BBC Tour! – Monday, 28th February 2011

One of the main tourist-y things I was looking forward to was the BBC Tour. Anyone that knows me is aware of my extreme devotion – hey it’s better than “obsession” – to television and especially British television. So when I found out that there was a tour available at the BBC Television Centre for £9.99 how could I possible refuse?!

The Centre is on the Central line and very easy to find! Honestly, the exit at the Whitehall (sp?) tube stop has nice big signs letting you know where things are! In fact I didn’t need those because it was right across the street!

My tour was 1.30pm – note to others who want to experience the tour you have to book in advance – and apparently I ended up with a group of Communication students from one of the universities. I think they thought they would have their own group tour so I asked the tour guide and she said that it should be okay.

After security, the first thing we got to see was the TARDIS!! I’ve seen plenty of them on this trip but I always get the same happy feeling when I see another one. Pictures were taken and we were told about the rules and expectations of the tour: 1) Pictures are encouraged and the tour guides will let you know when it’s appropriate and 2) Can’t guarantee that you’ll see a celebrity but if we do please act normally. 😀

Here are a few more things that will forever stay with me from this tour:

1)      We got to go into a conference room where we could see the reporters working! It was so cool and we got to learn more about normal working hours – especially for the morning news crew – as well as the differences between the commercial (ITV & SKY) and public broadcasting (BBC) networks.

2)      We got to see two sets from above and my favorite was the Blue Peter set! I never watched it but I could tell how much everyone else was all nostalgic over it. Well, okay I only ever saw one tiny clip when David Tennant was a guest. ~_~

3) Speaking of DT.. NO I didn’t get to see him, sadly. BUT! I did get to walk on the same floor as him! See we were led to a building where all of the celebrities that have business with the BBC must enter and sign in and I know he’s been there before! In fact I walked on the same floor as Catherine Tate, Billie Piper, John Barrowman, Russell T. Davies…

4) At this point we were also told about the shape of the Centre from above which looks like a question mark, which is actually kind of cool! Anyway there’s a fountain in the middle of the circle area that when it was working the water was so loud that it…. reduced employee productivity because they needed to use the loo quite often.

5) The end of the tour was so much fun because you can volunteer to either be newscasters or contestants on a game show and the tour guide plays host! So we got to play in our mini show; the rest of us were audience members!

And that was my tour! We got a couple of interesting stories about the different celebrities and their requests: 1)Madonna wanting a life size picture of the Pope 2) Mariah Carey wanted a basket of kittens and 3) a story about Jennifer Lopez and how she is now banned from the BBC. Wish I could hear all of the other crazy stories.

The rest of the day was spent walking around and this time I ended up in Trafalgar Square! Didn’t stay long because it was getting time to get some dinner.

Posted in BBCTour, London, trafalgarsquare, ukFeb2011 | Leave a comment

Explanation…

I’m back in Los Angeles so any future posts will be based on what I can remember. Thankfully I’ve written everything up in a journal!

I’ve actually been back for about a week but I haven’t spent hours typing/posting because I’ve been a) jetlagged and b) sick.

That still shouldn’t stop me from posting at least once a day but I had a hard time looking back at my pictures or journal because I felt I would miss the trip too much. If that makes any sense.

I’m starting to think about it a bit more in depth now so I should be able to start posting. Seeing as I have another hour to go at Starbucks I think I’ll type for a while and post…

Starting with the BBC Television Centre Tour!

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Greenwich – Royal Observatory and Oscar Night – Sunday 27th February 2011

Author’s Note: I am running so very behind on this thing but I figure that’s a good thing because it means that I am keeping myself so busy that I can’t stay up to type the happenings of the day.

Here is the next day’s adventures!

Goal of the day was to meet up with H and go to Greenwich to visit the Royal Observatory and get our picture taken at the Prime Meridian!

But first I did some more walking but this time I was a tourist with my camera! First off was getting to the Embankment tube exit so that I can start off my tour with the London Eye! Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey are really close by which is why I love this particular area.

I’m hoping to be able to go to one of Westminster Abbey’s Evensong’s before I leave the UK. The good news is that Westminster Abbey is now INCLUDED in my London Pass! So I don’t technically have to go to the service but if I have time I’ll try and squeeze it in!

Having no specific place that I wanted to go I eventually made it to Buckingham Palace and it was PACKED. Last time I was there it wasn’t that crowded but when I took off my earphones I realized that there was music going on and lo and behold I had arrived toward the end of the Changing of the Guard!

I stayed for while taking in the number of people present and once it ended I made my way to St James’ Park which is beautiful and the sun was shining that day which made the experience even better!

Realizing that I was cutting it close with H. I made my way to Oxford Circus where we met up and took the tube/DLR to Greenwich and the once sunny day was gone and it was raining and freezing again!

Two things really stood out from the Observatory trip:

1.       Getting to see a timeline of events, theories and discoveries surrounding the planets and our universe. It’s not too difficult to believe that back in the early days Earth, or the sun, was considered the center of the universe but what I find continually amazing is the notion that space is forever expanding and has no end. Don’t think I want to know if it does have an end…

2.       There’s this really cool exhibit where amateur and professional photographers took pictures of space and submitted them for a competition. All of the runners up and winners were amazing! You can find the pictures here if you’re interested in seeing some of them.

The Prime Meridian was the last thing we did and luckily the wait wasn’t too long and the rain had stopped long enough for us to get our picture taken!! It’s pretty cool place if you can make it out there.

Lunch was had at a pub nearby where they had a 2 meals for £6 and even with the pub being pretty much full of football fans we managed to get a really good smoked chicken (with cheese and bacon) along with peas and chips! So good!

Exhaustion set in during the ride back to Central London so we called it a night and I forked over the £5 for 24 hours of wifi. I was slightly desperate because I wanted to see the Oscars, or at least follow along with everyone else. It wasn’t the best Oscars show. Anne Hathaway is great but I’m not much of a fan of Franco so it didn’t surprise me that I managed to miss the important categories that they leave for the end. At least I caught up later that morning!

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Sad Goodbye to Kent and Hello to London – Saturday, 26th Feb 2011

Woke up at 5am because K. needed to get an earlier train out than the rest of us; well, I had a BritRail pass so I could leave anytime and I decided to go with the group later that day.

I went with H. who gave K. a lift to the train station so that I could say goodbye and H wouldn’t be on her own getting back. We made it there just in time for K to make her train thanks to Emmy (K’s gps). Getting back was interesting because we got lost. On the plus side we got to see more of Ashford!

We eventually made it back and searched for the guest book that was hidden with a whole bunch of Doctor Who related games! Seeing as we had another hour or two to go the Doctor Who Scene It game was opened up and played by the four of us!

I won’t go into the particulars of the game/results because that would make this post crazy long and I apparently really suck at Image Difference questions which is sad because I tend to edit a bit at work. Then again I’m not competing with three other people for the answer.

Check out time was at 10am so the last hour was spent cleaning and signing the guest book. It was tough saying goodbye to the cottage. I’m really glad we booked it because it allowed us to enjoy Doctor Who with other people and I now have a slightly higher degree of Classic Who knowledge because of this experience!

The trip back to London was uneventful. H made sure I was getting the correct Oyster card, don’t remember if I mentioned this but my Visitor Oyster Card that was apparently suppose to be working DID NOT so I had to buy one at King’s Cross.

I felt slightly confident about finding the London House Hotel however it ended up taking me about an hour – if a little longer – to actually find it. I have a really bad sense of direction. *hangs head in shame*

In my defense, the directions I copied/pasted from the website pretty much said “turn left, turn right, turn second left” but did NOT indicate streets! That would have made my search a hell of a lot easier.

Turns out, it is really close to the tube. It really should only take you 5-10 minutes to get there; less if you’re doing a “power walk”.

Looking back on it now I have to say that I really liked the hotel. I had a bed, TV (sadly only four channels were available), a mini fridge, a safe, they service the room everyday so a made up bed is all waiting for me when I came in! The wifi… It’s good. It costs £1/hr which at first I thought was highway robbery but seeing the prices at this hostel I’m staying at now… well let’s just say I really miss the prices there.

Anyway, I was in London! And despite the fact that it was sprinkling/raining again I decided to head off and go to.. FORBIDDEN PLANET! Yep! Instead of hitting up the big touristy locations – which to be honest I’ve probably seen most of them by now – I went to the store that would have Harry Potter, Doctor Who, Star Trek among other favorite sci-fi toys. *is totally not ashamed to admit this* What’s even better about this trip is that I managed to find it by memory!! I know! I was just as amazed as you are right now considering what happened earlier.

Then I just walked around with no real objective. I figured I would eventually find the tube and make my way back to the hotel. Lo and behold, I ended up finding TK Maxx on Charring Cross Road – that is not a typo there for those who know of TJ Maxx – and I purchased my Red Nose Day Shakespeare shirt!! 😀 *happy dance at the memory* I bought a small but it probably looks big on me.

I kind of kept going after that and managed to find my way to Leicester Square – one of my favorite places in London mainly because it’s movie premiere central so it reminded me of Los Angeles – but sadly it’s been closed off because they’re prepping for the Olympics in 2012. A lot of stuff here is closed off really. I don’t know if I’ll get to see it in 2012 but I hope to see how it all turns out at some point!

That pretty much sums up the day. I was extremely tired so I called it a night and purchased 3 hours of wifi. Only two good things about that £3 purchase: 1) Cute receptionist guy that I always got to see because of the wifi addiction I have and 2) WIFI! 😀

Posted in Driving in UK, London, shopping, ukFeb2011, Wifi Adventures | Leave a comment

White Cliffs of Dover and Sandwich Day! – 25th February, 2011

Breakfast is a very unusual activity for me because I never do it. I know it’s the “most important meal of the day” but I can’t get the hang of it. Believe me, I tried eating oatmeal everyday at work and that lasted for about a week. This last week at the cottage has made me realize that a bit of toast with butter – and tea! – doesn’t take too long to make and I’m kind of hoping to make it a habit once I get back. If I’m presented with bread, butter and a toaster during the rest of the trip, I’ll definitely take advantage!

Dover

The day before our plan was to try and visit Dover Castle and just get pictures from the outside instead of paying the £9 to go inside it. We managed to find Dover pretty easily thanks to K’s GPS but the actual road to the castle was a bit trickier and once we did find it we were told that in order to get through their checkpoint it would cost us £13.50 EACH! >_< There was no way we were each going to pay that amount so we turned around and headed towards the cliffs.

There is one particular thing that I’ll always remember about the drive which is thanks to K’s GPS.  We were supposed to make a U-turn at one point but we missed it and “Emmy” (I believe that was the gps’ name) freaked out and started yelling at us to “make a u-turn!”. Okay, maybe yelling is a bit of an exaggeration but it sounded like she thought we were going to drive off the cliffs.

The walk was an experience! I’m not exactly fearful of heights but I made sure that I was closer to the land because I so did NOT want to fall. It was very muddy, thanks to the rain from yesterday, and it was extremely cold which made the walk slightly more nerve racking. Also, note to self and others interested in this trip: if possible, do NOT wear Converse. I made it okay but they were new and probably had more friction than my old pair at home and I was going slowly.

While we didn’t reach the end of the cliffs, we were able to see the boats that go to France though! Everyone who had internet access actually had French carriers on their phones even though we were still technically in England! I realize now that pictures would be great right here. I’m getting to them.

Luckily it was a very sunny day and we were able to get really great shots of Dover castle from where we were!

Sandwich

Our next goal of the day was to find a sandwich shop in Sandwich and have the best sandwich of our lives that would make us want to come back!

Surprisingly, we couldn’t find a sandwich – only – shop. We did see a Subway along the way but we weren’t going to go in there. We wandered around a lot until we decided to give this pub/restaurant a try because we were hungry and it looked pretty nice. It turned out to the best decision we made! It’s The Admiral Owen and we each had an amazing sandwich! I had a Pastrami on a Ciabatta (sp?) bread although the Chorizo one sounded amazing.

The sandwich would have looked great next to the “Welcome to Sandwich” sign across the street but we decided to eat first and then take our picture with the sign to show that we were there! Just one of the few touristy things that is more fun with friends. J

During this trip I started trying out a new “tradition” of buying something from each of the cities I visited. S was collecting magnets and, seeing as all of the keychains I’ve purchased haven’t lasted long enough, I went with that route so the last thing we did in Sandwich was go looking for our souvenirs.

The day ended with our daily Doctor Who rewatch and this time we were trying to watch the Sixth Doctor.

But wait a minute. What happened to the Fifth Doctor?

Well, I do remember that we tried to watch the Fifth Doctor’s first episode but we didn’t finish it because he wasn’t there a lot of the time. We did watch The Five Doctors which was very very cool! This is probably my favorite Classic Doctor and that’s probably because he reminds me so much of the Tenth Doctor (My Doctor!). It shouldn’t surprise me since I’ve heard that David Tennant’s favorite Doctor is the Fifth Doctor.

We also watched the Fifth Doctor’s last story which seemed slightly similar to the Tenth’s actually. The one thing that ruined the ending for me was the companion Perri who I found very annoying.

My thoughts on the Sixth Doctor are short and sweet: Worst. Doctor. Ever. I may not have given him much of a chance but I couldn’t muster up the energy to because he was so different from the other Doctors that we’ve seen.

So that’s it!

Oh wait, the spaghetti thing. We each had a day where we had to make dinner for the rest of us and that was my night! I wouldn’t have made it without H’s help! So, “I” made spaghetti, salad and garlic/cheese bread. I never cook for myself, let alone anyone else because I’m afraid I’ll inadvertently get something wrong, so this was a first. 🙂

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Cantebury Day – 23rd February 2011

So it’s been a couple of days since I last posted…

So sorry! I’m back now with 24 hours of wifi!! For £5… It’s a good deal! You know, just completely ignore the fact that it’s 7pm here and some of those hours – if not most of them – will be spent either asleep or out and about in London. ~_~

Anyway, let’s go back to Cantebury Day!

The drive from Lydd to Cantebury took about an hour in the rain but luckily it wasn’t too bad. H is a really good driver! I was especially impressed with the number of roundabouts she got through and that week was her first time driving in England! Roundabouts are very interesting to go through but I would be incredibly stressed trying to navigate one myself.

Free parking is nearly impossible to find anywhere so once we finally found a spot and paid for it, we all made our way toward the Cathedral (£9). It is beautiful! I couldn’t take too many outside shots because it was raining and I didn’t want my camera to get wet. I love that we were allowed to take a photos pretty much everywhere except for the Crypt which is understandable. In the Crypt we were asked to stay silent and for no photography.

The Crypt was a very interesting place to visit. I’m not particularly religious but I do respect it and those who believe so I tended to focus on the place as a whole rather than on anything based on religion. One particular section that got to me was where they kept a prayer section. People can leave a post it note asking for prayers (most of the ones we saw were asking for prayers for those  in New Zealand who just went through another – even more vicious – earthquake after last one, to all those who are suffering in Lybia and personal ones as well) and they would be read at the next service.

After leaving the Cathedral we decided to split up. H & L went to move the car and K, S and I looked around for a market nearby to see if it was any good. Unfortunately the market and subsequent stores were a bit disappointing and we decided to call H & L back so that they wouldn’t pay for parking; we were a too late for that.

The extra time was spent at a pub/restaurant in town trying to dry up and warm up because it was freezing that day. I had chips (french fries) and while they were okay, the inside of most of them reminded me of mashed potatoes. Not my favorite chip experience.

Anyway, once we were done we headed back to the cottage and watched a bunch of Doctor Who. Specifically we watched the Fourth Doctor in Genesis of the Daleks. How can we not in a Doctor Who themed cottage? 😀 The plan for the week, in terms of Doctor Who, was to watch at least one story involving each of the first 7 Doctors from Classic Who and Four was it for that night!

That was also the night H, K and I headed out to the George Hotel Pub for a cup of tea and free wifi! I know I’m an internet addict but I didn’t know just how much until that moment. Sadly we were only there for an hour because it closed at 11pm but it wouldn’t be the last time I went there for a cuppa!

I’m working on pictures as I type and hopefully I’ll have another post in the next hour or two talking about Cliffs of Dover, a sandwich in Sandwich and spaghetti!

Posted in cantebury, cathedral, ukFeb2011 | Leave a comment

Travel Day 1

Hey all!

I have missed the internet so much! I’m pretty sure I have a bit of an internet addiction. ~_~ My iPhone has been reduced to just a phone and it’s incredibly weird opening it up and not being able to go on Twitter or Facebook or really any of my applications; almost all of them require some form of internet.

Anyway, I’m currently in the George Hotel pub which is pretty close to the cottage – which is extremely cute and very much filled with Doctor Who collectibles – enjoying a cup of tee with Hannah and Karen and the pub’s FREE WIFI.

So back to Day 1 otherwise known as Travel Day!

The flight over can be summed up in one phrase:

NO IN-FLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT

Take a moment to re-read that phrase… Yep. A nine/ten hour flight had no in-flight entertainment whatsoever. We couldn’t even see where we were so that whole flight felt longer than over.

The food was slightly okay. I managed to eat all of it because I did pay a good chunk of change for it. I tried incredibly hard to sleep, since there was no entertainment to keep me busy,  but it was pretty much impossible.

Anyway, we get in about thirty minutes early but the UK Border control takes nearly an hour to get through! I managed to find K along the way because her flight got in early as well. We eventually get our bags and make our way to Kent which was an adventure by itself but I won’t get into it now.

We make it to Ashford at around 4.20pm on Tuesday 22nd and met with H and S and we finally get to the cottage. Again very cute but pictures will have to come later!

Let’s go on to day two!

Today we went to see Cantebury Cathedral and tomorrow we will be going Dover and Sandwich!

Sorry this post isn’t as prolific as I would have liked. I’m going through sleepy and awake moments a lot so I’ll try and post we I have more time.

I hope you guys are doing great. I swear, next time I’ll just type this up on Word and then c/p here. 😀

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