The last day

30 Jun

We had a pretty late night last night, so we slept in this morning and relaxed. We went to Lee by the solent and Portsmouth for the afternoon. Both towns are right on the water and are super cute. We visited the Portsmouth Naval yard where they had a bunch of boats. It reminded me a lot of the Charlestown Navy Yard, just much bigger. The HMS warrior is docked there. It’s the world’s first iron hulled, armored warship powered by both steam and sail. It had the date 1860 on it, but I’m not sure if that’s when it was built or if that’s when it was retired. I’m sure I could figure it out if I really put some thought into it, but I’m pretty tired right now and in the middle of packing. Dad, you can research that one.

Also there is HMS Victory which is Nelson’s flagship and the most famous warship in the world. I’m not sure I fully believe the famous part, since I’d never heard of it, but it was really old and had a lot of cannons like the USS Constitution.

There were also a bunch of active ships docked there and a small exhibit which showed an old ship that was supposed to be painted for camouflage. You’d think it would be blue or dark grey color of water, but no it’s got a geometric blue and white pattern on it. I’m sure someone was fired over this.

Our trip ended with dinner at the Jolly Farmer, which is an 1800’s old English pub that’s near Ashley’s house. It had fantastic food and a warm rustic atmosphere with tons of old memorabilia around. I’m packing up now and have a few final last thoughts on the trip:

- not only do people drive on the opposite side of the road here, but they walk opposite as well. Needless to say, I ran into quite a few people walking along the sidewalks

- double decker buses, old school taxi cabs and red phone booths are everywhere.

- they love the saying “keep calm and carry on”

- I’m not quite convinced that anyone actually works normal hours here. People are constantly in business suits all over the place at the oddest hours. We passed a park in the heart of London at 3pm on Thursday and it was packed full of people in business suits lounging on the grass

- driving here is like playing mario cart. the streets are all very narrow and people like to park on the side of the road, forcing the road to be impassible by 2 cars at once. luckily drivers here seem to be very polite and will let you pass by driving around the parked cars. i’d be the worst masshole driver here. also they’re big fans of roundabouts here. they use them instead of traffic lights.

- high street is normally the shopping street in the town

- the majority of the cars here are deisel

- people here get very offended by being called English if they are from Scotland or Whales. One of Ashleys friends yelled at us for being called English because he’s Welch and said it’s like him calling us Mexicans. talk about overly sensitive.

- the royal family really isn’t all that popular and hyped up here. no one’s obsessed with pippa the way americans are

- people here are generally more friendly, curtious and nice here.

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Rockin out

30 Jun

My my those stone henge rocks are in a random spot. They are literally in the middle of a big field in the Wiltshire countryside. The stones are huge and really cool to see. No one knows how and why the rocks were placed there. There are several theories that address that question, ranging from them being a huge sun dial calendar to aliens or the devil putting them there . Archeologists have been able to use radiocarbon dating which suggest that the first stones were erected in 2400 – 2200 BC, but some people think that they date back even further to 3000 BC. The area is surrounded by ancient burial mounds which can be dated to that time period so many think that the henge has religious ties. They do know that the some of the rocks came from an area in Wales where the exact mineral makeup of the rocks can be traced. How on earth did they get the rocks all the way to where they are now? No idea.

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We had Mexican for dinner and then went out in Southampton with a bunch of Ashley’s friends. The bar we went to is the old hotel where Titanic passengers stayed before they got on the boat. I fell in love with Apple and Pear ciders. I noticed that there are truly all ages at the bars, from young kids who are most definitely not 21 to the older moms out on girls night. Also the men in Europe really like to get down on the dance floor. I couldn’t keep up with Ashley’s guy friends. I’m a little sore from dancing today.

True tourists

28 Jun

We began our day by going out to the Olympic park. I think London may be in trouble because it doesn’t look anywhere near done and there’s less than a month until the opening ceremonies. I will say that the area around the park looks great, all new stores and the tube station was newly redone. I’m pretty sure I’m going to have nightmares of the one eyed cyclopes animated thing that is the Olympics mascot. I don’t know how they come up with these things. What happened to a cute little bear or tiger?

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We went to the London tower next. We took a tour and the tour guide was hysterical. Very tongue in cheek with his humor and he thought I was European. We saw the crown jewels on display and sadly I couldn’t get my hands on any of them.

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You could see both the London bridge and the tower bridge from the London tower. I will say that the London bridge was quite disappointing for all the hype that the song created. The tower bridge was really pretty and they just hung the olympic rings on it.

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Next we went to see st Paul’s cathedral. It was class field trip central. Kids just running all over the place.

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Trafalgar square was next on our agenda. Theres a huge monument there with 2 small reflective pools and a ton of pigeons. I was pretty nervous about being pooped on but got away clean. They also have a live countdown to the olympic opening ceremonies there.

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Next we went to the british museum. It has a ton of historic artifacts from ancient egypt, Greece and many other areas. It’s home to the Rosetta stone
Which is literally a big stone that has a message from a king in 196 BCE written in 3 different languages. Must be why Rosetta stone is a language teaching company. There was also a Picasso exhibit that was there as a special short term exhibit. We checked it out and he had quite the twisting sexual mind. I was a little surprised not to see any of his odd distortions like an ear and one eye on the front of the face.

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They also had a small gallery which had the London Olympic gold metals.

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Finally we went to Wimbledon. I had a minor bad behavior meltdown when we realized how long the queue was to get in. This girl was a tired hungry mess. Time to go home and get to bed. Tomorrow were going to Stonehenge .

Eh-low!

27 Jun

We had another early one this morning, taking a train to London bright and early. First we did the London eye which is a giant ferris wheel that overlooks the whole city. It moves super slow and has huge pods you ride in. We got stuck on or way down and I was not a happy camper. We got off and went over Westminster bridge to see big Ben and Westminster abbey. Westminster abbey is where all of the Monarchy is crowned and married. It’s pretty but very overwhelming and almost cluttered with all of the shrines and tombs. I think I’m done with churches for the rest of the trip.

Next we went to buckingham palace. We missed the changing of the guards but saw a few of them marching around. They either stamp their feet exceptionally hard and loud here in England, or there’s something in their shoes. I tried stamping like them and couldn’t make a noise even close to theirs. Much of the area outside of the gardens is closed off right now in preparation for the Olympics. Im pretty sure the marathon ends in the area because it looked like they were building the finish line and also had laid down some rubberized track type surface.

Next we went to grab lunch at harrods the famous department store. They had everything you could think of to eat in this big cafeteria type place so you could grab it to go. We rode around on the egyptian elevator and took some pictures with the harrods bears like tourists then walked through Hyde park to kensington palace. We stopped in the park to see the princess Diana memorial fountain. We did the self guided your through Kensington palace and it was had the weirdest exhibits. I would not recommend this one. I left it super confused and slightly horrified. There was a lot of clutter of what looked like arts and crafts projects strewn about with a few relics. For example, one room had one of queen Victoria’s old dresses and a few pictures then a bunch of random quotes from her written on the wall and a doll house which was clearly not from her time. Another exhibit had a few of princess Diana’s dresses and pictures of her wearing them. Literally 4 or 5 dresses. Another exhibit was about William and Mary and had a gossip theme with a sound system rigged to make it sound like people were whispering all over the room.

We got back on the tube And headed to our hotel to drop off our stuff and take a little break. We’re on our way to piccadilly circus for dinner now, it’s supposed to be like the times square of London.

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Bath

26 Jun

I just wrote a really good story about what we did in Bath today and then I hit a button on my computer and it disappeared and I am extremely upset right now. Ok so today we went to Bath which was about 2 hours away. First we went to the Roman Baths. They reminded me a lot of Pompeii (odd I know). They have a natural hot spring which gets up to 114 degrees. Most of the bath is ruins, but some is preserved and very neat to see. The water didn’t smell nearly as much of sulfur as I was expecting. I wanted to jump in for a swim in the warm water but resisted since it had a greenish brown hue to it.

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Then we went to the Bath Abbey. It’s the last remaining Medieval Church in England. It’s really big. and old.

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We had a quick lunch at a local bakery spot that had all sorts of baguettes made into sandwiches. I had a humus and veggie one and it was fabulous. I’ve also fallen hard for this candy/dessert called ‘butter tablet’ which looks like it’s fudge but is more like maple sugar candy. It tastes like the brown sugar and butter mixed when you’re making cookies, except it’s hard. Yummmmm sugar!

Next we went to the Royal Crescent and Circus. They appear to be the same type of thing, townhouses designed by John Wood in Georgian style architecture in the 1760’s. The circus has no elephants or acrobats which was quite disappointing.

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Next we went to see the Pulteney Bridge which is one of only a few historic bridges in the world that has shops built into it.

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Finally we wandered about the town and found a nice mall. Courtney and I played the who can find the craziest outfit game. We found an adult onesie which was covered with an American flag. London tomorrow and Thursday!

Queueing

25 Jun

The word of the UK part of this trip is “Queue” it means to wait in line. It’s everywhere and just cracks me up. “Please make a single file Queue” haha sounds so silly. Anyway, today we went to Winchester. It’s the original capital of England. There’s a beautiful old Cathedral there that was built in 1079 and was sinking in the marshy ground until in 1906 a deep sea diver worked 6 hours a day stacked up cement under the walls of the Cathedral to save it from sinking.

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After the cathedral we walked over to some castle ruins, had lunch and took the train back to Southampton. We ate lunch at a pub and were quite surprised/horrified/impressed with the number of people in there drinking at lunch. I went for a really nice run with Ashley and their dog, Lily when we got back to her place. The run was right along the water up on high cliffs that over look the English channel. You could see Isle of Wight and Portsmouth in the distance.

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Tomorrow we are taking a day trip up to Bath.

Fourrrrrr

24 Jun

Up and at em bright and early this morning and off to the famous St. Andrews golf course. On Sundays the Old Course, where golf was invented, is open to the public to walk around on. Naturally it was rainy, extremely windy and cold. Golfers are insane to think chasing around a little ball in this weather is fun. There are 7 courses at St. Andrews but the Old Course is the famous, most popular one. We walked around the 18th hole and took pictures. I borrowed some poor guy’s golf clubs (he was on his way to play another course) and pretended to play. We found a sand trap and if I fell in it I’d have a very hard time getting out. I think I’d shoot an 800 trying to get a ball out of there.

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Ashley and I ran into the north sea just to say we did. Don’t worry we had on our hunters and didn’t get wet. The water was very cold.

Next we drove to edinburgh for the afternoon. It was about an hour and a half drive and was really pretty since the Scottish landscape is very lush and green. We saw some really hairy sheep and cows. They make a lot of (plaid) wool and cashmere here. In Edinburgh we climbed up the hill to the castle and walked around that for a while. It’s very gothic and you can tell it was built in the middle ages. The town itself has similar arcitecture and almost a creepy dark feel to it.

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Every clan has their own pattern of plaid that they make their kilts with. I found lindsays. We also saw William Wallace and a bag pipe player.

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