Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter/Kew Gardens

We had a lovely Easter dinner on Sunday night with our new friends Jason and Bethie and their 4-month-old daughter, Charlotte.  They moved here from the DC area the same week we did, and since they don't have any furniture, they offered to cook dinner at our place.  It turns out Jason loves to cook, and he whipped up a delicious dinner of prime rib, mashed potatoes, asparagus, and homemade hot cross buns.  Yummy!
Charlotte chills on the floor during dinner.  What a cutie!
Our contribution to the meal -- besides providing a place to eat it -- was to buy most of the groceries and make some snacks to munch on beforehand.  Since it gets very warm in our apartment, I decided to stick to food that didn't require cooking and could be served cold.  I was able to find sour(ed) cream, and Knorr vegetable soup mix at Sainsbury's so I settled on veggies and dip, and hummus and pita.  It was only after I had made the dip that I discovered that the soup mix had tiny noodles in it!  Fortunately, since I made it the night before, they had softened up and were largely unnoticeable in the dip.  Apparently they actually make SOUP with soup mix here!

Bethie and I commiserated about the challenges of trying to make do while waiting for all your furniture, clothing, and other personal belongings to arrive from the US.  Neither of us could have anticipated the unusually warm weather, and it's been challenging trying to shop for appropriate clothing and footwear because (a) everything is ridiculously expensive, and (b) we aren't familiar with any of the stores here, so we don't know where to look.  It looks like the weather will be a bit cooler this week (low 60s), so that should help tide us over.

Sunday night we had a Skype session with our friends Jason & Elizabeth and Rob & Diana, who had just gathered for their own Easter feast back in Arlington.  It was fun to see all of them and catch up on the latest goings-on back home.  I also Skyped with my parents in California and Josh spoke to his dad on the phone.

Monday was another bank holiday, so we spent the morning finalizing our application for tickets to the 2012 Olympics, as today is the last day to apply here in the UK.  It was a bit frustrating as the tickets are very expensive but there are no seating charts to give you a sense of whether it's worth shelling out another £10 or £20 to upgrade to a higher seating category.  And, of course, we won't know who is competing in any of the events for over a year.  What if archery or badminton turn out to be the high-profile sports in 2012? 

After lunch, we took the bus to Richmond to visit Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (aka Kew Gardens).  It was another gorgeous day, so we figured it would be worth the steep admission fee (more than $20/person) to visit the gardens in their springtime glory.  We were right!  We spent more than 4 hours there, and only got to see about half of the gardens, but what we saw was spectacular.  A few highlights:
Chinese pagoda, ca. 1762
Japanese Gateway, ca. 1910
Treetop Walkway
View of Victorian-era Temperate House from Treetop Walkway
A lake full of ducks, geese, and other birds
Egyptian geese with goslings
Fields of bluebells near Queen Charlotte's Cottage
Giant Stag Beetle (carved of wood, thank goodness!)
Masses of rhododendrons in bloom
Chocolate Easter eggs
Chocolate bunnies
Kew Palace
Feral parakeets in a plane tree
At this point, my camera battery ran out of juice, otherwise I would have likely added a dozen more photos.  We stayed until closing time and vowed to come back.  One of the great things about places like this is they are different every time you visit, depending on what's in bloom.

We stopped at a pub by the Kew tube station for dinner, intending to take the tube back to Wimbledon.  But I checked the service status on my iPhone and discovered that the trains weren't running to Wimbledon due to a signal failure -- thank goodness for iPhone apps! -- so we walked back to Richmond and caught the bus back home.

1 comment:

  1. Kew Gardens, yay!!! Saw an amazing documentary a few years back about Chihuly's installation in their massive gardens. It looks glorious! Also great you and Josh have some time together. It also warms my heart you have new friends going through the same experience as you. Dinner looks cozy and lovely!


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