Monday, June 20, 2011

MisFitz B&B, London

After living in Washington, DC for many years, we are used to having a steady stream of visitors who come to town on business, for vacation, to attend special events, or just to see us.  Now that we are in London, we are looking forward to more of the same.  Even more so, since we are so far away from friends and family. 

Our first house guests arrived last weekend, and we've barely stopped to catch our breath ever since.  Josh's brother, Ben, and his elder daughter, Laska are here.  (Some of you might remember Laska as the flower girl from our wedding when she was 3 3/4.  Now she's 14!)  They arrived last Saturday afternoon (June 11) from Seattle.

Our dining table arrived that Saturday morning, just in time.  It was delivered in 4 boxes, so Josh and I scrambled to assemble the table and 6 chairs and clear the rest of the stuff out of the room before Josh had to leave to meet Ben and Laska at Heathrow.
Our new dining table!
Ben and Laska were both at the tail end of a nasty cold when they arrived, and since Ben already has a weak immune system -- due to all the drugs he takes to keep his body from rejecting Josh's kidney -- he decided to take it easy for the first couple days.

I took Laska shopping in Kingston Sunday afternoon, and Monday afternoon we took the tube into the city and walked across London Bridge and along the Thames.
Laska on London Bridge
Contrary to popular belief, that iconic bridge you see in the background is NOT London Bridge, it's the Tower Bridge.  London Bridge is pretty nondescript, as bridges go.
London Bridge
Meanwhile, Josh set up our Wii with the transformer that Ben brought us, so we played some games.  I think Ben and Laska are now completely addicted to Lego Star Wars.
Monday was rainy, so I took Laska shopping in Kingston in the afternoon while Ben finished grading papers.  Tuesday was a lovely day, so we took the tube to Westminster and hopped on a boat to Greenwich.  Along the way, we saw several iconic London sites.
The London Eye

The Tate Modern

Replica of the Golden Hind

Tower of London
Tower Bridge
Greenwich! (Royal Maritime College, Queen's House, Royal Observatory)
We walked up the hill to the Royal Observatory first, since Josh and I didn't get to see it on our previous visit.
We took the requisite photos at the Prime Meridian.

When everything had closed for the day, we took the DLR back into central London, and walked through Trafalgar Square.
Past Parliament and Big Ben.

And across the bridge, where we had a nice view of the London Eye.
Josh with a halo?
Wednesday we went to the National Gallery, had dinner at an Indian restaurant, and saw Billy Elliot.
Thursday we rented a Zipcar and drove down to Guildford, where we visited a castle dating back to 1066.

Next door was The Chestnuts, a house once occupied by Lewis Carroll.  A sculpture of Alice Through the Looking Glass is in the adjacent park.

Alice Through the Looking Glass
Then we drove to the tiny hamlet of Crondall to meet up with some of Josh's work colleagues for a friendly game of cricket.  Josh had never played before, but my dad used to play when I was a kid, so I tried to explain it to him as best I could.  He took a few practice shots before his turn at bat.

He did remarkably well - better than many of the people who actually knew what they were doing -- and even scored a 4!
They took a break when it started raining, but it cleared up in about 15 minutes, and we were graced with a beautiful double rainbow.  (Sadly, no good vantage point from which to photograph it, though.)
Josh's team ended up winning the game, and then we retired to a nearby pub for dinner and drove back to London.

Friday was rainy, but we decided to visit the Tower of London, as did about 500 other Americans.
The White Tower

Our tour guide
Tiny armor, giant armor!
Dragon made from Tower artifacts
We didn't have time to see the entire compound, but we hit most of the highlights, including the Crown Jewels, which has a long, Disney-style line culminating in a moving walkway that sends you past a 10-foot long display case.

We had Ben take Saturday off to rest and catch up on work and laundry while Josh and I took Laska to Camden Market.  She was a little overwhelmed by it -- as were we the first time -- but said if she lived in London she'd probably go every weekend with her friends.
Sunday we rented another Zipcar (a VW Golf again) and went on another day trip adventure.
Unfortunately, we had a little trouble getting out of the city thanks to a jillion cyclists.  This "Advance Warning" sign was about a block away from the route.  Thanks!

We finally reached our first destination around 1:00.  STONEHENGE!  Sadly, we did not get the memo about the audio tour being free, so we just walked around and took photos.  There were a fair number of people there, but the area around the stones is roped off, so the photos make it look nearly deserted.
That won't be the case today, as they are expecting 20,000 people for the summer solstice.  Good thing we got there before the mad rush.
Ben (who is an archaeologist) bought a book in the gift shop and read to us about Stonehenge on the way to our next destination: Bath.  It is beautiful town on the Avon River, as evidenced by our first glimpse.
We visited the ancient Roman baths that the city is named after and famous for.

Then we had a spot of tea and walked around to take in all the lovely architecture.
This crescent of homes was built in 1767 and looks much the same today.

We ate dinner there and then drove back home, reaching our house around 12:30 am.

Today Josh had to go to work, but the rest of us slept in.  In the afternoon, Ben, Laska, and I walked up to the All England Lawn Tennis Club and scored some grounds passes to the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, which started today.

We could not get in to the main courts where the big-name stars were playing, but we found seats at the #15 court and watched the end of one match and the first half of another.

Then it started to rain, so they abruptly halted play and pulled the cover over the grass court.  Bummer.
We took the opportunity to find the restrooms and snack bar and then stood in the rain to watch the action in Centre Court (which has a retractable roof) from the giant video screen. 
It was an exciting match, with the final set tied up for what seemed like an eternity as each player kept gaining and losing the advantage.  When it ended, they announced that they would no longer be broadcasting the game from Centre Court on the screen "for health and safety reasons."  Not sure what that means, but we took that as our cue to leave.

We stopped for dinner in Wimbledon Village on the way home, and caught up with Josh back at the house.  Speaking of catching up, I am FINALLY up to the present, so I'm going to bring this lengthy post to an end and go to bed.  I hope I'll have a chance to update again soon...

1 comment:

  1. A spot of tea! You are definitely finding your groove - and your house is shaping up. What a lovely action packed visit!


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