Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Days 6, 7, & 8

Whoops I've been slacking a little with posting.  On Sunday I went to church where we had a lovely little Christmas program centered around the nativity.  My uncle and cousin even did a violin duet.  After church we had some of their family friends over for dinner.

On Monday (Christmas Eve Day) my cousins got up early to open their presents.  Since we had been invited over to another family's house on Christmas Day they wouldn't have time to open their presents then so we did it early.  It was really fun to watch the joy that is in little children on Christmas.  Around 1pm I headed off to the train station to go into London and Meet my good friend Sam Wilson (pictures of the two of us together coming soon.)
We had a chill afternoon mainly walking the streets of London and through Hyde Park. 

We had some hot chocolate together, and then went to visit the famous department store "Harrods" 
It was super huge and even more expensive.  I couldn't even afford to buy a bar of chocolate! We then parted ways (Sam had to bike home and wanted to do so before dark.)  On my walk back to the train I walked by the Wellington Arch.  I don't exactly know the significance of it, but if looks famous enough....

I also walked by the famous "Ritz" hotel which I thought was pretty cool. 
By the time I got back to the train station in Sevenoaks, it was dark and slightly creepy as I walked home on the footpaths between the hedges (it reminded me of the scene in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire)
Since it was Christmas Eve, we had the missionaries from our church over for Christmas Eve dinner.  
Since presents were opened on Christmas Eve, I slept in on Christmas morning and had a slow morning.  We went to a family friend's house for Christmas lunch.  Since they were English, we had the "traditional" English dinner. There were loads of different types of meats, potatoes, and vegetables.  
 This is where it gets confusing, because we then had "pudding" which is essentially dessert.  The main desserts that we had were trifle and traditional Christmas Pudding. 

The Christmas Pudding was essentially a large fruitcake.  Inside were all types of coins wrapped in foil that you got to find (and hopefully not swallow) as prizes. I found 20 pence in my piece.  We also pulled poppers (or crackers) that had little prized and paper crowns in them. 

After that we then had "dessert" which was an assortment of fruits, nuts, and chocolates.

After lunch was over we all sat down to watch the Queen's Christmas Speech (which is apparently some kind of law) Later that night I skyped my family, which was the perfect end to Christmas day :)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Day 4 & 5 - Palaces, Castles, and more!

On Friday after my 6 and 9 year old cousins left for school, my Aunt and Uncle decided to go into London for the day, leaving me to babysit my 3 and 12 year old cousins.  We decided to walk to an old palace on the outskirts of town where King Henry VIII used to come hunting.  It was a little over 30 minutes each way but was exhausting because most of it was uphill and I was pushing a stroller (or pushchair as they would call it here.)
To get there we had to walk through the woods and this clearing which is a great view of a classic Southern English view. 
"Built as a palace by the Archbishops of Canterbury, Knole Palace was gifted to Henry VIII, remodelled by the Sackville family (who have lived here for 400 years)."

We got to walk around the inside but unfortunately the inside is only open to the public during the spring. 
On the way home we passed a Lamborghini dealer which I thought was just kinda random to have in a tiny town in England.
We got some lunch on the way home and then took a rest before picking up the girls from school.  The rest of the night was just pretty relaxed as we waited for my Aunt and Uncle to come back. 

Today my Uncle decided to go out with me and all of my cousins to give my Aunt some time alone at home. We drove about 45 minutes away to go see Bodiam castle.  It was really rainy so I only took one picture with Little Lauren (who my three year old cousin says should be called Lucy) and then she stayed in the car for the rest of the time.

It was a gorgeous castle surrounded by a moat and built in 1385 AD.

There were loads of ducks around the moat that my cousins enjoyed chasing. 

Unfortunately during the 100 years war the castle was damaged and never repaired so now it just stands as a ruin.  

After touring the castle and climbing high into its' towers, we stopped by the gift shop and then had some classic English food. 

Peppermint tea and English scones with cream and jam
Meat Pie, Potatoes, Mashed Parsnips, Carrots, and Brussel Sprouts

After lunch we headed into Rye, a historic town dating back to before the Norman Conquest (11th century) on the coast to walk around.  It was a darling town complete with authentic cobblestone roads and where all the streets and old cottages had charming names. 

We then went to the old historic church there where we climbed through the bell tower to the roof to see the amazing view.  

After a long day of sightseeing we headed home.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Day 3- A London Adventure!

Today I went into London!  My Aunt, 3 year old cousin, 12 year old cousin, his friend, and I all took the 30 minute train ride together into London this morning.  Together we all visited the National Gallery which is a phenomenal art museum.  There were thousands of paintings and many from many famous painters.  Some of their most famous paintings that I saw were "Virgin of the Rocks" by Leonardo da Vinci and "Sunflowers" by Vincent van Gogh.  It was really neat to have my Aunt show us around because she is a great artist and knows sooo much about art history. After that, my Aunt and cousins left to go back home and I stayed in the  city.
Me outside the National Gallery standing in Trafalgar square

After they left I bought a handy dandy map (it is said to say that because of technology this was the first time I had actually used a physical map) and made my way to the British Museum.  It too was amazing!  It was humongous and filled with all kinds of artifacts and things dated all the way from thousands of years Before Christ to present times.  The galleries I liked the most were the ones about the enlightenment, Greece (they even had pieces of the parthenon), and Egypt (they also had several mummies including Cleopatra).  
Greek vase from 3rd century BC that reminded me of the movie Hercules (and Lauren and Hayley)


Ptolemy I- 3rd Century BC
Nereid Monument- (real life sized temple tomb) 390-380 BC
Unknown Mummy

After the museum I walked by the Royal Opera House and then stopped to get some authentic fish and chips!

After eating my fish and chips I started the long walk down to Buckingham palace and passed the Canada Gate on the way.  It is too bad that it gets dark by 4:30 here because by the time I got to Buckingham palace to take pictures of the awesome fuzzy-hatted guards. 
(Canada Gate)
Buckingham Palace ( a little fuzzy I know)

After paying a visit to the Queen, I headed around towards the Parliament Building and Big Ben

Next I was on to Westminster Abbey!

At that point I headed back towards Trafalga Square to do some gift shopping, and then on to Chinatown in Soho.  After a very long day I finally headed back to the train station around 6:30
My adventure around London (not completely accurate to the routes I took)

It was a great day and beautiful city filled with interesting things! Here are some more pictures:

 (Trafalgar Square)