Posts Tagged ‘uk’

UK Vacation Day 10 recap

laelene Posted in lifestyle glimpses, photo blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Alright, finally wrapping up the UK vacation from this fall. Our last day there was just to pack and get ready to go. I managed to wake up before the alarm, shower, and get breakfast. We finished packing and then went off to Pizza Express so I could get a pizza to bring home. I was too freakin’ yummy to pass up. We showed up a little before they opened and I got to watch them bring up some dough they were going to make the pizzas with. On our walk back to the hotel, I decided I had to try the Malteser McFlurry and the Sweet Chilli Wrap, which are unique to the region. I didn’t know they had onion rings too! Why don’t they offer those in the US? Then it was off to the airport via the tube. We got a chance to hang out at the Star Alliance lounge for a bit before boarding our plane and heading back stateside.

[See all the rest: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7, Day 8 and Day 9 recaps.]

doubletree by hilton victoria hotel bed

From staying at hotels, I’ve learned that I definitely want a king-sized bed.

uk outlet with switch

US outlets should have switches too.

round bowl sink sitting atop bathroom counter with water running

Love these kinds of sinks on the counter.

large showerhead extending from ceiling raining down water

I need one of these showerheads at home!

giant white hotel towel

Wow, they may not have much space but they sure have giant towels.

doubletree by hilton victoria hotel toilet

Cool flushing buttons for the toilet.

two red british telephone booths on streets of london

Of course, those eye-catching phone booths.

front of pizza express restaurant in london


guy walking up stairs holding trays of dough for pizza express pizzas

Bringing up the dough!

girl happily holding pizza express takeout box

Yes, I brought it on the plane. No it did not smell up the place (was cold by then).

beautiful brick cathedral in victoria region of london

Lovely brickwork.

maltesers mcflurry ad on cash register at london mcdonald's

Ooo, malty goodness.

fruit stand on streets of london

Such a pretty fruit stand!

reflection in window of london tube underground

Pigging out even as I prepare to leave the country.

british mcdonald's choices with wrap and onion rings

McOnion Rings!

london tube underground oyster cards

Returning our Oyster cards for a refund on the balance.

guy carrying two suitcases one in each hand up out of order escalator

When the escalators become stairs, he becomes super strong.

interior of london heathrow airport

Oops, went to the wrong floor.

electronic collection station for bottles, sharp objects, and other banned goods at london heathrow airport

It’s so fancy I got distracted/confused and did it wrong. :-/

automatic airport security gates at london heathrow

Wow, who needs TSA when you can just use these cool machines to check IDs and boarding passes?

london heathrow airport seating area

The waiting game.

walking in airport hallway lined with stores towards departure gates

Wandering around looking for where to request a VAT refund.

sending off mail in large red royal mail box

Mailing off our VAT refund form! Never got it repaid, oh well.

entrance to star alliance lounge at london heathrow airport

One of the few times we get to use the lounge, might as well take advantage!

free candy jar with british flag shape

British candy.

barstools and tables in star alliance lounge

Entering the more casual part of the lounge.

bowls of chicken wings and pork ribs under heat lamps

Loading up on hot food.

trays of chilled food on ice

Had some chilled options too.

large heated pot of soup

Ooo, soup!

fridge with glass doors showing sodas and beers inside

I’m sure if we drank alcohol we’d be happy.

star alliance lounge area with single person couches and tables

A really nice seating area where we snagged a table.

schweppes bitter lemon drink can

Hmm… not sure if I like bitter lemon.

pile of pizza box, bags of chips, and mcdonald's bag

Stocking up on snacks for the road.

goodbye signs in london heathrow airport

Many farewell messages along the long walk to the gate.

gate b33 in london heathrow airport

Here we go!

two pairs of feet propped up on wall in airport

Propping our feet up for the ride.

sheet of white clouds viewed over plane wing

So bright and beautiful up here.

airplane meal with coca-cola soda, salad, chicken and vegetables, potato side, bread, and water

Meal time!

airplane meal with salad, beef and vegetables, bread, and orange juice

Panda of course gets beef.

airplane snack box with chips, candy, and sandwich

A snack to tide us over.

map of flight route on tv screen of airplane

Hey, we’re almost over my old town of Brewster, not far from Danbury!

bright glare of sun from window of airplane

The sun shining furiously.

reflection of front of united plane on engine off wing

Staring out, I noticed the reflection of the front of the plane in the engine.

sunset from airplane at washington dulles iad airport

Hello, Dulles.

rows of airplane seats from back

Not quite time to disembark.

bright blue virginia police lights viewed from back of taxi

On our taxi ride home.

UK Vacation Day 9 Recap

laelene Posted in lifestyle glimpses, photo blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

I took my time with this post since it was one of the most touristy and there are a ton of pictures. This was our true tour day of London – we started off by Buckingham, went through St. James’s Park, checked out some house guards and stopped by their museum, went through Trafalgar Square, tried a Thai place, found an M&Ms World, explored parts of the British Museum, found some gifts in small shops and waited around for free wifi, crossed the River Thames, walked through the Southbridge Centre and Jubilee Park, fed pigeons, and got tons of pictures of the London Eye, British Parliament, Big Ben, Westminster Bridge and Abbey. For dinner we tried to find a Bella Italia but were unsuccessful so we had tapas at La Tasca instead. All in all a busy day filled with walking that allowed us to see a ton before we headed out.

[Catch up with Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7, and Day 8 recaps.]

pretty red flowers against green grass in front of buckingham palace

A beautiful day to explore London!

panoramic of buckingham palace and gates of green park

The fancy gates of Green Park.

guards on horseback riding towards buckingham palace

Queen’s Mounted Guards trotting off in formation.

queen's guard standing by gate

One of the Queen’s Guards standing watch by a gate.

pigeon mid-motion flying in to park and landing

A pigeon flies in to get fed.

holding out piece of food for goose to eat

It’s a battle of wills and I win if they’re hungry enough.

swan family swimming in single file line with four gray swans and one mature white swan

A swan family all lined up.

young gray swans with ducks and other birds

That little swan has a funky leg!

view across st. james's park lake with london eye in distance

From St. James’s Park, we catch a glimpse of the London Eye.

girl mid-talking in front of st. james's park lake with view of london eye in background

Caught me in the middle of saying something!

girl posing in front of st. james's park lake with view of london eye in background

A normal pose for posterity.

girl using iphone to take picture of lake

I grab a shot of the lake from the side.

view of st. james's park lake from bank

And here’s the picture I took.

churchill war rooms entrance

No time for the Churchill War Rooms, but maybe on the next visit.

mounted guard sitting on horse guarding gate

Quite a job, sitting still on a horse all day.

girl standing next to horse with guard sitting on it

I didn’t want to get too close in case the horse flipped out.

closeup of girl searching for wifi on iphone

Gettin’ up close and personal as I find some free wifi to use.

trafalgar square with nelson's column and the national gallery in background

We find our way to Trafalgar Square.

lazy pigeon sitting in middle of plaza not moving

The world’s laziest pigeon resides here.

national gallery across trafalgar square

Tons of activity in the square.

bright blue rooster at trafalgar square

What’s up with the bright blue rooster?

chalk drawings of international flags on plaza at trafalgar square

Carefully laid out grid of flags drawn in chalk in the plaza.

sidewalk chalk artist sketching face of diana princess of wales

This guy was working on a chalk portrait of Princess Diana.

t-shirt with sperm in place of nike logo and "just did it" messaging

We stop by a local store and find random t-shirts like this.

t-shirt with image of guy with heart at crotch and girl with heart near heart and "the simple truth" messaging

And another cheeky shirt here.

basaba eathai sign on street

Trying out a Thai place for lunch.

yellow flowers and floating candles on water

What a cute decoration idea!

spring rolls and noodle soup at busaba eathai restaurant

Food was pretty good and the place was very modern.

m&ms world london and sign with tons of crests

After lunch, we stumble across an M&Ms world.

shop fronts at london's chinatown

Our walk randomly brings us to a strip of Chinese establishments.

girl standing by starbucks holding out phone

Yet again standing outside taking advantage of free wifi…

entrance to british museum

Then it’s time to visit the British Museum!

shadows of seagulls seen standing atop dome from inside of british museum

Inside the museum, we look up to find seagulls.

seagull standing atop dome seen through from inside british museum

They sure seem to be enjoying the view.

storefront of amway in london

I had no clue Amway made it over here (and was still in business).

black british taxi on london streets

The taxis here look so funny.

view of london eye, british parliament, and big ben from waterloo bridge

Onto the Waterloo Bridge and we gaze over the River Thames for a lovely view.

view of eastern london buildings from waterloo bridge

On the other side of the bridge are all sorts of funky buildings.

sign on waterloo bridge detailing london skyline

Here you can pick out the attractions using the guide.

large statues and mural by waterloo bridge in london

We head into Southbridge Centre and find quite an artsy scene.

storefronts at the festival of neighbourhood area by river thames

A stroll along the waterfront includes plenty of restaurants.

festival of neighbourhood sign in london

What is this Festival of Neighbourhood??

street performers by the river thames

Street performers doing their thing.

brightly-colored merry-go-round in london

What a bright merry-go-round!

swing ride at jubliee park in london

A swing ride at Jubilee Park offers thrills.

feeding a pigeon a piece of bread

I sit down to feed some pigeons.

crowd of pigeons fighting over food

Gettin’ kind of crazy in here!

closeup of little brown bird with white specks

Some brave birds got super close.

view of people standing in pod of london eye as it slowly goes up

We watch as people pile into their pod on the London Eye.

set of condensed tank top and shorts that expand with water

I was so tempted to get one of these.

silhouette view of british parliament building across river thames

Against the glare of the sun.

girl posing with view of london eye and aquarium

Nice view from the bridge!

choppy waters of river thames

Rushing waters of the Thames.

closeup of big ben clock tower

There are so many points to the clock tower.

panoramic view of westminster from side

Westminster Abbey was closing for the day so we just looked.

boat-shaped tour bus of london

What a fun tour bus look.

pedestrians walking on streets of london

Blending in with the pedestrians.

metal map of london attractions

Another map of attractions.

tapas dishes at la tasca restaurant in london

A dinner of tapas.

churros with chocolate sauce, strawberries, marshmallows, and powdered sugar at la tasca restaurant in london

Ending the day with churros!

UK Vacation Day 8 Recap

laelene Posted in lifestyle glimpses, photo blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I can’t believe it’s been nearly four months since this trip and I’m still updating on it. Only two more to go after this one!

Day 8 was a chill day, with a late checkout and leisurely stroll from the hotel to the train station. We swung by the Co-operative, a grocery store, and the House of Fraser, a chain that reminds me of Macy’s. We wandered along the quiet of Rose Street and found ourselves some cookie tins commemorating Prince George at the train station. The train from Edinburgh to London took most of the day and once we were settled back, we got dinner at Nando’s. Since we got drink vouchers at the hotel, we stopped by the bar to get drinks (sodas) before calling it a night.

[Miss some? Read about Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, and Day 7 recaps.]

breakfast spread at hilton edinburgh with hash brown, tomatoes, mushrooms, fried egg, and fruit

I think the only time I eat breakfast is at hotels.

girl guiding scotland headquarters and shop

A random sighting in our way to the train station. Girl Scouts, anyone?

strings of small red flags stretching across rose street walkway

I love the small streets like these.

east coast train car at train station

Onto the train and back down to London we go.

view of landscape in united kingdom from train window

It’s so picturesque!

girl grinning with bag near end of train station platform

Excited to be back in London!

london king's cross sign on train station platform

Which way to platform 9 3/4?

spacious interior of london king's cross train station

Looks rather futuristic in here.

entrance to king's cross underground tube station

Taking a pit stop to use the wifi before heading down to the tube.

doubletree by hilton victoria

Back at our hotel in Victoria!

girl sitting at table at nando's victoria

We found this chicken place called Nando’s.

seasoned nuts covered by plastic dome with metal spoon

Grab some nuts while you wait.

nando's garlic peri-peri sauce and medium peri-peri sauce in glass jars with metal tops

They have all kinds of tasty sauces.

nando's chicken in pita with sides of mashed potatoes and garlic bread

I opted to try their pita, mashed potatoes, and garlic bread. Delicious!

nando's grilled chicken dark meat with sides of rice and garlic bread

Panda got the grilled dark meat, rice, and garlic bread.

rear of modern red double decker bus in london with lots of windows

The newer double deckers look so sleek.

UK Vacation Day 7 Recap

laelene Posted in lifestyle glimpses, photo blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

On day 7 of our grand UK adventure, Panda and I explored the streets of Edinburgh and found a bunch of museums. The morning started off with a silly moment, when Panda got my ring stuck on his finger… and we thought he might have to wear it around all day for me. 😛 I got a delicious treat at a cute bakehouse, we swung by the cafe where Harry Potter was written, and of course went to check out the castle (getting a few items in the gift shop but not actually going in). Along the way, we came across two Chinese ladies asking for directions and I regretted not helping. We wanted to also check out this place called The Mound, but I think they were closed so we skipped it. For dinner, we got Pizza Express and I discovered my new favorite pizza. Later at night we got hungry again so we went out to a Chinese place where they were very interested in chatting us up. I guess Chinese-Americans don’t come around that often.

[Don’t forget about Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, and Day 6 recaps.]

english breakfast at hilton edinburgh with fried eggs, baked beans, tomatoes, hash browns, tea, omelette, and fruit

We started the day off right with a hearty breakfast British style.

salt and pepper shaker in one unit with salt on top and pepper on bottom

I’ve never seen a salt and pepper shaker as one unit! I want.

princes street in edinburgh bustling with pedestrians

Off to the bustling Princes Street. There’s just a bit of blue sky out there.

rainbow colored columns of building in edinburgh

So bright and cheery against the other dull colors.

old building with clock tower in edinburgh

Classic building in these parts.

girl standing with hair blown in face on streets of edinburgh

Caught me chillin’ on these cute roads.

world's end painted on wall in edinburgh

We found the world’s end!

flodden campaign of 1513 sign in museum of edinburgh

We arrive at the Museum of Edinburgh to find we were there on exactly the 500th anniversary of the Flodden Campaign.

stone spiral staircase in museum of edinburgh

What a cool staircase.

painting in museum of edinburgh with midget man standing next to towering giant

Hehe, I was amused by the midget next to the giant.

pairs of old shoes on display at museum of edinburgh

Those shoes do NOT look comfy.

scottish ambulance driving down road in edinburgh

Ambulances here use blue and neon yellow.

large selection of dessert items on display at mimi's bakehouse in edinburgh

Stumbled upon Mimi’s Bakehouse, where I could hardly choose just one thing to try!

cute bird cage-themed light frame hanging in mimi's bakehouse in edinburgh

Such a fun light frame.

malteser bar with white chocolate and malteser balls

I decided to opt for the Malteser bar. Yummy yummy.

old stroller from long ago in museum of childhood in edinburgh

We made a quick stop at the Museum of Childhood. Strollers used to be so much simpler.

shoot the moon vintage game in museum of childhood in edinburgh

I’ve never heard to this shoot the moon game and I haven’t a clue how it works.

view of giant three story room in museum of scotland

Next up was the grandest museum of all: the Museum of Scotland! Gorgeous room.

girl standing on scale showing weights of various animals weighing in close to giant aneater

Weighing in against animals, I am right around the same as a giant anteater. Fun fact: Panda and I are almost exactly the same weight – sometimes 2 lbs off but often identical.

large cat display in museum showing only cat that can climb down trees

This is the only breed of cat in the world that can climb down trees, thanks to claws that go the other direction! If only household cats could get those claws…

girl sitting in museum using giant light to signal morse code

I spent all this effort sending a Morse code message to Panda only to discover he wasn’t paying attention! Men.

girl sitting on chair provided at museum for those with tired feet

So perfect for me! My feet and back get sore easily, so I happily grabbed a seat to rest on.

the elephant house in edinburgh's storefront

The fun little cafe with a view of Edinburgh Castle in the back, where JK Rowling did much of her earlier writing.

plaque detailing the elephant house in edinburgh's history of inspiring authors like jk rowling, ian rankin, and alexander mccall-smith

Apparently this place inspires plenty of writers!

view of sliver of ocean in distance from edinburgh

We can just make out the ocean out there. So cool! I wish we could have gone to visit but it’s far.

walking up hill towards edinburgh castle in scotland

Up, up, up to the Ednburgh Castle.

entrance to edinburgh castle atop hill with temporary bleachers set up

There was some sort of event there and they were taking down the bleachers they’d set up.

view of edinburgh from edinburgh castle

Spectacular place to live. We decided not to go into the castle but just enjoy the views and shop.

adorable brightly-colored sheep-shaped soap sold at edinburgh castle gift shop

Such cute soaps! I recorded the brand so I can remember to get these one day…

pizza express dough balls appetizer dish

Not quite what we imagined when we order dough balls, but they were good!

pizza express la reine and pomodoro pesto pizzas

Panda go La Reine and I go the Pomodoro Pesto in the back – FAB. I love thin crust, fresh tomatoes, mushroom, and pesto.

view of edinburgh castle from princes street

What a beautiful place Edinburgh is. So much greenery!

cobblestone path down to princes street gardens lined with multicolored roses

Such a quaint path down into the Princes Street Gardens.

windowsill in edinburgh with bright flowers growing against dull walls

Such a beautiful burst of color against the drab.

pile of red scottish print sherpa blankets

Seeing this inspired me to get one back when I was stateside!

red and white changed priorities ahead sign in edinburgh

Time to consider changing your priorities along with it?

singapore noodles dish at china star restaurant in edinburgh

Panda always loves his Singapore noodles.

UK Vacation Day 6 Recap

laelene Posted in lifestyle glimpses, photo blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Day 6 of our UK trip was a wonderful day of revisiting memories and sharing them with Panda. We wandered all through York and checked out a bunch of stores, buying some items but mostly browsing. I got a chance to feed some ducks and geese by a river, which I loved. We even had time to enjoy afternoon tea at Betty’s before returning to the hotel to rest and wait for the train to Edinburgh. A few hours later, we were stepping off onto Scottish soil and making our way to the hotel (getting a bit lost along the way). Once we finally found it, we happily settled in and enjoyed the welcome gifts and nice warm quarters.

[Need more recaps? Here are Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, and Day 5 recaps.]

view of york eye and train station from hampton inn by hilton hotel window

Good morning, York!

yorkshire soap co bath butters and soap on specialty tray

I had a lot of fun choosing what to get from the Yorkshire Soap Co.

holding up yorkshire soap co shopping bag and cute paper box

Yippee, now I’ve got awesome bath products from lovely Yorkshire.

cat scarves at the cat gallery in york uk

Cat scarves?! I was really tempted, but next time…

guy fawkes born here sign in window

Did you know Guy Fawkes was born in York?

collage of person taking picture of york minster and photo taken of york minster

Panda got a shot of me getting a shot of York Minster.

collage of york city walls

Our wanderings eventually took us outside the city walls.

guy on stilts and man with ghost walk sign promoting york ghost walks

Fancy a ghoulish tour? Then meet these guys for the Ghost Walk!

purple windblown street performer frozen on bike in middle of road in york

Hehe, check out this windblown street performer.

storefront for evil eye lounge asian fusion food and bar

Evil Eye lounge! All I remember is weird beds upstairs and Asian fusion downstairs (with a bar too, of course).

collage of mr chippy fish and chips shop

Panda had to try some fish and chips. Tasty!

standing in middle of road walking streets of york

Caught me wandering.

collage of sainsbury grocery store and products inside

The Sainsbury that I once walked all the way back from with my groceries!

trees overgrown on bridge over river with lily pads and boat

I wish we could get on that bridge.

collage of river and hungry geese and birds being fed

I had to stop and feed the birds. It’s a compulsion.

grinning happily while feeding ducks and geese in river

Can you see how gleeful I was? I love animals.

collage of ducks and geese in river being fed and following food along bank

A ton of them joined in when they noticed food and I had fun walking along the bank sharing the wealth.

collage of pigeon and black duck waiting for food

Even this pigeon wanted in on the action. Check out the cool black duck too!

collage of person leaning over bridge feeding birds

At one point, I leaned over the bridge to feed them.

walking on bridge holding plastic bag with wind blowing hair around

After running out of food, I happily walked off into the wind.

large marketing suite building

If they can make their marketing suite this big, I wonder what the places they’re selling are like!

collage of old cars on display in plaza in york

Back in the center of town, we discovered some old cars on display.

large owl eye contact cases and googly eye iphone case

Random browsing brought me to these adorable contact lense cases!

exterior view of betty's cafe tea rooms in york

It was cold out, so Betty’s was especially inviting to us.

collage of betty's tea room afteroon tea set

I loved warming up to a pot of tea and some snacks. Afternoon tea rocks!

old toff's club in york now rebranded tokyo

Back by the hotel, I hardly recognized this as the old Toff’s where I went clubbing once. (I much preferred the Gallery.)

hampton inn york bridge entrance

Does this look like a proper hotel entrance? Cuz it totally was.

view of edinburgh castle at night from princes street

After a few hours on the train, we arrived in Edinburgh and got to see the castle from afar!

free glass bottles of strathmore water and jars of the dormen nuts and candies

All settled in at the hotel, with these nice treats waiting for us.

365great Day 228: Neal’s Yard Remedies

laelene Posted in 365great,Tags: , , , , ,

365great challenge day 228: neal's yard remediesWhen I went on the UK vacation a few weeks back, I had my heart set on finding some cool skincare line based in that region. When I arrived, I kept my eyes peeled and soon enough, I came across Neal’s Yard Remedies shops. I was immediately drawn to the brand because it’s organic and comes in wonderful blue glass bottles. I tried some of their products in the store and decided that the witch hazel water was best suited for me since it soothes and my skin has a tendency to break out like mad. I purchased a bottle from a store in London and brought it back with me. Then at Green Festival DC this year, I came across a booth with – whatdya know – Neal’s Yard Remedies! They don’t have stores, but they do have reps selling their products in the US. I couldn’t resist getting the white tea facial mist (a bestseller) and organic facial wipes. So far I’m really enjoying their products, which are gentle and soothing. I’m really glad I came across this great line of products!

UK Vacation Day 5 Recap

laelene Posted in lifestyle glimpses, photo blog,Tags: , , , , , , ,

By day 5 of our trip, Panda and I had made it up to my old stomping grounds of York. I went over some of this in my post in honor of York, but here’s another look at it. We walked around town before meeting up with Philosopher and reminiscing about old days with him as we returned to the Uni of York campus. We took a break for lunch at one of my fav sandwich shops, then checked out the rest of the university. Later in the day we wandered back into town and explored a bunch of shops before ending up at York Minster. From there, it was time to grab dinner and hang out with Philosopher a bit more before sending him off… til next time!

[If you missed out on the others, here are Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, and Day 4 recaps.]

hampton inn by hilton in york uk

We stayed at the Hampton Inn right by the train station, which was quite modern and new.

city of york council courtyard

We were right next to the City of York Council, which had a nice courtyard with a quote by WH Auden, who was born in York.

pathway in york with red brick buildings and black metal fence

Off we go to the more busy side of town!

akbar's restaurant in york

I remember eating the largest naan ever here… it was at least the size of my torso and came hanging from a giant hook.

river ouse in york

The River Ouse running through town.

red brick buildings in york with york dungeon and gallery night club

Good old York Dungeon, which I’ve never been in, and Gallery, which was my go-to club.

sunny british street with people walking

Met up with Philosopher and started our stroll to the Uni of York campus.

sunny with dark clouds in sky

The day couldn’t decide if it’d be sunny or cloudy, which made for some cool skyscapes.

foot with knuckle portion rubbed raw and red

I thought my flats would be fine for walking but my feet got rubbed raw.

university of york alcuin college m block flats building

We used to live here in M Block!

staring up at brown's of heslington deli sign

For lunch we went over to Brown’s in the little town of Heslington.

brown's of heslington sandwich, tyrrell's potato crisps, and ribena drink

Brown’s sandwiches are yuuummy!!

collage of university of york buildings

After lunch we went on a little tour of the main campus area.

chasing and trying to catch university of york bird

On our way back towards town, we came across a bird that the guys tried to corner.

edible york mini garden area with plants growing

Love the green initiatives popping up.

clifford's tower up on hill with stairs

We’d never actually been to Clifford’s Tower so we decided it was time to take a look.

view from top of stairs at clifford's tower

Got up to the top of the stairs for a great view, but didn’t feel like paying to enter so we left.

large map of york

Back in town and where to go?

native american street performer playing music

We came across street performers doing Native American music, which was quite good.

pink silicone ice cube tray in cat shape with cat-shaped cubes

I never knew we had a cat store in town! And check out the ice cube tray I knew I had to have.

spider living inside mug in gift store

Browsing a store, I found an unwanted resident in one of the mugs for sale.

view of york minster from side angle

We then approached York Minster and went inside just in time to catch the evensong performance.

interior of gert & henry's restaurant cottage

For dinner, it was Gert & Henry’s for their Sunday roast.

collage of gert & henry's food including lemonade and sunday roast

A delicious meal to warm up to.

UK Vacation Day 4 Recap

laelene Posted in lifestyle glimpses, photo blog,Tags: , , , , , , , ,

On our fourth day in the UK, we wrapped up our time in Cardiff by checking out the castle and taking an AquaBus down to the bay. I decided to give the seagulls by the bus stop my buttercream frosting on a whim, not thinking they’d completely devour it. We got a chance to shop around Mermaid Quay down at the bay and grabbed some yummy lunch before walking back to the hotel. I found the coolest set of hooks to put by the door at our new condo while there. Along the way back, we stopped to get me a cool purse and some Welsh stuff (I chose a set of coasters). Then it was off to the train station to make our way to York!

[Need to catch up? Read Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3 recaps.]

collage of breakfast items offered at executive lounge at hilton cardiff

We started off our day with breakfast in the executive lounge.

panoramic view of living room space in suite at hilton cardiff

We got a suite this time, with a large living room.

collage of room and bathroom at hilton cardiff

The bedroom had a post in the middle, which made it feel like a smaller cozier space. The bathroom came with separate bathtub and shower!

view of multiple floors of hilton cardiff hotel from inside glass elevator

The glass elevators offered a view of a lobby area and many floors.

front entrance of cardiff castle

Off we went towards Cardiff Castle across the street!

pausing to eat cupcake in middle of street in cardiff

I took a moment to eat the celebration cupcake.

typical welsh road in cardiff with buildings close together and welsh flags everywhere

Tons of Welsh flags flying in Cardiff.

butte park entrance path with sign in cardiff

We kept going to Butte Park, where the nearest Aqua Bus stop was located.

collage of seagull eating buttercream frosting

As we sat waiting for the bus, I put out the buttercream I hadn’t eaten. Little did I know the seagull would gobble it up.

seagull pecking at ground very close to person's feet outstretched on the rocks

These seagulls were pretty bold.

aqua bus water bus arriving at bus stop dock in cardiff

Here comes our Aqua Bus!

swan with butt sticking up and head submerged in water seeking food

On the way down to Cardiff Bay, we caught this swan sticking its butt up as it dove for food.

bevy of swans gathered at driveway that slopes down to the water

So many swans out here!

view of mermaid quay at cardiff bay from south side

Arriving at Cardiff Bay, ready to explore.

mallard duck with large swollen cheeks the size of ping pong balls

Aww, look at the duck with its giant swollen cheeks!

street at mermaid quay, with gbk visible on right side

Time to do some shopping. The gbk is where we ended up getting lunch.

standing on sidewalk near wifi signal, looking at phone

I often found myself stopping to access wifi to save on data.

wooden moustache with set of six hooks

I’m so glad I found this moustache hook thing. My first purchase for the new condo!

collage of gourmet burger fish burger, cheeseburger, and fries

At gourmet burger kitchen, I got the Captain Cook (fish burger with rocket salad), which was a completely new and DELICIOUS taste for me. Panda got a cheeseburger and we shared shoestring fries. The ketchup container is so cute!

panoramic of wales milliennium centre at mermaid quay cardiff bay

As we left, we passed this giant building – the Wales Millennium Centre.

cluster of black and red wild berries on bush

We came across some berries that I was tempted to pick, but who knows if they were ok to eat…

row of european houses in cardiff

What cute rows of houses!

marks & spencer teriyaki beef salad bites in mooli ribbons

At the train station, we browsed food and I wanted to try these but still had plenty of food.

wifi signals at cardiff train station with italian-inspired names

What’s up with all these Italian-inspired wifi names at the train station?

collage of cardiff train station and train arriving

Waiting for our train to take us from Cardiff up to York!

collage of yelp notice of queen status and new gold theme

Woo hoo, I became the Queen of Cardiff on Yelp while I was out there!

long watering pole for reaching plants up high

At one stop, I noticed how easily this guy was watering the flowers. Cool tool!

We got to York after dark so that’s all the pictures for the day!

UK Vacation Day 3 Recap

laelene Posted in lifestyle glimpses, photo blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Check out my UK Day 1 recap and UK Day 2 recap, then read on for Day 3! We spent about half the day prepping for and traveling to Cardiff, then got a chance to explore the city in the afternoon and evening. It was a nice quiet, yet active time together in this beautiful place. 🙂

view of victoria station in london from nearby hotel

From our hotel, we could see Victoria Station, so it was very easy to get to the train!

interior of victoria station in london with skylights and british flags

The interior of Victoria Station is nice and airy, with plenty of natural sunlight.

bike parking area with dozens of bikes inside victoria station in london

There were a ton of bikes parked there.

delice de france baguette display at victoria station in london

Before boarding the train, I browsed the selection at Delice de France for my lunch.

chicken chorizo baguette sandwich from delice de france bakery

I ended up getting the chicken chorizo baguette to eat on the train and it was delicious!!

pink and blue striped circus tents beyond railroad tracks

Along the way, we saw the circus in a town.

first view of the streets of cardiff

Hello Cardiff! I’m finally in Wales!

dog standing with large piece of tree branch in mouth

What an ambitious dog, carrying around a giant tree branch.

grouping of flower pots in tree shape

The flowers make the street all pretty.

congratulations message written in chocolate on plate with vanilla buttercream cupcake

Yay, celebration!

heavy cloud coverage over buildings in cardiff

It’s sunny but it’s gloomy ’round these parts.

view of cardiff castle from nearby hotel

Got a view of the Cardiff Castle from the hotel lounge.

small garden with maze-like design in cardiff

A fun little garden area across the street.

collage of executive lounge snacks including fruits, desserts, condiments, cookies, and sugar

The executive lounge provided a variety of snacks!

pink gumdrop station in cardiff for recycling gum

Haha, can’t say this is what I imagine when I hear “gumdrop” but it’s a nice way to discourage gum where you don’t want it.

small purple flowers

We walked through an industrial zone that was intimidating, but at least there were pretty flowers!

swan on picturesque river in cardiff wales

We tried walking to this Cardiff Bay we heard about, but couldn’t quite figure out what there was to see. It was pretty along the way at least!

white swan swimming on river in cardiff

So many swans around here! I love it.

As we were walking along the river, we heard a splash and saw some movement out of the corner of our eyes. We thought it was a bird diving into the water to get a fish, so we watched and waited for it to come up. A few minutes later, what did we see? A GINORMOUS FLYING FISH! I mean, it was like a foot and a half long and propelled itself out of water better than salmon swimming upstream. I tried to get a video of it but we never saw it again. Sad times.

brains brewery across river with silver tanks and colorful tops

After giving up on going so far, we headed back and I wondered what those colorfully-topped silver canisters are for.

yellow flower on stem in slim vase centerpiece

We stopped for dinner at an Indian place, with pretty yellow flower centerpieces.

glass of clear sparkling lemonade drink with lemon slice inside

This was not what I expected when I ordered lemonade, but it was amazing. I want more!

appetizers at indian restaurant in cardiff wales

Yuuum, enjoying our appetizers.

plates of indian food including naan bread

We both enjoyed our dishes and the garlic naan. Wonderful meal together. 🙂

church clock tower against blue sky in cardiff

I enjoy the little alleyways and cobblestone streets, and of course the architecture and beautiful blue skies.

red flower floating in water as centerpiece with mug of water on table

Back at the hotel, we enjoy a little break in the lounge.

layers of dark clouds with thin bright area in middle

The clouds are moving in!

fridge and shelves with small glass bottles of sodas and drinks

Oooo yes, I love these little glass soda bottles!

free bottles of wine in executive lounge of hotel

In the evenings, the executive lounge offers free wine here. I’m sure that made some folks happy.

UK Vacation Day 2 Recap

laelene Posted in lifestyle glimpses, photo blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Continuing from my UK Day 1 recap, here’s a look at what we did the second day of our UK trip. We did a lot of walking as we went from the Victoria region to Buckingham Palace, through Green and Hyde parks, into the Science and Natural History museums, and back to Victoria.

english breakfast buffet with hash browns, baked beans, roasted tomatoes, mushrooms, and waffles

The day started off with breakfast at the hotel, where we encountered some traditional English items like baked beans and cooked mushrooms. Panda loved it!

roll mops au vinagre platter at hotel breakfast buffet

I also discovered some things I couldn’t quite figure out, like these “roll mops.”

tourist taking picture of buckingham palace guard

We then walked to Buckingham Palace, stopping along the way at a gift shop where Panda found tea towels for our moms.

view of gates to green park and tourists walking around outside buckingham palace

From Buckingham, we went over to Green Park, which was new to me.

red street running along buckingham palace lined with trees photo bombed by pedestrian walking by

As we crossed the street I wanted to get a shot of the thick trees lining the road and it totally got photo bombed.

stoplight with red person riding horse crossing light

Apparently there are a fair share of equestrians around here since they have their own crossing lights!

large tree in park with branches growing down creating cave space underneath

This is the second time I’ve seen a tree like this (the first time was at Hershey Gardens). I want one in my yard!

looking out from underneath tree branches nearly touching ground

I couldn’t resist going into the little tree cave for a moment. I mean, it already had an opening!

squirrel standing on hind legs looking far away

This adorable squirrel looked so forlorn when the squirrel it was chasing went through the fence. Why it didn’t just follow I don’t know.

bunch of pigeons and one squirrel eating on grass

Seems like the pigeons and squirrels get along quite well here.

crowd of pigeons eating in park by people's feet

Pigeons are always pecking, which makes me wonder if they’re ever not hungry…

two baby coons at edge of pond near nest in reeds

I found some cute baby coons nesting in the reeds. Aww!

ruffled pigeon standing at edge of pond with feathers everywhere

Haha! This ruffled up pigeon was cooling its feet in the pond.

black bird with neon greenish yellow feet walking into pond

Click on this pic and zoom in to see the freakin’ NEON feet of this bird.

brown and white duck with black accents swimming in pond

Now there’s an unusual duck with pretty black trim.

swan drinking water at edge of pond with kids standing nearby

There were a ton of swans around and it doesn’t look like I’m that close, but it felt like I could touch it!

kids chasing geese in park

Some of the kids enjoyed chasing the ducks, geese, and swans into the pond.

wooden and cloth lounge seats by willow tree in park

The park provided tons of chairs for anyone who wanted to relax. So nice.

pasta bake and salad with san pellegrino orange soda drink and black pepper and sea salt chips

After the park we went to the Science Museum, where I got a delicious pasta bake lunch.

zoomed in look at purple sapphire engagement ring under microscope

Next up was the Natural History Museum where we came across a microscope and decided to take a look at my ring up close.

red and white street sign with sticker grafitti

On our walk from the museums back towards the hotel, we came across signs that had been tagged with fun stickers.

ton of train tickets laid out on table as they are printed out

Before going to the room, we stopped at Victoria Station to pick up our train tickets for the duration of our trip. It printed out so many!!

bowl of wagamama ramen dish with pork, shrimp, wakame seaweed, fish cakes, and tea egg

For dinner it was Wagamama and I unknowingly went to the exact one I’d eaten at years ago.

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