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All Things EARTH... part 2

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We are back from our "magical, mystery cruise" - it was booked as a 6 day cruise with 3 days at Bermuda but ended up as one day at Charleston.  I survived the rocky seas fine, but suffering some mal de debarquement.  Carnival was generous and gave a future cruise credit in the amount of our cruise fare, and we knew booking during hurricane season that anything could happen.


Everyone's finds look great.  I hope Melody is enjoying her cruise and Laurie's daughter and grandbaby are healthy and comfortable.  Anita, so glad to hear you made it to London with DS.  Is he getting settled in well now?


I'm glad it is finally fall (my favorite season and foliage is so pretty here), but also grateful for mild temperatures.


Have a great week everyone!

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Anita, I find there is always some new tip to be gleaned from a good trip report. Not necessarily the ones where people report on everything they eat and do from dawn to dusk, but ones like yours where unexpected or unanticipated difficulties are talked about and helpful tips are shared. I am always looking to optimize the function of how we travel so the enjoyment part can be enhanced as much as possible. 😁

I have a big blind spot, which is beach cover-ups. I so rarely need one, I usually make do with a little dress most of the time. Here in Miami its too hot for that so I got this cheap flowy one. There are inexpensive "surf" shops everywhere. Do I like blue? LOL



Today it isn't windy so I'm sporting my new sun hat and boy do I love it. It is great for reading in the sun and shades all of my face. The back has a cutout where my bun is with three tiny black bows above:


Sunday morning I went to the gym and then walked about 2 miles on the boardwalk. I got a lunch to eat by the pool and spent the afternoon with a good mystery and some swimming. This big guy surprised everyone by darting from the bushes to the water and then freaked when he spotted all the people:



That night we just had dinner in the hotel. Sure enough, we were stopped several times in the evening by colleagues wanting to chat with DH. I wore that green sleeveless dress again with some coral colored jewelry to dress it up a bit that I got in Orlando at LOFT. I'm disappointed that the necklace broke already.

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Yesterday I took the free trolley to South Beach, to the open air pedestrian shopping street Lincoln Road. The trolley has three routes, south, midbeach, and north express, and you can change from one to another. The midbeach trolley left me right at Lincoln. The trolley is actually a normal bus decorated to look like a trolley. 




You can download a pdf of each route which notes where you can switch trolleys, so I had the maps on my phone. A note about rush hour... I waited very long for the trolley in the evening when locals use them to commute around the island, and it was very full.




Lincoln Road has some interesting vintage features like this fountain, many restaurants with outdoor seating, and a bizarre mix of stores. The western end has some high end designers, the eastern end nearest the famous beach has some cheap places along with a Ross, and in the middle a bizarre mix of places like Macys and Anthropology among some very old fashioned, cheap local retail. It's either in transition or trying to be all things to all people.




In spite of all the amazing latin food choices, I had lunch in a French bistro named Paul.




There was a Desigual store with an awesome dress in the window, but I walked out with this top. It's great to choose something I like rather than something for work! I saw lots of things in colors  that work for me and given my love of pattern and tolerance for a little black in the mix.




After shopping I hopped on the South Beach loop, thinking it would be interesting. It was ok but really just city bus driving without any views. Don't expect a tour. I waited forever for the Middle Beach transfer and had to stand on the trolley back to the hotel on very tired feet.


I was invited to dinner with DH and a client but I declined in favor of a swim, a glass of wine, and a sandwich by the pool. 🙂



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Back in London...we've dropped off the bags and have about 2 hours time before we are able to check into DS's room.


Coffee...or rather...some espresso based drink...was the first thing on the agenda. Like most places in London, DS's neighborhood area has pubs, cafes, restaurants, and even, *gasp* USA fast food. So we hit up an Italian style cafe for some coffee and food. This is the first place where soy was the only non-dairy milk available...so no coffee flavored drink for me...


After lunch, we headed over to the local post office.


When you get a student Visa, the actual Visa itself is called a BRP (BioResident Permit)...physically, it is like a US DL. DS was required to pick it up within 10 days of arriving in the UK. We could choose to pick it up at a PO or at his sponsor (RAM)...we opted for the PO since we were arriving so early.


I had also ordered a new electric beard trimmer for DS...through Amazon UK...with a free Prime trial...delivery or pick up at any number of convenient locations. I choose the PO pick up location where we would conveniently also pick up the BRP. I had hoped to have everything I had ordered be a pick up at the PO...but some items were "too large" to be picked up...and I had requested for those to be delivered to our hotel c/o guest. Fingers crossed that that would work out. 


The BRP was there, but the trimmer hadn't been delivered yet. Ah well...like most things...the PO isn't far...


Back at the hall...we got DS checked in. We had to do the whole inventory check list...then we all set to work to get DS set up. Bed made. Clothes put away. Laptop set up. Figure out the WiFi. Get the laptop plugged in with the UK power cord. 


DS's hall room is very like a stateroom. For real. Walk into a kind of entry area with the bathroom on one side...YAY! for the en suite!...and a small closet on the other side. Good up high storage with large wall shelves above the thresholds of the entry door and the doorway into the bedroom area...suitcases and empty boxes go up there. No surprises on your typical dorm furniture...except the desk, which is much deeper and slightly wider than a typical student desk. But the big, big difference...the view...I'm so grateful and happy that DS's room faces the square:




Everything about his hall and room and living situation...made me so happy. It was all positive feelings thinking about DS living there.


One more photo...maybe more for Mom and Dad's benefit...here's DS's desk set up. Laptop...with our custom "docking station." We purchased the monitor in London (the one I ordered had delivery issues and I ultimately canceled the delivery). DH and I spent time on that purchase one day. The desk clamp monitor stand was successfully delivered to the hotel...major space saver and gets the monitor up to eye height...no hunching over a screen. The speakers are speakers that Dad gifted me either when I was in college or right after...they are still excellent speakers. They are super sturdy indoor outdoor speakers. They work as computer speakers with a mini-amp helping them talk to the computer...something rather important when dealing with all the music that DS does. Of interest are the two pinboards...as they call the cork boards...that are part of the hall furnishings. And the wall hanging shelves.




The Florida shape and happy faces are DH and I having fun with his pinboards.


It was time to go check into our hotel...and DS was staying with us for however many nights he would...


Our hotel was also reward travel. For Marriott, there are many choices BUT a lot of the choices require that you book an upgraded room and pay what would be the cost of a normal hotel room in addition to your points. Nice if you want a really swanky room...points can help you pay "normal" prices for the upgrade...but we were shooting for the "free" reward travel. There were few options that simply accepted your points with no other additional charges...but the Marriott Residence Inn Kensington was one of them.




We have good experiences with RI...DH has stayed in them all over and so we didn't bother to read any reviews before going. I'm so glad too...because the reviews for this particular RI are either awful or excellent. Very little middle ground. We would fall on that excellent side...and I think these definitely contributed to our good experience...


First, no one else was trying to check in...it was all very pleasant and friendly. But then, we are generally pleasant and friendly...and I think like often begets like in such circumstances. Second, DH pulled his Titanium status card...in a friendly, pleasant manner, and asked if an upgrade was available (getting one, if available, is a perk of his status). We didn't get a two bedroom, but we did get a "deluxe" one bedroom...on floor nine...facing the Super Tesco side of the building (I didn't even know there was a RR track near ANY side of this building...I think I might have freaked out if we ended up next to a train). 


View from our room...the white apartments in the foreground are on top of the Super Tesco. The road on the left that heads toward the horizon heads to the Earl's Court Tube station. This photo was taken with my phone on a different day...




We started to settle in...and without having to ask for it...housekeeping showed up almost immediately...two people...to make the couch into a bed for the night. Very nice...but one reason why room my photography didn't happen.


DS flopped onto the newly made bed...turned on the tv...Aaaaand that was the end of DS being out and about.


DH and I headed out to the Super Tesco which is a grocery store...to grab something to have for dinner in the room.


View from the elevator waiting area...taken with my camera...and accurately showing the time of day:




There was a coffee shop in the Tesco...and they had oat milk! which works for me...so DH and I sat and chilled with flat whites.


A bit of shopping and we headed back to the hotel...where, upon entering the lobby...we were informed that it was a social hour event thing in the "living room" and bar area...free drinks and food.




We headed back upstairs to find DS deep in sleep...and after debating whether or not we should wake him up...we put away our groceries and headed back downstairs.


The bar area is really inviting...DH is wearing the red hoodie (Uniqlo) and shorts. This is what he wore overnight on the plane...yes...we still have those same clothes on...




I'm sitting on the booth seating side at one of several tables while DH gets wood fired pizza, hummus, pita bread, chips, salad, brie, and more...really good selection of food. Totally meal worthy. And of course, we did get a couple of local brews...which you can see here...as well as see my other view across the room toward the electric fireplace:




For those familiar with RI, this is one of those weekly social events...held once a week...a complementary treat for those living in the hotel.


Another reason why we fell into the excellent experience...


DH and I hung out until the end of the event...about 7:30 pm...and then headed up to lay down ourselves.


DS did wake up...hungry...and was very happy with what we had purchased at the grocery store. We stayed up a bit more watching British telly...pretty darn funny telly...took showers...and then called it a night for good.


Another major benefit of this RI is the complementary breakfast...which begins at 6:30 am and continues until 11!! I've never encountered such a long weekday breakfast window! So exciting.


We did set alarms...

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pacruise...disappointing to not get the vacation that you signed on for...but it sounds like you have a positive attitude and went with the flow...and hopefully the FCC will be enough to use to get to Bermuda!


LOVE that shirt Margaret! Desigual is such a great store!!! I love all my Desigual clothing...I'm so looking forward to wearing it! That shirt looks like you...and the cover up is excellent. As we use our pool here at the apartment...I have a need for a cover up...and I happen to have something I picked up at just such a store when we went to Virginia Beach for DH's work. That blue is lovely...and it looks so good on you.


And I love the hat. I think I've seen something similar with the opening in the back at Disney Springs. They have a hat store and also a hat kiosk booth type place...with all the walking that I have been doing...I've been wearing my visor more than my gardening hat because the visor works better with my hair pulled back. I think I might have to get myself a hat like that too...


And you are making me want to go to Miami...

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Reading everyone's posts is such a welcome relief as a break from my current travel planning!


Margaret, I was in that Desigual store in Miami. So much fun! You didn't venture into the Kiko store? That's another cute, affordable fun store to spend a bit of time. Last season's nail polish colors for $1 and change! And, it's a good quality polish, as well. One of my guilty pleasures.


I'm in the midst of another bout of planning, all because I had a moment where I was persuaded by a low, low (I do mean low) price for an international flight on Alitalia! This flight was an awesome, amazing, outstanding price of $243 per person! Nonstop, direct, leaving MIA to FCO. And, I bought it!


And, then I started researching Alitalia flights. And, then Anita started telling me... don't pay attention to all those negative reviews, Mom... as she mentioned on her delight with her hotel in London versus a plethora of negative reviews. Well, the negative reviews notwithstanding, what is a fact is the really restrictive carry on guidelines from Alitalia. AND, it's proving to be quite an adventure to try to accomplish various things.... like packing for a few days in the roll aboard as well as packing for all the creature comforts of existence on a plane for an overnight flight that lasts for 10+ hours. We've been doing a bit of shopping... just to accommodate our needs for this super cheap airfare flight..... which does beg the question, doesn't it? Except that we can obviously use the smaller carryon luggage for more than just this flight, so there's that.


The planning is going along and coming together in its own haphazard, but seemingly efficient way.

https://shop.samsonite.com/luggage/softside-luggage/samsonite-solyte-dlx-underseat-wheeled-carry-on/123570XXXX.html?dwvar_123570XXXX_color=Mineral Grey&cgidmaster=


This luggage was chosen for the primary reason that it was the ONLY luggage we could find that was within Alitalia's dimensions for a carry on. And, happily, we can get enough in it so that we will have no difficulty in taking it on Trenitalia trains. Score. After quite a bit of thinking (and rethinking the thinking), I have enough in this bag to be able to (1) go to Ft Lauderdale for the night, (2) travel to Rome the next day, (3) spend 2 days and 3 nights in Rome, (4) travel to Sorrento by way of a train from Rome to Naples, followed by a short walk to catch a hydrofoil from Naples to Sorrento, followed by a walk to an elevator to take us up to the elevation of our hotel, followed by walk to said hotel... and (5) reversing the procedure after spending 4 days in Sorrento... going to Pompeii, Capri, Amalfi Coast tour, .. (6) spending one last night in Rome and then boarding the Celebrity Infinity for a TransAtlantic! Whew! FUN.


For our personal carry on item, DH is using my PacSafe MetroSafe 200 and I'm using a PacSafe CitySafe 200. We're getting it ALL IN... carrying not only our 3-1-1 bags, but all of our personal items that are required and necessities and we would be heartbroken without them (for example, my Chanel foundation!)... as well as the comfort items for the plane...eye masks, noise cancelling headphones, travel pillow, travel blanket... I'm a high maintenance plane traveler and I'm not ashamed or afraid to admit it!!! There are no strict guidelines surrounding the personal item, just the rather vague description of "small backpack" or "small purse" or "laptop bag." A quick phone call to Alitalia gave us the information that they expect the personal item to weigh about 2 to 3 kg. So, 9 American pounds, right?!? And, I'm not math challenged, so I know that isn't right. I just have to make 9 American pounds look like 6.6 Italian pounds and I'll be golden. EZ.


If I were one of those ladies on other parts of this fashion board, I'd be done. BUT I'M NOT. I still have the cross-pack of our checked luggage to plan. By gosh and by golly, I know that i'm going to want to put those clothes way into the back of my stateroom closet that I've been wearing for 8 days! The great thing is that our Rome hotel has sweetly accommodated us leaving our large suitcases with them when we travel to Sorrento. SO, I'm taking advantage of that and now planning for the cruise part of this upcoming trip.


We leave on October 1st.


And in the meantime, I'm having a ball reading about Miami and London. 


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8 hours ago, pacruise804 said:

We are back from our "magical, mystery cruise" - it was booked as a 6 day cruise with 3 days at Bermuda but ended up as one day at Charleston.  I survived the rocky seas fine, but suffering some mal de debarquement.  Carnival was generous and gave a future cruise credit in the amount of our cruise fare, and we knew booking during hurricane season that anything could happen.



 I am glad Carnival was generous with the cruise credit . I would like a day in Charleston.

8 hours ago, pacruise804 said:

Have a great week everyone!


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Anita, that looks like a sweet setup for your DS in London. You must be relieved and happy to have him settled in, and in the best dorm too. What a nice view. I hope he has a great first semester.

Pam, Italy ::sigh::  Sounds like such a wonderful trip you've planned. I love that small rollaboard, and it even comes in my favorite color.

I missed Kiko. 😞 I confess I was hugging the shady side of Lincoln so I probably missed a lot. I wore my green LOFT dress with the big paisleys, and my fun Desigual story is that when I walked in, the salesman asked me if it was one of theirs. I told him no but you can see why I like your clothes, I love pattern. Not two minutes later a saleswoman came from the back, said cute dress, and turned to the salesman and asked is that one of ours?

This is the dress I really liked:



It was a stretchy fabric though so I didn't try it on.

Today was a perfect weather day. This morning I walked an hour on the boardwalk, then went to the room and got ready for pool time. I did step into the ocean but didn't swim. The beach is at such an incline at the water's edge here that it's not easy getting in and out, and I'm still not always steady on my legs, so I didn't want to risk falling in the surf and not being able to get up.

Here is the boardwalk looking south. There's a lot of shade in the morning but it gets very hot starting about 10am. In places the boardwalk ends and there is a flat stone path instead, and then it will start up again. The stone parts are exposed and very hot.


Here in mid beach there are a handful of reasonable hotels near the Fontainebleau, including a Best Western, Holiday Inn, and Sheraton, which are all in original buildings from the 1950's or so. There are two high end hotels flanking the F, and north of that is a long stretch of condos. So, there's not much in the way of dining or entertainment, but South Beach isn't far by taxi or trolley for that. Here is the Holiday Inn where we stayed from the boardwalk side:


It is connected by a walkway to the Sheraton and they share a beach bar (with the turquoise roof and orange umbrella tables), and we could use the pool at the Sheraton if we wanted (where the royal blue umbrellas are). There were 5500 people at the conference, so it was nice for DH to be away from the F and all the hullaballoo.


Most hotels do not have a view of the beach from the pool because of the hurricane mediation that's been done here, with vegetation between the boardwalk and the beach and an incline down to the water to prevent flooding. The line of trees behind the beach umbrellas in the next picture is the boardwalk. Most places also have a screen of vegetation between the boardwalk and their grounds.


We leave tomorrow, so I'm glad our last day was so nice. A steak dinner, some red wine, early to bed.



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Such a lovely place you got to be Margaret! I found out last night that I get to do my own tag along vacation with DH for the first time next month!! This is one thing that we have been looking forward to with DS off to Uni. There is no need for me to stay home if it is possible for me to go with him. DH is headed to Fort Walton Beach which is right down from Destin. DH has gone there before and he says the hotel they stay at lists Beach as an amenity!! I'm excited!! DH has been to this customer before and when he was younger, a college friend of his had a condo in Destin, so he's been there too. But I haven't!!


Customer hasn't quite confirmed yet...but should be middle of next month.


Mom, I saw that bag for sale on eBags. I wondered about it for DS...

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Back in London...


With the breakfast going until so late...we had a chance to sleep in a bit...which is good because we were up later than ideal with DS falling asleep earlier...and all of us taking a nap and then waking up. The joys of crossing time zones!


Breakfast at RI Kensington is a big spread. They transform the bar area into a complete walk around buffet. Over there are the few hot dishes...always eggs (like the BEST hotel eggs I've ever had that weren't made to order) which might be mini-omelet pieces, hard boiled, or scrambled...a meat: like pork sausage, veggie sausage, British bacon (which was GOOD Mom!)...


Ok...a little about British bacon. I'm not telling Mom's story...but British bacon is like a weird combination of Canadian bacon and USA bacon. On one side is the bigger round that if you cut it off from the other side would resemble Canadian bacon...except that it is still bacon...not ham like at all. And the end has the layered look of bacon that we all know and mostly love here in the US. It was fully cooked Mom! Like on a skillet even...


Back to the buffet...there would also be a veggie pot...which would have the baked beans necessary for a full English breakfast...or stewed mushrooms, or roasted tomatoes.


There was a lot of bread. The best bread was actually in the picnic basket. They had cloth towels that you would use to hold the bread while you cut your own slice(s). And yes...they had a big old bread knife that they let everyone use themselves... Croissants!! Chocolate Croissants. A Danish or two. Bread to toast. Tons of toppings. OMG...they have a thing for Nutella over there. I really dislike Nutella...


Deli meats and cheese. There was always Brie. I love Brie. Danish salami? It was different. Ham. One morning there was the ham that resembles the ham you get in Spain...OMG...so good. Turkey. Genoa salami? (the one we usually see). And some sort of soft cheese in individual packets. Not cream cheese but everyone spread it on bread.


There were travelers from all over the world. But I did overhear a conversation in an elevator where a man (IDK if he had family with him) had been living at the hotel for 11 months...


The area where the little hotel market is had the drinks. Some drinks are always out. Like the flavored water containers. Fresh squeezed OJ. Cloudy apple cider. Cereal makings. A big pot of porridge (pretty sure it was oatmeal)...a basket of apples.


There were two coffee machines in the bar area and one in the market area. These were sophisticated machines that freshly ground beans and then dispensed espresso based drinks. Available 24/7.


I only go on and on about the food because of some of the comments in the reviews. This was the best complementary breakfast buffet we've ever had a hotel in terms of quality and variety of food. The only thing I did miss was more fruit...but with the Super Tesco literally next door...a short walk would get me all the fresh fruit I wanted...and that is the easiest thing in the world to supplement.


Our first order of business today was to get a few things for DS's room. For instance...they didn't give him a plunger...and...we thought that would be better to have than not have. We needed a screwdriver for mounting the monitor (the picture I posted was accomplished later). We needed a Home Depot or Lowes and so searching for a hardware store...we found a chain and a location not too far away...seemed like the London equivalent. So off we head to there...a pretty easy ride on the Tube...and I got my first glimpse of the Eye!




Only to find out that Maps was wrong...and it wasn't in business any longer. A quick search let us know that there was a hardware store around the corner...a small local type place.


A word on cell phone use in London.


We felt that DS needed a local phone number. Texting has become the preferred method of communication for so many different people and groups. We knew this would be important for him. We had also planned on getting him a new phone anyway for heading off to college because his phone is his camera and the cameras in our iPhone 5s are really not very good. So we researched phones...and priced out unlocked phones. We got what we think is a good deal...a NIB flagship Samsung that is still supported but considered dated.


Giffgaff is the mobile service provider. You can order a free SIM card and they will deliver to the US. You go to this site:




And purchase a voucher. Then you redeem the voucher for credit on your giffgaff account. You then have the option to buy any one of several goody bags that bundle data, text, and minutes. Not everything is covered by a goody bag, so you want some credit on your account to pay as you go for those things. You can activate your SIM card in the US which will give you your phone number. But we weren't able to really test it all out until we arrived in London.


We all qualify to unlock our phones with AT&T. So we unlocked DH's phone and also got a giffgaff SIM for him. We switched out his SIM card in London. This allowed us to have normal cell phone use in London for our trip for 20 pounds. (I did the biggest top up possible). This helped us communicate with DS too when he started staying in his room and going to his enrollment week activities.


It was really easy to do...but a word of caution. You do need to have a compatible phone. AT&T and similar are compatible. Verizon, Sprint?, and similar are not. I think eventually it won't be an issue...as of whatever G networks, they will all finally be on the same communication style grid or something. The details escape me but the point is that you do need to see if your phone is compatible before trying to swap out your SIM card if you are traveling to the UK.


We head back to DS's neighborhood and the PO to pick up the beard trimmer delivery. And then back to DS's room to drop everything off...and then off to lunch.


Lunch is easy...we like pubs. A lot. And since they aren't a thing here...we choose pubs for food a lot. We ended up in Fountains Abbey. Pubs are easy to identify...the outside is generally covered in flowers...on the corner in the distance:




If you go to a typical pub...you order at the bar. There is no service in the manner of the US...they will deliver the food to you...but you go to the bar to order anything and everything you want.


You might be able to pick out DH and DS at the bar:




DH and I...here's my bun! And yes, I am wearing a BLACK tee shirt. It's a concert tee I just got...we saw Cage the Elephant and Beck. And one of the opening bands was Sunflower Bean and I thought they were so good...and the shirt went with my new Uniqlo pants. Earth DH is wearing a perfect Earth shirt:




We all got fish and chips...and while I think most fish and chips are pretty good...these were way more greasy than any others we've had. Not impressed...and there are too many other pubs around...so thumbs down on Fountains Abbey.


After having a get business done morning...we decided to head over to Oxford St and go to Selfridges. The bus stop wasn't far...that's where I was when I took the outside picture. We waited quite a bit for a bus...and then it was a bit of a ride...with all the stops...so that when we finally got to Selfridges...DS was really, really cranky. OMG.


It was not fun. And I was done. I said, we don't have to do this right now...and DS immediately perked up, "Are you sure?" It was like he understood that he was a downer and then was sorry for it...but really, I didn't need this...so we headed out...and grabbed the Tube which is on the line that runs to the slightly further away station near DS's hall.


Back in his room, we gathered the things he would need for staying with us at the hotel again and we headed back to the hotel...where the guys immediately fell asleep for a nap...and I read for quite bit and then also fell asleep.

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20 hours ago, MJC said:

PA glad to hear you made it home safely and that Carnival did right by everyone even though it was weather related. I hope you get to do Bermuda eventually. So pretty there.


Thanks 🙂 We did go to Bermuda earlier this year with our kids for DD graduation, and liked it so much that we jumped on a deal for just hubby and I to go for our anniversary trip.  


Charleston was a great stop.  We walked the market and shopping area, admired the architecture, and spent time in the park near the water.  The weather was beautiful and the people were charming.  The seas after we left were extremely rough before they decided to cancel Bermuda and turn north, but even just having a down day in the cabin while DH battled sea sickness wasn't all bad.  We got some much needed rest, tried room service (very good), watched some movies, and I even finished a book this cruise.


That top is really nice 😍great pattern without being too busy.

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DH and I woke...but DS was still going strong.


We were hungry...at lunch, we had split and DS had had his own. So we were motivated and ready for dinner...even though it was late...after 9 pm.


Just down the street is the Warwick Arms. Photo taken on a subsequent day...during the day...LOL.




This is a unique pub in that the kitchen is an Indian kitchen!! Chatpata..."Exquisite Indian Cuisine"...specifically North Indian cuisine. Warwick Arms is also a Fullers Pub. Some pubs are free and some are tied to different breweries. Fullers happens to be one of DH's favorite breweries...so going to a Fullers tied pub and being able to sample all the different Fullers brewers...many on tap is a real treat.


We ordered lamb nan (I'm used to seeing naan, but it was nan on the menu), saag paneer malai (a spinach dish), and a lamb dish...this photo is from a subsequent night...I think DH and I hit up the Warwick Arms 3 times...




I adore these little wok servers over the tea lights!


Now this pub is one that is an exception to the order at the bar rule...you can still order at the bar and we watched many people walk in and hit the bar first before going to their seat...but if you wanted to order food...someone from the kitchen would come out and take your food order. The bar keeps would deal with drinks and the kitchen the food.


This is a small little place. OMG I love it. It is absolutely what I picture when I think of English Pub:








As we were sitting there in the pub...I could hear the word Kennesaw from the table behind me. And then, "Such a cute little downtown."


Sometimes you can't help but overhear the conversations going on around you...and when you hear a familiar word in an unfamiliar place...your ears perk up even more. We lived in West Cobb County when we lived outside Atlanta...one of those areas where the land isn't annexed but the postal cities are different so that almost like four corners, you could basically be in Kennesaw, Acworth, Marietta and Powder Springs within steps. So when I hear Kennesaw, I think, how many Kennesaws could there be?


So I turn around and start talking to the Delta flight crew that is based out of Atlanta that loves this pub and always goes to it when they overnight in London. LOL!!! 


Small word.


One of the things I enjoy about draft beer in a pub is that the glass is specific to the beer you are drinking. They will serve the different brews in their appropriate glass style (like there are different wine glasses...there are different beer glasses) and the glasses will also be decorated with the brewery info...not the bar's info.


The seasonal Fullers IPA was excellent.




Edited to add...OMG...I hope I can get this added...


Anyway...on the walk from DS's hall to the Tube for going back to the hotel...I saw the little neighborhood hardware store. And it hit me that we were going to a lot of effort to try to get DS set up and that a lot of our effort was excess and wasted. We could have so easily just hit up the local hardware place...but not having lived in such a city...our thoughts hadn't quite adjusted to the fact that there are little local helps all over London and you shouldn't have to go so far out of your way to take care of typical everyday things.


So DH and I discussed how it was time to do something fun. No more taking care of business. DS didn't seem to be appreciating our efforts much...he was wanting to take care of himself more...so we decided to stop. We really had taken care of him...we were still waiting on the monitor at this point...and there was nothing else to do really...so we should start having more fun and more carefree family in London time.


We would talk with DS in the morning about the possibility of going to Westminster Abbey the following day.


We didn't stay out too late...


I don't recall if DS actually woke up this evening again or not...if he did...it was repeat of the previous night. A bit of food that we had stocked...a bit of telly...and then more sleep. Going to bed with alarms set.

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pacruise...sad to hear about DH getting sea sick. My DH is sensitive to motion sickness...he got hit a bit in the Gulf of Alaska. Not fun...but sounds like you had good down time. I haven't been to Charleston yet...sounds lovely.


btw...for anyone interested in that Samsonite underseat luggage...you can get it for $78 on eBags with the code HURRY which is  only good today. Hmmm. 

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Margaret-love the blue cover up. It looks really nice on you as does your sun hat. Sounds like you had an amazing trip to FL.


pacruise, Charleston is an interesting and fun place to visit so you certainly made the best of the situation!


Pam, that is an amazing price for your flight to Rome. Wishing you a wonderful trip and cruise home.


Anita, loving that you are sharing your adventures in London and your experiences helping your DS settle in to uni life. One thing you said brought back a some memories of our experience in the same situation with our DS. Well not quite the same,, he was about 2000 miles from home and not in another country. However, he was settling in to his dorm room and at one point it became clear that our efforts were not as appreciated as the had been up to that point. As I’m sure you can understand, it was hard enough for me to see him “leaving the nest” so his attitude was sorta’ adding another layer to my sadness. Looking back I realize that it was his way of handling the separation process and that I should have been thankful, not sad. Not easy to do at the time! Like you, I knew he wouldn’t be coming home until Christmas and we couldn’t just go visit in between. Anyway, I made it thru’ and it was so very worth it.


Your son’s dorm room seems very nice with a great view. Are the rooms singles or will he have a roommate?






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Sharon...that's a nice perspective on the whole will-you-stop-helping-me? kind of attitude. I appreciate that. I read a very helpful parenting book when DS was an infant or toddler. A main point of the book was having a goal in your parenting...however everyone would define the idea independently...keep in mind the idea that you are trying to raise a capable, independent adult. I try and let go...and just be proud.


We think the dorm is great. The furniture is like "builder quality" you know? But perfectly adequate. And he has a lot more space than even he thought he would have. And the en suite is amazing to have. The windows open too which will be handy because the air is centralized and he will have to put up with whatever the setting is for the building...but having the windows will help.


It is a single room. Most halls have a majority single rooms with doubles and more being much more rare. We are all so thankful for that. Not only for the personal living space...but also for the idea that everyone is in a single and so everyone needs to emerge from their rooms to get to know people.


I didn't want to overload my story with pictures of a dorm room...but I was so curious myself...for anyone else that is curious about London student housing...this is an overview shot of the en suite bathroom. You can see my travel day tee shirt in the mirror! The sink is odd with the two faucets so spread out...one for hot and one for cold.




The shower is to the left of the sink, with a small pan for the shower and the tiled shelf kind of area. 




The shower faucet is a hand held that you can clip onto the adjustable height bar thing...DS said he figured out how you are supposed to shower in his shower. You basically get yourself wet with the handheld. Then turn off the water. Then soap up. Then turn the water back on and rinse. Really water efficient and not the kind of thing where you just hang out and enjoy being under the spray.




I foresee DS taking long showers in December. LOL.


Here's a good overall shot...this is our first arrival in the room with everything everywhere. Furniture is the twin bed (under bed drawers are hidden by the blanket), a nightstand (there's a black string bag on it), the wardrobe, the desk, the pinboards, the shelves, the bin (trash bin). And there's a nice big open space that doesn't look open because there's a guitar case there on the floor. The windows are open...it's the sidelights that open with a tilt out and a brace for being open three different tilts. The curtains came with the room too. The wall/doorway on the left is to the bath room.




It's a pretty happy room!

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We started the day with our awesome breakfast buffet...


It was a leisurely morning really...DH and I woke early enough to each take showers and head downstairs while allowing enough time for DS to take a shower and get ready with us out of the room and meet us at breakfast. Typical travel morning...but no rush. 


I think there is a small discount for purchasing tickets to Westminster Abbey online. You select from one of three 2-hour entrance windows. We opted for the second one of the day, beginning at 1:30 PM...the first one began at 11:30 AM...and considering that it was already after 11:30 AM, we didn't want to feel rushed. In hindsight, I think that we would have easily still made that first window...however, the feeling of having a leisurely morning and day continued with the idea of not rushing to make our entrance window.


Still...we headed straight over to the Abbey after breakfast.


Even though I didn't have cellular access on my phone...WiFi was all over. I downloaded an app called Tube Map which would work on and offline. If you were online, then you could get walking directions from your current location to the nearest Tube Station and then from the destination Tube Station to your final destination. Offline, the app had enough popular destinations programmed into it that you could still get detailed directions to your chosen destination but you had to pick the nearest Tube Station to your current location. It's a handy app. DS had chosen the Underground London app.


DH was still using Maps which wasn't as good. Maps couldn't grasp the concept of picking the Tube Station that was closest to your final destination if that Tube Station wasn't between your current location and the destination. It didn't like this concept of traveling longer on the Tube and walking less as opposed to getting off the Tube earlier and walking more.


Point being...*drumroll*...there's an app for that. Get one that is specific to the Underground and you will get superior directions consistently.


ALSO...because I have to learn these things from my DS...if you are using WiFi to figure out directions on Maps, for instance...take a screen shoot of the directions. Then you don't have to worry about your connection and whether or not you lose your directions when you no longer have WiFI. Duh.


ALSO...if you have tickets...for anything...and there is a bar code that must be scanned...take a screen shot of that. Then you don't have to worry about accessing your email...or even an app...just open up Photos when you get to the point where you need to present your ticket. OMG...DUHH.


But my brain doesn't work in these ways yet with regards as to how to use my phone for such things...so I learn these things form DS. 


So...without question...you want to get off Westminster Station for Westminster Abbey...


London is crowded...for sure...people are everywhere...I've never been the only party walking the streets...and rarely have people been scarce...but this was the first time that I had ventured into tourist land in London.




People. ALL. OVER.


The first thing that I saw coming out of Westminster Station was construction. I haven't done a whole lot of research about London...as funny as that is to admit...but DS isn't a research type person...he is more of an explorer type person that wants to discover things and just enjoy days as they unfold. That usually works out for him because his planner Mom makes awesome days unfold...LOL...but for London, maybe because this was going to become DS's college home...I didn't want to become the London expert...I kind of want the option to be able to be lead around by DS in the future...so all the construction took me completely by surprise.




Big Ben is covered in scaffolding...and so is Westminster Hall




We had plenty of time to have a bit of a wander before our entrance window...so we headed over to Parliament Square to check out all the statues there.


There was a protest of some sort going on in the square. TV cameras, etc. AND tour groups...SUPER FUN.


The statues are well worth the time to look...the statues are not just UK people. We got a kick out of discovering who was honored with a statue...so in the interest of that spirit...I'll simply suggest that it's a worthwhile pastime to wander here if you are in the area.


Eventually we made our way around to the front of the Abbey...had our first opportunity to survey the scene. This is not a great picture of me...my lips were dry and I was trying to get ready for the picture but DH didn't give any warning that he was already taking the picture...but I love the expression on DS's face...I've seen it so many times...and yet capturing the expressions of our loved ones can be difficult to do:




So here's my top of the day! Margaret...this is my Desigual shirt...and my wine colored cardigan sweater. It's a very thin sweater. I think I have a pony tail today. DS's shirt is a Struts concert tee...a band that is quite popular in the UK...he got many comments on his shirt. 


In this photo you can see the line for admission behind us. This is nearing the second hour of that first entrance window...so the line is winding down. We had observed it being much longer when we first arrived. Before you can even enter that line...you have to go through the bag check security line when you first enter the grounds. We concluded that we would try to enter the grounds and get into the admission line around 1:10 to actually be entering the Abbey close to our 1:30 time slot.


So we still had time to continue our wander...


And we wandered around the Abbey toward Westminster Hall and the House of Lords...this is the exterior of Henry VII's Lady Chapel:




My camera doesn't have a wide enough angle to get everything...so something...like the very top of the chapel is cut off...and the day was very overcast...so it may be difficult to discern...but there is GOLD on the tops of each "mini tower" around the exterior. Is it real? IDK...what else could it be?


We continued on and found the Jewel Tower.


The Jewel Tower area is below street level. You can freely wander about the area that used to be enclosed by walls. If I understood the drawings properly...the Jewel Tower was located in the southwest corner of the walls that surrounded the medieval Westminster Palace. It is one of the few remaining buildings from that medieval construction...constructed in 1365-66 for King Edward III. Walking around the exterior is free...and I don't recall if there is a charge to go into the Jewel Tower or if it is one of those recommended donations...but regardless...we didn't go inside:




Again...too close and not a wide enough angle to get the top...you can see a sliver of sky at the top of the middle of the picture...the man entering the building does help to understand the scale of the building. You can still see the foundations of the no longer existent walls and the area that was a moat. And we were far enough below street level that I could actually get the entirety of Victoria Tower right across the street (part of the Westminster Palace)




We wandered back toward the Abbey entrance...


The gate is near the Great West Door...which is the exit from the Nave. Wordsworth said:


How reverend is the face of all this pile,
Whose ancient pillars rear their marble heads
To bear aloft its arch'd and ponderous roof;
By its own weight made steadfast and immovable,
Looking tranquillity. It strikes an awe
And terror on my waking sight: the tombs
And monumental caves of death look cold.




When I can't get the whole picture in the way I would like...I do try to capture that photo that evokes the feeling of being there. Up close above...from a distance below:




I found the details to be somewhat mind boggling. It's difficult to discern, but there are statues across the top of the main entrance in this view. They are statues of modern martyrs...beneath those...there are four statues of virtues...two on each side of the upper part of the entrance way arch...this is Truth and Justice:




We entered through the gates at about 1:10...breezed through the bag check line (we had no bags)...and found the end of the entrance line across from Margaret's Chapel (for those familiar to understand how long the line was). Again...no way to capture the edifice of the Abbey in its entirety...so I focus in on the details:




The queue was fast moving though and we were slightly concerned with our timing...worrying that we would hit the entrance prior to 1:30 pm. Our timing was perfect though...and as the rain started to fall as we neared the actual entrance way...we praised the day and the timing as going inside to tour while it rained felt like a divine appointment.


We ended up being directed to the doorway that is normally the entrance for people who have paid for a guided tour...I share that I thought we got "gipped" with that entrance because we were off to the side of the enormously long queue to pick up the headsets that offer you a self guided tour. I felt like the people who went through the normal entrance were naturally routed into that line...and thus might have combined their waiting for the headset with admittance. I have no proof of this...and we didn't take the time to wait for the headset...


While there were times when I missed being able to understand a bit more what I was looking at...at the same time...I think that I might have saved myself from that much more overload by skipping the headset. Because the Abbey is A LOT. Like a lot a lot.


There are places in this world that can blow you away with their natural beauty...and there are places in this world that can blow you away with what mankind is able to build and how that structure can inspire a feeling of awe at the accomplishment. Westminster Abbey is one of those awe-inspiring places for me. It isn't just the building itself...it's almost the collective feeling that so many people have assigned to building.


As I said...I didn't read up on anything...and I just don't know these things...so I was astonished at the fact that there were so many people BURIED IN Westminster Abbey.


When first struck with that realization...I remembered the Cathedral that Mom, Dad and I visited in Barcelona...and I thought...oh yeah...they do this over here. Does this happen in the US? And then there is this fascination with the building itself and then all the people that are buried in the building. You wonder if there are pictures or what of the ones whose stones have been tread upon so much that the lettering is too worn to read. I was reading one and one of the docents flat out told me to not bother reading that one...I wouldn't know him...he wasn't that important...and I thought to myself...Seriously? Why would you say that?


You can't take photos inside the Abbey.


You can go at your own pace once you are inside.


Our pace worked out very well...we naturally ended up near the entrance to the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Galleries around the time for our ticket to that extra area. You climb to the top of the Weston Tower...I don't recall how many hundred steps that is...I think less than 200 but still...OMG...there is an elevator but then you would miss out on all the different views on the way up. 


There is a very interesting collection of items in the Galleries...but part of the attraction is the location. There are several areas where you can get a clear overlook to the floor below and of course, seeing out the windows from up high is quite an experience as well. It was definitely worth the extra 5 pounds.


After the Galleries...we continued on with the Abbey. The College Garden had closed for the day but the Cloisters were still open. You can take photos there...a view toward Victoria Tower:




We had been on our feet for several hours at this point...and our brains were on overload...and we were hungry. Time to head out and find some grub.

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Anita, I do agree, letting go, while so hard, is the goal and being proud of your child’s independence is the reward. My children are older now, independent and happy with their lives. DS is in his 30’s, married and pursuing a career that he started planning when he was in second grade. It allows him to travel the world and he is an extremely knowledgeable “travel planner/guide”. He is an airline pilot with a major US airline so, as his parents, we too have flight benefits (sometime very tricky to use) . We have been fortunate to have opportunities to travel with him and it’s aleays an adventure. So I can relate when you said you are looking forward to DS leading your future sightseeing when you visit. He may even branch out and explore other countries and then you and DH can explore those with DS leading the way. BTW Paris is less than 3 hours on the Eurostar-just sayin’!


That seems like a really nice dorm set up esp a private room with an en-suite. I can see why you feel happy about his living arrangements. That shower set up would not work well for me especially when washing my hair. But for guys it’s probably not a big deal.


Thanks for taking us along on your London tour. It’s been a few years since we visited. At the time the exchange rate was horrible. If I recall correctly it was approx $1.60 to a Pound. Really put a damper on my shopping!



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Anita, your posts make me want to go to London! Sally, I promised myself while I was shopping to go to St. Armand's the next time I'm in SRQ. 🙂  That Desigual top I posted is actually much more muted than the link shows, I will try to take a pic tomorrow.

BTW, 30% off at Lands End right now, and also Clinique Bonus time at Macy's. I like when the bonus includes a travel size of something I already use. It's also an opportunity to try products and see if they irritate my rosacea before buying. That's how I discovered the evening moisturizer I now use.


We may have a January wedding, so I scoped out the dresses and fell in LOVE with this:




It didn't work for me, but I have this one on the back burner:




I think that may be a FIRE fuschia choice in there???


So many nice greens for a Deep Autumn. I think I need something green. I already have way too much teal. 🙂



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I"m enjoying reading all the posts and catching up!  London is a place I've always wanted to go.  I don't know if I will ever get there, but it would be wonderful to go.


I understand the letting go part with kids.  Sometimes, we even forget what they are going through, and they may not wish to discuss it with us, particularly when it comes to going off to college.  I know with my younger daughter, it was almost like she couldn't wait for me to leave after we dropped her off, ha.  But within a month and a half or so, it was the opposite.  


But I'm not making my point very well.  Generally speaking, our young adults have an awful lot going through their minds when they are going off to college for the first time.


I think it is wonderful that you get to do some traveling with your husband, Anita.  And like you are now, Margaret!  My husband doesn't have to travel for work at all.  Once a year, he is gone for 3 days and he is about two hours away.  He and about 3 other guys from work have to attend codes training each year.  If he did travel, I probably wouldn't be able to go with him much due to my work schedule.  That sure sounds like a lot of fun though, and it's an opportunity to explore some new areas.


Margaret, I find that when I travel, I love to be somewhere that I can just walk to a restaurant or local attraction, or take public transportation.  Not taxis and the like, but trains and buses.  Things like that.  We do that in Boston.  With where I currently live, there are some people who drive to a local plaza or similar area, park their car, and then take the bus downtown to work.  Many people opt to drive even when they work downtown though because the bus schedule isn't that great around here.  You also have to get off and transfer to another bus, etc.  I'm somewhat fascinated at how easy it is to get around in other cities.


My daughter is anxiously awaiting the arrival of her son, with two weeks to her due date even though her doctor thinks she will give birth sooner.  I am hoping so, as she is steadily getting bigger and she has a pretty small frame.  I worry that she is going to have a very difficult labor. 


Some day, I will finish my cruise report, but it has been so busy for me lately.  In the meantime, here are a few odds and ends of pictures from the onboard photography...






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I LOVE Downton Abbey!! I was so disappointed that I couldn't ever drive out to the Biltmore when we lived in Georgia...they had a special exhibit of clothing from Downton Abbey there for a while. It just didn't work out to get out there to see it. Did you enjoy the movie? I want to see it. DH will go with me but not sure that he is as much of a fan as I am...


I haven't been to a wedding in so long...last two were SILs weddings...I think 8 and 9 years ago? Give or take? I think the lines of the second dress would be very flattering. Would dance nice too...


I always enjoy your cruise portraits Laurie. I'm never attracted to the big white backdrop in person but whenever I see yours...I like them so much. Love the last one. I watched a few videos on how to pose for pictures...and one of the tips was to not pose but be doing something...the body looks more natural and relaxed...I think that's why I like that last one so much. And could be why...even with my tongue out, I like the one of DS and myself...it's more relaxed feeling. You look great in your dresses and I especially like the pattern on the top.


I haven't been in the Miami area in so long. DH and I ended up there...IDK why...but we stayed in South Miami Beach and we visited one of the my sorority sisters who lived nearby. I seriously can't remember why we were there...hmmm.


Bought our air to get to Fort Walton Beach last night. Very exciting stuff. Going on a dinky plane...34 seats!

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Back in London...


We did spend some time in the gift shop before we headed out...there were several things there that I resisted buying. I figured that I could always get DS to go back if I decided that I really wanted something. Now...back home...there are two things that I want...one from the Abbey and one from another place yet to talk about...both are puzzles that depict the locations. The Abbey puzzle tempted me when we were in the store...but again, I thought I'd wait. I may tell DH to hint very strongly to DS to go get me these puzzles for Christmas LOL.


In the manner of food...what a surprise...still loaded in my Maps I saw the Westminster Arms...




There was a graduation of some sort going on. As we walked over in to the pub, there were so many caps and gowns and people dressed up and all congregated along this one street... I think the ceremony had just ended and all the people were spreading out...posing for photos and generally forming small groups...creating quite the obstacle course to navigate. You can see the crowd gathered in front of the pub...we hurried inside, hoping there would still be a table available.


So inside...the set up was different than what we had experienced before. Usually there are tables in the bar area...but not so much here. The bar itself was lovely. I've never seen hard alcohol dispensed in such a way before...like, on tap almost:




Upstairs was a dining room and the Wine Bar was downstairs...and the signage made it clear there was food downstairs too:




We headed down to the Wine Bar...a TINY little place...there were 5 intimate booths around the perimeter of the room. And when I say intimate...I mean that they had full ceiling to floor wood paneling separating each booth...so that each booth was more like a cubby...and then maybe 5 small high tops in the middle? It was COZY. 


I wished so much to take a photo of it...but there was no way to do so without zeroing in on strangers...


We had beat the crowd but the booths were all taken. We grabbed one of the high tops...and figured out what we wanted. Time for the classic Guinness and a Steak and Ale Pie.




This is the only "atmosphere" photo I have.


I hope no one else is offended when they see DS with his Guinness. We are actually thrilled that drinking won't be a "thing" for the social culture of DS's college. We've tried to model what we think is responsible drinking...that is...enjoy the drink because you like the taste, not for any other ulterior motive...with the very, very few over indulgences that might happen on vacation 🙄😬 So we're quite happy that drinking can just be a part of the normal scene and not something that has to be hidden and worried about.


Get this...for DS's first week of school...the Student Union has planned activities all throughout. The activities are geared toward the "Freshers" and getting them socialized and put into environments where they can interact outside of class and get to know one another, and the upper classmen too. (I think the student body is all of 400+ students). So on Monday night, the FIRST night of school mind, MONDAY...they organized a PUB CRAWL. OMG... But it happened around dinner time and didn't go too late...and the point wasn't to get wasted...the point was to be in a comfortable place and meet people. And still go to bed at a decent time...LOL.


btw...DS said that the Student Union president named him and his friend the "best dressed" and put them in a VIP section where they got special treatment. DS said he DANCED (!!!) all night and had such a good time.


Is it wrong to be jealous of your son? LOL.


Anyway...back at the Westminster Arms...


The stools for the high tops were REALLY uncomfortable...so we watched the booths like a hawk to swoop down and snag one as soon as the people left. Fortunately, we were able to get one before our food arrived. 




SO. Good.


Steak and Ale pie with sautéed red cabbage and apples, and what was supposed to be sweet potato mash (but I think was regular potato mash). Tasty and filling.


This little place was getting more and more crowded. Since we had ordered and paid at the bar...we were good to go when we were done...so when we were done...we headed out.


Westminster Abbey was closed for tours for the day. The sun was trying to shine...and without the crowds directly in front...it was a good time to try to grab a few photos:




St. Margaret's Chapel is the smaller, lighter colored building on the left.


You can attend services at both the little Chapel and the Abbey. We had noted an organ service on Sundays? We were keen on that idea...I would love to hear the organ in the Abbey...but I'll tell you now...didn't happen. Something for a future trip.


I was really wanting to see the Thames. I didn't get to see it at all the last time we were in London and I had yet to see it during this trip...so we headed back toward Westminster Station and just beyond the station is a multilane bridge with wide pedestrian sidewalks on each side. And I finally got to see the Thames and other iconic London sights:






We were pretty tired...we have been in this habit of an afternoon nap...or evening nap...not necessarily the best thing but we were thinking that whatever it took to help DS be feeling good and ready for the beginning of the academic year. Fortunately, his first obligations were enrollment week...so not classwork...so he would continue to have time to push through the afternoon slump...it was only our third day in London. It was only Friday...we had arrived on Wednesday.


Isn't that crazy?


As we rode the Tube back to the hotel...I was thinking to myself...I'm still here for another 4 full days! Leaving on the 5th day.

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