Saturday, May 19, 2012

Gena and Kelly in the UK week 1

Saturday May 12th - Simpson

The girls arrived alive in the UK.  A little strung out from the journey we had a proper lunch in Stony Stratford and then back to the house for naps and showers.  All cleaned up, we headed down to the Plough in Simpson for dinner.  We made it until about 9:00 and then it was back to bed (I had no idea yet that this wasn't jet-lag).


Sunday May 13th - Fenny Stratford

The next day the girls slept in and were still feeling a little tired so we stayed local, went to Tesco's for provisions and back to the house for lunch.  
Around 1:30 on Sunday's the "old blokes" from the neighborhood ring round to see if I'm coming down to the Red Lion for a pint.  Everyone was eager to meet the girls so we obliged.

L-R: Kelly, Rich, "Big" Mic, Roy and John

Back home we grilled burgers and asparagus for dinner.

Tuesday May 22nd - Oxford, Oxfordshire

The plan for the week was to visit Oxford, Cambridge and finally London before Kelly had to take the slow boat to Kent to visit with her cousins and grandmother.
The girls checking out the largest collection of plates your mother won't let you use in the Fitzwilliam museum.

A sudden thunder and hail storm sent us into the Christchurch Cathedral for cover.  Little did I know it was Kelly's plan all along as it was a setting, or an inspiration or some other thing for Harry Potter.

Actually the dining hall was used... something.... Harry Potter......

The grounds of the church (after the rain).

Finally stopping into the Flag and Lamb for a pint before heading to the Oxford Museum of Natural History.

 By the time we got there the Pitts-River Museum was closed.  The girls weren't interested in animal skeletons so we tried to head over to the Bodelian library which boasts a copy of every book ever published (how is that possible?).  Unfortunately it too was closed (we'll have to get up earlier next time), and it started chucking down rain so we repaired ourselves back to Fenny.
Gena whipped up a mezza plate and we watched the Tigers Game on my laptop.

Thursday May 17th - Cambridge, Cambridgeshire

Wow, the girls must be really jet-lagged because I'm able to get about 4 hours of work done by the time they're up and ready.
So, at the crack of 11:30 we set off for Cambridge.  Around 1 we parked behind the Cathedral of Kings College and set out on foot.

Behind Queens college is Newton's "Mathematical Bridge".
BTW - I've posted on Cambridge before so I'm trying not to repeat myself.  

Walking to the The Free Press pub for lunch we passed this magnificent Wisteria.  I think faires live in the cottage.

The Museum of Modern Archaeology is on the Cambridge campus in one of the teaching halls, above the library.  Kind of uncomfortable to walk around, smelling of your lunchtime pint while students and professors are prepping for end of year exams.
None of the statues here are original, it's the largest collection of Greek & Roman casts and reproductions anywhere.

Friday, May 18th - London

The National Portrait Gallery, but you're not allowed to take pictures anywhere except for the atrium.  So here's the atrium!  We left when the evacuated part of the gallery due to an unattended backpack.  I'm sure that when the terrorists come, they'll start with the four old ladies looking at pre-Raphaelite women,
Outside in Trafalgar we saw Eric Stonestreet (Cam from Modern Family).  Gena took the camera but no photos.  Kelly has one on her phone.

I can't remember what museum this is.  But we became accutely aware of the helicopter hovering overhead and the sounds of emergency vehicle.  That backpack was in the room above the entrance....

Walking South on Whitehall we made it to Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliment.  There was a lot of preparation happening for both the Olympics and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. 

Unfortunately, the houses of Parliment were closed today, but we were invited to come back Sat morning.  We toured the grounds of Westminster Abbey and headed off.  Behind you can see the London Eye, our next destination.

On the Eye with the girls and a "busnessman from Texas with business in Switzerland".  The Texan was about what'd you'd expect but his travelling companions from Ann Arbor, were pretty friendly, offering to take this photo.

The Shard started construction in 2009 to become the 2nd tallest skyscraper in Europe.  When it's complete it will look like Supermans Crystal Palace.

The best view there is of Westminster and the Houses of Parliment.

Walking back up the Birdcage Walk, the helicopter was literaly following us, hovering overhead.  Turns out the Queen was due to poke out of her tree stump and declare 6 more weeks of winter.

Over at Buckingham Palace, Kelly and Gena ran up between the protesters and police to peek through the gate.  Gena saw a table lamp on in an upper window, assuming it to be the queen, quietly reading OK magazine.

Protester packing up, message to support, fight or something in Bahrain.  Protests in the UK are generally very civilized, the protesters have an opportunity to speak then the police politely ask them to pack up and move on.  Lots of smiles and handshakes.

Hungry and in no real rush to leave London we walked over to Covent Gardens for dinner.  Belago Centraal is a Belgian restaurant that we've missed before.  While waiting for our table the girls enjoy a glass of wine while I tucked into a Mort Gueze, a Flemish sour lambic.

Seated beer-hall style for dinner in the underground hall.  The service wasn't great but the food was.

Another Gueze pared nicely with the Beef Carbonnade. 
Waiter, "You know that z goose ist very sour?"
Me, "Sod off and bring me ale!"
or something like that...

And that was pretty much that.  Dinner, then back to the car to head home.  Need to get in early, someone's go to be up early!

Sunday May 19th - ???
I'm posting this unfinished as I'm trying to rush Gena out the door so I can go to this:

Kelly's been dropped off at the bus station (tip for the wise, don't ever take a bus trip if you can avoid it).  In 6 excruciating hours she will arrive in Kent to visit her family.  Completing a journey that would take a mere 3 hours via rickshaw.

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