Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Getting to know the English

Since I last updated, we've been busy. We took a day trip up to Amberley, a pretty little village near the Cotswolds that Andrew had visited before with his family. It was a beautiful day, and we had a nice long walk and a picnic. Once we got to the village and had a look around, we stopped at the local inn for a pint and ended up watching the opening of Royal Ascot with some locals. It was hilarious seeing how they reacted not only to the races but also to the fashions. Ascot is known for its fashion forwardness and its crazy hats; all the ladies try to outdo each other. It looked like a convention of peacocks! We finished our day with some local ice cream and a train trip back to Bath with some extraordinarily rude fellow passengers. Most of the British people we've met have been lovely, but then you get these people on trains and buses who make it very obvious that they don't care about anyone around them. I don't understand it.

The next day, we went in to London for Andrew's big day, which went very, very well. While he was at Barclays, I went up to Hampstead and looked at the cute shops and sat by a duck pond. It was so quiet and relaxing, even though I was still in London. We decided to stay in Bath one more day so we could go to Stourhead Landscape Garden, but it turned out to be inaccessible by public transportation, so we had to stay in Bath proper. After five nights, we felt like real locals.

We left Bath to travel to Cornwall, which was another train adventure. One of the trains was late and missed a key connection, so they put about a hundred of us on double decker buses up to Newquay. Apparently Newquay is a huge destination for bachelor parties -- they call them stag nights here -- and I ended up the only girl on the whole bus, and Andrew and I were the only sober ones. It was a horrendous experience, and we considered leaving Newquay, but I'm glad we didn't, because as soon as we got there, set up our tent, and got down to the beach, everything was glorious. The rain cleared away and we explored the rocks and caves and tidal pools on the beach. We also got to watch the Red Arrows -- the Blue Angels equivalent of the Royal Air Force -- practicing. They were flying so low over our heads we could almost see the pilots!

Our second day in Cornwall we spent walking along the coast. Every few minutes we would round another bend and get a new view of cliffs, arches, and waves crashing against huge rocks. It was breathtaking. Our last day in Cornwall was a lot of fun, too. We went to Lanhydrock House, a Victorian estate with over 50 rooms and beautiful gardens. I felt like I was going to walk into Narnia at any moment; it was just like the house in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. There was even a room with nothing in it but a wardrobe, and I found out there were a bunch of evacuated children who lived there during World War II. Perfect!

But the highlight of Cornwall was that night when we splurged on dinner at Fifteen, Jamie Oliver's restaurant. It was the best meal of my life. I'll post the menu later on. We did a six-course tasting menu, and every bite of it was absolutely delicious. The restaurant overlooks a bay, and we got to watch the surfers and the sunset. Absolute bliss.

Now we're in London, after a full day of traveling and dealing with the muddy riffraff from the Glastonbury Festival on the trains. We've checked in to our hotel, and we're off to see the sights!

This is our last week in London; on Saturday we meet up with Bryan and Christina on the continent. More soon. Cheers!

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