Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Cardiff Castle

Caerdydd Castle, or as us non-welsh speakers call it, Cardiff Castle.  This place was beautiful!

  We spent the night at a great little hotel just down the street from the castle.  The Doctor Who experience really took it out of us.  So we grabbed dinner at a pub then went back to the hotel and all four of us, Brendan, Tiff, Porter and I piled into our little room with blankets and pillows and played Hearthstone for the rest of the evening.  Hearthstone is a game on the iPad and computers sort of like Magic the Gathering, but it's put out by Blizzard (the same company that does World of Warcraft.)  This weekend was really the perfect storm of Geekdom, and I LOVED it.

We woke up to a blustery morning in Cardiff.  But we were so excited to see this castle we didn't care.  We bundled up and ran out the door.  Winter in England is cold.  Period.  Yes, it's warmer than Utah, but the dampness and wind just cuts through to the bone.  So we grabbed some warm drinks on the way to help warm us up.

We entered through the castle wall and were met with a classic Keep on a hill in the middle.  The original castle was built in the 11th century.  It passed hands through the years and most recently was owned by a wealthy family that helped turn Cardiff into a major coal port, before turning the grounds over to the citizens of Cardiff.  The family tore down the other medieval buildings but built out the grounds and renovated the house into a lavish Georgian mansion.

The Black Tower

Tiffany and I got put on the naughty list....

The grounds is home to a falconry.  They fly the hawks around the premise to keep the pigeons away.

The interior of the house was absolutely breath taking.  Every room was so ornate.  It was reminiscent of Versailles in France.  This was our Christmas picture we sent out to friends and family on Christmas Day.  The caption was: The Lord and Lady of House Fair-Williams wish You and yours a Very Merry Christmas.  We loved it!  And we also wish that we could live in this house. 

If you go to Cardiff, be sure to spend some good time at Cardiff Castle.

To round out our Orphan Christmas, I will share a few snap shots:

Christmas Brunch with these lovely people.  I made carrot cake pancakes.

Brendan and Tiffany's Christmas present I made them.  I love how their dog, Apollo, turned out.

We climbed the White Cliffs of Dover in a hail storm.

We played some great games of Firefly - the board game.  Not going to lie, it got intense, especially with the bounty hunter and space piracy expansion.  This could have been because my ship got attacked and robbed multiple times.  Apparently I need to invest in a faster ship and bigger guns to keep the pirates at bay.  But in all honesty, this game is fabulous.  If you like the Firefly TV show, you will love the game.

And finally, the inevitable happened.....our friends went home.  This was our last night hanging out.  It was so much fun having them here with us.  I just wanted the holidays to go on forever.  But for the sake of my waistline, they can't.  Orphan Christmas was a success!

Random bonus:
Brendan the Birdman

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Doctor Who Experience


If you do not like nerdy, Whovian type posts, avert your eyes, this much awesomeness can be contagious.

The Tardis has landed!  After our early morning at Stonehenge and breky (Britishism for breakfast) at Bradford-upon-Avon we drove to Cardiff to the Doctor Who Experience.  To say we were excited is an under-statement.  You see, the Doctor Who experience is like the 8th Wonder of the World for Who fans.  Stepping into the tardis and flying through time and space with the Doctor, it's like a dream come true.

Like it says, it's an experience so you really do need to experience it.  But I will do my best to tell you about it.  You walk in and there are a few displays.  It was Christmas when we were there, so they had all the monsters from the past Christmas Specials out.  There is also a cafe, and then the big blue doors to enter.

The first part of the experience is an adventure with the current Doctor.  Think interactive haunted house style.  You walk into a Galifray Museum.  The curator begins to talk to your about the items when the Tardis appears and the Doctor says that all of time and space is under attack.  Then we went into the Tardis.  Everyone grabs hold and it takes off.  We had to really hang on!  We then went through a series of rooms collecting glowing crystals to help power the Tardis.  We encountered Daleks, Weeping Angles and weird little octopus aliens.  In the end we ended up saving all of time and space, obviously, or else you wouldn't be reading this. You're welcome.  Our reward for this heroic act was to see all the artifacts from the Doctor Who series. 

 The sonic screw drivers

The Day of the Doctor

It really is bigger on the inside.

David Tennant touched this..... 

Bowties are Cool!

The War Doctor


Lego Dalek

Don't Blink...

So many Daleks!

The Face of Bo 

Silence will Fall

 All the Paintings/drawings from Matt Smith's last episode in the "Time of the Doctor" on Trenzalore.

Seriously, maybe they should talk to someone about this infestation of Daleks.

An older Tardis model

And for any of you Torchwood fans, Tiffany found a major Torchwood monument, the Torchwood Memorial Wall.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Stonehenge on the Winter Solstice

The day of the Winter Solstice we got up before the sun and drove out to Stonehenge.  I had read on the internet that the solstices are the only days that Stonehenge is opened up to the public because it's a place of religious significance.  This meant that instead of walking around the stones behind ropes, we could actually walk up to the stones, walk among them, and touch them.  I was like "sign me up!"

I told Porter and our friends that it wouldn't be muddy, so they didn't need to worry about what they wore.  Ha!  The joke was on me.  Apparently, the visitor center was torn down and is being rebuilt further away in order to return the site to a more natural state, but this meant we had to park a mile a away and tromp through a sheep pasture to get there.  Sheep pasture = lots of sheep poop, you do the math.  It was not a pretty site, especially for my new pair of chucks.

It was crazy!!!  There were so many people.  Lots of music, and people dancing.  Also there were lots of spectators, like us, just there to be apart of a cool event.  In the picture below there was a big drum circle happening.   It's pretty crowded, but there is a guy with a deer head dress on and some dancers dress up in the middle of everyone.

I absolutely loved touching these ancient stones.  I was imagining that they held magic and that by touching both at the same time I would complete the circle and absorb their power.  I don't think I got any power, but I did get a fun picture.

These two kids were crazy enough to come with us.

This whirling dervish behind me was playing an accordion while dancing all around.

Stonehenge was only our first stop that morning.  I'm sure you already know this from our trips, but when we travel, we travel hard.  We were on our way to Cardiff, but needed to stop for breakfast.  We found the cutest little town and with the most quaint British tea room you can imagine.  The waitresses work the long ruffle aprons.  It felt very Downtown Abbey.  The town is Bradford-upon-Avon.  I highly recommend stopping.  The door was tiny!  If felt like a little British hobbit hole.  I loved it!

We had the special Christmas Tea.  The Best tea ever!  We decided to make a side trip later that weekend to Bath just to buy some more.  This was Brendan and Tiffany's first proper British Tea and Full English Breakfast.

I think they liked it!  Did I mention that this place had a real fire going in the real fire place.  You can see it behind me.  After tromping around in the field for a couple hours with the stones and sheep this little shop was a welcomed relief and perfect place to warm up.

I want to go back during the summer.  I bet it is Gorgeous!