Friday, October 10, 2014

Funny Food

First off, isn't this cross stitch the cutest thing EVER?!  My super talented friend Ali made this for a going away/house warming gift for us.  I just can't even get over it.  She even put in a tardis.  It's in our living room and I look at it every day so I thought I would share it with you.  If you are a cross stitcher, the base for this pattern comes from Satsuma Street.  Head over and check our her fab designs.

Now for the Food....honestly a lot is still the same.  Packaging is smaller, food is overall more expensive and it doesn't last very long.  England has this crazy idea that putting chemicals in food to make it have a shelf life of 10+ years is maybe bad for us.  Thus the food is super fresh and tastes delicious.  The only drawback is that I have to head to the grocery store every other day or so.  While at the store I have run into some funny items I thought I would share:

Banana Milk

Salad Cream (what is salad cream?  It's every where over here.  I haven't tried it yet though)

Pickled Walnuts?

Prawn and cocktail chips, everything over here has a prawn and cocktail flavor.

Bottled "American" hot dogs, from what I remember, we don't eat bottled hot dogs.

Foam Banans

Remember how I said everything has prawn and cocktail, well prawn (shrimp) candy.

But hey, at least the candy is veggie, that means it's healthy, right?

I had to add this one for my cousin, who thinks bagged milk is crazy.  They do it to save on plastic.  So you buy your bag of milk, then take it home and pour it into whatever container you desire.

So there are some odd food items, but let's get onto the food I love:
The chocolate over here is amazing.

And I think this might be Porter's favorite: Marshmallow creme and nutella together.

But the best thing about Great Britain is tea time!  Hight Tea is like an entire meal.  There is tea, sandwiches, scones, cakes, veggies, it's delicious.

 However, I haven't forgotten my beloved Ruby Snap.  These cookies are one of the foods I miss the most.  I also miss good watermelon, spaghetti squash, and pumpkin (although I finally found some at a Waitrose yesturday).

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Hampton Court Palace

The Gates leading into Hampton Court
 Hampton Court Palace is a beautiful Tudor palace that is super close to our house.  I didn't even realize it was there till I looked at the map a few weeks ago and was like, "Holy Cow!, there is a palace in our back yard!"  So we jumped on a train and headed out.

Getting was a long walk from the road.

The guardians that wait at the front gate.  I love all the unicorns, dragons, and lions they have on everything.

Made it to the entrance!

The fireplaces were huge!!!

The beds were epic as well.

And one of my favorite places, the chocolate kitchen.  This is a special place where the coco beans were roasted and processed into drinking chocolate for the king.

These little guys were giving a demonstration of how to process the beans, and letting people taste them as well.  The beans were pretty gross.  It reminded me of when I was little, my mom had a big bin of coco.  I thought that the coco would taste so good, just like chocolate.  So one day I took a spoonful and stuffed it in my mouth, only to realize the horrible truth, coco is really bitter and gross.  The beans that we tried were about the same as that.  However, it was still fun to watch them grind the beans, and I'm sure it tastes better once it's put into drink form.

Palace Garden

The Dahlia Garden

We walked through the hedge maze, and totally got lost.

I kept looking for the exit, but Porter said the point of the maze was not to find the exit, we were actually looking for the center of the maze.  I've never done that before, I always just want out.  But we found it!  Huzzah!

A quick Instagram video of the maze.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Kew Gardens

Last month, Porter and I visited Kew Gardens.  If you have never been, you need to make it a priority on your next trip to London.  Porter didn't think much of it at first and quite frankly, I had under estimated it.  We were sitting around on a Saturday trying to figure out what to do, so I grabbed my Rick Steve's London guide and saw Kew as one of those attractions that was pretty high up on the must see list.  So I told Porter we were going to the Gardens that afternoon.  And he was like "£15 per person to visit a garden?!?!"  However, when we arrived and realized it's much more than a garden, so we were okay with the price tag.

Kew is a huge botanical garden with plants from all of the world.  They also do a ton of conservation work.  So this post is basically pictures of all the beautiful sites we saw at the gardens.  And we didn't even make it through half of the gardens in this day.  Kew really is epic.

The Japanese Garden

I love all the moss on the trees in England, plus aren't these little pink flowers sweet?!

The trees here are fabulous!  As is my handsome travel buddy.

One of the special exhibits this year was a "Bare Foot Walk."  It was a pretty long walk where participants took their shoes off in order to feel the textures of nature.  We walked on dirt, mud, bark, wood, moss, pebbles, through water, over coals, on branches and many more.  It was funny to see the kids doing it.  Some would just dive right in and others would protest (in their cute little accents!) that they didn't want to get their feet dirty.  I loved the Bare Food Walk.  Although at the end when we were trying to find a place to put our shoes back on, Porter stepped on a spiky nut shell.  Guess he to had feel the whole spectrum of what nature has to offer.

Porter's favorite part of the gardens was the Tree Top Walkway.  Kew has a walk way suspend over  18 meters high, that extends for 200 meters above the forest and gardens.  It was designed by the same guy to designed the London Eye.  The views are fabulous from here.  However, when the wind blows you can feel the walk swaying from side to side.  

We really are up in the tree tops here, it just doesn't quite look it.

The Palm house is really neat.  They house rainforest plants from all over the world in here.

 I think Porter was in the African section in this photo.

Then I journeyed to the Amazon Rainforest section.

Australia has the craziest plants.  This was one of my favorites.

 I found a slug!  I loved how some plants collect water in their petals/leaves, and this water become little mini ecosystems.  You can see a bit of water collected in this plant.

 This is the entrance to the Water Lily House.  

This house was beautiful.  The plants are in pots under the water.  While we were walking around, a fish was trying to eat some of the reeds and kept pulling plants over in his attempt to get them.  I was fascinated and just wanted to watch the fish do his thing.  But we had to keep moving.  I read that the water in this pond is actually dyed black to help prevent algae growth and to make prettier reflections.

There is a whole section at Kew with crocheted trees.  Being a crocheter, I loved this!  How funky.  I know this is a thing people do in the states, but apparently it's a British thing too.

We both found sections of flowers that matched us.

I snapped this photo of Kew Palace right before a torrential down pour hit us.  The palace is located inside the gardens.

And then this happened.  My highlight of the day.  I saw this baby bird and started calling to it the way I would call to my chickens (Here chicky, chicky, chicky!).  It perked up and started coming toward me.  So I quickly grabbed my oatmeal cookie and stooped down to feed it.  It ate right out of my had.  The mama bird was not so sure about all this.  I just wanted to hold it and hug it, but I refrained.  I didn't want to get beat up by an angry mama bird.

We took shelter from the rain inside the carnivorous house.......maybe not the best idea as these plants looked hungry.  I also think I distinctly heard one say "Feed Me!" in a deep base voice.

On our way out I found an Ionic Temple, like the one our friends, Jon and Ali, were married in last year, so I had to snap a picture for them.

Kew is magical, and I can't wait to go there at Christmas time!