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Mary Rose

7 Blog Entries
2 Trips
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UK 2009
Chickadee's Travel Blog

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A rose by any other name...

London, United Kingdom

Sunday morning dawned bright and cheerful, with the sound of birds in the garden and the sweet little stream running behind it at the Kings' house. We all had a bit of a lie-in before Vanessa and I headed into London.

First stop: Chinatown! We'd planned to go to their favorite real Chinese restaurant (not that "fake" Chinese we have in the States, which I [admittedly] love!), called

The New World...I was told all about how authentic it was, and how amazing the dim sum would be, and wow, was it ever!

The waitresses each continuously push a cart around the restaurant, filled with five or six levels of plates containing different dim sum delicacies. They'll stop at your table, share with you what's on their cart, then let you decide whether you want any of their dishes or not. I chose a bowl of soup with duck and pork (and noodles, of course), and let Vanessa pick the rest of the plates. We ended up having a table laden with things I don't recall ever eating before - little bundles of bean curd, something with "shark's fin" in the name, a plate of cold sliced pork covered in a delicious sauce, prawn fried in curly noodles, and so many more wonton-wrapped items. We dug in and enjoyed them all...and when we both sat back in a near food coma to take a break, Vanessa looked at the time and discovered that only a half hour had passed since we'd arrived! Ha ha! That combination of hunger and great food must've made us living vacuums!

After The New World, we took a walk through the arches and around Chinatown to see the sights. I loved the huge jackfruit and durians on a fruit cart (although I'm quite glad the fetid odor of the latter was kept inside its rind), and especially enjoyed the ducks and other meats hanging in the front windows of some of the restaurants. I can't imagine a Chinese restaurant in York (much less Mooresville) displaying their delicacies quite so blatantly! Very interesting.

Next stop was Leicester Square, as a meeting place with V's cousin Lindsay. I loved that this was the theatre were Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince had premiered days before we stood on that spot, and just had to show my inner tourist and get a photo with the huge poster out front. :)

From there, we three walked down through Trafalgar Square, stopping to check out the One and Other (www.oneandother.co.uk) living art on

the upper corner plinth of the square - I'd seen a man dressed as a snow leopard in a dress coat and trousers just a few days before! - and as we walked on through the fountain area, a guy wearing a chicken suit gave Vanessa a leaflet. Moments later, another man (in plainclothes, not wearing any type of animal costume) walked up, took the leaflet out of Vanessa's hand, and gave it back to the chicken. Then he walked calmly back to his spot beside the fountain to our right. It was absolutely a "what on earth?" moment, especially when we noticed that the man beside him was filming the incident. Who knows...?

After Trafalgar Square, we continued on down toward the river, walking through Whitehall, with its government buildings, shiny mid-street monuments, and even a mounted guard with whom we took our photo. Not being a big fan of horses (beautiful, yes, but also quite large and frightening), I was a bit nervous being so close to one.

We walked through a small group of people (actually, I can specifically label them "tourists", because they so obviously were) clustered around a large black gate, complete with three policemen on guard. I was wondering what was going on there, until I looked around to the street names on the side of the nearest building and realized we were at Downing Street. Despite the fact that nearly all of those people would have trouble picking the current prime minister out of a line-up, and most probably don't even know his name, they were jockeying for the best spot for a photo of Number 10 (which isn't possible, I don't believe...it seemed to be around a corner), and nearly wet themselves with excitement when a car came through the gate. Not terribly surprisingly, it was not Gordon Brown but an ordinary citizen...though that didn't stop people from taking photos of the man. Sheesh.

Continuing on toward the "yep, I'm in London" sight of the Houses of Parliament (which I just discovered is called Westminster Palace...wow, you learn something new every day!), we turned to walk across Westminster Bridge to the south bank of the Thames. I stopped for a moment to take in the intricate stone work of the building, and stare up at Big Ben at the top of the clock tower. It really does give a giddy sense of truly being in London to look up at its most famous landmark.

Catching up to Vanessa and Lindsay after taking my photos and having a moment of inner squee, we walked together across Westminster Bridge, and turned on the other side to amble along past the London Eye (with a queue stretching on and on...making me glad I'd already been up in it back in 2006 and wouldn't have to take my place with the others vying for a pod and a ride). We passed street performer after street performer, only truly stopping to watch a small troupe of breakdancers and a mesmerizing Jason Castro semi-lookalike (yes, yes, that may just be because of the dreads...so sue me) who swirled a set of glass balls around his hands as though they were weightless. Though we mocked him at first, we were stunned into silence by his ability, and ended up watching the whole show...but were glad we had stood on the periphery when he finished and got out the box for a monetary handout!

Moving on along the south bank, we stopped for tea and a snack, enjoyed the polka dot-wrapped trees (an art installation) and skateboarders/bikers in the rather beautiful graffitoed spot they've made their own, underneath a car park. We finally reached our destination of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, where we were to see Romeo and Juliet that evening.

We met up with Vanessa's parents for a few quick pints at The Swan, then headed over to The Globe to check out the little museum before making our way up to our seats for the show. They were fantastic - on the third level, right on the railing overlooking the stage, all six seats in the row just for our little group. The wine was brought out, and we enjoyed the first act of the show...a funny, fast-paced, well-acted version of Shakespeare's famous tragedy.

I never understand - or even catch - all the words in a Shakespeare play, but the sense of really being there, watching a show at The Globe, was quite neat, and it was easy to get into the prose I could understand and enjoy it from our wonderful vantage point. A picnic of sandwiches and tomatoes made a great intermission dinner, and afterward the rest of the play progressed to the beautiful, sniffle-inducing tableau of those star-crossed lovers in the Capulet tomb - the famous end of the "story of woe...Juliet and her Romeo".

Before we headed back home, a walk over the Millennium Bridge in the night air ended our evening in the city with Vanessa's parents. Her fantastic, this-is-getting-framed photo across the Thames shows the beauty of the city after dark...and stands as a reminder that roses by other names may be sweet indeed, but there's certainly only one London.

permalink written by  Mary Rose on July 19, 2009 from London, United Kingdom
from the travel blog: UK 2009
tagged London, Sightseeing, Vanessa and TheGlobe

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Fair Ladies

Great Missenden, United Kingdom

I still have loads of things to share about yesterday's trip into London, but I probably won't be writing a new blog until Sunday night when we return from the city again.

In a little while, Vanessa and I will be off to The Chilterns Show (http://www.hdfairs.co.uk/chilterns_show/) - a fair in Great Missenden, which is a few towns away from Aylesbury and close to where she grew up. Should be fun! It's a stunningly gorgeous day today, as this photo that I took a few moments ago from V's balcony illustrates.

Tonight, we'll be over at Vanessa's parents' house, and tomorrow, we head to London for...well, I don't know. Fun things, I'm sure! :) The end of the day holds a treat for us, because Vanessa and her mom booked us tickets to see Romeo and Juliet at The Globe Theatre months ago, so we have great seats (under cover, since it's supposed to rain at some point tomorrow!). I'm excited for it!

I'll be back tomorrow night with more news and photos. I hope y'all are having a wonderful weekend, wherever you are! Hugs from me to you from sunny England today! :)

permalink written by  Mary Rose on July 18, 2009 from Great Missenden, United Kingdom
from the travel blog: UK 2009
tagged London, Vanessa and ChilternsShow

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Getting a Sense of the Twee

Great Missenden, United Kingdom

As my last post mentioned, on Saturday, Vanessa and I ventured into Great Missenden to attend The Chilterns Show, a kind of county fair...with English country flair.

The morning was gorgeous, as I showed you by photograph on Saturday, and it continued to be as we got to the car park. Walking in, we discovered that, sadly, the horse show was cancelled because the person in charge was feeling sick. They implored us - do we know anyone who could help in 2010? V and I both wondered...couldn't they maybe try to find someone to help, oh, I don't know...in 2009? So it could actually occur this year? But hey, we're not in charge.

We started off at the Pets tent, taking the rare opportunity to stroke an owl's feathers - something I've never, ever done before. They're so incredibly soft and light! What a treat. :) The old man holding the owl would've taken four quid from us to have our photo taken with the owl, but V rightly pointed out that they're really pricing themselves out of the market that way - having the photos at 1 or even 2 pounds would draw people in, quite a few, really...but at 4 pounds, it's just a ripoff.

Next, we did a bit of shopping, looking around at jewelry (that's "jewellery" here!) and wishing it was less expensive, then heading on to the woodworking tents. After that, we were hungry (when aren't we) so we ventured over to the food tent - shown here with the double entendre-filled "Pheasant Plucker's Song" sign at the entrance. Too funny.

We both got pork pies for lunch, as I'm told this is quintessential English country fair food. It was delicious and very filling...I really liked the crust, and the fact that it was portable! Ha ha! Here I am trying my first bite. :)

While we ate, we listened to the RAF Halton Pipe and Drum corps perform, and it was just fantastic. Wow! I feel like I am sometimes, but I know I'm not alone in loving the sound of the bagpipe...and it's truly taken to a higher plane when those tones are mixed with a drum beat.

The "coming events" for the day said that the Highland Games were being performed by some strongmen at an upcoming hour, so V and I sat down by the arena to watch the show. And we laughed and laughed and laughed some more.

Not only did the contestants (all TWO of them, including the first black man I've ever seen in my life wearing a kilt, and a man suspiciously named Spencer "Highland") have to set up their equipment on the field, the sign proclaiming the event STONES OF DENSITY kept falling over in the breeze. Somehow, this became the funniest thing in the world to Vanessa and me, and we giggled quite a bit at the sight on the field.

We watched the Stones of Density, the Dead Lift, and the Caber Toss - which Spencer Highland had never done before, and had to be told over the loudspeaker by the Scottish announcer that he "wasn't holding it the right way round". Oh my goodness. Hilarious!

Oddly enough, he ended up winning that event, as well as the games themselves. I say he has an unfair advantage, having that name! LOL.

After we'd had enough Highland Games laughter, we stopped over at the obviously American store...which wasn't quite so American at all. Unless you count nearly ONLY items relating to Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, and Betty Boop to be the whole of Americana...oh, and trucking! Can't forget good ol' truckin'! Hmmm. Also included on the table, as you can see, were some not-just-vaguely British items. I call shenanigans on this booth!

Too soon, we'd finished the entire fair (though I have to admit, it was quite small), and were ready to leave for Vanessa's parents'. On the way out, she took my photo with this truck's stickered-on proclamation - which is so true! "If it isn't fair, it isn't fun."

And boy, was it ever fun!

permalink written by  Mary Rose on July 18, 2009 from Great Missenden, United Kingdom
from the travel blog: UK 2009
tagged Food, Music, Funny, Countryfair, OddSights, Twee and QuintessentialEngland

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And your rooster, too!

Aylesbury, United Kingdom

As I write the post about my day (which was quickly saved as a draft so as not to lose my thoughts and photos and such - no worries!), Vanessa and I are sitting in her beautiful, breezy living room watching The One Show on BBC One. (We watched some of The Fuse earlier, then flipped to Come Dine With Me, followed by The Simpsons, then this...)

To wrap up the show, they did a segment on the apparently legendary Dick Turpin [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dick_Turpin] (why have I never heard of this famous historical figure, eh?) and went on and on about his murderous exploits, highway robberies, and whatnot. Then I heard, "One afternoon, after a particularly bad day hunting, Turpin returned to town and shot a rooster for no reason."

It might be the jet lag, and it might be because I'm mildly odd and easily amused, but I laughed and laughed, to the point that Vanessa had to chuckle at how silly I looked, laughing over Dick Turpin and how cool he was - he'd steal your money! He'd kill you if you looked at him wrong! HE'D EVEN SHOOT YOUR ROOSTER. Now, that's some serious badassery.

Final Note: We're now watching EastEnders. This is such a guilty pleasure! Ha ha! This is how I KNOW I'm in England...it's the only time I watch it!

permalink written by  Mary Rose on July 16, 2009 from Aylesbury, United Kingdom
from the travel blog: UK 2009
tagged Tv and Vanessa

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International Arrival

London, United Kingdom

There are a few things I fear in life - spiders, wolves, snakes, the woods at night, etc. - and one on the secondary level of fright for me is flying. Perhaps it's a fear of heights, or the thought that a crazy could be aboard, but I think a lot of it simply has to do with that feeling that I won't possibly be able to sit through the time it takes to make a transatlantic flight without going crazy. Thankfully, my mind was in "I'm on holiday" mode, and I decompressed enough to sleep a bit on the journey - that always makes things speed along more quickly!

Also, US Airways helped out by serving an unexpected meal at about midnight, EST. Surprisingly, it was rather tasty! Who knew? They also showed a film ("Duplicity"...I didn't watch it), and served a breakfast of coffee/tea and a strawberry turnover just before we made our descent into London. US Air gets a thumbs up from me for the food alone, but also just for having this flight...because my jet lag is minimal, and that's a truly nice feeling compared to the narcolepsy I'm used to experiencing here!

After we arrived and I freshened up as best I could (i.e. brushed my teeth, because they were GROSS), I busted my bum to get down to Customs before Vanessa started to worry about me. The queue was extraordinarily long, and I filled out my card incorrectly the first time, like a dork. (Leave it to me!)

When I finally made it up to the counter, I - of course - got the most sour-looking agent, but he did brighten up a bit when I greeted him. He looked over my card, then handed it back to me with an admonishment: "You forgot to sign your entry card." I looked at it, then back up at him, thinking I was in trouble, until he smiled at me. "You must have been too excited to get here."

With a big sigh of relief, I told him that yes, I was VERY excited to be here, and that I couldn't wait to see my friend, who was waiting for me. He stamped my passport and sent me on my way, with a new bounce in my step now that I was only a few corridors away from giving Vanessa a hug!

Picked up my luggage (yes, Dad, it was highly visible, and no, there were no large groups who'd purchased the same rose-colored suitcase that I did! Ha ha!) and headed around the corner...and was told to stop! and smile! "...because I know you'll want this documented!" Gosh, she knows me well, doesn't she?

And one huge hug later, we were off to the car park and headed here, to Aylesbury, my home away from home for this holiday. The countryside is quaint and beautiful, and I can't wait to explore it with my homegrown tour guide.

Is it worth those hours upon hours tucked into a seat in a pressurized tube, way too high in the sky to think about without getting queasy? Oh my goodness, yes. Every minute, every time.

permalink written by  Mary Rose on July 16, 2009 from London, United Kingdom
from the travel blog: UK 2009
tagged Food, Flight, Airport, Arrival and Customs

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Does "meow" also mean goodbye?

Mooresville, United States

As I dashed around, packing the last few items into my had-to-pay-an-extra-$50-at-the-airport-because-it's-overweight suitcase today, Fred and George simply snoozed peacefully on and under my bed, respectively. They (unlike me) seemed blissfully unaware that I wouldn't be around to give them hairball control treats or belly scratches or any of the pampering or general lavishing of love they're accustomed to on a daily basis.

Fred rolled over in his sleep, front paws in the air, and the thought of not seeing that sweet look on his face for 22 days was just too much for this Crazy Cat Lady not to have to reach for a tissue or two to dry her eyes. I don't know about your pets, but Fred sleeps on my bed every night, and has since he was a kitten and learned he could jump. I barely remember what it feels like not to have that warm lump flopped up against my leg. Ha ha!

George should be glad he's absolutely adorable, because he's just so bad. One of those "God made him cute for a reason" kind of cases! He made leaving him slightly easier today by eating my leftover teriyaki chicken right off the counter...and of course, he trailed some of it through the kitchen. That didn't stop me from crying giving him one last tummy scratch, however!

More so than thinking of the upcoming eight-hour flight over the Atlantic (spoken as someone with ADD, no less!), more so than frustration over the weakness of the American dollar, more so than expensive train travel, living out of a suitcase for three weeks, the probability of annoying Vanessa to no end with my presence in her home...more so than all of these things, my heart is heavy with missing those two mischievous felines I left at home.

They're well taken care of by a friend while I'm gone, and they probably don't have much capacity to truly miss me, but each ginger fur I find on my clothes is another little reminder of home...of who's curled up in my recliner, waiting for me to come home after all these adventures and scratch his belly again.

permalink written by  Mary Rose on July 15, 2009 from Mooresville, United States
from the travel blog: UK 2009
tagged FredAndGeorge

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Philadelphia, United States

The first leg of my trip was uneventful, which is always fairly nice. Exit row seat, loads of leg room, sweet traveler beside me, flight attendant who was headed to Dublin tonight (on to see U2 later this week!), and a smooth landing at my destination.

Then came the fun of walking from the farthest exit on one side of the A terminal at the Philadelphia airport to farthest exit on the other side. Oh, huzzah! Did I mention I chose to carry a non-rolling satchel that doesn't go over my shoulder? :\ Blurgh. Trekking three-quarters of a mile with that wasn't a whole lot of fun, but I'm happy to be seated at my departure gate, ready to head to London!

The sight that greeted me when I walked up to A24 (where I'll depart at 10:40 tonight) was the sign for the aforementioned gate, tacked to a pillar at...Mickey D's. Huh? I thought, "Is my gate at...McDonalds? What?!" It gave me a laugh as my hands un-cramped from holding that bag for so darn long. LOL!

I chatted with a kind woman from Madrid who was waiting to go home...her flight was delayed by almost two hours due to some kind of malfunction on the plane. Ack! I'd rather not be delayed at all tonight, because I simply want to get there, but say the word "malfunction" at the airport, and I get nervous!

Also off to Madrid was a Spanish band, who played for tips. Very interesting!

Now I'm the one who's off somewhere. They've checked our passports at the ticket counter, and the departure area is filling up with passengers set to cross this pond along with me.

I told Vanessa recently that I can't wait to greet her "Love Actually"-style, with a big hug at Heathrow's international arrivals area (minus the kissing and whatnot from the movie, of course). I'm just so excited to see her again - on her turf this time!

My latest Facebook status says it all: London is calling, and I'm SO ready to answer!

permalink written by  Mary Rose on July 15, 2009 from Philadelphia, United States
from the travel blog: UK 2009
tagged Airport and Waiting

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