Wednesday, December 1, 2010

To England and Back Again

November was a bit of a crazy month since I spent most of it away from Tyler and Calvin in southern England. I had been doing some script work and paperwork on a film project, and they asked me to come along to work on location for their shoot in the UK. It was pretty hard leaving Calvin and Tyler for more than 2 weeks, but I had such an great time and met so many amazing people who I consider my new friends. I am so grateful for the opportunity to work on such a neat project.

The documentary is about the King James Bible and in 2011 will commemorate the 400th anniversary of its publishing. It is being created for broadcasting and should air sometime next year. It tells the stories of Martin Luther, William Tyndale, Thomas More, King Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Frith, Bilney, and other players that led to the scriptures being accessible to the common man. Learning about the sacrifices of all of these people (most of them sacrificing even their lives) for their commitment to God and truth has made me so much more grateful for the scriptures that we have in our homes. I have made a more concerted effort to not take the scriptures for granted and to study them more diligently. It has definitely been a faith-building experience.

Location 1- Great Chalfield Manor, near Chippenham
(The Other Boleyn Girl was filmed in part here.)

Location 2- Lacock Abbey, in Lacock Village
(Many scenes from the first two Harry Potters were filmed here.)
Location 3- Berkeley Castle, near Berkeley
(The Berkeleys have owned this castle for 900 years!)

Location 4- Ightham Mote, near Sevenoaks

(This house is 700 years's crazy how much history is in each of these locations.)

I got to wear many hats on set (quite literally, actually) as I worked as a production assistant and 2nd AD, and also stepped in on screen as a pageboy, nanny, Anne Boleyn's friend, anonymous coronation attendee, and a leper. Yes, I am that versatile. When extras didn't show or did not have the proper measurements, I would step into wardrobe and we'd figure out a different way to disguise my face so as not to be recognized from a previous scenes. It was very fun work. My role count was only rivaled by another PA that ended up being 3 different roles. I think we got each crew member a cameo except 2. We'll have to wait until the next shoot to fit them in.

In the halls of Hogwarts.

Ready for action on set as a leper.

Eating fish and chips at lunch with Adam (sound) onset at Berkeley Castle.

The grounds at Berkeley Castle. So beautiful.

Our work didn't leave much time for sightseeing, but we did have a little time on Sundays to look around. The first Sunday, we went to church in Bath and then visited downtown. I had already toured the Roman Baths there before, so while everyone did the tour, I ate some yummy yummy pasties and watched a Remembrance Day ceremony at Bath Abbey.

I feel so lucky that I was able to be in England in the beginning of November and be a part of their Remembrance Day activities. November 11th is indeed Veteran's Day in the US, but we do not honor this day in the way that the UK does. For at least a week, nearly every citizen wears a red poppy pin, showing their support for the Poppy Appeal, which gives funds to veterans and families affected by war. On actual Remembrance Day, the entire nation takes a 2-minute moment of silence to remember those lost to war. On the Sunday following the 11th, Remembrance Sunday, many ceremonies are held in parks and in churches throughout the country to reflect again on the sacrifices made of those fighting to defend freedom.

At church on Remembrance Sunday, there were many veterans in attendance wearing their uniforms. All of the talks focused on sacrifice and reverence for the fallen. It struck me that many US citizens, including myself, do not really know the toll that war can take on a country. Besides terrorist attacks and Pearl Harbor, we do not really know what it is like to really have our country at war. We have never experienced regular bombing raids. Many of the individuals I was sitting near in church have. To most Americans who do not have a personal tie to the armed forces, I think war is distant. We have not experienced it in the way that Europe has. The sincere reverance and respect that each person seemed to display was very touching. I felt ignorant.

On the 2nd Sunday I was there, we traveled into London after church had a walk around Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and other famous London locales. The poppies were still present.

Remembrance poppies at Westminster Abbey separated by regiment.

Poppies for unknown lost soldiers.

It being that time of year that one reflects on one's blessings, I had a long think about those people who have given their lives to protect their beliefs, their families, and their livelihood. I do not even know what life would be like without the sacrifice of those millions lost to war. I know it sounds trite to say that I am grateful, but how can I not say it? I am grateful for the safety I feel and the freedoms that I am able to exercise daily and I understand that there are many people who have sacrificed over thousands of years to allow me to live the comfortable life that I live today. I hope I do not forget that.

I also want to say that I am so grateful to be back home now. I had missed Calvin SO much. I woke him up in the middle of the night when I got home and squeezed him so hard. He didn't know what was going on, but in the morning said "mommy" basically nonstop. I know he missed me too.

I did also get a chance to head to King's Cross station to hop aboard the Hogwarts Express.


Leah Florence said...

Oh my gosh!!! That is so cool! What an incredible experience.

Kate said...

What an awesome experience, and a good synopsis to boot. I loved reading about it (and I'm sad I didn't read it before we saw you, so I could talk more at length with you about some of this stuff). Awesome pictures! I don't think I realized how much you did over there.

The part where you talked about veterans and Remembrance Day was particularly meaningful; I've seen pictures of the poppies before and read about the celebrations, but I had no idea the extent it took. It would be cool to experience that firsthand. Can't wait to talk about it more with you.

Hillary said...

That is such an awesome experience! Thanks for sharing! Super cool!