My friend Jamie comes to visit me every October.
She's come to Indiana, Michigan, Ohio - and now, London! What a friend! She's also the type of friend who doesn't come empty-handed. Her suitcase must have been half-full with some of my favorite goodies from the US:
Pumpkin pancake mix from Trader Joe's
Oyster Crackers from TJ's
Pumpkin bread mix
And I'm sure I'm forgetting something here! In any case, it didn't even occur to me to miss these things. But when they arrived, I was like...
NEED PUMPKIN PANCAKES. IMMEDIATELY.
CANDY CORN, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE?
OYSTER CRACKERS, HOW I'VE MISSED YOU.
Jamie visited us for just over a week, and we were able to pack in the fun.
Her first order of business was very wise: a walking tour of downtown. That way, she figured, she could get a good lay of the land and hit the major sites quickly and easily. I'm totally going to adopt that plan with the next major city I visit, and recommend it for our visitors in the future. The one she chose was free, too - bonus. The guides just work for tips.
Jamie also got acquainted enough with the Tube to be able to stay downtown and enjoy more of London on days that Caroline and I needed to head home for naps. We're grateful we live relatively close to the Tube so our visitors can come and go and explore as they please.
We also enjoyed visiting the Victoria and Albert Museum, having dinner in Covent Garden, walking across the Thames on the Millenium Bridge and having lunch at Borough Market.
On Sunday night we signed up for another walking tour - a "Jack the Ripper" tour that involved walking around the East End at night and seeing all of the places that "Jack" murdered his many victims. Honestly, it was fascinating. Not only the mystery and story of "Jack" but also the history of the East End, a historic working class neighborhood that has seen numerous waves of immigrants over the years. While it's easy to get caught up in the stories of the kings and queens and military victories here in London, I think the history of the lower classes is just as fascinating. So this tour hit the spot, chilling as it was at times!
Jamie had requested a drive into the countryside for a weekend day trip. Does she know us AT ALL? Did she realize that we love our weekend day trips? I think so. But we all chose Bath, a classic day trip from London due to the fact that it's under 2 hours away and also boasts major history, dating back to the days when the Romans ruled the island, about 2000 years ago.
Bath is known for - get this - and old bath (assorted pools with an associated temple) that the Romans built in the town. For years it was a popular spa/resort-ish destination. There is a hot springs that they were able to tap into, making for a nice warm spot for a dip.
We weren't allowed to get in. No baths for us! But if you look closely you can catch the steam rising out of the pool.
They didn't allow strollers in the bath house, but did provide us with baby backpacks. Caroline was most displeased by the idea at first, but warmed up to it once she realized it meant extra cuddles with her dad.
In the 17th century, after years of neglect, it once again became a very fashionable spot to see and be seen. Any Jane Austen fans out there? You'll know she mentions Bath often in her books. Actually, she's from there, so she probably had a soft spot for it. A lot of the architecture made me feel like I was stepping right out of Pride and Prejudice.
This spot is known as the Royal Crescent, a group of 30 homes built all together in a half circle. It's hard to capture on camera with a wide angle lens... too long!
We let Caroline out of the stroller for awhile to burn off some energy. She enjoyed it.
And of course, we can't pass up a church/abbey/cathedral. Bath Abbey, while perhaps lacking the full "wow" factor of some of the other ones we've seen lately, was stately and simply gorgeous. I appreciated the light stone they used, which brightened up the place so well. Oh, and the stained glass windows.
I take it back about the wow factor. It had plenty.
The ceilings... look at that stone work! So impressive.