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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Mom's Trip to London

I love this picture by St. Paul's
Mom by the Sovereign's Entrance.  This is of course where she belongs.  
Me inside of the London Eye.  
Our two flat tires :(  very sad.

So here is one last commemorating post about London. I know it has been a week since I got home, but it is hard to let such experiences fade into memories so fast, so here is a little bit about my last week when Mom flew over.  
Saturday was excitement beyond compare.  Seriously.  3 Friends and I all went to the airport to meet Mom to pick up a rental car and go to Bath.  Seems pretty easy, right?  Um... Well we get to the Enterprise, and we wait for about 40 minutes.  No Mom.  So finally I go ask the desk clerk if this was the only location in the Airport, ect.  He tells me yes, and then proceeds to tell me that she had already gotten the car over an hour before, and at the North Terminal Enterprise.  So there was another location.  Lame.  Anyway, so we run over to the other location, and the guy at the desk told us that she had just left to go get something to eat, but had not taken the car yet.  So we wait and finally she shows back up and we leave for Bath.  I forgot to mention that previously, I had the assignment of getting a map, one which I had though about often over the last few days, however in the rush, I had neglected to get one also because Mom had printed out some Google maps of how to get there.  We jump on the freeway no problem, and Mom does great with the whole 'driving on the left side' thing.  Well, we had been driving for maybe 30 minutes and we got talking about something and Mom missed the turn off we were supposed to take.  So we just assumed that we could turn around at the next overpass sort of thing like the states.   Too bad that is not at all how England works.  It has the most complex freeway system I have ever seen.  The next exit was not for about 25 miles and it was this little town.  So we go to look for a map and gas (petrol in the UK)  and we find a tavern to ask them where a gas station is.  The nice bartender told us where to get both of these items.  Well as we are driving down this road in the little town of Hemel Hempstead, mom got too close to the left side of the road and hit a monster curb, popping both, not one of the left side tires.  Yes, both.  It was a sad event. Anyway, so we try to decide to what to do after pulling up onto the sidewalk (which was not uncommon on this particular street), and finally call the emergency number on the rental car sheet at a pay phone.  They tell us that a 'lorry' (or tow truck)  will come and fetch us and that we should wait.  We wait for over an hour, and finally the lorry shows up.  Well, the driver didn't realize that there would be 5 of us, and he didn't have room, so he told us he would call and have them send a larger one and he promptly left.  Great... so we wait for another hour before Mom finally went and called the number again and they told us to wait another 45 minutes.  We did (of course.  where else were we going to go?)  and another lorry pulls up with a very nice driver, Mark.  Mark didn't know Hemel Hempstead very well (who does?)  and he called around until he found  a place that was open, and that had the tires that we needed.  He dropped the 3 other girls at the train station and Mom and I went with the rental car.  The rental car got fixed ( although the guy who fixed it accidentally replaced the two front tires, much to our, and the other members of staff's amusement)  and finally we were on our way... sort of.  Back to Gatwick Airport anyway,  so we drove back, without any mishaps (amazingly!)  and got Mom to bed.  
Well that is a post all on its own, but I will quickly mention a few other highlights of Mom's trip.  We did the London Eye (super awesome, and pretty much a must-do in London cause it is so famous),  saw 4 shows, including All's Well that Ends Well,  Peter Pan, Les Mis, and Wicked.  All were fantastic, and I think Mom got the theater buzz (although she loves theater almost as much as I do)  and she commented several times how she would have loved to see a few more things.  We also went and saw St. Paul's, the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery,the crown jewels at the Tower of London and many, many more things (especially considering the tubes were on strike so it was tough to get around on the buses because everyone and their mother, including me and mine, was using the buses).  Anyway, it was so great to have her come and party a little with me.  There were of course plenty of things we didn't get to, but like she said, it only gives her an excuse to come back.  

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Stratford... in detail

The Avon in Stratford
Man-eating peacocks
Warwick Castle
Kennelworth Castle and Gardens

I have been trying to decide exactly what I should do for this blog, if I should keep it or just leave it to float out in bloggers universe where all un- updated blogs stay as a memory of my trip.  I feel like I did short change it to some degree because my last two weeks were filled with a trip to Stratford upon Avon, studying for finals, a research project, and Mom's lovely visit.  Not conducive to blog posting, as you might imagine.  Anyway, so I was thinking about going back to chronicle several things (well quite a few actually)  that didn't ever get mentioned.  

Our Trip to Stratford seemed as good a place as any to start.  

We had to be out to the bus by 6:45AM in order for us to reach the first destination on time.  The bus ride was fairly uneventful except that I almost thought I had lost my camera (I found it in my bag stuffed into a far corner) and we reached Coventry Cathedral.  This is the sad exterior of a beautiful cathedral that was bombed out during the war.  It is now a sort of monument to the nation.  Our next stop was Kennelworth Castle.  This was also a big ruinous, but not from bombing.  It was built by Sir Robert Dudley, the most famous of all of Queen Elizabeth I's suitors and is just in ruins from age.  Anyway, this was pretty neat to go see.  It is kind of in the middle of nowhere, but at least it is a lovely nowhere.  Lots of fields and pretty little cottage type houses.  It really is situated quite nicely.  The last stop we made before Stratford was Warwick Castle.  At this point I just have to take a moment to laugh.  Warwick castle is this big historic castle that has been dressed up to be a theme park.  And the shoe doesn't fit.  It is such a beautiful castle, and they have a ridiculous disney type map showing all the attractions.  They had archery, birds of prey, a horrific castle dungeon (where you have to pay extra.  Why would anyone pay extra to see some people's toes get cut off and tongues cut out...? I have no idea), a sword in the stone among other things.  Overall it is a little overdone.  We went out to watch the catapult and the narrator was SO ridiculous.  He was incredibly melodramatic and made every moment of the loading and 'firing' so overdone it was laughable.  To add to that excitement, we also got attacked by some peacocks on the lawn.  Anyway, the inside of Warwick castle was very Victorian, although certain sections had medieval armor and stuff in them, but compared to the outside of the castle, the inside didn't fit at all.  It was very strange.  Anyway, we spent about 4 hours there, and I could have reasonably done it in two.  Then we trooped off to Stratford.  Stratford is a positively charming town where pubs are 400 years old, and very little of the town has changed to accommodate the droves of people that come up every year to see the Royal Shakespearean company perform.  There are quite a number of shops and lots of B&B's but overall, much of the town is still pretty sleepy with melting houses, and darling narrow streets.  We went to see two productions at the RSC, and both were excellently done.  I must give them credit for not sticking to 'traditional Shakespeare' just because they are the RSC.  Their performances were magnificent with no expense spared.  There is this fantastic part in one of the productions that we have seen, where two book cases collapse into each other and hundreds of books spill all over the floor, and a few moments later, a massive paper bear emerges from between the collapsed book cases to eat a man.  It was pretty awesome!  Outside of these productions, some of us rented little boats and rowed them down the river.  It was a great place to visit and I will always have charming memories of it.  On our way back to London two days later, we stopped in Oxford.  I didn't know too much about the city, unfortunately, but what I did see was great.  Among other things, I went to Christ's Church where parts of Harry Potter were filmed. It was really neat to see the college itself and places where actual footage had been shot!  Anyway, a long trip back to the city, and we spent a night in the comfort of our flat finishing up research projects and such.  

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Stupendous Stratford... among other things)

On the Avon (as in Stratford-upon-Avon) 
In front of the Quidditch fields at Christ's Church 
The basis for the Great Hall
At Warwick Castle pulling the sword out of the stone.  

So sometimes I am slow in posting things... Mostly just when I have several finals, and Mom comes to London:)  
Firstly, Stratford was amazing.  Here are some pictures of me on a Boat on the Avon.  There are also pictures of Christ's Church in Oxford ( where Harry Potter was filmed...:)  Sorry this is short, I have to study for a final I am taking tomorrow!  BTW, if you were wondering, I am flying home (to LV)  on Friday and will get there around 8 PM.