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Monday through Thursday, France and England

December 5, 2013

Monday was our last full day in France. We started out by visiting the Tapestry Museum in Bayeux, followed by the cathedral in town. Both very impressive sights to see if you’re in the area. The cathedral is simply breathtaking and enormous.

This took us to just about noon, at which point we hit the road to make our way to Calais, via a slight detour to visit the Newfoundland memorial near Beaumont-Hamel. This is a memorial set up to honor a regiment from Newfoundland, most of whom lost their lives in a catastrophic battle in WWI. Up until this, all the war-related visits we’d done were from WWII.

We *just* made it, getting there about 4:15 (it closes at 5), so we were just getting the last sunlight of the day as well. The memorial is beautiful, and it’s rather striking to walk through the trenches the soldiers fought in. There’s a visitor’s center with a good exhibit and lots of information that’s run by the Canadian government, and staffed by Canadian students working abroad.

Going there added about an hour to our driving, but it was worth it. We made it into Calais just around 7, and after a dinner in town we called it a night.

Tuesday, we did breakfast at the hotel, then dropped the car off at the ferry terminal. We checked in early enough we were able to take an earlier crossing than the one I’d booked — this worked out pretty well, since it prevented us from navigating the tube with our luggage during rush hour. As it is, by the time the ferry crossing to Dover and train from there to London was done, it was around 3:45 (we gained an hour in crossing from the continent as well). As it worked out, we got to our hotel just around suppertime. So after dropping our bags, we hit a pub for a pint, then hit a Wagamama for supper.

Wednesday we set out to do something we’d not yet done in London — see a play in London’s West End (the London equivalent of Broadway). We’d had our sights set on "Jeeves and Wooster in Absolute Nonsense", as it was starring Steven Mangan, someone whose work in the show "Episodes" we quite liked. Plus it was getting very good reviews. So we got our tickets for the matinee showing (very nice seats, 7 rows back, center). At this point, we discover Mangan was suffering from a bout of pneumonia and was limited to doing one show a day. This, no matinees. Crap.

That being said, his stand-in was fantastic, the rest of the cast (all two of them) were just spectacular, and we thought it was a very funny show and a great experience. Lots of fun. After the show, we hit one of our favorite pubs (Ye Olde Mitre) for a couple of pints.

Our Wednesday night activity was to visit the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park and do something neither of us had really done since we were both school age — go ice skating. What a blast! We wee both very cautious at first, but it came back to us. I managed the whole hour without once falling (woohoo!), and Tisha only fell once due to her being brave and trying to pick up something someone had dropped on the ice.

Thursday, we started the day by checking out the Selfridges department store and their Christmas displays. We met up with our friend Ben for lunch and beer at another of our favorite pubs, the Bree Louise. Great beers, great pies. Yummy.

After lunch, we braved a bit of a wind and rain onslaught and headed to the National Portrait Gallery. Finally, a quick dinner at a local pub was in order. We were nearby a place called the "Maple Leaf", a Canadian-themed pub. Canadian flags everywhere, hockey being shown on the TV (albeit a game from the start of the week), and Canadian beer (among other more traditional offerings). It was a neat experience.

Tomorrow’s our last day here. We’ll visit the Tate Britain gallery, hit another favorite pub, and play it by ear from then on. It’s been a busy couple of weeks.

Some photos from the above adventures:

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