One last shot of the castle. You can probably see it most in this shot, the Harry Potter-ishness of the whole thing. It was beautiful last Wednesday. Perfect sky for taking photos, perfect weather for sneaking onto the grounds of a famous castle.
We set off on our journey to Scotland last Wednesday… first stop, Alnwick (pronounced Annick) Castle on the North East Coast of England. This is the castle Hogwarts is based on in the Harry Potter films. They filmed parts of the place and CGI’d the rest. Kind of cool in person. The castle and grounds are a major tourist stop and were fairly packed. There was also a fee just to walk on the grounds, not to mention the other fee to go inside the castle. We decided to try and get to a spot where we could take photos without actually paying to go onto the grounds. We weren’t staying long anyway, so paying the fee seemed kind of ridiculous, especially given that it was kind of steep.
We paid to park, decided to have a little picnic there in a very nice area where the dogs could be with us. Another rub of entering the grounds at Alnwick is that dogs were strictly not allowed. In fact, the guy at the pay booth for the parking specifically told us no dogs allowed. Bummer. After our nice picnic lunch Martin and I set off in search of the perfect spot for photos. We actually ended up going around toward where the pay booths were, but then veered off onto what, to us, looked like any other path. We followed this path and ended up on the grounds, near the castle. Who knew. I think it was a gardener’s path and we weren’t supposed to use it or be there, but what the heck. We both felt like someone was going to stop us at any moment and tell us to go, but we ventured forth anyway, just so I could get some shots. Which I did. This is one of them. You can actually recognize, from the films, the center part of the castle. It looked familiar to me.
Covent Garden, London, is known for many things. Mostly for it’s outdoor market atmosphere and trendy shops. It’s also known as the area where Mary Poppins sold flowers. Pretty cool place really. We bought a trivet from one of the vendors.
We strolled away from Trafalgar Square past Downing Street and the Prime Minister’s residence, behind gates of course, and Whitehall, where many of the working government buildings are, to where the Queen’s Royal Horse Guard is. They are horsemen. This guy, and others, were posted outside to guard it. I don’t know how long their shifts are, but this is what they do. Apparently it’s a huge honor and only the best of the best get these positions. This guy could probably kill us in one move with ninja style quickness if he wanted. They are all that good. All I have to say is… nice hat.
Day two in London found us in Trafalgar Square with Mary and Martin looking at his church, St. Martin in the Fields church. Doesn’t the back of Martin’s head look holy in this shot? I think it’s because he’s in front of his church.
Ben is pretty big, if you ask me. It’s attached to the Palace of Westminster, also known as the houses of parliament. Lots going on right now here about all the members of parliament and their expense reports. Europeans don’t take this stuff lightly, and neither does their press. Pretty wild. Totally beautiful and impressive building. Across the Thames and down just a bit from the London Eye.
For all the ins and outs, whys and such check out the Millennium Wheel at Wikipedia. Kind of interesting.
Our first day in London, our first afternoon, we got to go to Shakespeare’s Globe (not the original of course as there have been fires and rebuilding) to see Romeo and Juliet. What a fantastic thing that was. Here we were in the most famous theater in the world watching one of the most, if not the most, famous play in the world. Couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to London really. We were extremely tired, but that didn’t seem to matter. It was so very cool. The play itself was also really good. I’d never seen Romeo and Juliet live I don’t think. Shakespeare in Shakespeare’s house was awesome.
Here it is folks, the famous Tower Bridge over the Thames. We landed in London, Mary and Martin met us at the airport, and we took our massive collection of bags, by tube, to our hotel. We couldn’t check in, given that it was morning, but the concierge was kind enough to take our bags and we were off. We jumped on the tube again and headed down to the waterfront. I believe the walk along the Thames has a name, which I can’t remember. Our goal was to get to The Globe before the show, Romeo and Juliet, started at two. It was nice, since we landed so early, to have time to just sort of wander along, check out the sites, and take photos. We got a much needed coffee, walked, and bought some hot nuts from a street vendor. Those were some tasty nuts.
In the beginning God made first class. Or, in our case, business class. Which really, given that our plane didn’t have a first class section, we were considered to be in first class. It’s amazing what saving your miles can do for ya. I recommend it highly. We loved it. Most especially the room. There was tons of it. Plus we had our own entertainment screens and a huge selection of movies to watch, old and new. We selected Benjamin Button and Best in Show. Also… the food. They fed us constantly. And it was good. It was a four course meal. Strange, yet cool. Then there were the hot towels. One of my favorite things actually, given that after you’ve been in the plane for 10 hours you want to feel a bit refreshed. I guess we could’ve used the stuff from the amenities kit they gave us, but we left that for another day. All in all… we can’t say enough about it. We loved it. We don’t know how we’ll manage to fly overseas again without going first class. I’m sure we will, we’ll have to, but it will be tough. We felt spoiled. They addressed us by name. I admit, it was lovely. I know everyone could tell we were rookies. How could they not. We played with our seats for ages, trying to figure out how to raise our leg rests and adjust our lumbar support, and get the back massage things to work just the right spots in our backs. I’m sure the flight attendants were amused. So were we. We laughed the whole time, and then we laughed some more. And then, suddenly, we were in Amsterdam.
Well, it happened again. On Friday, August 29, this photo was used at the planet earth photo of the day. Pretty cool. Go over and check out the page HERE. It’s pretty cool. There are some great photos to see. They titled my photo Mud Love, which of course I love.
Wow, I’m actually posting this on Saturday, the day I’m supposed to be posting the photo hunt photo for the week. I’m impressed with myself. Especially considering that I’ve been very late in posting the last few weeks. Luckily I remembered today was Saturday.
Today’s theme… supported. I took this one last September during our trip to England. This is the Devil’s Bridge in Kirkby/Lonsdale. Both of the roads crossing these bridges are supported by the arches. In bridge building it has to be just so or the whole thing becomes disastrous. The Devil’s Bridge arch obviously works as it’s stood the test of time. The bridge dates back to around 1370.
If you’d like to join in all the photo hunt action, visit tnchick for all of the how to info.
My very late entry for the week’s hunt is this one I took last year near Ullswater, Great Britain. The theme this week is emotions so I’m going with playful/happy. These little dudes were having a blast playing with each other. It was the cutest thing.
If you’d like to get in on the hunt, click here for all the details and then start shooting!
The English Adventure continued today with a walking trip to downtown Lancaster for chai tea and a look into Mary and Martin’s favorite bookstore. Afterward we jumped into their very smallish car for a ride East to the lovely hamlet of Kirkby/Lonsdale in York. OK, here’s where I’m not sure if the actual name of the town is Kirky, or Lonsdale, or they’re just two towns right next to each other. It looked like one town to me. Whatever it was, it was beautiful. The town itself has been pretty much preserved from the original so the buildings are the same as they were when they were built ages ago. There are shops and restaurants there and in fact we had lunch in one such place. I had a lovely chicken bacon baguette and a juice of the day. It was very tasty. But, I digress… though the shops and restaurants are newish, the buildings they’re in are not. The combination of the whole thing is terrific. It was an amazing little town. Lovely.
After getting back to Lancaster today we took a quick trip to the University where Mary will study and work and Martin is already working. The sneak peak of that place was followed by a walk from their house to a pub close by called the Water Witch. It’s a great place on a nearby canal. We each enjoyed a beer and some conversation.
This evening, after the Water Witch visit, Mary and Martin made us a lovely Scottish pie for dinner. It’s been a great day. We are still slightly recovering from our long day of travel yesterday. Even after sleeping for 12 hours (yes, 12 hours) I’m feeling a bit tired. Almost normal, yet not. That will come, I’m sure, after another great nights sleep in the guest room.
Stay tuned… pictures are coming. I’m actually uploading them to flickr as I type and will ferry some over here after that job is complete.
Tomorrow… the Lake District. We’re going to drive up, park the car, take a ferry ride, then walk back toward the car along the shore. The lake district is supposed to be the most beautiful area of the country. If that’s true, since everything has been beautiful up to now, we should enjoy it very much.
Here I sit, 29 hours after getting up at home yesterday morning, sleepy yet chipper, enjoying a cup of tea at Mary and Martin’s house in Lancaster, Lancashire, UK. They live on, get this, Portland Street. Fitting eh?
The trip this long day went very smoothly until we got to Chicago. And really, getting there wasn’t the issue… leaving was. We ended up sitting on the tarmac for an hour waiting for a nasty passing storm to pass. At one point they grounded all outbound traffic, but only for 15 minutes… thanks very much. After taking off we go the other good news… no movies for us. The video system was down. But, Karen and I are really good about entertaining ourselves… so between reading, watching part of a movie, talking, and listening to music we were OK. We landed at 8:10 AM Manchester time Friday morning. Funny as we took off in Portland at 8:10 Am Thursday.
I will interject here that I’m very tired, and am not really responsible for the contents of this entry….
OK, back to our regularly scheduled post… today, after arriving in Manchester, we met Mary and Martin and then took the train from there to Lancaster. The ride was about an hour and half, with a switch of trains in Preston. One thing’s for certain. The public transportation system here is stellar. Who needs to drive? You can get everywhere on the train. So… we arrived. We checked out their house, which is totally great by the way… great feel, great house. Then we took a bit of a walk along the canal with the dogs and then another, without the dogs, into town. What can I say about this place… it’s, very sincerely, a storybook town. It literally looks like we stepped inside a fairy tale. I mean… the town has it’s own castle. It’s own Roman Bath ruins (we saw the pile of rocks). It has amazing history. More on that by looking up the war of the roses. Yep. Lancaster was involved.
So… I’m sleepy. I’ll add pictures, I actually took a few today despite my hindered state of awareness. I will blame any blurryness that might be present in the pics, again, on my hindered state of awareness… stay tuned. I’ll add them after I get a bit of sleep and can type more than a few words without nodding off.
So far… this trip is kicking butt. LOVE it!!