Friday, July 9, 2004

Complete Works of Shakespeare, Abridged!

We got up pretty late again this morning, ‘cause we had been up so long yesterday. We walked again to Paddington Station and got Dad’s round trip ticket from Ilkley to the Lake District and back. At a small shop in the station, I got Mom two scarves (to go with the scarf pin/broach that dad had gotten her). Then we took the tube down to Piccadilly and picked up the tickets to the Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged).

For the next three hours, we basically milled around, looking in different shops, eating lunch and getting mixed berry smoothies. While we were enjoying the sugary goodness, some school group (all boys, and French) passed us, all in light blue polo shirts and black pants. One of them caught my eye; he reminded me of a kid I used to have a crush on. They all walked past us, and around the corner, and we got up to go to the theater.

We got seated at about 3:30, and I wrote postcards to people while Dad talked to some guys from California who were seated in front of us. At one point, the school group filed into the front rows, along with kids from other schools. All of them had uniforms. Then the play started.

It was awesome! The three guys who we saw were not the same guys that I had seen on the video, but they were just as good. One of them (the one who always had to play the girl), reminded me of Jimmy Fallon from SNL. It was really awesome. I haven’t laughed that much in a long time.

Afterward, I got a DVD of the guys that I’d seen in English class, so I’ll watch that with Hannah when I get home. I miss everybody, but especially her. What I really want to do right now is be at home watching Buffy with my little sister. *sigh* Three more weeks. Anyway, I digress.

After I got the DVD, we went back outside and saw that same darn kid that I had seen earlier, walking around in circles, looking as though he was going to cry. Turns out, he went to the bathroom, and his group left without him. I though that possibly his group was still in the theater with the other school groups that had passes to a lecture by the actors, but no such luck. So what else was there for me to do but run down five crowded, London city blocks in the pouring rain, to try and find this non-English speaking kid’s classmates? I did.

And I found them, so, happy ending. It was the uniforms that gave then away. I saw the last couple of kids getting on a bus, so I ran across the street (always fun in a city, but especially in London; honestly, in most places the drivers will slow down, or at least keep going the same speed when they see a person crossing the street in front of them, but I swear that in London they speed up, just to make the people run) and asked the teacher “Are you missing someone?” He did a quick head count and realized that there was indeed a head missing, so he went back to the theater with me, collected the aforementioned head, and after thanking Dad and I profusely, left. So, happy ending.

By the time we got back to the hotel, it was about 6:30. Dad went and did our laundry while I packed and watched Nightmare on Elm Street. Johnny Depp may be in that movie, but it is still a dog. Painful in its badness. So, we had dinner and I’m going to bed. Leaving for Ilkley tomorrow; I’m kinda nervous. What if they all think I'm just some dumb American kid? Anyway, g’night.

Wednesday, July 7, 2004

Bus Tour

Good God, today was long! We got up very early, about 6:30, and got a small breakfast at a café. We then walked hotel where we were to meet the tour bus in order to go to Windsor Castle, Salisbury Cathedral, and Stonehenge. The tour guide was a woman of about forty five years of age, sharply funny. First we went to Windsor, and walked up to the castle. I took nearly an entire roll of film just outside and around the castle; we were then told that we were not aloud to take pictures inside. Bloody ridicules if you ask me. (See? I’m already picking up the lingo.)

Upon entering the castle, I was at a loss for words, and that is saying something. Never have I seen such excessive wealth. Gold, ivory and diamonds everywhere! There was a dollhouse in one of the first rooms; it was the castle itself, at 1/12th scale, and it filled the entire room. The rooms themselves were so huge, the ceilings were out of sight; although that might also be due to the poor lighting. There were curtains over all the windows to keep the furniture and paintings from fading, but what good is having everything in prime condition if there is not enough light to see anything?

There were some amazing things in there; the armory was amazing; swords everywhere, from every age. Ivory handled scimitars from the Far East, diamond studded sabers from Italy. There were rosettes of pistols on the walls, and huge racks of rifles. All I could think of was Neo saying, “We need guns. Lots of guns.”

We went through most of the rooms, looking at all of the portraits and expensive furniture and later on we hit the gift store. I got a birthday card for mom of the Da Vinci painting that we have at home, and two iron soldiers for myself. By this point we needed to walk back to the tour bus, so we got a small lunch and headed for Salisbury Abbey. We had a short walk to get to the Abbey, and on the way we passed under a kind of bridge-doorway thing that had a room in the top. According to the tour guide, this was where Handle held his first concert. The Abbey is absolutely enormous and beautiful; huge spires and statues of saints on the outside. Inside, it is all stained glass windows and light and shadow. There is a grand organ to one side that cheerfully played hymns, and then, for some reason, the Phantom of the Opera. Some priest has a sick sense of humor.

I had taken a roll and a half of film already today, so I attempted to budget the rest. In the Abbey was one of the original copies of the Magna Carta, so we saw that as well.
At the gift shop, I got two little silver cross necklaces (Buffy style), one for Hannah and one for me. By now it had started to rain. It was sprinkling when we got back on the tour bus, and by the time we got to Stonehenge (one hour later), it was pouring.

There is no real way to describe the stone circle. Out tour guide said that most people expect it to be bigger, but it is just as I thought it would be. You could just feel the power and age radiating off of it. I felt as though I had been there before, as though I found a piece of myself there I did not know I had. I don’t know how to explain it, but I know I will never forget that feeling. We finally got back to the hotel at about 9 pm. I am really tired. Goodnight.

Breakfast, Museums and a Show

Today was interesting. First, we went and got tickets for the trip to Ilkley. We bought them at Paddington Station but are leaving from Kings Cross (not platform 9 ¾ unfortunately). Our cashier was a Sikh with a full beard and turban and an amazingly thick Cockney accent. Very odd combination.

Then we went to a café at about 11:30 and had a “traditional English Breakfast”; in other words, enough food to last me a week. We each got a plate about 11-12 inches in diameter; that in itself was ominous. Half of this was covered by baked beans, while fried eggs, bacon, sausage, grilled tomatoes and toast occupied the other. I was able to eat about half the food; it was very good, just far more than I needed.

After this “breakfast”, we crawled to the British Museum. The first thing one sees is the Discus Thrower at the head of a set of stars on the left. The Second is the Rosetta Stone at the entrance to the Egyptian section. We had been in the museum for only about ten minutes before I asked a family to please move so I could take a picture. Amazingly, it was Narie (one of my best friends in elementary school), who I had not seen since 5th grade. After not seeing her in six years, it was distinctly odd seeing her across the Atlantic.

We went on to walk around the museum for about four hours; then we hit the gift shops. I got a necklace and a keychain for myself, a pair of Celtic knot earrings for Mom, and three mother-of-pearl bangles for Hannah. Dad got an ankh necklace for Hannah, a broach for Mom (another Celtic knot), and a bunch of postcards for Bennett, all treasure and coins. At some point I think we had something to eat, but I can’t for the life of me remember what it was.

We went back to the ticket booth to get the tickets for Mousetrap and walked to the theater. If I remember correctly, we were watching the 20,305th production of the play, in this theater alone. Mom saw Mousetrap in this same place about twenty five years previously. It was pretty packed and we had really good seats; right in the middle of the balcony. It was a very good play; you are able to figure out some things, but not the big twist at the end. I never would have guessed the identity of the murderer. The audience was asked at the end of the performance not to tell anyone the ending, so I am not going to say another word about it.

After the show, we came back to the hotel and had peanut butter and cheese sandwiches for dinner. Nighty-night.

Tuesday, July 6, 2004


Wow, today was long! First, we got up really late, nearly eleven and got tickets for the “Original Bus Tour of London”. And no, we didn’t get breakfast. We saw most of the main sightseeing places in London; Westminster Abbey, the Globe Theater, Saint Paul’s Cathedral, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, the London Eye, Trafalgar Square (about six times, we just kept passing it), and, of course, the Themes.

The tour took about two and a half hours and this time it was about 3:00pm before we had anything to eat, again at a Pizza Hut. After lunch we got tickets for two plays; Mousetrap tomorrow night, and the Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged) on Thursday afternoon, to be performed by the Abridged Shakespeare Company. I saw a video of them in 7th Grade English, and I remember it being very funny.

After buying the tickets, we went to a bookstore and I got a Buffy comic book for me, and an Angel one for Hannah, and also a deck of cards featuring the Celtics Football team. We then went to a café and waited for a representative to come for our Jack the Ripper tour.

The tour guide was this tiny little woman, very funny, who knew absolutely everything about the lovely man. She told, in gruesome detail, of the five murders, the girls’ backgrounds, of the many suspects, and the theories of why. Something I heard before was that a head policeman obstructed some evidence; he wiped away a message saying Juws will not be the men blamed for nothing”. Whatever that means. When the tour was over, we went to the Sherlock Holmes pub, which had Holmes memorabilia everywhere, as well photos of Jeremy Brett on every wall, which made eating really nice. Dad and I shared an enormous treacle tart, which I believe had about 3000 calories, but tasted great. I am about to fall over and die, so goodnight.

Monday, July 5, 2004

Fourth of July

This is the first time I haven’t been at home with Hannah on her birthday and the first time without seeing the fireworks. It's kinda sad. Today was interesting, my first full day in England. We went to Speaker's Corner today, and stayed for hours. It was really a unique experience; there were seven people talking, (all men) mostly about religion.

The first person we saw was a young white guy (four of the men were black) talking about world politics. he said that countries should be held accountable lawfully "by force of law, rather than the law of force". Another guy was talking about the rich oppressing the poor; he said the "only ways to get rich are to lie, cheat, thieve, and murder".

Some creep was talking about Jesus being God and how all other Gods are false: “Allah is a butcher”, etc. so I yelled at him. He was saying that Jesus/God is merciful, so I asked him how that was if he condemned all other religions. My question was not answered. The creep continued as if he had not heard me, and started saying that the Bible must be true, because God wrote it, and a Muslim Guy near me asked “God wrote the Bible with his own hand? What proof do you have?” This question was also unanswered.

The last guy I listened to was another Christian, who was mainly just arguing with an older Irish man, who’s parting words were “Don’t be in a hurry to get to heaven, it’s a hell of a place to be”.
After having been up for about four hours and not having eaten breakfast, Dad and I were both hungry and snarly, so we went to go walk to Madame Tussaud’s, and got thoroughly lost. We walked about half a mile out of our way and then back, and finally went to a Pizza Hut at about two in the afternoon. Even greasy pizza tastes good when you’re that hungry.

After breakfast/lunch, we went to a clothing store, Surprise! (that’s the name of the store), and I got a sweater and a baby doll tee with the Union Jack on it. Very hip. Dad said it was so small, it looked more like a handkerchief than a shirt, so I think I will wear it tomorrow, just out of spite. Then we just kinda ambled back to the hotel and went to sleep. Jet lag sucks. We got up about three hours later, got bread, cheese, and juice from the little convenience store across the street, and ate dinner. Then we called home, wished Hannah a Happy Birthday, (she’s a teenager, aghhh!) and watched some TV. I’m going to bed now, goodnight.

Sunday, July 4, 2004


Well, I feel much better now. We got a room in the hotel by about 11:30 am and went to sleep (we had had to wait a few hours until check-out, so we went to a cafe around the corner); and I got up at about 7 pm. We went across the street and had Indian food for dinner. The Chicken Tikka Masala was amazing! Tomorrow we are going to Speaker's Corner in Hyde Park. It should be interesting.


OK, it's about 7:30 am London time, but my brain is saying "2:30 am, go to bed". We are in Heathrow and like Rohit and Chris said, it's evil. According to Dad, someone could get lost in here and never be seen again. With his navigation skills, that will be us. We are now trying to find a place to get our London Passes. I feel like I'm about to fall asleep.

Saturday, July 3, 2004

Flying to England

Well, we are on the plane flying to Heathrow. I just watched Hidalgo on the little personal TV. Viggo Mortensen, yummy! It's really hot on the plane and I should be sleeping, but I'm so not tired. Dad is asleep and snoring. The dinner was surprisingly good, it was Indian; rice with peas and sliced almonds, some sort of bread soaked in spices, and peppers. I'm going to watch 2 1/2 Men now and try to catch some ZZZs. I'll write more later.