A Travellerspoint blog

June 2013

Cheers to Colchester

sunny 21 °C

Foodie moment

For the first time this trip I am giving the foodie moment to us! In order to enjoy the red wine we brought back from Bordeau for Barbabra, she decided roast lamb would be a good match. We cooked Roast Lamb on the bone in a honey, garlic, mustard, balsamic and rosemary marinate/crust. For our first attempt i thought it was quite good!

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Another traditional English food is the Cornish Pastie. Although these were not probably as good as the authentic ones they were still pretty great! We had one traditional (beef, potato and onion) and one lamb and mint

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Fish and chips on the beach - the haddock and scampi were great!

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Cultural moment

A bit of a scary one - whilst at the pier we visited the fair. Full of rides and games we came across a selection of machines set up just like pokie machines.... but for children. The sight of the children sitting in front of the screens feeding in 2p coins from their little cups was really disturbing! Not the best habits to be establishing one would think!===

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Wow moment

Our arrival back in Colchester coincided with two things: a wonderful sunny spell and the Colchester Beer festival. So many local and Belgium beers to choose from, we had to be picky or not survive the day (especially as the tastings were half pints!). We liked some, struggled with others (Stout!) but it was great day sitting sipping on beers, eating roast pork rolls in the sun......in the graveyard!

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A day trip to Frinton (A beach town for mainly the retired, about 40 minutes from Barbaras) was a great way to spend a sunny Sunday. There were lots of families out enjoying the sunshine and we walked all the way along to the pier in the next town.

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What we learnt today

The sun comes up at 4am!!! I woke in a panic as i thought we must have slept in but it was just 4am! You think they might want to add more hours to daylight saving to prevent this but then it would be light in the evenings till after midnight - which I can imagine would be hard for getting the kids to bed!!

Posted by travellinglise 01:17 Archived in England Comments (0)

Riding the Royal Wave

rain 14 °C

"I have to be seen to be believed." - Queen Elizabeth II

Foodie moment

Foody heaven in London can otherwise be known as the Borough Market. Although we went on a day when not all stalls were open, the selection of multicultural foods was amazing, and the results delicious! Mark and I enjoyed a Spit roast Hog marinated in rosemary and fennel, Salt cured Beef with pickles and mustard and Chicken Gyoza as well as fresh fruit juice. Wendy and Eric bought some Thai curry, white truffle oil, honeycomb and some wonderful Spanish wine from the Rioja region.

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Tonight, a trip to North East London to meet up with my Aunt, Barbara, for a Turkish Feast at Mangal Ocakbasi. As you step in the door of the restaurant, you are faced with huge skewers of raw meat, and someone cooking them over a flaming barbecue. We had a starter of humas and Cacik, main courses were Yogurtlu, kebabs (chicken, lamb or spicy lamb mince) prepared with yoghurt and a massive side of salad. A dessert of Baklava finished off an amazing meal! Did i mention it was BYO with no corkage!! Two thumbs up!

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Cultural moment

The English will do anything to avoid sitting with other people on public transport. We all like our space when on trains or buses but in London I saw people actually leave seats when someone sat down, and squeeze past the person next to them when another seat became available! Makes you feel a little self conscious.

Wow moment

We saw the Queen!!!!!!!!!! Sorry had to start with that, as even though I'm not a Monarchist, its kind of like seeing a movie star and very exciting!! We went to Buckingham palace to watch the changing of the guard, the crowds were huge and the weather wet but we stuck it out. We saw the new guards march past us with their marching band, and into the gates of the palace. From that point we couldn't see much as all the shouting and marching was coming from beyond the palace gates (plus half a dozen umbrellas had popped up in front of us). What we did notice was a lovely car pull up to the side gates and make their way through to the palace, we didn't think much of it until Wendy commented that the changing of the guard seemed to be stalling, and taking longer that it should. Next thing we know a car pulls out of the palace, the guards jump to attention and the trumpet player bursts out in a fanfare. We look through the back window of the car, and there is Queen Lizzie waving back at us!! The one quick photo I could snap shows a little queen shaped blur...enjoy! :) "Say hi to Lizzie for us", Mark's grandpa had said that morning on Skype... well we did, Wes and Edie, we did!!

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Look, its the Queen!

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What we learnt today

The up and coming English band IYES (https://soundcloud.com/weareiyes) are great to listen to! Barbara is a big supporter of the band and took us along to the pub to hear them sing. A night of great music, company and beer was had by all!

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Posted by travellinglise 11:32 Archived in England Tagged london buckingham_palace the_queen queen_elizabeth_ii Comments (1)

A day with 'Lizzy' and a night with 'Billy'!

rain 9 °C

"Mrs. Wilkinson: This'll sound strange, Billy, but for some time now I've been thinkin' of the Royal Ballet School.
Billy: Aren't you a bit old, miss?
Mrs. Wilkinson: No, not me... you! I'm the bloody teacher!"
-Billy Elliot - The Musical

Foodie moment

Grabbing a quick bite to eat before seeing 'Billy Elliot' we chose a random Italian restaurant near the theatre in Victoria. Although the staff were not the best (The owner rushed us through to start with to get more customers in, but then hesitated to give us our bill when his restaurant started to look unattractively empty as everyone headed to the nearby theatres!) the food was good!

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Cultural moment

Tonight we went to see 'Billy Elliot' in the West End. It was a fantastic show, all of us loved it! The swearing was frequent so the group of children (they recommended it for 8yrs up!!) near us thought it was hilarious!! Our resident theatre expert, Wendy, pointed out a cultural difference between the audience in the UK and Melbourne. The audience at Billy Elliot were really involved in the show, cheering, laughing, clapping throughout the whole thing. Apparently the Melbourne Audiences are a little more restrained, or perhaps unsure of how they should act. Also it really is amazing the number of English that attend the theatre regularly, Each night there are at least 15 shows on in the West End and each is filled (and not by solely tourists). Many of the theatre goers were talking about other shows they had seen, and even comparing this performance to the other times they had come to see the show.

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Wow moment

Windsor Castle is the Queens weekend residence; and with its size, massive stone walls and beautiful gardens this is not a surprise! With the heavens well and truly opening their floodgates, it was a good time to check out the State Apartments. These were well worth a look, particularly the room full of items the British had 'attained' during various battles, such as a gold tiger with crystal eyes and teeth, an Ethiopian crown and countless swords and guns from all over the world. St Georges hall was also spectacular, a long hall that is still used for elaborate banquets. The walls and ceiling are covered with the multi coloured shields of every Knight of Windsor there has ever been, however every now and then there is a plain white shield which represents a knight who acted dishonourably and lost his position. They are left in their position but painted white as a reminder of the oaths you take as a Knight of Windsor.

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Posted by travellinglise 11:08 Archived in England Tagged london musical windsor_castle billy_elliot_the_musical Comments (0)

Sunny Days (And Murder) Around London Town

sunny 20 °C

"I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too." - Elizabeth I

"It is eerie being all but alone in Westminster Abbey. Without the tourists, there are only the dead, many of them kings and queens. They speak powerfully and put my thoughts into vivid perspective." - A. N. Wilson

Foodie moment

Nothing like a Big English Breakfast to fill you up in the morning... and for the most of the day as well!

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When in London you have to go down to Brick lane to have an Indian meal. Then again if you do, you need to be prepared for harassment galore from the touts out the front of each restaurant. It's not all bad though, play your cards right and the touts will give you a great deal! Lucky for us we didn't have to put up with much harassment.....that's because we gave in at the first restaurant!! We did get a great deal though (10 pounds per person for a starter, main, any type of rice, any type of naan and two bottles of wine for the table!) and the food was plentiful and delicious!

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Wow moment

First up today was Westminster Abbey. Although we had all seen many (too many?) cathedrals already in our various trips, this was not just another cathedral, it was THE cathedral.

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A really interesting audio tour narrated by actor Jeremy Irons (For other 'Borgias' fans you can understand how bizarre it was to be guided around a church by 'the Pope'!) led us through the Nave, Quire, Shrines, Chapels and Poet's corner. We learnt so much during the tour i couldn't possibly write about it all but some of my favourite bits were: Seeing the location of the royal coronations and royal weddings, and exploring the graves and memorials of famous poets and writers including Tennyson, Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling, CS Lewis, Keats and Robert Burns.

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The most memorable part for me though was hearing the stories involved with Elizabeth I. She is buried in one of the chapels on the side of the Abbey with her half sister Mary. Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry VIII second wife Anne Boleyn and Mary was the daughter of his first wife Catherine of Aragon (whom he divorced), and I found it strange that Elizabeth was buried on top of Mary as in life they did not get along at all due to their differences in religious opinions, I'm not sure if either would have been happy with the situation! The other great story of the Abbey also involves Elizabeth I. Her arch enemy whilst Queen was Mary Queen of Scots, once again due to religious differences (Catholic vs Protestant). Elizabeth imprisoned Mary Queen of Scots for 19 years and then had her executed. The ironic thing is that due to the fact the Elizabeth I never had any children, when she died her successor was Mary Queen of Scots son, James I. Once he was in power he had his mothers remains reburied in Westminster Abbey in the chapel directly opposite the one Elizabeth I was buried in, he then created a tomb and monument above it to rival the one covering his mother's enemies grave! Another great example of the British thirst for revenge and justice!

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It wouldn't be a trip to London without taking a river cruise, and we had the perfect weather for it!

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A canal cruise from Little Venice to Camden is something I haven't done before but it was on our 'London Pass' so we decided to give it a go, and we were glad we did! It's lovely and calm floating down the canals, cruising past amazing houses in Primrose hill and the London zoo. We learnt all about the days when the barges were horse drawn, and the horse used to walk along the tow path next to the canal with the barge pulling behind. On the bridges we went through you could still see the dents on the edges of the bridge caused by the thick ropes as they wore away at the brick when the horse pulled the barge around the corners. Some of the bridges were very long and didn't have a tow path next to it. When the horse got to these, the barge would be detached and the horse walked above ground over the bridge - this left the barge crew one option - 'legging' it! This is when they would lie on the top of the barge and move the barge through the tunnel by 'walking' their feet along the roof of the tunnel, it could take them over an hour to get through!!

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What we learnt today

Tonight we delved into one of London's most famous mysteries on a Jack the Ripper tour. Although we were all hoping for a bit more of a theatrical experience, the tour was very informative and detailed. We learnt about his victims, the letters sent to the police and the evidence that was lost or purposely removed. We also heard the theories about who Jack really was, and what happened to him when he just disappeared after his final kill. Unfortunately they will only be theories as we will never know who Jack the ripper was (Or my theory - who THEY were as i don't believe all the killings were done by the same guy).

Posted by travellinglise 12:04 Archived in England Tagged london westminster_abbey jack_the_ripper jasons_canal_tours Comments (1)

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