Wednesday, January 7, 2009

the ballasts go to england

(Disclaimer: This post is long, boring, and poorly put-together. I want to remember everything we did and I'm too tired right now to make it prettier and easier to read.)

I am still jet-lagged, so bear with me here. As you probably figured out from my last post, we just spent 10 days in England with Jon's family, mostly in Cambridge, where Jon's sister Kelly and her husband Ryan are living while she does a post-doc there. I wish I could have posted every day of the trip, but I was probably on the computer too much as it was, so I'll have to settle for a post-trip wrap-up.


The whole gang on the Cam Bridge

*Cambridge Street Market
*"Kelly & Ryan's" Pub on the Cam River
*The Eagle - famous pub where RAF pilots wrote on the ceilings while they waited to be called up to a mission

The ceiling of The Eagle pub

*Kelly's parasitology lab - cool beakers of different colored liquids, just like in the movies.
*The White Horse Inn (just drove by, didn't go in) - said to be the site where the Reformation came to England, over pints of ale of course.
*Walking tour of Cambridge given by Kelly & Ryan (though I was so jet-lagged I barely made it), including King's College and Nate's favorite, the Stephen Hawking cricket clock.

King's College, Cambridge

Day Trips from Cambridge:

*Ely Cathedral - started as a monastery by a queen-turned-nun in 673 AD, later built into a huge Norman/Romanesque cathedral in the 11th century, still an active Anglican church.

Ely Cathedral

*Duxford Imperial War Museum - an aviation museum with many hangars full of war planes and other aviation and war-related artifacts.

Me & Dexter under and airplane at the Duxford Museum


*Big Ben & the Houses of Parliament (just oohed and ahhed, didn't go inside)

*Trafalgar Square - sat on the huge lion statues, stared up at Lord Nelson's column, and delighted in the mermaids and dolphins in the fountain (at least Nate did)

Nelson's Column

*St. Martin-in-the-fields - I have no words. Except all the ones I already wrote here.
*The Crypt Cafe - a cafe in what used to be the crypt of St. Martin's, a bit creepy but good hot chocolate.
*The British Museum - a shamefully short visit, but we still saw the Rosetta Stone and the Parthenon exhibit
*Westminster Abbey - being Christians ended up saving us some cash on the trip, as we attended worship services at churches and therefore did not have to pay the entrance fee for visitors. We went to an Evensong service at Westminster and it was incredible (though it put Nate promptly to sleep).
*Ye Olde Dutch Pancake House - the pub we tried to go to didn't allow kids (I know, shocking) so we settled for the Dutch pancake shop next door, which ended up being de-lish.

*Buckingham Palace - we braved the crowds at the Changing of the Guard, definitely the biggest crowd we saw on our trip. Furry hats, pomp & circumstance, Christmas carols (??), and a really pissed off British policeman.

Getting a better view of the Changing of the Guard

The pissed off policeman

*Portabello Street Market (for the ladies) and the Imperial War Museum (for the manfolk) - how stereotypical are we? The boys made out better than the girls in this case.
*St. Paul's Cathedral - again, no fee as we went to a Eucharist service. A stark contrast to Ely since it was built in 1673, the frescoes on the dome were my favorite.
*The Tower of London - torture chambers, castle fortresses, King Edward I's bedroom, and the Crown Jewels were the highlights here.

At the Tower of London, with the Tower Bridge in the background

*The National Gallery - could have stayed for hours longer, but still managed to take in some incredible Renaissance art (da Vinci, Botticelli, Titian, Caravaggio to name a few).

The National Gallery - impressive outside but even better inside.

But the real highlight was just being with family. Thanks for hosting us Kelly & Ryan, thanks for being with us Mom, Dad, Keri & CJ. Thanks for being flexible and fun, Nate & Dexter. Love you all.


Haley Ballast said...

And thanks for being my sugar-daddy Jon! ;)

Deborah said...

I'm impressed the kids survived the long airplane rides. And that you guys survived the long airplane rides with the kids! :-)

Carissa said...

Jumbled, maybe. But not boring at all. Thank you for sharing... I love your pictures! And your post about St. Martin-in-the-Fields is wonderful. I can only imagine the glory of it... just reading your account stole my breath and brought tears to my eyes. Someday I will have to go there myself. ;)