Friday, August 28, 2009

Off we go in YO-YO!

Bluefish has this fantastic Volkswagen Camper Van that is a Type 25 built in 1989 and bought by him in 2004. He has used YO-YO for weekend trips since then, but never before has YO-YO been traveling as much as this summer!!!!!! Fruit Loop and I had major travel plans for our holiday and as long as he remained unemployed so would we remain on vacation! I was not to sure about how much actual camping we would be doing, but having grown up spending every school break on a campsite I was prepared for anything. To my surprise our first adventure was in STYLE! We had electricity and Bluefish had even brought the microwave, large refrigerator, and electric kettle. Just 100 feet away was a wonderful shower area and they even had a hot water dish washing area (washing up as they call it here).

Now sleeping arrangements....well that was another story altogether. YO-YO does have a foldout bed, but Fruit Loop being tall and I being... lets just say wide at the hips... thought sleeping inside would be a bit cramped. So it was into the awning with us (an awning is an attached tent to the van). Sounds great until you realize the air mattress is at most 3 inches thick!! Seriously I think we were just sleeping on the ground. But don't worry after we got home we found the air mattress we had been looking for and bought it with the money my awesome friends had given us as a gift. Now we sleep on a deluxe Areobed! It is soooo comfy and inflates in 5 minutes. Yea! Yes, this is a commercial. hehehehe

I want you to look closely at the photos... See the one with the flowers? Those flowers are stuck to the inside windshield of YO-YO. The daisy/bluebonnet ones are my arrangement and the others are Bluefish's mother's arrangement. Don't they add a nice touch to the van?! Well - I think so! Do you also notice the one with Fruit Loop looking at the map? Well that is the way he looks ALL the time while we are driving around. Is he lost? No, but I swear to you that there are NO straight paths to any destination in the entire United Kingdom!!! One minute we will be heading north, the next south, and then east...all to get to the town next to the one we are in!!!!!

One last comment on our traveling in YO-YO. At first Bluefish thought he would take us on all the scenic routes to I could enjoy the sites. Sitting in the camper you get a higher view of the world passing by so I should be able to see all kinds of wonders. NOPE!!!!!! Have you heard of a hedge? Here in the UK ALL, yes ALL the roads are bordered with hedges to protect the homes, farms, and fields from stray animals, roving cars, and speculating tourists. These virtual walls of plants or trees sound nice if you want to keep from seeing something, but I want to see ANYTHING BUT A HEDGE!!!! Let me give you running commentary of my window scenes...

Oh honey look its a shee....HEDGE. Hmmm.... I think I see a cast...HEDGE. Look at that wonderful vie.....HEDGE!!!!!!!!! zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

You guessed it, I gave up trying to see anything and just went to sleep! Boy does this drive Bluefish crazy!!! At first I tried to pretend I was awake, but he caught on quick when you COULD actually see something out of the van windows and I didn't respond with the appropriate animal noise. Baaaa for a sheep, Moooo for a cow, Neighhhh for a horse, and "oh look at the baby" for a dog! So despite the fact that YO-YO gives you a higher view, I rarely see much! (Ok, seriously I do look but you really do see hedges about 70% of the time. Do you blame me for taking a doze?)

To all of my loyal fans I want to apologize for not keeping up-to-date with my travels. If you need to blame someone, just blame my knight in shinning armour YO-YO! He has taken us all over England and Wales this summer and I am sure he will continue to carry us afar in the future. In the morning we leave for York so he will be showing me the North East of England that I have yet to see (if I can stay awake and the hedges will cooperate!). Stay tuned everyone for the numerous entries of all of our trips. I have the photos ready and all I need to do is spend some time at home. If you can't wait, get on Facebook and find my page!

Off to get YO-YO packed for another adventure!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! BYE!!!!!!!!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

BRISTOL - A look at my new city!

June 18th

It was my German gal-friends last day to be with us so Bluefish thought it would be the perfect time to introduce both of us to my new city - BRISTOL!! At this point I STILL had NOT learned my lesson, so I dressed to look cute! When will I EVER learn???? One of the most famous and recognizable sites in Bristol is the Clifton Suspension Bridge (make sure you look at the link it has a 360 view that is to DIE for!!!!) which is just about ten minutes down the road. EXCEPT that you have to PARK ten minutes AWAY!!!!!!! We trudged up the hill by the cliff houses that are Victorian is style and such pretty colors. Right before you enter the crossing point for the bridge they have some special displays for wildflowers that are ONLY found in the area and a few that can be only found in the steep Avon Gorge. GUESS WHAT??? One of the special flowers is a breed of DAISES!!!!! My absolute FAV flowers!!! (see photo)

Crossing the bridge for the first time was special for me. One of my first homework assignments from Bluefish was to learn about the designer of the bridge, Brunell. YES, you heard me right, HOMEWORK. hehehehe For those of you who do not know me well, I am a perpetual student AND teacher. To get me interested in Bristol and possibly teach me some of the history about my new home, Fruit Loop gave me homework lists of famous Bristolians to research and write a report on. WHAT??? You wouldn't do that??? You think he is demanding??? What right does he have to give you HOMEWORK??? hehehehe I LOVED IT! With the six hour time difference, every time we would talk, Bluefish would then go to bed. I, on the other hand, would be all bouncy trouncy pouncy and wanting to talk more. To keep me busy he set me out on these assignments to "keep me from getting into too much trouble". Needless to say the bridge is special to me and I couldn't wait to stand in the middle of it and look down into the tidal river.

WOW!!!! The gorge is beautiful and soooooo steep!!!!! To my German friends pleasure, and mine too - don't tell on me!!!- the local fire department was out practicing rescue attempts off the bridge. Hmmmm.... they are a bit attractive... maybe my friend should hang just a biiiiiitttttt over the edge.... she just might need rescuing!!!!!!! LOL! Watching the men gave me an idea, I want to BUNGEE jump from here. SERIOUSLY!!! Darn they won't let you, grrrrrr.

After we enjoyed the bridge and walked across and back we went to the City Center of Bristol (what we would call downtown). In the early days (even before 1497)the city of Bristol was a major port for the country of England. It was a place for trading and shipping to many places including the Colonies. It also played a significant role in the tobacco and slavery trade. But as boats became larger the docks had to be shifted to deeper waters so now the docks play a more tourist role and pleasure center for the city of Bristol.

It was a nice journey through town, but honestly I felt we had not even come close to seeing all there was too see. Just imagine Downtown Dallas, Texas put in old buildings and squished together. That is what Bristol Center is like. They have all the latest fashions, shops, busy streets, tons of places to eat.... EXCEPT you can actually be entering a building that is hundreds of years old!

Now remember how I told you I dressed to look cute? NOT a good idea, many of the roads in this area of Bristol are STONES!!! OUCH!!!!! Talk about hurting my feet.... I was only wearing my fashionable crocs and the rocks just poked my feet all day! BLAST!!! Next time I will remember to wear trainers. So much for looking cute :-(


The official tourist site for Bristol

Clifton Suspension Bridge

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Do I STINK that bad?!?!?

June 17th

Wednesday morning my German friend and I awoke to Fruit Loop declaring us soooooo STINKY he had to take us to get a BATH! We loaded into the car and set off just about 30 minutes down the road to the only remaining WORKING Roman Baths left in England. Guess what? They are in the city called BATH, go figure?! lol We parked the car in the lot a bit out of town and grabbed a double decker bus into town where we were quickly led to the baths and dramatically DUMPED IN!!!!

Ok I am just kidding, they don't let you get into the Roman Baths to actually bath, but I wish we could have tried. I did touch the water (even though they don't allow you too) along with tons of other tourist so don't worry I won't get arrested, YET! But I do think I saw a glimpse of that immigration officer!

Bath is actually a wonderful city that I look forward to exploring many more times in the future. Being so close to us we can zoom down anytime to look at a museum or shop. They also have a bike trail that is relatively flat (on an old railroad track they have paved over) that we plan on cycling in the next few months. When we arrived in the city center we proceeded to walk up the street to see the Circus and the Royal Crescent. Bath was a very popular place for wealthy people to come to enjoy the spa in the 18th century. They would buy homes in the Circus and Crescent and then ride around in their carriages to show off who was the best looking and gossip about who wasn't! Sounds alot like teenagers cruising when I was a teen! Oh on the way to these enormous apartment complexes I saw the Jane Austen Museum and from then on all I said all day was..."Mr. Darcy, Mr. Darcy!" Fruit Loop and my German gal-friend had NO desire to visit so I stuck my lip out and pouted for a bit. hehehehe! Don't worry I will be back as soon as I have a free day by myself to check it out.

After the "posh" (means very nice/expensive looking) apartments we rambled on to the Assembly Rooms were they held elaborate balls to show off even more! I took this opportunity to dance with my man in the ballroom and pretend I was dancing in the 18th century during a coming out ball for one of Jane Austen's characters. (see photo) Next we ate little snacks in the market and YUMMY! I had the best bacon/cheese pastry!!! And the chocolate one....mmmmmmm!!!!! Rats, didn't find any diet coke with ice though!

I could go on forever with all of the sites we saw including the cathedral and actual baths, but I bet you would get VERY bored. BUT if you are actually interested in learning about the places I am visiting I am adding a new feature to each entry. At the bottom I am going to start giving you links to do some EXPLORING for yourself!!!!! Please comment on what you find out. :-)

It was a nice relaxing day with just a spot of typical English rain. YES MY FIRST ENGLISH RAIN! I guess Fruit Loop was able to get me to take that bath after all anyway in the city famous for its BATHS!


Official Tourist Site for BATH

General Information on Jane Austen

The Roman Baths in Bath

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Hey I think I see some old rocks?!?!?

Why did they put the stones so close to the road? hehehehe That is what many tourist ask when they visit Stonehenge for the first time. So confused are they to find that the monument is surrounded by roads and appears small compared to the daunting tour buses that are pulling in and out of the carpark by the hundreds! Where is the mystic, the mist, the haunting presence of thousands of years gone by? Standing next to the German teenagers, the Japanese middle aged couple, or the elderly Americans all toting cameras and name badges? You mean you have to pay to get in and you can't touch them for THAT PRICE? grrrrr

Tuesday morning we awoke to the delight in remembering that our German friend we had also meet on MFO was here staying with us for the week. She had flown in the night before and wanted to see Stonehenge while she was with us. Since I had never been either, Fruit Loop decided to be a tour guide and show us one of England's most visited sites. The drive is not long from Bristol so we arrived in less than 2 hours. Guess what? It looks just like you see on TV. Nope, no magic, DARN! I was really hoping to see it surrounded by strangely dressed Druids doing a fairy dance or sacrificing a goat! Don't worry, I know that is not going to happen, but only because the government won't let them! Actually we did see one crazy guy dressed as a Druid trying to protest that they are not allowed to claim the Stones as their own. Nobody seemed to pay any attention to him, so I don't think he will win his cause!

As we approached the stones it was disappointing that we could not run between them, touch them, and climb on them to declare our superiority over the planet! It had been a while since Bluefish had been to see the alter, but he made my friend and I both jealous because when he was a child you COULD play on the stones. However, it is a necessary evil for there preservation and protection. Everywhere you looked you could see tons of tourists who would all have loved to take a piece of Stonehenge home with them, or carve their name it. What I found amusing was that one stone was off by itself. We all laughed and declared it unworthy of being included in the actual design! RATS, they wouldn't let you touch that one either.

In about an hour we had BEEN THERE, DONE THAT, AND BOUGHT THE T-SHIRT! (No actually they don't really sell t-shirts here in the UK at tourist shops, strange huh?) Now I can confidently say I have seen one of the Wonders of the World and yes, it was close to the road!


Stonehenge Official Website

Monday, June 29, 2009

My first CASTLE and it was in WALES!

Saturday night (6/13) Fruit Loop and his brother took me on a drive and out to dinner. I was wearing my cute flip-flops so I should have known we would go for a walk! The drive through the countryside was nice and we kept catching a glimpse of the Severn Bridge that connects Bristol to Wales. Next thing I know we are taking a walk down a path to the base of the bridge. It was so lovely and chilly too! I kept thinking that maybe we were going to Wales, but to my disapointment me did not.

The next morning (Sunday 6/14) Bluefish and I got up to set off for the day on a SECRET adventure. I had no idea where we were going, and actually didn't even care! I just enjoyed getting in the car and letting Fruit Loop drive me around. Certainly ANHYTHING we saw would be a new sight for me! hehehehe To my joy we headed in the same direction as Saturday evening and then actually CROSSED the bridge and went into WALES!!! (If you remember your geography lesson from earlier...WALES is another country in the United Kingdom!) The road wound around and I wondered where we would stop. At a carpark we left the car for a journey into a quaint village with steep hills. It was very nice, but what I saw next was STUNNING. The sneaky boy had taken me to the outside of town to a place that would not give me a view of our actual destination, A CASTLE!!!! Yes a real god honest castle that was built years and years ago. When we rounded the corner and I looked up I was AWED! I actually stopped and sat down on a bench just to soak up the image. My head was spinning with tales of love, battle, and history. Over my 37 years I have read many a romance story where the girl lives in the castle and must wait for her knight to rescue her... ahhhhh.... so amazing.

Then I wanted to run up to the gate and actually TOUCH a stone. Can you truly grasp that this building was first erected in the 11th century (d. 1071)? Seriously! In Texas nothing is that old except the dino prints in the river!! Our visit to the castle was so romantic. Every nook and cranny I could imagine being used for a chaste kiss, so I would give Bluefish one! lol xxxx hehehehe! The views of the Wye river from the castles crumbling windows brought chills to my bones. This view was the same for hundreds of women throughout the years.

After the castle we continued to travel along the path of the river to visit Tintern Abbey, and Symonds Yat Rock. The Abbey was founded by the Cistercian Monks in 1131 and dissolved in 1536. What amazes me the most is how skeletal ruins look so stunning and even more spectacular than in-tact buildings. I think it has something to do with the immaginative eliment that is involved when you are trying to picture the ruin whole and in use. In the village of the Abbey we had lunch, a nice stroll, and shared some fudge. Next stop was the rock. Also adjacent to the river the Symonds Yat Rock provides a fabulous viewing point for the Wye Valley. The countryside is just shockingly GREEN, did I say green? Oh I am sorry I ment GREEN-GREEN-GREEN-GREEN!

As the day drew to a close we started our journey back only to be waylaid by a heard of sheep! I was so excited to see the sheep blocking the road. I had dreamed of this happening one day to me and had just told Fruit Loop that I wanted to take photos of the sheep, and to my wish came SHEEP IN THE ROAD! Once our friends had crossed to the other side, we too crossed the the other side of the Severn Bridge, back home to England

Friday, June 19, 2009

I Bought a BIKE! (and other shopping in England)

On Thursday afternoon, my first day here, Fruit Loop and I went shopping! Yes, crazy in a way because I was so jet lagged, but we wanted to keep me awake so my body would start to adjust to the six hour time difference. Off we went to Ikea, home of all of our furniture and FOOD. I was still hungry so we stopped in the cafe where I had a spot of fish and chips! Oh and a lite soda with NO ice. In fact I didn't even see ice ANYWHERE! grrrrrr YUCK, it was disgusting. Best not let Fruit Loop know, hehehehe. Well we zoomed around and picked up bits and pieces for our wardrobe (That is a fake closet in case you didn't know. They don't have closets! strange?!) Then we went to a store like Walgreens called BOOTS. It was very nice, but NO crest toothpaste, hmmm. Honestly, I can't remember if we did anything else because I was about dead!

Then on Friday we did more shopping at.....WALMART!! They call it ASDA here, but it also has Walmart on the sign. We ate a yummy brunch there and then looked around and bought a few things for me to cook for dinner. (Ok, don't faint, yes I cooked dinner for them! I also wash dishes, do laundry... but that is for another blog entry!) NOPE, Walmart in England is not the same. They have just a tiny selection of stuff, but it was nice to be in a familiar place. The grocery department was wonderful with plenty of choices. AND I avoided the clothes section so I wouldn't be tempted!

After Walmart we went to a place called Argos. EVERYONE in England has an Argos catalog, it is real thick and FULL of great stuff at awesome prices. I was all excited and I had picked out something to buy. We walk in and BAM there are NO shelves, just little stands with catalogs and computers! You can only order from the catalog and they will get it from the warehouse in the back or off site! I was SHOCKED. Guess I was expecting how Sears used to be when I was a kid, you could shop AND order from the catalog. :-) I think we went to a few more stores, but my brain was so tired by then I had no idea what was up or down.

Saturday we went shopping again! (But first we cleared out tons of junk from the backyard and took it to the tip, that's the dump. I think we made about 5 trips!!!) This time we went to the giant B & Q which is just like Home Depot, orange too! We went straight to the bathroom section and I got my medicine cabinet I wanted. (The purchase at Argos was for the bathroom as well. Living with two boys, you have to find space for all your girly stuff!) After we strolled around a bit we left for the next shop....the BIKE store!!!! WAIT!!! I am wearing a skirt and flip flops, cute flip flops too!!!! Maybe we should go another day? He looked disappointed so I decided to give it a go.

It was LOVE at first site.... and no I don't mean Bluefish. A classic red bike, three speeds, leather seat/hand grips, ding-ding bell, skinny tires with a white wash, a back rack to carry items, and the cherry-on-top... a wicker basket!!!!! Just what I had been looking for. I was so excited I bought it right away, forgetting that pounds and dollars don't match! YIKES, went a bit over my budget, but when I got on it Monday... It was worth every penny!!!!! Now all I need is a dog to ride in the basket. Bluefish tells me he is going to get me a stuffed one, darn...

Almost forgot, we went to the mall on Saturday too and guess what? It is just like ours! Big, bright, posh, full of stores like GAP, Starbucks, Disney... oh and even McDonald's - where I finally got a diet coke with ICE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday we went on an adventure (I will write about that next!)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Welcome Home!

In my daze of despair, sure that the "Bobbie" (British Police) were following us as we left the airport, Bluefish drove me for a scenic route around Bristol before we headed for his house. Having been unable to give him a proper enthusiastic greeting at the airport, all I wanted to do was get to the house, get a drink, and sit on the sofa and say hello. Instead we went from one beautiful vantage point to another and I grew thirstier and thirstier! Remember that nice kiss I was going to give him? Well now my lips were so dry I didn't think it would even be possible EVER AGAIN! hehehehe FINALLY, I begged to go to his house and he realized I really WAS in need of a drink and a place to sit down and BREATH in safety for a moment. After checking the rear view mirror a few more times, we pulled into the street positive that the blimey immigration police had not followed us. Phew!

I had a nice diet coke, Fruit Loop had bought me a whole 12 pack, and finally calmed down from the interrogation at the airport. Oh yes and a bit of kissing went on too! lol Eager to show me the bedroom he had worked so hard on, Bluefish took my hand and lead me up the stairs. When we opened the door to the room, I started to cry. He had decorated it with all assorted colored Welcome Home balloons, Welcome Home signs, fresh flowers, a cheerful duvet cover (bedspreadish thing) and the furniture as stunning! But most important was the message...WELCOME HOME. On the headboard was also a cute card that offered me HIS HOME, HIS FAMILY, and HIMSELF as mine for always. Plus a set of house keys. SIGH, SIGH, SIGH.... so romantic. He even had a box of tissues ready for me to use because he said he knew I would cry!

PS. The dinning room and living room also had fresh flowers too! No ladies, you can't steal my man. BUT he does have a single brother....