Monday, June 23, 2008

Pizza, Spaghetti, Tacos, Lasagna - What really is American food?

Ken and Barbara amongst the flowers at Kew Gardens

Japanese Pagoda at Kew Gardens

Ken and Barbara by the Roman Arch at Kew Gardens
Another week has come and gone and boy has it been a busy one. This was Stake Temple Week, so we were able to attend the London Temple and start some of the temple work for my family. The rest of the cards I sent to my sister, Carol, who is serving a six month mission at the Palmyra Temple in New York. We also went to the Hyde Park Family History Center this week and found a load of new family names so now as soon as I get organized we will have lots more work to do. We helped with a Stake Single Adult Hawaiian Day, prepared lessons and a new home teaching list for the ward, fed a part member family, helped ward members with geneology work on the computer, attended Zone Meetings, fed the missionaries, and held a movie and popcorn night for members of the ward, this week.
My kids keep asking me about English cooking and what we eat here. It is hard to say what English cooking really is. Fish and chips, roast lamb with mint sauce, shepherd's pie, orange marmalade, and clotted cream on desserts are favorites here in England. Most of the people who live around us are African so we are exposed mostly to their cooking. They are wonderful cooks and they love meat, meat, meat!!! When you have dinner with them, they serve about three different kinds of meats and then a vegetable or salad with that. When they have a barbeque, the grills are just loaded down with meats of every kind possible. At the Young Single Adult Conference this week, they served chicken, hamburgers, hotdogs, barbequed ribs, shiskabobs with beef on them, and then a potato salad and a green salad. Kenneth thinks that he has died and gone to heaven.
When we have people over to eat at our house, they always want American food. I have gone over all of the favorites that I cook at home. Most all of my family's favorite foods actually come from somewhere else. That is the wonderful thing about America. We are a mix of many different ethnic groups who have mostly been assimilated successfully into the American way of living. I have thought and thought about what truly is American food. I have been able to come up with a few things that I think are truly ours. They are hamburgers, milkshakes, corn, squash, barbequed chicken, juicy steaks, baked potatoes (those are jacketed potatoes here), watermelon, ice cream, brownies, and Oreo Cookies. We are actully having an American style barbeque here at our flat in the back garden for the Relief Society on Thursday evening. We are having hotdogs, hamburgers, potato salad, brownies and ice cream. It should be fun, but a little crowded. My kitchen here is like a narrow hallway. If one person goes in, they have to come out before the next person goes in, that is unless you want to get really friendly in there. We do have a small garden which is probably about 15 feet by about 50 feet. We have a small barbeque, a small table, and a bench out there. At least it is a place to go that is fairly private and is outdoors. One of the ward members brought some pots over to plant flowers in so we will have it beautiful for the barbeque. Actually, it is unbelievable how easily and beautifully everything grows here. Flowers were made to be grown here. They grow everywhere and without any effort. It is quite a contrast to living in the desert where everything beautiful has to be tended and cared for carefully. I am including some photos at Kew Gardens, which is supposed to have the largest green houses in the world for plants from every country immaginable. The landscaping there is amazing and so full of flowers and beautiful things. It is actually the estate where King George (of American Revolution fame) lived with his wife and fourteen children most of the time. It is also the place where he was taken when he had his many attacks of insanity that you hear so much about.
We have had many opportunites to do interesting work here. We hope that we are making a difference. We have also seen many beautiful areas here in England that have been magnificent. We have learned a great appreciation for different cultures and different points of view. We have also learned even more than we already knew that the Gospel changes lives for the better. The world tries to change people lives from the outside in, but the Gospel of Jesus Christ changes people's lives from the inside out. We see that every day here. Members here truly have Christ's image in their countenance and you can see it as they go about their lives in this huge city.
We love you all and think about you often. You have touched our lives in so many ways and have made our lives happy and fulfilling. Thanks so much for your friendship and love through the years. We have now been gone for 6 months. The time has flown by and we look forward to more, many interesting and growing experiences here in Jolly Old England. We hope all is well there.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Laura, George, Ken, Barbara, Steve and Leslie- All invited to Queen Elizabeth's birthday bash!

Ken and Barbara at Buckingham Palace

It is a beautiful Monday morning here, at least for the time being. I have only changed my clothes twice so far today. Once, because I thought it was warm and then once more because I was decidedly cold. Over here you definitely dress in layers because you never know when it might rain, etc. The only trouble with us is that we don't have enough clothing to dress in layers. We have to just make a guess and dress that way and hope that we are right when we get outside. With public transportation there is no turning back once you get somewhere. What an exciting life!!!
We are fine here. We are back into the mission groove now that all the company is gone. We keep busy with activation, church callings, teaching missionary lessons, attending meetings, and still working and cleaning at the chapel. We also had two baptisms this past week which was really exciting. Now we are teaching them the new member lessons and getting them familiar with the church and the members here.
Sister Perry and I decided that we were going to plan a fun Father's Day activity for our husbands since Mother's Day came and went without mention here last month. Mother's Day in England is in March so it was really convenient for our husbands to not celebrate it in March because they were going to celebrate it in May and then that didn't work out either!!! Oh well, what is new. We decided to attend the Queen's Birthday Celebration which was planned for June 14 in Uptown London. President Bush and Laura came, too. We saw the queen and her family on the balcony at Buckingham Palace, but missed the Bushes. Everyone in London, America, and most other Europeon countries was there, too. There was a huge crowd, but we managed to get close enough to get some pretty good pictures. After the Fly-Over with all sorts of massive jets and airplanes, we sat down on the lawn at Buckingham and had a great picnic lunch. After lunch we toured many wonderful old streets of London, ate dinner in the Crypt (the cellar of an old 15th century church), and attended Les Miserables. It was a great day.
A huge amount of the charm of being here in London is the history that is attached to almost everything you see. All of the places that you have heard about in history are right here. The streets are adorned with statues of famous people. There is even one of George Washington outside the National Gallery (the art museum) here. Oliver Cromwell's statue stands outside the Houses of Parliament. He was the one and only non royal to be the head of the government of England. He was the head of the government for about 5 years in the 1600's. He later died of a kidney ailment and three years after his death they decided that he really should have been beheaded for his atrocities so they dug his body up and beheaded it. Then they hung the head outside Parliament on the bridge and it hung there for the next 25 years until the wind blew it down. So much for the common people thinking that they can rule this country.
The city is full of little black cabs, large red double-decker and bendy buses, and people, people, people everywhere. I have never seen a place that has so many international tourists. As you walk down the streets you hear languages from every country imaginable. It truly is a very international city. Leicester Square, Travalgar Square, and the area around Wesminster Cathedral are packed with people it seems almost every hour of the day. I'm not sure that the city ever rests! They must pick up trash sometime in the night so it slows down sometime, I guess. What an experience.
Well, so much for us. We keep busy and happy. We are always so happy to hear from you our friends and family. We miss you all and hope all is well there.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Pictures of our Adventures

Church in Reading where my Mother and Father were married during World War II.

Barbara, Matthew, Brandon, Brice, & Nicole in front of my Mother's home where she grew up.

The cemetery on the Isle of White. Almost all of the headstones are under a large juniper tree which has protected them from the weather. We were able to read almost all of the inscriptions. Here they are: George Dore, 1877 and Mary, his wife, 1885. Elizabeth Dore, died Feb 28, 1865 age 72 years, John Dore, died Jan 25, 1877 age 87 years, Isabella Theobald Miller, born Dec. 10, 1845 and died in 1906, John Theobald, died 1859 at age 84, Elizabeth Dore, died in 1825 at the age of 40 and Sarah, John's second wife, died in 1857 at the age of 71, Charles Stevens born on Nov 4, 1806 and died on April 19, 1875 married to Mary Theobald Stevens, died Nove. 30, 1899. Charles Theobald died at 18 years of age on July 24, 1865. George Theobald, died on Oct 21, 1835 at the age of 20. Caroline Theobald, died on April 23, 1810 at the age of 32. Benjamin Taylor Smith died at the age of 33 years. He was married to Christian Theobald who died at the age of 27 along with children Julia Smith, Anne Smith, and Caroline Smith age 11 months. They all died in 1853. Maria Murwood and Thomas Theobald's graves but could not read the dates. All of these and other graves we found in the All Saints Cemetery at Freshwater, Isle of Wight on June 2, 2008.

Barbara in the cemetery on the Isle of White.

Brice and Matthew in the cemetery on the Isle of White.

The Theobald /Dore family home called "Blackbridge House" at the corner of Blackbridge and Easton Street at Freshwater, Isle of Wight. It is a large manor house that was built partly in the 14th century and partly in about 1540. It has a thatched roof and is very beautiful. At one time the estate also included 80 acres of land. Most of that has been sold off now, but there is still a large garden and barn that accompanies the house on that lot. A man by the name of Harold Schenck from Germany now owns the home. He showed us around the home and was very kind to us. He said that he is glad to show any other family members who may come around also. It was such a thrill for me to see the very spot where several generations of our ancestors really lived.

Inside Blackbridge house.

Harold Schenck and Ken inside Blackbridge house.

Inside Blackbridge house.

Visits and Vacation in the British Isles

I have not had a minute to send an email for a couple of weeks. We have had some wonderful visits from people that we love from the States and it has been mostly a time of visiting and renewing friendships and love. We had visits with three groups of people this past two weeks. The Esplins, Glen, Helen, and Erica, came for a few days. The Westbrooks, Doug, Cindy, and Stefanie, came for a short visit. And our son, Brice, Nicole, and sons, Matthew and Brandon, came and stayed for two weeks. We had a great time doing some touring around the south of England, visiting family, seeing tourist sites, and touring some old family homes and areas. Now it is time to get back to work and continue on in our duties here. While Brice and Nicole were here we traveled to Oxford to visit my cousins in that area. It was fun for Brice and Nicole to meet this side of the family and begin to cultivate some new friendships
there. We also visited Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Winston Churchill and spent some time touring the beautiful Cotswold area of England. We then took the train and the ferry to the Isle of Wight on the south coast of England. That is the area where my dad's family, The Theobalds, were from. We visited the old cemetery there and found about 22 of the family graves that we could still read the inscriptions on. It was a beautiful cemetery set around on the grounds of the All Saints Church. We spent a lot of time there brushing up on the family history of the Dores, Stevens, and Theobalds that stayed behind and did not join the church in the 1800's and come to the USA.
Then we went exploring to find the Theobald/Dore family home called "Blackbridge House" where the family had lived before coming to the States in the 1850's. We found the house and I am including a picture of it.
It is a huge thatched manor house built in the 14th Century. The man who owns it currently was standing in the driveway as we went by. I visited with him and he took us on a tour of the house. It was so wonderful. Much of the old building has been carefully restored and an addition has been added on to the back. You can still see the buzzer where the servants were called to serve the meals to the family and an area in the back of the barn where the servants lived in a very small space. I think all of the rich ones in the family stayed here and only the poor part of the family came to America. I know that I never saw any of that money when I was growing up in beautiful little Toquerville.
We also spent several days exploring uptown London. We spent many hours on the tube, buses, trains, etc. Brandon loved that part of the trip. London is a city of magnificent architecture and places to see. Most of the beautiful buildings are very, very, very old and that adds to their charm. We would be so fascinated with the history of the buildings and what took place there that we would spend most of the evenings after our visits researching the interesting things that transpired in these buildings. It was a great course in English History. We were also able to visit my Grandpa and Grandma Sharpe's home in Reading and we found the church in Reading where my parents were married during World War II. What a special time that was for all of us to be able to find that area that we have always heard so much about. I am including a picture of my grandparents home in Reading. I have many happy memories of that home on my visit there as a child.

Now we are back to work. We spent a very busy Sunday teaching, doing music, making visits to part member families and so on. It just continues on. We love the people we are working with here and hope that we are an influence for good in their lives.
Hope you are all well and happy. Summer has come here, I think. It is about 80 degrees right now and beauiful. Hope it is not too hot there yet.
Oh, the most exciting thing of all, our daughter, Brooke and her husband, Ben, just presented us with a beautiful new granddaughter named Emma this past week. She is healthy and doing well. For that we are grateful.