Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Hot Dogs and Cops

London night-life is pretty intense. After about 11pm or so the streets are packed with bar-hoppers and disco tech junkies. Even though I don't do that type of stuff, I still love to be out at night and see all of the interesting people. Its also always fun to try and spot the transvestites.

The other night Amy and I were out late at a restaurant with a friend. To get home we had to walk to the bus stop where there were about thirty people loitering around. Behind the crowd, in the shade, we noticed that there was a skinny "eastern European" guy peddling hot dogs. Amy and I were definately tempted by the smell of street sausages mixed with grilled onions sizzling on his little rolly cart. But we decided that we were too poor to indulge.

After about ten minutes - yes, the buses take forever sometimes! We once waited 40 minutes for a stupid bus - we saw a van full of policemen pull up in front of us instead of the bus. As the policemen got out of the van, I was reminded of the television series "Soho Blues." The show is the equivalent of "Cops" in America, but it is only filmed in a certain part of London, Soho, the local red light district- which is exactly where we were unfortunately.

Anyways, the cops started heading in our direction and we immediately felt commotion behind us. The hot dog man was making a break for it! We were both amazed, for a skinny little eastern European dude he was able to haul-bum-bum with that rolly cart of sausages and onions. Unfortunately the police boxed him in and began patting him down. Apparantly he was one those sausage dealers on the police's most wanted list. They took it pretty seriously. There were probably about 10 bobies surrounding this guy.

Before anything got too exciting, our bus arrived and we were forced to leave the scene. I would have taken pictures, I had the camera out, but too many people were in the way.

I don't know if you noticed, but this is me, Sean, who wrote the blog! It was my first. Amy told me that I had to write it. I have to admit, it is sort of fun rambling on about nothing. I could spend hours doing it...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Sean's hair cut

Today Sean left the apartment with hair looking like this:
And came back with hair looking like this:

He's been playing with the idea of shaving his head for a while but he says he kept chickening out. Today was the day though. He told me that when he sat down and told the stylist that he wanted a number three clipper cut that the man looked at him like he was crazy. He did not speak English very well so he had to bring over another hair stylist just to make sure that that was really the type of hair cut that Sean wanted. He then got out the clipper and shaved off the side and asked Sean one last time if he was sure that was what he wanted. Sean said yes and off the hairs came.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Worst Sauce Ever!

We just ate dinner with the worst sauce ever. This was the first dinner here that I really just could not eat. It was so bad that I had to take a picture of it.I've been watching lots of cooking shows and reading cookbooks in the bookstore just around the corner because I want to try British food and one thing that I've seen a lot of is Watercress. I had no idea what the thing was so I looked it up and it is supposed to be some sort of "superfood" (that should have given it away) that is the oldest known leaf vegetable consumed by humans. People say it has a tangy, peppery flavor. Worth a try right? Wrong! This sauce was so horrible I really can not even describe it. Sean is such a good husband that he somehow ate it all. Now he says he isn't feeling so well though. The lesson we have learned from this is: stick with the curry. We have had curry for dinner just about every night for the last month. It is just so darn cheep and delicious. We eat dinner and have leftovers for under 3 pounds! You can't beat that. Stick with the curry.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Windsor Castle

This is my last catch up blog. I feel like I've been playing catch up on blogging for the last month and this is it. We actually went to Windsor Castle last week but after this post everything should be more recent now. Going to Windsor Castle was probably the most tourist thing we've done on this trip. Not only did it have a long line on a weekday but it was also pretty expensive to get it. I think we decided that the Queen probably makes 1400 pounds an hour by opening up Windsor Castle to the public. The Queen considers Windsor Castle her primary residence making it the largest and oldest occupied castle in the world. When touring the castle grounds you are given a handy little audio guide that gives you a good history of the place. To get there we took the train. This time we mastered the art. We got tickets and were on the train within 15 minutes. We're pretty much professional train riders now.
As we walked up the hill to Windsor Castle this is the view of the castle we had. It seems like there is always work being done on these old buildings (see green scaffolding in the middle), but they are still pretty awesome.

This is us at the entrance of the castle. Unfortunately the man we asked to take our picture got more sidewalk then castle but we still love him for trying.
This is the view of the castle wall from the entrance.
The majority of our time was spent in this building. These are the staterooms. Sean's favorite room was filled with armor, swords, and old guns. The whole place was pretty extravagant. Because it was off season we even got to see the rooms that are still used for meetings today. They were pretty impressive. It made me want to wear a puffy gown and walk around like I was someone important.

This was the original castle build by William the Conqueror in the 11th century. Since then, monarchs have continued to build on and it is now basically a small town with in itself.
We felt so sorry for the guard in this picture. Even though he doesn't move he is still aloud to look around and his eyes were very expressive. Sean apologized as we went up to stand next to him. That must have made his suspicious or something because he eyed Sean up and down after that. Poor guy is in so many people's photo albums. It's gotta get old.
This is St. George's Chapel. It is one of the two chapels on the Castle grounds. It houses 10 royal tombs including King George VI and "Queen Mother" Elizabeth.
This is where you exit the castle.

That's Windsor Castle for you. I hope you enjoyed all our catch up blog posts.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A day at Parliament

Today we were lucky enough to attend a meeting of the House of Commons. This was a pretty big deal because today was the day that members of the House of Commons were given the opportunity to question the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. There is usually a 4 month waiting list to attend one of these meetings but some how we got hooked up with passes. It is strange to think that we were just in the same room as the leader of the country. We even got special seats which were reserved for family members and close friends. We had to go through some pretty tight security and then be escorted in. It was hard core. It is funny how politics here works. At times the room was so loud with people arguing that we had no idea what was being discussed any more. If some one slipped up or stuttered the opposition jumped on the opportunity to make fun of them and laugh. They discussed issues from the Gaza strip to the global economic crisis to the closure of a manufacturing plant in a constituency or how large grocery stores are affecting the local economy. It definitely opened my eyes to how much the leaders countries around the world have to deal with. The little and the big things all come back to the Prime Minister or the President. It is pretty crazy. I am so glad we had this opportunity. It was awesome.
Align Center

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Our Cambridge trip has probably been our favorite trip so far. It was our first experience on the national train system and it was a little overwhelming at first.
Once we figured the system out the train wasn't so bad. In fact, we had a whole train car to ourselves!

We were a little lost when we first arrived but we ended up cutting through the courtyard of a College that took our breath away but was only a preview of what we would see around Cambridge.

Cutting through got us to the Fitwilliam Museum which apparently has the greatest collection of art and artifacts outside of London. The architecture of the building itself wasn't too bad either.
It was then time for a quick lunch of Thia food from the market and a delicious chocolate twist. One interesting fact about this town is that none of the students are allowed to own cars. This has resulted in there being thousands of bikers around the town. It was crazy to see parking lots full of bikes. You had to watch your step when walking about the town that a bike didn't run you over.

Once again, our good old guide books, gave the advice that the best way to see Cambridge was to pay for a tour. This was great advice. We took a walking tour around the town which gave us great insight into Cambridge the town, the Colleges and the University. The school works a little differently then what we're used to. The best way to describe it is that there are 28 Colleges in Cambridge which could all function on their own. They house all the students and provide some teachers to the University. The University doesn't really have any students but provides teachers and brings together the Colleges. I know, it's confusing. Anyways, our tour started at a very historic laboratory. In this single building there have been huge discoveries which have changed the world as we know it. This is where the electron was discovered, where the first atom was split, where the first computer was assembled and where DNA was originally modeled. Can you believe so many monumental discoveries have been made in a single building?

When DNA was first discovered, they did not tell their professors or their fellow students. Instead they ran to the local pub, The Eagle, and announced that they had discovered the key to life. This pub was also popular in World War II. All the American pilots who were stationed here have left their mark by burning their names on the ceiling.

Our next stop was King's College.

Probably the most impressive building in town is King's College Chapel. It was built from 1446 to 1515 and has some great history to it. The ceiling weights 2000 tons and they were not sure it was even going to stay up until they took the scaffolding away. In WWII the stained glass windows were all removed to keep them safe. Inside, there is a wooden screen donated by Henry VIII that has symbols carved throughout it dedicating it to Anne Boleyn (for all those fans of "The Other Boleyn Girl").

For all those history buffs, this is the building where the American War of Independence began and where the final treaty was signed for its end.

The last stop of our tour took us to Trinity College. This was our favorite. The pictures really do not do it justice.

Some good English humor for you: As you walk through the impressive brick gateway there is a statue of Henry VIII who founded the college. In one hand he holds a gold orb and in the other hand...A table leg? That's right, he once held a gold scepter but it has become an ongoing joke that every time the school replaces the scepter the students will somehow replace it with a table leg.

Another historic aspect of Trinity College is the apple tree at the entrance. Sir Isaac Newton lived in the room just above this apple tree. The tree is a descendant from the original apple tree made famous by Newton.

This was the end of our tour but we still had a bit of daylight to explore the town. As you can tell, we love to take picture so here are a few more.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Snow Day!

We woke up this morning to snow! In London! There was about 6 inches of the wet fluffy stuff all over. Sean started to get ready for his internship, just like any other Monday. I decided to turn on the news to find out how London handels snow. Apparently not very well. All schools and airports were closed and they had even shut down public transportation! For Sean that meant no busses or trains to get to work. We had a real snow day! Sean got to come shopping with me and we took a walk around Hyde Park (along with every one else in the area). It was funny to walk around town bacause half the stores were not open, including my favorite, Orientalcity. Hyde Park was packed. It was like a movie seeing everyone frolick in the snow and have snowball fights and build snowmen and feed the swans. Snow days in London are pretty fun!
Our street.
London's idea of a snow plow.
Hyde Park.
What the?!?!
A cold little birdie.
The swans were extra hungry today.