Thursday, May 17, 2018

Our Great UK Adventure!

Before I left for the United Kingdom, I made a list of things I was excited about. The list is as follows, along with the reality of our experience in parentheses. :)
  • Castles (We saw several, my favorite being St. Michaels Mount - a beautiful castle on an island just off the coast of Cornwall...we were the last people of the day to go through the castle - Alex had to run to the ticket booth to get us in before the deadline - and as a result, we got a personal tour! I even got to ring the chapel bell! Pretty cool! Edinburgh castle was also very interesting as was the Tower of London, which was probably the most curious castle of all.)
A stormy day at St. Michael's Mount in Cornwall
  • Accents (English, Scottish and every accent under the sun. We had a conversation with a waiter in Chester who asked where in America we were from. I said, "What does an American accent sound like to an Engish it pretty? Your accent is so pretty." He said he liked our accent...I still don't think we have one though. His co-worker claimed his pet-peeve was the  American mispronunciation of aluminum. He claimed it should be properly pronounced: Al-U-Men-Ium. It does sound fancier, I'll grant him that.                                      
  • Meadows filled with sheep (We were not disappointed...they're just so stinkin' cute!)
  • Thatched roof cottages (Not as many as I'd anticipated. We did see a few but...only a few...even in The Cotswolds.
The Cotswolds...
  • Old cathedrals (Beautiful...stunning...old. We attended Evensong at Westminster was glorious.)
  • Flea markets (A little disappointing if I'm honest. We mixed up the day for the flea market we were dying to attend. We went to a couple of others instead and they weren't that great. Lots of clothes but not a lot of antiques. Oh well. We also went to a boot sale - a car boot sale. Our bed and breakfast host warned us that we'd be looking at a lot of rubbish, but we went anyway. He was right. Rubbish.)

One of the only vintage booths at the flea...
  • Meeting nice people (SO MANY nice people! Always stay in bed and breakfasts when traveling abroad. It's just the best!)
  • Catching a glimpse of Will and Kate's new baby? (Nope. But we enjoyed how the people we met were waiting on pins and needles for the announcement of the new prince's name...we guessed his name would be Arthur, but we were biased due to the fact that it was my father's name. We were thrilled when Arthur was one of the chosen names! It was fun to be part of the excitement.)
  • New food (We learned what haggis is and tried it anyway. I have to admit, I liked it!)
  • Ornate architecture & ruins (Not so much in the UK...that's more an Ireland thing I guess.)
A raven at the Tower of London.
  • Kilts (We did see many kilts in Edinburgh...but not as many as I'd expected.)
  • Music (Shockingly, we ran across two - yes, only two - bagpipe players. One in Edinburgh and one in London. We didn't hear music wafting from pubs like we did in Ireland. I was a little surprised...and disappointed. I love music.)
  • Searching for English sea glass (Oh man. The sea glass was amazing. Now I have a gallon-sized ziplock bag of the most beautiful glass to display somehow, excited!)
  • Sitting in the drivers seat and not driving (Stressful and nerve-wracking but Alex did a great job keeping our van - yes, a mini-van - within the narrow lines. We may have been honked at more times than we can count and perhaps we went a bit slower than normal but we saw parts of the UK we couldn't have seen otherwise. So proud of my husband!)
Seen in London...

My prince in front of Buckingham Palace...

  • Staringawkwardly at palace guards (Nope. Couldn't get close to 'em. bummer.)
  • Fancy words (So many fancy words. Whilst listening for them, I learned that the English people make fun of us for using the word "awesome" so much.)
  • Not understanding English...but trying to understand English. (The struggle was real, especially in Scotland.)
  • Cobbled streets (Twisted ankles.)
  • The London Eye
  • Climbing King Arthur's Seat (Oh the views! Oh the climb! Oh the satisfaction of reaching the top and looking down at the kingdom of Edinburgh!)
Made it to the top of Arthur's Seat.
We were there.

  • Shortbread (I may have eaten too much.)
  • Giving tea another try (I didn't. I couldn't. I loathe tea.)
  • Walking the streets of Reykjavik. (Colorful buildings, lots of art, cute shops and wool everywhere...the thickest wool sweaters I've ever felt...FAR too warm for even the coldest day in the PNW.)

Hallgrímskirkja, a Lutheran Church of Iceland in Reykjavik.

  • Eating something daring in Iceland...but not from the sea...something that isn't fermented in a bucket in the ground for months on end...or something that doesn't have a name that ends in "death". (Alex and I ate - drum roll please - Puffin. It tasted like very lean beef. It was delicious although I had to NOT think about the cute puffins as I consumed it.)
The Tower Bridge
The Scottish Guard outside Buckingham Palace
My mom considers scaling the fence to storm the palace.

The Shard
The "loo with a view" at the top of the Shard.

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