how big it is from that picture. There are actually 20+ towers inside and you can see and walk through almost all of them. They are all connected by walkways between each tower. What I loved about this place was it is completely run by retired military. There are 35 retired military families that live and work onsite. It is considered a pretty prestigious honor to be able to work there with strict qualifications. The second picture is a picture of one of the Yoeman Warders - caretakers of the Tower. Many of them have prestigious military records with the British army. And yes, that is their official uniform they are wearing. The last picture is where they keep the queens crown and jewels. To get in you have to walk through a vault door almost a foot thick. The largest diamond in the world is there on display. You can see it only from a moving walkway that goes past it. It was pretty amazing.



My next favorite was Hampton Court Palace. We spent the whole day there. This was the only palace we visited that was not still occupied by royalty, so we could take pictures freely. It is hard to imagine the granduer of these places without having been there. This palace was primarily used by Henry VIII in the early 1500's and sits right on the Thames river. It is absolutely HUGE - if I could scan in the map / layout I would. We spent all day there and still didn't see everything. The first picture is one of the sides of palace and the garden. This is the small side. If you look at the palace and look at the bottom row of windows, then look at the second picture. The hallway in the second picture is the one that runs along the bottom row of windows in the first picture. Clear as mud? How would you like to stroll down that everyday and look out into those beautiful gardens. The last picture is the ceiling in super huge dining hall. It was simply stunning. Below the windows in that picture hang two story tapestries, some that were original from that time period. Wow.

video

One of our last stops was Windsor Castle. This is where the current Queen Elizabeth spends most of her weekends and uses this for quite a few state functions, etc. Because it is still occuppied and in use, we couldn't take any pictures inside. But it was amazing, much more grandiose than anything we saw at Hampton Court. It is absolutely huge and all the staff live and work onsite. It was unbelievable that people still live in that much splendor. The video above is just of the entrance to Windsor. It was raining pretty good so we didn't get to see a full changing of the guard, but a smaller version of it.

It was a wonderful trip and I would go back in a heartbeat. I have over 600 pictures to share (most are of the weird outfits people wear over there). So anyone that has a couple of hours and wants to see them all - just let me know!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Fall

It seems we have moved too fast from Summer to Fall. And in Colorado, Mother Nature is determined to skip Fall all together. Just when the leaves were starting to reach their peak color, we were hit with a Canadian cold front. Garrett did play football that weekend with a high of only 23 degrees. All the leaves have since turned brown and fallen off. It turned out to be a very bland remainder of fall. That didn't stop Mallory from attending homecoming with some of her girlfriends. Thank you Miriam so much for helping us find a dress and that jacket! The jacket was a lifesaver! Here are some of her pictures:





Then just two weeks later we were hit with a snowstorm that reminded me more of what we see in the spring rather than fall. It started raining Tuesday night (during Garrett's football practice), turned to snow overnight and didn't stop until sometime in the night Thursday. I shoveled a path for the dogs in the backyard and it was over 18 inches, then had to go back and shovel another 6. Needless to say, the ward trunk or treat was cancelled that night. The kids were a little disappointed that they wasted what probably would have been 2 snow days during their fall break. But I think they were happy I was able to be home with them for a day and a half. I keep wondering when they will be too old to trick or treat, but that wasn't this year. Mallory went with her friend Emma and Garrett took his little sister Callie. We did ok on the costumes this year:

In the middle of all of this, I did manage to squeeze in a trip to London. It was fabulous!! I will have to post more on that later! Happy Winter!