Saturday, August 30, 2014

Flower Beard and Flower Fros

Earlier this summer #FlowerBeards, became all the rage.  So I went to our local flower shop and bought a few items, came home and gleefully announced to Porter that he was going to become the proud new owner of a flower beard.  He wasn't sure at first, I think liked it in the end.  Mind you, he couldn't move his mouth at all during any of the assembly or the photo shoot.  I really like this trend, I wish more guys would 1: grow beards (they are sexy!) and 2: decorate them in flowers (because it's fun!).

I had so much fun with this that I decided to give Puck a #FlowerFro, since he didn't have a beard.  I went through an entire bag of treats getting him to sit still long enough to put flowers in his hair and snap a few pics.

But in actuality, this is what he really thought of my flower shenanigans......

Friday, August 29, 2014

A Weekend in Kent-Part 2: Walmer, Deal, & Canterbury

The second part of our day out in Kent was somewhat influenced by our late start to the day due to driving out of London, and the fact that Google Maps had a us lost for a good 45 minutes.  After Dover Castle and the White Cliffs of Dover we were supposed to have lunch at The Cider Works, however due to time we had to abandon this part of the trip.  We ended up driving up the coast to Walmer Castle.  Just a bit of history:  King Henry VIII was having a little conflict with France and Spain due to the fact that he was divorcing/killing wives, creating a new church, ect.  So he built artillery forts/castles along the coast.  The round shape of these structures is better to withstand a cannon ball attack than say the earlier square castles.  This particular castle had been converted to a grand house in 1708.  The gardens were amazing and the house was very fun to tour.  I loved seeing the cannons on the roof as well.  And this castle is right on the coast, which makes for a lovely seaside view.

The Entrance to the House from the Gardens

A view from the Gardens

 The Gardens with a pond that little kids couldn't get enough of due to the fact it was full of lily pads and fish that would nimble your fingers.

My Hot Date

Rooftop Cannon Action

 The vegetable garden was lined with fruit trees that had been trained to grow horizontally.  My father-in-law and I had a conversation about this technique a year ago (I planted baby fruit trees in our yard) and we thought it would be neat to train our trees to do this.  However, seeing it in person with mature trees, it is awesome!  So easy to just go out and pick your food.

 We decided to have a 'fast' lunch break at Walmer.  It was anything but fast.  It took us almost an hour to get our food!  We were so hangry (hungry+angry) by the end of it, I felt bad for the lady up front.  It's hard when you have an itinerary that is fairly time sensitive due to the fact that English historic sites close early, and the restaurant won't help you out at all, plus your tummy is rumbly.  We almost just left without getting our food, but right at that moment our food came.  We wanted to eat at the castle because they cook using ingredients from their vegetable garden.  I guess they had to go pick everything after we ordered.  It was quite delicious food, though.

We then headed up the coast again to Deal Castle, another of Henry's artillery forts.  It was almost identical to Walmer but without the stunning gardens and historic house.  After spend an enchanting hour touring Walmer, Deal was a bit of a let down.  If you ever go see these, go to Deal first, then they both will be fun to go through.

Deal Castle

To end our day we drove inland about 20 miles to Canterbury.  Yes, it is the same Canterbury as in Chaucer's Canterbury Tale.  It's a lovely little city with cobblestone paths and a quaint city center, however they do not believe in parking.  It took us forever to find any sort of public parking spaces.  We actually ended up driving into a pedestrian only zone without realizing it (there were no signs), but all of a sudden we were surrounded by people and no way out.  Porter was pretty stressed out, but managed to get us out of there.  When we finally landed, we headed over to St. Augustine's Abbey.  The history of the place was very cool.  First the site was a church where Anglo-Saxon Kings were buried, it then went through different phases included additions to make the church larger, then an Abbey, and then I believe Henry VIII turned it into a home at one point.  It's pretty much ruins now, but they have pictures of what it may have looked like.

 At the end of the day we made it to the Canterbury Cathedral.  We had been planning to do a tour of the inside but decided not to because it was closing soon.  It is epic! 

 While walking around the grounds snapping pictures we lamented that not going on a tour was probably the worst decision of the day.  But we kept walking, around the back there was a courtyard.  It looked like a public space so we kept going.  I then saw an open door.  And what does one do with an open door?  Go in and check it out of course!  Another man popped his head in too.  And we both realized we were in the Cathedral.  He was trying to get his wife to go in, and Porter was hanging out in the door way when a worker came by and asked if we were going in because she needed to lock up.  Porter started saying no, but I quickly shook my head yes, and said "Yep, we are."  Porter gave me this look of confusion, but came in.  And just like that all 4 of us were locked in the Cathedral.  No where to go but up.  We wandered around the lower levels and finally found our way to the main part.  It is beautiful.  Seriously, gorgeous.  I still want to go on the full tour.  Since they were closing it down we had to make our way out.  We felt bad that we hadn't paid the entrance fee, so we made a nice donation, otherwise it would be like stealing from God.  We were so excited that despite our bad timing and lack of gumption to go on the Cathedral tour at first, we still were able to go inside.  And if anyone wants to go on a tour, I will be more than happy to accompany, because I still want to see the whole thing.

We ended the day at a little cafe with some tea and cake.  I love little day trips!

Friday, August 8, 2014

A Weekend in Kent- Part 1: Dover

This past weekend I planned a trip for us to visit the White Cliffs of Dover.  I had an old song book as a child with a song "The White Cliffs of Dover" in it and an illustration of an army officer and beautiful lady singing by the cliffs.  I've always wanted to see the them.  So we rented a car and headed out.

The only car we were able to find was a manual.  Porter was less than excited to drive a stick shift on the opposite side, but he was a trooper and did great.  I should mention that he also drove this car through the heart of London.  I don't know how he did it, I would have cried the first 10 minutes and gone home.  I may add that he did have a pretty great navigator, it may have made the drive a wee bit better.  It took us about an hour to get out of the city and then an hour to the coast in Kent.

Our first stop of the day was Dover Castle.  This fabulous castle is a top the majestic Cliffs of Dover.  It is surprisingly intact.  I'm sure a ton of restorative work has been done on it, but it's still really cool.  It was by far one of my favorite castles I've ever been too.  It has many levels to it and we could also walk on the roof.  I loved going through all the sneaky passage ways to get from one room to another without being seen.  Porter told me they were probably the servants passage ways.  Dover Castle was home to King Henry and Queen Eleanor (the peeps from "Lion in Winter").  I have always loved that play, so it was fun to see where those characters would have actually lived.  On the castle grounds there was also an old roman lighthouse and a large church, plus barracks and other buildings that one would expect a fortress to have.

Dover Castle

Roman Lighthouse and very old Anglo-Saxon Church

I made Porter pose for me in front of the church door.

Porter found some toys in the castle.

It is good to be the Queen (as long as you're not getting beheaded and such).

They had a fire going in one of the bedrooms in the castle!

On the steps of the Palace!  I just couldn't help myself.  (For those of you who don't know, I've played Cinderella in various shows, and love her!)  Although, the Toms were a little less than historically accurate.

Next stop on our trip was the White Cliffs of Dover.  So I typed it into google maps and began navigating.  We were heading toward the coast on a cute little country road, then the road turned and became a dirt road.  Still quite normal, but then this little road began having huge divots and pots holes filled with water.  Keep in mind that we were in a mini sized rental car.  Porter was not amused. But I assured him that we were on the blue line and that google was taking us to the Cliffs.  All of a sudden we were in a field, and the "road" was a little path in between a fence and a hedge.  It was barely big enough for a mini car to fit in.  Porter was like "there is no way we are going down there."  But I told him that google said so.  So he tried.  He started freaking out when the hedge was so close to the car that it was scratching the doors.  (We didn't want to get fined for scratching up the rental.)  So he carefully put the car into reverse and gingerly retreated.  It took us 15 minutes to get out of that field. I kept trying to re-route us but google was insistent that we go to the tractor field.  So I said screw it, and took matters into my own hands.  That's right people, I began navigating by only looking at a map, all old school like ;)  And ya know what, I got us there in 10 minutes.  Granted I took us right through a path where a wedding was, but at least it was an actual road.  Despite google's attempts we made it to the cliffs!

This is us and our mini car after getting out of the tiny path in the field.

The White Cliffs of Dover

This was a packed day so I will finish up in another post.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Chaps Olympiad

Well Porter and I have really been enjoying British life, it seems to be all scones and cream tea!  At least on the weekends that is.  During the week it is work, work, work.  Porter is busy getting set up over here.  He works from home a couple days a week and then goes into Central London about 3 times a week.  He actually was able to visit a customer out in Newbury last week.  His colleague picked him up at the train station and they drove through the English countryside in a convertible.  I was a wee bit jealous.

  I've been sending out resumes for jobs, but not having any luck as of yet.  On some of the expat forums members have said it takes a while for Americans to find jobs over here, so I'm settling in for the long haul.  In the meantime I've started learning to code.  Right now I'm learning javascript.  It's actually pretty exciting.  I haven't decided if I will audition here or not.  We want to travel a lot, and shows don't allow much travel time.  However, I have started doing some ballet over here which is very refreshing.

A few weeks ago Porter and I attended a scone and cream tea event, The Chaps Olympiad.  It's a lovely time where everyone dresses in vintage, has a picnic and participates in highly competitive and very serious games.  Porter was in a Bakewell Tart Duel and the Volleybowler (volleyball with a bowler) game.  He did a lovely job and much fun was had by all.  I've thrown together a little video of the different sporting events.  My personal favorite was the umbrella jousting.  Perhaps when we return to the states we will bring umbrella jousting to the good people of SLC!