Over the last few days I (with some mandatory encouragement from the University of Greenwich teach staff) thought it might be nice to take in some of the English Countryside. First of all let me just say, that the coolest thing about England is how the historical and lush countryside even exists at all, especially only a few short hours outside of the marble and industrial area of central London. I am absolutely fascinated by how diverse a country England is, in every conceivable way. Everything fits together here in a way as if they shouldn't. Diversity among the people, the landscape, the accents, even the jams to put on scones are different here. It makes me view London as this hodge-podge-esque city which is a combination of the new and the old to form a present. That was a rather long winded and convoluted way of saying that there is diversity here, but that seems to be the English way of saying (and writing, thanks Wordsworth) and doings things.
On Wednesday afternoon I took a trip out to Hampton Court via train and found the delightful English equivalent of suburbia. It reminded me of where I am from most of England so far, which is to say that I found a street with atleast three different cafes and Hampton is much better looking than Powell is. Here's a view of a Hampton dock on the River Thames
We had signed up for this amazing tour of the Hampton Gardens and I have never seen such a large and beautiful garden before. We don't have garden's like this in America. This palace used to belong to Henry VIII, and if you know anything about him or the Tudors, they knew how to live in the lap of luxury, and you can see it in this garden. Here is a far view of the Court from the back of the Privy Garden. This is about maybe 1/5 of the Garden you can see in this shot.
We saw the worlds oldest and largest grape vine, which is confined to a greenhouse and is looked after year round by one attendant. I'd probably consider that the best job any gardener can have. Put that on your resume and you could work in any garden in the world I bet. I would totally let that person cut lawn.
On Thursday we drove out into Kent, which is gorgeous and I have decided that I am going to live there. Preferably in a castle, but I could be flexible. Anyone who knows any available English Earls, Dukes, or Lords who live in Kent should forward that information to me please.
Our first stop was at Lullingstone Roman Villa, where we could see remains of the Roman civilization that colonized Brittania way back in the day. Here is the ruins:
Following that, we visited the remains of a Norman Castle, which you were allowed to climb on. So that was fun. On the inside, I'm about 7 years old. Obviously.
Last stop of the Day was Hever Castle, which was the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, and probably where I am going to spend the rest of my life. With any luck, I can follow Anne's example and achieve everything she did in her life. (Just kidding, I would never be seen in a velvet green floor length gown. Everything else though is cool). But seriously, Gardens and Castle: Astonishing.
This is a view of the Tudor Gardens with the castle in the background. I really like this fountain. I could probably eat scones from this spot while I was drinking tea and reading. I'd find a way to make that work.
Here is a view of Hever Castle from the front. Drawbridge over the moat is pretty cool. Would be good for keeping out unwanted guests, but I assume it would be difficult to have food delivered.
Here's a few shots from the Rose Garden, which was absolutely gorgeous. It felt like being in the book The Secret Garden.
If I could have a garden like this I would totally be ok with being beheaded later in life.
Also, I took about 6 pictures of swans at Hever Castle. This one is my favorite, but the full collection is on my facebook album. I also uploaded all of my pictures up to date, so if you are enjoying the pictures but not my jabbering (thanks dad), or if you are enjoying both (thanks everyone else), you can lots and lots of pictures there.
Today I went to Leicester Square and took a pilgrimage to the "Best Coffee Shop in London" according to a credible source found by my friend Bryan. And I had the best Cappuccino I have ever had, so I recommend it. It's located on Monmouth Street, near Seven Dials, and is small and busy. And Delicious.
I also took a tour of Camden town which is sketchy but also extremely fun. There was lots of shopping and outdoor markets and food stands which was perfect because the weather here (and especially today) has been absolutely gorgeous. People reading this in Ohio should probably be jealous of that if not of everything else I put in this fantastic blog.
Tomorrow I will be visiting Portobello Road Market and I fully intend on singing the song of the same name from Bedknobs and Broomsticks while I'm there. Now if only Angela Lansbury were here, it would be the perfect recreation of a childhood dream. But since she's not, I guess I'll just have to settle for bargaining and seeing Billy Elliot in the evening. Life can be so hard sometimes.