11 January 2009

pictures from the family trip

Lately my blogging habits have been rubbish, as the Brits would say. My little bro Trevor is staying here for a while longer, and I'm gearing up to write about the weekend we just spent in Edinburgh, the gritty and feisty capital of Scotland. But for now, some pictures from my time with the whole family:

Beefeater tour guide, Tower of London. This guy served 22 years in the army for the honor of showing tourists around London's capital of decapitation. "No, children, I am NOT a postbox!" he said, alluding to the royal insignia that appears on the chest of his uniform and also on mailboxes throughout the country.

The London Eye. Much like Paris' Eiffel Tower, this onetime eyesore and "temporary" structure has become a much-loved and essential part of the cityscape.

Big Ben, Parliament, and the River Thames, as seen from the top of the Eye.

The sibs outside Buckingham Palace, the Queen's main residence. I have found myself puzzling a lot during the last two weeks about the monarchy and its continuing role in British life. While Trevor and I were looking at the Scottish crown jewels in Edinburgh,* I asked a question of an attendant that must have come across as particularly ignorant. I realized then that I just don't have the cultural wherewithal to appreciate what all of this means to Brits... or at least that it's going to take a lot more effort for me to understand.

Mom and Dad at Stonehenge. The stones themselves were strikingly non-mysterious and non-mystical. The drive over was probably more memorable. Kudos to Dad for driving a standard with his left hand from the "wrong" side of the road!

Ancient, Medieval, Modern: Bath Abbey looms over the Roman baths in... you guessed it... Bath.

*If you're confused, yes, England and Scotland have the same Queen... but Scotland had its own, separate monarchy until 1603. That year, the Scottish King James VI succeeded to the British throne, uniting the monarchies as James I of England. He was on the throne for the Gunpower Plot (remember Guy Fawkes?), and it's for him that Jamestown, Virginia was named.

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