Thanksgiving and Familiar Faces

December 17, 2014 1 Comment

It had been a little over a full month of WWOOF’ing and traveling while away from the comforts of home when Thanksgiving grew near. As the day of feast approached, we couldn’t help but feel a longing to be with loved ones.

Thanksgiving is likely our favorite holiday; mashing good company, delicious food, football and elastic waistline pants all in one, with extra gravy on top. We knew we’d miss out while abroad, but didn’t expect our homesickness tide to be this strong.

But, alas, there shined a light at the end of the tunnel… the Liikalas and Ed’s proactive dinner planning. Ed is a closet “Londonite” and we couldn’t have been more grateful. We dined at an “American” bar and restaurant: Jackson + Rye. Ed had done his homework; Jackson + Rye promised to serve a contemporary Thanksgiving dinner.

Brittany’s former co-worker and her dad, Carolyn and Michael (aka the Liikalas), had planned to be in London during the time we spent there. Looking forward to seeing a familiar face, our adventures on Thanksgiving day started in the morning. We awoke to a thoughtful and endearing handmade sign by Ed, wishing us a spiffing day.
IMG_4717Michael/Mr. Liikala, had meetings lined up during the day and Ed had to work, so the three of us hopped to – first giving Caro the official Oyster Card and tube transportation intro.

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Being one of the more popular destinations on the Piccadilly line, our train’s ultimate destination was Cockfosters. No matter how much we begged and pleaded, Carolyn just couldn’t stop laughing.

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Kids these days.
We took the silliness and did what any 3 crazy Americans on Thanksgiving morning would do: hit Hyde Park Winter Wonderland.

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IMG_4719The Winter Wonderland atmosphere, Christmas music, hot mulled cider and brisk London air concocted the perfect recipe to ignite holiday spirit. All happy to oblige, we walked along scanning the vendors with various goodies on display.

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The best gummy bears on planet earth.

The best gummy bears on planet earth.

IMG_4738The festival goodies varied from holiday food and beverages to handmade crafts. Perhaps most impressive were the ‘live’ displays, craftsmen working in their trade, creating sculptures and art right before our eyes.

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Pure talent.

IMG_4733Even the swans were impressed. Side note, did you know the Queen of England owns every swan along the Thames River? That’s right. She OWNS them. She is the only one allowed to eat them. Read more about that weird little law here.

IMG_4736IMG_4737After we’d had our fill of Christmas spirit, we jumped for joy.

HZd6YF on Make A Gif, Animated GifsOrrrr… attempted to at least.IMG_4755IMG_4754IMG_4753IMG_4749Matt did some fancy camera work, but lets face it, he was working with two pretty unruly subjects. We took a regular picture instead.

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Matt rightfully so, deserved a beer, so we wandered around until finding the most fitting place we could think of …

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I bring to you, The Spread Eagle.
Yep. And it wasn’t the last time we would visit the Eagle in the next couple days.

IMG_3353CandB1After a couple pints we were on our way back to the homesteads to prep for dinner. Coordinating timing with tube schedules multiplied by the Liikalas, we agreed to just meet at Jackson + Rye.

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The menu included buttermilk fried turkey breast, green bean casserole, mac n’ cheese, beet filled ravioli, mashed potatoes, sweet potato french fries and wine (of course) + pecan pie for dessert.  We have to say, J&R gave a strong second-string performance for a Thanksgiving abroad.

TgivingfoodTgivingfood2It was a serious treat to share a meal with Ed and the Liikalas.  Among other blessings, the table acknowledged how incredibly grateful we all were to have each other.

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Tgiving1A great meal shared, another Thanksgiving come and gone. The next day saw Carolyn and Michael’s last day in Europe. We wanted to squeeze-in as much as possible. First up, ice skating at Somerset House. Brittany had read, countless times, about skating and the magical scene at Somerset. The pictures were ever so dreamy. Carolyn, undoubtedly, was in.

IMG_4786Luckily, Brit and Caro snagged the very LAST two tickets for the skate session. Matt offered up his photographing abilities one last time, being the extremely thoughtful and generous chap he is.

SomersetHouseMattGetting out on the ice, Carolyn and Brittany felt like newly hatched chicks learning to walk for the first time. Matt happily snapped this next series (laughing WITH them of course). 😉

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IMG_4792IMG_4793IMG_4794IMG_4795IMG_4796IMG_4803IMG_4804IMG_4805Sooner or later, they got the hang of it and were passing people like rocket ships. Speeding through the rink, flipping each other in the air and taking out small children in the process. Just kidding, that didn’t happen. Or maybe it did, but you’ll never know.

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A skate-over-ledge-lean pic with the photog.

IMG_4862Skating around the courtyard rink at Somerset House was incredible. It felt like something from a dream; the London air just chilly enough to complement the scene, though not unbearable.

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Even Ed couldn’t resist popping over for a quick spy (or laugh) at us after work.

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We took 1,000+ pictures, just to make sure we would never forget the experience.

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Twirling for Christmas joy.

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We most definitely won’t forget it.

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Mission complete.
Next up, BIKE RIDE.

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We hired bikes for the rest of the day and peddled along the Thames River, over the Westminster Bridge just as the sun set behind Big Ben.

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Our bike gang crossed the bridge, then crossed again back toward Big Ben in search of Buckingham park and palace.

IMG_4893BikingLondonAs the moon appeared and the sun had officially gone to bed, we biked faster and faster, determined to get a quick view of the royal palace before returning our rides. At last, we had made it.

IMG_4908One group pic and we were off again.

IMG_4912The pictures can’t do the ride justice, so hop on Matt’s handlebars and come along with our gang here:

We dropped our bikes off, walked a LONG way back to the Spread Eagle (duh), then the tube toward home. Our night ended with late-night Italian, joined by Mr. Liikala. Around midnight we headed off for jazz at one of the oldest jazz clubs in the world, Ronnie Scott’s. Ronnie Scott’s opened its doors in 1959 and has since hosted some legendary names. A fantastic goodbye to the Liikalas.

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We spent our last couple days in London making visits to the National History Museum, more boba tea and annoying Ed of course. 😉 Speaking of Ed, the super-awesome person he is, cooked us a steak dinner for our “last supper.” We visited the butcher (conveniently located just down the street) to pick our cuts.

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Is this not a beautiful, beautiful sight?!

butchershop2cheeseBefore going home and cooking our meal, we took a walk through an old graveyard and toured the epic river views nearby.

ColorfulSidewalkWalktoRiver5WalktoRiver2WalktoRiver4SunsetRiverEd… what can I say? We already miss the shit out of you!

This picture was taken in the morning, just before Ed left for work and on the day we left London.
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I wouldn’t say it’s the best picture of all of us, but definitely one we wont forget.

Couchsurfing in France is next, stay tuned.


Blondie and the Beard

1 Comment

  • Reply anna blackshaw December 17, 2014 at 9:38 pm

    What an amazing virtual adventure I just took with y’all! The photos are beautiful and the writing crisp and witty!

  • Leave a Reply to anna blackshaw Cancel Reply