October 20, 2007

10/20/07 London UK

Ealing

Even though Jeff and his wife Teresa have lived and worked in Europe for about seven years, we haven't coordinated visits before. This time I made a special effort to see them, especially since they have two more additions to the family; Nick is almost three and Fiona is one. The kids are a crack up, and almost accept 'cousin Jim' as part of the household.


Windsor Castle, home of the Queen

We spent some of the weekend driving into the city to visit Windsor Castle and just walk around the area. As all parents already know, our travel plans always followed the whims of the children. So, we didn't get to do the two hour tour of the castle, but that's ok. It was a beautiful day and it was just nice to be out and walking.

Nick & Fiona being entertained (by dad off camera)

Decided I really needed to start running again. At Plum Village, the schedule made it hard to fit in. So, figured while I was here, and the weather was so nice some days, I'd give it a go. But where to find a route? Go to Run.com I actually found a route from this block that showed the paths along the river. What a great idea. And the website even gave me distances and elevation profiles. But like a lot of things, for that first run my eyes were bigger than my body. I ended up running almost 50 minutes (I won't tell you how far [laugh]). And, later that night, my body was in a lot of pain. Too much too soon. You'd think I'd learn by now. [smile] Actually had to pay for that run for a couple of days. But I was able to get a few more runs in while here.

Went for along walk around the neighborhood. There was a website that had a map of the Ealing area with all the locations marked for film sets including Bend It Like Beckham, Love Actually, Harry Potter & The Philosopher's Stoneand Calender Girls. But when I tried to take some pictures, I realized that my camera battery was back at the house getting charged up. No matter, it was a nice walk.

Leigh-on-Sea

Took the underground and train to the other side of London, almost two hours away to visit my friends Syd and Jill. I met them on the Camino de Santiago and we became good friends, so they said whenever I was in London, I should come for a visit. We spent part of the time with there daughter Tiffany and her children, Sonny and Connie (ages 3 and 6 weeks). The weather was sunny but a little chilly but that didn't stop us from walking the boardwalk. It seemed that they knew everyone in town. Lot's of hello's and "this is our friend from America". At a boardwalk cafe, it became apparent that Syd and Jill spend a lot of time here. All the ladies behind the counter wanted to see the grandkids.

Their daughter Tiffany, with Sonny and Syd holding Connie

After we dropped off the children at their mother's, we spent a quiet evening at their flat just catching up. In the morning we headed back to the boardwalk cafe for a morning coffee. Unfortunately, Syd and Jill had to go to a funeral today, so our visit was too short. But I promised that I would be back someday and would plan for more time. I'll miss them.


Jill & Syd

Ealing

Well, seemed kind of stupid for me to be in London and not seeing part of this famous city. So I heading into the city center to be a tourist for a day. Took the Underground to Piccadilly Circus. I felt like I was in New York City with all the cars and people walking all around. Did a long tour along the Thames, first seeing Big Ben, Parliament and Westminster before crossing the river, walking past the London Eye (a giant ferris-wheel), and The Tate Modern Art Museum. My feet where pretty tired when I finally reached the Tower of London Bridge.


Piccadilly Circus



Parliament and Big Ben



The Tower of London Bridge

For my last day in London, Jeff and I took the kids to the Hampton Court Palace while Teresa went to work. Hampton Court was the home of Henry VIII (8th). The place was huge, especially the gardens which seemed to go on forever. Nick wanted to go through the maze they had in the garden. He did pretty good getting us through. While walking the grounds, we came upon the 'hound master' as he was telling how the dogs are used in a typical royal hunt.

But the real excitement in London this weekend is the World Cup of Rugby which is being played in Paris. England is playing in the championship match against South Africa and the whole city was a buzz with anticipation. So, while most of the England is watching the match, I'll be packing as I leave for Switzerland tomorrow to visit my friends Daniel & Ariane, and also Thomas & Rahel in Berne.