May 15 11

Back ‘home’ in the United Kingdom

by Emily Benjamin

Before anyone mentions it, the United Kingdom is definitely not my home. But it feels like it now, as the ‘home base’ for a month in the middle of our seven month trip. It is to be a welcome break spent with family and friends, in somewhat familiar surroundings, and a chance to recharge the batteries before we set off for Spain, South America and North America in June.

We started our time in London, after a particular heinous experience through immigration at Heathrow. The unexpected and unwanted barrage of personal questions left me frazzled and thirsty, so we set off for a proper pub lunch in Holland Park, where we were staying with friends for six nights. By the time we got there, there was only enough time for a few pints of beer, some potato wedges and of course, my first decent chocolate brownie in months. Delish!

During the time in London we did a bit of the tourist-y stuff, but I had been there before, so it was mostly limited to a bit of shopping, a spot of pub-hopping, and catching up with Monkey’s friends. I’m not even ashamed to admit that I made the typical purchases for a foreigner – all in H&M, Marks and Spencer, Top Shop and Zara – but with the aussie dollar performing so well the purchases were all much cheaper than expected. An opportunity to buy more, if you ask me.

In between the shopping and beers, we had lunches/dinners with Monkey’s university friends almost every day. Friends of ours back in Brisbane will be surprised to hear that Monkey does in fact have his own friends, despite our teasing back in Australia, and they report he has always been a nerd. Maybe most surprising is that he was almost the cool one in the university years… although I’m not sure if I believe that one!

On Tuesday we left Holland Park and hired a car for a day trip out to Stonehenge, Avebury and Bath, before arriving for a night in Bristol. Stonehenge was pretty amazing, and despite it being roped off, it actually works well because I could get photos without hoards of idiot tourists ruining the shots. I know, how pretentious of me! An hour later and we were in Avebury, for an even larger circle of stones, and now the oldest monument/sight I have visited ever. Lesser known that Stonehenge, Avebury is in fact older and was started in about 3000BC. Unlike the pyramids though, historians have no idea what the circles of stones were used for – it is assumed it was for burials or sacrifices, but there is no solid evidence.

In the afternoon it was onto Bath, but the blue skies were replaced by grey ones and a touch of rain, so we didn’t stay for long. Just enough time to have a late lunch, walk around the traditional English town, and check out the outside of the old Roman baths there. Unfortunately there wasn’t enough time left for us to go in, but at $25 a ticket, it wasn’t really in our budget anyway. After that, we set off for Bristol as the rain hit, on our way to dinner with another of Monkey’s friends. And here I might mention, in case she reads this, that Lucy of Bristol made one of the best curries I have ever tasted for dinner. I have to get that recipe!

On Wednesday it was time for my first scones with jam and clotted cream in England. A scone is a scone, if you ask me, but all the difference is in the condiments. Specifically the clotted cream, which is made by heating and cooling cream, and because of it’s high fat content (average of over 60%) it would be considered butter in America! Needless to say the scones were very tasty and filled us up before our 6 hour bus ride to Liverpool.

Now we’re in Liverpool, staying with Monkey’s mum in Heswall. We’re here for 10 days, to truly rest and recharge, before taking a week off in the south of France. After that, we’ll return to Heswall again for another week, celebrate Monkey’s birthday here with his family, and then it’s time for Spain in June.

The blog updates have slowed a little since arriving in England, but I think that’s because being here doesn’t feel so foreign, and there is little to report on. I’ve been shopping, I’ve had lots of western food, and we’ve caught up with lots of friends – none of which is all that interesting. But I’m still taking photos so I’ll continue to blog those as often as I can. For now, though, let me get back to my raspberry Bacardi cocktail and Eurovision! Not kidding, by the way…

— Em 🙂

PS. See the photos below? The awesomely talented and brilliant Jamie Talbot has created a tool to montage photos easily and quickly, to my own personal specifications, so if you need a montage check it out! 🙂


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