Comrade Will Goes to England

CW heads across the Atlantic for his next adventure: 10 days in England doing three things he loves: visiting family and friends, riding trains, and walking around unfamiliar places.

williamjh:

So, here is what I’ve been up to for the past couple days. Sorry for keeping you all at bay with photos from my phone, but now I have access to a computer with a camera card reader on it, so I can upload bigger and better images.

On Wednesday, after I arrived at Gatwick Airport, I took the train into London Victoria Station, where I changed to the tube to reach my friend Dan’s house. Dan’s family lives out in Chiswick, a charming suburb of west London with a busy high street and a lot of Greenspace. This morning I mailed a couple post cards from the Chiswick post office, which gave me the opportunity to walk past Turnham Green, a large public park that was the site of a battle during the English Civil War. Walking past a place whose claim to fame occurred more than a hundred years prior to the American Revolutionary War on July 4th really makes America look young.

In addition to green space, Chiswick has just about everything you could ask for in a suburb community: shops, a few restaurants with character, and—of course—a good local pub. Last night after dinner, Dan and I went down to the Tabard for drinks. Following my grandfather’s advice to “order a pint of bitter,” I had a nice English-style ale, served as God intended (i.e.: 50–55℉ and fermented naturally, without the assistance of carbon dioxide from the tap). I’m too used to being bowled over by the strong flavors present in American craft beers, so I think I need to drink more cask ale to appreciate it, but I did enjoy my pint.

Yesterday afternoon, Dan and I went into central London to do some sightseeing. First up was the Tower of London, where the Yeoman Warders (known better as Beefeaters) give wonderfully entertaining tours. Its amazing how much living history England possesses, and by being one of London’s most prominent tourist sites, the Tower is perhaps the best example. Elizabeth I was the first monarch since the Tower’s construction not to have used it as a residence—probably from the bad memories of being imprisoned there for a year by her half-sister Mary I. Nonetheless, despite the Tower’s diminished importance, it’s formal name remains Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress, and the Yeoman Warders are all retired military officers with distinguished records. Also, the Tower is the home to the Crown Jewels, and its role as a prison didn’t end until the 1950s. Far from an ancient historical site, the Tower continues to play a role in the British state, no matter how diminished that role may be.

After we left the Tower, Dan and I walked along the south bank of the Thames to the Tate Modern. On the way, we passed through some of the eclectic streets of Southwark, where architectural styles clash and trains run over head while Borough Market bustles bellow (where I got coffee with another friend this afternoon). However, by the time we got to the Tate Modern, I was quickly succumbing to the effects of not having slept on the flights to England. After viewing the paintings and installations on the first floor, we hightailed it back to Chiswick where I took a nap before dinner and the aforementioned pub visit.

Today, I woke up early to go for a run, and after a late breakfast, Dan and I went to the British Museum. As much as I wanted to see the Reading Room at the center of the Museum, it was playing host to a special exhibition on Pompeii which cost some twenty pounds to get into, so instead we contented ourselves with viewing some of the other antiquities, particularly those in the East and South Asian galleries, the Rosetta Stone, and the Elgin Marbles. All controversy surrounding the latter two exhibits aside, it was really quite amazing to see these artifacts up close.

After leaving the British Museum, we went to have afternoon tea in the area. I had a pot of Oolong Tea with my Parma ham and arugula sandwiches, a scone with fruit marmalade, and a delicious lemon cake to finish it off.

I’m beginning to feel like I’m going to fall asleep in my chair, so that’s all for now. Tomorrow, I’m going to Eastbourne to hike along the top of Beachy Head, so expect photos of chalk cliffs and the English Channel.

I went to the post office here in Chiswick to mail two cards to AMUR’CA (Happy 4th, everyone!). These are some things I saw on my way back.

williamjh:

Seen on a building in West #London. #nofilter

Seen post-running this morning.

williamjh:

The Tower of London seen from the moat. #london (at Tower of London)

Earlier today.

williamjh:

williamjh:

Chiswick High Rd. #london

Where I was just a few moments ago.

Arrived in London!

More details to come later.

(via credible-adventures)

williamjh:

Good morning Ireland! I took this photo from the international arrivals level of Dublin Airport’s Terminal 2 (at the far left you can see the left wingtip of our plane). I’m here transferring to a flight to London Gatwick Airport. We landed at 4:50, so the airport is just beginning to come to life. In a precisely opposite manner, I’m just beginning to feel tired since it’s just now passing midnight in New York. In the grand scheme of trips I’ve taken—12 hours to Beijing; 8 hours driving to Northern Michigan; 37 hours on a train from Shanghai to Kunming—our 6 hour flight from New York to Dublin is short, and I didn’t end up sleeping for any of it. When I couldn’t fall asleep after dinner, I ended up finishing Peter Hessler’s excellent book *Country Driving* and then flipped through *Lonely Planet* until we began our descent into Dublin.

Whoops, posted this on the wrong blog!

EDIT: Haha, I’m actually pretty sure now that the plane on the right of this picture is my ride to London now that I’m at the gate and taking a closer look at the angle.

Goodbye, America!

I’m about to board Aer Lingus Flight 104, the first of two flight I have to take to get to London. (Damn the lack of inexpensive direct flights!) Next time you hear from me I will be on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.

God I hope not, but I just Wikipedia’d him and the Koch Bros. and I don’t think there’s any relation. CRAFT BEER REMAINS UNTARNISHED*, GUYZ

*(except for the breweries that have already been bought by AB, Miller, or Coors)