Trip Start Jun 04, 2008
11Trip End Jun 24, 2008
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Phil was waiting for us at the Newcastle airport. He had been getting a little worried because the first person from our flight came out of immigration 20 minutes before we did. Those EU country passports get you through a lot faster. Baggage claim was easy because it had already stopped and our four little sad suitcases were left on the stationary baggage claim thingy(what is that called anyway? a conveyor belt?)
We fit perfectly inside Phil's car. Dad made the first mistake and walked to what would be the passenger side in our cars, the right side, but is in fact the driver's side on cars here. I had forgotten about that but it's not really that weird to see. I'm trying not to think about it as a difference.
We had our first touristy stop before we even got to the house. The Angel of the North, a large statue, was just a little ways away from the route to the house so we stopped and looked. Apparently the controversy that every public art piece has comes with the Angel too. Some locals love it, some hate it and think it's a waste of money. Whether it's good or bad we've seen public art everywhere we've been.
Francie was at school when we got to the house but Stan was home. He is out 6 weeks early because in his grade every student in England takes big exams over every subject they have. He took 18 exams in 11 different subjects. I don't think we have any equivalent of that and I'm glad. I'm not sure an extra 6 weeks of summer break would be worth it.
We had a cup of tea and some scrambled eggs with smoked salmon for a sort of brunch. Apparently it's the Prince of Wales' favorite dish. To make it very English we even had jelly from the Prince's official farms. We took about a half an hour and then headed out to our first old thing.
Near Darlington, where the Hodgsons live, is another town called Richmond. Richmond has some places that were perfect for our first day in England. First we went to the oldest Georgian working theater left in its original form. Before we went there we really didn't know much about theater in general, especially not Georgian, but George Brown, our tour guide, made sure we knew everything we ever wanted to know and more. I'm sure that man could have talked for three hours about this theater. Phil had actually acted there a while ago and he even learned a lot.
Just up the road was the Richmond castle (built in 1071) where the entire town would go when they were invaded. I knew seeing these old castles would be cool but it was much better than I expected. It was complete with a medieval toilets and a garden. We could see for miles of the countryside and it was beautiful.
We headed back to Darlington then to pick up Francie from the train station after school. It wasn't until we got there that we realized the car was already full so Francie and I took the bus back to the house. I'm pretty sure I got the better deal on that one because Francie pointed out all the sites to me as we went on the route in the center of the city. She tried to tell me bus rides are boring but I'm a small town girl so everything is exciting.
Again I got the better deal in the evening and went with Francie to her play practice. She gave me a little tour of her school before it started. They were doing blocking, which I remembered some of the people from HSM at Newton talking about. Basically they went through this scene of Animal Farm where the farmers and the animals have a battle and the animals think the stable boy is dead. I only stayed for about 30 minutes of the two hour practice. A lot of her friends just came up and introduced themselves which was really cool. Of course I won't be able to remember their names if I see them again but it was fun.
Phil made an amazing dinner of chicken and rice. He really is an impressive chef. I don't even know what spices were used on the chicken but it was amazing. We took a little bit too much time to eat and missed the second half of the Germany-Austria game but Germany still made it in to the quarterfinals so we're happy.
This morning we had a good breakfast and then Phil took us to Durham and dropped us off. Durham Cathedral was one spot I remembered Dad talking about nonstop when he came here in 2006 so we stopped there first. I don't think it's quite as big as Cologne but definitely has the same level of beauty. We weren't aloud to take pictures inside but we got some outside where a scene from Harry Potter was filmed.
After the Cathedral we found a little place called Greggs to have lunch. They had really cheap sandwiches and pasties. I had half of a Cornish pasty and half of a ham and cheese melt pocket thing. We figured it was English enough. There was yet another Subway across the street that we avoided.
Durham Castle and Cathedral were built surrounded on three sided by a river. We walked along that river and had a great view of the Cathedral. There were people rowing on the river or on a tour boat and other people walking, like us. Phil picked us up on the other side of Durham and we came back which leaves me where I am now, in front of the computer. Kevin is going on a run to get ready for college Cross Country next fall and my dad and Phil went to some leadership session that Phil has been leading for a while. Dad wanted to watch because Dr. Morton showed him some acticle about leadership written by the guy who organized some of the curriculum they're using for these leadership sessions.