Thursday, June 18, 2009

London II.iv

NOTE: If you're interested in seeing the whole post, make sure you continue past the pictures of the zoo.

Well, it's been a while since I last posted! We've been having a nice time just relaxing to be honest. Although we're currently in Oxford (just arrived yesterday), we spent the last month in London. As you might already know we stayed with a wonderful family who we met through our great bed & breakfast host in Kelvedon. We were very lucky that we found such a great place to stay, and paid what seems like close to nothing to stay there! I loooooved having a kitchen again - we cooked a meal practically every night. And our hosts treated us to home-cooked meals frequently. They made us a great Sunday roast one Sunday (complete with Yorkshire Pudding and all), Shepherd's Pie, Bangers and Mash, etc.

And they're two daughters are just amazingly adorable. The youngest is not yet a year old and when she's in a good mood is sooo cute! She has the greatest little smile that would melt the coldest of hearts. And the other, who just turned 3 while we were there, has the prettiest curly hair. She was so cute with Chuck too, as she seemed to take a particular liking to him. He would play with her sometimes, and she would ask him very politely over and over if she could have some of the tomato or onion that he would be chopping for dinner. And when we left she even gave us hugs! So sweet!

And their parents - our hosts - were so hospitable. They didn't seem to mind that we drank a lot of their tea, which we did. And they invited us to their neighbourhood annual fete without being embarrassed of us clumsy Americans! Some nights we would sit up talking at the kitchen table - things such as American vs British pronounciation (in other words, the wrong vs the right pronounciation), offal, duck mating habits, sights to see, etymology of various words, etc. And it was nice that there weren't any problems getting in each others way when we each wanted our own space. Well, Chuck and I at least didn't feel like we were being impressed upon at any point. I hope we managed to stay out of their hair when they wanted their space!

Now, what have we been up to? On the 3rd of June we went to the London Zoo. It was alright. Their indoor rainforest exhibit was the best display there. And I was excited to get a picture in front of the Reptile House - yes, the very same Reptile House that Harry Potter visited.

On the 4th we saw a concert at the Royal Albert Hall. It was a Classical Gala and very good! The Royal Albert Hall itself is pretty amazing. It's huge! And there are quite a few stories and balconies. The violinist for Tchaikovsky's violin concerto was outstanding. And there was a beautifully haunting vibraphone concerto as well. And the final piece was Ravel's Bolero and made for a great finale with it's 14 snare drums. Very cool.

And on the 5th we had an authentic pork pie. I liked the pork filling and the flaky crust, but I have to admit that the jelly was a bit too...jelly-ish for me. And I got some flavoured Turkish Delights (which were more like marshmallows than Turkish Delights) that were so pretty I had to take pictures.

The 9th was another Harry Potter moment (I'm a dork, I know). We visited platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross Station. It's not the actual filming location, but just a fun photo spot they made. I mean, the platform in the movie was filmed in Kings Cross, but not at the spot that's set up with the "Platform 9 3/4" sign. Yeah.

Okay, the 10th was a visit to the British Library. We couldn't take pictures inside, but that's okay. It wasn't as good at the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin, but it was still good. They did have a great exhibit of music notebooks belonging to various famous composers. They had Handel's Messiah notebook, Mozart, Bach, Schubert, Beethoven, Ravel's Bolero. To be honest, I was quite moved by them. The library also houses the original Magna Carta, which is very historic, but fairly boring to look at. There were some notebooks and journals and original copies by Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austin, Lewis Carroll, etc. Good stuff.

And lastly, the 15th was a trip to Greenwich. We took a river cruise down the Thames with a tour guide who proclaimed frequently that he's "not a professional tour guide," despite doing a great job. His accent was very...Bert from Mary Poppins. It was icing on the cake of a very good river tour. We went tot he Royal Observatory one we got to Greenwich. This is where the Prime Meridian is located! We got to stand on both halves of the world at the same time, which is sort of silly if you think about it. I can stand on both halves of the world anywhere I go... I can make up my own meridian if I want! It's only special because it's the meridian that the scientific world recognizes. It was still cool.

If you're wondering what happened on days not mentioned, the answer is not much. Those are days we didn't do anything exciting at all! Those were nice days too though. We're very good at relaxing, hehe.

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