Row, row, row, your boat, gently down the stream..merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream

One of the things I love most about my English lifestyle is being surrounded by nature. Lots of it. Luscious, green, beautiful nature. I got to indulge in my environmental fetish last Sunday when M announced he was taking me on a fun outing. He packed a picnic lunch (for those of you who are interested the lunch was composed of a grilled avocado/goat cheese/tomato sandwich and…Cool Ranch Doritos) and off we went to…*drum roll* the Bath Boating Station!

We hired (oh wait…RENTED) a row boat and off we went, rowing down the River Avon. I wouldn’t say it was a particularly beautiful day…I had my winter jacket on and in hindsight I should have brought gloves…and a scarf, winter hat, and a thermos of hot chocolate mixed with Bailey’s but all in all it was a nice outing ;).

The adventure started off pretty relaxed. We admired the willow trees, people’s back gardens, all the animal wildlife. Then we saw a swan.

Now when you think of a swan the general picture that comes to mind is a really graceful and pure bird, right? Now I’ve got a question for you. Where the hell did that connotation come from??? I got really excited when the swan first approached us but that excitement quickly turned into paralyzing FEAR when the swan started to attack our boat. And not just the boat, but the people INSIDE the boat. i.e….ME!!! I don’t know what this dude’s deal was but it had an appetite for human flesh and it seemed determined to do some successful hunting. M was having all sorts of fun laughing at me until the evil bird turned its attention to him. We rowed away as fast as we could at this point, escaping death, but to this day I still wake up in cold sweats from nightmares of the beast.

Our end goal was to reach a nice pub at the end of the river where we could indulge in some delicious hot drinks and a yummy afternoon snack.

The wind picked up a bit, making it more difficult to row (from what I was told since I was clearly the passenger. Did I touch the oars once? I think not.) and while I wouldn’t have had any problems whatsoever in rowing for a bit, I like guys with big muscular arms and I wasn’t going to deny the opportunity for M to pump up the muscles a bit. If anything I think I made a sacrifice for him. I endured the bitter cold so he could get some exercise. How great of a gf am I??

I want to try venturing out on a row boat again sometime this summer, decked out in a really pretty sundress with a white lace parasol. How romantically English would that be? Oh…I should mention here that today’s activity was to celebrate something. Guess who just celebrated her 2 year anniversary? That’s right, yours truly.

The wonders of Winchester

Ok, so I know I’m due for some butt kicking since I know there are a couple (maybe even a few??) of you that check for updates on a regular basis and I haven’t written anything since Easter, but I’ve been busy! You know I would never purposely neglect you…but I’ll make up for the error of my ways, I promise!

Last weekend a bunch of us went down to Winchester, a city about an hour south of London, to visit a friend who’s been asking (I should really say begging, but I’m trying to be nice. Clearly, that has backfired).  I really had no idea what to expect out of a place that has been described as “the city in the middle of nowhere where people only live because it’s within commuting distance of London”, but it was REALLY beautiful!!

A quick history/fact lesson on the city of Winchester:

  • Winchester was a Roman town built in 70AD;
  • It was England’s capital from 827AD until the 12th century (I can’t find a reliable source for the exact date anywhere…) when London took over;
  • People from Winchester are called Wintonians;
  • Jane Austen spent her remaining days in Winchester and is buried in the cathedral;
  • Winchester Cathedral is the longest cathedral in Europe;
  • Winchester is well-known for the Great Hall of its castle, where King Arthur’s Round Table has been hanging since at least 1463;
  • Most importantly, Winchester is home to the WORLD’S LARGEST SHAKEAWAY (view picture in the photo gallery).

The day started off drab, thanks to typical English weather so I didn’t get to catch much since my umbrella covered most of the view. But later on the sun decided to show its beautiful face and I got a chance to appreciate my surroundings. We went to Winchester Castle, Wolvesey Castle, which used to be a great medieval building in England, but now lays in ruins, took a long stroll along the River Itchen, walked through the grounds of the very grand Winchester College, and ended off the day at Winchester’s pride and joy- Shakeaway- by indulging in a delicious banana/caramel/flake bar milkshake. Calories-schmalories…we probably walked a good 8 miles that day. The milkshake was well-deserved!

Oh, there’s one interesting fact I wanted to share with you! I feel like I knew this in the back of my mind but didn’t REALLY know it. The Royal family is SO incestuous!! I took a look at the family tree and it seems like all the marriages are between 3rd or 4th cousins. Queen Elizabeth II is the first one of the family to have both her maternal and paternal side be related and she’s related to every single important head on both sides of the family tree. Her and her husband, Prince Philip share the same great great grandmother- Queen Victoria. Prince Charles and Princess Diana were distant cousins and even Camilla is Prince Charles’ 9th cousin. Talk about purists…I wonder how long, or if, it will take to break out of the inbred cycle and get out of the “keep it within the Royals” mentality. Think it’ll ever happen?

I got a big dose of Royal Family lessons that day and just want to share one more thing before you doze off. Did you notice that Queen Elizabeth II is titled “Queen” but her husband is still Prince Philip? This is because there can only be one Monarch (i.e. heir to the throne) at a time. When the Monarch is female (i.e. Queen Elizabeth II) she can be the only one in reign. Her husband would remain a prince to show that he has no inheritance rights to the throne. BUT if the Monarch is male (i.e. Prince William becomes king) then his wife (so Kate Middleton…Princess Kate, Princess Catherine- whatever you want to call her) would be Queen Kate because William has ascention (I made up the word, but you know what I mean) rights to the throne since a king always takes precedence over a queen.

I hope I provided you with a “wow, you learn something new every day!” fact 😉

Ciao ciao, I promise to resume my regular level of entertainment my next post!

From city slicker to country bumpkin

I’m currently sitting on a couch watching tv at M’s grandparent’s place in Dorset. I’m going on to about hour 4 and can’t tear my eyes off of “Crimes that shook the world”. Don’t judge me…we don’t watch tv in Bath and one of my favourite reasons for visiting his grandparents is to get my fix of tv..I watch enough to last me the next 3 months. I haven’t watched Desperate Housewives for 2 years but after watching 3 back-to-back episodes I’m now fully caught up again and have resumed the addiction I so vividly remember from 5 years ago.

I absolutely love going for the countryside visits. It’s not that Bath is this overly hectic and bustling city that exhausts me to no end or anything, but my Broadwindsor getaways are so tranquil and fun that I don’t think I’ll ever tire of coming. I’m fairly certain that given the option of choosing between a weekend of late night clubbing or going down south for a weekend that includes card games, countryside walks and a Sunday roast, the latter would always trump the former. Hopefully M’s grandparents won’t ever tire of us visiting. We have an awful habit of devouring all food in sight and are waiting for that to be held against us.

M’s grandparents are, to put very eloquently, really cool. I mean, how often do you get to meet grandparents who use Facebook, Skype, sign petitions to increase their broadband speed, say things like “We watched a really funny American cartoon they other day…something called Northern Park?? (i.e. South Park) and refuse to let your wine glass stay empty for more than 5 seconds during dinner (i.e. teatime)??

I know that I’m always guaranteed a good laugh whenever I come, whether it’s due to getting lost whenever we go for countryside walks (this has become somewhat of a regular occurrence, wherein walks that should only take 2.5 hrs somehow stretch to 4 hr walks), learning the art of baking (M’s nan graciously gives me credit whenever I assist with making dessert…she told everyone I helped make today’s yummy strawberry meringue dessert when all I did was pour in sugar into the whipped egg whites), or getting involved in family feuds (we had a game of Settlers one time that ended up with M yelling at his granddad to make a move that would stop me from winning, which his granddad construed as cheating. I think M has since been removed from his will).

This visit has been extra special because of the Easter weekend. We arrived Saturday morning and were greeted with a full English breakfast (wow! They love me! They really, really love me!): fried eggs, toast, bacon, baked beans. M said he thinks if I lived here I’d become a big huge ball, which would be true if we didn’t always go on the long walks I mentioned that probably burn a good 4000 calories. To be honest, these walks tire me out. I’m still not really used to the concept of exercise and England is full of rolley hills, which appear to all be located within 1 mile of where his grandparents live :S. I have to tell myself that if his nan can plow through these walks then I can do it too! Yesterday’s walk down Common Water Lane was particularly fun and memorable because M got full on chased by a really vicious goose. If you think the geese at UW are crazy just wait til you come here. The male geese here are so protective of their land that I find them more intimidating than Dobermans. Being the manly man M [thinks he] is, he approached a goose (after being egged on by his nan and I) only to have it go into attack mode. What is attack mode? Picture extended wings, stretched out neck, an open beak to expose their razor sharp teeth, running after a very terrified boy, I mean…man. M made it past the fence in time, but I would’ve been interested to see a man vs. nature showdown.

I’m not wearing pants that are especially tight right now but my stomach is hanging over my pants due to the HUUUGGGEEEE turkey feast we had today. The feast started at 3PM and I think we ate until 5:30PM. I probably didn’t have to eat all the chocolate I was given, but did you not know that it’s rude to turn down food when it’s offered to you?? English people LOVE their gigantic chocolate eggs here. I think we have them back home but from what I remember we didn’t make such a huge deal about it. Just a package of mini eggs would suffice, no?  Not here, though. I think kids probably average out to get 5 large chocolate eggs (that come with Twix, Flakes, Cadbury crème eggs, Mars, Snickers…you name it, there’ll be an egg for it) and polish off the whole lot in one day.

The countryside dream will come to an end tomorrow. We’ll be back soon enough, but in the meantime I’ll be sure to swipe some leeks, potatoes, zucchinis, and maybe another jar of marmalade to keep me going until our next visit ;).

Pictures of my countryside adventures:

Sweet treat

I went to London this past weekend and left M all by his lonesome.

He stayed back to do work while I had fun going out to eat, catching a rugby game at Wembley Stadium, hitting up the London market life and just having a swinging great time with friends.

He went out to buy ingredients for dinner in case I came back hungry, but I came back 3 hours later than expected because I opted to choose to stay in London a little longer to have dinner with friends.

He came to pick me up at the train station at 1AM even though we only live 15 minutes away and it was freezing cold outside.

Then I came back and was surprised with this:

After almost 2 years- I think M’s finally figured out how to make me really happy.

Plus…I think I’m a little spoiled.