Jet Lagging!




So I've been home from my dream trip for about ten days and I'm still jet lagging.  Maybe that's the wrong choice of words.  I'm still floaty from an incredible experience.  I sleep in spurts and start writing as soon as I open my eyes.  I promised to blog throughout my trip but internet access was sporadic for me because I don't have an Apple product (I'm making that change asap).  Whenever I'd watch my roommate hop onto the web with her trusty iPad I'd be green with envy.  Unfortunately, I can't write novels on an iPad, so I have to invest in a Macbook, but I digress.  That's another topic for another day.

As I've mentioned before, I've been dreaming about this trip for ages, and saving for just as long.  Traveling is bloody expensive, but so worth it!  If I ever win the Lotto I'm investing in a jet plane.  Here's a tiny snippet of my trip and a few photos.

First stop was London where I met up with my roomie.  We've know each other online for over 8 years but this was the first time we met in person!  It was the biggest BLIND DATE of my life but we both wanted to go on a trip without paying the single traveler rate, and being mentally compatible was a good start.  The rest was just details:)  As it turned out, we did just fine.  She put up with my moody writer quirks and I dealt with her stuff.  We all have STUFF.  It's learning how to cope with each other that's important.  I can honestly say that rooming with her was a good experience and I'd do it again without any qualms.  Picture on the right is Green Park, just outside Buckingham palace.  I used this park for a scene in Vessel so I thought I'd snap a shot. 

We had a free day in London before starting our bus tour so I dragged my roomie to Harrods to pay homage to the biggest money-sucking department store in the world.  Did you know they call it Harrabs these days?  Arab women in full-on burka move through the store with their nannies pushing their children in strollers while they peruse the display cases in the fine jewelry department.  It's an experience just watching them shop.  One lady dropped over $10,000.00 with one point of her beautifully manicured finger.  I was impressed.  See this outrageous malachite and twenty four carat gold trimmed piano.  Who buys this shit?  Obviously someone does if they have it on display.

The next day we started our 21 day tour of the UK which included Scotland, Wales, and  Ireland.  43 strangers crammed into a very comfortable bus with a tour director and an awesome driver.  The tour director was a valley girl in disguise.   Seriously, she was supposed to be a middle-aged Irish woman, but she sounded just like Alicia Silverstone in the movie Clueless. It was hard to pay attention without rolling your eyes.  This was a general consensus, btw, not just mine.  Her final tip suffered as a result.  Our bus driver was awesome, and I mean fantastic.  Some of the roads were so narrow you couldn't get two cars in sideways.

First stop of the day was the breathtaking ornamental gardens of Henry VIII's Hampton Court.  The picture at the very top of this post is me under an amazing trellis.  I could easily picture Henry and his women wandering around these gorgeous flower beds. Next stop was Runnymeade, site of the Magna Carta, and a walking tour in the university city of Oxford.  Color me stupid but I had NO IDEA that Oxford was a a town filled with over 32 small colleges.  I always thought it was one big institution like Yale or Harvard.  It was quite the eye opener.  The atmosphere is so conducive to learning though.  You could feel the brains leaking out of these young people running around looking so studios.  At Stratford-upon-Avon, we visited Shakespeare's birthplace and Anne Hathaway's cottage.  Teeny tiny thing.  I kept thinking of how difficult it must have been to hand-write anything in that dim light.  We modern writers are so spoiled.  

The next day we traveled to Warwick Castle.  It was surrounded by a moat that no long contained water, but according to the guide, was used as a repository for castle waste in olden days.  Invaders had to wade through a pool of assorted crap to get to the impenetrable walls before being doused by buckets of boiling oil.  I've never seen or read about so many forms of torture in my life.  The BDSM group could take lessons from these guys:) 

The inside of the castle was pretty amazing as well.  Do you know the difference between a castle and a palace?  I didn't.  A castle is a fortress, used to guard and protect, while a palace is just a showy home used for entertaining.  The difference in decor is vastly different.  One is all stone and scary-looking weapons hanging in strategic spots, and the other is guilt and brocade and general gaudiness.  Here some shots of the gardens and inside the castle.  It was pretty amazing.

Weapons anyone?

This room had an assortment of armor used at the time.
I'm assuming they needed this place to pray for all their sins.
Pretty gardens. 
The next day we were off to Scotland with a stop at Hadrian's wall (it was a pile of stones and rather disappointing) but here 's the photo to prove my point.



Next stop, Scotland!  The highlight of my trip.


We stopped at Jedburgh to take pictures of the abbey ruins and the house of Mary, Queen of Scots.


Abbey ruins.


Steps leading up to the abbey

Creepy Mary....



 Next stop was Sir Walter Scott's Abbotsford House and we got to tour his vast library.  Again, I was reminded of the challenges he had to face by writing under candlelight.  This man was prolific as hell, but lost most of his fortune toward the end of his life.  He had to spend his last days writing like mad to pay all his debt.    

He was in to castles and modeled his home after one of favorites.


There was an exhibit of birds of prey on the grounds while we were there.  Here's a photo of me and Jasper, one of the tamer owls.  It was a definite Harry Potter moment. 


This post will be continued in a day or so as my blog server keeps giving me a message to shut up or lose it.... What is this?  The frickin Oscars? 

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