Monday, August 31, 2009

Banoffee Pie

It was suggested to us while we were in England that we should try this traditional English dessert: banoffee pie (banana and toffee). I pulled the recipe from here, and this was the result.

This particular recipe uses a great method for making the toffee. The pie was rich but delicious. It passed the ultimate test; my dad liked it!

Friday, August 21, 2009

London icons

The legendary London icons are famous because they indeed show up on every London street (and in every souvenir shop!) Most of these photos didn't happen because I was seeking them out specifically for this reason, but as I was looking through my photos later I found several coincidentally included one or more of these icons.

^ The black taxi cab. Some trivia about the black taxi: Drivers must undergo rigorous testing that can take up to 4 years before they get their license. They must pass strict criminal background and character checks as well. Only black cabs like these can be used for hire, and they are known for their sharp turning radius. They can turn on a "sixpense".

^ The red double-decker bus

^ The Ford Model A . . . wait, that's an American icon. I'm confused.

^ Harrod's department store. Harrod's has over 1 million square feet of selling space in over 330 departments. It would probably take an entire day to explore the whole thing.

^ The red phone booth

^ The red mailbox. Londoners are very fond of red.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

English countryside

This post is dedicated to the beautiful English countryside; fields trimmed by hedge rows, quaint country homes, and wheat ready to harvest.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Stratford-upon-Avon is best known as the birthplace of Shakespeare. It is a beautiful village to explore, but by my estimation, so is about every village in England!

^ The school Shakespeare attended.

^ Standing in front of the house where Shakespeare was born.

^ The River Avon.

^ One of the most intriguing things for me in this place was seeing these long river boats. There is a canal system in England that was once used for cargo transportation. When the railroad came to England, the use of these canals ceased, and they filled in with silt. They have since dredged many of them out, and the old barges have been converted to house boats. You can rent them for vacations. How nice would that be?

^ When you drive a river boat through the canals you often have to navigate locks like these. The cool thing is that you operate them yourself!

^ This gentleman and his wife live on this barge full time. That is one long, skinny, home, but maybe not that much different than living in an RV. I loved how they had plants and supplies stored on the top of the barge.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Warwick Castle

If every girl's dream is to visit a real castle, I am one lucky girl. The Warwick Castle (pronounced Warrick—if you say the second "w" you will look like a tourist—just in case the camera and American accent don't give it away first) has been around since the 11th century. That means parts of it are over 1000 years old.

This post is full of pictures, so if you have a slow connection, consider yourself warned. It was just so hard to choose!

^ The quaint village of Warwick.

^ A stately home. Note the very crooked gables at the top! So much character.

^ The Church of Warwick. The church usually contains all of the historical records for each community.

^ Every old church has beautiful stained-glass windows, so here is my token stained glass photo.

^ The church also contains tombs for the many Earls of Warwick over the past 10 centuries. This one is John Dudley. The stone work on these tombs is amazing.

^ A very old Union Jack flag hanging in the church.

^ This bear is the symbol of Warwick.

^ Descending the 160 steps from the church tower. Going down was the difficult part, actually. You had to hang onto the rope handle for dear life as you twisted your way to the bottom!

^ At the top of the church tower, enjoying the views.

^ A view of the church from the castle.

^ A view of the castle (and surrounding country) from the church.

^ Some of the old walls around the city still exist.

^ A few of the old entrances into the walls of the city still exist also.

^ Notice how deep this entrance gate is!

^ The first view of the castle.

^ To enter the castle you must first past the portcullis (spiky gate) and the murder holes (where soldiers above can poor hot oil down and shoot arrows at the intruders.) You learn a lot of new terminology when you visit a castle. If you don't have the opportunity to visit, you can always google "castle terms" and learn about it that way. Or, you can learn about it at the castle, then forget, then google it anyway, like I did.

^ This rampart is the oldest part of the castle.

^ The boat house on the Avon River.

^ A jousting tournament.

^ In the ancient times, it was common for castles to practice falconry and have many birds of prey. (Don't ask me why. I haven't googled it yet.) The Warwick castle had this beautiful bald eagle, and his name was Archie. I'm not sure his name fits the majestic gleam in his eye.

^ Many arrow loops around the castle walls were used to protect it. Even so, the castle was overtaken more than once in its history.

^ Taken from Ceasar's tower.

^ I wasn't prepared for how big of a tourist attraction this would be, although I'm not sure why I was surprised. It is magnificant and we aren't the only people in the world that enjoy things like this. I just felt once or twice like I might be at Disneyland.

^ By this point in the castle we had climbed about 500 steps.

^ These were some homes resting in the shadows of the castle. They had magnificant gardens leading down to the river.

^ It's just a rough life for some people.

^ In this photo, you can see the remnants of an old stone bridge that used to lead up to the castle.

^ Here is the same bridge from below.

^ Part of the castle was set up to show what life would be like in the castle in about the 17-18th centuries. There were many wax sculptures depicting life in each room.

^ The wood-work in this room was incredible.

^ There was a great hall that held armour and weapons.

^ The dining hall.

^ King Henry the VIII. During his rein the castle was owned by the Crown. Here he is surrounded by women—surprise, surpise!

^ This was the castle chapel. The wax figures in this room were looking at ancient hymnals... wait, these were actually real people, looking at their castle map. My mistake.