Thursday, June 11, 2009

Final Days: England

We arrived in Liverpool on Friday night and Rob was there waiting for us! He has been a great host for the past 5 days and we’ve had an excellent time with him.

On Saturday we slept in and didn’t do much. It was nice to have a down day. Rob needed to take his car to the shop for a test so we went to town with him and had some lunch and did some grocery shopping. It was so great to have skim milk again – We’ve gone through an entire gallon while we’ve been here. I also purchased some Cadbury’s digestive biscuits and have been enjoying them as a snack every night. We also made plans to go to the movies and ended up at Pizza Hut for dinner by default! It was right next to the movie theatre and we had only enough time to go there. We saw Angels and Demons – I haven’t read the book but I guessed the ending in the first 30-45 minutes and got positive affirmation that I was correct from Kristy. It was a well done movie and I may even read the book…maybe. Mom realized that she hadn’t seen everything when she saw the interior of the Sistine chapel in that movie. We know it wasn’t the real chapel –but still. Italy is on the horizon now – it looks like we need to plan at least a week there for all the amazing sights. Still – we have some time to plan for it – a trip to Italy is on a 2years from now tentative plan.

On Sunday we went on a country walk to Beeston Castle. It had been a rainy weekend and today promised nothing different. Rob apologized for the rain, but Mom said there was no need as this made our experience truly authentic. Beeston is mostly ruins of a castle near Rob’s house. We saw all the old walls and walked around the old fortress. It was quite a windy morning at the top of this hill, but it was nice. It was easy to see why that spot was selected as a Castle though - the fortress had a great view of all the surrounding countryside and that made it easy to scout out possible threats. For lunch, we made our own salad and cheese toast – made with no cheese other than Double Gloucester – delicious!!

Rob and Kristy had done a little internet research on churches and found a place for us to go that Sunday. We found a nearby chapel and meeting times and had a planned time to go. We arrived in plenty of time and noticed that the chapel parking lot was completely empty. EMPTY. Even the building doors were locked. Our only conclusion was that it must be Stake Conference (a regional conference for LDS congregations in the area) and that it was either at a different building or that it had been in the morning. One exciting thing about it though was that I got to visit Wales for about 10 minutes! The church was just on the Wales/England border and the sign on the church was in Welsh! Had we gone to a church meeting, we may not have even been able to understand what they were saying. Oh well, at least we TRIED to go to church…

The English rain was pouring down and so we went back to Rob’s house and played scrabble. Rob’s son Harry also came over to spend the afternoon with us. I can’t say that I enjoy scrabble very much – I don’t usually create very intelligent words so it can be discouraging. We started to play with the dictionary though – no challenging and just looking up words in the dictionary (presumably to help grow our vocabularies and improve our spelling skills). I definitely prefer this version of scrabble, I seem much smarter.

We found a great Thai place for dinner that night and then we went to a classical music concert. It was a tribute concert for an artist (Dorothy Bradford) who had died the previous year and was from this particular town. It was a nice concert but the church the concert was in apparently decided that keeping the paying customers warm was not a priority. It was FREEZING inside. There were radiators and everything but no heat coming from anywhere. It was a nice concert but we were ready to get into a warm car once it was over.

On Monday, we drove to Chatsworth, the residence of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, to meet up with Ralph and Yvonne. Ralph is Rob and Kristy’s Uncle and Yvonne his wife. We had “tea” at a nearby cafe and then ventured toward the land. We spent the next few hours wandering the incredible gardens with them. We are kicking ourselves for forgetting the camera! The gardens were beautiful. We had lunch; Kristy and I tried meat pies. I thought they were OK, if I’m going to have a savory pie, I think I will stick to Chicken Pot. We then went into Chatsworth itself. It was really nice inside, but it blows my mind that people actually lived in a place as grand as that back in the 16-1700s. The class disparities were just phenomenal back then. The movies “Pride and Prejudice” and “The Duchess” – both starring Keira Knightley were filmed on location at Chatsworth House. The character in the Duchess actually was the Duchess of Devonshire and would have live in the house.

Tuesday, we went to Chester. It was a nice little town situated on a river, with an old Medieval Wall surrounding the town and then Roman ruins nearby. We walked the Medieval Wall and got a good look around. We had a delicious lunch at a Spanish Tapas restaurant and then we window shopped for a bit. Rob is in the market for a new phone and was debating an iphone. We had been talking about it over the past couple of days and decided to look at one in a phone shop in Chester. I think he’s convinced that he needs an iPhone now. I think I’ve convinced myself that I need one too.

Tuesday night, we took it easy. We made some delicious ravioli at Rob’s house and played Scrabble once again. This time, the stakes were much higher – we pulled out the dictionary left and right coming up with the most ridiculous words! We had some pretty high scores and had a good time.

Wednesday we went to Liverpool! We took the train After grabbing lunch, we went to the Beatles Museum! It was an interesting exhibit, but I kind of wished that I could just have read the stuff on the walls and had the audio guide play Beatles music the whole time. Either way, I enjoyed it and I’m glad we went! We got a good idea about the history of the Beatles and we able to piece together in our minds a little better the timeline of how it all happened. The exhibit also hilited what each beatle had done with their careers and lives since the breakup. There was also an exhibit of photos on Yoko and Paul Lennon – doing their Bed-in for peace.

That night, we stopped at a place near Rob’s house and got fish and chips! Despite what Rob thought, I really did like them, I just filled up really quickly for some reason! (And I really wanted fry sauce with my chips). Either way, it was good and we’re glad we didn’t pick a sketchy place in London. Rob said it was one of the best place for fish and chips he knew of. A lot of Chinese food restaurants have bought up the fish ad chip shops and they sell Chinese food now with fish and chips as a side item. He says they are never very good. The restaurant we went to – just sold fish and chips and did it well. That was our last authentically British experience before we headed to the airport the next day . . . or so we thought.

Our final authentic experience was a tube strike in London. Our flight is early tomorrow morning and so we traveled back to London today. We had heard that there was a strike but we thought it was going to be over today. We took the train from near Rob’s house in Runcorn to Euston Station in London. Instead of being able to take the tube to our hotel which is near the airport, we had to take a bus to Paddington Train Station and then take a train to Heathrow Airport. The first bus that came to our stop was full and wouldn’t let any additional passengers on. The second bus that came let us on, but we barely fit! Mom’s backpack even got closed in the door. Fortunately, she was on the inside with part of her backpack stuck outside! It was the most miserable bus ride. From Paddington station we had to take another train to Heathrow. A journey that should have only taken about an hour, took 2.5 hours. Luckily for us, we don’t have to deal with the tube anymore since we’re situated so close to the airport. We are glad we came into London a day early as we would certainly have missed our flight otherwise due to the metro delays.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Lauren;
    Glad to hear you and your Mum enjoyed the North West (of England) and had some genuine fish and chips ! :)
    Sorry to hear about your final days transport dicomforts but it'll make the experience more memorable I suppose. :/
    I also spotted your deliberate mistake ! The bed in was Yoko and JOHN Lennon (not Paul Lennon !) gasp ! go wash your hands with soap young lady ! :)))
    BTW: If you are thinking of visiting Italy, definitely allow at least 2 weeks if you can.
    Good luck.

    john ridgway (