Monday, September 30, 2013

Preston Temple and Liverpool

I had a 3 day weekend this past weekend, and decided I really wanted to go to the temple.  The London temple (which is theoretically closer) is closed for renovations until mid November, so I decided to trek up north to Preston.  Since I was so far up north and had a 3 day weekend, I decided to spend the rest of the weekend sight-seeing in Liverpool.  The whole weekend was fabulous!

The temple in Preston might be my new favorite temple, it was so lovely!  It reminded me a lot of the Boston temple, but bigger and more ornate.  It was such a joy being there!! I took a lot of pics, of course, but here are a couple of my favs:

After the temple, I headed down to Albert Dock in Liverpool for some Beatles.  I did the Magical Mystery Tour, which drove around Liverpool pointing out spots like Penny Lane, the graveyard with an Elenor Rigby gravestone, the church where John and Paul met, all 4 childhood homes, the Epstein home, Strawberry Field and other great places.  These 4 pics are the childhood homes, in the order of: Ringo, George, John and Paul (both Ringo and George's home are a door halfway down the street).

Here are:  the bus, me at Penny Lane, the church where John and Paul met (John and his little high school band were doing a gig at a church fair, one band member invited his friend Paul to watch), the Eleanor Rigby graveyard, the gate to Strawberry Fields (an orphanage in John's time), and the club where the band played before they were famous (both outside and inside):

After an evening of Beatles, the next day's theme was historic houses.  I went to two, Croxteth Hall and Speke Hall.  In both cases I couldn't take any pictures inside (but I did sneak one...).  Croxteth Hall had a great display of how a wealthy and titled family lived in the mid to late 1800's, complete with a downstairs exhibit on how the servants lived.  It was hard to get to, but it was a neat display.  Speke Hall was much more pleasing to the eye, and was a smaller home, though the family that had lived there had also been wealthy and titled.  The family that lived there had been very religious and strict, so it had a different feel than the other hall where the family was very lavish and ignorant of how lavish they were.  Of course, even in the "simple" life they led, it was much better off and much better decorated than most of England at that time.
Croxteth Hall:

Speke Hall:

Also that morning I went to the Anglican Cathedral, which was the absolute most staggering building I have ever been in the presence of.  I don't know exactly how to describe the impact it had on me.  It is just so HUGE and so present.  Almost like an intimidating fortress, I suppose.  I took a million pics, both inside and out.  Incredible, absolutely incredible.

I ended the weekend at a couple art galleries, Lady Lever and Walker.  Lady Lever was brilliant!  It ranks up there with my favorite things of the weekend.  It was created by a man who owned a soap company.  He built a village for the factory workers in his factory, which was normal at the time, but he was the first man to build in his village things like parks and things for the workers to do for fun.  The art gallery was in honor of his wife who had recently died, and allowed him to put on display his vast private collection so his factory workers could access a museum and cultural experiences.  It was an absolute lovely collection!

Walker Art Gallery wasn't my favorite, but it was free so I didn't mind.  It had some great sculptures that I liked, but other than that nothing really stood out to me.

All in all, it was quite  lovely and successful trip in an outstanding city!  Liverpool was definitely fantastic!!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Blenheim Palace & Lamborghinis

Today I decided to go on my first sight-seeing trip out of Oxford.  I went to Blenheim Palace, which is a few miles to the north, and is where Winston Churchill grew up.  On the bus ride over in the sleepy and calm morning, we suddenly heard loud engine noises and as we looked over, the bus was passed by a TON of Lamborghinis.  At first we were only passed by 3, and I got excited because I thought perhaps it was Top Gear, but the a ton more kept coming so I realized it was something else.  We ended up being passed by like 30 of them!

As the bus dropped my off in front of the Palace gates, I realized that's where all the Lamborghinis were going too!  I never did find out why they were there, but it was cool watching them parade by.  I tried to get a video of them revving up their engines, which they did frequently, but unfortunately not when I had my camera running.  Here's a video I took anyway:

My first view of the palace was breathtaking!  It was a good reminder of exactly I was in England to begin with.  I walked around the gardens for a bit, then went inside.

The inside was pretty cool.  There were some rooms dedicated to Winston Churchill and his story, and then some rooms that told about the rest of the family that had lived in Blenheim Palace since the 1700's.  Currently the 11th Duke of Marlborough and his family live in the Palace, though obviously not in the parts where tours were given.  My favorite thing that I learned was that Winston Churchill loved to paint!  He painted a lot, and he also happened to be friends with the guy who founded Hallmark Greeting Cards, and when the guy started his business, he asked Winston Churchill to paint  some of the first Christmas Cards!

After inside the palace, there were more gardens to explore, including a maze!

All in all it was a great day, full of so many lovely British things:  gardens, history, rain, little children with British accents, and of course, fancy cars on parade.