Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A few places I've seen

I haven't really been able to post because the Internet and upload speed on my Internet stick is S-L-O-O-O-W. I'm currently at the Cumberland Hotel in London, so I have high speed Internet takes seconds to upload...I'm so excited!!! We'll discuss London later. Here are a few of my noteworthy excursions:

Billericay, Essex:

For a small town, this place has some serious history. One piece of information I found interesting is that they have a town in the US which mirrors Billericay; it is called Billerica, which is in Massachusetts, near Boston. Of course, they didn't want to call it the same thing yet wished to keep some sort of English connection, so they took the "y" off the end of the town name. Today, they keep a sort of friendship between them and open their homes to visitors traveling between the two places. It's like a Billericay a bad idea actually.

Not much to say really, I just took a lot of pictures. They have around 18 old buildings from the 15th century to the 18th century Georgian architecture. None of the buildings were built on foundations, so they are slowly inching down the hill. They really are great are some of them:

This is on Norsey Road...they are 18th century cottages. One interesting thing about them is that they were not built upon a foundation (and still stand)...most of the stores and houses in Billericay are not built on foundations; yet, they have only crept down the hill a matter of inches.

This is a timber framed house built in 1577...I think it is just amazing how they can stand today.

St Mary Magdalene church and it's front door and 15th century clock tower.

There was a pigeon perched on a throne of his own in the pic on the left, so I had to take his pic.
This is Foxcroft Georgian style built in 1750. In 1935 it was a children's home. I absolutely love the ivy growing on's a nice sign of Autumn with the gradual color change of the leaves.

This pic shows...beyond the coined phrase "sunlashes" (I can't remember for the life of me which siesta coined that phrase.)...a 16th century half timber style; however, back in the day, the exposed beams were not black...they were a natural gray (and I actually have a picture later of what it would really look like if left natural).

This is very noteworthy. It's called The White Hart and was built in the 18th century. Two of the windows have been bricked off because back then there was a window tax, and of course, this has many windows, so in order to not be charged tax for all the windows, they bricked two off and have kept it that way as a reminder of window taxes.

Ok, so I took 140 pics of places in Billericay, so I must move on now.

Next stop...Leigh, Essex:

This is the award winning beach in Leigh...and believe me, my camera didn't miss much of it...haa haa haa...that's it.

This is what I ate in Leigh:

The cup consisted of prawn, crayfish tails, mussel's, and cockles. The more I ate, the bigger the cup Actually, I ate the shrimp (they eat it with pepper and vinegar...I wasn't so fond of that...kind of made it smell a bit more fishy), I tried a crayfish tail and gave the rest to Jackie, then we got down to the mussel's:

Promise you...I said "Jackie...I swear that one below has eyes and is looking at me." It took me about two minutes to gain enough courage to eat it, and...well...Jackie had the rest. lol

These guys are cockles...I found them to be quite yummy, but after about four, I began to cringe, and...well...Jackie ate the rest...haa haa haa. I love seafood, really! Maybe all they needed was butter and

This is Jackie's son Jack. Jack ate Mackrel:

More later. I'm off to see more of London now.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Rest of My Travel

I do apologize for not keeping up with the much to little time to say it...and picky airwaves (the cloud cover leaves much to be desired for wireless blogging)...BUT, I love it here.
12:00 pm Canada time I boarded the largest plane I have ever been in. I sat right in the center and the plane seemed to go forever before me and behind me. I was quite a bit nervous at first because my mind just could not wrap around the fact that this plane can take off IN THE AIR with so many people on board. Side note: I took my camera this time, but I had an isle seat, and I didn't think people would be too happy with me snapping a pic of all of them...there were some grumpies. I realize people must travel frequently and not all have a silly American, first-time-out-of-the-states perma-grin on their face; and most are sooo tired, but WOW, the essence of it all is incredible. I just hope behind the grumpies lay the thought of the blessing of it all...we are really some blessed people. Ok, hopping off my soap box now. When the plane finally began to move, it was very bumpy...much like riding in my pickup. As we bounced along the runway the lights in the cabin flickered quite eerily as it resembled being in the midst of an episode of the Twilight Zone. I noticed I wasn't the only one nervous and a little freaked out...I saw the lady across the isle and we both shot each other an understanding grin sort of reassuring each other that this beast would actually take off; and, indeed we did and faster than any other takeoff I have ever experienced.
Inside the plane was another world. It had television monitors which showed a map of where we were and where we were headed; and, as we traveled, the plane moved across the sea in proportion to where we were. The man beside me was fast asleep and had a case of the twitches, the lady in front of me had the largest nose ring I have ever seen...I wanted so badly to ask her if I could take a picture, but even I knew that would be, the things that thrill me.
There were so many people of different races, and obvious religions, and styles, and was fabulous! I sat there for three hours making up stories in my mind about their lives...that's a fun past-time, try it, just remember, mental pondering don't make it true. I found that out when I arrived.
So, I arrived in London at 11:00 am and went through customs...I heard so many people complain about customs, but really, it's not that bad. Of course, the people complaining were mostly people from their own country...and that line was three times as long as the line of foreigners. They seem to have every method of transportation possible here...they have the train, the plane, the bus, the "tube" which is like a subway I think (I've never actually been on the subway). My mental picture of London was actually much different than the actual place. Their advertisements here are wooooo bad bad bad, or as they would say "naughty." They also have graffiti just like we do. The difference is the landscape and architecture and overall ambiance of the place. I actually thought it was a London thing to have red doors on every house...haa haa haa...not so. I didn't realize they have coffee here either...well, they don't do coffee like we do, but they do have coffee...espresso...their coffee is espresso. I went into a coffee shop at the main station and asked for a coffee and they said "white or black"...I was thinking white beans (which would be raw coffee beans) or black beans (which are cooked coffee beans); but as I was wrapping my brain around what the lady was saying, she said "milk." Duh. I said "oh, white" and she said "Americano" and I said "I don't want an espresso drink, to which she replied "it's coffee," so that is what I got. Must say, the coffee here is really not too bad.

Ok, so day one (which is a continuation of the last 24 hours) I don't remember much of. I think we went "up the high street," (the main street in the town) but I didn't do much looking around, we visited the shops here. I've learned that "up the town" means we will be going to Billericay; however, "up town" means we will be visiting London.
I love best that there is not the same of everything here...there are no department stores, few franchises, and mostly you would support local businesses...I like each a piece of their own. What we know as thrift stores are called charity shops and they have the charity they support written across the door. The street is lined with charity was fun going in these places, they were highly organized...and clean. ;)

From there, Jackie and I met one of her friends for coffee (I think this coffee place is like a European Starbucks), and they have little templates that decorate your's I took a pic.

Of course, they only have one template which is the Costa (name of the shop) insignia (lower left cup-o-jo).

Later I went out to the farm where Jackie keeps her horse and saw real farm couldn't help but take was wonderful being on an actual working farm again.

The chicken followed me all over the place.

I'll have to post more about the little town of Billericay long as the clouds coverage is low. The people I am staying with go to bed early (like 10 or 11...yikes) and get up late (around 8am). I suppose I am still on University time, so I still go to bed at 2 and get up at 6. So, I have plenty of solo time to play online and get my homework done.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Journey of Fun

It is so exciting to be outside the United States. In July I purchased my passport in anticipation of traveling, and even though it is only day one, I am so thrilled. I stayed up until 2am and then got up at 6am hoping to be tired so I could sleep during the flight, but I was on such an adrenaline rush, I doubted I could sleep at all; however, I was out and totally missed the take-off. I love the take-off...I would call it my favorite part of flying, but it ties with the landing because each landing there is a delicious fear that the tail of the plane is going to scrape the ground before the wheels do...hee hee hee...just one of my weird quirks. Well, I woke up just after take-off when the overly zealous flight attendant started selling dinners...eww...who actually purchases airline food? I always thought there was a reason it used to be free. Anyway, I couldn't go to back to sleep...could have been the coke, but I think I am just really excited. Prior to taking my seat, I grabbed my Ipod and headphones out of my bag, and for a moment, I thought that I should grab my camera, but on second thought I figured it would be silly to take pictures from the window of an airplane...I so wish now I had been silly! I saw the most beautiful sunset I have EVER seen in my life!!! It looked like a rainbow stretched out across the had the most brilliant colors and it would be a shame to just call them red, orange, yellow, and was simply magnificent; oh, and I saw it through my window which had a picture frame of frost along the bottom.
I am currently awaiting my connecting flight in Toronto...Canada. I wish I had more time to spend here. It was dark by the time I arrived, but the lights were fabulous...I love city lights at night, the gold, white, and red flickers give me the warm fuzzies of Christmas Eve...mmm.
I think I am supposed to board my flight at 22:10 (right now it's that's a lot of counting), but the flight board says 23:10...wooo I'm so confused.
Ok, I have to confess...I stopped at Starbucks here, and the lady gave me my total and I had that deer in the headlights look and actually said "oh no, that's Canada money huh?" The lady laughed and said "well, you can pay US money, but you will get Canada change." The mighty plastic saved me from having to figure out foreign money. It was actually kind of funny, I gave her my bank card which has snow covered mountains and the lady said "oh, this makes me cold looking at it." Then she showed everyone working there and they all laughed...I guess it late...everyone gets a little silly. YIKES, I just realized I drank Starbucks!!! much for sleep now!
Well, this is part one of my journey. I will arrive tomorrow in London at 4:30 am MST which is 11:30 am in London. From there I will hop the "tube" East bound to Liverpool, meet up with my friend, and head to Billericay. I am so excited...I am an architecture was my second love from my teen years and beyond. So, if you enjoy architecture, I hope you check back for some pictures.