Abbey Road

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I was going to be mildly cliche and start this post with some insightful Beatles lyrics, but the first song to pop into my head was not-so-insightful-deep-or-meaningful “Twist and Shout.” So here you go:

Well, shake it up, baby, now, (shake it up, baby)
Twist and shout. (twist and shout)
Cmon cmon, cmon, cmon, baby, now, (come on baby)
Come on and work it on out. (work it on out)

You would think taking the quintessential Beatles picture at Abbey Road would be fun, easy and good time all around, right? Wrong, it is not easy. Little do you know that Abbey Road is at the intersection of three very busy roads. There are no stop signs or traffic lights, and while cars are required to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk, very few do because they are annoyed by all the tourists. But alas, we crossed that path many times to get the picture right – or at least as close to right as we could.

Almost like the real thing!

As we departed Abbey Road, we stumbled across this witty road sign…

The Wizards of Waverly Place - you know the Disney show.

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Last bits of London

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The time has come to leave London. I am both super sad to leave and very excited to return home. But before I go home, Pattie and I will be traveling through Italy – Venice, Florence and Rome to be exact! I’ve been looking forward to this trip for months!

Before I depart for the land of pizza, pesto and gelato, let me give you a peak at my last few weekends in London.

Another trip to Borough Market. This is a post-Thanksgiving sandwich: turkey, stuffy and cranberry sauce.

Visiting Rob Ryans store - Shannons favorite artist!

The mews next to my building. Mews are alleyways that are just lightyears cuter than any youll see in the US.

Obviously I went back to the Meister.

A dress made out of newspapers in the Science Museum.

Oh hello there, Mr. Prime Minister.

The Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace was a crazy tourist attraction. The official ceremony doesn’t begin until 11:30 am, but the place was packed well before 11. Unfortunately, our spot wasn’t too great, but we did get to see the band as they marched by. And I finally saw guards dressed in red! It was funny that the band even played the Star Wars theme song! Watch the guards here.

Changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. Finally saw palace guards in red coats! SUCCESS.

Regents Park - my favorite park in London.

A natural model.

Finally, finally I saw the peacocks in Holland Park. Not sure why they weren’t around the last time I visited, but I certainly saw a lot this time. Fun fact: the species is actually known as peafowl – the males are peacocks and the females are peahens. But have you ever heard a peacock cry? Listen to this.

Shake those tailfeathers!

The view of London from Primrose Hill is beautiful.

Picnic lunch.

Hampstead Heath

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Living in London is a lot different than living in Boston. In London, I really do feel like I’m in a city all the time, whereas in Boston I can easily forget that. Now, maybe that’s because Boston is basically a glorified town, but in any case – when the weekends rolls around I am more than ready to find some green space to relax and be away from the busy city environment.

Hampstead Heath is a large London park covering almost 800 acres. It is easy to get lost inside the heath as signs are sparse and pathways all look the same. Sometimes getting lost isn’t a bad thing.

Just monkeying around.

Once outside the heath, the surrounding Hampstead Heath area is perfectly adorable. The entire neighborhood had a very small-town feel, even though it’s just 30 minutes by tube to London’s city center.

 

My half-eaten spinach, cheese and ham crepe. It tasted mostly of butter, but oh - it was so good.

And like any small town, there are sure to be some strange characters.

 

Puppysack.

Oxford

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To all you Harry Potter folk, I did it – I embraced HP just for you at Oxford. But before I get to Harry Potter land, let me show you a little of Oxford – a town known best for itsĀ prestigiousĀ university.

The Radcliffe Camera, which houses the Radcliffe Science Library.

Two parts of Hertford College are linked by a Venetian bridge.

So Harry Potter, you say? Christ Church at Oxford houses the infamous HP dining room – I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that’s where little Harry meets the sorting hat. That magical setting modeled after Christ Church’s dining hall!

Look familiar?

Christ Church - it's kind of Hogwarts!

And what would Hogwarts be without some wizards?

On a related note, we happened to be passing through King’s Cross Station a while back when we realized that’s where platform 9 3/4 is located. After a long search, we found HP’s platform – squashed between platforms 8 and 9 and surrounded by construction. All in all it’s pretty lame; due to the construction the cart had to be moved, so they created a fake brick wall in a tunnel. But hey, I touched the magic of a phony platform 9 3/4.

Cotswolds

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Being in London for the past few months I’ve realized that I really do like green spaces and blue skies (as I’m sure you can tell from my recent park posts). London certainly has a sufficient amount of trees, flowers and open spaces to suit my needs, but getting out of the city and into the English countryside last weekend was a welcomed break.

We took a BU-arranged day trip to Cotswolds and Oxford (I’ll tell you about this another time). Cotswolds is perhaps the cutest place on earth. Picture tiny streets, quaint houses, a running brook and an abundance of ducks, this is Cotswolds. More specifically, we visited Bourton-on-the-Water, a part of the Cotswolds described as “Little Venice.”

Try and walk around here without a smile on your face. I'll tell you - it's impossible.

Sweets please!

Cotswolds is the type of place I could see myself living when I’m 70 and finally cave and get a small dog. It seems like the perfect quaint place to just relax. But for those of us stopping by for a couple of hours on our way to Oxford, there was only a limited amount of time to hit the top tourist attraction: The Dragonfly Maze. Throughout the maze we had to keep our eyes out for several clues along the path. Supposedly these clues would create a phrase that could show us something cool in the end. We finished the maze in about 15 minutes (though we missed one of the clues). The end phrase was “Place your hands on the monkeys and step on theĀ caterpillarĀ and wait.” Inside the hut in the middle of the maze if you push two monkey buttons on the wall while standing on aĀ caterpillar button, a frog statue in the middle of the room opens his mouth to show you a bedazzled dragonfly inside. Weird? Sure, but what else are you going to do in Cotswolds?

Lost in the maze!

One of the clues - it's a cheery monk!

The froggy with the dragonfly.

And of course Cotswolds had a nice array of sheep and ducks to keep us all happy.

Best part? Cotswolds of the home of Birdland! Okay, so we didn’t actually go in because who wants to pay to see birds, but we did get to check out these funny fellas outside…

Hyde Park

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Note: Also known as the day I took pictures of small dogs because they’re cute and I’m a creep.

Sun sun sun!! It’s been sunny in London for so long! It makes me forget all about this city’s rainy reputation. To bask in the sunshine, I visited a little bit of Hyde Park (convenientlyĀ located a mere 15 minute walk away). I usually go running through parts of the park, so it was nice to take my time and actually enjoy what was there.

Hype Park is beautiful! I couldn’t give the entire park in the hour I was there, but I do plan to go back and photograph the rest.

The boy who wouldn't grow up.

And now for the promised puppies…

He's so cute! Can I take him home with me?

Action puppy!

Columbia Road Flower Market

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I took Ā a quick visit to the Columbia Road Flower Market just in time for allergy season! Despite a few sneezes and that uncomfortable itchy eye feeling I managed to make it through the market unscathed.

Just stopping to smell the roses...

When I emerged from the Tube in East London, I’ll admit I was a little lost. I knew Columbia Road was relatively close, but I hadn’t explore much of this area yet so I looked a bit like a lost puppy. As I tried to walk past a rather slow couple in front of me, I realized they were an old couple part of a large group of elderly people. Then I realized: it’s Sunday morning and there’s a pack of grandmas and grandpas around me, which could only mean one thing. They were on their way to a flower market. So I followed the gray and white haired pack to the flowers.

Gerbera daisies! My favorite! And look how many different types there are!

Though the market itself is quite short, making it from beginning to end takes a long time. Everyone is jam packed into this tiny stretch of road marveling at the flowers. The market smells absolutely delicious! Every step you take, you’re surrounded by a fresh scent of the dozens of different flowers nearby.

Fun British fact: Most bundles of flowers at Columbia Road were 2 for Ā£5. Every vendor hollered their prices above the crowd noise, and every single one of them said, “Two for a five-ah!” Now, I think this was two for a “fiver” but the accent does funny things.

And along my journey I passed by some interesting graffiti…

Buzz Lightyear!