Tuesday, December 22, 2009

London’s Winter Solstice

DSC00023_1_661662a It’s winter in London!  It’s cold in London!  It’s the shortest day of the year.  Sunrise at 8:10am and sunset at 3:46pm.  Actually “Sunrise” is only a wishful thought, since it only gets to 15° above the horizon.  So just picture lots of tall buildings and then try to ‘not’ stand in the shade.  Almost impossible.  Still….. lots of bikes out on the streets.

Christmas will soon be here and thoughts turn to things other than family history.  Not much happening in the Family History Centre.  But still hardly a day goes by without someone thrilled for having found a marriage record or a new name in their ancestral tree that they never knew before.

We’re going to Devon next week (South West England) to visit long deceased kin.  Looking forward to walking where they walked and seeing what they saw, and maybe, just maybe…… feeling what they felt.

Merry Christmas to All……..

We love you,

Elder & Sister Watts

Sunday, November 29, 2009

London Culture


The Royal Albert Hall was built to fulfill the vision of Prince Albert (Queen Victoria's consort) of a 'Central Hall' that would be used to promote understanding and appreciation of the Arts and Sciences and would stand at the heart of the South Kensington estate, surrounded by museums and places of learning. The Royal Albert was officially opened in March 1871.

Thursday evening we went to a “Best of Broadway” concert featuring the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at Royal Albert. The orchestra was eye-watering magnificent and the music program was varied and beautiful with singers to perfectly match decades of Broadway songs – Evita, Phantom, Man from La Mancha, Kiss Me Kate, Joseph.., Les Mis, Hairspray, Wicked, West Side Story, etc.


We were seated in the Grand Tier, second tier boxes to the left. Click on the picture for an expanded view. Our seats were in the location circled in red. To say the least it was a cultural feast.

On December 15th we’ll be back for a Christmas concert featuring the London Concert Orchestra, City of London Choir, a Children’s Chorus and The Brass Ensemble of the Band of the Scots Guards with lots of great Christmas music.
On Wednesday, the day before, we went to the Globe Theatre, the wooden peg-built replica of the original open-roof theatre where Shakespeare made his mark. It’s now off season, so we were not able to see a play. “I like this place and willingly could waste my time in it.” (As You Like It)

What a place! If we wanted to, had the time (and the money) we could then go watch the eight best tennis players in the world compete in the last ATP tournament of the year. London definitely is a city of action and happenings – plays, ballet, opera, concerts, football (lots of that). The Real Salt Lake winning the MLS Championship even made the London papers – however, mostly about David Beckham on the losing team.

Lastly, there was a lady in the Centre this week that, as we were talking about finding records of ancestors, said, “I just get chills when I find one.” There you go….. Elijah is at it again.

Love from Elder & Sister Watts

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Medieval Gem - Rye


Rye is a medieval town perched on a hill over looking the most narrow part of the English Channel in East Sussex.  It seems almost suspended in time reflecting an unhurried charm of years long gone. P-day again and we’re off to explore more of this amazing country.  The entrance gate above was constructed in 1329 AD



Ypres Tower looks formidable with this English maiden guarding the entrance.

Lady Watts

And here’s Lady Watts at the Millinery Shop.

Click on the cobblestone street below to take a photo trip with us through the medieval town of Rye……


Best wishes to all….

Elder & Sister Watts

Friday, October 30, 2009

Off to the Races


P-day again and we went to see a ‘Steeplechase’. Beautiful day, very English and lots of fun. Beautiful horses…..

P1000221 The ‘Pedestrians’ -

Elder & Sister Scott, Elder & Sister Watts and Elder & Sister Inskeep.


One of many bookmakers (touts), showing the odds and taking bets. Had a hard time keeping Sister Watts away…


Interesting people….


Very proper.....


Beautiful horses.....

And here’s some of the ACTION!

Click here for more pictures.

Love to all,

Elder & Sister Watts

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Walkin' in "Stile"

Last Saturday we joined three other senior couples and set off to take an English country walk. It was a beautiful day as we walked along and across tree-lined fields, through bough-covered paths to see quaint villages and medieval churches.

One field 'required' us to pass through the domain of some ferocious wild animals (above). At first Sister Watts said, "I'm not going in there", but when confronted with the alternative of a very long walk, she relented and bravely faced the beasts and made it through.

The goal of the walk, aside from the exhilaration of just taking it, was to see the Watts Memorial Chapel and George F. Watts Museum. George (no relation as far as I know) was a famous painter and sculptor of the late 19th century. His works are displayed prominently throughout England - most notably St. Pauls Cathedral and the National Gallery.

Our walk took us through the villiage of Puttenham, where we ate at The Good Intent pub, walked across the Puttenham Golf Club (ca 1894) and came up "The Street."

Here's a picture of Sister Watts crossing the Stile in style. And..... below, Elder Watts is not acting his age on a rope swing. Best wishes..... Elder Watts

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Missionary Engineering

The Hyde Park Chapel is, in every way, a shared facility. Besides three wards, the building is used for: the England London Mission Offices, Stake Offices, Employment Center, YSA Outreach Program and the London Family History Centre. For many years the Family History Centre has put up a temporary vinyl banner sign each day to 'advertise' its existence. The existing vinyl banner had become worn and looked more like a swap meet sale sign than a sign meeting the usual high standards of the Church.

Our FHC Director asked me to arrange for a replacement banner. After some investigation, I suggested a thin, solid panel sign that would look a bit more upscale and last longer even though it would be a bit more expensive. She agreed and off I went to do a bit of engineering complete with a few drawings, a simple design for mounting and the new sign is now in place. It's lightweight and easy to hang and remove each day.
We often have patrons who say, "I saw your sign and came to investigate.

" Not rocket science, but fun nevertheless to do a little Missionary Engineering.

Elder Watts

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Brilliant P-days

Every missionary feels that they were called to serve in the best mission in the Church. We do! No one can argue with us, when we declare that we have the best P-days in the world. Monday, September 21st was a special day when we visited the historic and fascinating city of Oxford, and visited some of the thirty eight colleges which comprise Oxford University. It is the oldest surviving university in the English speaking world. Although the exact date of foundation remains unclear, there is evidence of teaching there as far back as the 11th century. There are just over 20,000 students in the colleges that make up Oxford University.

A favorite was Christ Church, which is the largest college and has an Anglican cathedral. The Cathedral is the College Chapel for the College as well as the cathedral church for the Diocese of Oxford. King Henry VIII was the founder of the college. John Wesley is one of the famous people educated here. Another is Charles Dodgson whose pen name is Lewis Carroll. He became friends with the daughters of the Dean of Christ Church - especially Alice. Dodgson made up stories to entertain the sisters and thus was the beginning of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass."

The Dining Hall Scenes and stone stairways for the first two "Harry Potter" films were filmed at Christ Church.

Lot's of humorous gargoyles on all the college buildings. Click on the 'Bored Student' at the left to take a trip with us through Oxford.

Love, Sister Watts

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Babylon Gardens

We had to cap off the 50th celebration with a night out on the 16th, and what better place to celebrate for a missionary couple than Babylon. It's actually called the Roof Gardens and Babylon is one of the featured resturants. The gardens are on the top of a building in Kensington and are beautiful. The view over the city was spectacular.
It was a bit of a splurge for two country folk from Utah, but it was well worth it. We mentioned to the waitress that we were celebrating our 50th. The dessert came with a special decoration as you can see by clicking on the picture. I forgot to bring my camera, but we struck up a conversation with another couple next to us who had a camera. New friends, camera, email... and here we are. It was a great evening.
Have a good week!
Elder & Sister Watts

Monday, September 14, 2009

'50' And Counting

On Wednesday, September 16th, we will celebrate 50 years of marriage. This is no small thing and certainly worth celebrating! This milestone is a family event and to be a 'proper' (as the English would say) party, it ought to be done with family. Well.... we're blessed for now to have a temporary family here in London and they gave us a 'proper' party last Friday evening, complete with invitations, favors, balloons, wonderful food, flowers and most of all -- Friendship. If you would care to, you can join the party here.

Just a word or two about being together for fifty years. It's not been all smooth sailing, but then as Harold B. Lee once said, "A smooth sea does not a skillful mariner make." I would recommend an occasional 'disagreement' so you can better appreciate the smooth sea moments -- well maybe 'recommend' is not the right word, but you get the idea. We've had a wonderful life together and counting blessings would overload my abacus.

As I think back I'm not sure it all began with a clear focus on how serious and important this all was. I was in love and as the saying goes, "a team of wild horses couldn't have kept me away from Barbara." But the importance and seriousness grew and came into clearer focus as I truly learned the gospel, where it says things like, "cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh", "whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever", "heirs together of the grace of life" and finally "new and everlasting covenant of marriage."

Most of all I married right. In the September Ensign President Uchtdorf says, "The scriptures give us names of several women who have blessed individuals and generations." I would include in that list - Barbara. She has blessed my life and continues to do so. I am the "best-cared-for" man in London. You would not believe some of the meals we have that she makes seemingly out of thin air. Proverbs Chapter 31:11-31 describes her to a "T" and truly "Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her."

Our children get a lot of credit for this milestone; they have helped us along and trained us well. We have been blessed with five wonderful children - Brian, Barry, Rich, Julie and Jane - each with unique and individual talents and gifts. Their choices and the lives they live are a rich reward for a 50-year marriage. Add to that Jana, Nannette, Tammy, Matt and Jake and the rewards double. But that's not as good as it gets -- at the end of our 50-year marriage rainbow is truly a pot of golden grandchildren, who we cherish and love dearly. We are ever amazed and impressed with their activities and achievements that make us smile, laugh, clap, cheer... and bring us joy. Our hearts are full; we love you lots!

Lastly to our friends, we say thank you for joining us in this grand trip, bumps and all. We love you and look forward to lots of fun times yet to come.

God bless you all,

Elder and Sister Watts

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Goose Fat

The miracle of food in England is "Free Range!" All the quality (more expensive) foods come from free range..... free range eggs, free range chickens, free range cows, free range pigs. Somehow the eggs, milk and meat from critters in pens is second class. Well..... Jana bought us some "Free Range" Pure Goose Fat, which has sat on 'me' shelf (as the English would say) for six weeks.

With a little help from the internet recipe reservoir Sister Watts cooked up some free range potatoes using Pure goose fat. Not too bad -- but then, as with any gourmet chef, Chef Barbarez's skills in the culinary arts

could make any food tres magnifique!

Happy gourmet eating.
Elder & Sister Watts

Sunday, August 16, 2009

It's 'Football'

This weekend marked the beginning of the Premier League football season. Twenty teams with players averaging £1.1m in annual salary (that's £21,000 per week) begin their competition ending next May with the champion taking home, besides a solid silver trophy, over £15m. The team picked to win is Chelsea with Manchester United (winners last year) and Liverpool close behind. Lots of U.S. ownership in these teams. 'Football' is a front page topic all season and we hear about it from our patrons in the FHC as well.

Here's Elder Watts on a recent P-day outing warming up for the season with one of the local stars. We had a little trouble keeping the fans off the 'pitch'. I was asked to play for the Tottenham Hotspurs, but I had to decline due to my prior commitments to the team at the London Family History Centre.

Best wishes,
Elder Watts

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Lea Valley Primary

After 10 months of teaching Gospel Doctrine to the Saints of Lea Valley Ward, I was surprised when the Bishop issued a release and said he would like to have me serve in the Primary. I felt a little sad because as difficult as it was for me to teach the adults, I loved what I was learning. It has not taken long to switch allegiance to the Primary and these cute girls.

Friday, July 17, 2009

It's Raining!

After a week of sunshine and temperatures in the low 30's (°C) , one of our FHC patrons said, "Well summer's over now, we can get back to normal." That would be cool, wind, sprinkles and showers. Here are a few pictures of London and E&S Watts, now seasoned Londoners -- see for yourself.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Presidents Passing

Tomorrow we will have a new Mission President. President Renn Patch and his wife Deanne will replace President Clayton Foulger and his wife Marla. We have developed a great love and respect for President Foulger and his wife. They will be sorely missed.

We ('we' meaning the Family History Centre staff) were discussing over dinner two weeks ago what we might give to President and Sister Foulger as a going-away present. After much discussion, Sister Watts said, "Why don't we do their family history." It was an 'epiphany' (see the spot on definition below) moment and particularly celebratory coming from Sister Watts, who is occasionally less than enthusiastic about family history. We all took a piece of the pie to create a set of records for each of President and Sister Foulger's family line. We searched and gathered copies of censuses, overland trail records, immigration records and stories of ancestors, until we had a 'volume' (picture at left) to present to each of them along with electronic copies of all the documents on a USB memory stick.

President and Sister Foulger were thrilled, bothered somewhat by something wet in their eyes.

epiphany -a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, or commonplace occurrence or experience.
Oh.... by the way - the research revealed that Sister Watts is related to President Foulger!
How's that for ironic.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

I Shook Hands with a Prophet Today!

June 6th, 2009 is a day that we will always remember. We were blessed to attend a meeting with 280 elders and sisters that serve with us in the England London and England London South Missions. Our speakers were President Uchtdorf, and Elder Neil Andersen, our newest apostle. We were seated well before the meeting started and when they arrived, we all stood as they and their wives walked down the aisle. President Uchtdorf went to the pulpit and said they would like to shake our hands, so he and Elder Andersen stood down on the floor and we went row by row and all of us were able to shake their hands. Two great men that we sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators. It was powerful and the meeting had not yet started. Sister Watts

Saturday, June 06, 2009

We Have A New Granddaughter!!

Our dear friends here in London rejoiced with us at the news of the birth of our granddaughter. They thought the pink flowered plant would be a good announcement to our patrons and soothe our separation pains.
Grace Emery Freeman was born June 4th. to Matt and Julie. She weighed 7 pounds 14 ounces and is beautiful. She will be welcomed home by an excited brother and two sweet sisters.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

"What have you learned on your mission?"

One of the blessings of serving in the England London mission is our association with the other senior couples. Every other Monday we enjoy a special family home evening with them. We take turns being the host and provide the main course of the meal and the activity or lesson after dinner. We have eaten many delicious meals, laughed as we've played fun games, or been spiritually fed with great gospel discussions. Last Monday evening, Elder and Sister Neu were the hosts and after dinner Elder Neu started our discussion with the question, "What have you learned on your mission?" The Neu's will be going home in one month. Everyone at the table will be going home before us. Each took a turn to respond to this thought provoking question and the answers were varied and inspiring. I've thought about them many times in the past two days and reflected over and over what my response was and is to this question. Jim and I were seated to respond near the end with only Sister Hintze to conclude the discussion.

The lessons I am learning are too many to mention. I do not have adequate words to describe the experience we are having.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


About a year ago my Joyfer reached an incredible milestone - 545 miles on a bike. Her picture is one of triumph over mind and body to do such a thing.

This feat folllowed another of endurance and will as three years ago my Sophie completed the Ogden Marathon in record time.

These two events far outdistance and overshadow the Elder & Sister Watts milestone of 1,000 miles in walking around England. Nevertheless, this is a 'feet' of endurance as well.

Hooray... we're still in one piece.

Best wishes to all!

Love E & S Watts

Monday, May 18, 2009

Hever Castle

After working two Saturdays in a row, we had a free Saturday (P-day) to go exploring. We took a train ride with Elder and Sister Scott to Hever Castle, the childhood home of Anne Boleyn. She was the second wife of Henry the VIII and was the key figure in the political and religious upheaval leading to the split with Rome, the Pope, the Catholic Church and the Church of England under the King's control. Anne, the mother of Elizabeth I, was subsequently beheaded by Henry's decree for charges of adultery and incest, which historians generally view as unconvincing.

History aside, the trip to the castle, walk through the castle and around the grounds was spectacular. The mile and a third walk from the train station along narrow country roads went past farms and fields that were.... well... idyllic and breathtaking come to mind (see the slide show in links at the right).

We decided to follow a less-travelled path back from the castle and found ourselves looking for Robin Hood and his merry men in a labrynth of trees and bushes. What a restful moment from the busyness of London!

Click on these pictures for a larger view.

Best wishes to all,

Elder & Sister Watts

Sunday, May 03, 2009

OOooopps.... The Slide i..n..to '70'

This has been a great week! Most weeks have been very busy at the Family History Centre, and when we're supposed to have some 'Back Office' time [time to work on our own family history or do some online indexing], we've had projects to do for the center. But.... I've had some success of late in finding ancestors in old parish registers -- interesting stories, but probably only to me and too long to tell here. Anyway... we had a P-day and went to the temple on Tuesday and I took some names to get temple ordinance cards to send home to family for temple work. The London Temple is about an hour away by train. It was built in 1958 and just barely had Moroni added to the spire.

We had the late shift in the center on Thursday (work to 9pm), and we had time to do some extra-curricular things earlier in the day -- that usually means shopping. We went to Portobello Road where antique markets abound. We came home with two treasures - an 'Art Nouveau' silver-plated toast holder (1890-1905) and a 'Victorian' sugar shaker (1837-1901). Click on pictures for a larger view.

Then, because my nine-year-old pocket PC (antique status) is beginning to struggle, I bought an iPod Touch, which is pretty amazing. Mom has the toast holder and the sugar shaker; I have everything but the kitchen sink on my iPod Touch. Oh.. did I mention the unmentionable... I had a birthday on Friday, so what else, the iPod is from me to me.

Then on Friday we went to dinner with the Scotts (fellow missionaries at the FHC) and the Foulgers (Mission President and his wife) to a place called 'Sticky Fingers.' Pretty much a ribs place with American food, Rolling Stones memorabilia and the food's very good. Notice the new tie - two birthday ties from Barbara along with a sack of treats.

Then the surprise of the day - an album with lots of great photos and letters from all of my family. It is a TREASURE. It was a seven-kleenex effort to read it. My family is simply the greatest!

Life is good. We miss home, but we are having the time of our lives.

Love to all, Elder Watts

Sunday, April 26, 2009

London Spring

There are songs about Paris in the Springtime, but I think London would maybe be hard to beat. Gardens, trees, shrubs, flower boxes..... and blooms everywhere.
For such a densely populated large city, there are lots of parks and all are well kept. Click on the collage to see a full screen view of some of the prettiest.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Talbot

At the Family History Centre we have a great view, through some large picture windows, into a cobble-stone street called the 'Mews'.

The used-to-be carriage barns are all now houses that are valued at upwards of £2m. One day last week I looked out and saw a remarkable car. With camera in hand I went for a look.

The car turned out to be a 1930 Talbot, and not just any old Talbot, but the one that competed in the 1930 Le Mans 24-hour race and took 3rd place. It looked totally in original condition without any restoration. Here are a few pictures and the race results.