Friday, July 25, 2008


So I know I've been nonexistent for the last couple weeks but it's been extremely busy. Between going to Chicago for 4th of July, Michigan City the following weekend, and then three days later leaving for England, there wasn't much time for blogging. Denise and I had an amazing time and got to see so much of England. My favoirte part was getting to catch up with Holli all week. We did learn a few things about the British while we were there:

1. They have awesome food!

2. They have their priorities in the right place. Quality of life and spending time with family is more important than making money.

3. They are a little behind in technological advances at times, such as computers at restaurants to be able to split your bill.

4. They think we are the ones with the accent and when they imitate us they sound highpitched,nasal, and like a southern hick.

5. Showering is optional!

6. They are very nice people contrary to popular belief.

7. They have some funny phrases:

Here are the phrases that we learned all week.

Knickers or pants - underwear
Trousers - pants
Toilets - restrooms
Top Up - adding money to a subway card or prepaid cell phone
Jacket Potatos - Baked potatos
What a giggle - oh how funny
I'm fab - I'm good
Swim Costume - swimsuit
I'll catch you up - I'll catch up with you
Crisps - Chips
Lemonade - sprite
Sweets or desserts - pudding
Chips - french fries
Hi, are you alright? - Hi, how are you?
Garden - backyard
White goods - applicances
Hoovering - vacuuming
Queue - line
Till - cashier
Buggy - stroller
Trolley - shopping cart
Paddle pools - kiddie pool
Wellies - rain boots
Brallie - umbrella
Boot - trunk of car
Bonnet - hood of car
Petrol - gas
Stabilizers - training wheels
Trainers - tennis shoes
Dummy - pacifier
Nappy - diaper
Lolly - sucker
Mate - friend
Fringe - bangs
Cheers - anything you want it to be, like Aloha in Hawaii
Flashes - highlights
Tell off someone - tell on someone
Have a go - take a turn
Reception - kindergarten
Nursery - preschool
Accomodations - dorms
Hole in the wall - ATM
Half pint - small drink
Pint - large drink
Quid - buck
Hen night - bachelorette party
Stag night - bachelor party
Holiday - vacation
Lorry - semi
Squash - juice
Torch - flashlight
Tig - tag
Tube - subway
Over the moon - super excited
Mind the gap - watch your step
Way out - exit
Plasters - bandaids
Snogging -making out
Give way - yield
Flat - apartments

We were so excited that our ticket said England on it! Denise tried to breach security twice by trying to take a bottle of pop and a bottle of hairspray through security She got a lecture from the security personnel

We figured out that my passport was wrong on the way to the airport!

My cousin Kory had a good suggestion that I should remove my closeup of my passport due to identify theft, so you'll just have to trust me that it says Tara Haber! :-)

Notice anything wrong about this picture? Yes, it says Tara HABER! I mean seriously, isn’t a passport kind of a big deal?! How does the government screw that up especially when they have your old passport to go off of? I think what worried me more is that the American Airlines and border patrol people in both countries didn’t seem to care!!!

Two hours of sleep does not do me well! We got on the plane and Denise noticed she was sitting next to an infant. She immediately says excitedly “oh a baby!” I looked at the baby with the opposite response and thought “OH A BABY!” Surprisingly it wasn’t the baby that was the problem. It was his two year old sister a row behind that screamed nearly the entire trip! Ironic enough, it was a family that Holli and Andy knew!

The cathedral in Peterborough. It’s the cathedral of St. Peter, St. Paul and St. Andrew. Pick a saint and it was the cathedral from them! :-)

It was free to tour the cathedral. Two pounds if you wanted to take pictures and then you could donate to the cathedral if wanted to as well. I didn’t feel like it!

Apparently before you die OR after you have to pose for your sculpture that they put above your grave. A little creepy if you ask me! I’d rather not know exactly what they look like in their casket!

One last picture in the inside of the cathedral before we walked outside in the “rain”. Even though it only spits for rain, it was enough humidity to make our hair grow throughout the day!

The backside of the cathedral and graveyard. I’m not a big fan of walking around or over dead people.

The cathedral was that large, we didn’t shrink!

Every place was a picture opportunity

Starbucks in the UK are pretty much the same as the US. Denise always had to start her day with a coffee. Probably due to our lack of sleep. However, I should have been the one injecting the caffeine into my veins after only getting about four hours a sleep a night. I never quite switched over to England time.

Holli assured us we didn’t need to change any money over to pounds because EVERY place would take a credit card(or swipe and sign as they call it). However the first place we tried to eat at didn’t take credit card and we had to go scrambling for a “hole in the wall”! By the way, the next two places we went didn’t take credit card either, so not EVERY place takes credit card! :-)

We ate at Fratelli’s which was this cute little English cottage looking Italian restaurant. When you make a reservation at a restaurant, you have the table for the whole night. They don’t care about making more money. It’s all about your experience and enjoying the food. I like the way the British think!

My meal was so good, I didn’t even share! This was the dinner where Holli spelled out sex and said it in a whisper, and I looked around to figure out who was in the room that wasn’t supposed to hear that word or someone who wouldn’t know how to spell! Apparently she forgets to transition from her five and 2 ½ year old to Denise and I!

We were smiles that night, but that morning there was some drama, when the converter blew out my hair straightener and the handle started smoking!

We had hot chocolate at this cute little coffee shop called Beans in Stamford. It was some of the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had. They brought it out with lots of whipped cream, chocolate and white chocolate chips and chocolate powder. Could it be any better or fattening?

Right outside of Beans

You can see on the table that Holli always has baby wipes on hand. We needed them to wipe down the table.

Enjoying my small hot chocolate

I'm going to miss the tasty pastries

Holli got the large hot chocolate. It looked VERY yummy!

Ramping up for a full day of sh0pping!

The market in Stamford

Denise trying to decide if she wanted to pay $54 US dollars for two rings

Denise showing off her purchase. It later kept falling off her pinky finger

A cathedral in Stamford

The British can drive on the sidewalks, which is why I almost got run over while taking this picture!

The Burghley House. You’d think it was Buckingham Palace, but instead just a huge house owned by a family we don’t know nor do we know why they have such a large home!

Denise morphed into a cheerleader for this picture! Go! Fight! Win!

Call me!

The proper pose....

And then the not so proper. This would be me jumping out of the guardhouse!

When you have a former photographer’s assistant taking your picture, you get the same pose in front of the same background multiple times. It’s great! We got to pick our favorite one. Now I know why I had over 300 picture of England. 2/3 of them were duplicates! :-)

The whole Burghley House

Hotel a la Kieser…….A few things different about the Kieser residence than in the states:
1. They have pull cords in the bathrooms instead of light switches. It is against the law to have switches in the bathroom or outlets. They are afraid someone will electrocute themselves. I say, they should ask the US how many deaths a year are related to someone electrocuting themselves from turning on the light!
2. They have a fridge the size of what you would take to college. Holli and Andy have solved this buy buying two small fridges and two small freezes so they technically have one large refridgerator put together
3. They have a dryer but don’t have a way to hook it up because most English people don’t have them, so it’s rigged up through the doggy door in the laundry room
4. And last but not least they have motion sensor lights that also beep when someone comes on their driveway, however apparently not loud enough to hear when someone is stealing your grill! Sorry Hols, I couldn’t resist! :-)
The Kiesers were amazing hosts! They were willing to give us their king bed and they would take the spare bedroom, but I think Holli was hoping we wouldn’t take her up on that offer! :-) We didn't for the record! She made us breakfast every morning and carted us all over England. We truly had an amazing time and it would not have been the same had we gone alone! Thank you guys for a wonderful trip and for being such awesome hosts!

Have you ever seen so many cans of Pringles? They also have interesting flavors like prawn cocktail!

This is like their Walmart. It was attached to the mall, so it was different because you could buy your groceries and then take your shopping cart into the clothing stores and shop as well!

Dinner at the Faclon Inn. We met up with some of Holli’s other transplant friends. They taught us new English phrases all night. What you can’t see is that this restaurant overlooked a really cool church. I would have a picture if I could figure out how to take pictures at night with my camera and have them turn out!

Becky and Holli

Jenny took the roundabouts a little fast, because I almost left my lunch in her backseat! However, it could have been my state of delirium running on no sleep!

Denise and I showing off our new purchases. Holli and I had to switch places because my arm looked fat!

We took this picture after we asked the waitress to split our bill. She pulled out a calculator and manually started to split it up! We felt bad!

Denise trying to block out the sun on the BUS! Bus ride into Cambridge

Streets of Cambridge and a random tourist!

A singing group from Zimbobwae

A building that had something to do with stories about martyrs. I wasn’t paying close enough attention.

Just another Cathedral, but I thought it was pretty and worth taking a picture of.

That would be Holli if you can see her past my collar!

Punting boats in Cambridge. Almost like gondolas in Venice. You could pay about two pounds less and do it yourself. We decided to spring for the extra! The people “paddling” themselves were not exactly great at maneuvering the boats!

Our cute tour guide. Someone asked him at the end of the tour if he was married. He’s not but he’s only 19!

Cambridge College is made up a bunch of different colleges like how we would have the school of engineering, business, etc. Instead they have King’s College, Queen’s College, Clair College, etc.

The backside of the “wedding cake college”

They have a tradition called bridge jumping where they climb over one side of the bridge and then jump back into the punting boat on the other side. We saw a guy in the midst of this challenge. He was not succeeding!

The front of “wedding cake college”. They filmed some scenes from Harry Potter in front of this college as well.

King’s College. Apparently Prince Charles wanted to go to Oxford, but he failed the entrance exams and ended up at King’s College. He wanted to be like just any other college student aside from the entire top form of the dorms that he lived in! No mooring means that you can’t park your punting boat. No one followed this rule!

The dorms for King’s College

The other half of King’s College

Another angle of wedding cake college. Didn’t realize how many I took of this building!

It almost looks like were in Venice……almost!

Showing off our pedicures and enjoying a day on the water.

This was shortly after we had been hit with a tidal wave by a fellow paddler

The Pub where I had my first English fish and chips and the famed sticky toffee pudding

Can’t you tell I’m really excited about my sticky toffee pudding? Funny thing is, it’s not toffee and it’s not pudding, but it was good nonetheless!

Our cute picture………..

Holli yelling at me to wake up, but I broke pose right as the camera went off.

My best attempt to look tired. Wasn’t very tough since I hadn’t slept up to this point!

This would be like caffeine fix #5 for Denise just that day!

This would be the front of King’s College

It was graduation day. We got to witness one of the graduates have a public dispute with her mom. She turns around to her dad and says, “dad, mom is threatening to drop out of my life forever! Fine I’ll just do it myself! Not like it would be any different. I’ve been doing it all myself forever anyway!” Then her mom says “Fine, I’ll be out of your life by tomorrow morning!” We had to laugh! We were like, but tonight they’re going to celebrate graduation and then first thing tomorrow it’s the disowning of parents! :-)

We tried crispy duck. It tasted like…… guessed it CHICKEN!

It was about the length of your wing span and large enough for a three year old to drive!

Our walk to the sheepway

Drake with one of his many “souvenirs” from our walk

Gwen must be a Cardinals fan. She wasn’t too keen on her Cubs hat. So Drake wore two!

I think this was shortly before Gwen stepped in sheep poo. She later wanted to ride on Andy’s shoulders! Poor Andy! :-)

Gwen took a few days to warm up to us. She was too cute! She thought everything Drake did was either hilarious or “scare-wee” She would light up as soon as Andy walked through the door! He is such a good dad! He played with the kids every night until they went to bed.

Holli said there were sheep behind their house. I just didn’t realize she meant acres of sheep! The sheep were fine to be around, the bulls that were staring us down……not so much! There was one sheep eating the grass on his knees. We joked about how lazy he was until he got up and was limping. Then I felt bad!

So my allergies didn’t do well with the sheep. Thankfully this photo was not a close up!

So I have not ventured over into the world of Crocs, because that will NEVER happen! I don’t care how comfortable they are :-)Holli insisted that we wear hers so that we didn’t get sheep poo on our own shoes. It was a good idea!

This is the public passageway. They actually give you steps to cross onto private property!

They even had arrows showing you where to go, however not always pointing you in the right direction.

The ole Vauxhall got us around all week. I kept trying to get in on the wrong side of the car. Holli was going to let us drive. In the UK, you can drive on a US license for a year before you’re required to get a UK license. I wish we would have done it. It would have been hilarious to see us try to drive on the wrong side.

The parking is so tight that Holli had us get out of the car first before she parked.

We were getting excited about our reserved seats that face each other with a table!

You ask why were not enjoying our reserved seats that face each other with a table?! Well that’s because we didn’t get our reserved seats that face each other with a table! :-) They cancelled the train before our stop and combined two trains together, so we didn’t get a seat at all. Denise displaying her coffee after she stole about 50 packets of Splenda from the coffee place. She was so intrigued that the Splenda was in tablet form!

Trying to stay out of the way of the gentleman that felt it necessary to keep walking up and down the aisle on our 45 MINUTE train ride! Seriously, couldn’t it wait whatever it was that he felt was so important to get up?!

Holli trying to figure out the subway and Denise licking her lips!

The phrase is what is on the infamous souvenir tee like our I love NY t-shirts. Funny that the subway is the source of a souvenir t-shirt.

I had to take a picture of one of these “hole in the walls”. In the UK, it doesn’t mean it’s a dumpy restaurant that serves good food. It dispenses cash!

Now I’ve stayed at a lot of hotels that don’t have a bellboy, but I’ve never been to a hotel that just give you the key to the luggage room so that you could steal everyone else’s stuff while you’re in there. As you can see the luggage room was more like a luggage closet and it was completely full!

Don’t be fooled by its cute front. It had its flaws!

It was a long walk to the hotel with our luggage. Well it was actually a short walk if you don’t go around the block three times trying to find the hotel!

Holli introduced us to some Irish Cider. Even better when it tastes like sparkling apple juice. They also had the best appetizers.


Denise trying her first anchovie

Trying another English favorite, bangers and mash. It was good, but not very exotic. It’s just sausage and mashed potatoes and gravy.

Just in case you thought a restaurant only served food on like Tuesdays and Thursdays! No, it’s every day!

We thought this was a unique Pub, so we had to take pictures in front of it, only to find that EVERY pub in London looks just like this one!

If only we had trusted people to take our pictures! We wouldn’t have two pictures of every place!

Even the Brits “thank God it’s Friday”!

We ate at Rock Garden – that’s the name Hols

We started to appreciate English Tea. I however needed lots of milk in mine along with about 7 packets of brown sugar, but it was really good! You can barely see the remnants of our profiteroles. Holli wanted us to try another English favorite. Our waitress tried to talk us out of them. We hope it’s because they weren’t good rather than her thinking we didn’t need them!

That would be Hols holding my shopping bag, but we don’t know why. We both looked at the picture and tried to figure out what she bought at Top Shop until we realized that she bought nothing and it was my bag!

We loved these telephone booths. However holding the door open was like trying to push a boulder up hill!

This would be the second casualty of the trip. Not only did my straightener blow out the first day because the converter wasn’t strong enough, the converter itself made a popping noise and starting smoking! This was after we unplugged it. It stunk up the entire room which was only 8x8 so it didn’t have very far to go and we actually smelled like burnt plastic the next day!

So conveniently the elevator was broken during our stay, so with our luggage in the basement and us being on the 4th floor, we got to lug our bags up five flights of stairs and not just any stairs, but narrow stairs and winding stairs. Let’s just say we got our workout in for the day. My legs were burning by the second floor! Once we got to the room we found that we had one double(which looked like an oversized twin) instead of the two twins we had requested. After bringing our bags up five flights of stairs we weren’t about to complain!

Another view of the room

No folks, this is not a sonogram machine! This would be the tv in our room! There were a total of four channels and three of the four looked like this! You had to hope that you liked what was on the one channel that did come in otherwise you were out of luck. However, this one beloved channel had a buzzing noise about 75% of the time. Needless to say we didn’t watch a lot of tv!

We were given two bath towels. No hand towels, no washcloths. And you got a good exfoliation when you dried off because the bath towels felt like you were rubbing sand paper on your body!

The shower was barely large enough for a grown child to fit into, and the curtain smelled like BO, so we showered with the curtain open so we wouldn’t have to touch it. But don’t worry, they did give us a bathmat, so that caught the excess water. We did have to get creative when washing our face. Sometimes the bathmat came in handy for that too! Moral of the story: DON’T BE CHEAP WHEN YOU GO TO LONDON LIKE WE WERE! JUST SPLURGE AND GO FOR AT LEAST THE FOUR STAR HOTEL! :-)

The street our hotel was on. Now the only logical thing would be to think that this would be a really nice hotel. Oh well, it worked and we were hardly in the room. When the converter blew out and Denise’s straightener didn’t work, it made for interesting hair our last day in London. She went curly and I had to brush mine so you couldn’t tell how badly it needed to be washed!

To say the subway was cramped would be an understatement. I had sweat rolling down my back! Denise gets a little claustrophobic. Thankfully it was a short ride. Being in cramped quarters with smelly people and being hot is not very fun!

The queen was leaving right as we were coming up to Buckingham Palace. This would be her procession. Crazy that they shut down streets momentarily while she drives through. Kind of crazy if you ask me!

I was a little bummed that these guards were not on the outside of the gates like you see in all the movies and wearing those huge hats. I had this whole bit ready to try and make them laugh!

I like to think that the pearly gates will look something like this but most likely cooler. I just would like to be on the other side of the gate when it comes to the pearly ones! :-)

Gates to the gate of Buckingham Palace. Paranoid much?!

It’s so large, I couldn’t fit it all in one frame. Can you tell it’s high travel season in London? Holli said you can spot Americans a mile away with their fanny packs, cameras and Nike tennis shoes! We saw quite a few!

That would be me doing a curtsy in front of the fountain outside of Buckingham Palace. Yeah, I don’t know. Posing by yourself is always awkward!

Apparently breast feeding in public is not frowned upon in the UK or letting your kids sit next to you naked!

So I thought I’d try a new pose and literally almost fell in this fountain! The new pose wasn’t great either!

So a normal pose but I’m not sure why I look like I’m holding a bottle in my hands!

Westminister Abbey

It’s like Where’s Waldo! Where am I? My yellow coat kind of gives it away!

If we stood almost next to the camera, we could get just our head in with the entire building!

We didn’t get arrested. I just thought their police cars were interesting.

I think the last guy saw me because he almost looks like he’s smiling for my picture!

The infamous telephone booth. I don’t know what it is about them, but I just couldn’t get enough pictures of them!

Just a picture of the British flag.

So the made in GB circle on the bottle doesn’t stand for Green Bay. It stands for GREAT BRITAIN! I was mistaken!

They would like you to “open by hand” as opposed to using your teeth or toes apparently.

Um, there was a padded backrest on the toilet! How comfortable do they want you to get in a public restroom?!

House of Parliament, a news team was there trying to get some footage of House of Parliament. The cameraman had some choice phrases for people that walked in front of his shot! I made sure I walked behind him!

The Cathedral behind Westminister Abbey. If you look closely you can see Denise trying to get a picture of it. For as close up as she is, I’m pretty sure she didn’t get the whole Cathedral in her picture!
Look kids! Big Ben, Parliament! Denise and I had a similar situation to going around the roundabout again and again and seeing these two landmarks. But our landmarks were Buckingham Palace and Westminister Abbey. We were so excited to finally get on a double decker bus where we got to sit on the top. That should have been our first clue. We soon found out that we had hopped on the wrong bus and it was taking back to all the sights we had already seen!

I think we shipped all of our cars to the UK after the 60’s were over! And they’re a little behind on movies. 27 dresses was just coming out on DVD!

The bus was supposed to come around every ten minutes. It did not! This would be the same stop that we got on the wrong bus, so we spent a good portion of our day at this bus stop!

The London Eye

Trafalgar Square

St. Paul’s Cathedral, they said on the bus that the Cathedral was free to tour. They lied!

We all know the nursery rhyme London Bridge is falling down, well here it is! Yep, it was just that exciting!

Now the Tower Bridge, this was actually worth taking a picture of!

The skyline of London. What two things don’t fit in this picture? The bullet shaped building, and the top of that random man’s head!

Driving under the Tower Bridge

More of the Tower Bridge

Tower of London, they were refurbishing it while we were there, so some of it was covered up.

The famed Sherlock Holmes restaurant

London’s version of Time Square

Picadilly Square

Archway to Buckingham Palace. When your bus driver thinks your tour is a race, it’s hard to take a picture without it being blurry, half cut off, or random tourists in it!

Backside of House of Parliament and Big Ben

I don’t know why I liked these phone booths so well. Maybe just because I’ve seen them in so many movies. They were cool on the outside but smelled like pee on the inside and the phone didn’t reach all the way to my ear as you can see, but I was ok with that. I wasn’t sure I wanted it touching my ear anyway!

Give way means yield

We finally made it to Lion King on “broadway”! Well worth seeing!

We had to quick take a picture before we got yelled at by the usher!

No I’m not doing magic! My silverware was just magnetic. No biggie!

Which gate will be ours?!

Yep, you guessed it! We had the 20 minute walk to our gate!

Denise getting frisked at the airport. I was the one flying with a fake passport and she gets padded down?! She apparently looks like she’s packing heat!

We…………….A. didn’t want to be recognized due to our celebrity status and it is oh so annoying to get asked to sign autographs when you’re on vacation OR B. looked like crap from getting up at 4am and getting no sleep the night before. You decide!

Denise showing off all her candy. I think she spent just as much time looking for “English candy” as she did for clothes and probably money as well


Anonymous said...


what a fun time! i have been waiting for the england post...I'm glad you took so many pictures. It looks like you had such a great time. Makes me feel like I was there too with your great commentary. great post! -heidi

tamika paige said...

you:re hilarious!!! great pictures and great comments! loved it all!!!

Holli said...

Happy Days! seriously so much fun! Thank you for making the trip - it is so fun to show people around and have an accuse to go shopping -everyday! Love you both and see you at the next stop!:)

Minders said...

Your trip looks like so much fun! Makes me want to go... :)

smw said...

i'm glad to see that england does indeed have some sunny days. i've always wanted to go, but have feared i'd be depressed the whole time, due to a lack of sunshine.

i will have to check thoroughly into the motel rooms, i seem, though!! :)