Wednesday, October 29, 2014


I know what you are thinking, I swear I can hear it. 
"Aimee. You are in England. Why would you title your post "Venice"? Do you now know that is located in a completely different (although equally beautiful) country? This is so awkward of you".

Do not freak out yet, my friends. I am about to make an announcement that will shock and shift your world:
VENICE IS IN ENGLAND TOO. Yes, that is correct. Not too far from my lovely home on Palace Court is a charming area known as "Little Venice." Why? Obviously because it looks like Venice (or so they say..). It was previously the terminus of the Grand Junction Canal and Regent's Canal and in the early 19th century was used to transport materials throughout the UK.
Now days it is just a hidden gem for smart tourists/local know-hows to enjoy a puppet show on the bank, have lunch on a floating cafe, or take a trip up stream right to the London Zoo at Regent's park. Or, if you are me, it is there to simply walk around and love for its fall colors, adorable boats, and reminder of Italy.
I cannot lie to you all though: had it not been called "Little Venice" I am not positive I would have thought of Venice too much. Having been to both the real Venice, Bruges--the Venezia of the North--and Little Venice, I can say that nothing can quite compare to the real one so it is better to keep them separate and appreciate them for what they are as an individual. It is kind of like the Harry Potter books and movies. The books are everything that is brilliant and wonderful in this world. The movies are quite excellent as well. But if you are comparing the movies to the books the entire time you watch the movie you will find them wanting. So, yes. Little Venice was beautiful. Yes, I recommend going. Yes, it had boats and a canal. No, it was not Venice.
Little Venice does have quite the past though; it used to be the "haunt of artists, writers, prostitutes, scientists, and London commuters" if you can imagine that. Now it is just quaint and rather secluded. I did this walk because of the name (obviously) and my intense love for Italy, but in the end I ended up just falling more in love with England, especially in the fall. It was a perfect Londonesque day. The sky was overcast, clouds were grey, but I was incredibly happy.

The trees are fire but I don't want them to be put out. 

Care for a ride down the river? How about to the Zoo?
Oh. Don't mind if I do..

This is what perfection looks like. Who cares that the sky isn't blue; who cares that my care is out of control from the off-and-on rain; who cares that there aren't singing Italian men in gondolas. This is London. THIS IS IN LONDON. I love finding these special, hidden areas of beauty here. They are the life so much more than the big buildings or crowded tube. 

You know what other beautiful scene I saw as I crossed the canal? 
Old men taking each other for a walk. 

There were four friends and I watched for a moment before I just had to sneak (aka creep) a picture. It was the sweetest scene. They took turns pushing their friend and all assisted in getting him across the street and over the curb. I believe they were headed to the canal for a short walk (ride) in the misty rain. It just was a small reminder that the important things in life aren't things; they are people and relationships. 

After people, I would say learning and visiting places comes next on the list of important things.
How convenient for me that I get all three in one for this time of life? 
I am living with 50 of the best people I've ever met. They really have become some of my closest friends and favorite people. Each different, but I have so much love for them all. 
I am learning every day. Learning Shakespeare, art, music, British and Church history. Learning what it is like to be a small girl in a big town. Learning what it is like to be far away in a foreign land. Learning London. Learning what I want in life and who I am in this world. It is a good life in the beautiful place. 

Love Always, Aimee

Here is one of those favorite people I mentioned above. Her name is Lauren and sometimes I swear we are the same person. She is kind and funny and always in a good mood and we are going to room together come next winter! We already have so many plans and adventures we are excited for. 
Isn't that what is so wonderful about life?
As good as the moment is, there is always something to look forward to. 
London might be my dream come true, but it is not the peak of my life and that is quite a comforting thought. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Scotland the Brave

They say a picture is worth thousand words.

Here are 67 photos to show the 67,000+ words I could tell you about my week traveling by coach through northern England and Scotland.
67,000+ words that would just begin to describe to you how taken my heart is by the English countryside.
67,000+ words that could only scrape the surface of the many adventures I had in six days.
67,000+ words that would speak of beautiful ruins, never ending sheep sightings, churches on churches (and then some more gorgeous churches), nonstop laughter, too many hours on a coach, plenty of wandering towns in the rain, a few bad food choices and then some quite excellent ones, and underlying it all my not-so-secret love for everything this is to me.

However, it is late (as usual when I am blogging..) and I do not have the time to type out 67,000+ words any more than you have the time (or patience) to read them.
So. Here are the pictures; I will leave the words open to your own imagination and interpretation.

{Fountains Abbey}

Ellen and Aims at your service.


so much love for these girls.
When in doubt, do some yoga

perks of being one of five boys on a study abroad, right? 7:1 ratio is not too shabby.
we pretend we love each other for pictures..

...but then the truth comes out. 


obviously we are models. 

{Jorvick (York) Viking Centre}

Once a Viking, Always a Viking. #valhalla

*please forgive the chipped polish*
{York Minster and surrounding city scenes}

speaks to my soul.

that ceiling though.. can I have it, please? 

trying to pretend like I'm not freezing to death long enough for a photo..

{the Shambles; Diagon Alley inspiration}


real life Harry Potter Puppet Pals! 

While in York I went to the coolest soap shop of my entire life. Possibly the coolest one in existence.
These are soap cupcakes and pies/cakes.
Yes, that is right. I said soap. As in that thing you wash your hands with.
It smelled and looked amazing to say the least. I spend a solid half hour trying to decide what one I wanted... Then I lost my sense of smell, gave up, and left. Haha lame, I know; but it was still so cool!

I also spent a little time by myself (okay fine, I admit it; it was an accident because I got lost..) so I decided to roam the old Roman walls of the city. I love all things relating to Rome so it only made sense. I had a pretty nice view of the minster and it was pleasant to just be alone. When you live on top of 40 other people alone time becomes a very precious and almost nonexistent idea. 


{Burghley and Chatsworth estates}

This is the room Elizabeth plays the piano in for Mr. Darcy while visiting her friend.

Okay this was maybe the coolest wall I have ever seen and will ever see. It has pieces of pottery jutting out of the walls and at first glance you are like, "...okay, that's interesting I suppose." But then you hear what it really is: THE DUKE AND DUCHESSES DNA PATTERNS. That's right. It's a new installation of the current owner's DNA. How incredible is that? I love when art and science come together to make art. Such a creative idea. Then some of the pieces aren't glazed. If you follow those in a line it follows the Duke's favorite garden walk path and the Duchess's favorite music tune. WHAT. I want a DNA wall; it's so rad. 

yes, those are the steps Elizabeth Bennet went down while running from Mr. Darcy. yes, I was swooning. 

{Whitby Abbey; the inspiration for the original Dracula}

{Holy Island; Lindisfarne Priory and Castle}

Erica and I took a detour on the way to the castle to see the coast. It was a good idea. 

{Scotland <3 }

King Arthur's seat, one of my favorite things. Highly recommended to all, but do it in the morning before it gets hot because you get a little bit of a work out.  We had to book it from the top of Arthur's seat all the way up the Royal Mile in about 15 minutes to make it to our castle entrance time. Haha it was an adventure and we were all sweating a little too much for being 10 am by the time we reached the castle. The best (or maybe most pathetic?) part was that my professor was the first one up the mountain and up the Royal Mile and the least out of breath and sweaty. What is life. 

only the coolest kids made the climb
I guess Edinburgh is okay... or possibly the prettiest place I've ever been. 

wind messing up my hair but I really don't care because I've never been happier than here.

we love visiting castles! ....
we also love being weird at said castles. and everywhere else we go for that matter. 
 -the elephant house-

This is the Harry Potter lover's mecca. It is the birth place of my childhood (and quite frankly adulthood's) favorite world. It is the quiet cafe in Edinburgh where J.K. Rowling wrote the first few books on napkins because "it was cheaper to pay for coffee than her heating bill." She believe so much in her story and fought so hard for it. She is my inspiration and hero. Thank you for giving me another home in Hogwarts, JK. I will always love Harry.

Sitting here (and eating the most delicious coconut blueberry bar) was indescribable.
I think there is only one word fitting for the feeling that was tangible in the air: magical. 

The bathroom has a sort of shrine to JKR. Everyone who has made the journey to Harry's birthplace seems to have left a thank you of sorts to the woman behind the magic. It was touching to see how many lives and cultures she reached through her story of the boy who lived. 

We love you JKR! and Harry <3

Next on our Harry Potter journey was the graveyard JKR used to walk through on her way to the cafe. Several character names are pulled from graves here, including Voldemort. (well, Tom Riddle anyways).


We met a guy in the graveyard who gave us a personal tour! He pointed out names and headstones as we made our way to Tom Riddle. Then he gave us what he promised was the very wand used in the filming of the movies for Voldemort. ... He might have been crazy, but it was more fun to just let ourselves believe him. I honestly got chills holding that wand up to the grave.

I know I shouldn't have laughed at the Dark Lord's grave while summoning death eaters.. But I was in too much shock at how unbelievably lucky I was to be living my life.

After our Harry Potter tour,  I took on an adventure of my own: the Scotland/Ireland Mission home. I wanted to see it for two reasons: 
1. My Dad served in Scotland way back when 
2. One of my best friends currently serves there, so I could drop off a letter I needed to mail with a treat. 
It was two miles from our hotel, but that doesn't feel far at all to me anymore. I can easily walk five miles on any given day in London (last Saturday I did ten). It was so nice to see more of Edinburgh as I left the touristy, although beautiful, Royal Mile and ventured into the suburb part of town. 

It was so cool to visit! A nice senior couple showed me around the home and I met a few missionaries from my friend's zone. 

I then spent the rest of the afternoon wandering up the down the Royal Mile shopping for family (be excited for Christmas) and enjoying the sites. They really had bagpipers walking around and playing! It was so cool and just a typical day in Scotland I suppose.

And that concludes your photo tour of my week up north! I hope you caught a glimpse of the beauty, life, and magic that is Scotland. I hope I can return one day and see more; it definitely holds a very special spot in my heart. 

Love Always, Aimee