Our journey as a pair of Texans learning British way of life.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Destination Dover

Our next stop was Dover, we didn't have much on our plan there other than to see Dover Castle, which for many centuries has been a military fortification against invaders.

I did poorly with my camera here and didn't get pictures of the physical castle (maybe once you're seen one you've seen them all?!) ;o)

Instead pictures of the view from the high stand-point that the castle has over the cliffs. Can you see France in the distance? We think we did, but weren't quite sure. It's only 22 miles across the Channel.
A view of the city of Dover from atop the catle tower.
One of the best parts of the castle tour was the secret underground war tunnels from Napoleonic age when they expected Napoleon to invade and then later used again in WWII as a hospital and barracks. And to help against possible nuclear war, but later realised it wouldn't help. No pictures were allowed in there and the recreations and information aren't fully complete because all information about them other than the keys being handed over is still protected by their version of CIA information.
And of course Dover isn't complete without seeing the White Cliffs of Dover...chalk is what makes them white. And this was what made the digging of the tunnels fairly easy, but also hard to stabilize.
Without our dorky faces in the picture...

Friday, May 28, 2010

Leed's Castle

Hi All! Sorry again for the lack of postings, but my parents have been here the past week and will be here one more week as well.

The day after they arrived we hit the road for the Southern parts of England. I must say Cam and I must be lucky people as we got another nice Mercedes for our rental car!

Our first stop on this road trip down to the coast was Leeds Castle in Kent, England. It's a lovely castle set on two islands with a moat still surrounding it. I must say seeing a moat for the first time that was still filled made a much bigger impact on me.

There were lovely courtyards and architectural interests.

Wonderful gardens and animals, including this swan with her young. Leeds Castle is home to some black swans, and is part of their logo, but I never got one on camera.

Regal peacocks...

Grand carved wood beam ceilings...

and carved staircases...

Although, not part of the historical network here in England, it's still a lovely castle to see and was a great opportunity to stretch our legs from the car in their beautiful gardens.

Friday, May 21, 2010

A Taste of Home...

This post was going to be all about how I do my weekly(sometimes bi-weekly) grocery shopping.

I was going to take photos along the way so you could see the mile long walk I have to the closest full size store. I was going to take pictures of 'renting' the shopping cart, so you could see how I have to put a pound in to unlock it, then get the pound back when I turn it in. Then I was going to take pictures on the train as I carry bags to the stop and go one stop to get a little bit closer to home to cut out only a fraction of the walking.

So, umm, yeah I was a little embarrassed to whip out my camera doing all those things so you don't get that! Just the little story above and maybe one day I'll take pictures of it all.

But I did take a picture outside the store so you can see this wonderful place called ASDA that is the only large full size grocery store in the area that won't rob me blind, sounds like home right? Sounds like your friendly neighborhood super store right? Oh yeah, Wal-Mart has infiltrated the UK as well now. :o( And even though I refuse to shop there in Texas, I don't have much of a choice when I need a large selection of things.

Proof below...notice the blue wal-mart on the white sign, notice the 24 hours open, notice the black ASDA price guaranteed, looks familiar doesn't it? Thankfully, if I have to do the bi-weekly shopping (because you can only carry so many heavy bags in your hands when walking for ages) we have a much closer Tesco Express that has most items and I can run there a little quicker for the things I need.

In addition to the wally world experience yesterday, I was happy to make a taco kit our friend Jeff brought over for us. We also used the jalapeno flakes my ex-coworker gave me as a parting gift. So, walmart and tacos, our taste of home in London.
And kind of sad to say that this was the best tex-mex we've had our 3 weeks here. Thanks Jeff, thanks DeAnne!!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Cotswolds

A couple weekends ago we had the opportunity to get out of the big city and explore some English country side. We headed out to the Cotswolds which are some of the most picturesque fairy-tail villages you'll see in England and can often be seen in movies.

First we had to pick up a car, and we had to go automatic to make it easier to be on the 'wrong' side of the road...we got lucky with this little Mercedes!

Cam getting used to driving on the right side of the car...

The great country side dotted with sheep and fields of rapeseed. Which is England's answer to our corn and bio fuel.
Hidden Castles

Quaint churches (Bridget Jones was filmed in this town)
Amazing thatched roofs, a dying art.

Country walks...

Homey pubs to quench your thirst and satisfy your hunger.

And historical towns.
The Cotswolds are very much just an area of the country that you grab a car and pull over when you see something interesting. Or just park your car and make a walk between welcoming villages. It'll remind you of Jane Austen's books, nursery rhymes and the typical English garden.
It's a nice break from the bustling, busy city.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Morning Run!!

Don't mean to brag...but this was the halfway point in my morning run today! I didn't plan on going that far, but I saw a sign when I was planning on turning around and just had to see how far it was.
It seems that this is a lot of Canary Wharf professionals mid-day run; as I saw, passed, and was passed by many, many runners who I assume were on their lunch break. Click the link below to see the route I took.

And I will fully admit I walked a good part of my way home, but still made really decent time for not knowing where I was going. For the route there you are running on the street, yet also running along the water when a foot path opens up. At one point from the cobbled streets, I took the foot path and saw the bridge rising up ahead of me and it kept me going until I reached it. So cool! I hope to run the full distance within a few more runs and then eventually pick up my pace.

(I'm working on getting this link to work for you, but I'm having trouble with the mapmyrun site.)
MapMyRun - Canary Wharf to London Bridge Run in Poplar, Gr

Dog Days of our Summer

I miss my girl Princess so much... that I can't help but notice all the other cute dogs around me and want to run up and pet them all! But I can't unless I want to be the weird American!

So instead I've started snapping pictures.

A cute mutt outside Kensington Palace who was playing fetch and I caught at a bad time!

A handsome boxer getting a drink from the dog fountain in Hyde Park

Some Collies in the Cotswalds enjoying their morning off leash walk.

Resident westie and greyhound at Tower of London.

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Happy Day in London Town!

In our previous post about our new neighborhood, I mentioned the O2 is in our backyard. For those that don't know what it is, it's a large concert venue and will likely play a big part of the 2012 Olympics here in London.

It's hard to ignore some of the great acts that will come through, Bon Jovi, Black Eyed Peas, Rod Stewart, Lady Gaga...and excitingly for us Michael Buble! We know we're a little cheesy, but we love him and have already seen him in concert twice, and one of his songs was our first dance at our wedding.

When we realized he'd be in our backyard, we hoped we might be able to say we saw him. Of course both concert dates were sold out, but we kept an eye open and at 5:30pm before the last night we found a great deal on some tickets so we enjoyed getting to see Michael Buble and the O2.

Here are some pictures:

The crazy spaceship looking thing up close...

Before he came on stage...

The extremely large crowd!

And the finale acapella, it was awesome!!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

We've Moved!!

While our first apartment was really nice and we couldn't have been happier with the space and ammenities it had, our immediate area was less than desirable.

We were on a very busy 5 lane street with lots of bus and foot traffic. And we could hear sirens at all hours of the day and night. In addition to a tatoo parlor below us and a nightclub across the street we asked to be relocated to the building that Cam's American coworker was located at.

It's also in the Docklands area and is only a couple blocks south of where we were, so we were already familar with our surrondings thankfully and we now have a train and tube stop in our backyard!!

Here's some pictures of our new neighborhood and place.

The O2 is across the river from us.

The foot bridge we take to get to the tube.

Canary Wharf at night.

View from the front door.

Our bedroom. Bathroom.
Living area...

Our kitchen

Hidden fridge and freezer are the two cabinets at the left of the above picture.

And the washwer/dryer in one and hidden dishwasher, this one is actually full size unlike the last apartment.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tower of London

The Tower of London has to be one of my favorite places to visit while in London. I can and do revisit every time I've been here, and I imagine I'll go a couple more times in the 3 months we are here.

Here's a few of my favorite pictures on the recent trip with our friends Emie and Corey who were able to come over for a visit!

View before entering...

Traitors Gate

The Infamous Ravens
The White Tower, the main and original building of the Tower of London, used to be white-washed, hence the name.

The famous Yeoman
Inside the White Tower is the Royal Armouries

King Henry VIII armour
Medieval Toilet

The Memorial at the execution site it reads:
Gentle visitor pause awhile - where you stand death cut away the light of many days - here jewelled names were broken from the vivid thread of life - may they rest in peace while we walk the generations around their strife and courage - under these restless skies

Etchings within Beauchamp Tower all carved mainly between 1532 and 1672
And a lovely view of the Tower Bridge from within the walls.

Gaurd of the Crown Jewels