Sunday, February 28, 2010

Random Pictures from London

Geesh! At this point, I don't even know if I remember these pictures. But, dang it, I am going to finish telling about this trip. I've got stories people!!! Stories you want to hear.

The London Eye. And, no, I didn't get on it. I don't believe in those types of death-defying rides. Why do people always tests God with these sorts of things? Those little carriage bubbles that you can see on that wheel... they can hold 25 people. There's just no sense in that!

I have no idea. I probably just thought it was a cool building. I love the architecture. (I know... kind of a big word for me to use. I almost feel a bit cultured too!)

I know that I just LOVED that building... whatever it is! Paul made me stand in front of it. He kept doing that to me the whole trip. "Stand there! You don't just want that building by itself." Well, as a matter of fact, I did. Now I just look like a dork standing there.
Sir Isaac Newton... He lived in a house right there. Seemed like a big enough deal at the time to warrant a picture... with us in it of course.
See!! Have you ever seen so many pictures of me! He's so mean! He knows I hate pictures of myself.

I think we were in Trafalger Square.

Chinatown... in London. Why do big cities feel like they have to have a Chinatown? Could someone please answer that for me?

The London Bridge... which my friend Michael says is not the London Bridge. I guess it's just a bridge then. People always have to rain on my parade.
The Tower of London...

a historic fortress and scheduled monument in central London, England, on the north bank of the River Thames. It is located within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and is separated from the eastern edge of the City of London by the open space known as Tower Hill. It is the oldest building used by the British government.[1]
The Tower of London is often identified with the White Tower, the original stark square fortress built by William the Conqueror[1] in 1078. However, the tower as a whole is a complex of several buildings set within two concentric rings of defensive walls and moat.
The tower's primary function was a fortress, a royal palace, and a prison (particularly for high status and royal prisoners, such as the Princes in the Tower and the future Queen Elizabeth I). This last use has led to the phrase "sent to the Tower" (meaning "imprisoned"). It has also served as a place of execution and torture, an armoury, a treasury, a zoo, the Royal Mint, a public records office, an observatory, and since 1303, the home of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom.

I sounded really smart in that paragraph, didn't I? I know this is going to shock you, but I didn't write it. I copied it.
Why would I have taken a picture of that? I can't even read what it says. Paul probably took it:)
Hmmm... no idea. Maybe that's why Paul thinks it's a good idea to put a person in the picture.

Rode that bus... on the top... in the rain/snow mix. Always wanted to ride in a double decker bus.

Tomorrow... yes, tomorrow.... Cambridge... and 2 good stories! Promise!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

London Day 3

On the first of many tubes. Me and Tom.

On our third day in England, we made our way to central London. I can't believe how long it took us to get there. We drove an hour, parked, walked a half mile to the tube station, and then we took at least 3 different tubes until we stopped at Victoria Station.

I know I was in London, England... and really, that should have been enough for me. But, it wasn't. I'm an addict and a snob... a coffee one. I had only had coffee that tasted like plastic since leaving my home on Friday night and it was now Monday morning. (and for the record, yes, I know what plastic tastes like. I always chew on those rings that come off the top of the milk jugs or tags that come off clothes and various other things. Not sure why I tell these embarrassing things about myself.... ) So, I may have mentioned that I wanted to find a Starbucks... um, about 327 times before arriving at our destination. I was getting sick of myself.

We arrived at Victoria Station and I knew right then and there how much the Lord loved me. The Hallelujah Chorus began wooing me as this was the first sight I saw in London:

Can you see it? It was a little free-standing Starbucks. Nothing has ever tasted better. Well, maybe something has tasted better... but not at that moment. It was like manna from Heaven.

(Why do we call things manna from heaven? Didn't the Israelites just complain and complain and complain about the manna? Among a host of other things of course, thus 40 YEARS in the desert. I'm so confused. Should we ever call things manna from heaven?)

I didn't care what we did after I was holding that paper cup in my hand. Sarah needed a camera card, and, I know this is going to surprise you, but I did too. The day before my camera kept telling me that the card was not formatted. This too is going to shock you... but, I also forgot the thing to download pictures off the camera, so most of these pics are from my handy-dandy iphone.

After finding the camera cards, we hit a pub for lunch. I know that the picture below is blurry, but I could not get over that haircut. Someone definitely put a bowl, a kid bowl, over that man's head and began sheering him. Look how high it is. Honestly, I am not sure if I have ever seen a more ridiculous haircut. He would have been better off just shaving the entire head. Just start over dude!

We were finally able to be seated after this eccentric old lady decided she could give up her 6 person table. Eccentric or homeless... I couldn't decide. She had a suitcase and a purse. She ordered some (chips) and then began complaining loudly that they didn't have any taste. She went up to the bar and got some kind of something or other. It was orange- a combination of ketchup and mayo? The do eat Mayo on their chips in England. Hello, fattening!

So, the bag thieve sign, I was sure she was one.

If you look behind our friends here, you can see we put ALL our bags up in that corner.

These are the friends we traveled with- Rich and Cindy (from Phoenix, AZ) and Tom (from here but moving soon) and one of his NINE children, Sarah. (Yes, he has 9 biological children.)
It was their job to guard the bags at all costs.

When the crazy, old British lady finished her awful chips, she came and stood at the end of our table... where I was seated. Of course. All of a sudden, she breaks into this story about how one day she was walking along the street and she saw an invitation to audition for one of Andrew Lloyd Weber's musicals. So, she says, "I thought to myself... I don't have any kind of training but I should just go in and try out. So, I did. (She made it sound like Mr. Weber himself was there... you decide.) I was shaking so bad that my knees were hitting together."

About this time, our food arrived at the table. All my "friends" were busy with the food, so guess who had to keep listening to the story? (I'm making it short for you... by the way.)
"So, they told me to go into the next room because I was being asked for call backs. I sat in the other room and I was so scarred. Then they called me back in, but I didn't make it."

And, with that, she promptly turned, pulling her suitcase behind her and left. No goodbye, no explanation about why she had to stop and tell us that story. Nothing!

Just a day in the life, folks. Nothing else to say about that.
Paul and I at lunch. Aren't the hanging lights behind us cool?

One of these blogging days, I am going to tell you all the funny things (funny to me) they say in Britain. Here's one, they do not call restrooms, restrooms, they call them toilets. But, for the life of me, I could not bring myself to say, "Could you tell me where the toilets are?" How retarded does that sound? It's just gross to ask where the toilets are.

After lunch, we tried to buy tickets to some musical but the ones we wanted to see either didn't have tickets or the show didn't play on Monday nights. So, we took a 2 hour bus tour. And, for some of the tour, Paul and I sat on the top of the bus, with no covering, in the rain in 35 degree weather. Hey, I had to take it all in. I was in London for crying out loud! I never could quite get over that.
"Look kids! Big Ben!!" I've always wanted to say that:-)

West Minster Abby... I think?

St. Peter's Cathedral. All of a sudden, I am wondering if was St. Paul's. Hmmm, it was St. Something. And the bell in that tower, it has some ridiculous weight... like 60 tons?

Clearly, it was hard for me to listen and take in all the sights. I was over-stimulated.
We are going over London Bridge. I want to say something like, "Glad it didn't fall down.", but I am not going to.

Paul and I walked through Chinatown just for Emme.

And, you should know that right before Chinatown, we tried to get musical tickets again. We went to the Les Miserable theater, but they only had 4 tickets. But, it was ok because all 6 of us had already seen it. Don't get me wrong, I could have seen it again. But, splitting the 6 of us up in London sounded like a nightmare.

So, we walked across the street to another ticket place. While we were waiting our turn to inquire about tickets, Paul decided to interrogate the poor British gentleman behind us. "Which one of these shows would you see if you were only here for a night? What have you seen before? Is Jersey Boys good?"

When Paul began asking if this show or that show was good, the gentleman would answer (please use your British accent), "It's meant to be."

Now what in the heck? I am sure if you are a musical writer and you spend all that time writing a musical... you mean it to be good, otherwise, why would you write it? So, we already know they are MEANT to be good.

Somehow we ended up with tickets to Dreamboats and Petticoats. I had never, in all my days, so much as heard of that show. And, let me just tell you, it was meant to be good. Ok, no, for real... it was REALLY good!! We loved it. It was music from the 50's and 60's and it was fabulous! It was a great decision to go to a show while we were in London.

On our way back to the station where the day began, we were tired. We had walked for a good 12 hours. And, when someone like me is tired, things are usually WAY more funny than they should be. My mature husband pointed this station out to the 6 of us, who were a bit spread out in this particular car. And, we all lost it. I am embarrassed at how hard we laughed. Laughing is contagious too. Either that or all the people around us were laughing at how immature the Americans were.

I don't know why I took a picture of the musical. It's so clear, huh? Can't you just tell how good it was?
My favorite MIND THE GAP!

I know for most of you... these are just boring pictures. For me, they are each of gift. I never dreamed I'd be able to to to London, not at any time during my life. But, I am a follower of Jesus Christ and life with him is a great adventure. He loves to give good gifts to his children. This trip... it was truly a gift.

Lots more pictures to come... now that I am home and I was actually able to download them.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Mind the Gap

The British say a lot of things that crack me up! One is pictured above. Every time we would get on or off the tubes (subway), we'd hear MIND THE GAP (interpret as WATCH YOUR STEP) in a deep computer generated voice.

Now, please MIND THE GAP while I recover from jet lag and I will gladly fill you in on the rest of my trip. You won't want to miss it!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

London Day 2

We started our day by eating breakfast at a place called The Little Chef. It's a chain.... and it's horrible. I think Tom thought he'd start at the bottom and then he have no where else to take us but up (at least in the english cuisine department) (It was either really stupid or brilliant on his part. I'll let you know later.) I don't understand the things they serve for breakfast either... baked beans, grilled tomatoes, bacon (that's not really bacon, it's really ham). Really it doesn't matter, I just tried to eat scrambled eggs, pancakes and coffee and I felt like I was eating rubber and drinking plastic. YUCK!

After breakfast, we drove to Ely (pronounced Elee) Cathedral. It is a massive, gorgeous church. We walked in, and since it was Sunday, there was a service going on. We were allowed to stand in the back. There was a choral group singing and it was absolutely beautiful. Then we heard some scripture being read and we heard an amazing heartfelt prayer that was very worshipful. Because the cathedral is so high, the acoustics in the place make the vocals ring clearly through the air. It was overwhelming to walk around such am old, breathtaking place. The Ely Cathedral is over 1000 years old. The size of the structure along with the millions upon millions of tiny details... it's hard to imagine how something like it could have been constructed so many years ago with technology and equipment. There are many things I'd like to (and will post later) show, but.... SURPRISE, SURPRISE... I didn't bring the card reader for my camera. Plus, my card stopped working later in the day. We did buy a new card, but all the pictures you will see over the next several days were taken with an iphone. Bare with me.

Are arial view of Ely. Nope, didn't fly above to take the picture. I just copied it from elsewhere. I just wanted you to catch a glimpse.

After Ely, we went to preschool. Well, sort of....

There was a crooked man and he walked a crooked mile,
He found a crooked sixpence upon a crooked stile.
He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse.
And they all lived together in a little crooked house

We went to a quaint little town today. (Quaint has taken on a whole new meaning for me.) It's called Lavenham. The houses are about 1000 years old. When they were built, the people used green wood (So as not to confuse you like I was confused, green wood is wood that is wet and has not had a chance to dry out.), when the wood dried, it all went crooked and so did all the houses. Therefore, there is a whole little town that has a whole bunch of crooked houses. The theory is, and this town claims, that the the nursery rhyme about the crooked man originated here.

I realize the pictures do not do the crookedness justice. But, it's the craziest thing I have ever seen. (relatively speaking, of course) In the picture above, I am standing under THE Crooked House- the one the poem was written about.

Ok, can you see that whole wall leaning back? I can't believe this whole town is like that... and they left it!! How cool is that? I think I or we (Americans) might have torn it down. BUT, we are talking 1000 years ago, can you imagine the time it took to build a house? Guess maybe I would have left it too!

How do they put those windows in? I just can't get over it.

For some of these pictures, you are going to have to look really closely to see the unevenness.

After we had walked around the town a bit, we decided to have real afternoon tea, just like real British people.

A basket of scones, plain or with fruit.

We thought our girls would think our little server was cute.

There is a proper way to eat a scone... in case you didn't know. The scone needs to split in half first and then butter is spread on. On top of the butter, jelly and on top of the jelly.... ready... clotted cream. I about hurled when they told me it was clotted cream. How absolutely disgusting does that sound? For a time, I refused to put it on, but then I caved. All it is... really thick whipped cream. Why do I have to act like such a kid sometimes?

Getting ready to take my first bite of a scone...ever! Can you believe I have never had a scone?

Doesn't this picture look so "english" to you? Whatever that means.

Another view of the wall that looks like it all but caved in? And, just a little FYI... these houses... they are NOT cheap! I think we saw 1.8 million pounds. For US dollars, multiply that by 1.75 approximately. Geesh! I think I'd rather have a straight house.

Ok, so clearly, I have an obsession with doors. I can't get enough of them. This was the door on the bathroom at the tea house in Lavenham.

For the next pictures... brace yourself. We just could not get over the name of this place.

We've eaten at a pub for every meal. No chains for us on this trip.

I know you can't see the roofs on this place, but they are all over this part of England. They are thatched roofs. Thatched roofs are made of twigs and such and then covered in some kind of oil. They are meant to last 20-30 years and there is a big government tax break for putting this kind of roof on a house.

I can't get over how unique and old these places are. They are gorgeous. And, they are all different and intriguing. We had the greatest meal at this place. We could choose from 3 different kinds of meat and then lots of grilled vegetables: potatoes, parsnips (LOVED THEM), carrots, etc... and Yorkshire pudding. Really confused about Yorkshire Pudding. How come no one ever told me it was like a dinner roll. A weird one... but nonetheless.

Day 2... better than I could have imagined. Loved it!!!

P.S. Still dealing with a bit of jet lag. Plus, we leave our hotel first thing in the morning and come back 10-14 hours later. We've walked about 100 miles and I am tired. On a good day, I can't catch all my mistakes, so please pardon all the grammar errors.