Sunday, 16 August 2009

"Before Stonehenge, there was Woodhenge and Strawhenge" **

My day started at 5:30am. Chris and I got up and went to a before hours tour of Stonehenge. It was Awesome! You don't realize the scale of the rocks when you see them in pictures or on TV. It's amazing that 5000 years ago people got those stones from Wales, brought them hundreds of miles and arranged them upright and them others laying across the uprights. Since we were before the regular hours, we got to go right up to the stones and wander all through it. We all know how much I like my sleep but this was totally worth getting up at the crack of dawn. The only thing that would have made it better would have been if it were sunny. It was overcast but it still was amazing.

When we got back to Chris's house, we started on a 12-hour epic marathon of all 3 Lord of the Rings extended edition movies. I managed to only miss about half an hour because I fell asleep. After that I started crocheting so I would stay awake. I managed to get about 90% finished with a cool wallet/wristlet.
**Quote from Eddie Izzard

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Bath Time

Today we left Cardiff and headed for Bath on our way to Salisbury. Bath is small as many people have said to me but it was really quite pretty. We got there and after a quick, yummy lunch we went to the Roman Baths. It was so cool walking around and seeing structures that were build around 2000 years ago. The bath itself, although quite scummy looking, was a perfect bath temperature. The Romans had the right idea. I also liked that there were 2 audio tours that you could follow. I chose the shorter, kid oriented one since that would most likely hold my interest better than the adult one which was longer. I always said that I have the attention span of my students and this was a prime example. The kid tour gave enough information so I knew what I was looking at but didn't throw lots of dates and names at me that I wouldn't have remembered anyways.

From there we walked around a bit and had a lovely cream tea at this little tea house off the High Street. We went to look at the Circus and Royal Crescent which are houses in the typical architectural fashion of Bath, all attached and in a semi-circle.

We then headed for our hotel which was 5 minutes from Stonehenge in preparation for our tour at 6am tomorrow.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Who's in Cardiff!

Today was all Doctor Who for me. I started out my day at the Doctor Who Exhibition. It was a museum with all sorts of props and costumes from the show. I was in heaven! From there I hit a bunch of filming places for Doctor Who and Torchwood. Chris and I met up for lunch at a filming venue for Torchwood and then I set off to shop and he went to find a birthday present for his dad. I wandered around Cardiff with the help of Tom Tom. I didn't realize that he worked on walking mode. Such a good discovery! Too bad I didn't have him last week.

Tomorrow we head off to Bath before going to Salisbury for Stonehenge. I don't know the Internet status at tomorrow night's accommodations so there may or may not be a blog for tomorrow until I get back to Princes Risborough.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Encounter with the Cymru Police and a Beach Trip

Today we left the Forest of Dean and headed for Cardiff. We planned on going to a beach that was featured on Doctor Who and then heading to our hotel. On the way, Chris suggested we hit a Geo Cache that was “on the way”. On the way is a relative term in Wales. It may only be 5-10 miles away as the crow flies, but it takes forever and a day to get there! On the way to the cache, in the middle of nowhere, we saw 2 mounted police officers. It was odd to see them in the country where all we really could see was cows, horses, and sheep. We went up to where Rex (Chris’s GPS) was telling us to go and there was a pickup truck and no real signs of the cache so we headed back down to the little dinky road and parked at the end of the road to double check the coordinates. About 5 minutes later, a police van showed up. Apparently they had been contacted because of “A Subaru acting suspiciously”. Yup, that was us, although neither Chris nor I could really figure out why we were looking suspicious. Chris was given a “producer” which means he has a week to go to a police station and produce the vehicle papers. Apparently the police were there investigating something else, otherwise our “suspicious behaviour” wouldn’t have been a big deal.

From there we went to Southerndown Beach. It was a perfect beach day in my opinion. It wasn’t hot and the water was nice and cool but not toe numbingly so. I can understand why they chose that particular beach for Doctor Who because it was gorgeous! The sand was soft and well packed so walking on it didn’t aggravate my shin splints. There wasn’t anything icky floating in the water which was a bonus. If I had a real beach towel, I would have actually gone swimming! We know how unlikely that is for me. There were also hundreds, maybe thousands, of tidal pools in the rocks with more snails than I have ever seen!!! I really liked it. I would have spent the day there if I could have which is definitely high praise for a beach coming from me.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Full Day At The Forest Of Dean

Today was busy! We started out at Puzzlewood, a 1 mile trek through the woods. However, these weren't your normal, run of the mill woods. They were the woods that you would see in movies like Twilight, Lord of The Rings, or Princess Bride. The trees and rocks were bright green with moss! The trails wound round big trees, and ravines. It was really great to look at! I took a ton of pictures, but unfortunately, while there is internet here, the upload speed is rubbish so I'll have to upload pictures when I'm back at Chris's house.

From there we went to Clearwell Caves. It was one of Britain's oldest underground mines. I had never been in a mine before. It was very cold in there which was a great break from the mugginess of the day. It had been threatening to rain on and off all day.

Our third and final stop was to take a ride on an old steam engine train. The railway is celebrating it's 200th birthday this year. It was a nice ride through the Forest of Dean. It was also exceedingly fun to see Chris and all of the other men and boys alike. I think every man turns into a 6 year old when it comes to trains. There was a gaggle of guys around the front of the train when the engine separated from the train to turn around and the same group of guys, Chris included, headed to the other end to watch it re-attach to the train. It was too funny!

Pictures will be coming as soon as I can get a quicker internet connection. The speed here reminds me of a really fast modem! Yikes.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

I Have The Golden Ticket . . .

OK, so it isn't so much a golden ticket as it is a computer print out of the e-ticket I purchased online but it still got me into Cadbury World today. It was really fun. First off they gave you a total of 3 regular sized candy bars through out the course of the tour which is the way to my heart, especially when it's Cadbury chocolate. We got to see how the chocolate was made, formed, packaged and shipped. It was great. It wasn't too kiddie oriented which I think Chris was thankful for. After the tour and a quick zip through the gift shop, we went to Cadbury World Essence which showed how the creators came up with the idea for the famous "Dairy Milk" chocolate and then we were able to choose what we wanted to combine with Cadbury Dairy Milk for our own new flavour. Mine was marshmallows and chocolate, a classic, but not one I've had from Cadbury. It was delectable!

After we found out hotel and brought our stuff in, we went to explore Gloucester. Yup, now I've been to 2 Gloucesters in my life so far. We wandered around the docks (which isn't nearly as shady as it seems as I write this) and then we went to Gloucester Cathedral. It was absolutely gorgeous. It was also really great because unlike in St. Paul's Cathedral, I was able to take some pictures inside.

Now Chris has gone for a run and I'm catching up on computer things. It's amazing how much you miss in a few days of being computer-less.

A Mini-Break in Edinburgh, in 3 parts. Part 3

Part 3, 10 August: Departure Day
Today we headed into town and then were going to go to this underground tour. It looked interesting but unfortunately it was a “booking ahead strongly recommended” something so I never really found out what it was all about. Instead we went to Scottish Parliament and went on a tour through there. It was interesting to see. From there we went to lunch and then Geo Cached but found nothing. We wandered to our Starbucks (we'd been there 3 times in 2 days) and had a frappuccino and Chris read while I played solitaire with my new Doctor Who playing cards. We went back to retrieve our luggage and then off to wait forever at the airport. When you fly budget airlines, you have to check in really early and wait. It is economical but you do end up wasting a lot of time. Our plane was delayed an hour to boot.

I have also decided that although it was an interesting and beautiful city, Edinburgh isn't one I'm crazy about. It‘s not easy to navigate for me. There are no easy landmarks, aside from the castle, for directionally challenged people like me. In London, even if I got lost, I would find a tube station and I could instantly find out where I was and where I needed to head in order to get back on the right track. Not in Edinburgh. In addition, there are hills everywhere and cobblestone streets that were murder on my feet, knees and ankles. Even if I were confident in my navigation skills I still would have taken some kind of transport home last night because as Elaine would say, “My dogs were barking!”

I did have fun playing "I Spy" with men in kilts. I got up to 72 before we boarded the plane this evening though about 15 of those were a squadron of men who I think were some sports team.

Pictures from the whole Edinburgh Trip are here

A Mini-Break in Edinburgh, in 3 parts. Part 2

Part 2, 9 August: Together and Apart

Chris and I started out our day together. We were going to go to a military cavalcade but the weather wasn’t cooperating. I wasn’t thrilled about a parade but I thought Chris wanted to go (it turns out he thought I would want to go but wasn’t particularly attached to it). Once we figured that out, we decided to go to “Camera Obscura and World Of Illusions”. It was fantastic!!! There were 4 floors of optical illusions and other fun visual things and there was a 15 minute presentation using a camera obscura which was like a really sophisticated 360 degree periscope. I got some ideas of things to google to show my class next year too since we do a mini unit on sight and optical illusions.

We had lunch together and then went our separate ways. I went shopping and Chris went to Arthur’s Seat up on a mountain somewhere. I started out at the visitor center because I was feeling naked without my A to Z and needed some kind of map. In the square there was an exhibition of odd, real street signs. My camera got exhausted! I know there has been an e-mail circulated with this type of thing, but there were many many more than on the e-mail. I think I got a picture of about 90% of them. Hopefully I can photoshop them together with their captions because that makes them twice as funny.

I got some shopping done and wandered around the Royal Mile. I was feeling a blister coming on so I decided to head towards my venue for the show. I figured I could find where the queue was going to be and just sit. There were some other really nice people in the queue so we just chatted and the time passed really quickly which was great. The show itself was HILARIOUS! It was entitled, “Alistair McGowan, The One and The Many”. He’s a comedian/impressionist who I had seen on “The Graham Norton Show” back in April and he had mentioned then that he was going to be at the Fringe. I knew many of the people he was talking about and impersonating. Not as many as if I lived here, but it was still enjoyable because he was telling jokes at the same time. My favourite bit was when he was talking about who should narrate the nature films here since the gentleman who has been doing it for umpteen years has said he’s stopping. He chose Eddie Izzard as his choice and did a fabulous impression of Eddie. For those of you who don’t know this, Eddie Izzard is one of my favourite comedians EVER! Alistair did a great impression of Eddie. I was in stitches!

Once the show was over, I was eager to get back to my hotel before it got dark so I hailed a cab. I got to ride in one of the “Supernanny” black cabs. One more thing that was on my “To Do” list that can be checked off.

A Mini-Break in Edinburgh, in 3 parts. Part 1

Part one 8 August: Our First Full Day In Edinburgh

We started our day, making our way into town. On the 20 minute walk, we stopped a couple of times for some Geo Caching. I found the first one, thereby leveling the pitch between us in terms of finds. Neither of us could find the second one. After that, we headed into Edinburgh Castle. Wow, what a queue to get in there! I don’t think I waited in a queue that long when I was in Disney World! The Castle itself had some really nice photo potential and some gorgeous views. I’ll have to procure a map to see what my pictures were of LOL. From there, after a stop at Starbucks for a refuel, we went to get tickets for tonight. There were a ton of people at the main box office so Chris suggested that we go to a quiet place and phone in our ticket requests. On our journey to find a quiet place, we saw the box office for the 4 big venues here at the Fringe. We went in and were able to get tickets for tonight’s show, “One Man Lord Of The Rings” and I got the last ticket for the show I’m going to tomorrow, “Allistair McGowan, The One and the Many”. Chris wants to see something about the Surviving a Zombie Apocalypse, so we decided to see separate shows.

After some fish and chips for lunch (I will be going into withdrawal when I get back to the states, Carole, we’ll have to make sure I go to Sir Crickets when I visit), we wandered more and stumbled upon a comedy show, “Shane Langan, Not Only, But Also” which was amusing. It was a stand up routine where the comic read short stories he’d written. It was worth the £5 admission, but not much more. More wandering and then we came back the 20 minute walk to the B&B for a bit of a rest before going to dinner and the main event.

The Lord of the Rings show was entertaining. It made absolutely no sense to me since I was one of the 2 people in the entire venue who hadn’t read the books or seen the movies. The gentleman who was performing noticed that I applauded when he asked about people who hadn’t seen or read the series and he said, “People who are familiar with the story get confused, you must be totally lost“ to which I nodded and smiled. He then asked, “So what are you doing here?” and I pointed to Chris. He said, “Well I hope this isn’t a first date! There probably wouldn’t be a second if it was”. The guy himself was very talented and had all sorts of different voices for the characters and was jumping about for almost and hour and a half. I have no idea how well he did cramming 9+ hours of movies into an hour and a half, but judging by the audience reaction, he did fine.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Author's Note . . .

Tomorrow we're off to Scotland. I don't know if we have internet at our accommodations there (Chris seems to think not) so the blog may be quite quiet for a couple of days. What I will try to do, is write my blog offline and then post a massive entry when I arrive back here Monday. Tuesday we will be headed off on the road trip, but I know we have internet for most of those days so the blog and communications shouldn't be too interrupted then. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

The play's the thing, wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king.

Tonight, I was within spitting distance of Jude Law (not that I would do that of course). Sometime last week I was reading in the newspaper about the play currently running in London and Jude Law's handsome face caught my eye. I was aware that he was playing Hamlet, but I also had read/heard that it had sold out ages ago. Well, I read the fine print and it turns out that they have 30 "day tickets" that you can purchase on the day at the theatre. Now, I have never been a particular Shakespeare fan but there really wasn't anything else to see and let's be honest. . . it's JUDE LAW!!! The play could have been rubbish, but I would still be able to gawk at him for 3 hours. I decided to go for it and see if I could get tickets. 3 hours of standing in line (it should have only been about an hour but the computers went down) and I had a box ticket for £25!

A few hours later, after coming home for lunch and a kip, I was back in Leicester Square ready for my night at the theatre. It also turns out that Katherine Heigl was in London for the premiere of her new movie which was also in Leicester Square, but alas I didn't get back into town early enough to pay much attention to that (I only learned that it was happening when I was riding back into the city on the Tube and was reading the paper). I picked up a playbill and went to go find my seat.

I do not go to plays very often and I almost always have cheap seats. Well, let me tell you . . . box seats are so cool! The usher showed me to my box and I had a seat. I had a flashback to Julia Roberts at the opera in Pretty Woman! The only downside to some box seats is that there is a bit of view obstruction since you're to the side of the stage, but if you leaned over enough, you could see pretty much everything. Besides, all of the really important stuff takes place centre stage anyway.

I have never read Hamlet, nor have I seen it performed, so I took out a little insurance when I was at my flat in the afternoon. I read the Spark Notes synopsis of the play so I could figure out what was going on through the Shakespearean English. I'm glad I did because I could follow the story much more easily that way rather than going in cold. Jude was fabulous! I also had some familiar faces from some of my British shows which was an added bonus. Oh and I"m now convinced that the ONLY way to see Shakespearean plays is with a British cast. The accents just make it that much more enjoyable and understandable. It was also fascinating to me just how many exceedingly famous quotes are out of that play! I was making a list in my head and then ran out of room LOL! There are some other fantastic lines, of which my favourite is, "There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so". So true Hamlet, so true!

This was a fantastic way to spent my penultimate night in London. Riding back on the Tube I was thinking of all of the amazing things I have seen and done during my time in London. I crammed a lot of things into 3.5 weeks!

Monday, 3 August 2009

The first 200 steps weren't bad . . .

. . . however the remaining 328 were!

Today I conquered my goal of walking all the way up to the Golden Gallery in St. Paul's Cathedral. There are a total of 3 gallerys to go through. The first is a mere 257 steps up to the Whispering Gallery. Apparently a whisper produced against the wall can be heard all the way around the dome thanks to the shape of it. I wasn't too interested in that gallery as it was indoors, but I did spend some quality time there, getting my breathing back to normal. From there, it was 119 steps through many spiral staircase up to the Stone Gallery where you can look out almost 360 degrees over London from this outdoor vantage point and since it's not in the cathedral itself, you can take pictures. After a brief break there, I hoofed it the 152 more steps to the Golden Gallery. These steps were ancient and NARROW in places. It was worth it because the view was amazing. You could walk all around the Golden Gallery. Unfortunately the didn't let you spend too much time up there or it would get too crowded. I would have liked to have spent a bit more time up there after all that work, but c'est la vie right? Down I came over the 528 steps again. I took a video of the last 200 or so steps. Don't watch it if you get dizzy easily!

From there I wandered through the Cathedral and then down to the tomb. I took one indoor picture when no one was looking of a statue of a mother and child. I then meandered through the gift shop and then back out. There were some people feeding the pigeons out on the steps in front which immediately got the "Feed The Birds" song from Mary Poppins stuck in my head for the majority of my afternoon.

Next, I found my way to Millenium Bridge and walked across to Shakespeare's Globe Theatre and the Tate Modern. I got some pictures of the outside of the Globe but really had no desire to go in. Shakespeare has always been a foreign language to me so I didn't bother with the tour. I did pop into the Tate Modern Museum. I do mean pop in because after about 10 minutes of odd works of "art", one being 3 Hoovers and a wet/dry vac that I am almost certain Dad has/had in the basement lighted from beneath and incased in lucite boxes, I decided that Modern Art is lost on me and I headed out for lunch.

My second to last stop today was Buckingham Palace. I agree with what most people told me. . . that it's not all that great to behold. There were a whopping 2 of the "q-tip guards" as I like to call them and you couldn't even ger close enough to try to make them laugh so there wasn't much point in hanging around there.

On my way home, I made one final stop on Oxford Street just to take a stroll through a couple of shops before I leave London and head off with the non-shopping Chris.

Needless to say, I'm quite tired! I'm also extremely proud of myself of making it all the way to the Golden Gallery without dying. It really wasn't all that bad since there were a couple of places to rest. I don't think I would have been able to do it at the beginning of my trip though. I was telling someone who asked if I had gone to St. Paul's yet that I was saving it to the very end of the trip. When asked why, I responded, "So the walks up and down to the Tube stops can get me in shape for the walk up to the galleries in the Cathedral. I don't have any stairs in my house so I need some training!"

Pictures of the day are here.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Cutty Sark (not!), Thames Barrier and the Triathlon

Yesterday was busy day! I got up bright and early to go to the Thames Barrier before Chris's triathlon. I planned my route to get there, but asked someone who might have an idea of a better route. I listened to the other person and ended up in Greenwich at the Cutty Sark. Well, I figured, it wasn't where I was planning on going but I had a little time so I would go to see the ship. Well, Juliane's Law states that many things of interest must be under renovation when I'm going to see them. Therefore, the Cutty Sark was under wraps, literally, and all I saw was the location where it was being renovated. I didn't have enough time to wander around Greenwich to try to find the Prime Meridian, so I got back on the DLR and headed to where I knew I could see the Thames Barrier.

I should stop for a second to explain what this "Thames Barrier" is. As I think most people know, London was build ages ago on the River Thames. It has been a great asset to the city, but also was quite damaging when it would flood its banks. In the early 80s a movable barrier was installed that could be put up when flood waters would be likely to surge up the Thames and threaten to flood London. I had seen the Thames Barrier on one of my many Travel Channel London programs so I had to see it in person (Ok, so it was also featured on an episode of Doctor Who :) ) The park nearest to the barrier was really nice. There was also something that I"m sure had a real purpose which was a perfect spot for me to put my camera to get a photo of me at the barrier. I tried to get a picture to show the scale of the barrier, but that didn't work. The seagulls wouldn't stay still and there are no people allowed on.

From there I went to the ExCeL center to witness Chris's participation in his first triathlon. He had to swim 750 metres, bike 40km and run 5km. Let me tell you, it was exhausting just to watch these people doing all of that. He made his goal of finishing in an hour and a half and that was including transition time for getting out of the wetsuit and into bike gear then out of bike gear and into running gear. Yay Chris!

Pictures of the day are here.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Big Ben!

Think of London and what is the first icon you think of? Tower Bridge? Tower of London? THe Underground sign? Probably not. Chances are that you pictured the clock tower from the Houses of Parliament in the heart of London. I was there today. I took so very many pictures of it from almost every angle possible. Here's a bit of London trivia for you. Big Ben is the name of the bell inside of the clock tower, not the clock itself. I was there when Big Ben chimed on the hour and the half hour which was really neat. I couldn't get over the size of it. Most of the time when you see Big Ben in pictures, it doesn't seem all that large, but when you're there, it's huge! I tried to get some pictures of it to show the size but I don't know whether or not I managed it.

From there I took a stroll to Westminster Abbey. I only took a couple of pictures from the outside because I wasn't interested in going inside. It is BIG though, I'll tell you that much.

I hit a third London landmark on my way back to my flat. I stopped off at Harrods. Oh my goodness, it's insane! The sheer . . . wealth it represents is so massive! I wandered around a few of the floors. There were purses for £800 and pet beds for £80. I actually got Neo's souvenir from there. It doesn't say Harrods on it, but that's OK, he can't read anyway. Before I left, I had to check out the loo. It was so lavish! I've only seen bathrooms like that in the movies. If it wouldn't have been odd, I would have taken some pictures in there just to show the ostentatiousness (is that even a word?) of it.

After Harrods, I decided to give my lousy sense of direction a little workout. I left via a different door than I arrived at for Harrods so I really had no idea where I was except that I was in Knightsbridge. Well, for the first time since arriving in London, I actually found my way (well sort of, I ended up at a different tube station, but I found one which was the bigger deal).

Pictures of the day are here.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

The London Zoo and Winnie the Pooh Too.

Today was London Zoo day! I didn't realize how much I like zoos, probably because the one I went to most often growing up had deer and one lonely polar bear most of the time. This was fantastic! I saw animals I didn't even know existed. Have you ever heard of an anoa, tapir, mangabey, or a sulawesi crested macaque? If so, you definitely have been to zoos beyond the Stone Zoo or watch a bit too much Animal Planet ;) . It was so neat. If you go take a gander at my pictures here, you will see that my favourites were the zebra, spider monkeys, giraffes, meerkats and any other animal that liked to stay still for a photo op. There were definitely some "cheeky monkeys" that didn't want to stay still. I have endless (not uploaded) blurry pictures of leaves with a bit of tail somewhere in the frame. Didn't they know I just wanted a picture? Guess not. The only real bummer was that the lions were off exhibition today for scheduled something or other. The word on the sign wasn't "maintenance" but that was the gist. That and the gorillas and tigers must have been up partying together last night because they were just sleeping when I was there.

Another reason I wanted to go to the London Zoo was because the inspiration for one of the most beloved characters in children's literature was once a part of the London Zoo. There was once a bear there named Winnipeg (Winnie for short). She had started out as the mascot for a regiment from the Canadian armed forces in Winnipeg. She later went to the Zoo while her regiment were fighting in World War I. Since she was raised by humans from "infancy" she was particularly gentle and loving. A man by the name of Alan Alexander Milne and his son Christopher Robin would go to the zoo often to see Winnie. She became the inspiration for the main character in Mr. Milne's children's stories. Do you know where this famous character lived in the stories?

I apologize for the number of pictures today! It was far too hard to make cuts.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Beware of the coming fashion

If the trend that I have seen happen before holds true, in which the fashion here in Europe hits the states in a year or 2, we're unfortunately in for a revision of 1980s fashion. Yup, fluorescent colors, uneven shoulders, grossly oversized tops, leg warmers, stretch pants and even *gulp* FRINGE! I was wandering around Primark (think a very cheap JC Penney or Walmart with only clothes, accessories and home goods) this morning and was able to really take a look at the clothes they had as a whole and it dawned on me. . . we're slipping back into the 80s! I was ecstatic to see the 80s fashion go out the window almost 2 decades ago and I have been dreading a revival.

Well, I thought as I left Primark that maybe it was just the clothes there that were throwbacks. My next stop was Marks and Spencer, a more Macy's type place. Now, it wasn't as blatant as at Primark, but there was definitely the same "Fame" flare to some of the clothing. After that, Next was the department store I visited. This one again is along the line of Macy's and there, lurking just under the obvious line were some brighter than average clothes, some with acid washed looks to them. I had a flashback to one of my favourite outfits from when I was about 8 or so. I actually had 2 pairs of these acid washed overalls one in a peach colour and one in yellow. I half expected to see those hanging on a hanger in my travels. I almost went back to Primark to pick up some cheap things so I could go as an 80s girl for Halloween but realized that costume would be lost on my students and not worth it.

Oh, and did I mention the bodysuit/leotards as well? Remember those, a onesie for adults?

US Fashion Police I implore you, realize that this is a really REALLY bad idea to go back and keep the 80s from re-entering the states while we still have a chance! It's too late for the Europeans but there's hope for us.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

sickness struck. . .

Fortunately it was only for about 36 hours. I think I got myself just too run down. I came home from shopping yesterday and was feeling a little punky. Last night I was convinced I was going to come down with a cold. I had all the usual symptoms, stuffy nose and the telltale sore throat that is normally the hallmark of an impending cold. I didn't sleep well either. That lousy feeling kicked off a bit of homesickness, especially for MY bed which is in front of MY tv and DVD player, as well as near MY bathroom with every medicine known to man for cold type things. Well I sacrificed today to staying in bed, drinking loads of fluids, watching BBC shows on iPlayer and resting. Now I'm feeling better thankfully and looking into what I'll be doing tomorrow.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Ceremony of the Keys

This evening after a lovely dinner at Pizza on the Park (thanks for the recommendation Lois), Chris and I went into what I call the center of London to the Tower. After getting some fun photos of Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, we walked by the Thames. At 9:30 we got to see the Ceremony of the Keys which is the official locking up of the Tower of London. It's a ceremony that has happened every night without fail since 1280! There was once in I believe the 1940s when a bomb hit inside the Tower that the ceremony was delayed 7 minutes because they had to locate the keys in the ruble from the blast! The Yeoman Warder told us a bit about the ceremony and what was going to happen and then at 7 minutes to 10 it started. There were armed guards from Her Majesty's army and they locked the gates. . . with us inside! Turns out that there is a door in the gate that stays open until the Yeoman Warders curfew (midnight) and then they're locked in and no one gets out until the morning. This would be why there's a doctor that lives in the Tower of London as well as a Chaplin. I can't remember how many Yeoman Warders and their families live in the Tower full time. I think that would be a claustrophobic's nightmare, being trapped inside a fortress LOL! It was soooooo cool!

We weren't able to take pictures of the actual ceremony but here are the pictures I have from before and after the ceremony itself.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

"One Pound, Look Around!"

Today I ventured into one of East London's most well know markets, Petticoat Lane Market. This was a much smaller market in comparison to Portobello Road, but the bargains to be had on clothing were far better. I have a feeling some of the stuff fell off the back of a lorrie. . . or something but it was still really fun to look around. The one stall I bought a couple of shirts from had a woman who would bellow, about every 3 minutes, "One pound, look around!" to draw in customers. It worked for me, I gave her £3 for the 3 shirts that came home with me.

That was the highlight of my day.The rest of my time was spent being "domestic" i.e. grocery shopping and laundry. I'm getting better at the grocery store thing and managed to make it home without breaking a sweat which is a milestone for me. Of course it might have helped that it started to pour right as I was getting to the tube so I got a little spritz of cool water before getting on the train. The rain here is bizarre though! One minute, it's nice and bright, then the sky goes all grey and opens up. It's open for an average of about 5 minutes and then the sun comes out. Very odd. I was sitting on my bed watching Top Gear (gotta love BBCs iPlayer when you're in the UK) and had the curtains half closed because it was bright. It darkened up so I opened the curtains to let the breeze in. A minute later I had to shut the window because it was raining in the window and on me! The weather keeps me on my toes. I always have my brolly and sunglasses with me and generally use both in the course of a day.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Whirling Dervish Day!!!

First I would like to say thank you to everyone who comments on my blog :) Getting feedback from you guys keeps me writing this blog which is good for me as well because I'm getting all of the events of the day down on [cyber] paper and I can look back on this for years to come!

So, today I was all around London! It started with a trip to Stamford Bridge, home to the Chelsea Blues football team. I went on a tour of the stadium. I got to see the press room, the home and away team changing rooms, went through the tunnel the players go through to get on the pitch, their dugout (that's what they call it) and then finished off the tour in the Chelsea Megastore for some souvenirs. It was so great! I won't be able to see a match while I"m here because their season starts right before I leave and the tickets are £50 a pop, but this was the next best thing. Let me tell you, you want to be the home team because their changing room is amazing. Their LOCKERS are air conditioned!!! Chelsea pictures are here.

From there, I high tailed it up to Notting Hill to see if I could get a little shopping done there. I walked all over the place. It's amazing how different the same location can look without thousands of people crowding the streets. I made a huge circle around Portobello Road and then ended up back at Notting Hill Gate station. I could have stopped at another tube station but it wasn't on any of the lines that I planned on using today so I skipped it. It can't hurt to get some more exercise can it?

My next stop was Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park. I found where all the Brits have been hiding!!! This whole trip I was starting to think that there were no actual British people in London. There are a gazillion tourists, mostly from France, Germany, Spain and Italy from what I can understand of their languages. In Kensington Garden, I started to hear people speak with actual British accents! It was absolutely breathtakingly beautiful in that garden! The weather was absolutely perfect as well which was just icing on the cake. I wandered through Kensington Gardens, past the Peter Pan statue (which is much smaller than I expected) into Hyde Park and down to Pizza On The Park, a restaurant that Lois told me I had to go to. Unfortunately, it was as the wrong time of the day for a meal, but I think I will have to try to persuade Chris to go there with me this weekend. Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park pictures here.

In the Italian Garden in Kensington Garden, there are numerous fountains. I saw a cute dog running around and around it, occasionally stopping to bark at the water. I had to take a little video of Georgie and his OCD behaviour. Check it out here.

From Hyde Park, I took the tube to Picadilly Circus station and walked up to Hamley's, a world famous toy shop. It was crawling with excited children running all over the place looking at toys and games. You couldn't help but feel 8 years old again in that store. 5 floors of childhood bliss.

At this point, I had been out and about for 7 and a half hours and I was absolutely knackered! I headed for Oxford Circus station and headed home. Now I am waiting for dinner to be finished cooking. Oh and in the middle of my blog writing, a college tradition occurred. . . someone set off the fire alarm. The fire brigade arrived with not 1, not 2, but 4 fire trucks! I was panicking because I thought it was my dinner in the oven that caused the alarm but no, it was someone else cooking pork chops. Whew!

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Local day

English meteorologist are just as useless as American ones. I was told by numerous websites that today was supposed to have RAIN. Some sites said heavy showers, others said just rain, and my ever helpful wunderground hasn't predicted one day right since I arrived. I figured since it was going to be lousy, I would have a lie in, go to Argos and then maybe off to a museum. Well, I woke up and it was drizzling a little but nothing I couldn't handle. By the time I got up and around, the sun had some out and it was nice. I needed to run to Argos since my watch decided to break and I found a nice inexpensive one there.

I came back here to re-think my day's plans since the weather was turning out to be nice and my left foot was putting up a fight with the little walking it took to get to Argos and back. As I was walking back from the tube, I decided to take a quick detour down the side of the canal. I thought there was a footbridge across it and I figured it would cut off a little of my journey home. Well it turned out to be this little park with grassy spots, a smaller pond and people were walking and riding bikes down there. I thought that it would be a nice little place to have a picnic and relax for the day. I came back to the flat, made my lunch (ham and cheddar baguette, salt and vinegar crisps, Ribena, and some fruit), grabbed my camera, book, iPod, sarong for a picnic blanket and I was off.

When I came back to the park, there was a longboat just coming through Mile End Lock which was really cool. I'd watched a special on the canal boats and canal system on the travel channel so it was neat to see one in person. I found a nice little spot to have my lunch by the smaller pond and saw this adorable little family of what I call "Tipp-Ex ducks". They are all black but their beaks look like they were trying to fish something out of the bottom of a bottle of white-out. Since I've never seen one of these ducks at home and they call white-out Tipp-Ex here, I thought the name was appropriate. There were 2 parents and I believe 4 ducklings. They were swimming around, diving for food, and the babies were squeaking out little baby quacks. They were too cute.

As soon as I sat down to eat, the London tradition of drizzling/raining for at least 5 minutes a day (at least while I"m here) promptly began. I had brought my brolly, but the rain didn't amount to enough for me to take it out. I had a lovely lunch out there and read some of my book. Some of the time it was sunny and at other times a few sprinkles dotted the pages of my book.

A bee caught my eye as I was reading. I have heard that the bees are supposedly disappearing. Whether it's because of pesticides, mobile phones, pollution or they're just going home to Melissa Majoria (Doctor Who S4e13 reference), I figured I should get a few picture of the little guy while I had the chance. So if you look at my pictures and wonder why I took so many of clover, play a game of I spy with yourself and see if you can find the bee :) There's also an I spy picture there to see if you can spot the bird. Good luck!

As I walked back, I saw another couple taking their longboat through the canal lock. Their dog Lizzie came over to me for a little pat and I struck up a conversation with the husband of the couple. They had spent a month on their boat coming down from the north on their boat. They were going to go all the way down to the Thames and then back up, all on their boat with Lizzie! I was quite impressed.

It was a lovely, restful day that my feet desperately needed and appreciated! :) Today's pictures are here.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

There Are Bigger Geeks Than Me. . .

. . . And I met them along with "Carlisle" from Twilight (Peter Facinelli) and "Gwen" from Torchwood (Eve Myles). Today I was up bright and early to head to Earl's Court where the London Film and Comic Convention was taking place. I figured that this might be the only opportunity I would have where there was a sci-fi convention in my city so I had to go. That and I liked at least a couple of the celebs that would be there. It's definitely an experience! There were people in costume (my favourite being one girl who was dressed as "Alice Cullen" from Twilight, complete with contact lenses!!!). All throughout the building there were stalls of people selling all manner of science fiction stuff from trading cards to action figures, autographs to t-shirts. I showed great restraint I might add!

When you enter the building and get a ticket, you have to high-tail it to the back of the place to get virtual queuing tickets for the people that you want to have autograph something for you. I was number 150 for Peter Facinelli and 234 for Eve Myles. Once you do that, you wander around until your number is in the group that are queuing for the autograph. I wandered around and saw props from Doctor Who, browsed endlessly through photographs, and generally took in the scene. My number came up for both of my tickets at around the same time (about 2 hours after I got the tickets) so I went to get my autographs. Peter Facinelli was first. I have to say I wasn't too impressed with him. He didn't even make eye contact with people as he signed things for them. Right after that I went to Eve's queue. Totally different experience there. She was all smiles commented on my name and how she thought it was pretty and was basically just really nice. Neither of the actors I went to see were allowing photos, but I got an unauthorised one of Peter Facinelli. See that picture and more here.

After that was done, I was finished with the Con so I went to the tube and headed towards the Science Museum. Of course, when there is more than one way to exit the tube station I always go the wrong way so I ended up in front of a little cafe which was advertising a full English breakfast for under £5. I decided that was a good place to have a bite to eat, rest my weary legs (there weren't many places to sit at Earl's Court), and figure out which direction I needed to go in. The breakfast was yummy (except the mushrooms). I thought about John and Judith at the bed and breakfast we used to stay at in Newburyport. This breakfast was good but not as good as hers.

I finally made my way down to the Science Museum and wandered through there for a couple of hours. It's so much more interesting than the Boston one and it was free! I may actually go back because it was a bit busy being a Sunday but we'll see. There were a lot of exhibits on medicine which fascinated me. I've always said that if the teaching thing doesn't work out I'm going into nursing. I took some picture which are here. From there it was back on the tube and I went to Hammersmith for a little light shopping. Again, everything seemed mobbed and there wasn't anything I couldn't live without so I headed back to my flat. Another busy London day for me :) I LOVE IT!!!!

Saturday, 18 July 2009

The Location Behind The Obsession

Today I got up bright and early and headed to Notting Hill! I believe my UK obsession is Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts' fault to be honest. From the first time I saw that movie I wanted to go to Notthing Hill in the WORST way. I was at Notting Hill Gate tube stop at 8:15am. Portobello Road Market was just starting up so I walked the length of the road to see what was there. I realized that even though the books tell you to get there early, getting there 15 minutes after the market opens is a bit too early.

Fortunately I went to Notting Hill armed with more to do than shopping! I had compiled a list of filming sites from the Notting Hill movie. I found the travel bookshop that Will's was based on in the film, the tattoo parlour that was featured with the gentleman leaving and who couldn't remember why he chose "I Love Ken" as a tattoo, Will's house (there's no more blue door though), Max and Bella's house, the corner where Will and Anna literally bump into one another and the locked communal garden that Will and Anna break into on their first date. Gotta love the internet for all the addresses of filming spots!

By the time I finished my movie pilgrimage, the market was BUZZING! I walked the entire length of the market a second time and then back again on my way to the Tube. It was INSANELY crowded with people. Really an
agoraphobics nightmare. I also seemed to be the only salmon swimming upstream away from the market as I was leaving which made for a long walk filled with, "pardons" and "excuse mes". I got a ham and cheese crepe for lunch and headed back to my flat to deposit my treasures and decide what to do this afternoon.

My Notting Hill pictures are here. I also included a few pictures that I took on the way home from the tube.

I have decided that there is a problem with being a Londoner on the weekends. That's when they do much of the maintenance for the Tube. There were a bunch of places that I wanted to go to that would be great for a couple of hours since I didn't have a whole day to devote to the bigger things today. Well, all of them would use the District or Hammersmith and City lines which are not running where I need them to be this weekend. I guess I'll be hanging around here and reading out on the green instead. Tomorrow I will be more prepared! Live and learn.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Settling in

Today and yesterday for the most part, I was a "local" instead of a tourist. I got up yesterday and made my way to the train station so that I could go spend Chris's birthday with him. We had a nice day together and a WONDERFUL dinner at this little Italian place near his house. This morning we got up early since he's going away for the weekend and I wanted to get back to London. On my way back, I stopped at Picadilly Circus for the requisite photos of the corner billboards and the statue of Eros (Click here for photos). From there I actually found my way through the streets to my favourite tube station, Tottenham Court Road and headed back to my flat to drop my bag off before heading out again. I have learned that it is far easier to maneuver through London with as little stuff as possible.

After arriving at my flat, I sat down for a second. Really, that was my intention, and woke up 2 hours later. I wasn't feeling well on the train so I think I needed a rest. When will I learn that I need to make sure I don't get dehydrated?!? Now I have to go do a little laundry because I have one clean shirt left and tomorrow I fully intend on spending all day in Notting Hill so the laundry won't get done then.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

A quiet day for once . . .

For the first time since I set foot on British soil, I took it easy. I had a bit of a lie-in (if getting up at 8:45 is lying-in) and took my time getting around. I was going to meander around here today but it was raining and I didn't feel like braving the elements right away. Around 11:00 it cleared up and I decided that I was going to hit a couple of the shops I didn't get to yesterday. I went to a shop called Forbidden Planet which is a geeks dream! I also went to Paperchase which is one of my favourite brands of paper goods and the like. I didn't have to change trains, I didn't have to carry 9,000 pounds of food back on the tube and I was home at a decent hour. I still walked a ways, but after yesterday it was nothing!

Later in the afternoon I decided to make myself a cream tea. For those of you who are not familiar with a cream tea, it's basically afternoon tea with scones, jam and clotted cream. I had picked up all of the ingredients at Sainsbury's yesterday so I decided to treat myself. Clotted cream is something you just can't get in the states unless you get shelf stable clotted cream at a British Imports store. It's like an unsalted creamy butter for lack of a better description. Totally decadent!

Now I want to figure out what to do Friday (tomorrow I'm going out to Chris's house for his birthday). I'll be coming into London at probably 10:00am and I'll already be in central London so I want to see where I should go from there.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

My poor feet!!!

My poor feet don't know what's happened to them! Today I hopped on the Tube and went to The British Museum. That place is absolutely enormous! For the first time since 1993, I wished I had paid attention in Mrs. Harvey's Foundations of Civilization class freshman year. My pictures are here. It was really cool to see the actual Rosetta Stone but it was difficult to see through the people all around it. There was so much to take in that if I were more of a history buff, I would have to go back.

From there, I went down Oxford Street for some shopping. Google clocked the walk at only 1.2 miles but they didn't take into account the walking I did around the shops. It was a shopaholic's dream! I stopped off at the grocery store on my way home. I don't think I could be a city girl without a car. Doing shopping and then getting on the Tube is a pain! Not to mention the fact that I should have paid attention to the fact that frozen dinner and 6 pint containers of milk are HEAVY! I won't make that mistake twice. From now on, I will deal with the little corner shop and make do with what they have.

All in all I think I walked about 10 miles (according to my pedometer) between the museum's many rooms, the Oxford street shops, and Sainsbury's. My feet are protesting every step it takes to move around my 10x10 flat. I think maybe I should do the double decker tour bus tomorrow!

Monday, 13 July 2009

Which way to go?

Today I had quite the adventure with London transportation! I got up this morning and thought that the weather forecast was good enough to head northwest to Hampstead Heath and then to Camden Market. I pulled out my trusty little tube map and A to Z guide and planned my course. My station, Mile End to Tottenham Court Road, change to the Northern Line and head to Hampstead. Seemed easy enough. I successfully changed lines and was barreling towards my destination when the lady on the the loudspeaker said that due to escalator repair, the tube would NOT be stopping at Hampstead. Ut oh! I got off at the stop before Hampstead and thought that I would just leave the Heath for another day and head back on the Northern Line to Camden Town. I was looking at the map and there were a couple of other tourists who were headed to Hampstead and were going to take overground transport (read: the bus). OK, so I thought I would go with them. I got to Hampstead High Street and then decided I had NO idea how to get to the Heath from there. I went into the Gap and asked the woman behind the counter directions. about 8 minutes later I was at Hampstead Heath.

Hampstead Heath really wasn't much to write home about. It was pretty, but it was just like any large park you would encounter in the states. My sense of direction is not the best so I didn't want to wander too far in for fear I would be spending the night, lost, under a tree! This was also where I made the realization that if I'm going anywhere that has a map at the entrance, I should take a picture of it BEFORE I go in should I need a bit of assistance. I only took a couple of pictures but they're here if you're interested.

From there I still wanted to go shopping at Camden Market so I headed back the way I came. I went to a bus stop since I didn't know where the Tube station was. I got on the number 46 bus which, according to the map at the bus shelter, was supposed to stop at Camden Town Underground station. Well guess what. . . it didn't! I was sitting there, glancing at my watch from time to time, thinking that the stop should have been only about the 6th or 7th stop on the bus. I finally got up when we were stopped to ask the bus driver if I had stayed on the bus too long. Well, I came to England, a place where they're supposed to speak English, and found a non-English speaking bus driver. Brilliant!

Sitting behind me was a very sweet older gentleman who was kind enough to point me in the right direction. I got off the bus and back on the Underground (which had betrayed me as well, but not like the bus had!) and found Camden Market. After a couple of hours of wandering around and browsing the stalls and shops, I decided it was time to come home. I went into Camden Town station and lo and behold, there are 2 branches of the Northern Line that depart from that station. I had a 50/50 chance of picking the right branch. Wanna guess whether or not I did? I did manage to find my way home, but it wasn't the way I wanted to! Oh well. I'm here, after 13,200 steps according to my pedometer. I think tomorrow I might just take a taxi! LOL.

Oh and if you're interested in seeing what my "flat" is like, I took a few pictures that are here (the last few pictures).

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Greetings from London's Newest Resident!

Today I became a temporary Londoner! This morning before we packed up Chris's car to bring me to London I made him watch Twilight (he had just finished the book so it was only fitting). Then we headed into London! I never understood how teenage girls cried at New Kids On The Block concerts until today. I was fighting back tears of joy as we drove into the city. I have finally made it to London!

My "flat" is a very nice single dorm room with an en suite bathroom and mini-fridge in the East End of London. It will make everyone happy to know that there is security at the gate to the residence halls.

I didn't have much time to enjoy my new flat because Chris and I had tickets to go to a recording of a BBC 4 radio comedy. It was really a fun thing to watch (though it was exceedingly HOT in the studio). The comedy was called Cabin Pressure and you can read about it
here. I've never seen a taping before, let alone a radio show taping. It was really fun to hear the banter between the actors, especially when they flubbed their lines. I will have to see if there's a way for me to get the programme on my computer at home because it's quite clever. I love that the BBC still produces radio shows.

I haven't decided what I will do with myself tomorrow on my first full London day. I need to pull out my "London post-its" to see what I want to do on a day with a 20% chance of rain. I already have my oyster card (tube discount pass) so I'm ready to go.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Cotswolds and Hogworts!

Today we headed West to the Cotswolds. We stopped in 2 little villages, Berford and Bourton-on-the-Water. In Berford there was a food and drink festival and it was crawling with people. I got to sample local food (mainly cheese) and some drinks as well. Chris bought some "pickle cheese" that had the distinct flavour of pickle in it. It was really neat. From Berford, we drove to Bourton-on-the-Water. This was less crowded but there was still a little street fair type thing going on. There was a rubber duckie race and a couple of little stalls with people selling things like a mini flea market. The highlight of Bourton-on-the-Water was a model of the village made out of Cotswold stone. In the model, there was a model of the model! It was really fun. Cotswold pictures are here

From there we went to Oxford. It was CRAWLING with people so it really wasn't too enjoyable. I did get to see the outside of Hogworts dining hall from Harry Potter, but the queue was insanely long to get in so we didn't bother. Had it been something famous from one of my favourite Brit movies I would have waited, but fortunately it wasn't. I only took a few pictures of Oxford, but they're here

Now I'm unwinding while watching Doctor Who. Chris is making a traditional English roast for dinner for me tonight, yum! My legs are starting to protest all of this walking. I don't think I've walked as much as I have in the past 3 days in the last 3 months back home!!! They're in for a rude awakening since tomorrow afternoon I become a Londoner!

Friday, 10 July 2009

Roald Dahl Museum and Waddesdon Manor

Today we got the first 2 items on my "UK To Do List" checked off. Our first stop was in Great Missenden and it was the Roald Dahl Museum. For those of you that are not familiar with him, Roald Dahl is the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as well as many other very entertaining children's book. I took pictures that would be really fun to show my class next year when we read some of his books. I end up reading about 4 Roald Dahl books to my class during the school year. I think that I could write the visit off as a work expense LOL! It was fun to see but as Chris pointed out, it might have made more sense to charge £3 for adults and £6 for kids instead of the other way round. The Roald Dahl photos are here

Next we headed to Aylesbury to Waddesdon Manor. It was one of the settings for a mini series called "The 10th Kingdom". That was the reason I wanted to go (I know, everyone is SHOCKED by that admission) but it turned out to be a lovely walk through the gardens there. The weather was perfect for it, 20 C (around 68 or so) and mostly sunny. There were lovely paths winding around the grounds. We had a nice little lunch out there in what used to be the stables (though not like any stables I've ever seen!) and I got some pretty photos that you can see here

Thursday, 9 July 2009

I've Arrived!

I have finally made it to the UK! I left Boston yesterday (on no sleep, thank you adrenaline) at 7pm EST. I arrived in the UK at 11:00am GST (6:00am EST) on no sleep either. I think this is the most hours I have ever been awake consecutively. Right now I'm fighting to stay awake until 9:00pm GST.

Chris picked me up at the airport (I made it through customs in no time flat) and then we drove to his house about 1.5 hours away from the airport. I had trouble with being the passenger in what should have been the driver's seat. I kept thinking that I should tell him to get back in his own lane, only to remember that he was in his own lane. That will take some getting used to. That and seeing cars and feeling for a split second that they are being operated by ghost drivers!

We were both starving when we returned to Princes Risborough so we walked down into town to the "chippie" for some authentic fish and chips. It was To Die For! Later we went for a drive up to Whiteleaf Cross which was this gorgeous vista not too far from Chris's house. We also went on a hunt for a Geo-Caching spot that has been alluding Chris. He found it this time :)

Now we're watching the new mini-series of Torchwood. I love seeing it in HD and before anyone in the US can watch it (unless they're pirates as I usually am).

I'm too exhausted to post pictures at the moment (that would require finding my camera cable and I can't get off the couch right now). I'll try to post the few pictures I've got tomorrow.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Today's the day!

So I kept telling myself, and everyone who asked, that I was going to be able to sleep tonight without a problem. Well, since I'm writing this blog at 3:15am, I guess I was WRONG! My excitement and racing mind wouldn't let me calm down to the point of actual sleep. I have cat napped on and off tonight and I finally gave up for a little while to check my e-mail and finish updating my iPod. At least it gives me a little more quality time with Neo before I leave. The bags are packed save for the chargers for my electronic equipment and I'm all set to go! My carry-on has enough stuff to keep my brain occupied and my tummy satisfied for about 24 hours, so the 8 hours I'm air born should be no problem. I hope to sleep on the plane, but you never know with me, clearly! Maybe I should go back to bed and try for a few hours of sleep before my alarm goes off at 8am.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

One week!

I am leaving in ONE WEEK!! Can you believe it?!?!? I have packed my stuff (though I have to go through and downsize a bit as I always do). Neo's luggage is packed for Elaine's house complete with goodies, toys, catnip and his blankie. All of my ducks are in a row and now I'm just waiting for departure day. I can't believe that tomorrow is the last full Wednesday I will be spending in the US until mid August!

Monday, 11 May 2009

How many ways can you countdown?

Here is my UK countdown calendar. I was bored one day so I decided to make my own sort of "advent calendar" to countdown to my trip (as if all of the online ones and the one on my iPod weren't enough ;) . Before you say it, yes I know I have far too much time on my hands. Each door on the calendar reveals the image of an attraction or sight I will (hopefully) be seeing on my trip. The pictures around the calendar are scrapbooking stickers that I plan to use when I return and go to catalogue all of my travels.

On the trip front, I have sent in the final payment for my housing in London and I have put all of my luggage and travel gear in the office after my California trip so I know where everything is when it's time to pack for the trip.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

99 Days . . .

(to the tune of "99 bottles of beer")
99 days 'til I'm in the UK
99 days 'til I'm there
when 24 hours have all gone away
98 days 'til I'm in the UK*

I am now into double digits in my countdown. I figure after April vacation I will put together a countdown paper chain.

*My apologies to the estate of the person who originally came up with the "99 bottles of beer" song. It was late and I was hopped up on Zyrtec when this song came to me. :)

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Four Months From Today . . .

. . . I will be 29 and on my way to London's Gatwick Airport (via Dublin). I can't believe that it's coming so quickly! Now I'm starting to really try to break down all of the things that I want to do so that I can see as much as possible in the 6 weeks that I'm there. I've got a list of about 67 things that I want to do in England and Wales. I haven't even figured out what I want to see and do while Chris and I are in Scotland. Here are some of the highlights of my plans thus far (AKA, the things on my list with the highest priority):

BBC Backstage Tour and Participate as an audience member
Big Ben
Cadbury World
Chelsea Blues (soccer) stadium tour and Museum
Doctor Who Exhibition (in Cardiff)
London Zoo (where Winnie the Pooh was created according to the movie "A Bear Named Winnie")
Madame Tussauds Wax Musseum
Notting Hill and Portabello Road Market
Picadilly Circus
Roald Dahl Museum
St. Paul's Cathedral
Tower Bridge Exhibition
Victoria and Albert Museum of Childhood
As well as numerous filming spots for Doctor Who and Torchwood.

That's just the tip of the iceberg for what I want to see and do. I swear that planning is half the fun of a trip. Apparently my excitement over the planning of this trip is contagious because Chris is getting into it at well. I love that he's almost as thrilled about my trip as I. My April vacation trip to California will be my packing practice for the summer.

I'm waiting for my friends to get fed up with the subject of most any conversation I have being my trip. Though I think they are secretly going to have a pool as to whether or not I actually come back from this summer and if I do come back, how long it will be before I go back :)

Monday, 16 February 2009

You know you're an Anglophile when . .

You know you're an Anglophile when . . .

You recognise London on TV before Washington DC
The Tube station names mean more to you than the subway stations in the big city near you
You have more clothing and paraphenalia with the Union Jack on it than the average UK tourist shop
You'd rather search using just because it's associated with the UK
You're learning how to convert farenheit to celsius in your head
You don't notice when you use English slang instead of American slang
Your friends understand the English slang you use
Your favourite actors and actresses are from across the pond
You type using the UK spelling for words like "cosy", "colour", "memorise", and "theatre"
You think a 6 week trip to the UK is too short
Cadbury is your favourite chocolate maker
When speaking with someone from England, you use their terms for things such as "crisps", "lift", and "lorry"
You spend time coming up with a "you know you're an Anglophile when . . . " list. :)

Thursday, 22 January 2009

168 days and counting . . .

I can't believe it's finally the year in which I get to take the 6 week trip I've been dreaming of for the better part of a DECADE! So far I have:
NUMEROUS guide books for London, Great Britain in general, Dublin and Scotland
some money already converted into British Pounds
a plane ticket
a room reserved for the 3 and a half weeks I'll be in London
travel insurance
the unlock code to use my phone with a UK SIM card
tentative plans for the 2 weeks Chris and I will be together
and a list of attractions so long that I think it will take 12 weeks to accomplish it all (I keep saying I'll have to save some things to do on my next trip over there).

Anyone else think I'm just a wee bit excited about this trip ;)