Monthly Archives: September 2012

Trip to the UK: Day#6 Scotland

Well, Andrew didn’t sleep very well in the camping pod the second night we were there… we tossed and turned a bit and around 3:00AM, I asked Andrew if he wanted to move to the car. He said yes and said we may as well start driving towards our destination; Edinburgh. So, we hit the road early and drove for about two hours or so back to the main road before the sleepiness set in; we picked out a nice rest stop, pulled in, grabbed our sleeping bags and took a nice 3 hours nap in the car. Trust me when I say this, it was FANTASTIC sleep! Once we woke up, we walked inside to use the loo and decided to eat some breakfast. Our options were between a little ship that had cookie and crackers, waiting for Burger King to open, or a little restaurant that served a full English breakfast. We walked over to check it out and sure enough- there were some mini cups of blood pudding. YUCK! Luckily, that was not included in the Full English Breakfast. We both ordered along with some coffee and sat down to enjoy, swapping portions of our respective plates to one another based on our individual tastes.

The full English Breakfast was a handful of cooked whole mushrooms, two grilled tomatoes, an egg, some bacon, some sausage, some beans, and a hashbrown. We didn’t take a picture but I found one online that looked similar– again no blood pudding in ours!
. Then we were off again towards Edinburgh.

When we arrived in Edinburgh, we found a parking garage relatively close to our hostel. We parked the car, grabbed our packs and a few toiletries/clothing items, and went to check in. We dropped our excess articles off and then headed off to the Royal Mile. The Royal Mile is a main stretch in Edinburgh that has a lot of cool pubs on it, a lot of historical significance, and ends at the Edinburgh castle. We walked up to the castle, paid our entrance fee, picked up audio players for the self guided tour, and were off- I think we probably spent about 2.5 hours at the castle which is HUGE. It is on castle rock a gigantic rock where it oversees the city of Edinburgh. We walked all around outside and inside and took a ton of pictures… and we saw the crown jewels! Here are a few pictures:

After the castle, we headed off back down the Royal Mile checking out little shops and just walking around snapping photos taking in the beauty of Edinburgh. We bought some souvenirs and stopped off at a shop called DemiJohn. It was fantastico. Just a tiny little store with giant hand blown rain-drop shaped jars contained infused liquids… oils, vinegars, vodkas, and my personal favorite, gins. The girl working inside was super friendly and let us try out a few of the gin and vodka mixes. About 20 or so minutes later, we left with two small jars (yin and yang) containing cranberry gin and valencia orange gin. And they made it home in one piece! Who knew that I would leave England with three awesomely wonderful types of gin (the third is Sloe Gin, which was the wedding gift- infused by the bride and groom). I think Andrew got a good picture of the store- I’ll have to search his pictures for it!

Then we headed back to our hostel to drop off the goods before walking down a ways to a place Andrew had read about called “Brew Dog” (here’s the brewery website if you’re interested). It’s a bar/restaurant that serves pizza and we were craving some more “normal to our taste buds” food. The pizzas on the menu had all sorts of toppings from goat cheese to blue cheese to olives and prosciutto… Andrew ordered us just a plain pizza to which the bartender responded “just cheese? It’ll still cost you 8 pounds”. To drink we ordered a Brew Dog Ale- 5AM Saint (cold and delicious) and a Tincture Nuclear Penguin… a “beer” that was 32% alcohol by volume- you were served one shot of it…we figured, what the heck, may as well try it! It tasted like a thick bitter molasses. The pizza was delicious and so was the beer. Afterwards we purchased a pint glass (we’re a bit of pint glass collectors now) and headed back to the hostel to drop it off (only about 2 blocks away). By that time we had to head to our first evening tour; the literary pub crawl.

If you ever find yourself in Edinburgh for the evening looking for something fun and laid back to do— I HIGHLY recommend this literary pub tour: The Edinburgh Literary Pub Tour. It’s run by two comedians who are absolutely wonderful; they are funny and friendly. Even if you know nothing about literary poets, I promise you that you will have a great time and even learn a little something. Plus, you get a decent work out walking from the Old City to the New City, where you finish off in the middle of a pub-lined street.

After the tour, we booked it back to old town to meet up for our second tour of the evening; The Double Dead Tour. We went through Blackhart and booked the double dead which includes the underground city as well as Greyfriar’s Bobby (the graveyard). The woman who lead the tour was celebrating her 30th year of giving tours. She has another regular job too but said she loves giving this ghost tour so much that she keeps doing it. It was fascinating (and SCARY!); we entered a locked underground portion of the old city where the poor folks were forced to live in the old days. Small and cramped and led by candlelight, she told us of ghosts and spirits that others had claimed seeing on her tours and a little boy who always followed her around for some reason. After a while underground, we emerged and headed on to the graveyard where we again moved by candlelight and eventually came to the locked portion of the graveyard which used to be a prison for people who refused to change their religious views due to a decree that everyone would be Catholic (scots and englishmen alike). Prisoners were locked up in this area and made to lie down on the stomachs for months on end. Those who survived that were then executed. Pretty gruesome, eh? I won’t give it all away but I will say that we ended the tour extremely scared and screaming!

Here are a few pictures of the graveyard in the daylight:

After the tours we headed back to our hostel for the night. We were exhausted and planned on getting up early to hike Arthur’s Seat! Edinburgh is a fantastically wonderful city and I would LOVE to go back and spend time there as well as spend some time visiting the highlands!

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Trip to the UK: Day#5 Lake District

When we woke up this morning it was unfortunately raining. We had originally planned on doing a long hike, starting early (around 6) but because of the rain, we opted against it and in the end, I’m glad we did. It was nice to break up the trip and not have to do a hard push on the feet or in the car. Instead, we did a little push by heading out in the car towards the area where the hike was going to take place— in case we were inspired by something new. In other words, it was a day to get lost in the Lake District. We headed off and after only a few miles, we were driving up and down extremely steep inclines. We had been upgraded somehow to a 4WD vehicle and as I may have mentioned earlier on, at times because of the narrow roads, I had wished we had a smaller car. My mind was changed when we hit the hills. We climbed and climbed and was it worth it- the views in the Lake District are phenomenal. Just phenomenal. Rolling hills, fells, pastures, sheep, waterfalls, rivers, stone bridges… like a painted picture. Here is an idea:

We also found an old Roman ruin that we just had to check out– only about 50 yards from the road. We walked up and stood in a rounded area that we later found out was the “spa” area. It was a very cool and large ruin— they had signage that told you exactly what you were looking at:

Another interesting thing about driving in England (at least in the country and not on the main highways such as M6) is that because the roads are so narrow, every once in a while you’ll see a little tiny pull out just a nice little half circle cut out that can barely fit 1/2 of a car. They’re used when cars want to drive past each other since most of the roads are too narrow for two cars- so in some spots one of the cars may have to reverse to a pull out so that the car coming the opposite direction can pass… very cool. I guess what I learned in my walkable cities and next generation buildings grad school class was correct- narrow roads slow down cars and save lives (although I’m not sure that a lack of sidewalks has the same effect when combined with narrow roads).

We continued on our drive and found a little pub on the side of the road that said it was also a pizzeria. We were elated with joy to say the least as the food we had eaten the previous few days was not stellar– we walked in and took a look at the menu and Andrew decided to order a margherita pizza; simple, delicious, perfect. He ordered and the waiter said, actually, our pizza cook has today off- we serve pizza all the other days. Bummed but trying not to show it, Andrew asked what he would recommend- he said the ribs and wings were delicious as was the tatie pot; a local dish that was more like a stew made with mutton (sheep meat). Andrew said ok, we’ll take both. We ordered drinks (me a cider, Andrew an ale) and then walked to the table where I scolded Andrew for asking the waiter for his opinion because once that happens, Andrew can’t say no– he’s too nice. If the waiter had said, “the pig snout is fantastic,” Andrew would have ordered that! 🙂 I had a Bulmer’s Cider. It was fantastic.

The food was ok. I wish I wasn’t a picky eater and in most cases, I would say I am not.. but when it comes to country English food, I think I am. the ribs were good but sheep meat which I just don’t have a taste for… the wings were pretty tasty although it seems like the spices used in English cooking are off (at least compared with what I typically eat in the US). It’s almost as if there is a lot of spice but odd spices– odd to me, but completely natural to anyone English I would imagine. Then the tatie pot came… it was a large porcelain bowl that had a thick stew with gravy in it– it had chunks of lamb, carrots, potatoes, and black pudding chunks, all together in a crust. Visually, pretty good looking. I had about two potatoes and gave up- I’m not a gravy person (lame, I know). Andrew was more of a trooper and ate a good portion of the dish including a small bite of the black pudding. For those of you who don’t know what black pudding is… it is sometimes more commonly referred to as blood pudding. It is blood mixed with any number of fillers (fat, meat, grain, etc) that is cooked until it becomes gelatinous or the consistency of pudding. Apparently it is a popular dish as we saw a lot of it at the rest stops we took breaks at on our drives. That was Andrew’s first and last visit with blood/black pudding. If you’re interested in making your own tatie pot; I went ahead and found you a recipe.

After lunch, we headed out down the road for a while until we came to a little tea shop that doubled with an antique store… we decided to stop for some caffeine and perhaps something with a little substance that I would be willing to eat. The women who worked there were lovely; so sweet and so kind. Andrew ordered a latte, I ordered a mocha, and we ordered a caramel shortbread square to share. Once we sat down, we saw they had a tomato basil mozz baguette on their menu and also ordered that… I love that combo! The baguette came out and had been toasted with a few chunks of fresh tomato and melted cheese and spinklings of dried crumbled basil- delicious. the caramel square was TO DIE FOR. So good! We thanked them both and headed over to the antique store.

The antique store wasn’t huge but it was a cute little shop with knick knacks and candies. I was surprised to see they had Willow Tree figures. Before we headed back to the road, we picked up some mint cakes as suggested by one of the wedding guests in Salcombe. It’s a small mint fudge almost- tastes like a giant mint candy but the consistency is of fudge— pretty tasty indeed. Then it was back to the road. We continued on down the road until we got to the coast where the tide was obviously out:

We hung a left and saw a sign for Muncaster Castle which we decided, what the heck, let’s go check it out. We parked and walked over to the main entrance where we paid the entrance fee and picked up an audio player so we could go on the castle tour. The castle wasn’t huge but it was really nice and it was fun to walk around and get lost in the rooms and look at all the books and articles and pictures and beds inside. Here’s the castle:

As soon as we exited the castle, we saw a group of people standing around and a staff woman with a bucket who was talking– and about 30 herons. Apparently it was “Heron Happy Hour” where they feed the Herons and they all come up close so you can see them and take pictures. How cool!

Muncaster Castle was also special because the grounds were home to the headquarters of the World Owl Trust. There must have been 30 species of Owls– from all over the world; big ones, small ones, colored ones; loud ones; some with big eyebrows, some sleeping… just amazing:

We did a little more walking around the gardens on the Muncaster Castle Grounds before we decided to head out so we could get back to our campsite before dark and walk to the local pub for dinner. The drive back was beautiful of course and we made it back to our pod with light to spare, we dropped some things off and grabbed our packs and walked out of the campgroound and about 10 minutes down the road to Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel and Hiker’s Bar.

It was fairly crowded but we were able to find a table and we pulled up a seat and ordered dinner and drinks at the bar as we found was typical in the country portions of England… there’s not table service per se, you order up at the bar or counter and then they’ll bring you the food out. Most of the dishes were seafood or lamb, so I opted for a children’s meal (chicken bits which was just chicken nuggets) and a bowl of their house soup; potato leak. The soup was DELICIOUS. I had a Thatcher’s Cider. Andrew ordered the fish and chips and got a huge piece of fish which he said was delicious (and he cleaned his plate so I can vouch for him). After a dinner of good food and good conversation, we walked on back to our ecopods and headed to bed.

The Lake District is Fantastic. Slept at the Great Langdale Campsite again:

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Trip to the UK: Day#4 Exmoor National Park, Wales, and Lake District

We woke up around 5AM, got dressed, grabbed our backpacks, and headed out the door to jump on a hike that I had found while researching cool things to do in England.

It was still dark as sunrise was scheduled to be around 6:30AM. We hiked up a small incline and along the river for about a mile or so not able to see too much as we were in the woods and there was no light- we used a flashlight (very helpful for my poor vision). After a mile we started to head uphill and the trail became fairly steep. At this point our talking ceased and we just trudged along being careful not to get to near the edge of the trail (or risk falling very far). As I approached the top, I turned the bend and just stopped completely breathless. I yelled back to Andrew, it’ll change your life and I promise it was worth it. There it was, the sun, just starting to rise down the coast of the cliffs we were atop. To our left, a bunch of rocks and about 5 or so sheep just hanging out enjoying the morning air. We must have spent an hour maybe more on those rocks taking pictures of the sun, of ourselves, of the sheep, of the coastline… it was perfect. Absolutely perfect. Here are some pictures to give you an idea:

When we had our fill of sunrise and cliffs, we continued on down the trail and walked along the edge for sometime before cutting into some twisty old oak trees- just beautiful and different from the beginning of our hike. We also hiked around a bend to a waterfall, the sources that I had found online said it was about 500 meters and went all the way to the ocean and apparently is one of the longest in England. It was beautiful. We continued on our hike until it dead-ended at a road which we walked up and continued on attempting to re-find the trail. We did get ourselves a bit lost but ended up walking on a bit of another trail and through some pastures (it seems as though all pastures regardless of who owns them are fair game for hiking as many of the other trails we saw go across the pastures). Anyway, we eventually ended up back at The Hunter’s Inn. What an amazing hike. The name of it was Cherryford Hill and it started right next to The Hunter’s Inn. Our trip ended up being about 6 miles. There are two really good links for this hike here and here. Here are a few more pics from the hike:

When we got back to the Inn, we had just missed breakfast but hadn’t planned on eating there since we had to hit the road for a pretty far drive to the Lake District. On our drive, we made sure to make a fairly quick stopover in Wales because, what the heck, we were there, so we mine as well. It looked just like England as you might expect… we plan to go back sometime to check out Snowdonia which is supposed to beautiful (located in the northwest part of the country). On our way to the Lake District, we made a stop off at a snack truck set up in a parking lot. Andrew ordered a breakfast sandwich and I ordered a hot dog. The breakfast sandwich came on about 1/2 of a long fresh baguette. It had two fried eggs, three fat sausage links, and some cheese on it. My “hot dog” was a fat sausage link grilled and placed on a hot dog bun with some grilled onions and ketchup. It was delicious. We again found ourselves running short on time, so after giving a call to our lodging place to let them know that we’d miss the check in time, we stopped off at a store at one of the rest stops and picked up a bag of salad greens, some grilled sliced chicken, some pretzels, and some fresh veggies..and some juices. Here are some pictures from our drive:


We arrived at our lodging for the night- Great Langdon Campsite in the Lake District of England. We had opted to stay in the ecopods because we didn’t want to lug our tent to England. We found the key to our ecopod (Crinkle Crags) taped to the door of the office. The ecopod is sort of like a cabin but it is only big enough to sleep in— hard wood with a small window in the back for ventilation and two front glass doors with a blind to pull down to keep the sun out in the morning. Here’s a picture:

There was also tent camping which appeared to be allowed anywhere in a series of large fields. There were quite a few campers there when we got there. Our ecopod didn’t have electricity so we ate by flashlight and then snuggled into our sleeping bags for the night. All in all another fantastically wonderful day.

If you are interested in Great Langdale Campsite– it is near to Grasmere (known for it’s Gingerbread). Information about the site can be found on the National Trust UK website. To get an idea of what the ecopods look like check out this picture.

Final Destination: Great Langdale Campsite, Ambleside, Lake District:

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Trip to the UK: Day#3 Brunch and The Hunter’s Inn

Well, sometimes we wish for internet access and don’t get it— and you know what? It was glorious. Sometimes I forget how nice it is to be disconnected for a bit. So where were we? Ah yes, day#3. Well, as you probably read, the Wedding was a blast. So much so, that most of our little group slept in on Sunday. Dave and Paige got up and ate some french toast then went back to bed and Molly read for a bit before heading back to bed… Andrew stayed asleep. And I took the opportunity to write up the first two days of my trip and post them.

The road route to the wedding house/beach:

When the group finally did rouse again, in a hurry, we got dressed and headed out the door to catch the ferry across for post-wedding brunch. It was back on the same beach where the wedding was held. This time, the tide was in, so we were prompted to take the road route. This was really nice as we had the chance to see just how beautiful Hannah’s (the bride) parents’ home really is… gorgeous porches and look outs over the beach and the estuary. Breakfast was a hodge podge of English pasties (a pastry that is stuffed with any number or variety of fillings). The brunch pasties had steak and potatoes in them and they were served cold. I tried to get into them but there seems to be something different about English meat; my foreign taste buds disagree with it. There was also plenty of fresh squeezed orange juice, tea, two or three french presses and coffee grounds (do it yourself!), fresh rolls, Irish butter, leftover paella, and fudge. Folks were lounging around on the beach or in the tents, on the couches, in the photo booth. We had a chance to sit and chat with Rad which was really nice. What a great couple. As we sat there, a girl came around with a big tray that had waffle cones and leftover honeycomb ice cream on it— delicious dessert to end a delicious brunch!

After brunch and hang outs, we more or less raced back to the house and packed up shop- Dave, Paige, and Molly were on an afternoon train back to London. Andrew and I had originally planned on staying at the house Sunday night as well since we assumed others would as well, but since everyone else packed up and we were dropping them at the train station, we figured we’d head off and stay at The Hunter’s Inn in Exmoor National Park so that we could get in our sunrise hike (that we had originally planned to do on Saturday) on Monday morning before heading up to the Lake District. The drive to the train station took about an hour or so and then the drive to Hunter’s Inn was probably another 1.5 hours from there. It was dark by the time we started descending down into the valley where Hunter’s Inn was… the hedges were still lined directly next to the way too narrow roads and it was fun and exciting driving through the darkness wondering where exactly we were and we were getting ourselves into..

At last we saw some light and pulled up to see a number of cars parked on either side of the road and a large house up ahead. We also heard music from what sounded like a live band. We walked up to the house and took a step in and we were greeted by one of the owners (the husband) who gave us a great big smile and informed us that we had arrived on the last evening of a beer and cider festival and there was a live band out back. He called for his wife who came running over and welcomed us with an equally gigantic smile. She offered to show us to our room and then declined to enter because she had too much cider on her shoes. The room was super big and super nice- there was a separate tub and shower in the loo and the bed was pretty big with big picture windows, a desk, a fireplace, and a tv. It really wasn’t expensive either, so if you ever find yourself in or near Exmoor National Park in the western portion of England, check out The Hunter’s Inn.

Night Stay: Hunter’s Inn, Exmoor National Park:

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Trip to the UK: Day#2 The Wedding Party

Originally we had planned on getting up early and driving a long way to do a cool hike around some cliffs. Because of the long day and late night yesterday and overall exhaustion, we thought it better to sleep and rest so we could stay awake for the wedding party. We woke up around 11AM or so. Molly and Dave had gotten up earlier and walked down to the little pantry (store) by the water and picked up a few things. Molly had brought home some croissants and strawberries which were delicious. Dave purchased a bunch of ingredients to make some french toast. We brewed some tea, ate breakfast, and relaxed. After brunch, we decided to walk down into town to check out some of the shops including Cranch’s candy shop (YUM!) and a bookstore. It was a leisurely stroll that was much appreciated and enjoyed.

After a little time in the candy shop, the bookstore, a clothing store, and a nice walk down by the water, we stopped off at the pantry to get some snacks. We knew we wouldn’t be eating until 8PM or so, so we figured eating some snacks before the wedding would be a good idea. We picked up some cheese and crackers, veggies and hummus, a bag of chips, and the obligatory local beers and ciders to test out. We headed back up to the house and spent some time chatting and relaxing until it was time to get ready for the wedding. We pulled ourselves together and headed back down to the water to find the ferry. After a few lost minutes we were able to locate the right dock and a boat turned up about 2 minutes later. We boarded the ferry (not sure we can call it that) which sat maybe 8 people in it and we took the 5 minute boat trip across the estuary. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect; blue skies. Because the tide was out, there was a sign by the boat dock once we arrived that pointed us towards the beach route to get to the wedding. We walked along the beach for about 10 minutes and then turned a corner to see the wedding location- a private beach owned by the bride’s parents with a bunch of large tents set up. We were the first to arrive. There was a tent for coat check, a tent for a photo booth, a tent with couches and board games, a dinner tent, and a bar/dance floor tent. The set-up was gorgeous:

Those are the tents on the beach where the wedding was– this picture is taken up the street from our house.

The ferry and ferry dock

The wedding began with two hours of socializing and drinking Pimms on the beach until sunset. When the sun was setting, the photographer took a group shot– magical really. In case you’re wondering, Pimms is a popular English drink– it’s sweet like brandy but is actually gin based- it tastes like a citrusy spicy mixture. They serve it over ice with a slice of cucumber and strawberry. Yum! When the sun had set, it was time for dinner. Rather than your typical seating arrangement however, they instructed boys to go in one entrance and girls another. Then they had us each pull a ball out of a bucket with a number on it- the number was our seat assignment for dinner… so, no one got to sit with their date, they sat with a group of random folks which was actually really cool. I met a few English folks, most of whom had been to DC and new Alexandria! Everyone was so wonderful. During speeches, they had giant blocks of bread out on the table, olive oil pouring jars and bowls of spices. After speeches, in family style manner they served shrimp paella and salad; not a seafood fan, but it was tasty. After dinner, the band began playing (folk music mostly), the bar started jumping, and they put out coffee, tea and brownies. In lieu of cake, they served giant waffle ice cream cones with either mango sorbet or honeycomb ice cream. Delicious.

We ended up leaving the party around 2:30AM so we could catch the last ferry back across the estuary. We took the road route because the tide was in this time… it took about 10 minutes to walk back to the ferry dock. A few people from London were there as well with a full bottle of champagne which we shared with them and (eventually) with the boat driver himself. One girl was there and trying to find her fiance who ended up being in a tree up the road aways. When we finally had everyone counted for, we were off. We hitched a ride across the pitch black estuary with a few English folks and made our way back to the house. What an amazing night just amazing. So many pictures were taken and it will be fun to upload them later… but for now, we’re off to our next stop on the trip. I will hopefully blog about Day#3 later tonight. Cheerio!

Night Spent in Salcombe, England:

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Trip to the UK: Day#1 Driving from London to Salcombe

We landed in London around 10:30AM on Friday morning. Our bodies felt like it was 5:30AM. We slept about 2.5 hours on the flight. We were running on pure adrenaline! WE’RE IN ENGLAND! I can’t even believe it. If you had asked me last year where I would be in the beginning of September 2012, never EVER in a million years would I have said flying over to England to go to a wedding in Salcombe. Just crazy. I feel very very lucky. So, we hopped off the plane, grabbed our bags, put my contacts back in, and went to find our rental car agency. We booked through Hotwire which worked out really well; we got a much cheaper rate for a rental car (with Hotwire, you don’t find out which rental car agency you get until after you cook it/pay) but we find that for cars, it works splendidly (sometimes hotels don’t work as well through Hotwire). Anyway, we ended up with Enterprise. You can also purchase insurance which is cheaper.

Our rental car agent was extremely friendly and ended up upgrading us. When we got to the lot to get the car, they ended upgrading us again, so we left the airport in a small diesel 4WD. Not too shabby. We headed off towards Salcombe, our destination for the evening, via Stonehenge. After all, what’s a trip to England without some Stonehenge? Andrew bravely got behind the wheel of the car (on the opposite side!) and kept repeating drive in the left lane, turn a tight left, a wide right. It was pretty comical, but really he picked it up quickly. To add a bit more of a hurdle, England uses a LOT of roundabouts… again, Andrew handled it with grace.

Stonehenge was awesome. When it came into view, we could see it up the road and it seemed to tower over the valley. We found out later that this was done intentionally so it appeared as though it was towering over you but really as you get closer, it becomes more normal sized (still huge). We paid a few pounds each admission and with that we got individual audio players which provided a self-guided audio tour around the Stonehenge; it explained the history and some ideas on what the purpose of the Stonehenge was. It also explained the genuine engineering that went into putting Stonehenge together. the rocks which held up the cross piece rocks actually had domes that were chiseled into them so that the cross pieces could sit in a ball and socket like manner. Pretty amazing stuff! There’s also a slaughter stone that turns red and blue rocks which, when you cut the or crack them open/in half/etc, the inside is a blue-ish tint. Pretty cool. Here are some pictures:

After Stonehenge, we were pretty beat. We changed our clothes and tried to shake off the exhaustion. We still had a 4+hour drive to make. We hit the road making a stop on the way to grab some lunch at a rest stop. The rest stop was pretty happening; there were a ton of people, a huge a picnic area, and even a hotel. We ate a chicken sandwich and bought a big bottle of locally brewed apple cider. YUM. It was some of the best apple cider that I have ever tasted! We also had our first English mishap. We ordered unsweetened iced tea and the girl repeated, unsweet teat, sure thing. Next thing you know, we had two large boiling hot teas in front of us. The tea was tasty though, so a welcomed mishap. We hit the road again and as we drove, we noticed that the roads just kept getting narrower. The lanes are so narrow and there seem to be hedges which come right up to the road so there is absolutely no shoulder. We very obvious tourists here, as we slow down when another car passes or cringe. Meanwhile, the other car passing us is racing along with no problems. This was the first time we regretted being upgraded to a 4WD and wished we had a smaller car! The view along the drive was beautiful though; every book and blog I read leading up to the trip about how pretty it is on the southwest coast couldn’t be more true. Here are some pictures:

High hedges along the roads prevent any shoulder…

We arrived in Salcombe around 7:30PM or so. We drove down into the town which was pretty much a mistake- the roads were even narrower and hill going down to the water is pretty severe. It is sooooo goregous in Salcombe. An absolutely beautiful town on an estuary used mostly as a holiday destination. We picked up our keys to the house and made our way back uphill to the carpark next to the house. At that point we vowed not to move the car from that parking space again unless we were going to the train station or leaving. You really don’t need a car in Salcombe- it’s about a 5 minute walk from our house down past a park to the shops.

Andrew and I took advantage of what sunlight we had left to walk back down towards the water and grab dinner at a pub.. We ended up at the Kings Arms and were able to sit outside. Andrew had a beer from a brewery about an hour away and I had a Bulmer’s Cider (apple). We both ordered the hamburger for dinner (figured it would be the safest option– a lot of seafood and English dishes). We ended up eating the french fries that came with the meal and about three bites of burger– there was a ton of spice and the the texture was really different from American burgers. Perhaps we’ll lose weight on this trip yet haha.

After dinner, we walked through town and back up to our house via a different route past the Salcombe Yacht Club which was having a huge party– we had some great night views of the estuary. We hopped in the car and drove towards Totnes, about a 45 minute drive to find the train station. We drove around for a bit in Totnes hoping to find a grocery store where we could buy a few items for the house but no luck- everything closer early. We picked up our remaining three- Paige and Molly (both went to grad school with Andrew and Rad, the groom) and Dave, who went to high school (?) with Paige in Canada and then moved to London and met Rad became friends with him. The weather is pretty chilly at night– sweatshirts are a must. We drove back to the house and stayed up chatting for about an hour and then we all finally crashed. All in all a great first day in England!!!

Stopover: Salcombe, England:

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Trip to the UK: Flying to the UK

And so after a brief hiatus, here we are back to the blogging world; and across the pond in the UK! One of Andrew’s grad school friends, Rad, was having a wedding party, so we decided to take the opportunity to hop across the pond to the UK for the wedding and some traveling. We have really been looking forward to this trip and are in great need of a vacation! So here we go:

We packed up our things on a rather late Wednesday evening; there really is nothing like procrastinating, even after you’ve been planning a trip for so long. The only sad part about coming over to the UK was leaving Franklin, our pup, who so wonderfully guarded the bed as we piled up clothing and sleeping bags and rain jackets:

Our flight was at 9:58PM on United out of Dulles International Airport. We left right from work, which we were a little late getting out of… but in the end we were fine on time. We arrived at the airport and had our bags checked within about 20 minutes. Smooth sailing. We then headed towards security which we thought would take a while; we ended up standing in line for maybe 5 minutes max. I guess not a lot of people fly on Thursday nights? Regardless, we checked through and headed to our gate where we had a change to sit and reflect on the fact that we were about to fly to the UK for Andrew’s second time and my first. How cool?!

Our flight was crowded as you may expect; there was a business first class, a first class, an economy plus, and an economy section of the plane. We sat in economy and managed seats next to each other, so not bad at all. In economy seats were a row of two, a row of 5, and a row of 2. We sat on the end of the row of 5. We did spend a decent amount of time sitting on the runway which was a pain, as we were anxious to get going! We took off and the flight was smooth. We had drink service and watched the movie, Dark Shadows (Johnny Depp). It was… pretty bad. The gist is that Johnny Depp is turned into a vampire by a witch because he is in love with a different woman. I would not recommend it.

We also had a dinner service on the plane; they were serving two dishes so we got one of each; a chicken dish (sort of like orange chicken with onions and peppers) came with rice and then beef cannelloni in a cream sauce. Both dishes were ok– chicken was probably better. The dinners came with a cold dinner roll, pat of butter, a small salad (delicious), and a small peanut brownie.

We both slept on and off… maybe each got about 2-2.5 hours of sleep. They also made an announcement for window seaters to ensure that their shades were down since we were flying into the sun and folks may want to sleep which was cool… As we got closer to London, about an hour away, they turned on all of the plane lights and the flight attendants served us breakfast which was delicious; warmed croissants and a fruit cup (does 4 pieces of fruit constitute a fruit cup? I’m not sure but it was delicious none-the-less)!

We landed and pulled into the gate right around 10:30AM England time which felt to our bodies like 5:30AM— not TOO bad. Ahhhh we’re in England!

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