Sunglasses and Umbrellas

It’s true the two things you should always have on you, or at least with you, are sunglasses and an umbrella. You just never know when it will change from being sunny to rainy or vise-versa. We left last-night for Cornwall – the little pan-handle off the left side of the country. Becca’s friend, Heather, has family that lives out there so we spent the night there at their house. Of course the first thing they offer us is tea. It’s becoming a trend, whenever we walk inside anyone’s home, even Becca’s, in the middle of the day, someone turns on the kettle and gets the tea out. It’s becoming a habit – so be ready Willard girls. We settled in and chat for a few hours. Her parents are awesome – they were off for ‘holiday’ to France the next day (today) for a 10-day trip. We woke up, drank tea and had toast and then made our way out to tour Cornwall.

We started off at St. Micheal’s Mount. So the thing with this one was that you can walk up to it during low tide but when the tide comes in you have to take a boat! It was really cool and the sights were just fantastic! Of course the weather was a bit spotty and it drizzled and was cold and windy. But so pretty. Of course it was drizzling and cold. I had forgotten to bring a sweatshirt so I had to borrow one.  was thankful for my Birkenstock I brought.

We jumped in the car and drove over to St. Ives. It’s a little Cornish fishing town. Oh. My. Goodness. it was so cool. The weather here was warm and sunny. The rain left and I wished at that point that I was wearing flip flops and had my sunglasses. Like the epitome of European towns. 6 foot roads cram packed with people and shops. We sat in a restaurant  right on the water. It was awesome. The harbor outside saw at low tide so the boats were just sitting in the mud, but after we walked around for a bit and passed it again, all the boats were floating. The water was a beautiful green and clear. I loved it.We picked up  traditional Cornish pasties. It’s basically a Stromboli but filled with Shepherds pie. Not so good. But something you’ve got to do.

We left there and headed over to a peninsula of sorts that was just so pretty. We could see an island with a lighthouse, cliffs and seals. Please note – it’s super windy up there and I just wasn’t prepared. Of course by this point of the day it was warm and sunny but the wind picked up to about 80 mph! Who saw that coming?!

A little of this and that:

– The national speed limit is 70mph. If they want you to drive slower they will put up a speed limit sign.

– During menopause you get hot flushes.

– Their fire places are more like heaters with fake coals on top. Not even gas flames. Just fake coals.

– If you have electric garage doors then you are one of the rich elite, “hoity-toity” type.

– “Posh” is a word they use like we use “preppy”. It can be not a good thing.

– Most breweries own pubs. But “free houses” are pubs that allowed to sell whatever beers they want.

– ‘Real ale’ is ale that is brewed traditionally. They have to use a hand crank instead of a normal pull you see on draft.

– You go to Primary school from 4 to 11, secondary school from 11 – 16 and then college from 16 – 18 then to university from 18-21.

– “Chock-o-block” = Bumper to bumper traffic.

– “Motorway” = Highway



I am sad to say, that this jet lag thing is really effecting me. I thought that if I stayed awake that first night and wore myself out that first day I’d be just fine. Not the case. I think I’m still suffering from it a bit. I have yet to make it through a full night of sleep. You can pray for me for that. Otherwise things are going really well. Hopefully you’re getting a good idea of what this trip is like and everything I’m seeing and such.

Today Becca and I had decided would be a day to see Oxford so that she could get some Visa stuff worked out. Lucky for me Oxford was a place I had wanted to see anyways! So we drove through the countryside for about an hour to get there and were just stunned by the buildings there. This university is beautiful. There are really no words. We only had an hour but I took a bunch of pics. I just wish you could see the whole of the place. We kind of didn’t talk much we were so stunned at the beauty of it all. We grabbed a coffee and headed home pretty quickly (it cost 2.50 for an hour of parking – lame). You can go to my facebook page for all the rest of the photos.

So I had told Becca that I was cooking dinner tonight so we hit up a butcher for some ground beef and then the grocery store for food. I made us Cincinnati chili and we had talked to a few girls to come over to join us. Notable things about the grocery store: the cart has all four wheels that can turn, not just the front two. It was really hard to get accustomed to. And just to get a shopping cart you had to place a pound coin into a little slot attached to the cart to unlock it from the chain of the cart in front of it. The coin then sticks  half way out but is completely irretrievable! You get the coin back when you return the cart and attach the chain from the cart in front of it and it pushes the coin out. This is all to keep homeless folks from stealing the carts. Unbelievable.

So dinner prep goes well – minus the fact that I’m so tired I have to fight the urge to just go to bed for the night. The girls came over and I was afraid that they might not like the chili cause it is well, American! Turns out they loved it and all got seconds! Whew! Crisis averted! They stayed for a while and we just talked. I learned so much and here is what I’ve decided: This is actually a foreign country and the only thing we have in common is our language – but even that is tricky cause I would freak if I heard my sister ask my mom for a rubber. Turns out, it’s just an eraser. I’m still processing some of the information. It’s so foreign. Props to Becca who has moved here. Being here for a week has exhausted me. I have to really stay focused if I want to keep up with the fast pace of the conversation.

Eat your hearts out Americans – England is weird:

– All Indian food is considered “Curry”. Not like the few dishes that actually have curry in them, the whole of the Indian cuisine. That’s like calling all Mexican food “tacos” and then asking someone who ordered an enchilada how their taco was. It’s not even similar.

– When you park you need to pull in the side view mirror on the side that’s in the road – it will get hit. That’s how close they drive to the side of the road. It’s maddening! I have to close my eyes and not just cause they drive on the wrong side of the road.

– “Are you queuing up for” = “Are you in line for”

– My traditional breakfast today at a restaurant included, an egg, two pieces of bacon (not quite Canadian bacon but similar) a sausage link that had a sweet hard crust on it and wasn’t fatty, two pieces of toast and yes, baked beans.

A lazy day in Wales

Today started as all the rest have so far – with mascara under my eyes I wake up to loud traffic outside the front door and having to remind myself that I’m in England, and no, this pink bedroom that Disney threw up in isn’t my room.  I throw on my sweatshirt and head downstairs for Frosted Flakes and coffee. Becca and I decide on the plan and compromise on a time to leave. She’s an early riser and I’m, well, on vacation. After I start feeling like a normal human being we get ready and head out for the train station. Today we headed to Wales – Cardiff Bay to be precise. Cardiff, that’s the capitol of Wales. Go ahead laugh at me for not knowing, but I have a sneaking hunch that some of you might have “fortgoten” that. I thought I had a handle on the train system from yesterday’s “adventure”, turns out I’m more confused now that I was yesterday morning! Thank the good Lord  I don’t have have a problem asking people for help (at least in a foreign country).

So it’s a 2 hour train ride to Cardiff so I take that time to work on finishing my book I started back during my 7 hour layover in Toronto, The Help. It’s amazing so if you have some extra cash and want a good read, this one’s for you. Also, I would love to talk about it to people who’ve read it.

I realized today that I haven’t really discussed the weather at all since I’ve been here. Let go ahead and get that done. The first 2 days were the most perfect days I’ve ever experienced (weather-wise that is). It was maybe low 80’s upper 70’s and a blue sky that was only partly cloudy. So beautiful. Like the perfect fall days, just without the colorful leaves. So I soon learned that those days were 2 of 4 for the whole summer that were so nice. Basically since then it’s rained on and off. And it does this spitting rain, not really a real rain, but enough to be a bit annoying. So I also learned that in Wales, it rains even more than in England. I can’t say I didn’t expect it, so it really wasn’t that bad. Today was particularly rainy, but we happened to be inside for the bad parts.

There's a seafood restaurant in there!

So we get to the bay and the area literally looks like its the modern age placed in a city that is thousands of years old. The shops look new, but the actual buildings are so old and beautiful! I just keep thinking, why is there a grocery shop in that building? There should be a museum in there! Turns out, you only really go to Cardiff Bay to eat. So after getting a coffee at “Costa Coffee” we went over to a Latin American restaurant. They have Starbucks here, but they also have Costa. They are basically the exact same, even their signs are similar. But it’s not like it’s just a local place, cause it’s everywhere. The restaurant was decent but I was surprised to see that they didn’t serve tacos! I don’t know how you get away with it, but the Cuban sandwich I got was awesome. As was the Dark and Stormy, but that’s neither here nor there…

I got my Wales starbucks mug, a must and then we headed out. I finished the book on the way back to Cheltenham Spa. I’m beginning to learn my way around Cheltenham but it’s really only because of the huge landmarks I have to use, cathedrals help tremendously. We prepped dinner and headed out to see “One Day”. Blah it was alright. If you must, Netflix it, or for those in England – LoveFilm it. Tim came home for the night tonight, which is great, I could tell Becca was really missing him. It was their first time apart since they got married. Cute.

They keep rolling in:

1. National holidays here have no meaning to them (other than say, Easter Monday or Christmas and New Years) to the English they are simply “Bank Holidays” and they get a set number of them a year on specific dates.

2. I don’t think I’ve told you this one, but if it’s a repeat, I apologize, it just shocks me every time: The traffic lights move from Red to Yellow then to Green. This apparently is telling the drivers to get ready.

3. It is illegal to put your stick shit car into neutral when stopped, it must always be in gear.

4. The UK flag (it’s a blue background with red strips with white outlines) is actually a combination of all the UK countries – HOWEVER it doesn’t include Wales. So basically it’s just got the English and the Scottish flags. The Welsh do not appreciate this.

5. In Wales the nation language is Welsh, but everyone there speaks English. This only thing is, is that every sign there is in English and in Welsh. I didn’t hear a single person speaking anything but English except for the announcer at the train stations.

Mind the gap!

Today’s trip was to Bath! We got train tickets (only one more form of transport and I’ve covered them all!) to Bath, through Bristol TEMPLE MEADE…not through Bristol PARKWAY. A small error making our trip go from 45 mins to 2 hours. Ok I can’t be too upset, it was an adventure, right? The train ride was pretty nice, I see my dad’s obsession – alright, let’s not get carried away.



So we get to Bath, eventually, and just look around. It literally is the most beautiful city I’ve ever seen! The buildings are all  connected. The homes are attached to stores and they are all this beautiful stone. It’s just breath-taking. I can’t help it, I want to live there. Seriously people, you have to go there. I would catch my mind wandering and I freaked, how could I not focus on this place!? So we walked around for a little while we saw the Bath Cathedral – which was HUGE! It was built in 1499 but the site had a church on it since the 800’s. It’s so hard for me to imagine life that long ago. Our country was barely a twinkle in the eye at that point!

We made our way over to Jane Austin’s CentER (not centre – but good luck convincing them they’re wrong). So her one novel she never finished only got to 17,500 words, “The Watsons” was sold to a library for 850,000 pounds. That’s about 50 pounds a word. So basically $75 a word. Craziness. Also, she lived off of 20 pounds a year. And her novels were published after she died. She died of (they are pretty sure) Addison’s Disease at age 41.  For other facts just go watch the movie Becoming Jane. Actually, one more thing, she only wrote two novels in Bath – she actually didn’t like living there, she was more of a country girl. Who knew?!

After Jane Austin’s place we hit up a tea room for afternoon tea! It had to be done, I am in England after all! The building was absolutely beautiful. We sat up to the table and the waitress came over and whispered something which I guessed was asking us for our order, so I just said, “we would like to do the afternoon tea”. She asked us what kind and we got English breakfast and Chai tea. Then she walked away and Becca says, “See?! They are so quiet! That’s why they think Americans are so rude, because they don’t just whisper all the time. It’s like I’m in a library, everywhere I go!” It’s the sad truth. So the tea was delicious but more importantly the sandwiches and pastries and biscuits were AWESOME! They use this cream instead of butter, but really its just like a butter, cream cheese combo and then give you jam and it’s just splendidly delightful! 😉 I don’t know how they get away with charging 17 pounds a person for it but they do. Becca says it’s the equivalent of going to the Jefferson for brunch…ok well I can see that, and plus it worked on me.

So then we left there, I did a little shopping and picked up my Starbucks mug from England 🙂 I have one from Jordan and Australia and so I needed one from here! My life goal is to get one from every country I’ve gone to/go to. I know, lofty. And went to these beautiful places to end our time in Bath, a city I’ll always love!
















Tid bits from today:

1. Don’t use “Quaint” apparently it’s not nice word to describe things around here.

2. I saw a sign on the door of a gym today, “I lost 2 stone!” 14lbs is a stone. And it’s not plural. So I guess unless you are losing 14 lbs at a time, it’s not news. Lost 10 lbs?? Nothin.

Lastly – Don’t tell Amanda Scott, but I think my heart is melting just a little for these two:

Cheltenham, England

Monday September 5th. Labor day to my friends in the states. Sadly I did not grill out or celebrate my working class or even hit up the lake. But let’s face it, it comes every year and I’ll get on it next time. Instead I spent the day roaming around Cheltenham, the city where Becca lives. But before we get into all that – I just have to tell you about my night. So if you’re following my trip you saw the two posts I made last night. So it took a few hours to write it all out and I started at about 11pm-ish. So around 1:30am I’m done and just bummin around the internet for a bit and look at the clock which tells me that it’s only 7:30pm. Unfortuneately for me, it actually felt like 7:30pm. I was ready to go out, hit the town do whatever, but instead I tried to force myself to sleep. I was doing alright – and if you know me well you know it takes a while for me to fall asleep. Last night was particularly hard. I wasn’t really tired but I knew I needed to sleep so I’m just making it hard on myself by stressing about it. But right when I am dozing I hear “BEEP”. Really loud. So I am startled and think that it’s something in my bag and I’m stumbling around desperately trying to find what it is then, “BEEP”. And all I can think of if Phil from Modern Family trying to find the smoke detector in the house. I go into the hall (it’s 2:30am at this point) and I find it, but it’s too tall. I basically give up trying to fix it, cause it’s WAY too high for me and I have nothing to stand on. I thought, “surely Tim of Becca will hear it.” Nothin. Well fastforward a few hours and it finally stops and I get some sleep. Oh what a nightmare. Luckily I got enough sleep to make it. We fixed it today.

So after we decide the plan for the day we head off to Sudeley Castle. King Henry VIII lived here for a while with Anne Boleyn. Later on it became the home to Katherine Parr, Henry’s 6th wife that outlived him. It was pretty awesome. It had a couple gardens and even St. Mary’s church was in it. This was where Katherine was buried. The church was beautiful and the castle was just stunning. There are two parts to the castle, the museum part and then the house. We weren’t able to go into the house because a family still owns it and lives there on the weekends. I think they leave on Monday’s or it gets cleaned on Mondays and so it’s not open to the public.

Afterwards we went into town and walked around a bit – it literally looks like the downtown mall in Cville! Just a little wider and longer. We went upstairs over a bookshop and met a friend for coffee. Their coins are a little confusing to me so paying with cash takes some time. The general rule is that the bigger and heavier they are, the more you want to hold onto them. I guess it’s a universal rule. We sat outside on the balcony and chatted for a while it was really nice. The weather is probably in the 70s. They are saying that Autumn starts tomorrow. Becca swears that summer never came.

We hit up an Italian restaurant for dinner. I was warned that they don’t do Italian well so I knew not to expect too much. Good thing. I mean it wasn’t bad. It just tasted like something I could get from Trader Joes. BUT we did have a coupon, oh excuse me, a voucher so that we could get buy one meal get one free. So 10.50 (=~$15) for two meals at a nice restaurant is fine with me.

Tomorrow’s going to be a big day – we’re going to Bath – so we called it a night and came home a little early. Fine with me since I didn’t really sleep much last night!

England tid-bits:

1. They don’t like Americans. Some even say they refuse to like us. Like they won’t give us a chance. I try to remind them that they shouldn’t be such soar losers. #itwas240yearsago

2. Don’t follow the American – she’ll get you killed in traffic (yes, that’s me)

3. They really don’t put ice in your drink.

4. They avoid their neighbors so much that they don’t even pull into their driveways to turn around, “It’s rude” is the reason I got.

5. Their is basically no patriotism here. It’s sad. I saw an American flag before an English one.

6. People don’t drive far. Even though England is an island – you can’t find seafood anywhere but the coast. I heard that an older couple broke up a 4 hour drive and spent the night at a B&B after 2 hrs. Even my age group complain about a 3 hour drive to visit a place for an over night trip.

7. It doesn’t rain much – it spits.

8. They REALLY hate France.