Saturday, April 25, 2009

Day Three- Palaces, Parliament and Purity

Hey all,

Sorry for the delay and I hope this makes it up.  It's day three of our little trip and after a great night's sleep we were up and out.  Since we slept in a bit to make up for two days of NOT sleeping, we headed straight to our first tourist venue...Buckingham Palace to watch the changing of the guard.
It's really a magnificent building.  Huge with so much history behind it.  Rather than lose ourselves in the crowd at the gate, we decided to watch from uptop the fountain in the center of the square.  That way we could not only see the changing of the guard, (see courtyard above), but we could watch them come in and leave as well.

The ceremony is full of pomp and circumstance.  It lasts close to 45 minutes from beginning to end and for the average tourist, it's hard to understand exactly what all the fuss is about.  Even my military-bent hubby couldn't grasp all the nuances.  When we researched it later, we discovered that each stomp, each shout and even each song played has a specific meaning for the day.

The guards leave the barricks in perfect formation, accompanied by a marching band.  They walk up a long street, circle around the statue (above pic with Jonathon) and enter through one of the gates.  That's when the actual changing begins.  One by one the guard is changed out, the new guards walking the perimeter with the old guard.  They ignore the crowd.  This may be a show, but it's all deadly serious for them.  Especially when the Union Jack is flying, which we were told means the Queen is in residence.

We were also fortunate to see the changing of the Horse Guards (other pic)  They are wearing their colorful red winter outfits and the horses are beautiful.  That changing takes place at another gate, but is just as ceremonial as this one.

Afterwards, we had this great meal in this historic pub called, The Albert.  (see pic to right) We just came across it as we wandered back towards the main tourist areas near Big Ben.  It is this tiny little building surrounded on all sides by skyscrapers.  Looks totally out of place, and when you walk inside, it's like heading back into the past.  

Lords, Dukes, Prime Ministers and even royalty have eaten here and because of that, it is safe from the wrecking ball.  I was pleased to hear it.  This small pub is one of the nicest ones we were in and it's great to hear that my children's children might have a chance to visit it someday!

Next up on our tour were some churches.  We stopped at both Westminster Cathedral and Westminster Abbey.  The first is one of the older churches in town and quite beautiful in it's own right, although it is often confused with the Abbey where the coronations and wedding of the royals are held.

We were able to walk around in both of them, and at the Abbey, after the service we attended, Jonathon was able to talk to one of the clergy--not sure what exactly she was...a rector maybe--and she gave us a short tour behind the scenes.  They were getting ready for the Queen to come the next day for the Queen's Jubilee, so everyone was kicked out after the service, so it was neat to see a little more.  She showed us several tombs.  (English churches are filled with dead people.  Very different from most in the states.)  Charles Darwin, Sir Issac Newton and several others whose names escape me now.

Next we headed to one of the most well know sights of London.  Parliament House and Big Ben.  We both were slightly surprised that Big Ben isn't well...bigger.  LOL  It is a normal size clock tower over an enormous building.  It just looks a lot bigger in pictures.  But it is still a beautiful sight and it's setting by the river Thames makes it quite magical in the afternoon sun.  And kissing my sweet baboo with Big Ben in the background is pretty cool too!

Boy, did we do some walking.  I have a little meter that tells me how many miles I walked and we hit 15 that day!!!  Next, we went up to Trafalgar Square and since it was so bloody cold, we got a cuppa of hot cocoa and people watched for awhile.  Then a bus ride took us up to Convent Garden (first pic below) where we spent several hours searching the stalls for bargains, enjoying the sidewalk entertainers, and we had our very first Cornish Pasty, which was totally yummy!  Somewhat like a beerrock, but even better.
It was getting late, so we decided to head over to Piccadilly Circus (2nd pic above) to check out the night life.  We got lost and in doing so, found Victoria Station, Chinatown and Soho!  LOL  We did some more souvenier shopping before we found a pub and listened to music while we had a drink.
Since we knew we wanted to get up early the next morning, we didn't stay out too late.  After an adventurous bus ride home...we got soooooo lost...we finally found the hotel and went to bed.  The next day...seeing London from a bird's eye view!  
Check back with me next week for the next day of this travel log!  
Hugs to all!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Day One/Two... London is A Merry Old Town

Hey all,

*Edited to Add*

Sorry all that I wasn't able to get this up on Tuesday. Stupid blog froze again. I've just about decided to shut down this one and make another one. One more time it does this and I am so out of here!!!! Anyway, here is the travel log. Two days for the price of one. Enjoy...

After we got our room all situated, we headed out to our first tourist destination. The Tower of London. When I'd been to London before, we hadn't been able to visit the Tower, so I wanted to make sure I saw it this time and I'm so glad I did.

After a quick lunch of fish and chips, (no one makes them like the Brits) we headed into the Tower Gates. It is an awesome place, filled with history, tragedy and beauty. We had the neatest guide, a guy who made the history come alive, yet was humorous in his story telling so it wasn't like a lecture.
He told us tales of murder and intrigue, some that would curl your hair. We walked the same steps that kings and queens walked, and stood in the place where the block rested and so many lost their lives. We visited the torture chambers and shivered over the rack and the other devices used to force confessions out of the guilty and not so guilty. We visited the armory, the soldiers museum and walked the entire palace grounds.

Then we went and saw the crown jewels. Wow! Are they cool! And since we went in the off season, there weren't many people so I could drool over them as long as I wanted to. LOL I spoke to a Beefeater Guard who told me the jewel security system has never been compromised, although once back in 1671, an attempt was made. We weren't allowed to take pictures, but here are a few pics I found on the web for you to take a gander at.
Pretty impressive, huh? The whole collection is well worth taking a look at, but make sure you go during an off time. I was also told during tourist season, they shuffle you through so quickly, you can barely see anything.
After the Tower, we walked down the street and over the famous Tower Bridge. It was huge and I have to say, the architecture was magnificent. We didn't take the tour, for us it was enough to just walk over it. But here are a couple of pics we took of us and the bridge.

After we walked along the Thames, enjoying the view of the city, London Bridge, and the Parliament Building, we decided to walk up to St. Paul's Cathedral and we lit a candle for our loved ones.

Saint Paul's is beautiful and we were lucky to have the chance to tour it. We went to Evening Song there and were able to hear the choir sing. The architecture and the tombs as well as the carvings and other religious artifacts were beyond belief.

Afterwards we were pretty tired since we'd been up for the last 30 hours. We went to a pub right next to our hotel and had dinner. It was a neat place and quite busy. We sat at the table for a while before we realized that in England you have to go to the bar and place your order / giving them your table number. We were so tired we didn't notice how to do things for a long time. LOL But finally we did. Had a great dinner and then we headed back to the hotel for the night.

Next stop... Buckingham Palace...

Thanks for reading. Leave me a comment and let me know what you think!!!


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Our Anniversary Trip - UK Bound

Hey all,

As promised, here is another installment of our travel adventures.  I may have started in the middle with Jonathon in a kilt, but how could I not???  He's sooooo hot!!!  LOL

Anyway, I'll start at the beginning and just hit the highlights of our travels.  Don't want this to be a boring home movie, but for those that are interested in what we on.


As I have mentioned in my daily email, the airports are the worst part of traveling.  The stress, going through security and then the waiting...OMG.  Luckily for us, the first stop at the airport wasn't so bad.  I was worried about having "liquids" in our luggage, but they were small enough to go through so the Orlando security check wasn't so bad.  Once we got re-dressed (jewelry, belt, shoes and glasses) we were in and waiting for the plane.

Now, I haven't travelled a long distance for a while...not since we moved to Australia, but the planes are quite different now.  The leg space seemed a bit better for my long legs and the food--at least on the Continental flight--was decent.  Not four star, but nothing to turn up your nose at.  And instead of a single movie, there is a screen in the back of each seat where you can choose for a multitude of different medias to keep you entertained for the trip.  Our flight across the Atlantic was about seven hours, and it seemed much less.

Once we arrived, we gathered all our stuff and headed to British Customs.  Well, that was the easiest one we did.  No one was there!  We walked right through!  LOL  But that's when the adventure really began.  There are several ways to get into London from Heathrow Airport which is about 40 minutes from the city center.  You can hire a car or taxi (expensive), take a shuttle (a bit spendy), or take the tube (affordable barely).  Since we only had the two sets of suitcases and could lash them together, we opted for the tube. 

Now I've been on the tube before and it's no big deal.  Since we arrived in England so early ( like 6 in the morning) there weren't many people.  We wisked into London to Picidilly station and then took a taxi (expensive) to the hotel.

Bless them, they had our room ready and we were able to drop off our luggage.  Even though we'd been up for 30 hours, we weren't about to go to bed!  We showered, changed and headed out!  First stop...

The Tower of London...

Check back on Tuesday for more on that!!!!

Hugs to all!


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A Magical Trip and A Wonderful Wedding!!!!

Hey everyone,

As you may know...I'm back from my month long trip and I've got so much to tell you.  I was originally planning on starting out with the first day and giving you a travel log of the trip, but I have had so many requests for a specific thing, I decided to start with that instead.  THEN, I'll go back and tell you all about our fantastic trip.

That being popular request, here is the picture of Jonathon in a kilt!  No drooling ladies!  He's all mine!  LOL

Awesome, isn't he!    I tell you.  I got all hot and bothered when I first saw him put it on.  And now I know for sure exactly what is under one of those kilts!  LOLOL
Let me tell you about buying the kilt for him.  We went into Edinburgh, the capitol of Scotland, to see what we could find.  We had no idea what or where to go, but we stumbled into the perfect place.  A little shop on what is called the "Royal Mile", which is a street that leads up to Edinburgh Castle, the home of Scotland's Crown Jewels as well as the working home of part of the Scottish Military.
We wound up in a tiny little shop that happened to be the birthplace of Jonathan Swift, the author of Gulliver's Travels.  The proprietor was a delight.  He helped Jonathon find the perfect kilt--one from the clan Douglas.  I watched as he bustled around, telling us funny stories about life in Edinburgh and himself.  And low and behold, he transformed my hunky hottie into a Scottish hottie, complete with kilt and sporran!   Whew!    I had to ask him if he'd leave us alone for a while!

Well, that cracked him up and he offered the use of his dressing room!  That made us bust up laughing and it was a very merry time as we finished our shopping.  And as you can see by the picture, he did a hell of a job dressing up my man!

So, I leave you with this thought from our trip as well as another picture of Jonathon in his yummy kilt!!!

An Irish Blessings
May God give you...
for every storm a rainbow,
for every tear, a smile.
for every care, a promise, 
and a blessing in each trial.
for every problem life sends, 
a faithful friend to share,
for every sigh, a sweet song, 
and an answer
for each prayer.
Will send out another installment by the weekend!  And don't forget to check out my FREE READ at .
Blessings to everyone!  

For an autographed copy email CJ at