Category Archives: England

Why I’m traveling with my baby

This week, Vera and I came back from a few days in London to see friends and get a little dose of Christmas (it turns out, 3 days of pre-holiday shoppers and relentless Christmas music is plenty). The UK is country #6 for my baby who is not yet five months of age, and I’m already itching to plan another trip. On each flight, a fellow passenger or flight attendant will ask, “Is this her first flight?” and I respond proudly that it’s her 12th and counting. When I talk to people about traveling with the baby, I’m often met with reactions that indicate I must be insane, reckless, or just selfish. These are all valid points, but so far Vera is a very healthy and happy baby, and I hope to keep traveling as long as she remains so. I’m paranoid about ever being the mother-with-the-crying-baby on a plane so I watch her like a hawk for signs of distress and I’ve been lucky so far to have a nearly perfectly-behaved baby (it helps that all I can really do with her is feed and hold her, which are her favorite activities) on each flight. Occasionally, I doubt my own sanity and decision-making when I’m walking around a foreign city late at night with a crying baby, taking a cross-border bus with no adult help, or trying to  juggle a stroller and a suitcase while nursing and walking, but I have no real regrets.

So, in case you wondered, why the hell am I dragging my baby around the world?

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Rye: More sheep than you can shake a stick at

On our second day in Rye, we took a country walk to the Nature Reserve, the other great pastime of the British.  I got excited when we first saw lots of sheep:

Then I realized that they were *everywhere* and especially aggressive around Camber Castle

About a million sheep later, we found the sea:

Sea

For perspective, here's looking toward the sea from the town.  Rye used to be a port city:

Our tourist map of the country walk sorta failed us once we got to the beach, so we ended up lost in the country amongst holiday caravan villages (read: trailer parks) and old man pubs.  After a replenishing pint, we finally found a bus stop and got back to Rye, where we hit another pub:

At the Cinque Ports, I got hit on by an old Australian sailor who was once stationed in Brooklyn in the 1970s, which was pretty exciting, I got a free pint out of it.  It was there that I read the awesome news of David Hasselhoff being thrown off a plane at Heathrow and Mel Gibson's infamous DUI.  Love British tabloids. 

The next day, before we headed back to London, we went to the Castle Museum:

Ye olde fun was had:

Neither husband nor I were able to really lift the longbow bag of sand, it's heavy!

With this weak ending, we took the train back to London, more later…

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More Rye: Ye Olde Pubs

Since I just went to Chile and am itching to recap that trip, I thought I'd finish England first.  So Rye is mostly pretty cobblestoned streets and ye olde houses:


As a Lamb, I hoped I could go to the Lamb House and have them give it to me, as a potential heir.  But, alas, it was closed the day we were there, so I didn't have a chance to find out:

After wandering around for awhile, there was nothing to do but go to an air-conditioned pub and hang out:

Husband got absorbed in a John Major biography found on the shelves and I read more guidebook.  We ended up going to dinner that night at SI! Simply Italian across the street:


We didn't realize it was a chain until we got back, but wow, the English know how to do a chain, with locations that are different and menus customized to different restaurants.  Unlike American chains, where everyplace looks exactly the same.  After dinner, we had more beers at the longest-continually operating pub in England, The Old Bell:

Pretty amazing to drink in a place that's 700 years old, but how do they really know it's been open that long?  Most of the places we went to in Rye were at least a few hundred years old, so a lot of places make the claim that they are the oldest.  Good pub, though, and the bartender settled our dispute about whether or not Charles would be king (probably not, because the Brits loved Diana and won't forgive him for how he treated her, though he could technically become king if he wanted to, he'll probably turn it over to his son).  Finally, here's a sight you don't often see in America, straight men sharing a cider:

Posting…

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Rye: Too cute for words (except the ones below)

We took the train from Brighton to Rye, enjoying insanely fatty sandwiches from Marks & Spencer.  Damn, they really know how to make a sandwich, though everything is "swimming in mayonaisse" (TM the original Kicking and Screaming).  I've heard that Pret a Manger had to change their recipies when they opened in NY to cut down on the mayo.  Our loss, I say.

A few shots of the lovely Brighton train station to see us out:

Arrived in Rye in the afternoon, which is so quaint and cute, it hurts.  It seems fake, it's so old and adorable, but everything really is a million years old and impossibly charming. Evidence:

We stayed at the Old Borough Arms Hotel, which was great, but Rye is so small it's hard to be in a bad location.  Here was the pub across the street:

And the hotel corner:

Believe it or not, it was here in Rye at Simon the Pieman on Day 6 of our trip that I had my first cream tea in England.  Check out my sunburn:

It was a bit weird having hot tea and scones on an insanely hot day with a sunburn, but hey, I couldn't resist the lure of cake:

I will continue when I've finished uploading photos tonight, as not a lot happens in Rye, but there are lots of pretty photos.  Happy New Year!

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More Brighton

I'll be in Chile in a week, so I'd better finish this…

It was on our second day in Brighton that we encountered a chav family, what we in America would call trailer trash.  We were outdoors at a pub in the Lanes and I had gone inside to obtain pints and order food.  I came outside to find Husband sharing a table with  several children who had pounced on the empty seat while I was gone.  One of the youths squinted at me and muttered, "You want you chair back, eh?"  He was only 10 or so, but scary enough that I nearly let him keep it.  Soon the kids were joined by their parents, sharing a pint and speaking something very different from the Queen's English.  The mother looked as tired as you would expect from having 4 children before the age of 30 (a guess), but it didn't stop her from wearing short denim shorts, unfortunately for us.  Despite a few open tables outside, the family preferred to sit on the curb, resting their drinks on our table.  The family shared a few packets of crisps and yelled at each other, until they were out of drink and then left unceremoniously, leaving any empties on our table that they had not smashed on the street.  As you can imagine, it was AWESOME.  When I was later back in New York, I read a lot about chav and have thought about applying to do a Fullbright there and study them, but Husband thinks I'll get knived, and he's probably right.

We stayed in Kempton that night and got a bit smashed with a few guys we met in a pub who were visiting from a nearby town for the weekend.  I told them of how I admired their country's crisps, so they bought me a few packets to experiment.  While the exotic flavors of Thai Chile and Lamb and Mint are fun, nothing beats good old Salt & Vinegar.

I'm not sure I've really captured the wonders of Brighton, but it's really a fabulous place and if I ever go to grad school, I will certainly apply at University of East Sussex, home of my idol, John Maynard Smith.

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Brighton!

A few hours on a train brought us to sunny Brighton, a fabulous and odd
city.  Parts are old like The Lanes, but it's urban and on the
beach.  What else could you want?!  We stayed in a nice
guesthouse/B&B in Kemptown, the "gay" section of town, which I
can't fault in any way, but the owner was a little too involved for our
tastes.  We walked from the train station to the beach to find our
hotel and the owner was immediately all, "You know service, you are
American!" (?!), and showing us how the lights work.  Thanks, we
can figure it out.  Headed down to the beach, which is really
rocky, I recommend some sort of practical shoes.  Pebble beaches
are nice to avoid sand all over, but hurts to walk on (check out my
Flickr photos for evidence of this. Forgive my Burberry bikini, it was
before I knew about chav. More on that TK.).

The pier is as cheesy and fantastic as you expect:

I played and lost at a lot of casino games.  At this point,
Husband joked that it was "impossible to get burned by the English sun"
and yet between him (Russian) and me (olive skinned English with a dash
of Trinidadian), who do you think got burned?  Yeah, me. 
Photographic evidence will later show the pain of this.

Wandered down the beach to the marina that night, and discovered ASDA,
literally the Walmart of England.  Marveled at the ingenuity of
English booze:

As a major cider aficionado, I was psyched to find two liters of it:

Contrary to the photo, I am not pregnant, it's
just a bad angle (That's the fake Marc Jacobs I bought in Buenos Aires
for $15, btw).  Had drinks at some nutty bar on the
marina   Think it was Karma,
as it was Asian-ish themed with ginormous bathrooms (at this point, I
began counting stalls, at least ten there!  Maybe this means
nothing to you if you don't live in NYC, Land of Single Occupancy
Bathrooms, but I was amazed.  I swear this is the last long side
note in parantheses.).  We had had a late lunch at a pizza place
in the Lanes (don't remember the name offhand, damn this infrequent
posting!), so no memorable dinner that night.  Hunted down late
night drinks (read: after 11pm) in Kemptown at a cool place (I'm
looking it up) with photos of people who died young.

Day 2, we returned to the beach, where I improved on my sunburn (I was
yet unaware of it) and read Brit chick lit in its native country. 
Decided to shell out the $15 each for the Royal Pavillion tour.  TOTALLY worth it, it's amazing.

Also explored the western end of Brighton, with the sad and kinda creepy West Pier:

Just an awesome name:

Will continue soon, month or two, max.  Happy Thanksgiving!

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Mo’ London: Weekend 1

In honor of increased traffic thanks to the magic of MySpace (whassup
THMS, AADA, and Hunter peeps) and inspired by my planning of Winter
Trip 2006 (Chile!), I thought I'd update.  It's been less than 2
months, right?!

End o' weekend one in London was spent on the South Bank of
London.  After much debate, we ended up not seeing the Tower of
London (WTF, $30?!), but beautious photos are to be found in the
gallery:

We wandered the very touristy but lovely South Bank and ended up having
dinner at Pizza Express, in honor of all of my much-beloved chick lit
heroines who drink lots of cheap red wine and eat pizza there. 
Gotta say, it was pretty excellent.  Yet another thing Brits do
better than us: chains.  The chains are more customized to each
location, you get the uniform quality of the chain but a little
something different of each place.  Also, it was on the river and
the view was lovely:

After dinner, we walked across the bridge and had
some drinks at another massive pub near our hotel.  I was super
psyched to find Lamb's Navy rum, perhaps more evidence of my ancestors
(being both Lambs and navy members):

The next morning we checked out of the
Renaissance and took the only double decker bus of our journey to the
train station.  A little nausiating, but fun, though I am prone to
motion sickness. The ticket dude was a bit rude, undermining my
decision to buy single tickets to Brighton, and they were more
expensive than I expected from copious online research, but thems the
breaks.  This was the one and only time Husband was right about
Londoners being the Rudest People in the World (other than Parisians,
natch), but whatevev.  Journey was made more pleasant by canned
Pimms Cups and bacon sandwichs (secret to world peace?).

Brighton TK…

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