The last day

By the last day I had decided a few things.

I’d decided that I 100 percent plan to make my next significant purchase a Nikon or Canon fancy camera.

I’d decided I kind of want to live in London.

I’d decided I was no longer grossed out by eating either cucumbers or salmon. (But not together.)

I’d decided not to kidnap a British child – I really want one with that accent.

And I’d decided I could totally live in a city with public transportation like London’s and no car if possible. Cheaper and easier. And I can read on the way to and from work.

Our hosts had decided we were their favorite guests so far. Naturally. How can you look at these two ladies and not realize they’re a couple of good ones?

They’d also decided they didn’t want us to go home – at least that’s what Matthew said standing in his kitchen right after we’d lugged all our stuff down into the foyer.

We felt the same way. We could have stayed in for another month, which I’m sure our hosts would have loved.. ha.

But after our goodbyes and loading our stuff into the car that would take us to Heathrow (yay for not having to lug heavy suitcases up and down stairs while trying to make the train on time. Also, woo, fancy!) it was really over.

Sadness.

We had a long day ahead of plane riding, airport sitting and please God don’t let them show Jane Eyre again on the plane.

The first plane – that took us all the way from England to Hotlanta – had Ashley and I sitting across the aisle from each other. She was next to a normal lady (as far as I know, haven’t heard otherwise) and I, of course, was next to a lady I thought might get escorted off the plane before takeoff.

Yeah. She apparently didn’t have the proper documentation for her 1-year-old daughter and was yelling at the stewardesses and stewards (is that what you call the guy ones?) that it was ridiculous and if she had done something wrong how had they let her get this far?

Eventually all calmed down and she got to keep her seat and the seat in between us was occupied off and on by her 1-year-old, who was one of the cutest kids I have ever seen.

The same cannot be said for the children sitting behind me.

Now I love kids. I have a lot of patience with them, I think. But after the second hour of kicks to the back of my chair by the 3-year-old and the accompanying loud crying by his baby sister, I was kind of over it.

The baby next to me? An angel. I kept looking at her and thinking “God bless you for behaving.” Like, even when her mom got up to go to the bathroom and left her with me (I’m so trustworthy-looking) she was fine. Oh and we watched a little bit of Green Hornet together.

Thank God for headphones to drown out the baby behind me, because that’s what saved me. That and two blink-and-they-were-over naps. I watched three movies on the way home and once we started our descent into Atlanta, I thought we were in the clear – a couple hours of relaxing and reading in the Atlanta airport and then a quick flight (especially after the marathon we’d just been through) and home to sleep and sleep and sleep. And upload pictures.

Oh I wish that was true.

You see, the landing in the ATL was a bit rough. So much so, in fact, that the troublemaker lady next to me, got her tummy jostled and threw up. Yeah. In the aisle on the other side of her, luckily, but then, she elbowed me in the shoulder with chipmunk-like cheeks, looking for another barf bag.

Fun fact: Delta does not put puke bags in everyone’s seat pockets. Because I had to ask four people for one before I found one.

Yeah. All this time, her cute baby girl is crying because she has no idea what just happened to her mom, she just knows its not good. Oh and also it smells like VOMIT.

Another fun fact: When Rach and Swarles brought back Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans from Harry Potter World earlier this year, several of us tried the vomit-flavored bean. Very and disgustingly realistic.

So. Baby Girl is crying, Mom looks like she could puke again at any second. Breathing out of my mouth, I offer to hold the little one while Momma gets cleaned up – because I’m nice like that and the kid didn’t have any puke on her, otherwise…

All this time, though, WE’RE STILL LANDING, and I’m thinking two things – thank God and all that is holy that this happened at landing and not takeoff and also remember to breathe through your mouth.

Someone was kind enough to throw a Delta-provided blanket over the mess, which saved some from seeing it, but yeah, still smelled like puke. And then I saw it had gotten on the lady’s leg across the aisle from her and I almost lost it myself.

Needless to say, we were as quick to get off the plane as we could possibly be. But not before we saw a baby with an apparently weak stomach (this is the same annoying baby that was behind me on the plane the whole time) throw up. On top of the blanket on top of the other vomit.

GET ME OUT OF HERE.

Then we get on the plane to go home. The last leg of this hellishly long and puke-filled day. Quick and painless, right?

HA. Would have been, had we not been seated to the back and left of the most annoying family ever. Seriously. Grandparents that talked like babies to their twin granddaughters who were 2 years old and had the highest pitched voices I have ever heard outside of someone inhaling helium. Not that bad if they were quiet, but yeah, pretty sure they talked/squeaked/yelled/screeched the entire ride home.

Add that to the fact that you’re not allowed to turn your iPods on until you’re at the right altitude and Ashley and I had both decided we never wanted to have kids. Not really, of course, but nothing screams birth control like, well, screaming kids.

Maybe we were pissed already because we didn’t want to come home yet.

Maybe we were pissed because we had to taxi all the way to the gate from the landing breathing in the smell of puke.

Maybe we were confused on what time it was.

But, we were home safely, with all our luggage and bedtime in sight. Hallelujah.

And thus ends the story of Laura and Ashley Go To England.

That sounds like a children’s book – someone get on that.

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You have to admit, it’s a better name

On the last night we were in London, we were talking about the differences between America and England. After a couple lessons in speaking the language, we started talking about the important stuff.

Me: “You guys have snuggies?”
Seb and Emma: “What’s a snuggie?”
Me: “You know, those blankets with sleeves.”
Seb: “Oh those. We call them slankets. Or bleeves.”

The fif one

So at this point you’ve heard about almost everything. Except day fieeeeeeve and the trip home. Aren’t you excited?

After cramming a ridiculous amount of sightseeing, culture, shopping, walking, tubing and food into the first four days, on the day before we left, we took it easy. Kind of.

We dropped Alistair off at his day camp and headed for the O2, which, if you’ve never heard of it, is a ginormous arena with a bunch of restaurants and everything in the world inside of it. Almost.

It’s where we went to see the Titanic exhibit, which I was pretty excited about because I’d wanted to see it when it stopped in Louisville, but missed out. Plus, ya know, I did see the movie four times.

Why? One word: Leo.

The exhibit – a traveling one – tells stories of several of the passengers as well as puts on display everything they’ve brought up from the wreckage at the bottom of the ocean. It’s amazing how much some of that stuff is still intact. There was a shelf of plates where the shelf had disintegrated but the plates were still there, perfectly lined up where they landed.

When you start to go through the exhibit you’re given a boarding pass. It has the name of a passenger on it and some information about them and at the end you find out if you lived or not. Lovely.

I was a first-class lady (naturally) who was coming home from visiting family in Paris. And apparently, I had been warned by a fortune teller not long before I got on the boat to “stay away from water.” WOOPS.

Ashley was a second-class lady who was a model and a mistress. Scandalous!

The others we were with – Matthew’s friend Penny, her son Ethan (who I taught to say hamburger like an American) and Penny’s dad Wolfgang (honest-to-God, and he is Scottish) – were various passengers with similar stories. I think Ethan was a second-classer too.

Matthew, however, was a bigshot. He was Ismay, the owner of the White Star Line, the company who owned the ship. If you saw the movie, he’s the skeeze who jumps in a boat with a bunch of women and children like a chicken and one of the crew members sees him but lets him go.

About halfway through the exhibit is part of an iceberg, supposedly. Or, a big chunk of ice that they’ve cooled to the temperature it was that night.

It was so cold it burned, if that makes any sense. I kept my hand on it for approximately five seconds. Had I really been on the ship and ended up in the water, my weak-threshold-for-pain ass would have died quickly.

We get to the end and wouldn’t you know it, we all died. Except Matthew. Sad.

We consoled ourselves – well I did anyway – by trying to teach Ethan how to say words like we do, but not before he showed us his “American rap skills.” I don’t remember all of what he said, but it was something like, “And where my bitchez at?”

He’s 13. Go America.

Keeping with the theme of the day, we took our own boat ride after a quick lunch. We took the boat down the Thames – pronounced Temms, like PIMM’S. WHAT?? – to a tube stop closer to home.

From there it was time to figure out a way to re-pack all of our stuff, plus souvenirs, without going over the 50-pound weight limit allowed before you have to pay extra. That was fun.

That night, we found out, we were headed to a dinner party in Chelsea, with Roma and her family and Matthew, Alistair and Allyson of course. The dinner was at their friend Sally’s, who is the first person all week to give us the European kiss-on-each-cheek thing.

The food was delicious, and there was wine and champagne a-plenty. Also part of the dinner party? A discussion on how Ashley and I were the No. 1 guests who’ve stayed with Matthew and Allyson.

Yep. We’re awesome like that.

You see, Allyson had made a list of the things we needed to do as soon as we got there. We’d accomplished everything on it, and then some – for example, hang out with an old Scottish man.

I’ve told her to frame it. And hold everyone that visits after us to the high standard that we’ve set. It’ll be hard to match…much less to beat.

Dinner was delicious, of course, and that’s the night we had the Gu cake that I would possibly marry if it wouldn’t be weird. It was that good.

Oh and before we left, we made sure we took some pictures – well, Sally’s son Seb took some – and then we got some of our family.

This is Sally.

Seb and Emma (Roma’s daughter)

Straight-up gangstas

Roma’s son, Alex

Family!

And we couldn’t resist a last-minute run up the stairs to get a quick picture of Sally’s bedroom. Why? Because, according to her, at some point, Charles Dickens had had sex in the house where we’d just had dinner. In what’s now her bedroom. Yay history!

I didn’t want to go to bed that night because it meant it was over. And we in no way wanted it to be over, therefore we decided we’re going back. ASAP.

Oh you fancy, huh?

Normally I’m not a fan of Mondays. They are not my favorite. In fact, I most often refer to them as my nemesis (nemeses?).

But the Monday I spent in England? Best one I’ve had in as long as I can remember.

Of course, any day immediately increases in potential when it starts with one of these.

Ashley started out with one of those – I had the ‘Afrocat’ as we called it. But this looked too good to skip and we had a long day ahead, so I needed all the caffeine I could handle.

The delicious breakfast we had was at the Wolseley. Which we passed at least three times while trying to find it, and then asked someone at Starbucks who was an asshole, because they were four doors away from the place and just decided to have a little fun with the dumb, lost Americans.

I suggested a Starbucks protest.

Anyway, the Wolesley was next to The Ritz, and around the corner from several places I will never be able to afford.

Case in point:

After not even attempting to enter a single one of those stores – we just took pictures of all of them from the street. Then we headed to one of the only places this nerd wanted to visit in London.

Yep. That’s Platform Nine and Three-Quarters.

SPOILER ALERT: It’s not actually on a platform, it’s outside King’s Cross Station. And unfortunately, you can’t actually run through it to catch the train to Hogwart’s.

But that doesn’t mean I didn’t try.

Next on the list? A jaunt through the park. But what would make the trip better? BIKES.

Yeah. That was a good idea, even though it didn’t seem like it at first. It took us forever to figure out how to pay for the damn things and then when we got them free, Ashley got on hers to find that the seat was up about 10 feet to high.

Geez, you guys. You know how they compare things to bike riding? Like, “It’s just like riding a bike.”

Yeah, they should stop saying that. Because I hadn’t ridden a bike in years. And it showed.

This picture is of me soon after I texted Rachel telling her what we were doing and how I hadn’t ridden a bike in about 40 years.

Oh, and Ashley fixed her seat.

Once we got going, though, things got a little easier. And the view was pretty great.

It was a lot like this, actually.

Only not really. We didn’t sing. Mostly laughed, especially when I not once, not twice, but three times, rode right over signs on the ground that said “No cycling.”

And then we had a stranger that could have easily stolen our cameras take a picture of us in the pretty park.

Matthew had suggested a place to go for dinner and we were almost there when we spotted something we thought was possibly more awesome. A sushi place where everything’s on a conveyor belt.

Yeah. You grab what you want as it comes by and then based on the color of the plate(s) when you’re done that’s how much you pay.

It was yum times 10. And kind of like a game.

After that, it was on to a kind of shady part of town for the Jack The Ripper tour.

Remember how I joked we’d do the Murder Tour of London? OH WE SO DID FOR REAL.

We so excited.

This is Adrian. Our tour guide. He knows everything there is to know about Jack The Ripper.

One of the victims got killed here, I think. I dunno. We went several places and learned a lot, actually. Like that JTR didn’t have 11 victims like many people think. He only had five.

We saw real blood on the street during the tour, too. Shady part of town, I tell ya. Or possibly put there for dramatic affect?

Nah, it was shady.

We finished the evening with a nice walk across London Bridge.

Pretty.

Oh, and then there was some PIMM’S drinking. Duh.

At this point? One day left. Sad. But dammit if we hadn’t gotten pretty much everything we wanted to do, done. We are efficient.

And on the third day…

…they went to see the queen. Well, her house anyway.

Sunday morning we, along with probably a million other people, headed for Buckingham Palace, to watch the changing of the guard. We somehow managed to get pretty close to the fence, which really is still pretty dang far from the action.

But at least we weren’t like these people. I’m not sure why they came because I’m pretty sure all they could see was fence and the person in front of them.

There was lots of marching back and forth to the gate, which was kind of weird, because it was just two at a time and they would march to random spots along the gate. Oh and there was a dog.

Their marching style is interesting. When they halt, they kind of kick their leg out to the side and bring it back around before stomping. I don’t know how to explain it.

One got really close so we at least got a few shots of the guard without too much of the gate in the way.

Then it was off to lunch with Allyson, Matthew and Alistair, but not before we had our Sunday morning dose of religion, made possible by this monument/exhibit/art thing we passed in the park by the palace.

Lunch was at this Chinese restaurant in I-Have-No-Idea-Where-We-Were Notting Hill. No Julia Roberts or Hugh Grant sightings though.

Matthew was in charge of ordering and rightfully so. I’m pretty sure I fell in love with every dish he ordered. There was dim sum, this doughy-shrimp thing, noodles…I may have even had tofu, I don’t know.

After that, it was time to head to Abbey Road. Yep. THAT Abbey Road.

It’s still a working road, but since pedestrians have the right of way there, cars have to stop while silly tourists cross the street doing their best John, Paul, George or Ringo walk. Also while the person in charge of taking the picture risks death and stands – or squats – in the middle of the road. In traffic. Pandemonium I tell ya.

But of course, we jumped right in and did a couple trips across the road and back.

It’s funny to watch though, because you know it pisses some of those drivers off. There’s a webcam set up where you can watch live every day and see some of the craziness for yourself. You’ll see what we saw – Beatles fans trying to act oblivious to cars to get a picture of themselves that’s only slightly as cool as that album cover.

It was awesome.

Then, yours truly found out we were near Baker Street and wouldn’t ya know it, that’s kind of famous too. Sherlock Holmes, anyone? 221B, baby.

I have to admit I’m pretty partial to the Robert Downey Jr. version.

But yeah, Sherlock Holmes was a character in a series of books first.

We visited the gift shop where I almost bought a pipe to not smoke out of, but decided against it because I had to save my money for practical things like pens shaped like Big Ben and William Shakespeare.

There was a museum with tours we didn’t take part in but made sure we got our picture with the hat and pipe and a quite exuberant policeman.

The tube station we took home left from Baker Street and along the walls were different colored silhouettes of Holmes. I think I want to decorate my bathroom with them one day.

Now no English experience would be complete without a visit to the pub. Luckily, there were several in walking distance of where we were staying. So, after I whooped some booty at Progressive Rummy against Matthew, their neighbor Roma and Ashley, we headed up to the pub whose name I couldn’t tell you because I don’t remember it.

All of us plus Roma’s family started out the night on the patio, playing cards, but once we heard there was a trivia game about to start, we quickly moved inside.

Ashley sang my praises on random, ridiculous knowledge, making me worried if I’d be able to perform under the pressure. And that’s only if they weren’t local questions. If the questions were about London, well, I’d serve them better staying out on the patio.

This pub, I should mention, is where Ashley and I began our love affair with PIMM’S. Roma was drinking one and we decided to try them after our beers and never looked back. It was fate, really.

Picture a chorus of angels singing.

Also fate, having a couple questions in the trivia game that Ash and I were perfectly suited for. In a music round she was able to identify Warren G’s “Regulators” by the first few notes of the song and I unscrambled a word that I could have gotten a lot quicker if I’d realized at the beginning that where we put a “z” in England they usually put an “s.”

Oh and they asked what U.S. state Boston was the capital of. When we told Roma’s husband Andrew the answer, he said “Thank God you’re here.”

We do what we can.

We didn’t win, but we had a pretty good showing.

And at least the food and the PIMM’S were yummy.

All royal and whatnot

Day 2. We’ve still got a ways to go, kiddos. You’re gonna get tired of this. Or you’re gonna love it. And if that’s the case, I will gladly take that love and support and maybe even money? and use it to move to London and get a job as a tour guide on a double decker bus, or professional PIMM’S taster. You know, wherever I’m needed.

I digress.

Day 2 was probably my favorite day of the trip. I had slept for 13 hours – a new record, I’m pretty sure, followed only by the first night after my appendix came out. But those weren’t consecutive hours of sleep, really. I just slept. A lot. Not much else you can do after you’ve been shanked in three places and they removed an organ.

In unrelated news, I might have ADD.

OH! What did we do the second day? I’m glad you asked.

We started the day with various modes of transportation that finally let us off at Hyde Park/Kensington Palace. If you don’t know Kensington Palace, it’s where Princess Diana lived. And it’s where Prince William and Kate are going to live.

The park is beautiful. It’s huge and filled with people just there to RELAX. What is that? People bring books or kites or picnics or wine (no public intox laws there, y’all) and spend the day just chillin’ at the park.

Or, in the case of this dude, getting some hardcore sleeping in.

We took a walk up to the gates of the palace, where we saw all kinds of cards, balloons, flowers and photos for Diana, since her birthday had just passed.

And then we marveled at the fact that instead of letting Saturday be your catch-up-on-life or nurse-a-hangover day, these people were just enjoying the park. Maybe they were doing one of those two things, but I saw a lot of reading, napping and playing going on. Loved it.

Naturally, because we were at a park and there was a hill, we had Alistair roll down it. And took pictures of it. Here he is after some exhausting hill-rolling.

Then I offered to pay him two pounds if he could tell me my name. This is funny because from the second we got there, he knew Ashley’s name and called me Mommy’s Cousin, which I thought was hilarious. I knew they’d be best friends immediately and I was right. I love being right.

So Ashley photographed the ordeal as he thought and thought and thought before he said “Sally?”

We had a re-test a few minutes later so he earned the two pounds. And knew my name from then on.

So then, we made our way around the palace, past the gardens.

They’re all about free events for the family in London, so while we waited for a table at The Orangery, where we’d be having proper English tea, we watched the old people dance and the kids do crafts and listen to stories until we saw some royal robes they were letting people try on.

Oh yes. You know we jumped at the chance for that photo op.

Here Ash and I are, complete with legit royal faces. Tip: You look more regal if you don’t look directly at the camera. Or crazy. I don’t remember which one.

Alistair and Allyson posed for a few too, with their best royal faces competing the ensemble.

I’ve told you about the tea already but let me reiterate that it was scrumptious and delectable and all that.

After some more enjoyment of the city’s public transportation system, we were home. In time to relax and sit and talk on the patio and have some adult beverages.

I think we had champagne? And then tried this liqueur called Chartreuse, which is green, and which I sent a picture of to my dad, claiming it was absinthe and it was about to get crazy. Because I like to scare my parents.

The best comparison I can make of the stuff is to Goldschlager, which I once threw up into a bowl. Who puts pieces of something that can cut your mouth and throat in a drink? Chartreuse was free of floaties, but it still had a kick.

And by kick, I mean you’re supposed to sip it and even the smallest sip is intense.

Fun fact: It’s made by monks, which begs all sorts of questions.

The aftertaste, however? Delicious.

We had cheese and crackers and grapes and dips and stuff for our dinner while Matthew asked us why we had a Facebook account and what the point is of posting anything to it. To this, Ashley and I replied with, “Um. We don’t know.”

All in all? A pretty perfect day, especially since for this one we were fully conscious the entire time.

‘I dunno, something about baby prostitutes’ or that day we were zombies

Once upon a time, I thought I could sleep during a plane ride. I had really nothing to go on, because it’s not like I’ve ever slept on one before, not to mention I’ve never been on one long enough to really get any decent sleep.

But, none of this stopped me – or Ashley – from attempting to NOT sleep the night before we left. We’d power nap here and there but for the most part, we’d stay up all night. Why not? It’d make us sleep that much better on the ridiculously long overnight flight to Paris then London.

Sounds good in theory, no?

Then we fell asleep. And then Ashley set alarms to go off every hour so we wouldn’t sleep too long.

Then we get on the plane from Atlanta and here we are wide awake. Partially to blame? The Rabbi sitting next to us.

Now, he probably wasn’t a Rabbi, but he looked like one. He also didn’t speak English, may have made out with a Coke can and put his butt on my shoulder when he was getting stuff out of the overhead bin entirely too many times. Oh, and he sang. At 5 a.m.

Good morning.

They played Jane Eyre as the first of our three movies on the flight over – it wasn’t one of those cool ones where you get to pick your own movies.

I should’ve fallen asleep then, because that movie was boring. Play that one at 2 a.m. when people need to sleep. Not at 10.

I’m fairly certain Ashley and I slept a combined, cumulative total of about 2.5 hours on that plane. Because it’s hard to get comfortable with about a foot of leg room because the old man in front of you is leaning all the way back the entire flight and his wife keeps giving you and your friend the stankeye for some unknown reason every 30 minutes or so.

So we were up at sunrise, which also happened to be as we were beginning our descent into France.

We got to the Paris airport around 6:15 a.m. Around the same time as approximately no one else in the world.

Ashley opted for some caffeine – a Coke – which led us to our first encounter with a Brit that day.

And he was a doozy.

Picture…I don’t even know. Zigler (sp?) from Moulin Rouge only with gray hair. Zigler, if you’ve never seen the movie with one of the best soundtracks ever, is the club owner of the Moulin Rouge in the movie.

So Zigler sits down next to us and tells Ashley she shouldn’t be drinking Coke in the morning, or at all, really, because it’ll “hurt your tum tum.” His words, not ours.

Nevermind the fact that he’s been drinking an equally healthy breakfast of champagne.

Champagne. Breakfast of champions. I’m all for a mimosa but I’m pretty sure this guy was just drinking the stuff straight. Because he tells us:

“Champagne in the morning is like hot, sweaty sex in the afternoon. You have it one time and afterwards, you’re like, ‘Hmm. That was quite nice. I think I’ll do that again.”

Good morning.

He then starts to tell us about his experiences with “The Other Coke.” Yeah. The drug one. The one that, according to him, the should advertise with the disclaimer that it “makes your willy stop working.” Because if they just put that information out there, no men would ever do the stuff.

All this before we’ve even set foot in England.

We get to England and after navigating Heathrow and the seemingly daunting tube system, we’re there.

And all we feel like doing is falling asleep.

But we didn’t! We were advised against it, because though it was 3 a.m. our time and we’d had next to no sleep, if we napped now, we’d be messed up all week. But that couch looked so comfy…

You’ll be happy to know we resisted temptation and after a couple cups of coffee, we headed out for our first day in a completely different country.

On our first day’s itinerary? A bus tour of the city. We’d snap some pictures, see what – if anything – we wanted to go back to.

And nothing wakes you up from a zombie-like state more than 40 mph winds hitting you in the face while you’re on the top, open level of a double decker bus.

We got lots of great shots, only a few of which I’ll share here:

But suffice it to say, we had renewed energy.

Until we got on the tube, which we both fell asleep on but still managed to get off at the right stop.

After some catching up with our hosts and a yummy dinner, we did the best we could to try and stay up until at least 9 p.m. That, they said, would be a good time to go to bed ’cause we’d be able to sleep all night.

I think I made it to 9:01.

And, wouldn’t you know it, 13 HOURS LATER, we were rested and refreshed and ready to go.

More on day 2 another day. I can’t give it to you all at once. If I did you’d have nothing to come back for!

Oh and the name of this post? Apparently that was the subject of a before bed conversation but I couldn’t tell you what was said if I tried.

Dazzled by the pudds

You guys, people say England isn’t known for its food. And to that, I say, “Pshaw,”
on account of some of the best food I’ve ever eaten I had when I was in England.

For reals. England should be known for its deliciousness.

And, because we are American, we took pictures of pretty much everything we ate. And drank. Which was a lot. Prepare to get hungry.

We didn’t have fish and chips – don’t judge, we gotta save something for next time – but we had all kinds of other stuff.

Like, the second day. When we went all proper English and had tea. Along with tiny sandwiches and some delicious desserts.

Isn’t it pretty?

And that, well, that is just a table full of desserts I could have probably eaten every bit of. Including Victoria Sponge cake. She had the cake made for her every day. It must be so nice to be royal.

Speaking of proper, though, we saw a sign for proper hamburgers. But didn’t have any. I’m not sure what constitutes a proper hamburger, but I imagine you have to wear gloves while you eat it or something.

Possibly – in my opinion anyway – the best thing we had was our breakfast at The Wolesley. A close second was the dim sum and other yummy Chinese food we had that was so amazing we spent our time actually eating it and took no pictures of it.

But our fancy Wolesley breakfast started with these beverages – a cappuccino and an affogato (which Ash and I of course called an Afro Cat). The affogato is a scoop of ice cream – yep for breakfast ’cause I’m an adult and I do what I want – with espresso poured over it.

Our actual meals? Ashley had Eggs Benedict and I had something called an Arnold Bennett omelet.

Kids, I don’t eat omelets in America. This trip changed my life.

Other food highlights?

Ashley got some British candies. And I would have pictures to show you of the display but that wasn’t allowed. So this is Ashley, with her British candies. When we were on the one wrong train we got on our whole trip.

We had some amazing nachos.

And then there was this other dessert that I may or may not be drooling over while writing this.

Yeah. That’s a belgian waffle, with bananas and vanilla ice cream on it and some kinds of sauce. I think chocolate and caramel maybe.

Bangarang.

At a dinner party we had appetizers and an entree that were almost too good for words, followed by Gu cake. Gu with a little doohickey over the u. And the title of this blog post? Written on the side of the Gu cake box. Seriously.

I don’t like cake, but I would marry this stuff. It was that good.

We also found some new favorite drinks. And I’m strictly a beer girl these days so the fact that I loved both of these means they’re REAL good.

This first one, I honestly don’t remember what’s in it. It’s a Tokyo something. And we drank it in two minutes because we had to go catch the tube.

And finally, I’d like to introduce you to PIMMS, a.k.a. THE BEST DRINK I’VE EVER HAD.

OK. So this drink is a type of gin, I believe. The way we had it – and in our opinion, the only way you should drink it – was in a glass mixed with lemonade and garnished with all kinds of stuff.

What kinds of stuff, you ask? Strawberries, oranges, mint and…wait for it…cucumbers.

I ate so much stuff with cucumbers in it in England. And liked it. What is wrong with me? I pick them out of salads here.

So, if you know where in America we can get some PIMMS, especially without paying an arm and a leg, please let Ash and I know. We’ll be your best friend. And we might let you share…might being the operative word there…

This kid is awesome

In addition to several adults we spent time with during our trip to England, we also got in some QT with my cousin’s 6-year-old son, Alistair.

One of the funniest kids I know, seriously.

The one-liners kept coming all week and there’s so much that made us laugh..I don’t know where to start.

You’ve already heard his feelings about nudity.

He doesn’t always say “brilliant,” but there are loads of other (see what I did there?) British phrases he throws into conversation.

Some examples?

“Can I have a go on your iPod when we get home?”

“Mummy, can we go straightaway?”

“Shall I go get the game?”

He loved Ashley from the second we got there, so much so that I asked if she was his girlfriend. Allyson said “Isn’t Sloane your girlfriend?” Sloane, of course, being a girl at his school.

Alistair: “She was.”
Allyson: “Is she not still your girlfriend?”
Alistair: “No.”
Allyson: “Why not?”
Alistair: “She smacked me in the face and I broke up.”

The child is also a fantastic photographer, he really can capture the moment, like he did when he caught this beautiful moment:

And other gems like these:


I haven’t even mentioned the faces he does. This is a picture of my personal favorite, the Port Authority Face – meaning the face you get when you ask a question at the Port Authority.

And then there was Abbey Road. This kid can take direction very well. We made him do a number of different poses, from a gargoyle to a frog. The best one, I think, is the one down below. The sphinx. Couldn’t have done it better myself. Actually, I probably couldn’t have even done it at all.

We hung out with some other kids while we were there, too, including two middle-school-aged Brits that we taught how to say “hamburger” and “water” like we do here in the U.S.ofA. But Alistair takes the cake.

Important lessons at a young age

While watching “How To Look Good Naked” in England – where at the end of the show you usually see someone naked (from the back, it’s not too crazy), we listened to Alistair’s reactions to the lady they were showing.

Alistair, 6: Ooh! Woo! Underwear!
(Lady on the show shows herself naked from the back)
Guy on TV: Brilliant!
Allyson: Alistair, do you say brilliant?
Alistair: Only when I see her naked!