Sunday, 15 May 2011

Drawing to a tentative close...

Well, not to get too maudlin... but my trip away is drawing to a close. Laurel and I counted down today... and there are only SIXTEEN days left until I come home for good. I've got mixed feelings... naturally I miss my Laurel to bits (and the rest of the family of course) but at the same time, I've thoroughly enjoyed my stay here in the UK. I've seen ALOT. Met an assortment of people along the way, both random and intended. And learned a bit along the way. I know that I will miss the trains here, and being able to just hop on and go somewhere on a lark. The past week or so-ish, I had a chance to go to Germany and stay with a very awesome person and his parents. I cannot express my gratitude or how much enjoyment I got out of this trip. I enjoyed sailing along the Rhine through the wine valley to Koblenz, the mad dashes to the car to get to the train in minutes, getting lost in the neighborhood and taking a moment to appreciate the stars in the dark blue sky, and wandering from one castle to another, sitting on the patio watching birds and trying to lure them into eating from our hands. Thank you Nid, for such an awesome memory. My last evening in Germany, I had the opportunity to meet 4 other Y!PP-ers who were just as friendly and welcoming as can be, and I couldn't have imagined a nicer way to end my visit to Germany!

After coming back from Germany, I had classes and then hit the road to York, where I stayed with Jackee and Michael(#2). I was so excited, because Michael was doing my tattoo that I'd been wanting for ages! It hurt a bit more than some of my others, but then, it was much bigger and had a lot more details. Then we packed up and headed to Jackee's house just outside of Scarborough. Had the opportunity to see some beautiful cliffs and learn a bit about the town. Jackee has a tardus in her house! I was sooo excited to show Laurel when we did our Skype call, and sure enough, she recognized it right off the bat. My stay was just an overnighter, and I vow to visit for a bit longer next time and actually explore Scarborough. I popped into York for a quick lunch with Liana and to harass James one last time (although that was kind of a fail lol) and then back to London! Time is passing by quickly, and I've a few papers to finish writing as well as finals looming in the next week-ish. So I figured I'd post some more pics, finish my portrait background entry for the game and update everyone on this end! Going to try and squeeze in a trip to Bath and Dover if possible... til then...

Thursday, 28 April 2011

BEWARE! Hodge Podge and LOTS to read.

Sooo... I know it's been a long time since I've posted. I've been remiss. Well, actually, I've just been busy as all get out. Been here there and everywhere it seems, and oh yeah... school! That's why I came here, right? Right? Yeah ok. So I'll try and retrack and bring everyone up to date.

School.. well, I dropped one class. Too stressful with a teacher who is getting paid to let me teach myself. If I were the only one feeling this sentiment, I imagine, it'd be different... but well... anyways, not worth the migraine and throwing up from getting stressed out. So done. British Museums is fun, with my... zany... yes, zany suits him, professor. He's very British, with his haphazard appearance, and proper accent, but strangely enough, he knows what he's talking about... although he does like to go off on tangents a bit. lol. Art History... well, it's about the history of art. It is what it is. I will say, both classes have really allowed me the opportunity to work on my sketching for my papers, so that's a bonus. Architectural sketches are still my strong point. I hate people. Therefore I hate drawing them. Anywho.. here are some sketches (Ray will appreciate this)...

MANCHESTER - Had a grrreatttttt time in Manchester! Got to stay with Hannah and her family. Although none of them play the game anymore, we've all managed to keep in touch for the better part of a few years. Met Kev and Darren and her little boys. The first day, the littlest one Bradley, was sleeping, so the next morning when he saw me, he goes, "I don't like you." - LOL. So we were off to a great start! But as all children are fickle, when it was time for me to go, he was like, "Where you going?" So sweet. Also, had the chance to hang out with Phil and Rob for the day... doing a few adult things, like having a few drinks. Doing a few kid things, like playing in the arcade, collecting our tickets and buying a keychain and sweets. All in all a great trip! Back to London for school and then...

YORK - Ahhhh the saga of my laptop! I was en route to York to meet Jackee and James and Liana. It's the busy holiday weekend, so the trains were packed. I had to put my laptop and bookbag up top in the overhead bins. When I got off at the train station in York, I grabbed my backpack and walked right off the train. It wasn't until I saw the tail end of the train disappearing in the distance, that I realized my laptop was still in the bin. Sadly, the customer service rep [bad day much?] was verrrry unhelpful and refused to even attempt to call the guardsman to grab it before the next stop. I was stuck in York, and bye bye laptop. Determined to make the most of my trip, I headed into town to meet up with Jackee. If there is one thing I am grateful for, it is the opportunities I've had to meet so many people that I've always wanted to meet. Jackee was no exception. We hit it off right away, and discovered many common likes and dislikes. It was quite comical. As it was the Easter weekend, York had a bit of a fair/flea market going on. Lots of music, food and artsy stuff.... yeah, right up my alley! Bought this awesome Drachma coin cut-out necklace, some handmade fudge, you know, a bunch of stuff I just couldn't live without. Sadly, I only had an afternoon with Jackee (although we're trying to squeeze in an extra visit) and then it was on to hanging out with James and Liana. We had a great time, especially since the lost luggage people in Glasgow called to say, YAY! They have my laptop! We had a nice dinner, told stories, joked about, watched weird kids hang from lampposts, you know, all that fun stuff. The next day we wandered through York, walked on the Roman walls, went to the Yorkshire Museum (we were being intellectual) and drew pictures with chalk (where we were NOT being intellectual). As the day drew to a close... I hopped on the train to fetch my laptop in...

GLASGOW - £20 later [grumble, grumble...administration fee... highway robbery] I got my laptop back. I did get to meet up with John in Edinburgh for a drink. Last year, he moved there just after I left... like days later. So it was good to catch up. Our text convo went kinda like this: Me: what u doin? John: revising for exams Me: you need a break, come to train station n haz a drink John: ok. So that was fun! Thank goodness for my phone, as I booked a hotel through via 3G. Hawt! Entertained myself with a few beers and some more... um, interesting texts. Had a good nights sleep. Kind of. Anyways, the next day, I made my way to the Kelvingrove and really had the chance to crawl the halls and see some great Egyptian art. By the way, I liked my room so much, I extended the stay one more night so I could wander about the city some more. However, when I got back to my room, I thought, oh I'll skype Laurel and see how her day went. OH TO MY SURPRISE... my laptop is gone. As are my other things. My clothes, my medication, my gifts for Laurel. Gone. I go down to the front desk, where they were nice but panicked as well, as they went from one room to the next looking to see where it must have been stowed. Obviously lines were crossed between housekeeping and front desk when I extended my stay. They finally found it somewhere, I didn't ask... and I got my stuff back. The hotel bought me dinner that night, minus the alcohol [geez] and I called it a night. It wasn't until the next day that I discovered my toothbrush and medication had obviously been thrown away. Sigh. But, I got my laptop back! ^^

GUILDFORD - Time to head "home" for a weekend of relaxation and getting stuff done. AKA eat something with peppers and wish you had your stomach pumped. You see, what had happened wassss.... Paul and Juliet and I decided to go out to dinner in Guildford. So we walked around town and finally settled on this local pub. I ordered the Salmon en Croute. It was safe when I had it in York, how was I to know they snuck peppers into my pastry shell?! One beer later, my tongue is swollen and I'm slurring my words. I'm like, I know I'm not drunk. Then I proceed to toss my cookies, and then my non-existent cookies, and then the cookies I WISHED I had because there was NOTHING left. Paul had to argue a bit, but finally got my money back. We got back to the house [sorry P&J] and I passed out on the couch! Oh well, so much for a night out. The next day I pretty much lazed and recuperated, despite my desire to be proactive and motivated. I headed back to London and school! Yay! [inject more sarcasm]

LONDON - Richard is sitting on his computer being bah-humbug cranky about not celebrating his birthday. So I figure, I'll give him his pressie early and hope it cheers him up. Oh boy! One good thing is, I'm pretty sure he liked his present [get your heads OUT of the gutter, you gutter rats] and the other thing is, I KNOW he likes Malibu. Several drinks later, he's singing George Michael on ventrilo, belly dancing [while fully clothed] and trying to light a cigarette. For those that are interested, it took the length of three bad karaoke-style songs for him to light this cigarette. Fast forward through the boring exam, the equaling boring tour through the Tate Modern (guess who's NOT a big modern art fan?) Is it blasphemous to say I could do a Jackson Pollack with a few bottles of rum? I had a smidgeon of a hangover, as I trudged through the museum and tried not to be bored to tears. It was a pretty day though, so I enjoyed the walk around the city. When I got home, I finally had the chance to meet Richard's little brother Andy. They are alike, but not. I'll leave it at that. I did shock him a bit, because I came home from school and it was soooooooo hot outside, so i was said, "OMG,  I need to take my pants off, it's too freaking hot for these things." Ahhh I forgot that here in the UK "pants" are actually underwear and what we call pants are "trousers" - damn lost in translation! It was good for a laugh though. Still on the boat, tomorrow is the ROYAL WEDDING ... wooo... yeah ok. I thought I wanted to be in town for it, but the thing is, I want nothing of the hullabaloo that's going on right now. So I'm hoppin' on a train and headed to Manchester again. I've a desire to re-tour the Ryland Law Library once more, have lunch with a friend, and go harass the Rochford's and Tutty's. Oh yeah, I also finally finished designing my next tattoo. I'm happy with the design, just need to work on placement. Will take any suggestions into consideration, with the exception of a trashy tramp stamp or one on my boob, seriously thinking inner forearm. It's in the above next to me before the peppers episode! Promise not to let it go this long between posts again. Til then...

Monday, 11 April 2011

Fair Winds!

 Well, today brings a close to Karen's visit to the UK. We've had a lovely time and have seen soooo much in the short time frame that she's been here! Yesterday was spent just walking around London getting last minute gifts and what not. We walked all over town, down Oxford Street, had an awesome lunch in the park. We've discovered that we're pro at eavesdropping on totally inappropriate conversations. In this case, we had picked up lunch from Pret, and then spread our lunch on the grass at the Watering Horse. While sitting there, we heard a group of people talk about some very interesting... cough, positions. In any event, we thought it was quite entertaining, because this wasn't the first time an eavesdropped conversation had gone X-rated! 

Also, street peddlers are officially on my no-go list from this point forward. It happened the other day to Karen, and then again yesterday to me. I guess we don't move fast enough for them, but I just don't see where it can possibly be acceptable for someone to REACH INTO OUR BAGS and try to help. On the bridge, as Karen tried to get out a few pound coins, the peddler was like, "Here let me do it" - meanwhile, I'm reaching over batting his hands away! The nerve!

In any event, as a nice conclusion to our day, we decided that Karen DEFINITELY needed to have her fish n' chips dinner. I really wanted her to see the boat and to also see the Ship N' Whale where Richard first brought me. They had an interesting snippet in the menu about the history of the pub, and just as I found it interesting, so too did Karen. It's been a great trip, and I can honestly say, I'm glad to know my cousin broke in her passport with a trip to the UK with me! We have seen/heard/done so many funny things [and shit] that I can't imagine having done all that with anyone else. I won't get all sniffly now, but I guess it's back to the grindstone with classes and studying! Safe travels Karen, we'll have to do this again! Til then...

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Round and Round London we gooooo!

It's been a great few days. Karen and I did yet another hop on/ hop off tour --- this time through London. We went all around the city, before hopping off at Buckingham Palace to watch the changing of the guard. Now, mind you, I've seen this before, but it just doesn't get old. We managed to finagle a good spot to watch the guards change, then sneak over to the street and talk to some of the mounted policemen. The weather was perfect and we simply decided to make the most of the day. That being said, we hopped back on the bus, and then took it over to Westminster. Anyone who saw our check-ins on fb, could see that we were all over London... checking in at places so people could follow our tracks through the city. The London Eye was again, a great experience... being able to look out over the Thames and see in every direction, was again, an awesome sight! By the end of the day, both Karen and I had our white towels out and were ready to wave them in surrender! We headed back to the hotel and got ready to go to Guildford for the next day!

Today we went to see Stonehenge and Windsor Castle. Now many people might say that Stonehenge is just a bunch of rocks. Many people would be right. But also, it's just the experience of being able to say, I was here! The grass was so green, and the sheep were everywhere, which made such a stark contrast to the cold grey of the stones. We easily filled up about 150 photos worth of shots, and then made our way north to Windsor Castle.

Mr. Floppy had a great day visiting the stones and seeing the castle! We had a great time wandering about the castle, looking at all the antiques and weaponry. Karen was more interested in the weapons than in some of the other things, like the wedding china (LOL). We managed to do the entire Castle with time to spare! It's midnight now, Karen is passed out, and I'm not far behind.... so on that note, Til then...

Thursday, 7 April 2011

The bus, Fraser and Nesssssie

Sooo... Karen and I decided to do the Hop-On/Hop-Off tour in Glasgow with the intent to take the entire tour once, and then go back and see certain landmarks... HOWEVER... we only go so far as to take the tour around the city! We actually saw everything we wanted to see, but had no true desire to go gallivanting to any particular place. That being said, we decided to get a little retail therapy in, and pick up some souvenirs for the family! 

While in town, I managed to get in touch with Fraser (TBB to some) and see if we could arrange to meet up for a drink. Keep in mind, while having spoken with/ chatted/ vent-ed --- I can't say that I didn't have some doubts and a bit of trepidation about meeting him! (No offense Frase!) It wasn't like meeting Richard, since I've known him for far too long (you still love meh) to be worried... but yeah, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Fraser was not that bad. hehe. No seriously, both Karen and I agreed, it was a veryyy pleasant, chillaxed evening hanging with Fraser. We pub hopped a couple times, had a few drinks (well, Fraser and I did... Karen is still a lemonade-aholic [I tried, I tell ya! BUT she is sooo UN-corruptible] watched a Rangers game (you Scots sure do take your football seriously) and then meandered over to DiMaggio's for a nice dinner. Mmmmm sea bass and risotto... Frase had -- a hamburger. FAIL. lol. We cracked up while watching the game and seeing Fraser go completely unresponsive during a play - and by the time he'd had a few beers, understanding his very thick Glaswegian accent became more and more difficult... but we enjoyed his company so much, it was worth the effort [almost]!

The next day, Karen and I got up and made our way to the information center and hopped on board for Rabbie's Trail Burners' tour to Loch Ness, Loch Lomond and Glencoe. It was bitter cold and raining. ICKY! But hey, thus far, we had been blessed with good weather! So apparently, we were to see the true side of Scotland. That in mind, we drove through the pouring rain to Loch Ness, where we had a fine lunch at The Bothy restaurant. Karen and I seem to have been blessed with good dining as well for this trip! woot! Then we made our way to the boat tour. WHAT WERE WE THINKING? Even the captain said that was the roughest ride he'd had in a while. The water literally sloshed over the sides of the boat as we trudged to Urquhart Castle. When we finally got there though, it was like the sun parted the clouds and decided to give us a glimpse of the lush, green Scotland that we had seen so far. I convinced Karen to make her way to the deck of the boat, and sure enough, her nausea went away! We enjoyed a leisurely pace back, took a ton of photos, froze our butts off, and laughed sooo much. The trip back to Glasgow was pretty uneventful, with beautiful panoramic scenery speeding by as our guide, Michael, played the Red Hot Chili Pipers to us. LOL again! 

This morning we hustled our butts out the door to do some last minute gift buying and whatnot before we hit the train back to London. The sun was out, the weather was warm. The train ride back was smooth, and we watched as mile after mile of gorgeous greenery passed by. There were sheep galore, and all I could think, was that Laurel would be baaah-ing like a mad woman every time we passed a herd! I know that when we come back, she'll thoroughly enjoy the highlands of Scotland... and I fully intend to take her further north with me, perhaps to the Orkneys or Shetlands... who knows. I know that Karen and I thoroughly enjoyed this trek to Scotland and here's hoping tomorrow brings a wonderful day of discovery in London. Off to find dinner, and have a drink with Richard... here's hoping he doesn't scare Karen completely! Love and miss everyone back home, especially my Laurel and Dad and Mom and Boober! Oh yeah, and I'll post some pics from Loch Ness and Pitlochry later -- tummy is growling! Til then...

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Playing Catch Up

Well.... It's been a busy weekish since I last posted. After my haphazard fail from the migraine that turned into a great day with Vanessa, I headed back to the boat with Richard. The next day I headed to Tamworth to visit Cozzy and Aroven for a day or so. Ended up coming back early because we thought Karen's flight was due to arrive on Sunday, however mixed email messages and whatnot led us to believe she was in fact, arriving on Saturday. Poor thing. I'm destroying his sex life...albeit not intentionally. That being said, her flight left LATER than basically I spent way more time at Heathrow than any normal person would want to! After FINALLY picking her up, we headed to the hotel at Kings Cross. It wasn't bad and it was nice for the both of us to get acclimated before we began our whirlwind traveling. 

Caught the train into Glasgow, which was pretty uneventful, aside from the two of us giggling over moving Karen's luggage! Mr. Floppy enjoyed the scenery as we passed through the lush green hills. I keep imagining what my Laurel would be saying as we speed by the various herds of sheep and ponies grazing the countryside. I can hear her baaa-ing or neigh-ing in my head. MUST bring her here, is all I can think. We manage to get a little shuteye and arrive at our destination, bright eyed and ready to go. Check in is relatively uneventful, the guy at front desk always greets me with a "Heya" or "Hey oh" which Karen and I both think is giggleworthy. Our room is what I imagine a dorm is like, 2 twin beds, a bathroom and a computer desk. Overall it's fine... although there are only 2 outlets in the whole room?! We drop off our stuff and head into town.

There's just something about the TMOBILE Reps here in the UK, they've got sooo much charm lol! In Guildford, we somehow or another got into a conversation about fishnet stockings... and in this one here in Glasgow, I find that one was part of the Disney CP and worked where Mom works... what what! And Karen finds herself talking to a rep who went to UC Davis. What a small world. 

"Understanding their accents is a bit difficult... but we're getting well pro at this if we watch their lips when they talk hahah!"

We meander our way through some light shopping and find ourselves at Sloan's (Glasgow's Oldest Bar and Restaurant). Dinner is quite good, and I find a beer, John Smith's, that is actually dark enough and tastes great... kind of a mix between Amber Bock and a Newcastle imo. There are like 6 H&M stores in a 1 mile radius I might add. This, for some reason is just way too entertaining. I'm going to stop here, despite the fact that a day has already passed and we've had quite the adventure. We're headed to Loch Lomond, Loch Ness and Glencoe for the day, so I'm looking forward to taking a crap ton more pictures and including my visits from the day before.(Yay, I met another pirate - and I told him he'd get his own blog entry, lol!) Til then...

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Making the most of a MISERABLE day turned BEAUTIFUL!

So, if any of you read my fb... you'd have known it was a rough day. Let me start with waking up at 3am with a migraine from hell. As you know, my migraines have a tendency to make me ridiculously ill... and this was certainly no exception. Two of my classes had already been cancelled for the day, but my morning class, thus far, had not. I convinced myself that I needed to get my sorry behind in gear and go to class, despite the throbbing in my skull and the nausea that was getting overwhelmingly worse. Richard said I should go back to bed... but no, I'm trying to be responsible here! I get to the tube station and get ready to hop on the Jubilee line, only to be informed that the line has been temporarily suspended due to someone [not me, thank God] getting ill on one of the cars. I reroute and get to Waterloo with no time to spare, because the nausea has now turned into oh-my-God-I'm-going-to-rourke-NOW! I run to the bathroom, except every stall is taken, and promptly empty the contents of my stomach into a wastebin. It couldn't be helped. I clean up and start to look for my connection to get to school and get a phone call that THAT class has been cancelled as well. This upsets me some more, and I go make friends with another wastebin. *Disclaimer - I PROMISE YOU THAT THIS IS ALL DUE TO A MIGRAINE AND NOT AN OVERINDULGENCE OF ALCOHOL* 

Determined at this point to not have wasted my time (and money) getting into town... I call text Vanessa. The UK is very much like when we were in the Philippines, where we pretty much text everybody and call only if necessary. Vanessa is another Y!PP pirate (PINGA!) who really no longer plays and yet we've managed to keep in contact for five years, which in my opinion, is nothing short of amazing. She normally lives in Sao Paolo, Brasil -- but just so happened to be in the UK for school. Sadly, Nessa leaves next week to go home waaaah! In any event, we decided to meet up and do lunch. I find a pharmacy to get something a little stronger than Excedrin, and make my way to Woking. Meeting Vanessa for the first time was weird... because it was like catching lunch with someone you've known forever! We hit it off right off the bat, and were soon talking over one another and telling jokes. I felt bad, because in all this time, I never knew she was a vegetarian, and here I am snacking on a piece of chicken! Anyways, we figure the best way to get through the day and have a good time was: RETAIL THERAPY! I needed a new suitcase anyways, since my wheels on the other one broke. We pretty much hit up every "bargain" store... and lol, I got quite a chuckle when we went into TKMAXX -- just like back home, except we use a J. It's the same store, I assure you! I got an awesome buy in another store, you all know me and my bargains... and got a sweet coat for 18£ and a pair of boots for 10£. I'd been picking little "here and there's" for Laurel and my family... and Nessa convinced me to get something for myself. twist. my. arm. Anyways, it was finally time to go... nearly 6 pm - wow, we'd been shopping for like 5 1/2 hours! And we were both sad to have to go. I was sad that we'd only just now had a chance to get together... but now we have plans where hopefully she and her family will come to Florida on vacation and everyone can get together and meet Laurel and I can meet her children. If there is one thing I won't regret, it will be that I went shopping for a day with a great and wonderful friend instead of going home to sleep! 

My phone has died by now, and I am ever so thankful to myself that I had the forethought to scribble down Richard's number on a piece of paper... because I am so tired from walking all day in the shopping mall, there is no way in hell I'm walking to the boat! Back at the boat, it's business as usual... or rather, take off my shoes, have tea, log on Y!PP, check my email and talk about former failed relationships. Richard decides it's time to open this bottle of wine he's had in the fridge for so long. Let me just tell you... that was the most disgusting bottle glass of blegh I've ever had! I sure hope the sink drain enjoyed it. I convince Richard to go out for a bit, nothing crazy, but just to get off the boat and off the laptop  -- so we hit up the bowling alley! I get to listen to him make comments about how he's going to wipe the floor with me and blah blah blah -- most of which I know he's only kidding about, since I've heard him say numerous times, he sucks at bowling. Long story short... I win 2 out of 3. Muhahahah! We shoot a round of "American" pool - you know, the one where there are numbers on the balls! and I win at that too. Richard has a go at the DDR2 game, which I have to say, is impressive... and then tries to take me on at a game of hoop shot. /e wins again. Nothing like turning a crappy start into a wonderful finish. Life is much better today... I hit the train station for a trip to Tamworth where I get to meet Cozzy Julia and Aroven and stay up there for a few days. I'll see if I can put my camera to a bit better use while I'm at it! Much love and missing you all back home! Til then...