20 April 2007

Lincoln, England

*WARNING: If other people's vacation photos bore you to tears, do not bother reading the following!*

We spent the first 4 days in Lincoln, with our friends, Andy and Teresa and their beautiful baby girl, Gabriella. Jonathan is now officially a godfather. He is very proud and excited to be a godfather. And little Gabriella really seemed to like him!

The christening was very moving. And Andy and Teresa threw such a nice party to celebrate afterwards. It was in their garden, and they had rented a large tent, complete with outdoor chandelier. Everything was pink--there was even pink champagne!

After the christening and its party were over, Andy and Teresa focused their energies on showing us around Lincoln. We were really looking forward to checking out the city, because this is where we are hoping to move! There is a college there, that Jonathan is applying to, and since Andy and Teresa live there, they could help us get settled. So we were very anxious to have a good look around.

It is absolutely beautiful. There is a castle, built by William the Conqueror, and a cathedral right next to each other on top of this massive hill in the center of Lincoln. And then these very lovely, very old shops and restaurants line the streets down the hill toward the more modern downtown full of more shops and restaurants. I had my first ever Cornish pasty in a shop there, and ohmyGodddd, it was so delicious! I loved it. Jonathan said, "You would. It's like a big Hot Pocket." Yeah, I love Hot Pockets. Whatever... This was way better.

the obligatory red phonebooth photo
downtown Lincoln

a very English photo of the castle

The castle has a fascinating history. There is a copy of the Magna Carta kept there. It was brought back by the bishop of Lincoln, who was a witness to the signing. The castle was a prison in the 1800s, and one of the towers is a graveyard where they buried the unfortunate men who were executed there.

me looking very queasy up on the castle wall with Jonathan
that's the cathedral in the background

view of the square and the cathedral from the castle wall

Teresa and me at the castle, back on the ground, thank God

graffiti in the graveyard at the castle
we just had to take a picture
how strange to see her name there

the remains of one of the Eleanor crosses by the castle

I was so excited to see part of one of the Eleanor crosses. That was very thrilling for me. I just think this is the most romantic story:

Charing Cross was one of 12 "Eleanor Crosses" erected by a disconsolate Edward I when his wife Queen Eleanor of Castile died in 1290. Eleanor bore Edward 16 children in an unusually happy union for that period of arranged marriages.

When Eleanor died at Harby, near Lincoln, in November 1290, a grief-stricken Edward ordered her embalmed, and her entrails were buried at Lincoln Cathedral. Her body was then carried in a somber procession to Westminster Abbey in London.

At each place where the procession stopped for the night, Edward had built a memorial cross in her honour.

The locations of the 12 crosses were as follows: Lincoln, Grantham, Stamford, Geddington, Northampton, Stony Stratford, Woburn, Dunstable, St. Albans, Waltham, Westcheap, and Charing.

Andy, having tea outside the cathedral

So we really loved the history of Lincoln. We even went on a ghost walk on Tuesday night with Andy, which told us a lot of the local history and legends surrounding the castle and cathedral. It was very fun, but sadly, it was uneventful.

a test photo of me on the walk
as you can see, no paranormal activity

Afterwards, the boys and I went to a pub for a pint; my first time in an English pub:

the boys looking jaundiced because I forgot to use the flash

Jonathan is a better photographer than me

Andy also showed Jonathan the school where he works. That was really nice to see, because Jonathan is hoping to teach in England, afterall, so we were very curious to see a primary school there. What an incredible school! I think Jonathan would be such a great teacher! And this particular school seemed like such a wonderful place to learn. Very colorful, stimulating classrooms. The school even has a camera set up on the roof with a TV monitor in the main hallway so the children can spy on a family of birds who have a nest up there. So cool. I would have loved something like that as a kid. I think Jonathan got very excited, walking through the rooms, looking around at the tiny little tables and chairs...

On Tuesday, Andy and Teresa took us to the horseraces with Teresa's family. That was so much fun! It was a very blustery day, and I must have looked very cold, because Teresa's parents bought me a coffee. But we had such a great time. It was nice to see Jonathan hanging out with his best friend. It's hard for us both that our best friends live so far away from us. I mean, we both have wonderful friends here in Fredericksburg, and scattered around northern Virginia, but you know what I mean. That One Person. Your best friend. We bet a couple pounds on each race, and we actually won on two races! So I think, even with paying for entrance and parking, we managed to come out a few pounds ahead in the end. I picked the horse that won the second race, and it was a long-shot--an American horse racing for the first time, so I was really excited when he won.

the boys at the races
Andy is not short, by the way, he is sitting down

I kept thinking, the entire vacation, should we do it? Should we move here? And every place we went, I imagined showing it to our family when they would visit us. That day at the races was really fun. I kept imagining my dad there, or my brother, George. I think they would really like it.

The only part of Lincoln, where I have to laugh and say everyone would not like it one bit, is the steep hill leading up to the cathedral and castle. I felt like such a fat, lazy American struggling up that thing. And Andy and Teresa were pushing a stroller up it! Seriously, I was getting passed by all these English people, not the slightest bit out of breath who were probably twice my age. It was very embarrassing! Luckily, you can always drive to the top and park, and I think there are even buses that go up for tourists. Seriously. I could just picture the look on my dad's face, looking at that hill! I think the only members of my family who could survive it are my step-mother and Leila, my sister-in-law. On Jonathan's side, I think his dad and sister could handle it, probably jog up the damn thing, but his mom would look at me like Are you crazy? The rest of us can take the bus. Have a nice cup of tea and wait for them to reach the top.

the hill leading up to the castle and cathedral
the hill that almost killed me


Anonymous said...

I am very glad you guys are home safe. It seemed like you were gone forever. Your trip sounds divine, as does Lincoln. I had no idea that the Cross, for which Charing Cross is named, was for Eleanor. Very cool. Did you get to Charing Cross whilst in London? It is so cool, endless quaint bookstores!

ciao peeps,


Anonymous said...

Andy's cute!