Getting Some of That "Culture" Stuff

After easing into the day, Chloe and I made our way to the tube to head East to Leicester Square. In this square is a discount ticket booth for many of the theatres in that area (and there are plenty!) to see if we could get some tickets to a matinee. The queue was pretty short to my surprise, so we had no problem getting 2 tickets to see "Oliver!" (I was hoping for "The Lion King" but they weren't selling tickets for that today.) The show was at 2:30p, so we had some time to explore some popular nearby neighborhoods. The first stop was Chinatown.

It must have been delivery day, for the main drag was full of delivery trucks parked in front of the markets and restaurants... it provided an eyeful of interesting foods. The main section of Chinatown, marked by the ubiquitous arches, was smaller than I had expected and we exited it not too long after we entered. With plenty of time yet before lunch, let alone the show, he headed north to see what Soho was about. I knew about its past, so I treaded carefully, making sure to keep little eyes away from anything curious. Thankfully, the route I took us on didn't require me to do things like "Hey Chloe, look at the neat lamppost!" or "They say it's good luck to close your eyes on this block."

We exited Soho in the vicinity of Chinatown in time for lunch, so I thought it would be a good experience for both Chloe and I to try some fare there. We settled on the Crispy Duck, because, well, it was the first one we came to that was open. I ordered us 6 Dim Sum dishes, being careful not to explain to Chloe in too great of detail what I was ordering... one wrong "trigger word" and we'd be in another gastro-pub. I can't recall precisely what I did order, but it wasn't too "exotic." (Though I do remember the mango-grapefruit tapioca dessert being splendid!) She tried all 6, and liked 3 so I was very pleased with the .500 average.

We ventured over to Covent Garden Market (think Boston's Quincy Market, but larger) after lunch to check out the shops and street performers. We sat down to watch one chap do the usual street performer stuff... juggle, tell corny jokes, escape from a straight jacket whilst riding a unicycle, swallow a sword, etc. After some more strolling, window shopping, and cookie noshing, we made our way to the Theatre Royal to get our seats for "Oliver!"

Long-show, short: It was great! The presence of kids on the stage (as well as a dog at times) made it a "relate-able" show for her to experience. Chloe wasn't alone in not understanding all of the works spoken or sung, but she was able to piece together what was going on. Personally, it was fun for me to glance over once in a while to watch her face as the singing/dancing was going on, or when the staging was changing... "wide-eyed" would be the best description!

After the show, we made our way to the nearby tube station, whistling "Consider Yourself" as we went along.

(Pictures, clockwise from top: Chloe under one of the Chinatown arches; and playing around with some sculptures; outside "Crispy Duck" with some of the "guests of honor" in the window; trying some Dim Sum for the first time; Tom, the Covent Garden Market busker, downing a sword; and Chloe enjoying some ice cream during intermission of "Oliver!")


Blinded Us With Science

Chloe I spent a good portion of the afternoon checking out the displays, exhibits, movies and whatnot at London's Science Museum.

We arrived right before the IMAX movie "Deep Sea 3D" was about to begin, so bought tickets and rushed to the queue. And were so glad we did. It was amazing in many respects... the filming, the little stories told, the 3D effect, etc. There are no plot twists to report here, of course, but if you have the opportunity to see it, we'd recommend you do so.

After the movie, we explored the Space exhibit, the Flight exhibit, the chronology of technological invention, and the "Who Am I?" interactive exhibit which touched on genetics, psychology, nature/nurture, health, etc. We probably spent a good hour doing many of the available interactive exhibits in this section of the museum.

And tomorrow, maybe a trip to a theatre of a different kind...


A Day in the Country...

... or as Peggy put it, "It's like Busch Gardens!"

We visited an area known as the Cotswolds today, an area about 80 miles west-northwest of London. To get there required a car rental, which meant yours truly had to give it a go with the whole left-sided driving. I had some indoctrination of the concept through a couple of bike rides, and am able to drive a car with a manual transmission. But put the steering wheel on the right side of the car and require the shifting to be done left-handed, and well, it turns into quite a little challenge. (But one, I'm glad to report, we survived with no scratches or dents to cars or us!)

Anywho, the Cotswolds is a collection of idyllic villages filled with stone homes and stores, sheep pastures, hedgerows, narrow lanes and the occasional thatch roof. To Peggy's comment above, it is almost like stepping back in time a bit (sans the roller coasters, of course) as there is little new or modern about it. The geography reminded both of us of the part of eastern Pennsylvania where I grew up – rollings hills, patches of woods, etc. – but has yet to be set upon by developers.

We strolled around Moreton-in-Marsh and Bourton-on-the-Water, both great villages to while away some time. Chloe was still a bit tired from yesterday's excitement, so we visited by car the villages of Broadway and Chipping Camden. We were intrigued by some of the side roads that were characterized as "single track roads" (i.e. wide enough for one car.) So on our way back to London, we decided to take one and ended up a) going through a small village called Heythrop, and b) getting slightly lost, but allowed us to visit other villages like Bloxham and Barford St. Michael. Getting into these "out of the way" places was great as it got us away from the tour buses and crowds.

For pictures, visit this link.
For artsy fartsy pictures, visit this link.


Kensington Gardens / Hyde Park Pictures

As always, click on the picture to enlarge it.

Paddle-boating around the Serpentine in
Hyde Park

Chloe enjoying the Princess Diana playground
in Kensington Gardens

Kensington Palace and gardens

Chloe on her way up to the Crow's Nest

The First Couple of Days

I'm glad to report that, after 5 days, Chloe and I are time-zone adjusted. To be sure, it did take a couple of days, especially for Chloe who for the 1st couple of mornings found herself waking up at 10a or later. I was on schedule by Wednesday, in large part to waking up when Peggy was getting up and out for work.

In the days intervening our arrival and now, we've had some pretty busy times both sightseeing and getting the flat in order. On Tuesday, after getting myself a pass for the Tube, I took Chloe to Westminster just so she could see some of attractions in person which up until now she had only seen in pictures on the web. Withing minutes of exiting the Tube station, Chloe was able to see Big Ben/Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and The London Eye. After another short Tube ride, I took her to see Buckingham Palace (you can see some pix of these in earlier posts.) She got a kick out of the guys with the big, black bushy hats!

The hustle and bustle of city life was a little bit of a shock to Chloe -- being accustomed to the more laid-back style of Boulder -- and the whole looking Right-Left-Right thing when crossing a street is not an easy adjustment, but she is catching on.

Wednesday's highlight was enjoying a true English experience -- watching the England v Slovenia World Cup match in a pub. Peg's office, like apparently many others, shut down just before 3:00p so people could catch the game. It was an exciting affair, and the passion for football was on full display. (Of course, it was all capped off by the USA winning their match, and thus winning their group!)

On Thursday, Chloe and I played full-blown tourist by taking a double-decker sightseeing bus around the city, viewing the key sites like St. Paul's, Hyde Park, Tower of London and London Bridge, Bond Street, etc. We tweaked the plan a little bit by using one of the sightseeing river boats on the Thames to make our way back to the Westminster area, where we boarded the bus again to finish the tour.

Today (Saturday) was/is a pretty full day... I took a 35 mile bike ride with a local cycling club (THAT was an experience with the urban setting, and roundabouts and such), and came home to make hotel reservations in Edinburgh for a long weekend next weekend. Peggy and Chloe went over to the huge playground in Kensington Gardens and possibly a paddle boat ride in Hyde Park (pictures to come in a later post.) And after I post this, I'll be joining them up in Lyric Square (Hammersmith) for an outdoor movie, promptly followed by a visit to a local pub to catch the USA v. Ghana match.

Some blog potpourri:
- Saw someone with a Franklin & Marshall shirt and another with a Philadelphia Phillies hat, and whilst on the bus tour, there was a small group of people from Fort Collins, CO.

(Pictures, top to bottom: Peggy & Chloe on our patio shortly after our arrival, with the Thames in the background; Chloe and I coping with the 7-hour time change; Chloe and Tower Bridge.)


Goodbye Rockies

I will miss you...

Send the Word Over There That the Yanks are Coming...

... and there's one on the scout team already there!

This is one of the few posts on this blog that is being written on the same day as the event, and is being written as Chloe and I sit in the British Airways lounge awaiting our flight to London to join Peggy who's been there for a bit over 2 weeks already. (We're getting a kick out of the accent we're hearing in the lounge, and we've been immersed for less than 45 minutes, and in "the colonies" no less.)

The next several weeks are sure to be quite an experience for all of us... even Chamberlain, who despite staying stateside, will surely be spoiled rotten by the woman taking care of him whilst (see, it's catching on!) we're away. We'll surely see a fair bit of London, but have plans to be in Paris for the last stage of the Tour de France (Peg had to twist my arm for that trip!), and it looks like Chloe and I will join Peggy on business trips to Geneva and Cologne. We also hope to catch a match at Wimbledon and are looking to take a trip over 4th of July weekend to Edinburgh (we were thinking about hosting a 4th of July cookout for some of Peg's coworkers and friends we have here as a slight nose-thumb to the monarchy!)

Well, pip pip cheerio, al-you-min-yum, shed-yule, bloody (noun), and all that jazz... more to come from the island.