Back to England!

The week James left was a rough one. I was trying to catch up on sleep, while also finishing a huge project and getting ready to leave for our next European adventure.

On Tuesday I went into Dublin to try and get work done on my project. While in the coffee shop, I got the news that my grandpa had died. I held it together for the most part while I was in town… It helped knowing that he was ready to go, and that he was now free from the disabilities and pain he has suffered since his stroke nearly 21 years ago. The hardest part for me was feeling helpless because I was an ocean away from everything and everyone.This isn’t something they mentally prepare you for when going abroad. Nevertheless, I am thankful to have been able to call him my Pappy. My grandpa has been an incredible influence in my life and many others I am sure. He showed love to everyone, whether that was with a huge smile on his face, a verbal “Me love you,” or a kiss on the cheek of a stranger. Despite the stroke, seizures, cancer, and more, he continued to stand firm in his faith and sang “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” until his last day.

My pappy with the finch I sent him from Poland.. Finches were his favourite!

My pappy with the finch I sent him from Poland.. He loved watching the finches!

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Here was a post from my mom on facebook that I wanted to share:

“2 Timothy 4:7
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness.

My dad was a marathon runner until his stroke 21 years ago. He persevered and never cared that there was only one man he could beat and always came in next to last. The good news is: My dad won his first race today. He received his crown of righteousness and went to be with Jesus.”

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Rather than getting bogged down by sadness, I have tried focusing on thankfulness instead. Thankful that I had a grandpa who tried his hardest to be a part of my life, despite the disabilities. Thankful that I had a grandpa who cried into my shirt last Thanksgiving because he was so happy to see me. Thankful for all the popsicles from the “ice box.” Thankful for all the laughter he brought through the years. Thankful that I was his “Little Man.”

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Ali and Kelly bought me every flavour of Ben and Jerry’s they had at the store, and we cuddled. That helped me feel a little better 🙂

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I didn’t get everything done I needed to get done– laundry, project, planning for the trip I was about to leave for… I was a mess. But, I threw clothes in a bag and left Thursday morning for England.

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The next week was revision week for UCD. Revision week is an actually dead “dead week.” No classes. We were told by other students to just use this time to travel. Since I only had two finals, one this past week and one next week, I didn’t have any problem taking this advice 🙂 It was also a much needed distraction from everything that week.

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We arrived in London on Thursday morning, and navigated to Hoxton, where our lovely hostess Angela was waiting for us. Looking into accommodations for London, I was a bit taken back by the prices. Since we love our community at Dublin Vineyard Church, I figured it was worth a shot to look up Vineyards in London for help. Angela answered my desperation plea, and was kind enough to take in three college girls.

Angela’s Vineyard is missional based. One of her avenues of service is the Ivy Street Family Centre, which works to foster a warm and inviting atmosphere for children and caretakers in the community. She let us use the Family Centre as our base, and as a result were able to not only save money, but also meet lovely people. Angela was super, super sweet and we absolutely loved her. We admired her laughter, hospitality, and willingness to go above and beyond to make us feel at home.

Angela showed us her flat and the Family Centre, which was adorable. The puffballs, banners, and children’s artwork definitely brought me back to my mom’s kindergarten class. After this, we set out to meet up with Greg, who was also in my blog about Saint Patrick’s day! We decided to take the tube so that we didn’t lose daylight. After walking through Hyde Park and then grabbing a bite to eat, we covered a ton of ground. We saw the Marble Arch, Buckingham Palace, St. James’s Park, Big Ben, the Eye and more. Ali and Kelly’s feet were dying, and by the end of it they were hobbling around. It was pretty hilarious. I have been blessed with the ability to walk for long distances, and pretty quickly at that. We rested in a pub until we got kicked out. Like Dublin, they close pretty early at night.

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We took the tube back, but got a little lost coming out from underground. Unbeknownst to us, the stop we ended at had about 5 different exits onto the street and we happened to pick the wrong one. After walking a ways in the dark and cold we realized that nothing looked familiar and so we backtracked. Jelly found a 10 pound note just laying in the empty sidewalk, so it really was worth getting lost.

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The next morning, we had tea with Angela and were able to get showers at her flat. She also offered breakfast, but we had already told Greg we were coming to his place for breakfast. We appreciated the thought though! Since showers took longer than anticipated, we ended up taking the tube again so that we could make it to Greg’s before noon. By the time we got there, he already had breakfast ready for us! We did provide a watermelon. I stood gawking at the beauty of the watermelon, Ali decided we should buy it, and Jelly paid for it with the money she had found the night before. We have gotten pretty good at teamwork.

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After breakfast, we went back through Hyde Park and then through the Natural History Museum. The gemstone section and earthquake simulator were both highlights. They also had a complete stegosaurus right inside, and an escalator that appeared to go through the center of the Earth. The museum was very interactive and FREE! Jelly was not a fan of the arthropod exhibit. Ali pretended to chase Jelly with a spider, and I was pretty sure that she was going to have a coronary occlusion. But, I am proud of Jelly for making it through the exhibit!

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After the museum, we went to Harrods, a huge, expensive department store. It was strangely entertaining to look at the prices people are willing to pay for material goods. The only thing I bought there was food. We ate macaroons– I had a pistachio and a tea flavoured one. The pistachio was amazing and I could have had about 10 more.

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We then went into the actual food area, and it was fascinating to see all the different sections and types of food they had. I was tempted to get a creme brûlée donut with the hard caramel layer on top (Lesson from previous blog: James wouldn’t have liked it). Instead, Jelly and I got a pistachio and creme donut to split. It was even better than the macaroon. Yes, I did get real food too. I had the meat filled pastry known as a Cornish Pasty. Traditionally they were food for miners, but they taste just as good being food for Mallory. We went outside to eat, in part because we were paupers compared to some of the other people in that shop…. or we at least acknowledged that we don’t have the finances to afford stuff in Harrods. We ate our food on the only porch steps on that block that didn’t say “No Sitting.” Pretty sure there was intended to be a sign, but we got to sit there due to the technicality that there wasn’t actually a sign.

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After going back into Harrods to use their bathrooms and look at the ridiculous prices in their alcohol section, we went back to see everything we had seen the night before only in daylight this time. The guards were out at Buckingham! Apparently you can tell whether the Queen is in by looking at the flag, and she was never in when we passed by. At St. James’s we saw the ugly duckling and squirrels! There was a lady feeding and talking to the squirrels, which was pretty cute.

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Ali wanted to go into the art museum to see Van Gogh’s “Wheat Field” painting. It was free, so we went inside. We lost Ali because she ran off and the building was huge! We were able to locate the painting, but Ali was nowhere to be found. There was a guy who did a really amazing quick sketch of the painting in his notebook as we were standing there waiting. Finally, Ali found her way back to us and we made our way out of the museum. Greg, being the gentleman that he is, made us a couscous dinner that night 🙂

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The next day, we spent a good deal of time in Hoxton. I still had a lot of work to do on my penguin project. We decided later that evening to try and go back into London to watch Wicked. We took the bus this time and hit rush hour. The bus was so packed that no one could move and people would miss their stops because they couldn’t get around others and out of the bus!! We didn’t make it back into the city in time and didn’t have the appropriate clothing anyway, so instead we went and got Indian food. We feasted on nan and I had my favourite Indian dish of Chicken Tikka Masala. We then moved on to a coffee shop and ate ice-cream. Greg also introduced us to Turkish coffee. It has the grounds in it still and it’s very strong, but very delicious! You aren’t supposed to clear the cup because of the layer of fine grounds on the bottom that looks like sludge. Greg had us take sips at the end and the grounds just coat your mouth in black. We have great pictures of Jelly, but I will spare them from social media.

The next morning, we went to church with Angela. Her Vineyard is partnered with a local church for services on Sunday. This was the first time I have ever had wine during communion and also my first time with the common cup. No grape juice in baby plastic cups! It was nice to even just be able to sit in a pew with Angela in a family atmosphere. Afterwards, they had coffee and a celebration cake for someone’s birthday. We headed back to Angela’s house after church and she made us a nice home-cooked meal for lunch… Chicken, rice, and vegetables THAT WERE WARM! We also helped her daughter make tissue paper leis. For school, they had to pick a country for a project, and her group had picked the United States ironically enough. They were featuring Hawaii… that Indiana corn wasn’t appealing enough I guess. We had a blast having craft time and even learned a cool knot in the process.

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After lunch we headed back to meet up with Greg. We missed the marathon that was going on that day, but did see a bunch of people walking around with medals. I kept working on my project since I had to get it done that day before moving on to the next part of our trip. Ali went to church with Greg, and Kelly stayed back with me. Greg and Ali brought back gyros, and I will be forever grateful. We hung out a little bit and then headed back so we could try and get a little bit of sleep.

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We only got about an hour and a half of sleep since we were aiming to be at the bus stop around four for the coach. Our group is slow moving in the morning, so we have to allot ourselves enough time to get moving– we also had to get everything together, fold blankets, and lock up. At the airport, I woke up still so tired that I was slightly confused as to where I was. Going through security at Stansted, my entire bag was dumped out on the table for a more thorough search. There was really nothing in there besides clothes, so I am not sure what they thought they were going to catch me with. Fortunately after the entire airport saw my wardrobe for the week, the security lady packed my bag better than I had previously done 🙂

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Once inside the airport, we still had plenty of time. We ate egg muffins and were major white girls, getting two Starbucks drinks a piece. Two might seem excessive, but it was necessary. I was even more white-girl because I video-chatted James in the airport. He had called to tell me about the super awesome day he just had (it was still the previous day for him pretty much).

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On the plane, i got put in the emergency exit row again, so I had lots of leg room and an empty seat next to me. The flight was only about an hour, so I stayed up and journaled. Journaling is the reason why I can blog in at least some detail 🙂

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