Friday, April 27, 2007

My new favourite Mythbusters quote...

"If I had any dignity, that would have been humiliating"

I resemble that remark!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Sorry for the disappearance

We had to go home unexpectedly for a funeral. Brian's grandma passed away on Wendesday last week. Grandma lived a long (95!), full and rewarding life. She was a force to be reckoned with and a wonderful person.

I've lots to update, including what we did for Brian's birthday, which was also on Wednesday last week. :( But I've no time to type it up right now. I just wanted to post something to keep folks a little up to date.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Stitching Update

Frog Prince is almost done the first page! It didn't look like a lot of progress when I was working on it, but now that I'm looking at the photo I can see it!

An out of season finish, and I actually managed to get the french knots done for the eyes of the bat! I loathe french knots and usually replace them with beads...

And, tada! My trip project, finished shortly after we got home:
Ferocious Beastie!

We haven't drowned

But we have had over 10 inches of rain in the last few days! I know a few people online who've checked in with us so I thought I'd send a quick post. No flooding for us specifically, but we've friends who've had some. Everyone's okay though and belongings can be replaced!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Tuesday March 27th

Man are my feet tired! We conservatively walked 20 miles today!

We stared off the morning walking from the hotel to Kensington Park, and then on into Hyde Park. ~ 6 miles and 2.5 hours later we had Brian's photo with the Peter Pan sculpture and a wonderful morning walk through the park. It was a magical misty morning in the park. I hope some of the photos turned out to show how neat it was for us and how it looked.

Then it was off to Southwark to where Brian's grandpa grew up. Despite misgivings about the directions we'd been given, we figured we'd give it a try. With the help of a really nice person who worked for the Underground who went out of his way to help us, we got there fine. We got to see Grandpa Dally's church (which is undergoing some SERIOUS renovations) and the school he went to as a child. We couldn't, however, find his pub.

Then it was off to the London Eye. The weather was hazy, but it was our last full day here, and we'd bought the discount tickets from the bus tour, and I had really wanted to go. The views were neat, but I can imagine how spectacular they would have been on a clear day. Probably because of the haze, there was very little line, and it was pretty neat. We ended up with a neat group on our capsule. Brian didn't have any bad problems with the height. He liked it a lot better than the gondola at Lake Placid!

At breakfast we heard one of the tour guides telling another American couple how to get to Westminster. We butted in to tell them that it was closed and the local guide said he'd been told it would reopen to the public after 2 pm. So after a nice late lunch on the side of the Thames beneath the Eye, we walked across the bridge to the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey. I still love the architecture there. Westminster Abbey was still closed, but I got lots of photos of the outside, and this time I was able to walk most of the way around for more photos. We did spend a bundle at the gift shop though, especially since Brian encouraged me to buy several of the cross-stitch kits. I plan to use the patterns from each to make one big patchwork one!

Next up we walked to Piccadilly Circus where we were to meet Hayden later to go out to dinner. We went to Fortnum & Mason for Deirdre and got her lots of tea! We also picked up several more gifts. Unfortunately, the store was undergoing a lot of refurbishment in preparation for it's 300th birthday later this year. We walked back to Piccadilly Circus for a snack and we grabbed seats at the statue of Eros to wait for 7 pm and Hayden. We had the card with the $700 credit get rejected at Boots, so we'll have to find out what's happening there. We waited until 8 pm and still no Hayden, so we gave up and went back to the hotel. I hope emailed and knows that we just didn't get it. *edited from that day's entry to add that Hayden got stuck at work and couldn't get hold of us. That'll teach Brian not to let me check emails!*

We stopped along the way back to the hotel at the Glouchester Station to take photos of the neat art exhibit that was going there. Then back to the hotel and a dinner of leftovers (quick and easy!) and start to pack for tomorrow. We decided to try and pack so we'd have one less bag to carry through the tube in the morning. We have 3.40 pounds left on the Oyster cards, so it seems like we judged that just about perfectly! While packing, I pulled a muscle in my right thigh. OUCH! We relaxed, had another long bath and went to bed early. I'm going to miss that bathtub! Okay, I admit, I have a real thing about long deep cast iron tubs!

Miles walked: ~20

Oh, and a wonderful silver vendor at a street fair refused to sell me one of the great Tesco/Sainsbury's reusable bags that I loved so much last time I was here. He refused to take any money for it, but gave it instead, and even dug me out a new one from the Comic Relief concert that was about a week before we got here. Double cool!

Monday March 26th

I woke up tired when the alarm went off this morning. I'm not surprised! We got up anyways, had breakfast, and were out of the hotel and off for the day by 9 am. No bad jet lag yet (fingers crossed). We wanted to see how bad the tube would be for Wednesday morning when we have to do it with our luggage for the train to Paris. No problems really, although getting through Paddington may prove a little interesting. We'll just leave early enough to make sure we have no problems.

We met up with the bus tour again (I love 24 hr tickets!) this time with batteries! Took most of the full tour again so I could get lots of photos. We did, however, get stuck in Monday morning London traffic. Not really any worse than what we see here, but we didn't get to the Tower of London until noon (we should have been there before 11 am). We didn't need the fast track part of the tickets (bought from the bus tour at a discount) as there was no line, but I'm not going to complain about that! We had a great time and spent hours there exploring and enjoying it. Took WAY too many photos, but that's why I brought lots of cards for the camera! And Brian thought I couldn't possibly go through a full 1GB card in a day. Hah! They had a phenomenal weapon and armour collection that proved a really neat challenge to photograph. Picked up a bunch of souvenirs, and a book on the crown jewels in Nanny's memory. It was nice, but a little bittersweet.

Also found out on the tour bus that Westminster was closed to the public until Wednesday as the Queen will be attending a ceremony there tomorrow. That had been our plan for the afternoon. :( Because we're leaving Wednesday morning, I guess we probably won't get to see it. :( We ended up spending pretty much the rest of the day at the Tower of London and didn't mind a bit. We found out at about 3 pm when we stopped for a VERY expensive snack that the pedometer wasn't working. We'd certainly walked more than 729 steps! All walking totals from here on are based on 2.25 miles/hr as an estimate.

We left the Tower (finally) at about 6:30pm. Decided we were both tired and just headed back to the hotel. We are *SO* not into late night stuff! Back to M&S (I love that we can cook for ourselves), made dinner, took another long bath (I said that tub would get lots of use), and into bed early.

Miles walked: 15

Sunday March 25th

We woke up at 9am. There's nothing like 12 hours of sleep! Brian went out to check out breakfast right away,there's no getting between him and his tummy! Turned out it's really nice. Breads, cereals, eggs, cheese and fruit. Works for me.

Off we went to catch the sightseeing bus. No problems with the tube this time, unfortunately, I can't say the same for the batteries. I'd bought a set of 8 rechargeable batteries and charged them just before we left. After less than 10 photos, the low battery light came on. Not good. Switched to a new set and the same thing. So we saw lots on the tour, but I don't have many photos at all. We did stop at one point and pick up one set of regular batteries at horribly inflated prices (3 pounds = 6 US dollars = 2 AA batteries!). Unfortunately, there're not a lot of places open on a Sunday morning to pick up cheap batteries at! We had a really nice time and saw loads. The weather was beautiful and clear. The tour finished off at Picadilly Circus, where we found a Boots that was open and picked up loads of cheap batteries. So we will have photos from the rest of the trip afterall!

Lunch was at the Sherlock Holmes pub for Brian. It was fun, and the food was good. Brian bought a pub glass there that I hope makes it through the whole trip. We then walked down to the Embankment for the boat tour that was included in the bus tour. While waiting for the boat, we checked out the Egyptian Obelisk, which was really cool, and the statues in the area. Took a cute photo of Brian on the waterstairs. Finally found an actual Diet Pepsi (my one addiction) at the little souvenir stand near the boat tour. The lady who owns it brings it in from France!

The boat tour runs all the way out to Greenwich and back, and was really fun. I'm glad we did it. It certainly gives a different view of London than what you see on the normal 'tourist' bus. Took loads of photos, including the pub where Dickens lived while he wrote two novels. It's now called "The Grapes".

Got off the boat tour at the London Eye hoping the lines wouldn't be too long. They were HUGE! I think we'll probably pay for the fast track tickets tomorrow to skip them, it was just nuts! We walked back to the other side of the river along the foot bridge there, but it wasn't the Millennium Bridge which had the vibration problems when it first opened. Grabbed another Diet Pepsi and took the tube back to the hotel for a fairly early night.

Got back to find the M&S store was closed (dinner plan #1). The local pub we'd found was PACKED (dinner plan #2). You couldn't really get in the door. The Tesco Express down the road was also closed (dinner plan #3). We ended up having dinner at a Pizza Hut! At that point we were just tired and hungry. It was actually really good, and I wish they had the same pizza crust here in the US as we had there! Brought home the leftovers to snack on later.

Had another long soaking bath, followed it up with the TENS unit and went to bed. Both of us have sore knees and calves!

Total miles walked: 15 Not bad for having done a boat and a bus tour!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

First Trip Journal Entry!

I'm going to try to get these out one/day, but I make no promises! The photos will have to wait as they're not on this computer.

Friday March 23rd/Saturday 24th

Jen drove us to the train in Hicksville, but first we stopped at IKEA to pick up a spare timer for the lights since mine had evidently died. Oh well. We got to the train station with plenty of time which turned out to be a good thing as one of the trains listed on the schedule wasn't running.
The AirTrain was overall very cool. Really filthy, but cool. Quick, cheap, convenient and spacious. We got to the airport with plenty of time too. Which turned out to also be a good thing as the "Fast bag drop" for British Airways was still a 45 minute wait in line! Security was really quick though, so no real problems. We got to talking with another couple in line behind us with their 8 month old son, and it turns out the husband is a Cabana Man too! Brian at least knows he's not alone...
We spent several hours waiting in the terminal and I got a lot of stitching done on Ferocious Beastie. Two other flights to LHR with BA were significantly delayed by at least 2.5 hours so we weren't too hopeful about ours taking off on time. But we were lucky. We left right on time, and we were the last flight out of that section of the terminal that night. Brian did awesome with his fear of flying and hardly even paused at the door to the plane. Compared to the 30+ minutes that last step has taken him in the past, the drugs get my vote!
The flight was really good. Two little patches of turbulence, but nothing too bad. Brian slept lots, and right through one patch. I slept a little, but mostly just dozed. The seatback TV system was pretty neat, but very loud, even on the lowest volume setting. I ended up listening to music on my iPod with the noise cancelling headphones instead. Dinner was roast beef with mashed potatoes and carrots. really good, but I had said I'd like the chicken choice!
The landing was really smooth, and 10 minutes early. Brian hadn't even realized we were actually on the ground. No problems (and a very short wait) at immigration, and off to get the luggage. The first thing I see coming down the ramp to the luggage area? A Cadbury's vending machine! And I didn't have any coins to use on them! I had bills, but no coins! The luggage arrived fine and quickly, mine was a little crunched in but that was because it wasn't really full. No permanent damage.
It took a little bit of work to find the desk for the airport shuttle to the hotel, and then a 40 minute wait for the shuttle to arrive. But, this gave us plenty of time to hit the WH Smith for chocolate! As I go to pay, the guy behind the counter does his suggestive selling of "Toblerone for only one pound!" I took three and shocked the poor guy. He looked a little less upset when I told him they would have cost about 3 pounds at home. I'm thinking all three may not make it home intact...
The shuttle ride was fine, and had lots of kiss minis and kiss buggies! Our room wasn't ready yet (it was about 12:30) so we checked our luggage and went for an exploring wander. Found the Bayswater and Queensway tube stations. We also found the Whitleys shopping centre and a Marks and Spencer food shop. Bought ourselves some food and headed back to the hotel. Our room (#429) was ready, and it was as far as possible from the front desk as you could get in this place! This wasn't really a problem, just a bit of a pain when the first set of keys didn't work! :) The hotel was a full block of old houses that had been turned into mini-apartments. Ours was really cool, and almost as big as our place in Queen's. For London, that's HUGE! And so was the bathtub. I foresee a number of LONG baths in the near future.
After a little rest, we headed out and got our Oyster passes and headed for Hamley's, a giant toy store. On the way there from the tube, we got a really cool bent wire photo frame spelling my name. A total tourist trap/ripoff, but we didn't care. We also passed a gigantic Apple store. It looked busy, and this is good. Hamley's had a number of really cool Dr. Who toys, but I was good, and only bought a Little Miss Brainy book.
From there we walked down to Picadilly circus, which Brian doesn't remember ever seeing before. It was still as I remembered it. We caught the tube back to the hotel, but I made a mistake at our first change and got us on the wrong train. We realized it pretty much right away and were able to switch without having to even backtrack.
We shopped at M&S again for some pasta and sauce for dinner and called it a night. Brian cooked dinner while I wrote this out. Tonight is "spring forward" night here so we're going to lose another hour's sleep. Figures we'd lose that hour twice! :) We plan on just going to bed fairly early and getting ourselves set time change wise in the morning. And having a bath in that wonderful tub...
Total miles walked: 11

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Can I just say

That Ron Moore and the schedulers at the SciFi Network are evil, Evil, EVIL, E-V-I-L, sadistic bastards?

Why yes, I did just watch the season finale of Battlestar Gallactica, why do you ask?

I promise vacation photos/journals are forthcoming, this just needed to be said, and in as many public forums as possible!