Monday, February 25, 2008

Spring is coming to beautiful London, England!

The weather is starting to warm up here and we are seeing the sun for at least part of every day now. It is wonderful. We have had a very busy week doing fellowshipping, entertaining, studying, doing service, etc.
Last week, we attended the London Temple with our friends, the Perrys, from Prescott, Arizona. They have a car so they picked us up and he had planned to KILL TWO BIRDS WITH ONE STONE and do a little sightseeing while we were heading to the temple. The temple is actually quite a ways out in the country from here. It takes us about 45 minutes to get there on a good day.
We scouted out and finally found HEVER CASTLE, which is castle owned by Henry the VIII's second wife, Anne Boelyn's family (she was beheaded by Henry VIII). After Henry VIII beheaded Anne, he inherited the castle. He kept it and used it sparingly for several years until he had organized the Church of England so that he could divorce is 4th wife Anne of Cleve. As part of the divorce settlement, he gave her the castle and it has been in her family ever since. It is now part of the National Trust and is maintained by the English Government as a place for tourists to visit. We also visited Penhurst Manor House. It is located in some lovely old countryside. The family that currently lives there has owned the home for over 400 years. It is massive and such beautiful scenery can be seen from its hill top perch. The village that surrounds it is very old and many very wealthy professional people that work in London live here and commute into the city daily. We enjoyed seeing this old village.
The countryside around the castle and the temple is just what you think of when you think of England: Little narrow roads with hedgerows on either side, horses and sheep grazing in the pastures that are still incredibly green even at this time of year, beautiful rolling hills, big estate homes situated prominently on the farms, rock fences along the roadways, and old, old, old homes everywhere and most of them are in great repair. London is like a different country compared with the country which isn't actually too far away from the congestion of the big city.
The temple is located next to an historic old manor house that is currently being refurbished. There are also many buildings there that are used for housing for the temple workers. The cafeteria at the temple is marvelous. The chef there is from the South of England on the Jersey Islands. He is renowned for his great cuisine. He has tried to retire several times from being the cook here, but they keep calling him back. The temple is located on a large tract of land that is so beautiful. I would assume that it was purchased by President McKay soon after the 2nd World War. The land there now would be frightfully expensive. We think that the land around the temple would be at least 10 acres. It is landscaped beautifully with large trees, flowers, ponds, benches, etc. Located next to the temple is the Mission Office. We understand that Jan Ashworth's mother is coming to work in the office there in a couple of weeks. We hardly ever get to the mission office because it is so far away from us. There are two older sisters who work there plus to young elders. The mission president and his wife only get into the office about once a week because they live about 45 minutes away in their home.
We enjoyed our day out very much. It is good to occasionally spend some time with good friends and see some of the beautiful scenery here.