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And your rooster, too!

Aylesbury, United Kingdom

As I write the post about my day (which was quickly saved as a draft so as not to lose my thoughts and photos and such - no worries!), Vanessa and I are sitting in her beautiful, breezy living room watching The One Show on BBC One. (We watched some of The Fuse earlier, then flipped to Come Dine With Me, followed by The Simpsons, then this...)

To wrap up the show, they did a segment on the apparently legendary Dick Turpin [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dick_Turpin] (why have I never heard of this famous historical figure, eh?) and went on and on about his murderous exploits, highway robberies, and whatnot. Then I heard, "One afternoon, after a particularly bad day hunting, Turpin returned to town and shot a rooster for no reason."

It might be the jet lag, and it might be because I'm mildly odd and easily amused, but I laughed and laughed, to the point that Vanessa had to chuckle at how silly I looked, laughing over Dick Turpin and how cool he was - he'd steal your money! He'd kill you if you looked at him wrong! HE'D EVEN SHOOT YOUR ROOSTER. Now, that's some serious badassery.

Final Note: We're now watching EastEnders. This is such a guilty pleasure! Ha ha! This is how I KNOW I'm in England...it's the only time I watch it!

permalink written by  Mary Rose on July 16, 2009 from Aylesbury, United Kingdom
from the travel blog: UK 2009
tagged Tv and Vanessa

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Fair Ladies

Great Missenden, United Kingdom

I still have loads of things to share about yesterday's trip into London, but I probably won't be writing a new blog until Sunday night when we return from the city again.

In a little while, Vanessa and I will be off to The Chilterns Show (http://www.hdfairs.co.uk/chilterns_show/) - a fair in Great Missenden, which is a few towns away from Aylesbury and close to where she grew up. Should be fun! It's a stunningly gorgeous day today, as this photo that I took a few moments ago from V's balcony illustrates.

Tonight, we'll be over at Vanessa's parents' house, and tomorrow, we head to London for...well, I don't know. Fun things, I'm sure! :) The end of the day holds a treat for us, because Vanessa and her mom booked us tickets to see Romeo and Juliet at The Globe Theatre months ago, so we have great seats (under cover, since it's supposed to rain at some point tomorrow!). I'm excited for it!

I'll be back tomorrow night with more news and photos. I hope y'all are having a wonderful weekend, wherever you are! Hugs from me to you from sunny England today! :)

permalink written by  Mary Rose on July 18, 2009 from Great Missenden, United Kingdom
from the travel blog: UK 2009
tagged London, Vanessa and ChilternsShow

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A rose by any other name...

London, United Kingdom

Sunday morning dawned bright and cheerful, with the sound of birds in the garden and the sweet little stream running behind it at the Kings' house. We all had a bit of a lie-in before Vanessa and I headed into London.

First stop: Chinatown! We'd planned to go to their favorite real Chinese restaurant (not that "fake" Chinese we have in the States, which I [admittedly] love!), called

The New World...I was told all about how authentic it was, and how amazing the dim sum would be, and wow, was it ever!

The waitresses each continuously push a cart around the restaurant, filled with five or six levels of plates containing different dim sum delicacies. They'll stop at your table, share with you what's on their cart, then let you decide whether you want any of their dishes or not. I chose a bowl of soup with duck and pork (and noodles, of course), and let Vanessa pick the rest of the plates. We ended up having a table laden with things I don't recall ever eating before - little bundles of bean curd, something with "shark's fin" in the name, a plate of cold sliced pork covered in a delicious sauce, prawn fried in curly noodles, and so many more wonton-wrapped items. We dug in and enjoyed them all...and when we both sat back in a near food coma to take a break, Vanessa looked at the time and discovered that only a half hour had passed since we'd arrived! Ha ha! That combination of hunger and great food must've made us living vacuums!

After The New World, we took a walk through the arches and around Chinatown to see the sights. I loved the huge jackfruit and durians on a fruit cart (although I'm quite glad the fetid odor of the latter was kept inside its rind), and especially enjoyed the ducks and other meats hanging in the front windows of some of the restaurants. I can't imagine a Chinese restaurant in York (much less Mooresville) displaying their delicacies quite so blatantly! Very interesting.

Next stop was Leicester Square, as a meeting place with V's cousin Lindsay. I loved that this was the theatre were Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince had premiered days before we stood on that spot, and just had to show my inner tourist and get a photo with the huge poster out front. :)

From there, we three walked down through Trafalgar Square, stopping to check out the One and Other (www.oneandother.co.uk) living art on

the upper corner plinth of the square - I'd seen a man dressed as a snow leopard in a dress coat and trousers just a few days before! - and as we walked on through the fountain area, a guy wearing a chicken suit gave Vanessa a leaflet. Moments later, another man (in plainclothes, not wearing any type of animal costume) walked up, took the leaflet out of Vanessa's hand, and gave it back to the chicken. Then he walked calmly back to his spot beside the fountain to our right. It was absolutely a "what on earth?" moment, especially when we noticed that the man beside him was filming the incident. Who knows...?

After Trafalgar Square, we continued on down toward the river, walking through Whitehall, with its government buildings, shiny mid-street monuments, and even a mounted guard with whom we took our photo. Not being a big fan of horses (beautiful, yes, but also quite large and frightening), I was a bit nervous being so close to one.

We walked through a small group of people (actually, I can specifically label them "tourists", because they so obviously were) clustered around a large black gate, complete with three policemen on guard. I was wondering what was going on there, until I looked around to the street names on the side of the nearest building and realized we were at Downing Street. Despite the fact that nearly all of those people would have trouble picking the current prime minister out of a line-up, and most probably don't even know his name, they were jockeying for the best spot for a photo of Number 10 (which isn't possible, I don't believe...it seemed to be around a corner), and nearly wet themselves with excitement when a car came through the gate. Not terribly surprisingly, it was not Gordon Brown but an ordinary citizen...though that didn't stop people from taking photos of the man. Sheesh.

Continuing on toward the "yep, I'm in London" sight of the Houses of Parliament (which I just discovered is called Westminster Palace...wow, you learn something new every day!), we turned to walk across Westminster Bridge to the south bank of the Thames. I stopped for a moment to take in the intricate stone work of the building, and stare up at Big Ben at the top of the clock tower. It really does give a giddy sense of truly being in London to look up at its most famous landmark.

Catching up to Vanessa and Lindsay after taking my photos and having a moment of inner squee, we walked together across Westminster Bridge, and turned on the other side to amble along past the London Eye (with a queue stretching on and on...making me glad I'd already been up in it back in 2006 and wouldn't have to take my place with the others vying for a pod and a ride). We passed street performer after street performer, only truly stopping to watch a small troupe of breakdancers and a mesmerizing Jason Castro semi-lookalike (yes, yes, that may just be because of the dreads...so sue me) who swirled a set of glass balls around his hands as though they were weightless. Though we mocked him at first, we were stunned into silence by his ability, and ended up watching the whole show...but were glad we had stood on the periphery when he finished and got out the box for a monetary handout!

Moving on along the south bank, we stopped for tea and a snack, enjoyed the polka dot-wrapped trees (an art installation) and skateboarders/bikers in the rather beautiful graffitoed spot they've made their own, underneath a car park. We finally reached our destination of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, where we were to see Romeo and Juliet that evening.

We met up with Vanessa's parents for a few quick pints at The Swan, then headed over to The Globe to check out the little museum before making our way up to our seats for the show. They were fantastic - on the third level, right on the railing overlooking the stage, all six seats in the row just for our little group. The wine was brought out, and we enjoyed the first act of the show...a funny, fast-paced, well-acted version of Shakespeare's famous tragedy.

I never understand - or even catch - all the words in a Shakespeare play, but the sense of really being there, watching a show at The Globe, was quite neat, and it was easy to get into the prose I could understand and enjoy it from our wonderful vantage point. A picnic of sandwiches and tomatoes made a great intermission dinner, and afterward the rest of the play progressed to the beautiful, sniffle-inducing tableau of those star-crossed lovers in the Capulet tomb - the famous end of the "story of woe...Juliet and her Romeo".

Before we headed back home, a walk over the Millennium Bridge in the night air ended our evening in the city with Vanessa's parents. Her fantastic, this-is-getting-framed photo across the Thames shows the beauty of the city after dark...and stands as a reminder that roses by other names may be sweet indeed, but there's certainly only one London.

permalink written by  Mary Rose on July 19, 2009 from London, United Kingdom
from the travel blog: UK 2009
tagged London, Sightseeing, Vanessa and TheGlobe

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