25 things about England

  • The Beefeaters - the funny guards at the tower of London and Buckingham Palace -  are so named because they were on occasion paid in Beef rations.
Not actually a beefeater. 

  • The  nearest tube station to our apartment was "Morden". Anna dubbed it Mordor, as in "One does not simply take a red double decker bus to Mordor".  
In London, the "Eye" is a Ferris Wheel. 

  • It's not that hard to drive on the left side of the road, that is, providing there is absolutely no one in the immediate area to be harmed. Otherwise, it's extremely reckless. 
  • This was the first time we had taken a ferry, but the day we came back from England more than 23,000 people crossed the channel from Dover to France (one way). 
  •  There are entire websites dedicated to the precise location of something called a Tardis.  When Anna told us she wanted to see one, I had to google it.  
This, apparently, is a Tardis. 

  • Of British words we heard in public: Cheeky - yes.  Wonky - no. 
  •  London has the tallest building in Europe, nicknamed the Shard for it's broken-glass appearance.  So the answer to the question, "Who sharded?" -- it's London. 
  • There really is a Kings Cross Station, and there really is a Platform 9 3/4. 

  • Unfortunately for our son, in Germany Camden is sort of an odd name.  London has a whole town named Camden. 
He was on a Camden High

  • Abbey Road crossing looks a lot more peaceful on the album cover than it is in real life.  You have to be ready to die to get that shot.   Some tourists decidedly were. 

  • We have been in a ton of old churches, big and small...but among old churches Westminster Abbey is unbelievable.  
  • Among the names of the famous buried within Westminster Abbey, lie Isaac Newton, David Livingstone, Edward I "Longshanks", and Charles Darwin.  That's right, Charles Darwin. 
Westminster Abbey.  

  • Fish and chips - not bad. 
  • Language Lessons:   Chips = Fries.  Crisps = chips.  Tube=subway.  Subway=underground walkway.  Brilliant= great.  Clever = smart.  Brilliant  smart.    
  • As a pedestrian, traffic at crossings could come from anywhere, so the pavement is conveniently labeled with things like "LOOK LEFT" and "LOOK RIGHT."  Smart system.  
Brilliant (and by brilliant I mean clever). 

  • If you visit London, do not convert pounds to dollars in your mind while shopping.  Just don't.  
  • When to Romans arrived in England, they considered Stonehenge ancient.  Before the Romans were the Druids, but they  didn't make it, they found it.  That's how old it is. 

  • We decided you could write a Potter novel using primarily the names of Tube/train/bus stops. For example: Harry potter and the Crystal Palace.  Principle good guys: CharleywoodArnos Grove, and Hoxton.  Bad Guys: Blackwall, Croxley, and the Blackfriars.    Also useful settings: Wigmore Walk and Hackney Wick.   
Some Hogwarts students at play by the Thames

  • The White Cliffs of Dover are eroding constantly - that is what keeps them white.   
  • If you want to see the Tower Bridge, go to London.  If you want to see the original London Bridge, you have to go to Lake Havasu, Nevada.
The Tower Bridge (that's in London)

  • If you don't mind the gap it's your own darn fault.  You had plenty of warning.   
  • I find the best way to endear the British to Americans is to drive around one of their roundabouts backwards. 
  • There are now one hundred pence in a pound.  Prior to decimalization there were 240 pence to a quid, 20 shillings per pound, and 12 pence per shilling.  Got that? 
  • In London there is a Starbucks approximately every furlong. 

England's Chalk Cliffs

A couple photos from the South Coast of England....
Our first sign of England from the ferry was the White Cliffs of Dover rising over the horizon of the English channel.    Later in the week we travelled back down to the coast to see the Seven Sisters up close.   

 The weather was a little poor - there was a small break in the rain and fog to see the cliffs from the base, but the rest of the time was thick fog a poor visibility.  I have a feeling that on a sunny summer day this would be one of the most spectacular views around.

  The cliffs really are chalk. Pieces can break off onto the rocks where the tide rolls over them and they are quickly smoothed into round stones, causing a speckled beach of rock and chalk.

 The kids enjoyed scavenging on the beach for fossils or shells.  Anna found a shark egg case!
 A great view even on a foggy day.
 Some of the cliffs rise over 100 meters over the sea, which sadly makes it a popular suicide spot. On this spot there are around 20 suicides a year, behind only the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and Mount Fuji in Japan.
 Mobile chaplaincy on sight monitoring the cliff sides for despondent visitors.
 Why are the cliffs white? Because they are constantly eroding.  The chalk is fragile and some of the beach sections are often closed due to the threat of collapse.   Center is the sight of a recent major collapse.