Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Castles and Countrysides. London, England. Oct. 31-Nov. 1, 2013


To the stocks she goes!! At Warwick Castle

Where's the best place to be on All Hallow's Eve? In a castle of course ... for an hour at least ...

He sang me a bard in front of  our dear Shakespeare's birth home. At Shakespeare's Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon

Driving through The Cotswolds. A tiny peak of the beautiful villages. How 'bout those thatched roofs, eh?

Who says touristy things aren't fun? "Local" life is so overrated!
Hehejk. But, seriously, we didn't have time fa dat! 

We spent our last two days in England on guided tours outside of London. Being that it might be awhile before we have another grand European adventure, we decided to jam pack as many places and landmarks as possible. This included a 5:30am wake up call the morning after the WGSN Awards (Oh, yes we did!). 

We started our day at Warwick Castle, a fortress that began its construction around the year 914, mhmm 914.  So you can  imagine that with the likes of William the Conqueror, Richard Neville, Queen Elizabeth I, and a surplus of dukes, earls, queens, and kings that contributed to it's story, that this castle had no shortage of a rich and tumultuous history ... and ghosts for that matter. Oh yes, hauntings are definitely part of the attraction. Surprise! That's really why we decided to visit on Halloween! ;) They even had a haunted maze for the kiddies where we met a rather friendly "ghost" along the way. The creepiest installation though was the lifelike wax figures of Henry VIII and all of his six wives on display inside one of the rooms. I wouldn't want to be the one closing up by myself in the evenings if you catch my drift. From there we visited Stratford-Upon-Avon where William Shakespeare's birth home stands. The inside of his home was recreated to look the way it must have been when he was still living: beds, dinner settings, and curators dressed as if they had been plucked from the Elizabethan era (acting included). After Stratford-Upon-Avon, we drove through the  Cotswolds (a glimpse). Lush hills and sleepy villages dating back to the middle ages, make up the natural wonder and charm of this countryside.

Welcome to my university! ... kidding, I only wish it were so ... or do I?  University of Oxford

The sistah girl pose lives on! I had to! Because I would've deeply regretted not having done this at Oxford.

 Our final destination that Halloween Thursday was Oxford and its university (another haunted locale Weee!). The town and the prestigious University of Oxford was gorgeous with impressive gothic architecture and tall spires. Besides its collegiate status, the university was the inspiration of one famous school that you may have heard of (or may not have), Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The staircase and famous dining hall in the film were replicated from Oxford's own. While not the wildest Harry Potter fan or purist (I only enjoy the movies), Oxford was definitely my favorite trip of the day. I don't know if I would go to school there, but I would love to spend the weekend and traipse about town ... preferably on a vintage bike, wearing saddle shoes, a sweater, and trousers with the hems slightly cuffed (cute, yeah?). 
Visiting Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II at her official home, Windsor Castle.

Our final England outing, the Friday before our early Saturday departures, began at Windsor Castle, the actual home (or one of them) of the current constitutional monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. Unfortunately, she wasn't there when we came acallin' (Rude! lol). I think she's only there on the weekends. The interior of the castle was lavish; rooms and halls filled with expensive furniture, souvenirs from conquests, and gifts from all over the world: priceless. But, the most impressive artifact was the tomb of Henry VIII and last wife, Jane Seymour, housed in an underground tomb of the castle's chapel. You could say that I had a (quiet) geek out. I wish photos were allowed. He wasn't my favorite king by any means (adultery, the inventor of divorce for selfish reasons, and oh yeah ruthless beheadings of some of his wives), but I was in the land of the notorious king that I'd read so much about and he was right under my feet. Nuts!
Big sis, Len, being all dignified and such. At Stonehenge

It really is a wonderment isn't it?

For Jane Austen fans, specifically fans of "Persuasion," the pump rooms are located inside that building to the left! ... and the Ancient Roman baths are in there too. Our last stop, Bath

Exhausted and my canker sore (from cutting my mouth by accident) was in full force.

Waiting and resting, a random courtyard in Bath.

After, Windsor Castle we trekked to Stonehenge, where it was freezing and rainy. But, that only added to its magnificence. We zipped through Stonehenge, however, because our guide was terrible, good historian, but as tour guide .... the worst. If it wasn't for his driver, the sweet natured Malcolm, all hell would've broken loose. Free Malcolm! Free Malcolm! was the motto of the day. Beautiful countryside anyway especially when we made it to the village of Laycock for lunch, the delicious beef wellington was worth the wait. Laycock is also the setting for some scenes of the BBC's "Pride and Prejudice" series from the '90's (that's right, the one that launched Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy, the Darcy that remains in all our hearts). 
Our final destination was Bath, deep into the countryside. Another bad news for us, besides not seeing the Jane Austen Museum, we never saw the famous street lined with all the apartments that you see in films ("Persuasion") and in advertising brochures (*shakes fist in the air* Dang you tour guide that I will not name (unless asked!). But of course, like many places in England (and Europe), Bath was equally enchanting.

On our way back to our hotel in London, I knew that I was ready to go home (and not just for the sole reason that day by day more parts of my hair was frizzing out, growing into a bulbous Will Shakespeare hairstyle with bangs ... think about it). I was content (still eager to visit again though) but, I finally visited the country of my dreams. What a strange coincidence that the venue for my award nomination just so happened to be in London. Despite not winning, I think that coincidence was definitely a gift and with that, I have nothing but utmost appreciation for life's sweet surprises. 
Cheers, London! Thanks for the trip and I'll see you soon!


  1. Thank-you Miss P. for your Amazing Blog about your Trip. I Felt like I was the one in Tour! I REALLY ENJOYED It! Thank-you!

    1. Thank you Aunty Lil! I like writing these so Im happy you enjoyed it!!


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