Archive for August, 2003

Gang Warily

In the Cornwall region of Southern England, in a little old farmhouse built in the mid 1700’s that has now been converted to a bed and breakfast, sits a lonely little man who types furiously on a keyboard.

That man is me.

It’s been a while since I last wrote because of the lack (or cost) of available Internet access. While in Scotland, we stayed in a town called Crieff. There is one Internet café in Crieff, and its broadband connection to the Internet is priced at £3 an hour. Bear in mind that, in London, I was paying £1 an hour. So I haven’t been able to get online until today. The people who run this place happen to have an Internet connection, which I am most grateful they are allowing me access to. It’s dial-up, but it’s a connection.

Drummond Castle was amazing. In fact, that entire day was surreal. The morning started off with a Gilbert and Sullivan song stuck in my head. I don’t know why I was singing the song, but for some reason I was. Mind, I hadn’t heard the song for years. Remember those seemingly useless details later on in the story. Mum and Ashley went horseback riding, so dad and I went to find this old library that he had seen an ad for (what with dad being a librarian and all). So we drive out to the middle of nowhere and find this tiny chapel and the library. The morning is crisp and beautiful, and no one seems to be around. Dad and I wandered through the graveyard of the church and eventually went inside. As it turns out, it was built by one of the Drummonds and was the official burial ground for his family. The church was absolutley beautiful and it alone was worth the effort it took to find the place.

Having explored the church and surrounding graveyard, we wandered over to the library and tried to figure out how to get in. Suddenly, this man pops out of nowhere and asks if we’re there to visit the library. We told him yes and he sent us upstairs. The library was commisioned by one of the Drummonds a long time ago and housed some extremely old books and artifacts. The man was whistling a familiar little tune to himself, so I asked him what it was. “Oh,” he replied, “just some old Gilbert and Sullivan song.” No, not just some old Gilbert and Sullivan song. The exact same song I myself had been singing that morning.

He showed us a ton of cool stuff, including a book entitled The Discovery Of Witchcraft, which I’ve seen in history books. He had the actual book there in library! He also showed me a quill carrying case that was made in 1624.

From there, the whole family met up and went to Drummond Castle. While the castle itself was smaller than I thought it would be, the gardens were much larger than I imagined and more beautiful, as well.

Getting from there to here was quite the adventure, but so far nothing has proved to be as thrilling as that single day in Crieff.

To Pee Or Not To Pee (The Coach Loo Is Disgusting)

Today was nuts! We went to Stratford-upon-Avon and saw Shakespeare’s birthplace and his wife’s family’s house. We also went to Oxford and checked out Brasenose college. And that’s it. We were stuck in traffic for most of the day (on a coach (a bus in the states)), so there was little else to do. Mom and dad are doing laundry right now and Ashley and I are going to go get dinner a little later. We leave for Scotland tomorrow, so this may be the end of my updates for a little while.

EDIT: Lost 1 comment. -TJB 02 December 2004

Brings New Meaning To ‘Side Of Beef’

Jamie Olvier’s restaurant in London called Fifteen is somewhere I’ve been wanting to go ever since I found out about it. We called today to make reservations for tonight. The voice on the other end of the line informed us that they were, in fact, taking reservations. For November.

We also went to Harrod’s today. I bought the kanji watch I ‘ve been wanting for so long. It’s pretty badass, but I have no idea what time it is. -)

We rode on the London Eye. It was a really cool experience and a rather short 30 minutes. I got some pretty cool pictures of both London and the Eye itself.

After we went on the London Eye, Mom and Ashley left Dad and I to go shopping. Dad and I thought about going to the aquarium, but we saw people advertising for The Saatchi Gallery. I guess the gallery is a contemporary art gallery. Since they were priced about the same, and since we’ve already seen fish, we decided to chek out Saatchi. I’m glad we did, because they had a number of pieces by Damien Hirst that I’ve been wanting to see. It was all very odd. I would have taken pictures, but I wasn’t sure if it was allowed (I didn’t see any signs either way, but I figured that, since it was an art gallery…). I’ll try to find some images on Google and stick them here later on.

That’s about all that happened today. Tune in again tomorrow for more excitement. We’re going to Stratford-upon-Avon (among other places), so that should make for a good installment (as well as a good series of images).

And Boy Are My Feet Tired

Today we went to Buckingham Palace. It was big. Very big. Stunningly so. That’s really about it, though. I saw some famous Rembrandt (leave it to me not to know). I’m really annoyed that you’re not allowed to take pictures inside any of these places. There was this really hot chick working at the palace that I wanted to take a picture of and… Oh. Just kidding. -)

After the palace we went and saw the changing of the guard. It was kind of cool because they marched around a bunch and played marching band music (which included the theme from Star Wars), but it was mostly just a lot of standing around in the sun and listening to the bobbies yell at stupid people. Actually, that was a lot more entertaining than the actual changing of the guard. The bobby standing near us was absolutely hilarious. He kept being “politely rude” to people that were giving him a hard time. He had a great sense of humor and managed to entertain the crowd (well, us anyway). This one woman wouldn’t move and claimed she was looking for her lost daughter and he told her that he’d heard better stories than that and to keep moving. Another woman told him she had to go inside the palace because the queen was expecting her. He checked the flagpole on the roof (a special flag is flying if the queen is home) and pointed out to the woman that, not only was the queen not expecting her, but she wasn’t even there.

After that we went to Royal Mews. Ashley appreciated this a lot more than I did because it had all to do with horses. Some woman there (a tourist, not an employee) referred to the withers as the horse’s “hump.” I wanted to correct her, but she didn’t look like the type to care.

After lunch we went to some horse guard thing, which was actually really funny because there was a piece of what appeared to be toilet paper stuck to the bottom of the main guard’s boot as he was marching around. I laughed hard at that one.

We went to Westminster Abbey, which was really cool, and saw Big Ben. Given the name, I rather expected Big Ben to be, well, big. But it was really quite small. And if you’re ever taking pictures of Big Ben, you’ll find out, just as I did, that there is no good angle to take the picture from. At least, not without taking the photo into Photoshop later.

Something I meant to mention yesterday that I forgot to, is that there is a sincere lack of available garbage cans around. Sometimes you can find one, but usually it’s impossible. While at a train station just outside of London, I asked a guy working there where I could find a garbage can in which to put my rubbish. He told me that, for security reasons, they couldn’t have them and to just place my rubbish on the ground somewhere. Maybe it’s because I never consider it, but it was almost impossible for me to put my garbage down and walk away from it. I felt guilty, even though the guy working there told me it was okay, I still felt like I was littering.

Speaking of littering, as we were walking to the tube station this morning, we saw a pretty big pile of hypodermic needles on the sidewalk. Most of them appeared to be unopened. There was also a spoon. So I took a picture.

Where The Banshees Live And They Do Live Well

So yeah, we saw Stonehenge today. I did a few Eddie Izzard routines, but no one in my family has any idea what I’m talking about. I didn’t know that you couldn’t walk right up to the stones. Mum says you used to be able to, but I guess they had a big problem with people chipping little pieces off to take home with them.

We also went to the Roman baths. They were… Well, I wouldn’t bathe in them. This one woman was lounging near the main pool and swishing her fingers around in the water, then she put her hand up to her face and sniffed her fingers. Ashley and I lost it. The people standing near us looked at us as though we were mad. It was a grand time.

So far I’ve taken over 120 pictures. Probably close to 150. I figured out that I can take over 1000, so I’m just snapping away at whatever catches my fancy.

Hottest Day So Far

Windsor Palace today. And this really lame ride down the Thames that was, in my opinion, not worth the £4.40 per person.

It was also hot today. Possibly hotter, but past a certain point I can’t tell anymore. I couldn’t find a loo to fill up my water bottle right before we got on the train to come back into London, so I had to sweat it out the whole way, which sucked a lot.

Another Bloody Hot Day In London

Today we went to the Tower of London. It was pretty cool to see where all the prisoners had been held. We also saw the Tower Bridge. I didn’t see the London Eye (it’s near there, right?), but it doesn’t much matter since it’s closed due to the heat.

We also went to Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum. It was… Interesting. At least it was air conditioned for most of the time. I’m not sure it was worth waiting an hour in the queue and having to pay £18.

This morning was interesting as well. Since it was so hot in the room, I was leaning out the window and looking around. I hear this noise and look for the source. Someone in an adjacent building is opening their window. And as it so happened, that person was naked. And male. Only in Europe, eh?

From A Steamy Basement In London

Oh my god, it’s so hot in London right now! Where’s the fog? Where’s the rain? Where are the temperatures that don’t leave everyone soaking wet from their own sweat?

Anyway, London is amazing! Walking around is, at times, overwhelming, but the diversity of the city just blows me away. And I can’t seem to figure out the traffic system here. It’s all pretty crazy.

So far, I’ve seen a right-hand drive Mini Cooper, heard a moving guy say, “Bloody hell,” ridden in a taxi, eaten pub grub, and turned to putty everytime I’ve heard a British chick talk.

London is great. Hot, but bloody great.

On Holiday

I’ll be in England until the 25th. If I get a chance to blog, I will, but don’t hold out too much hope. See you later this month!