Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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The Sights of London

This is the first of a bunch of blog postings that I’ve been putting together from my trip. Rather than going through chronologically, as I’ve already done a quick chronology of the trip, I’ve done these more detailed postings by themes1. Apologies in advance for flooding your Twitter stream, Facebook feed, and/or RSS feed.

The London portion of our trip involved a lot of walking around and looking at things2. And shopping, because it’s against the law to go to London and not shop.

One of the coolest things we did in London was going on the London Eye, which is a giant ferris wheel type thingy on the River Thames. It takes about half an hour to go around the whole thing and thus gives you a good opportunity to look around and get the lay of the land – you could see the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and even, way off in the distance, Buckingham Palace. As someone who had never been to London before, I really enjoyed it and it helped me to figure out where everything was so that we could then go see all sorts of famous London sights.


Houses of Parliament, as seen from the Eye:


Big Ben, as seen from the Eye3:


Another capsule full of people on the Eye:


Shadow of the Eye on the River Thames, as seen from the Eye4:


And here we are on the Eye – my Aunt Eileen is in the front, wearing white, and my mom and I are on the right, wearing sunglasses. Aunt Lynn is in there somewhere, but she’s hiding from the camera!

london eye 2013

We also did a boat cruise along the Thames, which we got as a package deal when we bought our tickets for the Eye. Because we are thrifty like that5. The tour was awesome because the tour guide gave a running commentary as you cruised along, so you learned a bunch of history about all the stuff you were looking at:

Going under the London Bridge:


The Tower Bridge:


Houses of Parliament, as seen from the river cruise:


I think the Houses of Parliament are my favourite site in all of London!

After our trip on the Eye and our boat cruise, we wandered around to see some of the sights up close.

As it happened, the day we were there was the day of a 100 km bike race from Surrey to London, so we got to see a bunch of people racing:


I took this photo of a statue of Oliver Cromwell near Parliament without really knowing much about him:


I’d hear a lot about him when I got to Ireland, and none of it was very nice. I looked it up when I got home and apparently there was controversy over the statue, as opinions on Cromwell are divided, what with the attempted genocide of the Irish and all.

We couldn’t actually go into Westminster Abbey the day we were there, but it looked lovely on the outside:




The first time I saw a sign for Cafe Nero, I totally thought it said “Cafe Nerd”:


Needless to say, I was very disappointed when I realized its actual name.

This priest was walking out of a church and he totally made me think of The Exorcist6.:


Buckingham Palace was a bit of a let down, because the palace itself was pretty crappy looking and it turns out that they only do the changing of the guard every other day in August, but they don’t tell you anywhere which day7. The gates were very pretty though – here I am with my mom in front of the gates; I’m doing my best royal wave!


Saw this pub on the way to do some shopping. In retrospect, I wish we’d stopped in for a pint:


The English national lottery logo bears a striking resemblance to the one for the Oregon state lottery8:


Oregon Lottery Sign

Of course, no trip to London would be complete without going to Harrod’s:


My mom bought a purse here, which was actually cheaper than buying the same person back in Toronto. Only my family can go to Harrod’s and find a bargain! On the not-a-bargain front, I wanted to buy a tin of cookies that had the most adorable pigeons on it, but it cost €30 – or about $45 Canadian – which is criminally expensive for nine cookies, regardless of how cute the tin is.  I also didn’t buy this coat at Marks & Spencer, but only because I couldn’t find it in my size9. I did, however, get three dresses at Miss Selfridge, which my Aunt Eileen insisted on buying for me. Thanks Aunty Eileen!

Speaking of shopping, one of the things that my mom was especially interested in doing when we were in London was going to Stephen Einhorn’s jewellery store:


After my dad died, my sister and I got my mom a pigeon charm for a charm bracelet, as my dad was an avid pigeon racer. Naturally, the place we found said pigeon charm was in England – from Stephen Einhorn, to be specific. The pigeon charm was quite heavy though, and didn’t work with my mom’s existing charm bracelet, so she wanted to buy a bracelet here. And then she bought a couple of charms. And another bracelet. And my aunts bought bracelets too10

Here are my Aunt Eileen and my Mom showing off their new bracelets:


And here’s a frequent site you see in England if you take the Underground (a.k.a. the Tube):


Mind the gap!

  1. Or by clever titles that I thought of and then came up with themes of stuff to write about so I could use said clever title. “Clever” as defined by me. YMMV. []
  2. My mom and Aunt Eileen had been to London before (though for my mom it was about 30 years ago), but my Aunt Lynn and I had never been, so there were tonnes of things that we wanted to see! []
  3. I didn’t know this previously, but Ben is actually the bell inside the clock tower, not the clock itself. []
  4. So meta. []
  5. Yes, nothing says “thrifty” like going to Europe in August! []
  6. Also, he doesn’t look too happy about me taking his picture. []
  7. At least, it wasn’t on the sign that told us it happens every other day, nor could I find it on their website. []
  8. I took the photo of the Oregon state lotto logo on a trip to Oregon a couple of year ago, as the idea of the logo being crossed fingers struck me as particularly funny. []
  9. Despite checking one M&S store in London and two in Dublin. Plus the website – apparently every women in the British Isles who is my size will be wearing that coat this fall. Also, M&S had free shipping to Canada if you order online, which is good to know! []
  10. I contemplated buying a ring, but in the end decided that while I liked it, I didn’t *love* it, so couldn’t justify the purchase. []



I have *finally* finished uploading all my holiday photos to Flickr and that’s how many photos I took – 2,580. Well, I took a few more than that, but some were blurry or contained only the face of the random person who walked right in front of my camera as I tried to take a photo of something else, so I deleted those. So 2,580 useable photos. When you combine that with the 1,638 photos that my aunt took – well, that’s a lot of photos.

I don’t imagine you actually want to scroll through thousands of photos though, so I’m posting a few of my favourite ones here. And then I’ll write some blog postings about some of the stuff we did, and I’m sure I’ll put some of the photos in there too. And then I’ll stop flooding your social media streams with stuff about my holidays!


T-shirt in a store window in London.


I still don’t know what this is an ad for.


Shadow of the London Eye on the Thames, taken from the London Eye.



My mom, leaning out the window and calling “Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?”


A British racing pigeon. Look closely, you can see the bands on his legs!


Me and the Tardis.


Eyeballs in a garden at Blarney Castle.


My Mom, Aunt Eileen, and Aunt Lynn, at the top of Blarney Castle. They are ready to kiss the stone!


Oscar Wilde statue in Dublin. His shoes are real leather and are polished every day.


No trip would be complete without a picture of me in front of a sign, doing what the sign says not to do. Don’t sit on the steps. Pfft!


Aunt Lynn, Mom, and me!


Fearless whiskey tasters at the Old Jameson Distillery in Dublin.


Me, my mom, and Aunt Lynn at the Dunbrody famine ship.


Aunt Eileen, captain of the Dunbrody!


I’d make an excellent Queens guardsperson.


This really does not need a caption.


My mom’s favourite jeweller in London.


Giant blue rooster outside the National Gallery in London.


My mom and I on the tour bus in Ireland.


Grave of W.B. Yeats.




Nice, France.







Me feeding a lamb in Ireland.


Aunt Eileen and a sheep in Ireland.


Me, my mom, and Aunt Lynn at the Cliffs of Moher.


Aunt Eileen and me in Ireland.


My mom worked for the Royal Bank of Canada for 45 years. Her she is at the Royal Bank of Ireland.


Nice, France.


Nice, France.


Moonlight on the water in Nice, France.


You Should Be Jealous of Me

It seems like only yesterday that this trip to Europe was just a twinkle in my eye and now it’s the day before I leave! In fact, by this time tomorrow, I will be transferring from the Vancouver to Toronto leg of my journey onto the plane that will take me to London!

Despite the fact that I have a stopover in Toronto and my traveling companions – a.k.a., my mom and two of my aunts – are coming from Toronto, we aren’t actually on the same flight and are, in fact, going to different airports in London. I’ll arrive at Heathrow about an hour after they arrive at Gatwick. Our plan is to meet up at our hotel in Earl’s Court and then set about to our galavanting. We have 4 days for adventuring in London and then we fly out to Dublin for an 11-day tour.

These are all the places we shall go in the Emerald Isle.

In Ireland, from what I hear, we will see some extraordinarily beautiful sights, experience some outstanding hospitality, and probably gain 20 lbs from the hearty Irish breakfasts. I plan to kiss the Blarney Stone1 – though one of my epidemiologist colleagues suggested that I should bring some sanitizer to put on the stone first to kill the germs: “People are kissing that thing ALL DAY!!” I will also get to sleep in a castle2 and hit up the Jameson distillery AND the Guinness brewery3. And a whole bunch of other stuff, which I will report back to you on in greater detail than I’m sure you even care to hear4.

From Ireland I head to Nice, via Switzerland, where I intend to do a whole lot of nothing. Where “nothing” consists mainly of sitting on the beach, drinking wine, wandering around town, and doing whatever I feel like.  I have booked a short excursion to Monaco on of the days that I’m there,  and I’ve only just recently clued in that a couple that I know is currently living in France, a few hours from Nice, so I might take a trip out to see them if I can figure out how to get there despite my complete inability to speak French and dreadful sense of direction.

Most importantly, I will spend the next three weeks completely forgetting about work and school and any other such responsibilities. The only evaluations I’ll be conducting will be evaluations of beaches in the south of France. The only research I will be doing will be a comparative analysis of French wines and an ethnographic study in Irish pubs. I figure that it will be easy enough to pretend that I am just independently wealthy and travel around for a living. I mean, money will be going into my back account despite the fact that I won’t be doing any work, right?

The other day I was searching for a particular blog posting of mine when I came upon this one, a promise I was making to my passport to take it on exciting trips. It took me more than two years to finally make good on the promise, but I can finally say that I’ll be getting my passport stamped!

I may do some blogging while I’m away, depending on wifi access and whether I have any time or if I end up adventuring during all my waking hours. If I don’t do it while I’m gone, I’ll be sure to keep good notes and take lots of pictures so that I can blog stuff when I get back. I’ll probably be more likely to tweet, so if you are interested in that, you can follow my tweets: @Beth77.

And now, I’m off to pack!

Update: I forgot to mention that there are four viscous attack frogs who will be in my apartment while I’m gone, so don’t get any bright ideas, thieves. Also, there’s a frog sitter to contend with. Just sayin’.

  1. Because you know that I really need the gift of the gab! []
  2. Just like my frogs! []
  3. The fact that I am not that big on neither whiskey nor Guinness does nothing to dampen my excitement over these two things. []
  4. Because you are jealous. []


Europe Bound

In just 27 short days, I will be embarking on my first ever trip to Europe. My first trip to another continent, in fact1!

Europe by night

My itinerary includes:

  • a few days in London
  • an 11-day tour of Ireland
  • a week in Nice (with a half day side trip to Monoco)

When you count the fact that I’ll be flying from Dublin to Nice via Zurich, and then from Nice back to London for my return flight home via Geneva, I’ll be hitting a grand total of 5 countries on this trip, which more than *doubles* the number of countries I’ll have been to in my life2.

I’m particularly excited about going to Ireland, as every person that I’ve told that I’m going to Ireland has gone on at length about how amazing it is, about how they wish they were going there too, what with it being so amazing and all. The London & Ireland parts of the trip will be with my mom and two of her sisters, and I think it will be pretty cool to see our family roots together. I’m particularly interested in going to the grave of Blessed Edmund Ignatius Rice, an ancestor of ours who is one step away from being a Catholic saint and whose grave is in Waterford. Also looking forward to: the Guinness factory and sleeping in castles.

After all the running around touristing that I’ll be doing in England and Ireland, I’m planning to do a whole lot of nothing while I’m in the south of France. Well, nothing other than sitting on the beach reading books, eating baguettes and drinking wine. Not necessarily in that order.

So, to all of you who have been to any of these places before3 – any advice? Things you think I should see or do? Stuff I should pack? Recommendations for a good pair of shoes that is both fashionable AND comfortable for walking all day long?

Also, in case you are thinking of robbing my place while I’m away, I will have a friend frog sitting, so you are out of luck!

Image Credit: Posted by Ubefoto on Flickr.

  1. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I’ve never been outside of North America before. You’d think that someone of my advanced years would have managed to do that by now, but apparently I decided to do all of the school rather than doing any of the traveling. []
  2. For the record, so far I’ve been to Canada, the US, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic. []
  3. read: everyone on Earth except for me. []