Mar 31, 2011

Here Comes The Sun

"Little darling, it's been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
and I say it's all right"
-Beatles, "Here Comes the Sun," Abbey Road

It definitely has been the longest, coldest, and loneliest winter I have ever experienced in my lifetime this past year living in the UK and having Josh in medical school.  But on Monday, March 21, 2011, the sun was shining brightly on the Fairman sibs in London.  And as my Mom tells me I used to say when I was 2 years old, "It was a boootiful day," and everything was even better than alright.

After seeing both the Tower Bridge and the London Bridge, we decided to make our way to one of the less visited but equally as well known tourist spots.  Abbey Road.  We took the metro to St. John's Wood which is just a little outside of the major part of the city.  From there, we walked down the street to Abbey Road and the famous crosswalk.  Suprisingly, there were only a handful of people at the same spot.  For as many tourists as there are in London on any given day, I expected there to be more people there.  I mean gosh, I know there are about a bazillion Beatles fans out there. 

We got a few pictures of the street sign.  As well as the crosswalk by itself.  Actually, in the UK a crosswalk is called a "Zebra Crossing" because of the alternating white and black lines.  I quite like that name.  So yes, we were at the Beatles Abbey Road Zebra Crossing. 

The street sign.
The Abbey Road zebra crossing.
 Of course, we had to try and recreate the Beatles Abbey Road picture from their album cover.  Here is what it originally looked like.
Abbey Road Album Cover
Can I just say that recreating this picture is NOT as easy as it looks.  First of all, there is LOTS of traffic at this little intersection.  And in the UK, there really is no rule that says pedestrians have the right of way.  If you are caught in the street while a car is coming, you are really risking your life.  Cause chances are, they don't plan on stopping.  On top of that, the random person we asked to photograph us while walking across was not brave enough to step out onto the street with us, so the angle at which it is taken at is a bit off of the picture.  After a couple of tries, this is the best we could come up with.
George, Paul, Ringo, John
We actually had a really fun time at Abbey Road and even though it was just a short time that we were actually there, it was extremely memorable.  There is even a Beatles Coffee Shop right outside of the tube station where we stocked up on Beatles memorabilia.
 After getting our Beatles fix, we headed to Picadilly Circus and Oxford Circus for some shopping!  Bert's favorite. :)  He was actually a really good sport through it all.  Picadilly Square reminds me a lot of Times Square, not that I've actually been there, but from the pictures they seem similar.  We walked along Regent Street going in and out of the shops.  We made a few purchases here and there, nothing to extravagant.  If I had unlimited funds, I could have spent a lot of time in this area.  They had just about every shopping store you can imagine.

Anna, Rachel, & Bert at Picadilly Circus.
 Our last stop in London was Hyde Park, which honestly, I think is a little overrated.  Maybe it's because we had been walking all day long and my feet were tired. Maybe it's because I woke up and tweaked my back and it was having spasms off and on all day.  Maybe it's because the park is massive and we walked across the entire thing lengthwise, which took an hour, to get to the "Princess Diana Memorial" only to find out that it was a children's playground dedicated to her...and it was closed.  Whatever the reason, I thought that St. James Park was MUCH nicer and could have done without Hyde matter how famous it is.  I didn't even take any pictures of it because I was disliking it so much at the time.

We ended our stay in London with dinner at The Shakespeare Pub.  The food was just okay, but the company was great.  Bert, Rachel, Anna, and I had such a fun time there and I can't wait to go back with my husband. Hint Hint.  (Have you noticed a trend here?) I really want to go back.  :)

Mar 30, 2011


It's testing week again for the Term 2 boys.  Josh had a Immunology midterm on Monday and has a Genetics final today.  As all my fellow SO's know, that means that our husbands whom are absent most days out of the week, are completely non-existant during testing weeks.  So, we thought what better week than this to have a girls night out on the town.  We met at Monument and Louise (our saviour of an English woman) shuttled us in two carloads to the bowling alley where us girls got our bowl on!  We were decked out in our bowling finest with fancy colored bowling balls and fabulous footware (smelly old leather bowling shoes). 

We bowled one game in which Louise proved to be the best bowler of us we know why she suggested bowling. :) 
I on the other hand think my score was somewhere under 75. 
Maybe I need some more practice. 
Or perhaps I need to stop doing "granny style" bowling. 
You know what I'm talking about. 
Spread your feet apart and swing the bowling ball between your legs with both hands so that it rolls rather slowly and hopefully straight towards those white pins.
Yeah, it's not so cute.
And apparently not very effective.

Anyway, it was still a great time.
Christine, Amberlea, Sarah G., Michelle, Sara W., Me, and Louise
Then we had a little fun.  Don't worry hubbys this was just a joke.  Although if this next picture is any indication of what I will someday look like when I'm pregnant....scary.
After bowling, we went to TGI Friday's for some calories in the form of dessert.  I definitely got the "Brownie Obsession" meant for two people, for myself. And, I. Ate. It. All. Yum.
It was a great night out with the gals.  I always look forward to our girls nights.  Next week, they are all coming over to my place for some baked potato soup.  I can't wait!

London Bridge is falling down

Well okay, not really anymore.  But it was falling down some 50 or so years ago.  The previous London Bridge is currently standing in Lake Havasu, Arizona, which I've been to a couple of times.  It was sold to a man in the United States in 1968 for a little over 2 million dollars and rebuilt in Havasu by 1971.  The current London Bridge opened in 1973.  So to clarify, there is a London Bridge in London and a London Bridge in Havasu, and I've now been to both.  If you're confused...Wikipedia it!

Now that we're all up to date on our London Bridge history, I'll get to the really fun stuff that the Fairman siblings did in London on day number two.  We got up fairly early on Monday morning and enjoyed a large buffet style breakfast at the hotel.  We discussed our game plan for the day and decided our first stop would be Tower Bridge. 

To me, Tower Bridge looks like a toy bridge.  Don't get me wrong, the bridge is huge, massive in fact.  You can't really miss it.  But it's painted light blue, white, and red and to me it looks a little out of place in the very historic and old city of London.  Plus, the London Bridge, which everyone has heard of, can be seen from Tower Bridge and it is a little underwhelming in comparison. 
After looking at the bridge from a distance, we decided to do the Tower Bridge Experience and go up in the two towers for a tour.  The tour was surprisingly interesting.  None of us are at all like our Dad in that we don't spend hour upon hour looking and reading all of the different signs and boards in a museum.  For example, he spent 7 HOURS at the British National Museum when my Mom and him were here in November.  7 HOURS!!!  Poor Mama.

It takes a lot to hold our attention, but they had a display of all of the world's most famous bridges which included both the Brooklyn Bridge and San Francisco Bridge among many others.  There were about 20-25 bridges in total.  Wouldn't it be cool to visit them all?!?  The bridge lifts about 1000 times a year for boats to go under.  I wish we could have seen that, but unfortunately there was no lifting happening last Monday.  Maybe when I go again with the hubby (hint hint) we can watch the bridge lift. :)  The tour also took you down under one of the towers to the steam room to show you the mechanics of how it lifts.  Pretty cool.

At the top of Tower Bridge
Anna has this issue with keeping her eyes open during pictures.
By the time we got to the top of the Tower Bridge, the sun was beginning to come out and it turned into the most beautiful London day.  The views were spectacular.
Views from the Tower Bridge
The Gherkin.  One of London's skyscrapers.
Anna gets left out of this because she can't keep her eyes open.
  Next we headed down to the steam room under one of the towers to check out all the equipment used to lift the bridge.  There was also a display of different stunts that have been done on the bridge.  For instance, one man has jumped it on his motorcycle while another jumped a bus.  Pretty crazy stuff.

And as if we hadn't taken enough pictures of the Tower Bridge, when we finally got down to the other side of the River Thames, we took a few more.

There was also a great view of the Tower of London which is Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress built in 1078 by William the Conqueror.  It has been used as both a prison and a place of residence and in earlier years, controlling it meant controlling the country.  We didn't pay to go in, but if I get to go back with Josh, going there will be on my list of things to do.

Tower of London
We then walked down the river to the London Bridge.  As I said earlier, it really isn't nearly as impressive as the Tower Bridge, but at one point, it was the only bridge crossing over the River Thames until 1750.  It is still cool to say we've been there none the less.

Our second day in London had started out strong with two awesome bridges before lunch time.  Next up is the second half of our day with some other famous sites.  Check back soon for more London fun!

Mar 29, 2011

Strippers Free Entry.....Huh?!?

I'm taking a blogging break from talking about my adventures with the sibs. Don't worry my friends, I will continue posting about it all soon.  But I had to take the time to put up a short post about a trip to Whitley Bay this past Sunday with Julie and her Mom.  We spent the day at the coast, walking from Tynemouth to Cullercoats to Whitley Bay.  All of which are the cutest little beach towns with their own unique personalities. 

By the time we got to Whitley Bay, it was kind of a ghost town.  By 4pm on a Sunday, most things are closed down for the day.  We had fun walking down the main street anyway.  As we walked past one of the bars we saw a VERY interesting looking sign.  Take a look.

WHAT THE HECK?!?!?!??!  I don't know if "strippers" has an alternative meaning here in the UK, but in the United States, "strippers" are erotic dancers.  Apparently, they need to go to Whitley Bay where they can gain entrance for free on Saturdays between the hours of 3:00 and 6:30pm.  Lucky them. 

I perused the internet looking for alternate meanings for "strippers" in the UK.  But the only meaning I could find is the same as what it means in the US.  If anyone has some UK slang knowledge and knows of a different meaning, please, enlighten me.  Otherwise, Julie and I will continue laughing about this one for a long long time.

Mar 28, 2011


Last Sunday Bert, Rachel, Anna, and I took the train to London.  I had a few concerns about London prior to going.  Rumors claimed that the people in London can be rude, cold, and extremely unhelpful but I have to say that those in doubt of the amicableness of Londoners were proved wrong.  From Sunday to Tuesday we were greeted with nothing but kindness from the people of London.
Yes, it was overcrowded and noisy. 
Yes,  there are about a million taxis and 10 million tourists. 
Yes, everyone is constantly in a hurry.
But we had a fantastic time and I only wish we could have stayed longer.  London is such a huge city and there are so many amazing things to see.  You could spend a week there and not see and do everything.  Maybe I can convince Josh to go back sometime before we leave in May...hint hint. :)

We arrived in London midday on Sunday and our first order of business was getting out of Kings Cross train station and getting checked into our hotel.  We had to get on the "tube" aka the underground train with our luggage in tow (a challenge in and of itself).

 The underground map looks like a rainbow spiderweb of lines, all darting off in different directions with various stops along the way.  Of course, the "line" that led straight to our hotel was closed for the duration of the weekend which meant that we had to find an alternative route to our hotel.  By the time we arrived at Victoria Sation, we felt we had mastered the tube.  We just had to make sure to "MIND THE GAP" while getting off the underground train. 
"The Gap" is the space between the train and the cement.  They must have had problems with this in the past, because they say it over the loudspeaker on the train EVERYTIME it stops (which is about every 2 minutes) as well as have it written everywhere!

As soon as we had checked into our hotel, we were anxious to start exploring London.  Our first stop was Buckingham Palace which was right up the street from our hotel.  THE PLACE IS HUGE!  Why didn't I marry a Prince of England again??  Just Kidding Hubby!  I wouldn't want to live in the UK permanently anyway. :)  They had guards outside and everything.  Does anyone ACTUALLY live there?  I'm interested to know.  I'm not sure I would like thousands of people peeking into my gate everyday.

Buckingham Palace
After seeing the Queen's Royal Palace, we took a stroll through nearby St. James Park.  It is very beautiful, with lots of flowers, a small lake, and more wildlife than you would expect in the middle of a large industrial city.  It reminded me a lot of St. Stephens Green in Dublin, only better.

St. James Park (that's the London Eye in the background)
Some of the funny looking ducks.
Fields of Daffodils
Next we stumbled upon Big Ben.  I guess stumbled probably isn't the right word since it's kind of hard to stumble upon something so massive and magnificant.  The clock just shoots into the sky and it's golden orange color is absolutely impossible to take your eyes off of.  I took so many pictures of Big Ben, I just couldn't get enough of it.  I've been to Paris, and the Effiel Tower is pretty impressive, but Old Ben just might take the cake. 
Notice the red double decker bus!
Then we walked down a little way to see the houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey where Kate Middleton and Prince William are marrying in April and where Princess Diana's funeral took place.
Houses of Parliament

Westminster Abbey
While we were near the Houses of Parliament, we got our first look at the River Thames and the Westminster Bridge.  It had a great view of the London Eye.
We made the decision that we HAD to go on the London Eye.  So we crossed over the Westminster Bridge and proceeded to the ticket line.  The price of the tickets is a little expensive, but I think that it was worth it.  Up on the wheel, you felt like you could see all of London.  It was an incredible view.
Bert, Me, Rach, & Anna on the London Eye.
View from the top!
Once we got off the London Eye, it was getting dark. And let me tell ya, London in the dark is fabulous!  I wish that I had a camera that could capture exactly what it looked like at night, but alas, my point and shoot just doesn't do it justice.  Oh well, here are some pictures anyway.
We ended the night with margaritas at a Mexican restaurant. YES, I said Mexican food.  I. Was. Thrilled.  I haven't had mexican food out in sooo long.  Makes me crave Rubios, Baja Fresh, Chipotle, Mauricios, and Taco Bell even more than I did before!
The first day in London was jam packed, but oh so fun. Stay tuned for London Day 2 post!!