Friday, August 9, 2013


August is holiday month in Great Britain. School is finally out and people take off for at least part of the month to enjoy some R&R. Our kids at home have been doing the same. One daughter has been volunteering with her kids at This Is The Place Heritage Park. Another daughter and her family have headed across the country on a Church History tour. A daughter and her husband will soon travel to the Czech Republic, and the twins sent us these snapshots from Florida. They were on their way to an international dance festival in Haiti with Clog America.

Well, we haven't done anything quite that spectacular lately. The word "holiday" (or the U.S. equivalent "vacation") is not a term that we encounter as missionaries. While some senior couple  temple missionaries have a two-week break when temples close bi-annually for cleaning, other missionaries generally serve 365 days a year for the duration of their mission. We've been away from home for over two years now and have yet to take a holiday (vacation) during that time. NOT complaining, though! We take a Preparation Day once a week, when we can get away - and if that doesn't work, we get away for a few hours, here and there. In the MTC, we were commanded to take a break every week - and not to use it to go grocery shopping! We can definitely see the wisdom in making sure we have some downtime. When we haven't followed that counsel, impatience and exhaustion start to creep in. Not a good place to go....

As you can see from past blogs, we have definitely had some time off here and there, and we have been able to do and see some amazing things while we've been in England -- far more than we expected. It's been such a blessing to actually live here for a few years and to get to know the people, the land and the culture. We love England! It's a lot different experience than our previous tourist travels, mainly because we are full-time missionaries involved in service.

So, though we haven't take a real vacation/holiday for a few years, we are loving the breaks we get. Here are a couple things we've done recently.

London is one of the most amazing cities anywhere in the world when it comes to live theatre. We love to go into London to attend a West End musical or a classical music concert once in awhile, but we also love to go to some of the many local community theatres. They put on some great performances! This week, we went with a group of temple workers to the Chequermeade theatre in East Grinstead, the closest town to the temple. We saw a great little local cast perform "The King and I." When was the last time you heard, "Shall We Dance" or "Getting To Know You"? Such a fun evening!

Chequer Meade Community Centre

A few weeks ago, our dear friends, Elder Arthur Brooks and Sister Pam Brooks invited us to dinner in London. They are the directors of the Church's Hyde Park Visitors' Centre on Exhibition Road in the heart of London. We met them at the Provo MTC and came to our respective Visitors' Centre assignments at the same time. We love to get together with them, even though we might not see them for months at a time.  After dinner, we attended the Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London. It was spectacular! The Ceremony of the Keys is a 700-year-old tradition that takes place every night. With reservations, a small group is allowed to escort the warden to observe the formal locking of the gates at the Tower of London - which houses the Crown Jewels. Literally, they never miss a night and the ceremony has been going on since the 1300's (a couple of hundred years before Columbus even sailed to America).

Here's a link that shows part of the ceremony. (You might have to copy and paste.)

The Tower of London at dusk.
Tower of London entrance with the Tower Bridge in the distance.
The Carpenters with the Brooks

My brother Ken and sister-in-law Karen were here during July. We haven't seen them in a couple of years and were so glad they decided to stop in and see us! We spent an afternoon with them at Hever Castle. If you've read our blog much, you know it's one of our favorite places. We hadn't managed to get there when the roses were in bloom before. What a treat.

Ken and Karen with us in the rose gardens.
Hever Castle - childhood home of Anne Boleyn.
Inside courtyard of Hever Castle.
Castle grounds
Entrance to the formal gardens

The Astor family (think Astoria hotels) added a beautiful man-made lake in the early 1900's.

Thought for the week came when we were in a Gelato parlour in London with Ken. Love it! More chocolate, please :)                                 - Pat -

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