Sunday, 7 August 2016

Day 12: Hampton Court & The Traditions of Home Evening

Here at LIYSF, each of us brings a piece of our own culture to the forum. Even attendees from a single country bring different customs and traditions unique to their region. One of the highlights of today was being able to share our culture with 74 other countries at the Traditions of Home Evening. There were traditional dances, beautiful songs, and sharing of food from back home. I wore my red CANADA shirt as I passed out boxes of maple cookies. Kristine from Norway and Tess from Australia are determined to find some back home! 

I tried a rice and egg dish from China, chocolate from New Zealand, and a savory cake from the UAE. Before this culturally rich event took place, however, it was time for a full day visit to Hampton Court. I was very fortunate to explore in a group with Tilly from Australia, among many others. Tilly is passionate about English history, and gave us a detailed tour through the rooms and gardens! 

At the front of Hampton Court Palace with Sanna from New Zealand and Francois from France. Francois is holding the packed lunch bag we receive each day. Treasures inside include a daily sandwich, chocolate bar (I now have a stash of five mars bars in my room), water bottle, apple, and packet of chips. 
During the winter, all of these potted plants are kept in the building on the left, which is called the Orangery. Since it's summer time, they are brought outside to bask in the sun's rays. 
While walking by the Orangery, I met "Henry the Wise," gardener and designer in charge of the Orangery's plants. Hampton Court has experts all throughout the palace who are more than willing to give you a bite-sized history lesson. Over the course of the visit, I learned about the true nature of Henry the 8th and Charles the 2nd, as well as the history behind the Great Vine and the Orangery.   
Oh, behold the beauty of just one of the Hampton Court Gardens! Before coming to London I researched the palace gardens and found many pictures. Even the best pictures, however, cannot accurately depict just how stunning these gardens are. I like how the gardens are still maintained to the highest quality - King Henry the 8th would certainly be proud!
After touring Henry the 8th's Rooms, the Chocolate Room, the Tudor Kitchens and the Privy Garden, we sat by the pond and had our packed lunches. Tilly continued our history lesson here as we chowed down on sandwiches and apples. I had a great lunch time learning more about the interesting (and sometimes terrifying) history of the royals in England!
You may recognize Sanna from New Zealand (pictured above in the first photo). We have had some great conversations about universities and culture, and I really hope she decides to come an study in Canada!

On another note, at breakfast this morning I met a fellow from Chandigarh, India. Naturally, I asked him if he knew about the UFV campus there, and I was so happy when he said that he was looking into coming to UFV in BC! I was wearing my UFV t-shirt at the time and felt a lot like a recruiting officer. I've attempted to convince everyone who comments on Canada's freezing weather where we live in Canada really isn't terribly cold! And, therefore, why they should embrace the maple syrup and hockey and come study in Canada!
We stopped by the Great Vine, where the longest grape vine in the world bears cluster after cluster of luscious grapes. The vine was planted in 1768 and is currently maintained by Gillian Cox and her team. The largest crop of grapes ever was in 2001, where 845 pounds of grapes were picked!
Royalty quite like their enormous paintings. The realism in all of the paintings (and tapestries as well) was stunning. 
This is Tilly, our knowledgeable tour guide and fellow LIYSF attendee who made the visit really memorable. She knew something about each room we entered, and would excitedly describe the history of a painting or a key royal figure. 
Once back at the Imperial, we had the Traditions of Home event. Here are attendees from the UAE describing the traditional dress for women and key aspects of the UAE. They then passed around bite-sized savory cakes flavored with turmeric and cardamom (among many other spices). I was really looking forward to trying other countries' food at this event. They were so generous, and also passed around UAE flags for everyone, as well as mini stuffed camels! 
And for one of the best (and loudest!) performances, an attendee from Scotland played Scotland the Brave on the bag pipes. My Italian room mate, Giada, tells me that "bag pipes" in Italian is cornamusa! Every day she translates at least one word for me to add to my Italian repertoire. So far, I have not only been taught words in Italian, but in Japanese, Greek, French, Polish and Chinese!

Tomorrow I am visiting Buckingham Palace, going to a talk on malaria, and seeing the Phantom of the Opera in the evening. It should be another wonderful day!

- Vivienne 

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