Monday, March 23, 2015

Kit and Rachel visit England

My brother, Kit, and sister-in-law, Rachel, decided to hop the pond for spring break.  It was sort of a last minute trip.  They only decided to come 6 weeks ago.  We were so excited to have visitors.  We love showing the city off to people from back home.  It's nice to show them our house and our part of town.  Then when we talk about what's happening, they have a point of reference for what life is like over here.  

We met them at the Heathrow airport.  They were knackered from the trans-Atlantic flight, but full of excitement.  To help kick jet-lag in booty we take our guests out to the South Bank to take in the sights.  The fresh air and walking helps to keep people awake until it's bed-time.  

We got up super early the next morning and headed to North Wales for a castle trip.  Rachel had never seen real life castles.  To say she was excited is an under-statement.   I've seen lots of castles, so the excitement has sort of worn off on me.  It's fun to be with people who get really excited about them.

Our first stop was Powis Castle.  This was very intact.  It had been renovated to be a stately home.  There for we could see the paintings, and furnishings.  It was beautiful.

They even had peacocks roaming the grounds.

Next Stop: Chirk Castle.   Another castle turned into a stately home.  We loved the grounds.  I'm sure in the summer they are astounding.  There are many lovely gardens full of flowers and just over a hill are tons of sheep.

We found a hedge to hide in.

Sheep!  I really just wanted to pet one!

Kit and Rachel were pretty excited about the castles.

That evening we were able to have dinner with one of our favorite Welsh ladies, Miss Rosie.  We love whenever we get to see her.   We were pretty late for dinner though.  In Wales, cell phone reception is complete rubbish.  I was using Google Maps to navigate, and when there is no reception there is no Google.....   So I just chose a road and went with it.  I think we drove through the entire mountain range in North Wales.  But in the end we did make it to dinner, and we were all starving.  Rachel and I both got an American favorite: chicken fingers, and dang were they good.  Those Welsh know their chicken fingers.

We stayed at a fabulous little hotel/B&B, The Clontarf Hotel.  It was fabulous.  If you are traveling to North Wales, I highly recommend staying here.  It's so cute and they upgraded our rooms for free as there weren't many guests the night we stayed.  The breakfast was fantastic.  This was Rachel's first experience with a B&B.  Kit and Porter both enjoyed their full Welsh Breakfast.

This day was a quite blustery.  But we braved the rain and got out to see 3 more castles.  We started in Conwy.  We were here a couple years ago with our friends Jon and Ali on our first trip to the UK.  We love Conwy.  It's a great little town with a fantastic castle and a lovely bay near the ocean.

We then went to Beaumaris, which we also visited on our last trip here, and ended at Caenarfan 
(Can-are-van) Castle.  We had to be careful climbing the towers as there were gale force winds of up to 80 mph blowing.  We almost lost our hats.  But it was worth it.  It's a great castle.  I think Porter was in love.  He has quite a soft spot for castle ruins. 

On top of the towers, hanging on for dear life in the wind.

Caenarfan Castle

In the courtyard

We had a long drive home after this.  It's funny, the UK is small and everyone thinks it can be driven very quickly, but that's not really the case.  It takes us a good 5 hours to get to Wales from London.  Porter did all the driving for us.  He was a definitely frazzled when we arrived home.

 I played tour guide for Kit and Rachel for the rest of the week.   We trained, bused and walked everywhere!  Porter and I had just bought fitbits and so I could track my steps.  I was averaging about 16,000 steps a day.  My feet were very tired.  But I think they saw a good chunk of the city.  Some highlights from there trip:

Watching the Changing of the Guard (holy moly was it crowded!)

Paddle boating on the Serpentine in Hyde Park

Dinner (Fish and Chips) at a real pub.

Weaving our way through a hedge maze at Hampton Court Palace.

It was great to have them stay for a week.  I love having family and friends visit!

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