Posts Tagged ‘london’

England Adventures

11 June 2009

Flashback. Way back. To May 17.

Hannah arrived on a spectacularly rainy and cloudy English morning. And poor dear I did not let her sleep. We went back to RoHo for a spot of lunch, and then it was off to Hampton Court. Somehow there were 2 or three of the state apartment tours I didn’t do the first time I went. One that included a room that had GUNS in elaborate patterns instead of, I dunno, wallpaper. Also they seemed to have decided it was now ok to take pictures in the big fancy Henry VIII hall. But all of those pics are on Hannah’s camera.

I finally allowed her to collapse around 9:30pm GMT. Poor dear slept for 14 hours.

I had an exam the next morning on a part of campus I didn’t even know existed. After that unpleasantry was out of the way, we went to Windsor Castle. GUESS WHO WAS THERE!

THE QUEEN!

Still didn’t see her though.

The Castle seemed so different! Everything was green and leafy. As previously mentioned, this was the 1st place I went in England that wasn’t RoHo or Egham, so it was kind of special that it was one of my last England hurrahs to go back again. When I gave Grace, Tyler, Annie, Colin the ghetto tour, we were too cheap to go inside, so this time I got to do the audio tour, which I thought was very informative. Needless to say, my tour of the town was even ghetto-er in this third incarnation. It was kind of like “Look…that thing up there…somewhere…is a pomegranite. Which was K/Catherine of something’s symbol. And then Henry VIII took them down. Except that one. Oh and the Queen can eat the swans. Eton boys!”

There was also a special exhibit of Da Vinci sketches and royal portraits. And I got to re-stand on HENRY THE EIGTH’S TOMB. Lordy.

Another of our exciting day trips was to SALISBURY, which is where you can get on the special bus tour of Wiltshire countryside that takes you to STONEHENGE.

Yes, STONEHENGE!

May 20 042

No, that’s not one of the default desktop backgrounds from Microsoft Windows, it’s the real things!

It was a little bit of deja vu, because, like Carhenge (the Stonehenge replica made of junk cars in Alliance, Nebraska),

carhenge

you just kind of drive around in the middle of nowhere, and then, BOOM, there it is on the side of the rode.

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I’d say the only difference is that Stonehenge has an audiotour and a giftshop. And Carhenge had a weird bug infestation.

We also got a guided tour of the beautiful Salibury Cathedral and played around in the Water Meadows, both of which have been often portrayed in English paintings.

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I unfortunately had to leave many England/London stones unturned. Didn’t make it to Bath. Or the Sherwood Forest. Or Charles Dickens’ house. Or the Tate Britain (I’m looking at you, horribly timed Victoria line strike). I suppose that means I’ll just have to go back!

Some day.

Rest of the Stonehenge/Salisbury pics are here.

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EAwH!!*

19 May 2009

*England Adventure with Hannah!!

We’re having a JOLLY GOOD TIME! We’ve already seen Hampton Court Palace, Windsor Castle and Eton, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Parliament, 10 Downing St, Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery, St. Martins in the Fields, the British Museum, Covent Garden, and Picadilly Circus. 

Here’s proof that we’re together:

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And here’s proof that we’re together in England:

eawh 002

Tomorrow, we’re off to Salisbury and Stonehenge (GASP!)…but I should have more time for a proper update.

And now for something rather (not completely) different…

14 May 2009

I tried to post this yesterday, but there were vast technical difficulties, stemming from the fact that I talked for too long, and the internet seems to believe one should not upload videos that are more than 10 mins in length.

Anyway…enjoy!

And here’s a link to the pictures, so you don’t have to squint at the ones I show from my camera on the video.

The Queen

4 April 2009

I saw The Queen

‘s flag at Buckingham Palace!

march-29-30-042

They only fly that bad boy when the Queen is in residence. Which she was. 

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If only I could see through walls, then I would’ve seen her. CURSE YOU, lame, regular, non-wall-through-seeing eyeballs!

But I’ll tell you who I did see.

Go ahead. Guess.

The President of Mexico, that’s right!! Exactly who you were thinking I’d run into next to St. James Park. In London. England.

While I was becoming one with St. James Park (we bonded for 2.5 hours), I noticed that England was going to a surprising decorative motif: the Mexican flag.

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See them on the left, beyond the oodles of my new favorite flower?

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So I was definitely curious about that. Who knew England had 100s of Mexican flags just lying around? Later, when I finally rendezvoused with the Smiths, we were walking back toward Buckingham Palace when a large herd of Important Looking People in Suits start ambling in our direction. I postulated that they must be the Mexican delegation, due to the fact that they were speaking Spanish and accompanied by what I assumed to be the British version of the secret service (ear pieces and all). They passed us, not 10 feet away, when Mr. Randy says “Well, there goes the President of Mexico!”

And that, ladies and gents, is the story of how I saw the President of Mexico (and unfortunately, not the Queen) in London, England.

Heath(cliff)

14 February 2009

Highlights from last weekend:

  1. Hearing Big Ben strike three o’clock and play the same melody  as the “Westminster” setting on my doorbell.
  2. Venturing up to Hampstead (and it’s heath).
  3. Sliding around in the mud.
  4. Dancing in the mud and having the earth claim our limbs.
  5. Cooking teriyaki chicken.
  6. Seeing this view of London from the Heath:feb-7-038

Highlights from yesterday in London:

  1. 2 for 1 @ BRB!
  2. Eating cold pizza in the snow in Leicester Square.
  3. Making my poor tired sad dead umbrella try to protect me from the snow while everyone laughed at it.
  4. Thinking we got special treatment because we were in the National Portrait gallery after 6.
  5. Discovering that the NPG is open until 9pm on Thursdays.
  6. Seeing this bag head lady photo from the ads all over town (I’ve totally done this a million times…copycat):   bag

We also played a rousing game of  “Pick Three People from the Portraits Who You Would Marry and One Has to be From the Floor with Lots of Ugly Old Portraits.”

I picked:

Michael DahlNPG 3822, Michael Dahl

John Donnejohn-donne

And I realized I forgot to pick a third one, but then we were already in the gift shop, so…

lord-nelson

Pirate Lord Nelson Ornament was my last minute desperation pick. The eye patch is kinda hot. Ignore the saucy lady in red.

It was a lot harder for the friend I was with because there were a lot less lady options, and most of them were…um…let’s just say ugly.

And I don’t know who this is, nor did I see this portrait, but he came up in my search for the other ones:mystery-guy3

HOTTIE! He’s on the top of my “Portraits I would Marry List” most definitely.

Today I bought a really awesome book for £1.99 at an op shoppe (that’s Australian for ‘thrift store’): The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. I’ll leave you with these words, selected at random:

Now Jove, in his next commodity of hair, send thee a beard.

Slow Train to London

1 February 2009

It’s like the Midnight Train to Georgia, but a whole lot less fun.

Yesterday, a bunch of RoHo homies and I hit up London for the day. We unfortunately ended up on the aforementioned Slow Train to London that makes a ton of stops and takes approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes, instead of the usually 45ish. The good news is when you travel in multiples of four (like 8 for example), you can get tickets for heaps (note: this is my new favorite word) cheaper. So it was 5.90 for roundtrip train travel AND unlimited tube use for the day.

The fine print of this arrangement, however, is that you’re “supposed to always travel with you group,” and if they catch you doing otherwise, you can be fined 20 quid EACH. Obviously, we did split up over the course of the day when people wanted to do different things, and I stealthily avoided detection by those super helpful (yet potentially deadly) station workers who hang around by the turnstiles. In case of emergency, I was fully prepared to say I was lost from my group and trying to find them and please don’t fine me, topped off with an appropriate amount of tears.

We spent most of the afternoon wandering around Camden Market.jan-31-009On the street.

jan-31-0011Looking down at a very small fraction of the sellers.

jan-31-008Camden Lock. 

There’s a TON of stuff to look at it, but I wasn’t entirely sure if I was scene/goth/indie/cool/hippee enough to be there at times. It was after that when people started splitting up, and I went to Islington to hang with Grace and Tyler for dinner. And watch a rather terrible television adaptation of Arabian Nights/Aladdin.

Working back through the week, on Friday I went to Staines on my quest for a new umbrella with a push button/automatic opening thing. Seems like a simple quest, right? You’d think ENGLAND of all places would have a huge selection of umbrellas meeting a variety of specifications. But NO! Eventually, I gave up and just bought another cute manual one, and naturally, found a push button one 30 mins later walking past a sporting store off of High Street. Oh well. Also, it was during this time that we discovered the mysteries of bags of milk. Apparently these are completely normal in places like Canada.

Thursday I also spent in London, hanging out with Beefeaters, ravens, The Crown Jewels, and Colin at the Tower of London.jan-29-050

The rest of the pictures are here, with incredibly detailed captions in which I attempt to impart some of the wisdom I gained while on the tour. 

In conclusion, I have a date with Ruth.

I drank the tea, and I liked it.

27 January 2009

This was never the way I planned
Not my intention
I got so brave, drink in hand
Lost my discretion…
day-17-135

I drank the tea, and I liked it.

That’s obviously the most important news to report at this point, considering my long, uphill struggle against tea-likeage, but I can safely say that I am committed to being on the (tea) wagon for the foreseeable future.

When I went to this adorable tea shopday-17-123

across from Kew Gardens with Grace, Tyler, Colin, and Annie (friends from home, give or take a thousand miles) on Saturday, I picked Darjeeling tea based partly on curiosity and mostly on my love of the movie The Darjeeling Limited. After mistakenly pouring myself a cup of the hot water they give you to refill the pot of tea, I poured me a cuppa, put in two lumps (but no milk, alas, I’m not authentically English-y in tea consumption) and drank a sip, andLO AND BEHOLD very much enjoyed it. I even had a second cup.

You’re impressed, I know, but please, could you hold your applause? You’re making me blush.

Backtracking a bit though, I took the train from Egham into London Waterloo. The trip reminded me a lot of riding the Long IslandRail Road or NJ Transit. It was the same kind of commuter train type set up. Except for the part (Twickenham, I believe) where we sat in the station for a few minutes, and then started going backwards in what seemed like the way we came. I’m assuming it wasn’t actually the same because I did make it to London (whew).

It was an action packed day for sure. Crepes at Borough Market, a walk along the south bank of the Thames and across the Millenium bridge (while singing “Way Down Upon the Tha-ames River, of course), tuppence (a bag) at St. Paul’s, a mysterious monument or two, Kew Gardens, a walk 60 feet in the air around the treetops, tea, a pub, and a crash course in spending ages and ages on the underground.

Speaking of the tube, here are some thoughts I have on it:

1. I never realized it was actually so…tube-like (I know, duh, right?). But I guess I always just thought of it as a cute name for the subway.

2. It is surprisingly (shockingly even) clean. The tracks looked like tracks and not like a garbage dump (I’m looking at you, 96th/42nd!)

3. The seats are plush/padded, and there are arm rests!

4. There is a transport authority person at every entrance/exit by the turnstiles that will help you and swipe you through when your card mysteriously doesn’t work at all (unlike MTA station agents, who, if they are present, would probably say too bad get a new one).

London day was followed by the superbly successful (though rainy) Surrey Day on Sunday, in which I attempted to recreate (on the cheap) the tour of Windsor we got the 1st weekend. As in we stood outside the castle gates (too expensive to go in) while I tried to remember about pomegranates and keeps and the Order of the Garter.

We also went around to the Long Walk, which I did not get to visit the last time.day-17-004

This is where the queen (or one of her minions) walks her corgis and occasionally goes riding. It stretches about three miles from the castle, through Windsor great park “to the 1829 Copper Horse statue of King George III on Snow Hill, where there are impressive views of the castle” (thanks, Wikipedia). 

And finally!day-17-0071

The sun came out! So we obviously had to take a moment to bask.

Check out more photos in my London is Kew(l) album.

If only Surrey Day could be a real holiday, just like September Day.