England

London

On Wednesday, Sept. 18 we landed at Gatwick Airport and were greeted outside baggage claim by Helen and Tony, our over generous hosts for the weekend.

There was a brief hiccup when Tarynne got trapped behind the automated security doors. For a second I thought I was going to have to leave her in no mans land, but after a few minutes she was able to get through and we were in the car on the way to Barnehurst.

What an amazing feeling it was to walk into a warm home, have someone familiar to chat with and to at last relax in peace and quiet. In fact, it was so amazing that the next day we didn’t get out of bed until 11 a.m. and we didn’t make it into central London until mid afternoon.

Our first few hours in London were largely unproductive because we heard back from a job in India, heard that we didn’t get it and then proceeded to feel sorry for ourselves in the homely comforts of a Starbucks.

Fortunately our day quickly got back on track when we met my old friend John at his place of work, Al Jazeera, and got a tour of the studio.

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(BTW: John took these photos and he’s a cameraman for Al Jareeza. Given these photos I’d be surprised if anyone watching can even see the news anchor…)

After the private studio tour, the three of us headed into Hyde Park for a pint overlooking the Serpentine.

We then spent a few more hours roaming the familiar streets of London before heading back to Helen and Tony’s.

On Friday, we woke up at a reasonable hour and once again made the trip into central London! this time so that I could meet with someone from Porter Novelli about PR jobs in the UK and so that Tarynne could meet up with her friend Antonia for lunch.

After my coffee meeting I walked over to High Street Kensington where I met up with the two Yogis who had managed to sniff out the nearest Whole Foods. Go figure.

After eating massive boxed salads at Whole Foods we embarked on a whirlwind walking tour of London which took us through Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens and Green Park to Buckingham Palace.

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From Buckingham Palace we walked through St. James’s Park to Westminster Abby and the Houses of Parliament.

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After spending some time around the Houses of Parliament we walked by 10 Downing Street where we checked out our future house on the way to Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square, China Town and Piccadilly Circus.

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I got real excited because in Piccadilly Circus the streets were lined with NFL London banners. Jaren would have been pumped, so I got overly pumped up on his behalf.

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After our rather lengthy walking tour of (part) of the city we made another stop at Whole Foods for dinner before making our way back to Helen and Tony’s.

On Saturday we once again woke up at a reasonable hour and we made our way to the Bexleyheath Barclay’s where Tarynne and I open a joint bank account, our first step in a potential move to the UK.

With the back account setup, we once again made our way into London to meet up with John and his girlfriend at a sweet restaurant on the Southbank, Wahaca.

With our stomachs full of bomb Mexican we made the fatal decision of trying to go shopping on Bond Street on a Saturday afternoon. Whoops!

After struggling through crowds and not finding the items we needed to buy, we retreated back to the Southbank where we stopped for a drink before taking a nighttime whirl around the London Eye.

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We met up with both John and Antonia after our trip around the Eye and went out for a few drinks.

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Along the way we stopped at a mini amusement park thing and decided to take a ride on some really tall spinning thing. It was pretty sweet and there’s a pretty good view from the top.

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After riding on the really tall spinning thing we went for some more drinks at Giraffe.

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Although we wanted to have a proper night out on the town, we couldn’t because we had to catch the last train of the night back to Barnehurst at 12:15 a.m.

Even though it had to end way too soon, we had a great night catching up with some of our best friends.

On Sunday morning we sadly had to pack up all our things and once again hit the road. Luckily for us before we caught the train to Chichester, Helen and Tony treated us to an amazing lunch at Fish Kitchen.

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We had an awesome time in London thanks to John, Antonia and, of course, our far too kind hosts Helen and Tony.

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West Sussex

On Sunday afternoon we were greeted at the Chichester train station by my Uncle Nick and Aunt Erica.

After an extremely packed weekend charging around London we were looking forward to a relaxing few days in Boxgrove and the surrounding areas.

Tarynne and I were in absolute shock when we first arrived to a fridge completely packed with every gluten-free, lactose-free product ever produced.

On Sunday night we all had a wonderful dinner together before heading to bed at a fairly reasonable hour.

When spent most of Monday relaxing around the house before we finally decided we needed to do something with out day and we went for a walk.

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On the way back we came across a newly opened winery, Tinwood Estate, so we obviously had to stop by for a little wine tasting session.

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Just as we started the walk home after wine tasting I got a text from Uncle Nick asking if we wanted to go to the pub. There is only one way to answer that question, so Nick and Erica picked us up on the way and took us on a nice drive through the downs to The Fox Goes Free.

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After a pint or two we headed back home to continue the drinks and to enjoy another wonderful dinner prepared by Uncle Nick.

On Tuesday we took a trip into Portsmouth with Uncle Nick and my cousin Becky where we went on a walk through the harbor and took a trip up the Spinnaker Tower.

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After a slow start on Wednesday we drove into Arundel and went on another walk, this time along the river to another really cool pub called The Black Rabbit.

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After great day we cruised back home for a fantastic dinner that was capped with a healthy debate over whether or not it was appropriate for Legolas to surf down the trunk of an Oliphant in the Return of the King.

Cheesy or not cheesy? You tell me.

Thursday came all too soon and it was already time to say goodbye to Nick, Erica and Becky and move onto our next stop, Seaford.

En route to Seaford we stopped for a few hours in Brighton, but it ended up being a complete waste of time because there isn’t a single place in the entire city to check a bag. Even in the train station.

That being said, Tarynne was of course able to snap some photos…

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So after a few hours of a stumbling around Brighton in our overpacked bags, we got back on the train and travelled the final 40 minutes to Seaford.

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One of my Mom’s best friends Carol picked us up at the train station and took us up to the Cosy Cottage where we would spend our last few relaxing days in the UK.

Upon arrival we went on a quick tour of the grounds and Tarynne was introduced to Ernie’s Tai Chi temple, a spot that also happens to be perfect for yoga.

Later that evening we were treated to another amazing dinner, this time salmon.

On Friday Tarynne and I took a short bike ride down into Seaford to stop at the bank and to see the seaside. After the bike ride we hopped in the car with Carol and the three of us drove over to the Seven Sisters for a walk.

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After the walk we drove to Alfriston where Carol treated us to a pub lunch at The George Inn, which was built in 1397 making it one of the oldest pubs in the area.

We then returned home to the Cosy Cottage where we relaxed for the rest of the day before enjoy another wonderful dinner, good wine and great company.

On Saturday we decided to lay low and have a chill day around the house since the following day we were hitting the road and heading to Spain.

We enjoyed our last day in the UK planning our upcoming trip to Mallorca, Barcelona, Granada and Seville.

We enjoyed one last amazing dinner and then packed our bags for the trip to Gatwick Airport the next morning.

Overall we had a fantastic time in England. It was a much needed break from the noise and chaos of staying in hostels and we were able to recharge our batteries for the rest of 2013.

Thanks again to everyone who let us stay in their homes, who fed us wonderful food and who all refused to let us pay for anything.

About James

Washed up Wazzu alumnus in the middle of a horrific quarter-life crisis.
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