Hello hello! Are you up to date on my UK adventures? If not, now is the perfect time to catch up! It is the weekend after all, you have no excuse. Days 1 and 2, Days 3 and 4, Days 5 and 6, Days 7, 8 and 9, Days 10 and 11, and Days 12, 13 and 14.
When I last left you, I was raving about the sun shining and the warmer weather. Should have known better – this UK weather is certainly fickle! But we haven’t let it hold us back at all. Yesterday morning we woke up a little late, enjoyed breakfast and then set off on the Tube.
After a long journey, we parted ways for a bit at Tower Hill. Taylor and her mom wanted to see the Crown Jewels (which I had already seen, complete with a Simon Baker sighting!) and I needed to pick up birthday gifts for my cousins Reid and Clay. They love the movie Green Street Hooligans, about the West Ham United football (aka soccer) team. Unfortunately, their merchandise is really only sold at the stadium out in East London. So I hopped on another train and journeyed eastward.
Let me just say – West Ham is not a fun place. It is dirty, seedy and crowded with immigrants. But I am a good cousin so I marched the few blocks from the Tube stop to the stadium! Since it was raining, I pulled my hood up and attracted much less attention. This is one of the few times when I regret having blonde hair, as it is much harder to blend in!
Once inside the shop, I felt completely safe. After a few minutes of browsing, I made my purchase and headed back to the Tube towards Tower Hill! Along the way, I saw a fox dart across my path…in the middle of a crowded street. So odd.
Deb and Taylor were still
gawking at viewing the jewels, so I parked in a nearby coffee shop for a spot of tea. It was warm and they had wifi, so I was quite content!
From there we walked across Tower Bridge…
and over to Borough Market. Aka a foodie’s heaven. It is a huge farmers market, filled with shops selling bread, meats, cheeses, sweets, fruits, vegetables and so much more.
There is also a whole section of prepared meals, so we made a nice little lunch! After wandering for a bit, I found a shop that literally made my mouth water. They were selling raclettes, a Swiss dish made of roasted potatoes and pearl onions with baby pickles, all topped with gooey, melted raclette cheese. Heavenly.
After lunch, we wandered a bit more in search of dessert. Along the way we sampled and tasted wares from many of the booths. Seriously, if I lived in London I would live near there just so I could visit the market often. So good. I finally settled on a bag of chocolate pieces, listed as “Broken Bits” – various chocolates deemed unsellable, but still tasty!
After lunch, we strolled over to see the Globe Theater and then across Millennium Bridge towards St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Then it was a long walk across town, with a brief coffee/tea/hot chocolate stop…
to see the Brown Forman London office (the Louisville company that Taylor has interned for in the past). Afterwards, we headed to Oxford Street to do a bit of shopping. I needed a headpiece for the big race! I also snagged some white jeans (for summer, back in the States) and a workout top (for when I actually workout again, other than walking).
After we tired of shopping, we headed to dinner at Pret a Manger, similar to a Panera. No one was overly hungry, and we just wanted something quick and somewhat healthy. My crawfish and avocado salad hit the spot! Then we headed home to rest up for the big day at the races.
This morning we slept in for a bit, then had breakfast and got ready in our Ascot finest! On our way to the Tube, we stopped and picked up some snacks and lunch food – cheese, turkey, bread, apples, carrots and hummus, and wine. Then we got on our first train, and made the switch towards Ascot.
Sadly, this was one of the days where I see the downfall of public transportation. We waited on the platform for almost an hour, while train after train went by totally full.
Finally, Taylor realized that we could get on the train going the opposite direction and then get back on at the beginning.
Success! We finally made it right around 2, after leaving our B&B before 11. Sadly, this means that we missed watching the Queen and the royals go around the track before the races. Oh well, such is life.
Once we got into the Silver Ring, similar to the Derby infield, we broke out our picnic and wine. Then we were good to go! It drizzled on and off for a bit, but surprisingly my faux-fascinator kept the rain off of my face. I guess these English know what they’re doing after all!
The big race of the day was the third race, in honor of the Queen’s Jubilee. The favorite was an Australian horse called Black Caviar. It was a mare who has been unbeaten in her 21 races. The Aussie in the crowd next to us told us that Black Caviar is the most famous Australian right now! Luckily, she won, so the crowd was excited – but only by a nose. The Queen herself even came out to present the trophy.
The rest of the afternoon/early evening, we just stood at the rail and watched the races. Some fun facts about English horse racing – they run the other way around the track, and they all run on grass! I can see now why it is hard for a foreign horse to come in and win the Kentucky Derby.
All in all, it was a fun day. The transportation home went much smoother, and we are laid up in our B&B now avoiding Carlo the creepy Italian. Off to more London adventures tomorrow! Cheerio