Weather is still on the cool side and cloudy with scattered showers. I was hoping for sun...but then every day I hope for sun! We finished getting things ready for Emily, Marianne, Kirsten, and Rikki's visit - they arrive tomorrow.
Tonight for FHE we went bowling with some of the YSA. It was fun, but boy am I getting old and rusty - pretty depressing. I had to use the lightest ball I could find, but we did have a really good time and I didn't finish last!
Tuesday, April 17
We drove to Nottingham Airport to meet the girls who were flying back from Paris. They are renting a car to use in Birmingham. Renting a GPS was going to cost more than the car, so we decided to meet them and have them follow us back to Birmingham. As it turns out, that was totally not necessary. They had to wait an hour to get their car, so they upgraded them to a fancy car with a built in navigation system. Oh well, it just gave us more time with them. They had a wonderful time in Paris and we loved hearing all about it.
After unloading their "stuff", and starting their laundry, we headed to the Cadbury Factory - something on their list of must see places. It was pretty neat, and I'm glad we went. The smell of chocolate was delicious and the story of the company and chocolate making was very interesting. We got some free samples, so who could complain?!
Left to right: Emily, Kirsten, Rikki, and Marianne
We had a yummy homemade lasagna dinner and keep the laundry going. Who knew four girls could have so much dirty laundry after a few days in Paris?
Wednesday, April 18
Today we went to Warwick Castle. It is only 30 minutes from our flat and is a really cool castle. One of my favorite shows there is "The Birds of Prey," and it didn't disappoint.
Sure glad they brought umbrellas (and such cute ones). It continues to rain on and off. Fortunately it is just light rain, but the air temperature is cool, as evidenced by the coats. Last year at this time it was much warmer. Where oh where is spring?!
Horsing around with one of the displays in the castle (when the guards weren't looking).
After coming home we had dinner and spent the evening finishing up laundry and packing. The girls came with only carry-on luggage, so they have kindly agreed to check some luggage with stuff we want to send home - such a blessing for us!
Thursday, April 19
Today we are off to London. First stop is Windsor Castle - official residence of the Queen. It is the place she calls home. She happened to be there today, but for some reason didn't come out to greet us! The weather was all over the place - periods of bright sunshine followed by dark clouds and heavy rain. That's England!
This is the part of the castle that is the Queen's residence.
Windsor Castle is located in a nice village called...Windsor. The village is all around the castle. We had lunch and found this cute old building (below) in the village. It is called the Crooked House and is actually a restaurant. It is definitely leaning to the left, but must be safe - people were inside eating and waving to us.
Upon leaving Windsor we drove to our hotel located close to Heathrow Airport. We checked in and then the girls returned the rental car. We settled into the hotel and had a good night's sleep in preparation for the next few days in London.
April 20 - 22 (21st - HAPPY BIRTHDAY ALEX)
Hotel prices are so expensive in London, but I found nice rooms at the Premier Inn by the airport for £39.00/room/night - what a bargan! Right in front of the hotel is a bus stop that took us about 2 miles to the tube station. From there it was a straight ride into London. The girls bought travel passes with their London sightseeing tickets and it covered their travel from the hotel and all over London. It took us about 45 minutes to get into London, but well worth it considering the great price on our hotel.
The girls saw many of the things we had already seen, and a few we hadn't seen. I think their favorite was the Harry Potter Tour - we passed! But we did see several things we haven't seen before in London.
The Temple Church - the grandest of the Templars' churches to survive in Northern Europe.
This round portion of the church was consecrated in 1185. Some of these stone effigies date to the 1200's. The Knights Templar were soldier-monks who protected pilgrims to the Holy Land during the Crusades. They were men of war and prayers.
Stone carving dating to 1500 BC. Located along the Thames River
Section of Roman ruins dating to the first century. This is located by the London Museum. We had a very informative tour and lecture about the ruins by an archeologist from the museum.
Royal Albert Hall
This is an amazing concert hall. The building is a historical treasure. Fortunately it was not damaged in the war. The interior is unbelievable! While we were there a young man was playing the organ and it was breathtaking. It has over 9,000 pipes. The organ in the Conference Center has 7,000 or so.
Inside Royal Albert Hall
Notice the sign above the door.
Most of the last day in London we spent with the girls - a major portion of which was seeing Harrod's Department Store. Yes, it is a worthy tourist site! Amazing Egyptian escalator hall, food court you would not believe, pet shop with £1,000 + puppies for sale, and a rather tacky statue of Princess Diana and Dodi (her last beau). It might surprise you to know that some of the best souvenirs can be found in their shop. They are better quality and about the same price as what you find at the million street shops and vendors.
Traditional phone booth...modern phone...very cute girls!
Outside Buckingham Palace
London has one of the biggest toy stores I've seen - Hamley's, established 1760. In it are these almost life size, 3D Lego statues of the royalty.
Queen Elizabeth, her puppy, and two foreigners.
The Royal Wedding Party
L to R: Prince Harry, Rikki, Emily, Kate, Prince William, Kirsten, Marianne, and Prince Phillip