17. The Yeomen Warders

One of the highlights of our Tower of London visit was the tour given by a Yeoman Warder, or Beefeater as they’re more commonly known. The tours are included in the price of admission, and after we made a quick visit to the Crown Jewels, we joined a tour in progress. Our friendly guide was a guy named Mitch Jones, and he was informative and entertaining. He lives at the Tower, along with 144 other Yeomen Warders. Several times, he made us repeat that there were twenty towers in the Tower of London, so we were all sure to remember that fact long after our tour was over.

He was very animated as he told of Anne Boleyn’s execution, revealing that she died with her eyes open and as the executioner lifted her head, the onlookers freaked out because she was looking at them. He conveyed this much more artistically than I just did.

He was also very respectful and somber in St. Peter’s chapel, where Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard, and Lady Jane Grey are buried.¬†As he concluded the tour, he ended on a personal note by proudly mentioning that his daughter was to be married there on the 17th of December, in the presence of the three queens. We all applauded and wished him and his family well. I will be thinking of them and sending good thoughts their way in a month.

16. History

This one is sort of generic, but I was just watching The Tudors this evening and was fascinated by the scenes of Anne Boleyn in the Tower of London. When we were there, we were constantly amazed at the age of the things we were viewing. The majority of the Tudor period was in the 1500s, and some of the buildings in the Tower were almost a thousand years old.

We had the same awestruck feeling when we were in Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s Cathedral. People have been walking through the doors and gates for years, and will continue to do so.

Coming from the States, where our buildings are a couple hundred years old at best, it was mind-boggling to constantly be surrounded by history. I’m grateful for my high school English teachers for providing the background for some of the works we read, because not only did it help me appreciate the literature at that time, but it helped me appreciate my surroundings in my travels over 20 years later.

15. Tesco Rashers

The English have great junk food. I went into Tesco on a mission to find unique flavo(u)rs of Kettle Chips/Crisps that we didn’t have at home. While I didn’t find those, I discovered the joy that is Tesco’s Bacon Rashers.

These rashers are light and crispy and delicious. They are very flavorful, filling your mouth with pork-flavored goodness with every bite. I’m pretty picky with faux-bacon flavor, having several scarring incidents with bacon bits in my youth. But these were quite tasty, and even if I burped up the flavor a few hours later, it wasn’t unpleasant.

14. McVitie’s Digestives

We brought back five packages of McVitie’s Digestives two months ago. One biscuit remains. We purchased three of the dark chocolate, and two of the milk chocolate, and they survived the plane trip home unbroken (thanks, scarves!). Both types of sweets feature a wheat cookie base, topped with milk or dark chocolate. They are equally delicious. And apparently there’s something called Hobnobs that I need to investigate as well.

According to World Market, they are called digestives because the high amount of baking soda was believed to aid in digestion. So, instead of thinking of McVitie’s as dessert, think of them as healthy snacks. (Also, unlike Activa or FiberOne, you can eat a lot of them in one sitting and not have to be sitting in the bathroom for an extended period of time later.)

13. Marks & Spencer

To prepare for the trip, I did some online browsing and came across these lovelies. I vowed to purchase the first pair I saw in my size. As we were wandering up Praed Street on our first night in London, a beacon in the shape of an M&S sign appeared on Edgware Road.

Because my husband is not a patient person when it comes to shopping (and because he was about to fall asleep in the store due to jet lag and I didn’t have the strength to carry him back to the hotel), I quickly found a pair in UK size 6, grabbed a pack of underwear, paid for them, and we were on our merry way.

After the pub meetup at the Windsor Castle, we happened upon the same Marks & Spencer as we were looking for dinner. Because my husband had had a few pints, I was able to lure him into the store, where again I found another pair of adorable shoes and a pack of underwear.

And then my husband decided it probably wasn’t a good idea to go in there anymore, due to my inability to leave the store without another pair of shoes. But I was extremely happy with my purchases, and have looked upon them adoringly and often.

12. The Windsor Castle Pub

On Saturday afternoon, we met five amazing and lovely people, and we spent the afternoon talking about Vegas, music, comedy, television, and other fun stuff in the Windsor Castle pub. We chose this place to meet, partly because Fancy a Pint had such great things to say about it, and partly because it was centrally located.

The pub is cozy, with lots of interesting pictures and oddities on the walls. They had a good selection of cider and beer (I tried at least two of each). It was a great place to kick back and have a conversation, too. We were concerned about finding a somewhat quiet pub in the midst of the Saturday rugby games, and we found it.

They also had some interesting decorations in the ladies’ bathroom. I felt a little weird using the facilities next to this.

Despite the embroidered stares of Charles and Diana as I did my business, I’d love to return to this place again. Great drinks, great service, and great company.