Becca Jane St Clair

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More Vlogs from London

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Two Vlogs from London

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Frostbite 2008 – Seven Layers of Clothing

Tim’s 16mm Garden Railway  group holds an annual get together on the Sunday after Christmas, and I was invited to tag along…after being warned that this was an outdoor event and I’d want lots of layers!

By the end of the day, I was wearing seven layers including two pairs of leg warmers, 2 pairs of pants, and a big blanket wrapped around my body….but it was loads of fun!  I posted the videos shortly after we got back, but I haven’t had a chance to share my photos other than on facebook.

We went with M, a young boy who got into garden railways after helping Tim work on his, and M’s mum, H.  It was a tight squeeze to get everyone plus trains into her car, but we managed!  The drive over to D’s house took about a half an hour, but we were still the first to arrive.  Tim actually had his train up and running and his was the first train to make a circuit (and also the last!).  D’s wife always cooks soup for Lunch, so we got to warm up for a little bit inside partway through the day. D told me if I felt cold, I could go inside, but I enjoyed watching all the trains, and I just added on a layer if I started to feel the chill.

Tim even let me “drive” his train towards the end of the day, after most people had packed up!  (Tim’s corrected me that he asked me if I wanted to earlier on in the day, but I passed the controls back as I was afraid of bumping other people’s trains.)

We had loads of fun, and I want to play with Tim’s railway in the yard 😉

Tim’s train, Dark Horse

This locomotive was hand-built by Rae Grive and won the 2007 model of the year trophy at the 16mm AGM Convention!

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UK by Rail: Blackpool

I wanted to go to Blackpool. It’s famous for being “The Atlantic City of Britain” and is pretty touristy, so I really wanted to go. What cinched it for us was finding out there was a Doctor Who Exhibit featuring Classic Doctor Who….only, the exhibit wasn’t open :(.

Our train trip was pretty confusing with all the delays and canceled trains, but we made it to Blackpool South and dashed over to the tram stop to get to the tourist section. Everything seemed to be deserted, which really wasn’t surprising considering we were going not only mid-week, but in the middle of Winter! I’ve been to Atlantic City in the winter though, and because of all the casinos there’s always something going on….I’m not sure if all the people were inside the game places or if it was just empty, but we crossed the street and headed towards the Doctor Who exhibit.

We got waylaid by a bloke running a dart game, and he somehow convinced Tim to play to “win his lady a stuffed animal”. £10 later and we quit after Tim won me a small stuffed Pterodactyl I’ve named Myfanwy.

The gates were down at the Doctor Who exhibit, but the Sea Life aquarium next door was open, so we thought maybe there was a way into the exhibit through there since they seemed to be attached, but no luck. We decided not to waste the trip to Blackpool, and visited the aquarium…where I think we were the only people in it for quite a while! We had a good time with the fish, but it wasn’t nearly as thrilling as it would have been if the Doctor Who thing had been open. Ah, well.

We decided to ride the tram all the way to the end of the line, and we were glad we did, because on the way back we got to ride on one of the few surviving double decker trams! We stopped at the same fish and chip chain we ate at in Cardiff because we recognized the name and it was one of the few places still open…and I tried spotted dick for the first time ever. It really wasn’t as bad as some people say it is, but it’s really sweet. I only could eat half of it!

We were just a short walk back to the Blackpool North train station, so we headed over and took the train back to Rainhill once again.

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Happy Christmas!

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Vlog: Around the House

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Vlog: Double Decker Trams

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My Nose is a Snot Factory

Ugh, I’m sick.

[The rest of this post is not for the weak. I discuss my cold in detail.]
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Making a Recipe….

One of my favourite foods is homemade mac & cheese served with stewed tomatoes. I’m not sure if this is a regional thing (my family is from central PA) or just a family thing, but we always tend to serve them together. We generally buy a can of stewed tomatoes and just open it up and heat the tomatoes to put on top, but around here I haven’t been able to find any. So….I had to make my own.

Because I love the crock pot, and because it’s hard to coordinate cooking on Tim’s two-burner stove (that only can use one burner if you have the oven on), I decided to figure out how to make these in the crock pot. I looked at a few recipes online for both crock pot versions and stove-top versions and created my own.

Crock Pot Stewed Tomatoes

14 small tomatoes
bay leaves

1. Peel tomatoes. I read on a few websites in order to peel tomatoes you put them in boiling water and immediately put them into cold water. That didn’t work for me. What did work was cutting a small slit in the tomato, then putting it into the boiling water for about 5 minutes or until the split started to grow. The skin should at that point just peel right off, but watch out because it will be super hot after being in boiling water!
2. Cut tomatoes into quarters and cut out the seeds/membrane. I didn’t remove all the seeds, just the ones that were attached to the core.
3. Place tomatoes in crock pot, and cover with about 1 cup water. Sprinkle with oregano, basil, and pepper. Add 1 tsp sugar and 3 bay leaves.
4. cook on HIGH for 3-4 hours, or LOW for 6-8.

My tomatoes aren’t as tomato-y as they are out of the can, so I think if I make them again I’ll be adding some tomato juice to flavor them. Either that, or the tomatoes I had weren’t ripe enough and didn’t have that full tomato flavour I was looking for.

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Christmas Time is here…Happiness and Cheer…

It’s December! That means Christmas and Christmas decorating! I asked Tim what he had for decorations and he told me “a small tree and some tinsel”. He dug it all out, and it turns out what he was calling tinsel is what I call garland. His tree reminded me of the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree. It was a silver colour and looked a bit sparse. Unfortunately (or is that fortunately?) Tim couldn’t find the base for the tree, so we headed into town to Wilkenson’s to buy a new tree.

Tim picked out a small four-foot tree and we grabbed some fairy lights (US: twinkle lights or just Christmas lights) and a few packs of generic ornaments in red, gold, and silver. Tim also had a light-up train his aunt had given him one year. We decided to put the train in the upstairs window and the tree in the living room. We wound the extra string of lights around the banister for the steps with some garland, and it actually gives more light than the regular light did!

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UK by Train: Exterminate 45

Tim’s dad had been in the Leicestser hospital, and while his mum was driving back and forth visiting him she heard on the radio about an event at the National Space Centre called “Exterminate 45“. Since she knew we are both big Doctor Who fans (okay, I’m probably a bigger fan than Tim), she made sure she told us about it.

Unfortunately, Tim had to work that day from 2-10, so we originally planned to head out in the morning, and then he’d leave for work and I’d make my way back on the train. I posted on a Doctor Who community to see if I could find anyone to hang out with, and I met C of the Leicester Doctor Who Club, who invited me to spend the afternoon with her and the rest of the club. Unfortunately, Tim and I had to alter our plans again, as a neighbourhood kid who looks to Tim as a mentor needed his help Saturday morning, so Tim and I decided I was going to make the trip by myself by rail and bus!

The trip really wasn’t too bad, and the train was a straight journey from Lincoln to Leicester. The trip took two hours because of all the little station stops, but I’m used to that with SEPTA!

My problems began when I got to Leicester. The Space Centre’s website tells you you can take two busses from the rail station and mentions the street names where the stops are….which was fine, but they didn’t give you any directions on how to find the streets. I had foolishly assumed the two streets were streets bordering the train station (I was sort of picturing 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, where you can get to 4 different streets from within the station)…they didn’t, but I did see a sign that said “bus station”, so I started walking towards it, pulling out Tim’s copy of the Leicester A-Z map to see if I could figure out where to go.

I got lost in the marketplace area. Many city centers have a pedestrian-only section of town where all the shops are, and there are loads of side streets and alleys with shops. I’ve gotten pretty good at navigating Lincoln, but Leicester confused me. There were streets that weren’t on my map, and streets that had two different names at an intersection. Confusing, right? I finally saw a bus, and I walked up to it and asked the driver if he knew where I could find bus 54, and he directed me to the correct stop. I finally made it to the bus and paid my £1.80 for a return (US: round trip) ticket.

I was expecting to get dropped off right outside the Space Centre, but the bus actually drops you off about a half mile away. I asked the driver how to get there and he told me to “cross the street and you can’t miss it”. Well, I crossed the street and couldn’t see the Space Centre through the fog, but I DID see the top of the Abby Pumping House Tim and I had gone to in October. The Pumping House is next door to the Space Centre, so I headed in that direction.

I got in line to pay my admission, £12. The person behind the counter wasn’t quite prepared for my American debit card, so I wound up with a complimentary ticket. Not bad at all. I walked around a little bit, and then shortly after met up with C and she and I wandered around until we found the rest of the Leicester Doctor Who Club.

We had a great time goofing off and checking out all the Doctor Who stuff AND the Space Centre. About half of us rode on the “Europa Simulator”, which was a small 3-D ride to “prepare” you for being an astronaut sent to Jupiter. The ride had one of those lap bars they pull down and the guy doing it just kept slamming it down. We had to have it done several times because one of the bars wasn’t going down fully, so I kept having this bar jammed into me over and over. At one point I told C if he slammed the bar down again I might have thrown up on him, it was that jarring.

At Exterminate 45 they wanted to try to beat the world record for people dressed as Daleks, one of the monsters of Doctor Who. None of us were in costume, but we headed outside to look at all the costumes and things ranged from the incredibly accurate to small children wearing cardboard boxes carrying a whisk and a plunger (the two “arms” of a Dalek look similar to those items). We even saw a child dressed as “The Empty Child” with another kid dressed as Captain Jack!

We wandered back inside and started making our way through the exhibits – both the Space Centre exhibits and the Exterminate 45 exhibits – and kept “running into” assorted Daleks, and I even shook hands with one of them!

There was loads of other Doctor Who related things there, too. Several people had brought along versions of the TARDIS, there was at least 2 versions of K-9 (aka “the tin dog”), one that was super accurate, and a club member dressed as an Ood!

When things started to wind down, the group I was with decided to head to a pub in town for a few drinks and asked me to tag along. We boarded bus #54 and I went to hand over my return….but what’s this? It seems I rode OUT on one bus line and was riding IN on another, and they don’t take each other’s tickets….but BOTH buses were Bus #54 and went to the Space Centre and even stopped at the same place. *shakes head* So I had to hold up the line while I dug out an additional £1.50.

I forget the name of the pub we had gone to, but we found a table in a corner and chatted. One of the guys in the club, N, and I started discussing words that mean different things in the UK vs. US. I’ll have to write up a blog entry about that at some time, because it was a really fun conversation.

I left the group around 6 to get back to the station. I was told it was really easy to get back – and it was! I boarded the 1830 train, and headed back to Lincoln.

Tim kept texting me telling me where I was (on the route) and I was really confused until I realized that he could monitor my train from his signal box, though I didn’t pass the box he was working at.

We got into Lincoln at 8:30, where Tim’s mum (and dog!) picked me up since the bus to the village stops running at 6.

The Leicester Doctor Who club invited me to come out for their December meeting, and if the train schedule can be coordinated, I just might, I had such a great time with them!

view overlooking most of the displays

(Photo taken by C) Members of the Leicester Doctor Who Club (and me!)

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UK Road Trip Part VIII, iv: Stonehenge!

I still didn’t know what we were doing on our last day of Tim’s long weekend until that morning, when Tim told me we would “drive home the long way” and go to Stonehenge. When I first planned my trip, Tim had me make him a list of all the places I wanted to see and things I wanted to do, and Stonehenge was right there at the top of the list.

It was a pretty long drive from where we had been staying along the coast, but we soon found our way and spotted the big “Stonehenge” sign…then imagine our surprise when it was straight ahead!

Stonehenge is so surreal. It’s just there, in the middle of a field, with lots of sheep and rabbits wandering around near it. Not hyped up at all, no fancy museum, just the stone circle with a small gift shop/cafe across the street. They even offer “free” audio guided tours (which Tim and I declined, as I already knew the history of Stonehenge and Tim had been there before).

We took our time walking around the stone circle, taking lots of photographs and just being in awe of how long Stonehenge had been standing, and the role(s) it may have taken in early Druid life. I would love to go back during the Solstice, when they actually allow access down to the stones, but I doubt we’d have time to do it.

Tim and I timed our visit “just right”. We arrived with enough time to walk fully around the circle, then head back across to the shop to purchase a few souvenirs, and then walked back over to the circle to take some photos of the sun as it started to set. The grounds officially closed at four, but there was one other photographer standing with Tim and I, and fortunately, the workers allowed us an additional 20 minutes to take photos of the setting sun before they finally told us we had to leave.

I purchased a Christmas present for my friend Miss M while I was there, because I knew she’d appreciate having something from Stonehenge, and I bought myself a reusable shopping bag that has Stonehenge on the side, so whenever I do my shopping I’ll always remember my trip.

Collectively, Tim and I took over 200 photographs of Stonehenge and the surrounding area, and you can view them all in the gallery here, but here are some of my favourite photos from that day:

Tim and I

My current desktop wallpaper (comment if you want a full-size copy!)


By daylight

And, don’t forget my vlog if you haven’t seen it yet:

And, as I posted above, more photos can be found here:

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UK Road Trip Part VIII, iii: Portsmouth and Isle of Wight

Tim had been given one “rule” for places to take me – I didn’t want to go to any military museums or see war stuff. I wanted history, but not war history. Tim asked me if I’d consider going to look at ships as “war stuff”, and then explained what he wanted to take me to. He wanted to go to Portsmouth and go see the Mary Rose, a ship ordered to be built by King Henry VIII in 1509! The Mary Rose sank off the coast of Portsmouth in 1545, but over half the ship remained intact and was recovered in 1982 by divers. I agreed to see it, as I’m a sucker for Tudor history, and we headed back to the train station and into Portsmouth. We got tickets that included entrance to the Mary Rose, the Victory, another warship who’s name I’ve forgotten, and several museums. Our ticket also included a boat tour around the bay, but they don’t run in the winter months. The nice thing about our tickets though is that they are good for an entire YEAR, so if I come back in the Spring and we go to Portsmouth, we won’t need to pay for admission again.

Seeing the Mary Rose was incredible. They managed to recover lots of artifacts from the wreckage as well, giving us a glimpse of life as a seaman in the 1500s. You can view the ship as it’s being treated with a wax drip. The hope is that the wood will absorb the wax to protect and seal it, so that the ship can eventually be walked up to and touched by visitors by 2016. While we were in the museum, they were doing a hands-on experience, so I got to hold an actual piece of the Mary Rose!

We then boarded the HMS Victory, the oldest naval ship still in commission, for a guided tour. The people running the tour warned us to be careful of headroom as we headed down into the lower levels of the ship, because the ceilings got lower, but even on the lowest level, I had no problems! I enjoyed the Victory, but not as much as I did the Mary Rose…and I also had a good giggle over it being called the Victory.

We headed into a few of the museums after a quick lunch and got to view the original Trafalgar sail. This was the sail used on the HMS Victory in 1805 at the battle. The sail has over 90 holes in it from cannon fire!

We also went into a museum showing ship figureheads, and experienced the “reenactment” of the Battle of Trafalgar.

I also found out that the story of the ship captain who had his body preserved in a barrel of brandy so he could be buried at home was the true story of Vice Admiral Nelson, who died during the Battle of Trafalgar.

I vetoed going into the other naval history museums, and Tim proposed an idea for the rest of our afternoon. If you’ve ever seen some of the Monty Python sketches, then you might be familiar with the line “my hovercraft is full of eels”. There’s also a website out there that translates that phrase into well over 20 other languages, including Welsh. Tim was trying to teach me how to pronounce it one day via Skype (I failed miserably) and I had asked him what a hovercraft was…

There is a company that goes between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight using hovercrafts! Tim suggested we ride over to the Isle and take a trip through part of the island via train, have dinner on the Isle, and then head back. I agreed and we booked ourselves on the next hovercraft.

My video of the hovercraft we were on taking off to go back to Portsmouth

The hovercraft was really interesting. I still don’t really know how they move, but I know they go quite fast! The train on the Isle of Wight is made from old Underground cars, and we rode it from one end to the other, where we got off to walk around before heading back to the hovercraft and the mainland.

Once again, we got back to N’s house super late, and after stopping to pick up snack food we headed straight to bed since we had a long drive the following day!

The picture didn’t come out the greatest, but that’s the Mary Rose!

More photos:

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An American Thanksgiving in the UK

I decided to make Thanksgiving dinner today. Originally, Tim’s mum was supposed to come over, as today is her birthday, but Tim’s dad has been in and out of the hospital and needed to go in again today, so I was just cooking for Tim. And boy, did I cook A LOT. He’ll be eating this stuff for weeks!

This wasn’t the first time I was away from home for Thanksgiving Thursday, but it was the first time I’d be away from home for Family Thanksgiving. My family celebrates the holiday on the Sunday after and we try to get as many people of the family together as possible, so on the Thursday I’ve sometimes gone to a boyfriend’s family dinner instead of spending the day with my mom and aunt. This was, however, the first time I’ve ever cooked Thanksgiving dinner on my own…or really, ANY of the dinner other than the vegetable!

I used an assortment of sites/people for help – some of my friends gave me great advice, my mom gave me her stuffing recipe, and I used google to find recipes (that I wound up adjusting/tweaking!) for today. Obviously, the centerpiece of today’s meal was turkey. At first, I wasn’t sure we’d find one in Tesco…we were in the “fresh” meat section and hadn’t seen any turkey and I had finally let Tim pick up a whole chicken when we found Turkey crowns (breasts) in the frozen section.

I did most of the cooking yesterday. Tim doesn’t have the type of oven/stove you expect to see in a US kitchen. He has a counter-top oven that has two burners on top..and, you can only use one burner while the oven is on! I knew it would be a challenge, but I was prepared and with making notes and a schedule I had it all figured out. Good thing we now have things like microwaves so I was able to make a lot of things last night and reheated them today!

The oven was, obviously, being taken up by the turkey, and while the turkey was cooling I cooked the pan(s) of stuffing – that I had put together the night before.

I wanted mashed potatoes (though Tim says mine are what he’d call “creamed potatoes”), and since I knew that would take up a burner for a long time, I decided to hunt out a way to do them in the crock pot. Surprisingly, I found a very simple recipe and started the potatoes before we went to bed, so in the morning I was able to mash them and leave the crock pot set to warm.

I started to combine a few Thanksgiving traditions from my family and I made sweet potatoes (usually made by my Aunt Beatie for Sunday dinner) and glazed carrots (usually made by my Aunt Janie for Saturday night dinner). The carrots were made on Wednesday, and put into the microwave for heating.

The other vegetable I chose to make was brussel sprouts, because I found a recipe online for Golden Encrusted Brussel Sprouts, and Tim and I both thought that sounded good.

Rounding out the plate we had gravy, which I wimped out on and made from granulates, jarred (not canned!) cranberry sauce, and cranberry orange muffins.

For dessert, I wanted to make pumpkin pie…but I couldn’t find a pumpkin, so we bought a butternut squash instead and I followed just the filling recipe from this website. The recipe said the pecan/graham layer was optional, but I think it would have been better with it because the pie needed to be a lot sweeter. If I follow that recipe again, I’ll either add more cinnamon and sugar, or I’ll add the optional layer. For a crust, Tim found me pre-made puff pastry sheets and for a pie plate, he bought a shallow cake tin, so I dubbed it “Deep Dish Pumpkin Pie”. We also had a pre-made apple pie made by a company called (mom, you’ll love this) Aunt Bessie’s. The apple pie turned out to be crap though, as despite it being in the oven for the full 50 minutes and the top browned on it….the bottom never cooked and when we dished it out it was stringy dough! Sadly, the apple pie was to be the back-up if the pumpkin pie didn’t turn out well, so we wound up not having dessert.

Tim’s gone off to work (2-10 shift today), and at some point I need to put away our leftovers!

for a vegetarian who has never cooked a turkey before on her own, looks pretty good!

The Deep Dish failure

Ready to eat!

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We interrupt the trip log from last weekend to bring you the following:

OMG it’s snowing!!

This morning I woke up around 7:30 to put food into the crock pot for later this afternoon and I heard a pattering noise against the window. Wondering if it was rain I was hearing, I opened the front door to see — SNOW!

Tim says it hardly ever snows here, and when it does it’s never much, but it was really coming down for a while there!

Now, we did suspect it was going to snow, as last night on the news they talked about snow up and down the East coast (of the UK), but I had honestly forgotten about it by the time I woke up!

Sadly, it started to turn to ice and now rain, but for a brief time, we had snow!

view from the front door.

Tim’s garden railway

Looking up the street

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UK Road Trip Part VIII, ii: Doctor Who Exhibition!

The next day, we took the train back into London to meet up with our Assistant Admin for, Xenutia. Xenutia and I dragged her dad and Tim to the Doctor Who Exhibition at Earl’s Court. We both were afraid the men would be bored, but they seemed to get along well and even enjoyed the exhibition! I was quite excited to get to go, as the Cardiff Doctor Who Exhibition was closed the day Tim and I were in Cardiff.

When Tim and I exited the Earl’s Court tube station, we immediately spotted the exhibition hall…with the front entrance roped off and a gaggle of young teenage girls wearing spanky pants and sparkles. Turns out, auditions for “Britain’s Got Talent” were also taking place at the hall. We had a funny moment when Tim and I walked up to someone “official looking” to ask them if they knew how to get into the Doctor Who exhibit and they asked Tim if he was there to audition! We were directed to go down the side of the building, and along the way we spotted a very sullen-looking 8 or 9-yr-old boy all dressed up in his Sunday best, flanked by his parents. We were taking bets that he was being forced to audition. Rumor had it (and Xenutia’s dad said he saw him) that Simon Cowel was present! Glad we didn’t run into him!

It started to rain, so we decided to go inside to wait for Xenutia. It was fairly empty, not surprising for a Sunday. The people at the box office almost were unable to process my US credit card (since I was dragging Tim along, I decided to pay for out admission), but it finally went through, and tickets in hand, we headed into the exhibit!

The exhibit was a bit jumbled, to be quite honest. It starts with Ten (David Tennant), and we see the costumes worn by Donna (Catherine Tate) and Martha (Freema Agyman), then we go into a section about Series One and Rose (Billie Piper). Very little about Nine (Christopher Eccleston) or Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman). Fortunately we rectified the lack of Jack by making sure we took photos of my mini-Jack with everything.

Both Xenutia and I enjoyed the costume section more than the other sections – They even showed the mock-up drawings and fabric swatches used for costumes. Quite useful for cosplayers!

The other section we had the most fun in was the Dalek section. They had a dalek you could crawl into set up with a similar microphone to the one Nick Briggs uses to distort his voice. Tim got into it and started making random train station announcements with the dalek voice. Sadly, my video of this picked up all the background noise in the exhibit and you couldn’t hear him on it :(.

The exhibit empties out into – what else? – the gift shop. Surprisingly I used lots of restraint and only purchased some stickers. I was disappointed with the lack of Torchwood merchandise, but I assume had we been able to go to the exhibit in Cardiff, we would have found Torchwood items. Oh well. Tim picked up a handful of the old Doctor Who books, and he and I have been reading them the past few days.

After the exhibition, I had agreed to go with Tim to a garden railway show at the Kew Pump House. Tim has his own garden railway and it’s one of his main hobbies, so we figured it was a nice trade-off. I actually enjoyed myself. The show itself was actually inside the pumping house museum, so while you were looking at the trains you also could see the exhibits..and possibly the largest steam powered water pump I have ever seen. I’m still working on getting those videos up on YouTube. We decided to take the train back into London to get our connection back to Shoreham instead of the tube, and had dinner in a small restaurant in Waterloo station before heading back to N’s house for sleep.

Xenutia, Tim, and me outside the exhibtion

Xenutia, Captain Jack, and I pose with a Dalek.

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UK Road Trip Part VIII, i: London Calling

We started our long weekend away with a drive down to Shoreham-by-Sea, where Tim’s friend, N, lives, and where we would be sleeping all weekend.  We didn’t arrive with anytime to take a look around, but headed straight to bed because we needed to be up early for the next day!

Saturday morning we headed for the train station and purchased a “combination ticket” for me that would give me unlimited access to the trains, underground, and busses in London (Tim didn’t need a train ticket, as he works for the railway).  Once we got to London’s Victoria Station, we had to sort out finding the loo (us: bathroom) for me as the loo on the train was broken.  We had to pay 30p (US $0.45) to use the toilet!  Tim explained to me they charge for it to discourage people walking on off the streets to us the toilet.  Makes sense to me.

We didn’t have to meet Tim’s siblings for another hour or so, so he decided to surprise me and told me we were getting on the Tube (Underground) and would be getting off at King’s Cross.  I immediately perked up, as I knew what was at King’s Cross I wanted to see!  We exited the Underground and headed into the station and immediately started heading towards the signs for Platforms 9-11.  In case you haven’t figured it out yet, we were in search of Platform 9 3/4, the mysterious portal into the wizarding world (as seen in the Harry Potter movies).  We soon found it, and of course had to take a picture of me pushing the cart through.

We received a call letting us know Tim’s siblings were running late – part of the Underground was closed for maintenance and they were going to have to alter their route.  We didn’t mind, and when we got to Covent Garden, we headed into the first pub we saw.  I’m almost ashamed to admit I had a half pint of cider before 11 in the morning!  (but so were plenty of other people!)

The five of us (Tim, his sister, his brother, his brother’s girlfriend, and me) headed for Lunch inside the market and then split up.  Tim and his brother, B, headed to the transport museum and S, M, and I went shopping!

…Or at least, we tried.  The trouble was, the shops were so crowded you could barely move around to look at things, let alone actually *buy* anything, so we wound up just walking around until it was time to meet the boys to head to the theatre.

Tim’s parents got us tickets to see Spamalot, the musical based on Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  The show was hilarious, and thankfully not a word-for-word recreation of the movie, but it still managed to have in it all the best bits from the movie that were well-loved, such as the “bring out your dead” scene.  I was highly disappointed though to find they had skipped over the entire witch sketch!

After the show, we were meeting M’s brother for dinner.  Originally we were going to get Mexican, but the restaurant offering’s didn’t quite match up to my food restrictions, so we wound up at the Italian restaurant next door.  We all had very fulling meals, and after taking some silly photos, we all split up.  S, B, and M back up to Lincon, M’s brother back to his home, and Tim and I back to Shoreham-by-Sea.

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Vlog: Stonehenge

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I Climbed Steep Hill!

Last week Tim was doing training in town all week for a new system at his work, and since his days were a bit shorter (4-6 hours, depending on the day), I decided to tag along with him in the morning. The plans were for me to wander Lincoln on my own, maybe do a little shopping, and then when Tim was done, he’d call me to find out where I was and meet me so we could check the farmer’s market together.

Tim dropped me off around quarter of nine on his way to work. Shops weren’t open yet, so I started walking. I walked all the way up High Street and started thinking “hmm, this is getting kind of steep”, but I kept going until I saw a new street sign. I wasn’t on High Street anymore…I was on Steep Hill!

Steep Hill is a shopping section of town that goes between the High Street shopping area and the castle. Tim told me if I wanted to check out Steep Hill we could take a bus to the top and walk down, because he knows how much I dislike going uphill…and yet here I was at 9 in the morning walking up the hill.

I stopped at a tea house about halfway up for something to drink…I had neglected to pack along a water bottle for the day, not thinking I’d be far from the main drag of shops. Tea turned out to be just what I needed to get the rest of the way up the hill. The shops still weren’t open yet, so I walked all the way over to the archway that goes across the road. It’s the last remains of the Roman Wall that once walled off the city in the 1200s! It also happens to be the only part of a Roman wall that is part of a street for automobiles. All the other wall arches in the country go across pedestrian only walkways.

I had a poke around the tourist information center and then I headed back down the hill, taking a different route. This time, the shops on High Street were open, so I managed to get some Christmas shopping done.

I wound up going up into the Waterfront shopping centre to have my Lunch. There’s a mini food court, so plenty of tables. I parked myself in front of the window overlooking the canal, and I watched the people feed the swans and ducks..and pigeons. One man even had 4 or 5 pigeons perched on his arm!

I waited there for Tim to get off work and just read a book for about an hour or so. The farmer’s market turned out to be disappointing – only three stands actually showed up for it, but we did score some rolls and scones made with flour ground by a windmill, so that was exciting (and the man at the bakery stand also sold me the last 5 scones for less than one pound because it was the end of the day).

We headed home, and I started gearing up for our long weekend away the following day by doing some laundry.

Sunrise over Lincoln

Steep Hill

Roman Archway

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Local Day Out: Lincoln Castle and Ellis Mill

Yesterday, Tim and I decided to stay local and headed into town. We had hoped to do several things, but as many of the tourist sites close at “dusk” and it started to rain pretty badly, so we cut our trip short and didn’t get to go to the Cathedral, but I did get plenty of photos of it!

We started the day at Lincoln Castle. Lincoln Castle was built in 1068 by William the Conqueror. Lincoln Castle’s grounds also hosts one of the few surviving copies of the Magna Carta, as well as several prison buildings, and the Crown Court for the county, still in use!

We started our day by going into the display for the Magna Carta. I was absolutely awe-struck at seeing a piece of paper (well, vellum) that had been around since 1215 AND is the founding document for even our own (US) Constitution! The original is well-worn, and you can tell the ink on it is fading, so they provide for you a facsimile to read. The original is kept under very low light to help preserve it, and after we looked at it, I could tell why!

The next building we entered was the prison chapel. This was really creepy! In the chapel, the prisoners weren’t allowed to look at each other or talk to each other so they each had their own (uncomfortable) cubicle to sit in an had to wear a mask. The only person who could see anyone else was the Priest. They put dummies made up as prisoners into some of the cubicles so you could see what it would have looked like.

Around the corner was the gaol. We saw how each prisoner was kept in solitary confinement, down to having individual work rooms and how they received medical care. People were well-fed in gaol too, but some of the prisoners would make up ailments so they’d get fed better. Pregnant women would sometimes do things to get thrown into gaol because they would receive better care as a prisoner.

After the gaol, we decided to head up the castle wall and walk around the perimeter. We started by walking up almost to the top of the observatory tower before it got too windy and decided to stay on the castle wall. We walked the entire length visitors were permitted to walk on, and walked back down through Cobb’s Hall, a tower once used for public execution. You could see the steel hooks in the wall that the prisoners awaiting execution were chained up with!

It had started to rain while we were up on the wall, but it was still early in the afternoon. A few times when we were driving past Lincoln, I pointed out the windmill to Tim and asked him if we could go. I happened to see on the website that in the Fall/Winter they were only open on Sundays, so we headed over to Ellis Mill. Ellis Mill is a fully-functional windmill in Lincoln, the only one out of nine original mills to have survived. The mill was functioning until 1940, when the machinery was taken out to make equiptment for the war. A fire destroyed most of the mill in the mid-70s and then a restoration group came in and completely restored the mill. It’s been working again since 1981. For a very nominal fee (£1) we were able to go up inside the mill and watch it make flour. I love windmills and had even done a report on them when I was 12, so this was a very special trip for me.

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I also took a short (16 second) video of the mill moving:

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