It looks like yesterday I spelled Stonehenge wrong in my post…I would have to think that is a common mistake for many people, but you’ll have to pardon my improper spelling from before. I’d edit it, but I’m going to instead use it as a testament to my stupidity. 🙂
I woke up early, in fact I actually beat my alarm clock that was setup for 0810. I’m not sure why it was set for 10 past, but I think that may have been something I did in my sleep. I’ve been known to do a lot of things in the name of keeping my slumber going, just a little bit longer.
After breakfast we headed toward Salisbury to see Stonehenge, which is stone formation on Salisbury Plane. What is particularly curious about this rock formation is the fact that we have no idea how the hell it got there. It obviously predates any type of heavy machinery and really goes against what is physical possible for a human.
The stone itself is mostly bluestone, which Mike tells me would come from the South of Wales. The logistical nightmare of bringing these massive stones down from that distance lends itself to impossibility. Here’s a quick shot I took with my Blackberry…I have some better ones on the way, but unfortunately the sky at Stonehenge this day was pretty boring and not shining much light on the monument, so either way most of my pictures weren’t anything spectacular.
Many have claimed the monument such as the druids and other sects of religidiculous (yes I made up that word).
It was a very inspiring moment. Not only was I standing and looking at something that is considered one of the greatest sights to see in the world, but the really amazing part was how the hell did this get here? It made me think of modern engineering problems and how through the course of history we’ve found ways to overcome great feats. The pyramids which are another target of my traveling forecast are another example of the shear human ability to do great things.
It also makes me look inward at myself. What will be my Stonehenge moment? Will I ever do something, throwing my hat over the wall, that has any impact on the world? Will I have challenges that are to me as difficult as those who faced the challenge of building Stonehenge?
Either way you look at it, it is just sheer amazing. Even though it costs 6 quid to get in and even more to get in the country it was worth every penny to stand and take in the moment, sharing it with a bunch of other people. I had opted not to take the audio tour, as interesting as it all was…it’s just speculation.
I’m not big on speculation. I’m a rather objective person and I enjoyed coming to my own conclusions…and jovial conspiracy theories.
We left and set out to drive to and along the South Coast of England.
We got a bit turned around heading South past Fordingbridge, and then back up through Fordingbridge to work our way down to the coast.
To get there, we had to go through a large national park called the New Forest. Created in 1079 by William I, the area is quite beautiful. Currently it is being used for horses and livestock that are allowed to roam completely free. So, it is an *incredibly* dangerous road to travel at high speeds and at night. Thankfully, neither of those were true in our case.
There were quite a few times we’d run into horses milling about the road and have to wait for the other lane of traffic to clear. The horses had no problem running the land. I’d heard that at the end of the year they have a sort of party, going around and checking all the horses and their tags in order to make sure they’re all there.
Horses from the area are also very specific in their coloring and style. The breeds, which I know absolutely nothing about, are quite interesting and have long tufts of hair down their legs…kinda cute in a way. I also enjoy using the word “equine” but have no opportunity here. 🙂
We continued, turning due South to head toward the town of Lymington. First we stopped so I could use a garage’s toilet. British lesson #385 a gas station is called a garage, but it may also sell cars, confusing. Also bathrooms or lavatories are almost always called “toilets” in Europe which was a word that I got a bit of a rise out of using…so, “Have you got a toilet, please?” would be the right way to ask for a bathroom.
Well, it makes sense…how many gas stations have a bathtub these days?
Once we made Lymington we stopped to snap a few pictures. There is a ferry that will take you across the water to Isle of White (IOW) known for the chalk that the isle sits on. In fact, most of the South of England has a chalk base and that can be seen clearly on the Isle of White.
There is a place called “The Needles” where exposed chalk blocks protrude from the ocean giving the appearance of a needly base that leads out to a lighthouse. It’s quite a brilliant sight, but at the time we had gotten down to see it, the haze had started to settle in. The weather on Thursday wasn’t exactly optimal, but it wasn’t terrible at the same time. It’s not a proper English experience without rain, anyway.
We had a nice lunch in Lynmington which for me consisted of some fresh scampi and chips. Everyone, literally everyone, has a dish that comes with chips in this country…even the fancy places. Not sure why, but believe me it’s very true.
In fact, this evening I had a conversation with Mike about how English people, because of their island lifestyle, are all fish experts. The availability of fresh fish, after all, is quite good in this country. Having been a fisherman and still enthused about it, Mike is very savvy about his fish. Haddock, which is technically less superior to Cod is actually a bit more tasty for me…
One of the things that does completely suck about living in Minnesota, is there is no availability of decent sea fare. Even at upscale places like McCormicks and Schmick’s you’ll get very close to fresh, but it’s not as though it was brought in from the pier that morning. Most of the stuff we can get has been frozen for far too long, creating dry and tasteless sea fare. Though, out east in America is quite nice as well…but Minnesota is definitely the bottom of the barrel when it comes to saltwater.
After we got back to the house we sat and had a cup of tea. We’d reserved a table at a Nepalese restaurant called Gurkha Palace, which Mike tells me Gurkha is a Nepalese regiment of the British Army. One of the things I’ve noticed in England is that you can get good Indian takeaway or sit down food, quite literally anywhere.
Over here, they’d say “Come on, let’s have an Indian” or even “a Chinese.”
Don’t worry if your English friend says something like that, he or she does not mean to imply that they are going to carve up an Indian at the table and serve him or her family style, just a bend in the language.
We had a set meal for three which consisted of a two types of chicken curry, vegetable and spinach curry, lamb curry, and some rice. It was absolutely brilliant.
I had a couple bottles of this Nepalese Lager and I have to admit, it wasn’t bad. At a meager 4.7 points of alcohol it still managed to turn me a bit red after two. That, combined with an amazingly hot curry made for a nasal passage blowing experience. I was quite literally sweating from every pour.
In another life, I had once helped to make a curry dish that was quite brilliant. I felt inspired on this trip to learn the intricacy of making a good curry dish. Perhaps I’ll have to post my findings if I get somewhere with that. I’ve also been meaning to post my Pad Thai recipe and philosophy. Perhaps that would net me a few more visitors a month.
Anyway after the restaurant it was home for bed. I was completely wiped out! I think I’m still recovering from my landing in London at the beginning of this fortnight-long holiday. Either way a nice bed and a quiet environment was much appreciated, thanks again Mike and Irene.
Let’s fast forward through the strange ass dreams I had Thursday night and go into today, Friday. We had all decided to go to Hampton Court Palace this morning which was best known for being Henry VIII’s home.
This is another thing I think you should see if you are in England. Honestly, when Mike and Irene mentioned it in the morning, I wasn’t exactly sure what it was all about. I had told them I wanted to see some old castles and such and this seemed to fit the bill.
Point of interest, this is where my brother-in-law proposed to my sister.
What’s particularly novel about that proposal is that they were in France a few days prior at the Eiffel Tower. My brother-in-law had decided not to propose to my sister because of the insane amount of people he observed doing the same around him. I think my sister was a little disappointed, thinking it was going to happen then. However, this awesome act of rebellion was a moment where I started to like my bro-in-law even more…It seems like the sort of thing I’d do. 🙂
Anyway, it was a very cool experience. Huge courts, kitchens, bedrooms and the insanity of royal living. One of the most interesting things about this palace were the kitchens and how they prepared the meals. Oddly enough, one of the things that may have helped kill Henry was the deficiency of proper vitamins and minerals from eating only “royal foods” like meat.
Pastry was an interesting concept as well, because of the time it was a bit difficult to transport food in a clean method, retaining heat. Pastry, a simple flour and water based method, was simply the container in which food was served. So royalty would simply rip off the top and eat the contents inside. Such a basic compound was beyond them (the pie crust itself). The pie would also allow cooking.
The ovens were advanced and the feasts were insanely managed by a controller and a treasurer who paid for and managed all the logistics. Many servants worked constantly to keep up with the demand of Henry’s court which consisted of over a thousand. Even though the palace was only for a select few, it took a hell of a lot of people to keep it all going.
We went through the apartments, Queen Mary’s bedroom, closets, drawing rooms, great rooms, private dining rooms and many other places throughout the main part of the palace. The paneling and complexity was simply amazing. The palace had been built in a sort of staged way, with different tenants building in different styles. You can see that reflected in not only the design styles, but the actual materials such as brick.
Behind the castle is a massive garden with Yew trees that are saved down to pointy little pyramids. You can walk through the 10 acres of property…but we only toured the vines and gardens before heading over to the maze, where I proved how much of a geek I really am.
The maze is free with your palace admission. In the center, there is an area that you have to try to get to. You can exit the maze without actually going through…but I was determined to make it into the middle.
Right, so, Google Maps on my phone, GPS enabled, satellite view.
Now I’ve got a view of the entire maze and GPS to tell me where I’m going. Granted it had a slight variance, but it helped us figure out the path that would get us to the center quickly. Kids passed Irene and I excited and giggling saying “it’s this way, it’s this way.” I would laugh at them, because I knew they’d just loop back and catch up with me. We got straight to the middle of the maze without any problems, where I took this picture.
I’m only proud of this experience because I used technology to get me out of a strange situation. In all honesty, I probably looked like a huge bellend walking around with my mobile trying to use satellite imagery to cheat a maze designed for children…but hey, I’m a geek.
We stopped at Tescos Express, which is sort of the Kwik Trip of England to grab some sandwiches for a quick snack before our impending dinner. I came across the car shown above and had a bit of a laugh. 1.3 liter engines are pretty common here, so it was the “Intel Inside” ripoff logo that I noticed first…but the rest of his stickers were also quite amusing. I equated this car to an English Redneck, hehe.
We came back to the house to rest our bones for a bit after quite a bit of walking and exploring, then it was off to the chippy to get some take away dinner. I had some fried sausage and chips, Mike had the haddock, and Irene made some eggs with some of the chips.
At present, I’m sitting on the couch, just wrapping up my final post. Irene has drifted off to bedfordshire on the couch and Mike doesn’t seem to be too far behind.
In all honesty, I’ll be passed out shortly as well.
Tomorrow I’ll head around to the market to get a few things for the folks back home and do some miscellaneous tasks as needed. I’m all set with a place to stay in London thanks to Kev. So I’ll head in tomorrow afternoon, drop off the dead hooker bag, which will be even fuller by then, and then straight to the boozer to meet up with the boys for one last night of drinking in the big smoke.
Soon, I’ll be back at the office…but I don’t want to think about that right now.
Easy for now, fellas