Friday, March 30, 2007

European Vacation: The Griswolds ain't got nothin' on us.

Best. Slogan. EVER.

I love these photos. I maintain that dusk is by far the best time to take pictures. (P.S. The Eye is lit up red for Comic Relief, a huge once-a-year charity drive.)

Look kids! Big Ben!

It was really cool to do the London Eye at night. It makes it a whole different experience.

This was my third visit to the Tower of London. However, this was the first time it wasn't raining cats and dogs. It was nice to see it without an umbrella blocking the upper half of my field of vision.

Us with one of the "Beefeater Guards" or "Yeoman Warders" or "Dudes in Snazzy Little Red and Navy Getups Complete With Rather Jaunty Hats" or whatever you fancy calling them. I'm going to go with "Dudes in Snazzy Little Red and Navy Getups Complete With Rather Jaunty Hats". You know... You say potato, I say hash browns....

This might rank as one of the worst jobs ever. Imagine in the summer heat? With that furry thing on your head? And the itchy wool uniform? And the tourists throwing chewing gum at you? What's that? You're NOT supposed to throw gum at them? Oops. (Just kidding. You don't think I really threw gum at him do you? Maybe you do. I've done worse.)

Eat the delicious baguete. Eat it!

One of my favorite activities: Playing dress-up in the gift shop.

This gets billing as one of the funniest things I've seen lately. It was in the gift shop at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. It's a rat. With his teeth gnashing. With jazz hands. (Well, I think they're meant to look menacing but they look like jazz hands to me.) The "Plague Rat Hand Puppet". I'd love to have been in the marketing meeting for this one.

"Ooookaaaayyyyy guys. What we need is a way to capitalize on the grimmer bits of England's history. Who's got ideas? Smith?"
"How about an Anne Boleyn action figure? It could have axe-chopping-action and her head rolls off when the chopping motion is activated by a little lever in the back?"
"Hmmmm, that's good, but we need something cuddly. A stuffed-animal of some sort. Johnson?"
"Ok, hear me out. How about a rat, right? You know, because rats carried the plague around and spread it everywhere? It'll be soft and cuddly but we'll give it sharp-looking teeth and claws."
"Genius! Cut and print!"

On their last day, we decided to go check out the changing of the guard. Evidently, every other tourist in London had the same idea.

After that, we split up: girls to Kensington Palace and tea, boys to British Museum and pub.

That had better be some VERY good tea.


The tea room...

The garden outside the palace...

Now. I ask you. Who had more fun, the girls or the boys? We win suckas! You and your stupid Rosetta Stone can suck it! Key to modern language as we know it? Psshhhaawww.

Original bits of the Acropolis pillaged by the British Army? Who freaking cares? History, schmistory.

Well, that's it. I'm spent. I've delivered on my promise to bring you these photos before our jaunt to Tuscany. Now, you can look forward to seeing those pics sometime before the May bank holiday. Maybe.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

By the numbers

Errr... so other than the semi-drunk post on Saturday night, I've been a bit MIA, no? Well, here's what I've been up to, as told by numbers:

Books finished - 2
1. Shopaholic & Baby by Sophie Kinsella
2. Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

Books started and not yet finished - 1
1. Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote

Movies watched - 4
1. L'amico di Famiglia
2. Northanger Abbey
3. Becoming Jane
4. Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices

CD's purchased - 5
1. Barenaked Ladies' latest
2. Regina Spektor live
3. Pete Yorn's latest
4. Bloc Party
5. Alexi Murdoch

Language courses completed - 1
1. Italian 1.1

Language courses enrolled in - 1
1. Italian 1.2

Easter Holiday trips booked - 1
1. Florence, Italy

I'll get more photos up from Joe and Amy's visit before we leave for Firenze. Ciao!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Drinkin' n' Bloggin'

Many of you may be asking yourselves "I sure do wonder what that Heather has been up to lately. That crazy bitch ain't updated her blog in about a year." Although, upon some revision, that's not so much a question as it is an internal monologue. So perhaps I should mend it to say "Many of you may be SAYING to yourselves..." I digress.

Well, since our guests have departed, we've been doing absolutely freaking nothing. But tonight, since we're two bottles of wine in (at roughly 10:30), we thought it would be an excellent time to clue you all in.

Afternoon tea at Sanger B&B. "Why Mrs. Sanger! What lovely scones you have!" "The better to knock you in the head with. Now shut it and drink your tea."

Shopping for paella ingredients. Rest assured we did NOT purchase the cock with crabs. Er, I mean cockcrab. Or whatever non-dirty thing it's supposed to be. Side note: Recently removed from our list of places to visit in England? Dartmouth.

Watching our gay cats cuddle with each other. "Caaaaaan youuuuu feeeeeeeeel the looooovvvvvveeeee toniiiiiiiiiight?" Notice, if you will, Elwin's paw is draped over George's neck.

And the ever-popular Saturday-night-in activity: drinkin' n' downloadin'! Jason bought all of this while I was on a 7 minute phone call with our neice and our sister-in-law:

The latest Pete Yorn
Bloc Party
Regina Spektor live in California
and Alexi Murdoch

Now, if you'll excuse us, we have another bottle of Cabernet to polish off.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Welcome to the Sanger B&B

Coffee's in the pot, beer's in the fridge, towels are in the cabinet, and wake up calls are available every morning at 6:00 courtesy of two hungry cats.

As it's been much publicized here at the Nutshell as of late, I'm sure everyone's aware of our recent guests. Last weekend, Jason's brother Joe and his wife Amy arrived. They're in Paris at the moment so I've had some extra time to post some photos of our trip to Cambridge on Sunday and Monday. First off, let me just say "Oh Great and Mighty Weather Gods, we are forever at your mercy and offer you a sacrificial cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit in our appreciation for the recent rays of warm sun you've seen fit to bestow upon us. So, keep it comin' please. Peace."

Upon arrival, we went straight to a local outdoor market and got a picnic lunch and some accoutrement from M&S. (Where else can you get wine glasses for a quid each??) We had these very grandiose ideas about punting to a lovely spot along the River Cam, climbing out and enjoying a lovely, civilized picnic lunch whilst laying on the grass and appreciating all mother nature has to give. The mere thought of this later will make us all roll our eyes in unison.

Jason and I enjoy a glass of wine and try not to look nervous about his brother punting behind us.

Oh how I'll long for the carefree moments of wild laughter in about 5 minutes.

The boys switch places and everyone's hearts leap into their chests as the little boat thrashes viciously in the rapid currents. (It's possible that I'm being a tiny bit dramatic with the "thrashing" and "rapid" and "currents" and the words "rocked back and forth a little" and "mild" and "flowing gently" would be more suitable choices.)

My slogan for the experience: "Punting! Not as easy or relaxing as it looks!"

I mean, Just look at poor Jason's face.

Not to mention that the boys had to deal with this the entire time:
Amy: I told you we should have just paid the extra money to have someone do this for us while we sat back and enjoyed it.
Me: This is the worst thing EVER. I want out of here right NOW. Someone please take a picture of me while I try to hold this wine like I'm enjoying every minute of the whole damned experience.
Amy: Why does no one ever listen to me?
Me: Jesus Jason! If you hit me in the head with that damned punting pole one more time, I'll personally knock you off the back of this thing!
Amy: Joe! You threw water all OVER me!
Me: Holy crap. I hate this.

After recovering from the punting nightmare, we visited Trinity College, one of the many that are part of the Cambridge Unviersity family.

Sir Isaac Newton went to Trinity. And Jason went to UNCG. Totally the same thing.

Amy and I in front of the massive fountain in the courtyard. One of our books said that Lord Byron used to lounge in the fountain with his pet bear cub. He had a bear because school regulations prevented students from owning dogs. Fact or fiction? You decide.

Just the four of us, we can make it if we try...

Me in front of a direct descendant of the actual apple tree Newton sat under and was bonked in the noggin' by an apple.

Even the drunk kids at Cambridge were smart. We happened to pop into a pub and sat down at the very table where...

the discovery of DNA was announced! And the two dudes who discovered it used to sit here and drink and yap about science and probably discuss who was getting voted off Gene Pool Island.

"The Eagle: Where smart people come to get drunk!" I'm going to take up slogan writing as a career.

Some shots of Kings College at sunset.

Anybody know which way the river is? Anybody??

The next day, we came back to see the inside of the Kings College Cathedral.

The fan vaulted ceilings and stained glass were awe-inspiring (for lack of a less pathetically touristy thing to say).

These punters seem to be having a much easier time than we did.

Alltogether now: "Awwwwwwwwwww."

The stunning library at Trinity college. Some items in their posession: An original handwritten manuscript of a Winnie the Pooh book by A.A. Milne, a letter written by Isaac Newton in 1679 featuring his famous sketch of a rock falling to the center of the earth, a notebook kept by Newton in which he wrote Latin notes and his expenses (lots of pub entries!) and the oldest known bound collection of Shakespeares works. Not bad. Fun fact: Did you know that A.A. Milne's brother also went to school here and was the namesake of the Christopher Robin character? (His name was Christopher Robin Milne.)

And a final pub lunch before training back to London to see Evita. (Which was freaking awesome, by the way, just in case you were wondering...) I love how the looks on Amy's face get increasingly less tolerant. I guess as a mother of two, you learn infinite patience. I would have popped Jason in the eye already.