Tuesday, February 2, 2016

London - Churchill War Rooms and Hyde Park

Andrew and Erika flew into London on a Friday and spent the day doing most of the big tourist sites, while I worked. Brett took the day off to show them around. As we do with most of our guests, we spend the first evening at a pub, to give our guests the opportunity to taste the local fare of proper fish and chips and cask ales.
Most of London's museums are free however there are a select few that cost a bit of money. For these spots we typically wait until one of our guests indicate they want to go. So out of two years Andrew and Erika were the guests that requested to go see the Churchill War Rooms.
The war rooms is where Churchill ran the war. It is a series of underground rooms nearby 10 Downing Street, whereby Churchill houses his finest war experts. After the war was won, they dropped their pencils, grabbed their jackets, turned the key and didn't look back for decades. It wasn't until many years later they uncovered the untouched war rooms and decided to turn it into a museum.

All the old maps with pins on the coordinates of the nazis were still there. The small room that Churchill slept in. The windowless rooms, whereby everyone would smoke heavily... Most definitely causing lung cancer the first day on site.

Churchill used to stand on the roof of the building during raids, apparently he didn't want to be seen hiding underground while his enemy attacked his country.
After the War Rooms we had lunch at a beautiful spot in Hyde park and made our way to Peter Pans statue and Kensington Palace.
Kensington palace is a bit of a drag, you're expecting something our of a Disney movie as this is where Kate and William live, but really it's just a brown brick building- with a very impressive front lawn.
We had dinner in Covent Garden that night at a tapas restaurant, a premonition of our week trip ahead in Spain!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Cambridge - Day trip from London

We are often asked if in our time here in London, whether we have traveled much outside of London. We actually have done quite a few day trips. In September we spent the day in Cambridge with 7 other American expats.

Unfortunately the one weekend we picked to visit Cambridge was also induction weekend and all the significant buildings on campus were closed. But when in doubt in England, a pub is always the right way to go.

So we found ourselves a cosy spot in a pub and enjoyed a long lunch.
Afterwards we decided to paddle up and down the canals of Cambridge. I believe they call it the Venice of England, as the boats and the stick they use to move the boat was very similar to the gondolas in Venice.
The punter (the person driving the boat) stands on the back on a wooden platform and guides the boat with a really long pole that you move in the water to indicate direction and speed.

We all took bets on who would be the first to fall in- all bets were on Justin, but fortunately or unfortunately no one fell in. But apparently the risk of falling in is less than one would think- only about 1 per day.

Only one brave girl tried this out, all the others spent their time drinking prosecco I and eating delicious stinky cheese.

We wondered around pub hoping the rest of the day, but at the end of the day, didn't really get to experience much of this town, so would like to return when school is in session!

Richmond - Day trip outside of London

As we have lived in London for 2 1/2 years, I thought this week I would focus on things I have loved about living here.

One of my favourite things to do is to get out of the city and spend the day in Richmond, which is a little town only an hour away from Clapham.

Richmond is well known for being positioned along the Thames river, scattered with quaint pubs and a beautiful run/ bike path. During sunny/ summer days the town is littered with people, prams and day trippers. Richmond is also well know for having one of the largest parks near London, the main spectacle being the deer that roam freely within the park. Desensitised to the people visiting the park, people can practically walk up and pet the baby fawns without a second glance by the mother. Brett and I maintained a safe distance out of respect and out of caution. My dad being a big hunter back in Cincinnati, I could envision one of their brethren hanging up in my parents house.

We have made two trips to Richmond, one in the summer and one in the fall when friends were visiting. The former included a beautiful long bike ride, whereas the later was mainly filled with pub hopping and a wee bit of shopping.