Monday, June 20, 2016

England {Day 7}

Saturday, May 21st

I woke up at 6:00AM on our last morning in London to head out to explore the city. I knew I wanted to visit Notting Hill and I asked one of the people I met in Birmingham for some other tips. So I took my little map of the tube and set off on an adventure.

[Notting Hill]

Immediately, I discovered that the city is pretty quiet that early and that there was some maintenance on the tube that day that forced me to be a little more creative in my travel plans. Still, it gave me extra time to people watch on the tube and that was very pleasant.

[More colorful doors in the alley]

I should have looked up exactly where I was going first, but I was able to just wing it and I eventually found Portobello Road, where Notting Hill's colorful houses are. People were setting up a market while I was there, but I just walked around and took it all in.

I was able to pop over to Covent Garden as well. I had no idea what exactly Covent Garden was, but it reminded me a lot of SoHo in New York. I was even able to get some macarons from Laudree!

[Covent Garden / Laudree]

I took the tube back to Euston after that, but ended up getting back about an hour early. I should have stayed out longer! We had breakfast at the hotel with Stephen and Hillary and did our final devo of the trip. That's when it really started to hit me that I'd be going home. I've felt sadness to leave a vacation before, but it was nothing like this. I felt sick to my stomach. I couldn't eat. I was afraid if I tried to speak I would start crying. It just wasn't great. Stephen said some really encouraging things about appreciating things when we got back home and I felt like he was speaking directly to me. It was a good way to officially end the trip.


We went back up to our rooms to get everything together, then decided to head out for some coffee before going back to Euston Station. We had an adventure walking around a new part of the city looking for a coffee shop Rachel had found online, but the coffee drinkers said it was the best coffee they had had all week.

When we got back to our hotel, we grabbed our stuff and went to the train station. We had to take the tube the Heathrow for our flight, just before 3:00. We were quite and tired on the journey to Heathrow, but it was nice to be above-ground for so much of it and see more of the city. If I remember correctly, we didn't have too much time to lolly-gag around the airport before our flight boarded. Three of us got stuck at security, myself included. We had to grab a quick lunch and then it was basically time to board.

I wanted to stay awake for the whole flight back so I could go to sleep at a normal Colorado time. At this point I hadn't considered that I had woken up at 11:00PM on Friday in MST. But it was interesting seeing what an international flight is all about since I missed it on the way there. I couldn't believe how much service you got. I was able to watch 3 and a half movies too. (Zoolander 2, Eddie the Eagle, Spectre, and half of Deadpool) I struggled staying awake at times and I didn't love being in the center seat of the middle section, so I had to keep getting up and walking around. But all in all, it wasn't so bad. Except for the part that I was still a bit of an emotional wreck for having to come back to the States.

Friday, June 17, 2016

England {Day 6}

Friday, May 20th

We had to be at the train station on New Street to catch our train at 9:30, so we all met outside of Derrik and Abby's to catch two separate Ubers. It was a little nerve-wracking when the Uber picking up me, Connor, and JW took a while to arrive and then we had to drive through rush hour traffic. Luckily, we were thinking our train left at 9:00, but it actually left at 9:30, so we had some extra time. We grabbed breakfast before heading over to our platform and grabbing some good seats on the train.

[Platform 9 3/4]

[Checking out at Platform 9 3/4]

When we got to Euston Station in London, about two hours later, we went to the hotel down the street first to drop off our bags. We made a rough plan for the day and decided to start at King's Cross to visit Platform 9 3/4! There was a short wait for the photo-op, but it was worth it and we met some people from Texas in line. Since Rachel, Shelby, JW, and I are obsessed with Harry Potter, we also did some damage in the gift shop.

[The Ritz]

[Green Park / Canada Gate]

By the time we left King's Cross, we were all starving so we popped across the street for some sandwiches at a little shop. We tried to figure out what would make the most sense for our next stop, so we decided to walk to Buckingham Palace. We ended up walking through Green Park to Canada Gate on our way to the Palace.

[Had to do some Pure Barre "in the wild" / Christina and I got too excited about the various Snapchat filters wherever we were]

Sadly, we missed the changing of the guards, but we did see one guard start walking around (marching around?) for a few minutes. We popped into a gift shop to shop, sit, and use Wifi. We tried to figure out how to get back to Westminster City on foot. Along the way, we saw a ton of places where you could rent bikes, so we decided we would rent bikes once we got over by Big Ben and the London Eye.

[Westminster Abbey]

Unfortunately, we weren't able to go into Westminster Abbey because they had closed for their service and it was too far off for us to be able to go. So we kept walking where we had been walking on Sunday afternoon, then turned down the River Thames until we found bikes to rent.

[Back to Big Ben / Back to the Eye]

[About to set off across London]

We figured if we rode along the river we would be able to find the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge. It was quite an adventure considering it was about 5:00 on Friday and we were going through a really busy part of the city. We weren't able to ride along the river for more than a few blocks, so we were just totally guessing as to where exactly we were headed. And let's not forget we were on the other side of the road!

[The Tower of London]

Eventually, we made it to the Tower of London, but parking the bikes was a whole other ordeal. It took us a while to find a station, then there were only 4 openings but we had 6 bikes. We ended up having to help a French couple rent bikes to open up 2 more spots for us.

[Tower Bridge]

By the time we got to the Tower of London, we were all pretty exhausted, but I convinced everybody to take the long way to the tube station so we could see Tower Bridge before hopping back on the tube to go to Waterloo Station.

[The Tower of London]

We met Hillary and Stephen at Waterloo Station and then walked a few blocks to dinner. We ate at Pizza Express, eating pizza in England for the umpteenth time. But it was delicious. After dinner, we split up and Stephen, Hillary, Rachel, and Shelby went back to the hotel while Connor, JW, Christina and I decided to go ride the London Eye.

[View from the bottom / River Thames]

[View from the top]

The timing ended up being perfect. We were able to get on during the sunset and we had beautiful views of the city below both in the light and after the sun went down. Christina ended up capturing a picture of me attempting to stretch out my back, but really it looks like I'm once again doing Pure Barre in London. Oh well, one can never do enough Pure Barre, I always say.

[Chair on the Eye]

[Big Ben & Parliament]

[me, Christina, Connor, JW / Back at the bottom]

Afterward, I told Christina that I wanted to take her out for one last pint while she could still drink legally. Connor and JW decided to come along as well, so we headed back down to where we had been riding bikes earlier in the day to try to find a good pub. We were walking through pretty narrow and dark alleys, but Connor and I later talked about how neither of us felt unsafe. Maybe that's naive, but it wasn't like walking through Chicago or LA or New York at night. Or even Denver, for that matter! Trying to find my way around a new city is one of my favorite things. And I love how quickly I can get some basics down. Like major streets, landmarks, directions, or big stations. But I've never felt so at ease wandering semi-aimlessly as I did in London. It was quite enjoyable.

Anyway, we finally decided on a pub and went in and had one last British pint. There was a cricket match on and we ended up talking to a handful of people, one from New Zealand, one from America, one from France, one from Wales, and a few from England. It was a lot of fun until the pub closed at 11:00. We headed back to the tube to go back to Euston Station and back to the hotel.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

England {Day 5}

Thursday, May 19th

We met back at Creative Coffee for our morning devo on our last full day in Birmingham. We ended up having yet another great conversation that ended up making us late to meet Christine for brunch. She took us to a little diner called Lesley's where we got to have another English breakfast: eggs, bacon, sausage, beans, and tomatoes. We also tried black pudding before Christine would tell us what it really is.

[Selly Manor]

After breakfast, we walked back to Derrik and Abby's and Derrik took us to Cadbury World. You know those Cadbury Cream Eggs that we all love so much around Easter? They come from Birmingham! Since a tour of the factory costs a pretty penny per person, we just went into the shop and then into a free exhibit about the history of Cadbury. It was really cool. And all the types of candy and shapes of chocolate were amazing. I regret not getting a real size chocolate soccer ball. We all loaded up on sweets (I just got a chocolate orange) and then headed back to Canvas.

[Cadbury World]

We had plans that afternoon to hang out on campus with Stephen and some students. On our way to campus, we passed out the cookies we had made the day before and got to talk to a handful of students in passing. 

[University of Birmingham]

Stephen set up his slackline on their quad type area and we had fun trying it out for a while. It was interesting to see some of the students' reactions to it. I think just because I'm from CU Boulder, I assume everyone has seen slacklining by now. Some students looked quite confused and quite fascinated. I also gave it a go and fell off in quite an epic manner. It was a lot of fun. Before we went back to Canvas, we stopped at the University gift shop to get some souvenirs. Normally I'm not the type to spend money on those types of things, but there were just too many awesome things I wanted so I could always remember my week in England.

[Slacklining on campus]

[Christina on the slackline]

Canvas had their final Thursday night program that week and Christine was speaking for the last time before moving to Nottingham to open the second Canvas location. We went back to the house to help set everything up and help one of the students who was cooking everyone pad Thai.

[Canvas is a hidden gem on this street]

That night, I ended up having a really great conversation with a former Canvas student. He told me about how he found out about Canvas during his second year of uni and some more about his faith journey since then. It was really cool hearing that Canvas can accomplish exactly what they intend to in such a great way. No one is pushing their beliefs on anyone else and they're creating a really cool space for students to hang out and have community. I love that.

We celebrated Christina's 18th birthday with a cake and some faulty candles. I taught a few people how to play Hanabi, one of my favorite card games, and we had a lot of fun doing that. It was probably my favorite night in England and we ended up shutting the place down. In fact, Derrik had to kick us out. I was really sad to say goodbye to the handful of people who were left at Canvas that late. They were all who had been hanging out with us the most or who I had talked with the most and it had been so great getting to know them all.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

England {Day 4}

Wednesday, May 18th

On Wednesday morning, Shelby, Christina, and I were meeting Vanessa at Canvas to hand out free tea and coffee on campus. We got to Canvas at 8:30 and helped her load up everything before setting out toward campus. I volunteered to push the cart that had two ten gallon jugs of boiling hot water. It's probably a ten minute walk to Canvas and I was doing great until we were about ten yards from where we were going to set up the table. I hit the curb while crossing the last street and both jugs went flying. Thankfully, no one was immediately in front of me because that water was HOT. But I felt absolutely awful. We had about half of a jug left of water between the two after that and it takes a while to boil all that water.

We decided to head back to Canvas and set up a table closer to the house with what water we had while Vanessa went back to boil more water. We still got plenty of traffic since a lot of second year students live near Canvas and were walking toward campus. It started raining a little, but people were still walking. The group on Tuesday probably talked to more students, but it seemed like we had more time to talk to all of the people who stopped by our table. The interesting thing is that Brits aren't as gung-ho about free stuff as Americans, so most people were pretty hesitant. I also learned quite a bit about M.O.T. testing (kind of like emissions testing, but more involved) since we were set up right across from a testing center. 

[The streets of Birmingham]

At 10:30, we met up with Connor, JW, and Rachel to walk to this little cafe called The Meeting Place. I was in charge of leading the team devo that morning and I talked about 1 Corinthians 12:15-26 because I have a hard time remembering that God can use me and my gifts, whatever they may be. We talked a little bit about the passage, then I had everyone say one thing that the person to their right does really well. I can't speak for anyone else, but that was a cool reminder that our team had a lot of diversity and so many different things to offer. We had already been together for three full days and after hearing from Connor, Rachel, and Shelby who had gone on Globalscope trips in 2015, that day was when tensions started to run a little high among the group.

[The Meeting Place]

We went back to Canvas for the afternoon to bake cookies and make graduation boxes for the students who were graduating soon. I was helping Vanessa make cookies with Shelby and Christina. I love baking chocolate chip cookies and I used to have the recipe I use memorized, so this was right up my alley. (Oh! I forgot that Connor, Rachel, Shelby, and I had walked to the grocery store to get some ingredients and scope out a birthday cake for Christina since she turned 18 the next day. That was a fun experience.) Anyway, baking in England was cool, but challenging because all the units were different, but the recipe was still more or less the same. I was creaming the butter and sugar--my favorite part--when I moved the bowl from the island to the other counter and it slipped through my fingers. It went EVERYWHERE. I just couldn't believe that I had dropped something else and in front of Shelby, Christina, and Vanessa again. The staff kept saying it was okay, it was just jet lag, but I kept saying, "But I'm not tired!" I didn't realize until I came back to the State the toll jet lag takes on your whole body.

[A park in Bournville Village]

After we finished baking cookies, we helped the rest of the group with the grad boxes and we brainstormed some awesome ideas for Merge with Rachel. That was actually one of my favorite conversations on the trip. Rachel and I were able to dip out for a little while to go work on the Bible study that Merge is doing, but we ended up having great beer and cider and even better conversation.

[Quiet time at The Soak]

We had to head back to get ready to go out to dinner with the staff of Canvas. Sadly, no one got any pictures of all of us dressed up. We took a party taxi (like a short bus with a light show inside) to La Plancha for tapas. We got to see a different part of Birmingham and I had actually never had tapas before. It was so much fun getting to hang out with the staff and getting to know them better. After dinner, we decided to walk to a place for gelato, but after a long walk, the place turned out to be closed. We had to figure out how to get back to the area Canvas is in with over a dozen people plus a baby. That was a fun adventure. I ended up riding in the front seat of an Uber, which was quite an experience. Because we didn't have enough seats, I set out with Tom and his wife to find Connor and Abbey who had started walking back. Again, I sat in the front seat and tried to get use to which side everything was on. It totally threw me for a loop.

Tom and Jenna dropped us off at Abbey and Derrik's, where Connor and JW were staying. We hung out for a little while until everyone else came back from the other ice cream place they had gone. I think we called it a night relatively early that day. I had thought Wednesday would be our most relaxed day, but it ended up being the day I walked the most.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

England {Day 3}

Tuesday, May 17th

[Canvas House]

On Tuesday morning, Connor, JW, and Rachel got up early to hand out free tea and coffee on campus with Stephen. Shelby, Christina, and I got to sleep in a bit, but we met them at Canvas to do our morning devo on the porch. We had some time to kill afterward, so we started a game of Settlers of Catan and ate gummy bears before the Canvas staff showed up.

We went to lunch on campus that day with Tom and some of the Canvas students. They had a food court like you would find on any campus and we got to pick from all kinds of foods for lunch. If I remember correctly, this was the first and only time I had fish and chips on the trip. I also had a horrible tooth ache after getting three fillings the week before we left and the pain reached its pinnacle at lunch that day, which was good news because it started feeling better after.

[St. Martin's Cathedral]

We headed back to Canvas after lunch to meet up with Stephen again before heading downtown. We took the train to the City Centre to explore the city a bit. I wanted to get some cool English shoes, so Shelby and I looked around the Bull Ring (a big mall) for a little while and I settled on some awesome shoes, but not exactly what I wanted. We met back up with Christina, then stopped at Starbucks (with this amazing view of St. Martin) to get on WiFi to meet up with Stephen, JW, Connor, and Ben.


We quite literally ran into them on the street while walking toward the library where they were. Ben took us to this place called Tilt that's a coffee bar, and actual bar, and a pinball bar all in one. (One of my new friends from England was actually there last night with a bunch of people from Canvas and to say I was jealous would be an understatement.) It was fun hanging out and I can't say I've ever been to a pinball bar before.

[Pistachio Macaron]

We had to get back to Canvas to help get ready for their Tuesday night event. (Rachel met us back at the house and brought us macarons!) That week they were having an alley party, which is basically just a BBQ. Unfortunately, that was one of the rare moments of bad weather, so we had to hang out inside rather than being outside as we intended.

They made sausages and Shelby and I helped make potato salad. That night was pretty low key, as we just hung out with students and played games. 

Daily Step Total: 16,540

Monday, June 13, 2016

England {Day 2}

Monday, May 16th

[A cloudy morning in Selly Oak]

Our first full day in England got off to a somewhat late start. It was nice to be able to sleep in a bit after such a busy half day on Sunday. We were headed to a coffee shop for our morning devotional, so since Shelby and I were staying the furthest away, we walked to collect the rest of our group. The coffee shop we went to is called Creative Coffee. They had a full coffee shop, plus a crafting area and all kinds of seminars and classes offered throughout the week.

[Christina, Rachel, JW, me, Connor, Shelby]

After Connor led our daily devotional, we walked to Canvas for the first time. We met with most of the staff and split into groups to do a prayer walk around Birmingham. Rachel and I went with Abby, who is married to the team leader of Canvas, and we just walked around the Selly Oak park while she gave us a quick history lesson and prayed for the week ahead.

[Canvas chalkboard art by Christine]

When we got back, the whole team met with Abby and she gave us the scoop on Canvas and what our week would look like. After that, we went to The Bristol Pear for lunch with Tom and Derrik. Tom is the only Brit on staff with Canvas and he gave us a culture talk, starting with a game where he would say a British word of phrase and we had to guess the English equivalent. That was a lot of fun and really interesting to hear about some of the changes, no matter how big or how subtle.

[University of Birmingham]

After lunch, we headed back to Canvas to meet with Vanessa, another staff member, for our tour of the University of Birmingham. We were lucky enough to have a student from Canvas join us for the tour and he killed it. He gave us a lot of information and it felt like a real, organized tour put on by the university with all of his fun facts! 

[Beethoven, Virgil, Michelangelo, Plato, Shakespeare, Newton, Watt, Faraday, Darwin]

The University of Birmingham has the tallest free standing clock tower in the world, called Old Joe. The students consider it bad luck to walk under it while it's chiming, so most people don't walk under it at all.

[Old Joe]

We had to hustle back to Canvas to meet with Stephen, who is also from Flatirons, and Christine, who hosted Shelby and me for the week. We did a Q&A session with them, then helped get the house set up for Canvas Church later that night.

[Representing the other Globalscope locations in Germany, Thailand, Mexico, Spain, Chile, and Scotland]

Every other Monday, Canvas puts on a small church service. The staff said it's usually about 5 people, but this week it was bigger because they were doing two baptisms and the women being baptized invited people from their church and other friends. Derrik did a few worship songs before the women getting baptized each took a few minutes to tell us their story and why they've chosen to get baptized. After they each spoke, Stephen did a quick teaching on baptism. It was cool to hear a bit of Flatirons in his teaching. We all went outside to the pool they had set up for the baptism and ate cake afterward. We mingled with the people who had come to see the two of them get baptized and got to meet a lot of awesome people.

[Me & Connor]

On Monday nights, they usually go to Country Girl, a local pub, to play trivia, so we all made our way back up the hill for dinner and trivia. A lot of people who were there for the baptism went as well, so there was quite a large turn out. (Although I'm not sure how many people from Canvas usually go.) We had two different teams and we had a lot of fun sharing appetizers and trying to figure out the answers. I met quite a few more people who we would end up hanging out with for the rest of the week.

After a while, we made our way back to the houses and went to bed. It had been another long and busy day, but it was a lot of fun.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Ten on Ten :: June 2016

This is my new breakfast of champions. I've been making smoothie bowls every morning with chia seeds, granola, agave, banana, and coconut on top.

My favorite view. Obviously.

It was a beautiful in Downtown Boulder. I had to run to the bank to do our weekly deposit and it made me just want to keep wandering down Pearl Street.

I'm finally getting around to looking through all of my photos from my trip to England and blogging about it.

Our noon class was completely packed today. I always love the energy in our full classes.

We had a crazy thunder and lightning storm last night, that apparently knocked out Starbucks' computers. So they were offering free tall coffee or tea, iced or hot. I usually get a chai (iced in the summer), so I had to go to a different store, which was about .25 miles away, of course. But the point is, I could have started drinking coffee today but I just couldn't. I hate it. And I really am curious if that will change by 2019.

My sisters and I went in on a giant inflatable swan. World, meet Ron Swanson.

Catching the sunset while on my way to Target to get supplies for work. At 8:00PM on a Friday night. Glamorous.

Hanging out with some awesome people at Avery. There's a first time for everything! I actually got too caught up with the conversation to even make my way to the bar to get a drink, which is okay because I'm not the biggest fan of beer.

And I forgot to take a tenth picture. Oops.

ten on ten button