Now on to the 4 day whirlwind that was England.
Lesson number one: Sam is not 22 anymore and cannot sustain 3 days in a place and then hop on a train to a new location. Kailey has no interest in trying to sustain this pace either, she would go into a catatonic state.
We arrived in London on Thursday evening at 9pm and had a quick bite to eat at an airport restaurant. We then caught the Underground, minded the gap and made the journey to our hostel, The Palmer Lodge at Swiss Cottage. We made it into our room, met the Korean, Irish and Aussie roomates and then passed out till the next morning.
After a good amount of sleep and a breakfast of bread, croissants and cereal (breakfast of white things) we headed out. We needed to rent a car, get a simcard for our phone and buy a travel towel after realizing that many hostels do not provide them and we did not bring any. We also picked up a guidebook for Europe since we are old fashioned that way, and the pdf on the ipad is nice but not as good. We then headed to the meeting point for the Harry Potter tour and got on the bus just in time, on the way Sam got his first real Cornish Pasty. We then sat in London traffic for an hour and a half on our way to the studio (to read about that head over to Kailey’s blog on the experience).
Skip to eight hours later we returned to London and walked over to Wagamama’s for some excellent asian noodles and rice. We then headed back to the Hostel while visions of Hogwarts and Harry Potter danced through our heads, Sam had terror dreams about crashing and dying on the London Streets. To recap we arrived at 11 pm woke up and went, then we woke up early and left got home at 12 am and went to sleep, woke up early and left again. We are the greatest hostel roomates ever known to this planet.
That morning began Sam’s quest, if you haven’t read that blog go ahead and realize that is my poor attempt at putting into words an experience that will haunt me for years. Now to the great part, we drove out to Stonehenge and got to walk around on a really nice sunny afternoon looking at something that was built 5000 years ago. Then we drove up the road to Chippenham to visit Kailey’s friend Anneka who she met on San Juan Island 11 years ago and visited the next year. 10 years later we show up to say hello, and it was an awesome time. We arrived at the house around 5 pm and were met by Anneka, her mom Carol and Badger the dog. We sat down in the conservatory and had some tea. After getting settled and the blood returning to Sam’s hands and face we made our way down to the village pub, The George. The dinner was excellent, we started with some polenta fries and homemade bread with various dips. I had an excellent local cider and then the meal was for Sam and great steak and chips, and for Kailey a great silver mullet dish. Carol had a fish pie which was at first a little cold, but then they took care of that by turning it into lava. For dessert upon Anneka and Carol’s recommendation I had the sticky toffee pudding which was amazing while Kailey tutored the waitress in the ways of the chai latte.
That night we returned home and proceeded to happily pass out into a food coma until 8 am the next morning. Upon opening the door we found a very polite Badger lying there staring at the door awaiting our awakening. We then headed downstairs where Anneka made an amazing English breakfast of: English muffins, crumpets, English bacon, strawberries that we got from a farmer outside of stonehenge, proper scrambled eggs, orange juice and a PROPER cup of English tea for Sam and some green tea for Kailey.
After breakfast we got together and spent the morning in Bath at the Roman ruins and baths. After walking around Bath and procuring some delightful fudge and coffees we hit the road again to visit with Anneka’s sister Sharon, brother-in-law Oliver and baby Edward. Sharon and Oliver had all just moved into their “new” house. I amend new since the house is actually around 500 years old. The house is a traditional English tudor farmhouse that used to be a cider farm. The farm then went on to host sheep, and eventually cattle for dairy. Sharon and Oliver have been working around the clock for the last year getting it to the point of being restored and ready to live in, a work in progress puts it mildly. That being said it was a beautiful piece of property and an amazing house! Kailey and I were very jealous and extremely impressed by the amazing work they have done so far in restoring the place. The twenty acres they have is full of rolling hills and pasture land that was beautiful in the afternoon sun.
We then realized it was getting late and sadly had to head back to the big city. We headed back to Anneka’s and said our goodbyes. Sam got back in the driver’s seat and back out on the road to London we went. On the way back we discussed that the next time we come to England (two years perhaps? Anneka said we were invited to her masquerade birthday that year, so it’s too late to take that back we already looked at tickets!) we are renting a car at the airport and driving the opposite way from the city. Who knows maybe Oliver and Sharon would like some live-in help for a bit, Kailey can watch Edward and Sam can do some fence mending for a while?
Back on the highway, happy from a great visit with old/new friends we stared down a sea of brake lights on the M4. After sitting in traffic from a crash for an hour or so we made it back to the Hostel. Let’s talk about hostels for a moment, some are great and some are not. This is how you can get such cheap prices, they house a lot of people in one building with various services. Some are downright terrifying and others are amazing how they take you in and make you feel at home. Bedda at the Our House Hostel is a great example of an amazing hostel, Tavel Joy Chelsea (where we stayed that night) is a great example of a terrible hostel. I’ll save the more scathing language for the hostelworld review I am about to write, but this place is where dreams go to die. The room that had 6 beds was so packed with the beds that most of the lockers were in the bathroom. I won’t go through all the horrific details but needless to say a good nights sleep was not had. At least we didn’t have to wake up super early to beat traffic to return the car….oh wait that’s exactly what the next morning was.
Sam woke up, ran down to the car and actually had a very pleasant drive to return the car! No honking, no stalling, no dead pedestrians. Sam then returned to save Kailey from the room and out we went into the London morning fresh air. We made it over to Buckinham Palace and did some sight seeing before returning to the hostel, grabbing our luggage and hopping a taxi to the train station. We then made our way down to the train, boarded and rolled out into the English country side with Belgium in our sights. Minor detail was that we had no confirmation of where we were sleeping that night, but hey that’s part of the fun eh? Tune in next time to see if Sam made Kailey sleep in a train station or not….
~S & K