Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Trip to Windsor

It was now Wednesday and our third full day in London. I had decided that it would be nice to spend at least one day outside of the city and so we decided to take a trip to Windsor to view the castle there. We hopped the tube to Waterloo station and then bought train tickets to Windsor which took about an hour. Mike and I both kind of wondered what we would find and how we would get to the castle since none of our travel books had directions. Fortunately that wasn't a problem, because as we walked out of the Riverside train station we could see the castle looming on the horizon! It completely dominated the sky and it was obvious which way to walk, so we followed the narrow street up the hill and around the castle to the front entrance. We spent several hours inside the castle. Talked to one guard there who told us that the Queen still visits almost every weekend and she always goes horseback riding when she is there. He had worked there for many years and considered himself to be fortunate to have been inside her personal quarters because he used to hang pictures on the walls. Each Christmas she would host a party for the staff and the entire royal family would visit and talk personally to the staff and give them their holiday gift. Last year it was a cut glass bowl engraved with a message from the Queen. It was interesting to hear his personal account of working there. We stopped briefly at St. George's church and saw where the Queen's parents, grandparents and sister were buried. That was quite enough church for me, so we then made our way back down the hill and stopped at a tavern for a fish and chips dinner before a quick visit to a cybercafe and then jumping back on the train to London! Windsor Castle is an amazing place to visit and truly was a highlight of the trip. We were glad we took the time to get out to it because it gave us a glimpse of the country side and of the royal history. The rooms are incredibly ornate, huge and yet warm. Even on a cold day they were quite pleasant. We also enjoyed seeing the dolls given to Queen Elizabeth and her sister Margaret in the 1930's by France along with the doll house and clothing. Unfortunately photography is not allowed inside the palace. We did stop at the gift shop and brought home a few remembrances. The fish and chips dinner was delicious but just as expensive and anything else we ate in London. For a piece of fried cod, French fries and mashed peas along with one diet coke and a beer for Mike we paid about $35.


I am sitting in a MacDonalds internet cafe in Windsor England! We finished touring Windsor Castle, had fish and chips for lunch and Mike had a beer. It has been a marvelous adventure so far. We sawThe Producers,went to Madam Toussads wax museum, and toured the city on the roof of a tour bus. Went down the Thames River on a boat and took lots of pictures. I'll load pictures on the blog when we get home. Our bed and breakfast is magnificent. Huge room, big bathroom attached with two marble sinks, tub and separate shower all lined with mirrors. A huge window in both bath and bedroom. The bedroom looks out over the garden, the bath over the street. It is very quiet. The only sound is when our two house dogs bark at the postman each morning. Butch the Cocker, and Sundance the field spaniel. June our hostess makes us a huge breakfast each morning before we start out. Now that we have mastered the tube we are quite seft sufficient. Saw Harrod's department store and shopped and ate chocolate there. Wait till you see the chocolate vat! It is getting dark now (4:20 p.m.) so we need to catch the train back to London. Thinkin g of all our good friends and family tomorrow on Thanksgiving. We plan to visit the place the first Guinness was served...a treat for Mike!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Second Day in London

I think we walked more on the second day in London than any other day! We didn't yet have tube passes and weren't really ready to trust ourselves that much so we walked most of the day. First stop was Liester Square for the TKTS office for discounted theatre tickets. Unfortunately the one show we really did want to see was The Producers and it was only 25% off, (rather than the usual 50%) but we decided to see it anyway and bought tickets in the second row. Once we had our tickets in hand we walked over to the Big Bus route and hopped aboard the bus until it stopped at the Tower of London. There we were able to catch a ride down the Thames on the City Cruise boat. I caught a few nice pictures of Tower Bridge from the river! At the end of our boat trip which lasted 30 minutes we caught another bus up to Hyde Park and then walked up to Madame Tussaud's wax museum. The wax statues are absolutely amazing and incredibly life like. What I loved about this experience was that there is nothing between you and the images. You can walk up to the and touch them and they are scattered about just as if they were in a crowd of people. I got to sit with George Cloony and Mike got to exchange a few words with John Wayne! The funniest part was that a few times I thought someone was taking a picture of a figure and it would turn out to be another wax figure posed as a photographer! Those I particularly enjoyed were Princess Diana , Napoleon, the fab five and Churchill. I think the thing that impressed me was that standing there so close to them they looked just like ordinary people like you or me and I marveled at what set them apart was simply the personality or character under the flesh. We also enjoyed the planetarium show and the house of horrors depicting capital punishment with both wax and real actors. After the museum we bought tube passes and took the tube for the first time back to the bed and breakfast where we changed before heading out to see The Producers. The show was marvelous and just fun entertainment! It was Mike's first big time theatrical show so it was a special treat. We took the tube home just like regular Londoners and were absolutely exhausted at days end!

Monday, November 21, 2005


There is perhaps no department store in the world more famous than Harrods. We visited twice. The first time on Monday and then again Friday. Just about anything you would want to buy is available at Harrod's. In the children's department we found stuffed toys the likes of which we had never seen before. I got up close and personal with a stuffed polar bear. Near by was an elephant that flapped his ears and was bigger than the polar bear! We saw luxury furniture including a table for sale for $60,000. and antique rugs valued at over $20,000. or if that didn't suit you there were mammouth tusks for about about the same price. Of course no trip to Harrod's would be complete without stopping at the chocolate bar. Here huge vats of chocolate are piped overhead into the bar where you can sit and sip on pure chocolate! Mike and I chose pure melted warm chocolate. He had sweet (milk chocolate) and I had semi-sweet. It came in little cups and we ate it with spoon straws. If you want regular hot chocolate they have at least a half dozen types. We spent a few hours

touring. Highlights were live figure skaters in the display window and a visit to the memorial for Princess Diana and Dodi complete with wishing fountain, guest book, the champagne glasses from their last dinner together and the ring that he had bought for her.

First day in London

On Sunday June asked us what time we would want breakfast and what we wanted cooked. We asked for scrambled eggs, bacon and beans at 8:30 a.m. which became our standard. The table was laid out with fruit juices, and on the side bar was fruit, baked pancakes, scones and a variety of breads with a toaster. Coffee was served in a French press. The first morning we came down for breakfast and met the other houseguests who it turned out were from Michigan! Not only that but they were a mother and daughter pair and noticed my 4-H sweat shirt because they were a 4-H leader and member!! What a small world it is indeed. They were returning from a week in Paris but already had a few days of London under their belt so we asked them what they suggested. On their recommendation we decided to sign up for a Big Bus Tour which is a double decker bus that tours London. You can sit on the open air top and enjoy the sights as a guide narrates. But before getting our tickets, June advised us to stop and see her memorial. Seems she was instrumental in getting a war memorial to animals built near the Marble Arch just a block from our house. Her name is on the base. It depicts the many animals who served in our wars who "had no choice". It was very moving. Later we got our tickets which were good for 48 hours of touring the city.
That first day we saw Big Ben, the House of parliament, Tower of London, Tower Bridge, the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, dozens of monuments and crossed over the Thames several times. It was an excellent way to get a feel for the city and to learn our way around. We ended our touring that day at Harrod's department store which was quite a treat. Believe it or not at Harrod's which is quite possibly the largest store in the world we ran into our housemates from Michigan! I'll post more on Harrod's later. That evening we went down to Cork Street to have dinner at Mulligan's Irish Pub. We had the downstairs to ourselves. I ate Irish Stew and Mike tried a beef dish and beer. When he asked what kind of beer they had on tap they looked at him like he was crazy. "Guinness, of course!" They had dozens of types of Irish whiskey but only ONE kind of beer.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Arriving in London

We arrived in London Gatwick airport at 9:00 a.m. Sunday morning and took the Gatwick Express train to London which was a 1/2 hour ride. Then hopped a black cab and arrived at our bed and breakfast of Grovesnor Cottage at about 11:00 a.m. It is just off Park Lane on Culross Lane. We were delighted to meet June Makepeace Kerstner our hostess and her dogs Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Butch followed us up to our room each day and made himself at home on the sofa. Butch is an English Cocker, Sundance is a Field Spaniel. We had a large room with two single beds pushed together, sofa, several chairs and a television with satellite. By the sofa was a teapot, tea and coffee and chocolate bars. Connected to our room was a huge bath with marble floors, double sink, etc. Truly luxury for London! We were exhausted from our overnight flight. Mike went out for a beer while I napped and then he crashed for two hours while I read books on London and tried to figure out where we were going to go each day. We did get out for dinner the first day, but that was all we could muster. We tried to adjust to the five hour time change and get rest for our first full day in London.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Boston's new title

Yesterday we got back Boston's picture from her new obedience title. Here she is! We had fun yesterday going over to Melaney's house for training class where we celebrated Boston's new CD and Dragon's CD. Dragon is Melaney's Cocker Spaniel. Three of our friends got legs toward titles over the weekend too and they were all there. Ellen and Sunny the Aussie, Barb and Drew the Aussie and Nancy and her collie. Melaney baked liver treats for the dogs and we all had punch, cookies and some marvelous pinwheel treats for humans that Mel also made. I took Alaska along for training too. It was his first time in class and he did very well considering!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Mike and Colin

Mike and Colin have a special relationship. Last weekend it paid off with Colin getting a 5 point major! Colin only needs one point to finish. Here are my two good looking guys!

Friday, November 11, 2005

New Title for Boston

Today Boston finished her CD obedience title with a very nice score of 194 and a 4th place in Novice B! I'll post her picture when I get it from the photographer. I am pleased as punch that she did so well. I was just hoping to qualify and finish her title. She is now Ch. Starbuck's Solid Gold T-Party CD.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Boston is a star!

My kennel club show is this weekend and I was inivited to bring "Boston" Ch. Starbuck's Solid Gold T-Party to the local televison studio yesterday! If you follow this link and click on the West Michigan Harvest cluster you can see a video of us. There were three dogs featured and Boston is first, followed by a Kerry Blue Terrier and a Keeshund. Of course I think she is the prettiest. :) They wanted one obedience dog so since we hope to finish Boston's CD this weekend she got the nod for her televsion debut!