Monday, July 27, 2009

The Surprise

I met a man who was in World War II. He is 89 years old (as old as my grandfather would be) and is the last surviving test pilots for the SPITFIRE airplane. If you know British Air Force history, you have heard of the Spitfire.

On the right are two photos. One of Peter Ayerst, Stacey and I and the other of a Spitfire plane. He was a fascinating man with a book written about him called Spirit of the Blue, by Hugh Thomas - which Peter signed for Joe. What an amazing man and story. We were very lucky to meet him!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Last Day, but a Great Day

Today Stacey and I traveled north to meet up with Barb (from Eisenhower). She anxiously waited for us at the station and was our tour guide (and driver - wonderful driver) through the Cotswolds.

The Cotswolds is a range of hills in east-central England, and is often referred to as the "Heart of England." The buildings are made of cotswold stone - a yellow colitic limestone. This part of the country was beautiful with rolling hills and farmland. The churches and towns where quaint and sweet.

We stopped in three places; Chipping Campden, Broadway, and Burton-on-the-Water. I had my first "English" tea time with tea with cream and a scone. We sat by a small river and watched the Morris Men perform (see picture). After getting up close to the performance, one of the Morris men (the one 'passing the hat') wanted to make sure we had a proper welcome. He gave us each a kiss on the cheek saying it was for fertility. Then, the three of us- being the lucky ladies we are, got another kiss from him! I think he had a bit of whiskey before we met him today.

Barb was a wonderful guide, and it was so fun to see her in her 'home' country. Who else from my school will be able to say they had tea with Barb in the Cotswolds?

Well my friends, the time has come. It is my last night, and I need to go to bed. I hope you enjoyed my little journey through London - but wait - don't fret... I will continue my blog next week...but where in the world will I be??

Friday, July 17, 2009

St. Paul's Cathedral, Imperial War Museum and Chartwell


Today was another busy day in the big city and little country. I was a rockstar with the tube today - finding my way from one end of London to the other in 2 hours time (I didn't have much time to explore today).

I started north of the Thames at St. Paul's Cathedral. It is a beauty of a church. Princess Di was married there, and they had Winston Churchill's funeral there too.

Next I went to the Imperial War Museum. It was great. They had tons of things that Joe would love to see and read. I spent most my time in the Holocaust exhibit - which was very, very well done. I look forward to seeing the one in D.C. next week.

THEN, I hit a place recommended by Mandy called Wagamama for noodles. Yum! From there I met Stacey and her boss Steve, and the three of us drove to Chartwell - where the home of Winston Churchill stands. It was a 'country' estate with gardens, and gardens and more gardens. I learned that he wrote books, painted, was a family man, politician and also made a brick wall around his house! Very interesting man - I want to read a biography about his life.

Stacey's boss made Bangers and Mash for us tonight at his house. It is sausages, mashed potatoes and gravy sauce with lots of onions. It was delicious with the onions picked out. Very traditional.

Now we are getting ready to meet Barb tomorrow. Barb is one of our office assistants at Eisenhower. She is north of London, so our journey begins at 7 AM and takes about 2 hours. We will be exploring more of the Cotswolds (more of the countryside of England).

Only one more full day here! I will be home before you know it!!


Thursday, July 16, 2009


I don't want to disappoint everyone who are reading this (my mom and Joe), but it is late and I need to sleep for tomorrow - s0 just a few things:

Today I went to Southampton and saw a few cool things. I didn't know this, but the Mayflower actually took off from there!

I had a GREAT night tonight. I met someone (but can't say who right now because it is a surprise for Joe), but the person was great and we had the best chat.

Now I have to get ready to visit some museums tomorrow and some other stuff I hadn't planned until tonight after this chat with this person. I realize this doesn't make sense. It isn't some famous person like Madonna or David Beckham, but it is someone Joe will find fascinating and I don't want to ruin the surprise.

So good night everyone. I will write more tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Too tired to think right now....

This is a short post, but with more pictures.

I am SUPER tired today. I walked, and walked, and walked - and at one point walked in a circle without even trying! I felt like Chevy Chase in European Vacation because I found myself at the same point I started. I was trying to find Harrods. I took a cab and found out I was headed in the opposite direction!

So, today you will see Buckingham Palace (again, just as crowded), a funny street sign - I have no idea what it means, my first (and only) FISH AND CHIPS, and Stacey's huge sardine from her mixed fish platter. Joe - you would have been salivating! By the way, she didn't really bite the head off or any of it for that matter!

Tomorrow we head down to Southampton - this is where the Titanic started its voyage and where many ships docked for D-Day.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Lacock, Bath and Stonehenge

I went on a great tour today to Lacock, Bath and Stonehenge! The tour had an amazing guide who knew so much history - I could barely follow....

Lacock is a small town in the Cotswolds area. Some areas are thatched roofed and other areas are limestone. This particular town had limestone roofs. I have a picture of a thatched roof - which costs from 15,000 to 25,000 pounds to replace which I will post later. Right now you will see a picture of a English cat that lived in Lacock (no English accent that I could hear).

Bath was an amazing place. There are about 65,000 people living there, with about 20% working in the tourist industry. For the history of Bath, click here: The History of Bath.

Built on a hill, the bus took us up and up through the winding road to the very top, where the very affluent lived when they used the baths for healing. The museum was very informational, and the baths were beautiful (see picture). However, you were not allowed to touch the bath water because it is full of algae.

Last stop of the day was Stonehenge. Again, the tour guide was full of information about Stonehenge - who and possible whys it was created. There was a eerie silence around the site, people just taking it all in. I took a ton of pictures, but will only post one. It is spectacular because it is out in the middle of nowhere (but both highways border it, so there is a constant flow of traffic around it).

I got home earlier than expected, so I had to wait for Stacey since she had the keys. I went to the local pub - the Oakhill again. I ordered a pint and sat to read the newspaper. Well, it didn't take a few locals long to know I wasn't from here, so I was invited (by a note) over to join them. Their ages ranged from 30 to 63 years of age - all typical Brits you would see in a pub from 5:00 on.... I enjoyed chatting with them, and Stacey and I will be going there on Thursday to hang out again. It is too fun to hear them talk and try to figure out what they are saying. I also like asking them questions, like - "Why don't you tip bartenders?" etc.

Time for bed! I am not sure what time it is, but I know I am tired. Tomorrow is possibly Harrods, Oxford Street, Tate Modern and back to Camden Market later with Stacey.

Love to all.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Big Bus Company

Toot, toot. I did the double decker bus tour today!

I slept in today and made it into central London by noon. Here's the thing about London's travel system:

You have the tube. That is just like the subway.
You have the tram. This is above ground, a bit slower, and is usually on the outside of the central part taking you into the city.
You have the train. This reminds me of the train between Milwaukee and Chicago, although it travels to many more places and from more places than that.
You have the bus. Just like you think, except there are double decker buses.

I took the train from Beckenham Junction to Victoria Station. One shot deal for my first time navigating it on my own. And it went very smoothly, thank you.

The bus I did was a tour bus, like in New York, that takes you to major places. You can get on and off at your leisure. The first one I got on, I couldn't really understand the British guide, but that bus was done with its route. So I got on another one and went to the second level. It was great.

They pointed out places to shop, where people live/lived, beautiful hotels, and historical places. The stop I decided to make was to visit Westminster Abbey. I didn't realize it cost money, but it was pretty reasonable. You also were not allowed to take pictures inside, so I can only show you the outside.

Many past kings and queens are entombed or memorialized in the Abbey, along with some poets, writers, and scientists - like Darwin! The architecture is amazing for something built so long ago. I was in awe. The tour had a nice hand held device that gave you information and sometimes provided music - like a men's choir or an organ. Very fitting for the place.

Before heading back on the bus, I needed to eat (motion sickness), so I decided on a pub called Fuller's Ale and Pie. Sallmann women - you would be proud of me because I ordered something out of the ordinary for myself! I tried one of their 'pies.' It was a sweet potato, spinach and mushroom all in a small flaky pie (see picture). (Yes. I picked out the mushrooms).

After lunch, I got back on the bus for the rest of the tour. I made sure to take note of places I wanted to make my way back to later this week.

Stacey and I just ordered a pizza and will be eating "take away" tonight. I am trying the English version of the Joe Sallmann (Sr.) pizza - sausage and black olives. I'll let you know how it tastes!



Sunday, July 12, 2009

Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, Kensington Palace and Greenwich

We did A LOT today! We started at Buckingham Palace where hundreds of others started their days too. It was quite crowded, so I didn't get to see the changing of the guard. I plan on going back sometime this week.

We had a nice walk through Hyde Park along the Serpentine River, then over to Kensington Gardens to view the Princess Diana Memorial. I have to say....the memorial (pictured on right) is not very pretty. I feel it doesn't do her honor justice, but I like how the kids can run and play in it, even though they aren't supposed to due to the danger of slipping. The other thing about the kids - many were in their underwear or naked (both Stacey and I thought it would be a pedophile's heaven - gross).

Kensington Palace (pictured) was ok. The sunken gardens were beautiful. We didn't tour the palace, but I may go back.

From there, we took the tube to Greenwich to stand on the Prime Meridian. When we finally found where the line was located, we were so tired and hungry we didn't want to climb the hill. So we ate at a pub and walked up after. Stacy and I are pictured standing on either side of 0 degrees - she is on the WEST (making a W with her fingers) and I am, obviously, on the EAST (making an E with my fingers).

Right now, it is 8:40 PM, and we are ready for bed. Both of us are sore and tired. Tomorrow I will be doing the London Bus Tour, while Stacey goes back to work.

Sunday - Changing of the Guards

Stacey and I are headed to see the changing of the guard and Hyde Park. The rain is gone, so we are ready to take some pictures at the parks.

We may go to Greenwich too. I can't wait to stand on the prime meridian!

One thing I am thinking about....the British Open. Wouldn't that be cool? It is this week in Scotland. Hmmm.....

Love to all.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A Day of Markets

Today we went to two very popular markets - Camden Market and Portabello Road Market in Notting Hill.

Camden Market was a lot of different, unique items, like jewelry, pictures, albums, scarves, clothes, shoes and lots of other items. It is also a place where I could get tattooed and pierced like Amy Winehouse (who frequents this area). See picture to right of market.

The Notting Hill market was antiques of silver, jewelry, dishes, and other various items. You definitely saw a lot of the same things over and over - like spoons or flasks. It was at least a half a mile long ending with food venders and fresh produce.

After the markets, we tried to get to Hyde Park, but wound up wandering around the west end (where the shows are) and ended up in Trafalgar Square due to the rain. The tube was a mess because of an apparent body of a person under a train - happens frequently, I guess. So we walked around Soho and looked for a pub to grab a drink. We decided to take the tram back towards Stacey's place and get a bite to eat.

We ate at a place called Miso's which is a Chinese restaurant. All was dandy, until I found a bug in my food! We both decided we were done eating, and we headed towards home. Last stop was a pub in Stacey's neighborhood called The Oak Hill. See picture of two women drinking their beer taken by a brit whom I accidentally took a picture of his pants, but after I told him - Stacey made sure to correct me and say trousers, because pants are his underwear!

Tomorrow is a new day. We are planning our attack. There is a 10k running right near where we want to go, and we have to navigate around or run it, but I have to say I have no desire of the latter choice.


Saturday - Shopping and stuff

Good Morning everyone!

Last night we stayed in Beckenham (Stacey's neighborhood) and found a mexican restaurant to have drinks and food. There are very few mexican places, and we found out why last night. The Brits don't do mexican food very well! The sangria was delicious, and we listened to a fun marachi band. Stacey's co-workers joined us, and they were fun, interesting women from all over the U.S. All were social workers.

Apparently, London looks very poorly upon social workers -which is why many are recruited from the United States. If anything goes wrong, the social worker is blamed AND named in the newspapers!

I went to my first 'pub/club' last night. It was called The Slug and Lettuce. It is crazy to see such young people out and dressed up. Since the drinking age is 18, there are many, many young women and men. There were two young women, probably 18 or 19, who ordered 8 red bull/yager shots for themselves. They proceded to drink all 8 in a matter of 5 minutes. It is so sad and scary to see that. It was fun, however, to see a few very wasted men dancing like fools!

Today we are up at 8:45, and we are going to head to the Camden Market first. Then around that area for some sight-seeing.

I have a few pictures, but I haven't turned on my computer yet, so I can't upload them as of right now. I will figure that out later!

Off to the market!

Thanks for the comments, and thanks MOM for being a follower of this blog! :)

Friday, July 10, 2009

I am here!

I have arrived! The plane ride went very smooth, except for one lady who had some medical thing and needed attention for about an hour. They put her on oxygen and called for any doctor or nurse. I said I was a TEACHER, but that didn't help. Luckily she was fine and we didn't have to have an emergency landing.
Now after a 4 hour journey, I am at Stacey's flat. Customs took an hour to get through - not that I had contraband or was just a very long line. The 'tube' was delayed for various reasons, but the train went smooth, as did the bus. So now I am ready to take a long nap to be ready for dinner tonight.

Love to all. I will post pictures of the flat and the neighborhood after some snoozes.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

First Stop....London

Today I will be leaving for the UK! Stay tuned for daily posts and pictures!