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Some Cliffs, a Battle, and Fish & Chips

BY ABBY

semi-overcast 5 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

Today we went out as a threesome, and left Hannah and my mom at home, as they were both feeling a little ill. But my dad, aunt and I braved the cold and the wind to go for a walk at Beachy Head, which is a very green area right on the side of some cliffs, looking right over the water. It was a very pretty spot, and the cliffs were extremely high and went straight down. Our walk was a little under two hours, and despite the strong wind and low temperature, we all enjoyed it.

After our walk we took a little drive to Battle, a small town near Hastings where the Battle of Hastings took place. On the way we stopped at a place for lunch called Crown Carveries. It reminded us of a cross between ABC's and Denny's back home. Unfortunately, earlier that day they had a little mishap in their kitchen, and the only thing they were able to feed us were desserts or starters. Even though there wasn't much to choose from we decided to give it a go, as we didn't have very many options otherwise. I ordered some tomato soup and cheesy garlic bread, my dad had a ham and cheese melt and my aunt had some nachos. Unfortunately for me, my soup was a little on the cool side, but I was happy to have a little food in me.

Beachy Head

Beachy Head

From there we drove into Battle, and went to the Battle Abbey as well as a couple other stops included in the site. We saw where King Harold died, as well as the area in which the monks stayed. We saw a very short but informative show about the Battle of Hastings, which allowed us to understand what we were seeing. The Normans won by the way.

Click here for a little more information about the battle.
Click here for information on Battle Abbey.

After this we started on our way home, and came back to find the rest of our group sitting on the couch with some hot chocolate, in a very warm house that felt like an old folks home... just how I like it.

I started to cook some chili for dinner, but instead of just coming home with a few more ingredients for the meal, my mom and my aunt came back with some fish and chips from a food truck they had encountered on their journey. Here is a first hand account of their travels:

Muriel's notes:

Battle Abbey

Battle Abbey

Running into the fish and chip truck seemed so advantageous that we couldn't pass it up. When we asked them how long they would be around, they told us only for another 15 minutes (and they only came once a week). We quickly continued on with our original errand of getting a couple of things at the store, knowing we would have to hurry back. They all know everyone here, and everyone's house name as well, it seems. At the shop, the storekeeper asked "Who are you staying with?" (apparently, we stuck out like sore thumbs). When we mentioned the cottage's name, he immediately identifed the owner. He explained they don't get many visitors. Running back to the chip truck, we put in our order and started a conversation with three young British guys while we waited. They were surprised we were in Plumpton Green, they too stating Plumpton doesn't see very many tourists. It turns out one of the young men had been to Canada, staying in Vancouver for two months and becoming a fan of the Canucks en route. Two of the group were planning a trip back to Canada in January, to capitalize on the skiiing. When I mentioned they would have no problem meeting women with those British accents, he said with a cheeky grin, 'Why do you think we're going back?'

We put in a reasonable order for some scampi, 4 large cod pieces, a small one (for Abby) and three large orders of fries to share. Well, what we got was massive! Five small pieces of fish and 1.5 orders of fries would have done us just fine as it turns out. We had chips galore and masses of newsprint to carry them in. When we got our bounty home, everyone was excited and dug in with relish (and ketchup and vinegar, too). The meal on the stove was relegated to the next day.

Posted by KZFamily 02:08 Archived in England Tagged cliffs united_kingdom england walk battle uk cold hastings beachy_head carvary battle_of_hastings Comments (2)

A Day in London: Cousins George & Joan, St. Pauls, & Hardys

BY ABBY

overcast 5 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

Today we planned to split up a little, with three groups going three separate ways. Hannah and I planned to check out Madame Tussaud's, the wax museum, together, while my parents visited my mom's first cousin once removed and his wife. All of us planned to meet up at Saint Paul's Cathedral later in the day, and then head off to an old fashioned sweet shop called Hardy's.

Saint Paul's Cathedral

Saint Paul's Cathedral

But not everything went to plan, because as my parents were dropping Hannah and me off, we noticed that the line was extremely long. It was estimated that it would take 2-3 hours to be able to get a ticket. Both of us came to the conclusion that this was simply going to be too long of a wait, and accompanied my parents on their visit.

I really enjoyed meeting Mr and Mrs Goodall (George and Joan), and I told my mom as we were leaving that it was almost nice that we couldn't go to the wax museum. They are both very nice people, and seem fit for each other. They fill their free time with writing, literature classes, and weekly practices with a music group that George has been with for 40 years.

After our visit, the four of us made our way to Saint Paul's to meet up with my aunt. Hannah was feeling a little ill, so she and my dad chose to skip the cathedral and go straight to the sweet shop for a little before heading off home. My mom and I stayed behind for the 25 minute wait for tickets. We found my aunt shortly, but it turned out that she had already completed most of the tour. She went down to the crypt while my mom and I did a short tour of the top floor, before heading downstairs ourselves. We had come a little too late though, because they closed off the galleries and the dome before we were able to go see them, which for me, was extremely disappointing. Although I have a slight fear of heights, I still had wanted to walk in the dome.

But the part of the cathedral that we did see was very grand and beautiful. Most of the ceiling is done in mosaics, except for a small portion that is painted. There are many memorials dedicated to various people, and thanks to our free audio guide, we were able to learn about each and every one of them. Downstairs in the crypt the tombs are very large and ornate, and many of the names can be recognized as the same ones that have memorials in the upstairs part of the church.

Hardy's Sweet Shop

Hardy's Sweet Shop

The dome, or should I say, domes, of the church are very interesting. There are actually two of them, although you can only see one at a time. From the outside of the church you can see the outer dome, which was built so that it would dominate part of the skyline. The inner dome is smaller, so that from the inside of the church you can still see its beauty, without it being too high up.

Click here for more information on the Cathedral.
Click here for information on the domes. (skip to second last paragraph on first page)

After our visit, the three of us trooped down to Hardy's, and I was very pleased with the result. I had been the one that came up with the idea to go there, and it went beyond my expectations. I bought two types of fudge, chocolate and clotted cream. And I also bought a candy called "Mega Cherry Sours", which, as it turns out, are indeed mega sour.

From here we headed off home, and had a nice warm dinner of leftovers, followed by the watching of an old movie called "Chariots of Fire", before heading off into dream land to wait for Easter morning.

Posted by KZFamily 14:52 Archived in England Tagged london united_kingdom england uk candy relatives saint_paul's_cathedral Comments (2)

Jolly Old England

BY MURIEL

overcast 1 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

After six weeks in Turkey, the day to leave dawned with some bittersweet feelings (except maybe for Abby, who has been anticipating Britain with great eagerness). It has been quite the experience, staying in one country for this long. While we didn't make friends with the language exactly, we came to recognize some oft-repeated phrases and felt a certain miniscule pride when surprising a shop keeper with some brief snippet of a distinguishable response. We appreciated the many varieties of bread; the ubiquitous glasses of chai; tangy-sweet pomegranate sauce; the bounty of cucumbers, tomatoes and oranges; tasty relishes and meat stews; omnipresent doners and pides; and honey-drenched baklava. We acknowledged the great national pride, the devotedness to their republic's founder, the grandeur of the historical sites, and the beauty and interest of the landscape. We carry a fondness now for Turkey that has grown from what it was six weeks ago. Hannah revealed that she feels more comfortable with Turkey than with any other European country, save for France. With familiarity comes ease and understanding. And the urge to return some day.

We had heard some stories about Istanbul taxi drivers, that they try to cheat or intimidate you in some way so as to augment a standard taxi fare. Tricks include palming the 50 lire bill you've just given them, replacing it with a 5 lire one and claiming you've given them the wrong amount. Or, they claim there's a special 'night rate' that's higher than the usual rate or the meter suddenly breaks in the middle of the ride. Wanting to avoid the hassle altogether, we elected to take a convenient shuttle bus that was a 15 minute walk from our apartment. We left our place at 8:45 AM, anticipating our 12:30 PM flight to London. It may seem like a lot of time to allow but we felt it's better to wait a bit than to err in the other direction.

Due to the wait for the next shuttle and the endless detours, we arrived at the airport (named Ataturk Airport -- what else?) at 10:15. The first step as you enter the building is to immediately go through security with all your baggage, both carry on and that to be stowed. I don't know why this is exactly unless it's to render the whole building a safer place in general. At any rate, going through the scanner, the guard saw something in Ben's main backpack that he didn't like. He pulled Ben over and asked him to open it. Now, you have to know that as we travel by car, we accumulate items that then have to be discarded prior to an airplane jaunt. It is always an effort to juggle what we feel we could use in the next country and what we know we have to give up. However, we try to eke out as much space as we can. This time was no exception and Ben had packed his backpack rigorously that morning, going through the effort twice to find just the right packing combination and layout (he is a serious master packer). Faced with the request to now open the bag, I could almost see him refusing or, at the very least, attempting to talk his way out of this. However, sensible as always, Ben acquiesced. The guard then proceeded to tear his neatly arranged contents apart, checking shoe bags and packing cubes, rifling through an orange folder containing printed documents, and generally creating a battleground where once peace reigned. He was looking for a metal implement that had shown up on the scanner. Ben helpfully tried to point out items that might have been metal but these were ignored. After several minutes and a repeated scan, he was unsuccessful in locating the offensive weapon so dismissed us. Ben then asked us to remove anything from the table that wasn't to be packed in his bag and tried to restore the previous state of his backpack. We ensured all on the table was complete and let him go to work. It took some effort and time but, finally, he was able to close the large bag, just. Sadly, that was when he noticed the orange folder lurking nearby, still outside his bag. There was no room for it to fit into our carry on baggage so he unzipped and began again. All was quiet as we watched the process a second time, wanting to be anywhere but here.

Within a mere half an hour of entering the security area, we were once again on our way, this time to check in. Having checked in electronically the night before, we anticipated some savings in time. However, the savings only occurs when you're finally at the counter but not prior, when you're sandwiched in a common lineup for all three flights going to London. "(Do you know how many people want to go to London?" I ask rhetorically.) Once that is over with, we proceed to passport control and then onto the second security area. Thankfully, there are only laptops and an iPad to unpack and we are through in a much shorter time. At length, we arrive at our gate and it is 12:00, a few minutes before boarding. We say a short prayer of thanks that we left early from the apartment.

Helen Meets Us in London

Helen Meets Us in London

Upon our arrival in Heathrow, we are greeted by a warm, familiar face, Ben's sister Helen. We have all been looking forward to seeing someone new within our mix and eagerly mob her, asking her about Canadian weather, marvelling over her small bag, and confirming she has brought the KD packages as requested. Helen will be joining us for the next two weeks of our travels and will then visit extended family in the Netherlands. We are very glad she's joined us and anticipate a lot of fun times ahead.

Leaving on the Piccadilly line (gotta love those English names), we started tubing. Riding the underground. Minding the gap, and all that rot. My first faux pas on the metro was to attempt to move my heavy bag at the same time the train lurched forward. I performed a quick swivel motion and found myself sitting in the lap of a very reserved, previously unsuspecting older British chap. Feeling it was the best way to diffuse the situation (other than actually getting up from his lap, that is), I held out my hand and introduced myself. He smiled weakly. My children rolled their eyes and ducked their heads. Helen graciously allowed me a seat next to her. The man left shortly. I'm saving my next faux pas for tomorrow.
The cold we encountered coming off the metro was biting and the wind, a bit fierce about our ears. It is all of one degree here, and we see some snow on the ground. It feels colder for us than our usual haunts in Canada. Thankfully, the house we rented in London was easy to locate and we found it lit and heated for our arrival. The hosts could not meet us tonight as it's the first night of Passover and they are Jewish. Their home is very comfortable and spacious, giving us three bedrooms and two bathrooms. However, there's always something unusual with these places and we warn Helen about this. Sure enough, at 10 PM, the lights downstairs go off. Fiddling with the fuse box didn't work and the puzzle wouldn't be solved till the morning, when we discovered certain rooms are on a timer.

I must admit it's good to be in the United Kingdom. It just seems easier, what with the Queen's English being spoken. But, speaking of the UK, how many of us can articulate the difference between England, Britain, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom? Let's be honest now. Well, if you're like me, you might need a refresher from time to time and I love to refer to this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNu8XDBSn10) to relearn what I need to on this topic. Hope you enjoy it as well.

Posted by KZFamily 15:19 Archived in England Tagged london united_kingdom england uk Comments (3)

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