Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Church and Masquerade!!

Okay, I'll start with church. I went to a church in Egham on Sunday. It was really fun and I enjoyed it. I'll definitely be going back. Of course it is no Open Door, and I need to just reaffirm that God will not meet me ONLY in the words of John's messages or on 19th and Northern, and that God is with me and will teach me in everything I do. So I was so glad to feel the genuine Love for God at St John's in Egham. They are a really neat congregation, with lots of kids and families, and nice group of Uni students. The message was on Serving and Selfishness. The music was also decent... although I didn't know the songs very well so I was so focused on singing the right words, that I couldn't loose myself in the lyrics. After church a bunch of people went out to lunch at The Crown pub on Egham High Street and I of course went along. It was fun talking to everyone, asking questions of them about England and the Anglican church (which is what St John's is) and we also got to talking about American TV. At one point I actually talked in my British accent while I was explaining something and they all said it was really good and that you couldn't tell it was fake... definite high light!! I'll be using it more often when out shopping. I just felt really good about the whole day. I also came home and caught up on my ODF messages online... I'm glad I'll have those too to keep me connected with ODF.

(Note: I am definitely seeing the need for a more thorough website for Open Door... being separate makes me wish there was a portico online, pictures, ministry pages I could check out, etc. Also in researching churches here, I definitely notice that my interest in a church is based A TON on the look of their website and the information I can get about their ministry, vision, and again pictures... just a note to the powers that be on the ODF staff.)

Then monday and tuesday have been pretty devoted to school. I had a presentation to do tuesday morning in my English class on the novel North and South - GREAT BOOK!!! GREAT BBC miniseries!! I was not super nervous about it, but I wanted to make a good impression so I really prepared. I also studied a lot for my history classes... I am really worried about my Modern British History class because I just don't think I'm getting it.

But tuesday night Phoebe and I went to a Masquerade Ball at the Stumble Inn (a bar on campus). It wasn't really a ball as much as a party for the drama society to launch their season of shows. I am always wanting to meet new people, so Phoebe and I decided to get all dressed up and go down there to be college students. It was REALLY fun!! I had a nice time meeting people and the liveliness of everyone there... and most of them were Theater students, which I also love to hang out with theater people... except when they get all "I know SO much about theater and even though you couldn't care less about how much I know, I'm still gonna show off about EVERYTHING I know." There were only a few of those people there, but for the most part, there were just such FUN people. I was also glad that they had a cider on tap, because I don't like beer. There was some live music... but the singer in the main band was awful and the sound was crappy... I wish I knew how to actually RUN sound instead of just be able to tell when it's horrible. Then there was a performance from "The Holloway Players" which is an improv group in the drama society. They did some activities a la "Who's Line Is It Anyway" and some were really funny. Phoebe and I, I think, are going to a performance of theirs on Sunday night. They also had face painting for only £1!!
I will say there were also some cute guys at the party, for those of you who are wondering, but I must remind you that most students here are 21 AT THE MOST!!! so there is an age difference. I will also inform you all that 80% of the population of students at Royal Holloway are female... so there are not a lot of guys here and the ones that I have seen are smokers, or mediocre, or much younger... because let's remember that only the 3rd years are hitting 21. I will remind myself again that finding a man is not the reason I am here. haha
Oh... but this information does not stop me from dressing up really cute to go out... so here are some pics of the night to enjoy.

Phoebe is trying to look available to talk to

The Holloway Players

Today Phoebe and I ventured into Egham. It was raining, but you soon learn living here, that a little rain is nothing that should keep you from running errands... even it means walking 20 minutes in said rain into town. We went to check out the thrift stores!! There are like 5!!! There is only ONE shop that is an actual clothing store but FIVE "charity shops." Seriously mom!! granted each store is about the size of my bedroom, but still! It seems every charitable cause has it's own shop. I was able to find a purse that slings across my shoulder... very useful when you have to wear a big jacket and your purse no longer comfortably fits over your shoulder... this will also leave hands free. I also found these cute shirts!

I didn't plan to take pictures of my purchase, but the store didn't have a mirror, so I had them on my camera.
I also found a store in Egham that sells American food... like peanut butter, poptarts, and KRAFT MAC n CHEESE!!!!!!

Then Phoebe and I finally found the common room for Founders... it has a TV. Except I think I broke it, because when I was adjusting the antenna it fell out and I couldn't fix it... so we're not gonna talk about that. It basically has some couches, a foosball table, and a TV (that doesn't work).

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sheep chasing on Oxford...

The title has actually very little to do with the content of this post aside from the fact that I saw a lot of sheep as I traveled through the english countryside to Blenhiem Palace and Oxford. I was very excited about this trip because Oxford holds the wonderment of such places as Hogwarts, Middle Earth, Narnia, and incredibly smart scholastic people.

I woke up early in the morning (7:45am) to meet the bus by 8:45am. It was supposed to be sunny all day, but I am quickly learning that "sunny" means "foggy and cold until around lunch time and then it will be sunny in the afternoon until the sun sets at 4:30pm."
It was about an hour bus rid to Blenheim Palace, which was our first stop of the day. Is it sad that I was not impressed by the Palace... I mean, it is a bit of a let down after Windsor and Hampton Court.

It belongs to the Duke of Marlborough who is 80 years old and recently married his 4th wife. The Duke was at home and therefore we could not go inside his house and instead we wandered around the grounds. Lots of geese.

Also lots of sheep, which is where the title comes from.
We wondered if, in the English countryside, people entertained themselves with sheep chasing... some of the sheep looked exceptionally dirty and therefore the theory of Sheep tipping comes into play. Either way, the line of conversation amused us as we walked from the palace to a nearby tea house. There we had "elevensies."

That is what it is called when you have tea time at 11am. I am not a fan of tea, but I have never had english tea (tea with milk and sugar) and it turns out... not so bad. Also, not so bad are the cookies and biscuits we had with the tea. Wonderfully english - I like "elevensies."

Now onto the historical significance of Blenheim Palace in English history. Blenheim Palace is the place where Winston Chuchill was born. His uncle lived in the house and upon visiting the Palace, his mother gave birth. It was because of this that Winston Churchill always believed he was destined for great things. He also proposed to his wife along the lakeside... very romantic Winston. When Winston Churchill died he requested to be buried in the family plot in Woodstock Oxfordshire. So after tea we trekked up to the grave of "the bulldog."

After Blenheim Palace we got back on the bus to Oxford and arrived in front of the Martyrs' Memorial before lunchtime. We walked around the city making our way along these lovely city streets
to Trinity College
the Sheldonian Theatre
and The Radcliffe Camera.
Unfortunately much of the college is closed to us as non-Oxford students. Also there is much construction which puts some great stuff behind scaffolding (stupid Olympics). For lunch we went to the "Covered Market" and had sandwiches and then were set free for exploring time around the city. Unfortunately we were only given an hour, which left little to NO time to actually accomplish much exploring. I am fully planning on going back and take time to shop because there were great stores and boutiques and vendors everywhere... and I didn't have time to get an Oxford Tshirt.

So, I devoted my free time to seeing some CS Lewis and Tolkein stuff. I found a kindred spirit in Victoria, who too wanted to see that kind of stuff.
So a bunch of us went to find the Magdalene College where Lewis taught to catch a glimpse at the statues that were the inspiration behind Narnians, but it cost to enter the courtyard, so we quickly moved along.
Our group split up and Victoria and I tried to get into Bodleian Library, but it too was closed. That library is one of 6 copyright deposit libraries in the country and has a copy of EVERY book published in Britain and then some... it has to add almost a mile of books every year, so it actually spans almost the entire size of Oxford, but underground... they have people employed known as "moles" who's job it is to just walk and find the books requested by people in the tunnels and tunnels of books underground... AMAZING!!

So we quickly moved on to the finally "free-time" destination - The Eagle and Child.
For those of you who have already caught on you already understand that this place is a Mecca!!! It is the pub where the Inklings met every friday before lunch and talk. For those of you who STILL don't know what I am talking about, The Inklings was a group of writers from Oxford, most notably CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien. The Pub has a corner dedicated to the group with plaques and pictures.

I wish I could have sat in the corner and ordered a pint, but I wanted to save that for when my dad comes. It really is a sweet place.

As soon as we got there, Victoria and I had time to take pictures and then make our way briskly up the High Street to meet the rest of the group where we continued on to Christ Church, which is a College within Oxford (there are 36 colleges which belong to Oxford University). Christ Church notes Charles Dodgson as one of it's math professors (Dodgson is better known by his pen name - Lewis Carroll, author of Alice in Wonderland).
Christ Church's dining hall was also the inspiration of the Hogwarts Dining Hall
and although the dining hall scenes in Harry Potter were recreated on a sound stage set, the stair case where Harry Potter stands before entering the dining hall to be sorted into his house was THE actual stair case I walked up to get to the dining hall. It was used in filming!!!

We also popped into the College Cathedral (which is the only Cathedral in the world that also doubles as college chapel).
There is a stain-glass window which was made right after toilets were invented and it pays homage to this in the corner of the window... you can see a toilet.
I also love how the church incorporates little modern conveniences... this is a wall outlet on one of the ancient stone pillars.

We finished our day and headed back for the hour and twenty minute drive back to campus. I was so exhausted from all the walking that I immediately put on my PJs and read myself to sleep. It was a great trip and just served to wet the appetite for going back and taking my time a little more with all that is to do here. The city seems so fun!!

Friday, January 23, 2009

LIVING in London... (laundry video)

So after a couple weeks of whirl-wind adventures in the city of London, tours of Windsor, Hampton Court, and generally taking in the history and sights, I am now finding myself settling into life here. Now don't get me wrong, I still can't believe I am actually here, but I have realized that I need to start LIVING here. So I have devoted the last couple of days to just living... and homework.

Homework is good, I am almost ready for the 5 minutes presentation I have to do in seminar on tuesday about the novel North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell... SO good. I saw the miniseries over a year ago and just ADORED it, but reading the book has made me appreciate it even more. I have to do a presentation about a passage of the text and how it relates to one of the major themes. I have decided to tackle the "Gaskell Heroine" and discuss how the main character Margaret is different than most 19th century heroines. She is intelligent about public issues, not just personal social issues, and she takes part in more political matters. She is really a fascinating character. Anyways, I have thoroughly bored you, I'm sure... but that is what school has been like for me... that and reading a lot of history books.

Last night I went to a small group that is part of a Christian Union on campus here. I found that after only 2 weeks here, I was in desperate need of fellowship with believers and started looking into different groups through the school. I found a group called "regenerate" that is tied in with Royal Holloway and also links students with different churches in the area. I emailed a girl named Charley and she immediately responded back inviting me to her small group, which was last night. I had so much fun! We just basically ate pizza, sat around and talked, and then watched 4 episodes of Friends :) I got back to my room with the biggest smile on my face, just feeling so excited and blessed. The girls at the group all go to an Anglican church called St John's in Egham and they invited me to attend their church this sunday, which I am going to. They also discussed going through a book together this semestre and they all agreed on the book The Shack!!! I haven't read it yet but of course everyone at Open Door is talking about this book. The next book from leadership catalyst is also going to be closely linked to The Shack and marketed as the sequel!! So cool. That was a huge affirmation from God that this was the group for me :) I am just so happy.

But other than that I have been just kind of taking it easy. I went grocery shopping, did laundry, and all day today I barely got out of my PJs and I basically watched a movie, read, and worked on a video project. It was lovely. I have been enraptured in trying to meet new people and make good impressions and take advantage of my surroundings, that I started feeling guilty whenever I would just sit around... but it finally hit me that I will be here for 6 months and if I continue at the pace I am at, I will get burned out on London rather quickly. I need to take my time. I also was reminded about how much I LOVE just sitting around lazily. I use to devote entire Saturdays to never getting out of my PJs and just cleaning, reading, watching movies, listening to music, etc. I LOVE those days. So I decided today would be such a day. I still felt guilty that I was not outside and not trying to conjure up some adventure to be on in this foreign land, but I again reminded myself that I need space and days such as these... it was lovely!!

Tomorrow is a day trip to Oxford, so I'll be stocked with pictures by tomorrow night... or sunday, depending on what kind of time I have.

Here is Phoebe and I doing Laundry the other day. I took some pics, which quickly escalated into video... which eventually became this... it took me an hour on iMovie to perfect it this afternoon. Turn your sound up! Enjoy!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Songs I'm obsessed with...

1. Finishing the Hat - Mandy Patinkin is doing a concert on the west end... I am tempted to go. But since I saw his name in lights I have had "Finishing the Hat" from the musical Sunday in the Park with George in my head. I therefore have just been playing it over and over again. (FYI, in case you didn't know - Mandy Patinkin was Inigo Montoya in the Princess Bride)

2. Divine Romance - by Phil Wickham. It is just beautiful and worshipful and great!

3. The Thief - by Brooke Fraser. It is so hauntingly romantic. I want my husband to sing me to sleep someday :)

4. Hallelujah and Misery Business - by paramore. They are one right after the other on the CD riot. (Thanks Shawn!) I just play those 2 songs back to back.

5. Viva la Vida - by Coldplay. Just awesome... no other explanation.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Funny University things...

interesting things I've picked up or noticed as a "uni" student here at RHUL: (some of these are not characteristically English, some are just the idiosyncrasies of the professors... but just the same)

* The professors don't care that your can't write at a cheetah's pace... or that you have seriously hand cramps at the end of the lecture... they just rattle on for an hour throwing out words you don't know, and numbers you don't have time to write down, and people's names you have no idea how to spell.

* The paper is NOT 8.5" by 11" here... it's longer. So notebooks, handouts, etc. are too long for my 3 ring binder. Also they are not hole punched in 3... odd

* They don't bag things for you here... instead they hand you the bag and you do it yourself, or they have them set up next to the register

* A lot of my learning here is dependent on my own research... even though they professors talk a lot, they don't really tell you everything you need to know and instead assign like 20 books per session that you should read from

* the drinking age here is 18, so they sell alcohol in the college shop... funny

* I LOVE the discussion seminars for each class... they really encourage opinions and don't shoot you down if it's a little different... I really like my english lit class.

* My Modern British History professor says "um" A LOT!!! If anyone of you have seen the film version of Emma starring Gwyneth Paltrow - she reminds me of Mrs. Bates.

* My Medieval Europe History professors name is Peregrin - which is just awesome! He seems really cool!! He struck up a conversation with me after our seminar - he seemed interested in that I am American... which is new for me.

In other news, I was undisturbed last night for sleeping... the girls apparently don't go out on tuesdays. I also blacked out the window above me door to the hall so it was COMPLETELY dark in my room (lovely). I also got a white noise application for my iPod touch. It can play the sound of a fan, rain, the beach, thunder, crickets, static (why would you listen to that), ticking clock (which is one of the most annoying sounds in my opinion, so I found that odd), and chimes. I listened to the fan (because I can have it really loud and it doesn't get annoying)... that too drown out the noise of doors opening a closing and people walking above me or talking through the walls. I think I'll sleep better from now on.
I also paid for several tours that are offered to me as an exchange student all over England. They are scheduled about every couple of weekends until the end of the spring term (end of March).
* This Saturday is a day trip to Oxford and Blenheim Castle!! I am so excited to see Oxford - full of the spirit of CS Lewis, Tolkein, Alice in Wonderland, Hogwarts Dining Hall (which I didn't know), etc.
* Then the weekend of Valentine's Day is Leeds Castle and Canterbury - home of the Cathedral and Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. That Sunday will also be a day trip to Stonehenge and Bath!
* From Feb 27 - Mar 1 is a weekend in the Scottish Highlands and Edinburgh!
* March 13 -14 is York and Bronte country in the Northern England - full of Jane Eyre awesomeness.
* The last trip is on Mar 21 which is a day trip to Stratford and Warwick, which is a lot of Shakespeare.
Very excited for this opportunity! Very affordable trips - which is basically being funded with the money from my party!! Thanks to anyone who gave me money - I'll blog about each trip of course filled with pictures.
I am also glad to be doing some stuff before Amy or my parents come and visit. That way I will know some stuff when I take them!

I also just remembered something that I had forgotten from last night - I guess I was that tired! I was awoken by a fire alarm at 12:30am!! I was in my PJs... but I calmly donned my snow jacket and slippers and filed down the stairs along with plenty of other people from my dorm hall. Turns out someone stupid pulled the alarm... or something, I don't really know, I tried not to wake up fully. but I got back up to my room after about 15 minutes and just fell back to sleep... lovely. That's crazy that it's 2:45pm now and I had forgotten all about that until just now.

Well I am settling in nicely and meeting nice people in my classes... slowly making friends. I also looked in to a christian group called "regenerate," which has on campus small group bible studies of sorts. I emailed a nice girl who was in charge of it, and she invited me to check out her small group on thursday and they could get me hooked into a church home. Very nice. The church that I looked at earlier is pentacostal, and upon further research, doesn't seem that connected to the school... but the girl from "regenerate" goes to St John's which is an anglican church, which seems really nice. It'll be different from Open Door of course, but I just want a place to worship God... plus on their website it says that worship (music) is a big part of their services... which is what I like to hear. So in a couple weeks, hopefully I'll have a church.

Monday, January 19, 2009

my address

A couple of people have asked for my address to send me letters and such... here it is:

Miranda Thompson
Founder's Hall W350
Royal Holloway University Of London
Egham Hill
EGHAM, Surrey TW20 0EX
United Kingdom

FYI. I have not yet received a package at this address, so your package may be the guinea pig... I let you know when experimentations have been successful.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Tales from a Tourist...(Tower, St Paul's & Hampton Court)

I am gonna desperately try to be thorough in my blogging because it hit me that I am not just blogging to tell you all about my trip, but also to tell ME about my trip. When I return to the states and try to chronicle all this into a scrapbook, I will be using this blog to remember everything I did. So if I get long winded you can just skip to the pictures, although I do hope you'll be wanting to hear the stories behind all the pictures - because their good stories (that is if I remember them all).

This weekend was my last weekend with Greg touring London! I was going into it not expecting to have as much fun as last week because we saw SO much and it was so incredibly amazing. But God is awesome and wonderful and sees fit to do amazingly cool things for me and so to my wonderment this weekend was BETTER!!!! I stayed 2 nights at Greg's flat in Richmond (a rather affluent part of the London suburbs) and so we had friday night, all day saturday, and most of Sunday to explore and see the sights. I felt so independent walking to the train station, buying my train ticket, and even changing trains on my way to Richmond all by myself. The reason I had to change trains was because I missed the direct train from Egham to Richmond. It was a "Sliding Doors" moment where I was 3 feet away from the train when the doors closed and left without me. But I am an independent Londoner and so I was not derailed. I made it to Richmond just 10 minutes later than expected and Greg met me there. We had dinner and then walked around the town along the Thames (pronounced Teh-ms). When then returned to his flat around 9:30pm and called his family and my parents. The connection to the internet is MUCH better at his apartment. Then I went to bed because we had a very full and early day ahead of us.
Side note: you have no idea how much I loved have a queen size bed to myself and a full bathroom to use!! After a week of dorm life with community showers and toilets and a sink with two faucets (hot and cold) so you get either REALLY HOT or REALLY COLD water. I slept so peacefully and comfortably!! It was glorious. here is my view from my room window in his flat

I awoke right before my alarm went off to the sound of rain pelting the big picture window in my room. It was 7am and I knew rain was in the forcast so I lay awake listening to the rain for a few minutes. I LOVE rain and especially hard rain, but NOT when I am wanting to walk around London all day and see the sights. So as I dressed and got ready I prayed and prayed that God would make the day really fun and give us a little bit of sun at the right parts at least. We left Richmond and got on the underground to go to Tower Hill (our first stop - the Tower of London). When we walked out of the train station at our destination the rain had stopped and it was just overcast (kind of fitting to our tower of london tour), but to my extreme delight by the time we got had our tickets and walked in, the clouds parted and the sun was shining!! It was out ALL day!!! Again, God is awesome!!

I will tell you this - if you can only to do one thing in the entire city of London, it HAS to be the Tower of London!!! Now it is not my favorite thing that I have done (that comes later), but it is still amazing and has it all! The Tower of London is where the crown jewels are, it's where Anne Boleyn was beheaded
Lady Jane Grey was imprisoned, Queen Elizabeth I spent some time there as a prisoner before her sister died, they tortured people here

and the best part of the entire place is the Yoeman Warder tours. It's like the jungle cruise with all the jokes and dry humor coupled with IMMENSE amounts of history! The Yoeman Warders are not just tour guides though. Everything single one of them has served at least 25 years in the Queen's armed forces and are decorated servicemen. They live at the Tower of London with their families and are just sweet old men.

I will tell you the crown jewels are impressive (my favorite was the sword bedazzled with hundreds of diamonds, emeralds, rubies, gold, silver, and every other precious stone you can think of). Unfortunately you can't take pictures of the crown jewels, but you can check out some pics here. They also show a video of Queen Elizabeth II being crowned, which brought a little tear to my eye to think of the amazing feelings she must have felt becoming the Queen of England!
Some other cool aspects of the T.O.L. would be the ravens (they have to have at least 6 ravens on the premises at all times or else the "kingdom will fall" - I have no idea why or when that started. But so you can relax, they have 9 on the grounds all with clipped wings and most of them in cages - they are covering all their bases), the white tower (has the armory and a history about the weapons of england)
the wall carvings (done by prisoners - names, prayers, crosses, etc)
traitors gate (the water entrance where traitors and prisoners were brought in (it's just a gate, but it's so eery)
and of course the iconic tower bridge!
(This is just outside the tower of London - that behind me is the "Gherkin" named because it looks like a pickle).

(This is at a gift shop near the tower of london)

After The Tower of London (which took us close to 3.5 hours to get through) we grabbed lunch and walked to St Paul's Cathedral. I have heard it was big and cool and definitely something to visit, but until you see it and experience it, you have NO IDEA. This is by far, hands down, bar none, my FAVORITE thing I have done in England so far!!

So St Paul's Cathedral was burned down during the great London fire in 1666. But Christopher Wren to the rescue! He designed one of the most incredible buildings I have had the privilage to behold. Not only is it massive and overwhelming on the outside, I seriously got choked up and a a little bit misty (which is an understatement, because I totally cried). I cannot describe the beauty! I was not allowed to take pictures inside the church (and although I am a skilled secret picture taker (see visit to Windsor), I felt a little sacreligious if I would have tried. So I downloaded some pics from the internet of my favorite parts.

After beholding the cathedral floor, Greg and I walked up the 259 steps to the Whispering Gallery (which is in the HUGE famous dome). It is called the Whispering Gallery because if you stand and whisper into the wall, someone on the other side of the Gallery will be able to hear you. Pretty cool. Then Greg and I walked up another 100+ steps up to the Stone Gallery (which is outside overlooking the city).

The golden gallery (the highest gallery) was closed, so we didn't venture higher and instead descended down to the crypt where Admiral Nelson and Christopher Wren, among other are buried and also where the gift shop is. I bought a cross necklace, which is now a most prized possession because it was bought at my favorite place in the whole world.

We left St Paul's, which was difficult because I think I need to live there forever with it's gold gates, marble statues, and presence of God, but we had more to see. Next stop King's Cross Station. If you don't know my intended destination yet, then you've obviously never read Harry Potter. I in fact was on a pilgrimage to the closest thing to Hogwarts I will ever get, which is Platform 9 3/4!! They actually have a spot dedicated to Platform 9 3/4 with a sign and a trolly half sticking out of the wall as if I were on my way to the Hogwarts Express.

By now it was about 3:30pm and Greg and I hoped to get some cheap tickets to a West End show for that night. We took the train to Picadilly to see what shows were available
but to our great dismay Wicked was Sold out as was Thriller and Billy Elliot. We decided instead to visit the Imperial War Museum for a bit and then go to the cinema (movie theater) and see "Slumdog Millionaire." The Imperial War Museum was pretty cool - the Holocaust section was powerful and intense. We hopped on the train back to Richmond to check out their cinema times, but the movie was sold out too! So we just went to the flat, I called my parents and told them about my day and then went to sleep.

I woke up this morning a little later since we weren't leaving until 9:30am. It was raining quite hard when I went to sleep last night, so again I prayed for some clear skies, just like all day saturday. When I awoke it was sunny as can be - Thanks God for being You!! Our day today entailed Hampton Court Palace, which took up most of the day. We caught a bus to the Palace and although it was briskly cold all day, the sun shown and it wasn't bad at all! Hampton Court Palace is one of the many palaces owned by Her Majesty the Queen and has been a royal residence since King Henry VIII's time.
In fact it was King Henry VIII's favorite Palace and where he resided most of the time. It was actually built by his advisor Cardinal Wolsey, but because it was so extravagant (rivaling the King's own estates at the time), like any good subject of the King, Wolsey mysteriously gave of the residence to His Majesty. It is very Tudor in it's architecture for the most part in the front, but near the back the architecture changes drastically to Baroque.
This was because King William III, co-ruler with his wife Mary II, was hoping to demolish the entire palace and rebuild it with his own style with the help of non other than Christopher Wren!! Fortunately the Country couldn't afford a complete renovation so William III settled for half and half, which makes for a very cool and interesting Palace design.
The Palace is my Disneyland with History. It has people dressed in period costume who give great informative tours
vignettes of the way the palace would have looked like during different occupants, amazing gardens and grounds

and even a famous hedge maze to play in (i did it and it was pretty fun).
It also has the guinness book of World Records largest grape Vine in it's wine vineyard section.

Most of the Palace attraction, however, is focused on Henry VIII (which sent my heart racing because I LOVE anything dealing with the Tudor dynasty). Well, good news and bad news. Bad news is the Henry VIII apartments were closed and won't be opened again until April (heart saddened), but the reason is: Henry VIII's 500 anniversary of his reign is in March and a HUGE exhibition (the "second coming") of King Henry VIII will be littered around London from April until the end of the summer!! I came to England at the PERFECT time it seems!! At Hampton Court in April they will have more Henry VIII stuff as well as a Henry VIII person that will be walking around conversing with visitors and I WILL get my picture with him! We had lunch at the Palace Cafe (sausage and wild boar casserole - which is basically as stew).
We also met these birds that I believe are a duck- racoon hybrid with a very croupy sounding duck quack... crazy english bird.

We finished at Hampton Court at about 3:30pm and returned to Richmond. I got packed and again all by myself, I returned to Egham on the train and walked to the school. I am now exhausted and going to bed so I am coherent for my classes tomorrow.