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I've been watching the new series of "Inspector Lewis" on PBS (and again, what a wonderful thing satellite television is! Once upon a time I could only yearn to watch British television here), and every time I do, I begin to long for Oxford.

I spent roughly two days in Oxford three years ago, and I think I fell in love. Every time I see something I recognize on film, I get all gooey and excited: "Ooh, yes, I remember that!" I even swear that in one episode, Lewis and Hathaway had lunch at the Turf Tavern, where we did, though I haven't been able to confirm that. One episode was set a great deal in and around the Botanical Gardens, which made me sigh and smile, because I adored the Gardens and could have happily spent even longer there than we did.

At the same time, things will drive me a bit crazy. The most recent episode ended with Lewis and Hathaway sitting in a pub garden (I think--they were definitely having a beer), and then the camera panned around for a shot of the Radcliffe Camera... and I'm absolutely certain that such a shot couldn't have come from where Lewis and Hathaway were supposedly sitting. I've looked at a map, I've checked my guidebook, and I can't find anywhere that might possibly possess that view. I suppose that's television for you, though.

But I do find myself dreaming of those dreaming spires, and sighing with longing each time there's a short of the city's skyline...
annuala: (tardis)
Monday, 23 May 2011: London

Back home, it’s Victoria Day, the “official” start of summer. Here, it looks like it’s been summer for weeks. It’s also not a Bank Holiday, which I find strangely amusing: the land of Queen Victoria doesn’t celebrate her.

I got up a bit early because I wanted a shower and to wash my hair; the sooner I got to it, I reasoned, the sooner my hair would be dry. So I did my best to hurry through my ablutions and dress. I went downstairs in my slippers because I’d put a load of washing in last night, and all my socks were in it. So I folded everything out of the dryer and got clean socks on, then made toast and tea.

We’re headed for London today, to have lunch with an online friend of [personal profile] shinyship’s. [personal profile] shinyship came downstairs a bit after I did, and looked at the computer while she had her breakfast; S joined us shortly after that. S opted to stay home, not being a London enthusiast, and so, once we were ready, we headed out to the bus stop.

I quite handily got “a single to Havant, please”—I’m getting quite used to the bus system now—and soon enough we were at Havant bus station, walking to the train station.

At the station, I decided to try to video a train coming in to the platform for my niece—the child’s fascination for trains knows no bounds. Unfortunately, I didn’t set the camera up properly. I’ll have ample opportunity later, I’m sure.

So now we’re on the London Waterloo train. We’ve just stopped at Guildford; two more stops to Waterloo. [personal profile] shinyship and I have passed the time discussing the stories we’re writing, and I think we’ve got them all sorted.

Later: Waterloo Station

The trip up was relatively painless. Waterloo Station was a chance for me to buy a toothbrush, since I’d left mine in Wells, apparently. I need to lose something each trip; last time it was a pair of sunglasses in Totnes.

We caught a bus over to Great Russell Street and walked up to the British Museum. It’s as impressive as always. We had a stroll around, then headed for the part of the café near the totem poles, since it wasn’t as crowded there as in the other bit by the Assyrian king statue. The awkward thing was, [personal profile] shinyship didn’t know what R looked like; they’d only ever chatted online.

We sat down with our lunches, [personal profile] shinyship looking around now and again. We’d both basically finished when she spotted a young woman and a young man looking as if they were searching for someone. They seemed to spot us at the same time. [personal profile] shinyship stood up, calling her name, and we were all well met.

R and her husband D turned out to be a lovely couple, and we chatted for quite a long time—longer, I think, than any of us expected. We parted as friends.

[personal profile] shinyship and I then went off round the Near East exhibition: Egypt, Assyria, Persia, and that sort of thing, which I hadn’t seen the last time I was at the Museum.

Rameses II

Amun's protection

The Gayer-Anderson Cat

Assyrian frieze II

[personal profile] shinyship took my picture beside a gargantuan Assyrian winged-lion statue.

Photo op!

Of course, after that, we went round the Museum gift shops. We’d done the bookshop when we arrived, and so did the others now. I got things for several people on my list, plus a pile of postcards and stamps.

We left the Museum and went across the street in search of royal wedding souvenirs for Mom. I hope she likes what I got her. It came from one of those horribly tacky gift shops that are on nearly every London street corner.

Then, purchase made, we went back around the corner to Starbucks for drinks and a sit-down. I wrote up every single postcard I bought at the Museum—yes, and stamped them all.

We couldn’t really decide what to do next, as it was past 3:30, and it would take time to get anywhere, and the museums tend to shut rather early. In the end, we caught a bus back to Waterloo and caught a pre-peak-hour train home. We did pause in Marks & Spencer for some things for tea, including some luscious-looking strawberries, killing time till the platform for our train was announced.

We’re well on our way now, having just left Guildford. We’ll probably have a nice quite evening in, and I’ll try not to worry about any Icelandic volcanic-ash clouds. Like last April, an Icelandic volcano has erupted, and it’s spewing ash. The experts can’t say how it’ll affect flights in and out of the country this time, but last year, flights were cancelled and planes grounded for days. With luck, though, it’ll all blow over fairly quickly, pardon the pun. If not, well, I guess I get a longer holiday.
annuala: (tardis)
Friday, 20 May 2011: The New Forest

I woke up this morning first before 5:00. Very sensibly, I went back to sleep and arose at the more reasonable hour of 8:00. I went downstairs for breakfast, which is where Kate found me about half an hour later.

We chatted while Kate made some breakfast for herself, and by the time Steve joined us, we’d more or less decided on a trip out to the New Forest.

I’ve had a bee in my bonnet about seeing the Forest since I read Edward Rutherfurd’s novel of the same name. The New Forest was set aside and protected by William I so he and his royal buddies could go hunting. Then his son William Rufus was killed there, apparently in a hunting accident (or was it murder?). Now it’s a National Park.

People live in the park; there are whole towns in the park. It’s very unlike the national parks at home (not counting Banff). And people have the right of commoning—that is, allowing livestock to graze and wander at will throughout the park. The park is also famous for the New Forest pony, which is one of the native breeds of pony. It was the ponies I mainly wanted to see.

We caught the train at Emsworth to Brockenhurst, which is one of those towns in the Forest; from Brockenhurst, we took the bus to Lyndhurst, which calls itself the heart of the New Forest. We went first to the New Forest Centre, which has a gift shop and an exhibition area all about the forest, the people who live there, conservation, and all that sort of thing.

We wandered through, not really stopping at much. It seemed mostly geared towards kiddies; if Julieanne were a bit older, she’d have enjoyed it, I’m sure.

We then went back up the high street to a crowded tea shop for lunch, where I had a cheese and chutney sandwich that seemed rather lacking in the chutney department. So really, a cheese sandwich—a shredded-cheese sandwich at that. But it was quite good anyhow.

After lunch, we headed out on our walk. We’d decided to walk from Lyndhurst through the Forest back to Brockenhurst to catch the train, roughly five miles. The walk from Lyndhurst to the Forest pathways was along a very noisy road, not at all pleasant. But soon enough we were in the Forest.

What a grand, majestic place! Huge trees everywhere, it seemed. Foxgloves bloomed by the path. I saw birds I couldn’t identify, butterflies, and a couple of massive grey squirrels. The skies were mostly cloudy, but there was still plenty of sun; I got a couple of magnificent vistas photographed. Steve kindly lent me his camera after I realized I’d left mine back at their place, silly goose that I am.

The New Forest

I was afraid that I wouldn’t see any ponies, though, for a while. I didn’t mind too much, though, because it was a gorgeous walk with good friends, I’d bought a stuffed toy pony for Julieanne, and I’d sent her a postcard as well. Then we spotted one, rather a way off.

Not getting any closer

I snapped a photo, and we walked on. Near the end of the walk, though, the Forest opened out into meadow… and there were ponies, dozens of them—even foals! I happily tramped across the meadow, pony poo and all, for photos.

All the pretty little ponies

Not bothered

We walked on, and there were more ponies. And across a stream, there were the most perfect roly-poly, shaggy ponies in the world. Those were my favourites.

Landscape with ponies


We walked on into Brockenhurst, stopped at a shop for cold drinks, then to the station. We caught the train to Southampton Central, where we changed to the London Victoria and so home to Emsworth.

Once we were in, Kate ordered pizza, and when it arrived we all sat down to eat and watch more “Castle.” That was my first experience of a quintessentially English pizza topping: chicken and sweetcorn. I admit to being rather dubious at first, even though it was my choice, but it turned out to be quite tasty, and I’d be willing to top my own pizza at home with it. After tea, Steve kindly uploaded my photos to Kate’s computer; they’re on my Flickr now, where I can download them at home.

Kate and I had to decide what to do tomorrow. I asked, “Do we know the status of the gig?”, meaning the Duran Duran concert we’re supposed to see in Nottingham on Sunday. So Kate got on the computer. Alas! Cancelled due to Simon’s laryngitis. Well, postponed, but really, in my case you may as well say cancelled, since I won’t be able to attend any make-up gigs unless it’s next week.

So tomorrow, we’re off to Wells and Glastonbury instead.


May. 24th, 2011 04:17 pm
annuala: (10thdoctor)
Yes, hello from Jolly Olde England! I haven't felt much like being on the computer since I got here, apart from checking email and updating Facebook. (Pardon any typos I miss--I'm using Miss K's laptop, and I'm not used to a) a laptop keyboard or b) the British keyboard system.) But so far, I've been to the New Forest, which was a lovely walk, ponies included; Wells, which meant I got to look at the locations featured in Hot Fuzz--our B&B actually looked out onto the spot where the bloke got the gargoyle dropped on him from the church; Glastonbury, where I actually climbed all the way up the Tor in the wind and occasional rain; and London, where we met a friend of Miss K's and had a wander round the good old British Museum. Today has been nice and quiet. We went into Chichester and had lunch at the Cathedral, where we could watch the peregrine falcons nesting in the tower, and now we're at the studio, where Miss K is teaching a class this evening.

Yes, it was a bit disappointing about the concert being postponed, but I'm not devastated or anything. It actually has turned out to be a good thing, because otherwise I might not have got to Glastonbury, which was on my list of Things I Really Really Want to See. And besides, I have David Tennant in Much Ado About Nothing tomorrow night to console me. :-D
annuala: (tardis)
Of all the things I'm going to do and see on my vacation, the one thing I think I'm most excited about is calling home when I first arrive. Why? Because I'm going to talk to my niece. From England. *grins* I can just hear her now...

"Where're you, Cat?!"

"In England... get Nanny to show you in the atlas..."



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