May 12, 2016

Traveling with Friends: Part 3 - Warwick on Christmas Eve & Christmas Day in Brum

It's been a while since I've posted about our adventures abroad, and when I last wrote about them I left off in the middle of Kathryn and Brandon's trip to visit us during Christmas. Bad blogging form, I know! I'll try to be better... but until then, I'll just play catch-up. Like I have been for the past several years... hah. Oy.


December 24, 2015

We had visited Stratford upon Avon and Dublin, which were wonderful and filled with tons of adventures in their own right, but our lovely visitors had yet to visit a castle. Due to the Christmas and Boxing Day holidays, we had to plan our excursions carefully - but with a bit of luck and a lot of planning, those two days were the only days we didn't have something major on the itinerary... we even had Christmas Eve filled - with a castle! I mean, who doesn't want to spend their Christmas Eve in England in a castle, right? We decided to spend the short daylight hours exploring the best preserved castle in the West Midlands and end it with the best cream tea I've ever experienced. Not a bad plan if you ask me.

While Patrick and I had been to Warwick once before, we weren't sad about visiting Warwick Castle again. I'd also read multiple places that it is absolutely beautiful during Christmas, so it was exciting to get to see it during the holiday season like I'd been hoping to do for about a year (which is much longer than we'd been in-country, mind you).

It was a gray, rainy Thursday, but it made for great photos and a cozy atmosphere for wandering around in a castle. When we got to the great hall of the castle, we had to wait for a few minutes before entering the rooms because Santa was currently taking photos with children, or so said the very flirtatious elf at the door. No worries, we'd just wander around and take in the general splendor of the place for a while longer... and take a few too many photos. Who, me? Never.

We had a great time wandering through the castle, letting Brandon go off on his own for a bit, and just enjoying the setting and the company. The rooms are magnificent and the history overwhelming, making for a very full day of exploring as much as your heart desires. We were even able to see one of the bird shows that they put on at the castle which is always fascinating! There was a storm that rolled in, providing some fantastic photo ops and allowing the sun to peek out for a little while afterward. That's a good winter day in England if you ask me!

I'll let the pictures do most of the talking for this post - and, for the record, some of my favorite photos from the trip were taken that day. There's one in particular when Kathryn and I were on one of the castle walls... that's a goodie, right there! But in all honesty, the whole day was lovely because it was relaxed and I got to spend it with some of my favorite people in the whole world. The rest was just icing on the cake... or clotted cream on the scone. Hehe.































































The weirdest pinecones I've ever seen... England, you're so weird!






After the castle, Patrick and I had planned on taking Kathryn and Brandon to the Thomas Oken Tea Rooms in Warwick so they could experience a proper cream tea. While Brandon opted for a beer instead (his loss...), the three of us foodies could hardly contain ourselves at the joy of consuming such a delightful Christmas Eve treat. They had special Christmas Eve scones for us - cranberry and orange scones instead of the typical sultana scone (which is always delicious). Holy. Mother. Of. Scone. That thing was to die for! Sigh. If you ever come to England, you have to do your darnedest to get to this place. I'm convinced this is the best cream tea in all of England. What better way to spend the evening hours of Christmas Eve when you've been far too busy traveling to do any sort of holiday baking, am I right?











After our proper cream tea, we did a bit of wandering around in Warwick just because we had a bit of time to spare until our train arrived. Then, when we got to the train station, we realized that our train was a bit late. Then it was a bit later than late... then a bit later. For some reason or another, our train ended up being almost an hour late to pick us up and take us back to Birmingham... hah! Oh my. We were slightly miffed but all I remember is just giggling with Kathryn and Patrick while sitting on the bench at the platform... yes, giggling like a middle school girl. I can't for the life of me remember what was so funny, but I think we were just having a grand ol' time being our stupid selves. Fine by me! It warms my heart just thinking about it, actually, and it makes me long for the company of my sweet friend all over again.









Back in Birmingham, we spent the evening just relaxing and hanging out together. It was Christmas Eve, after all, so what else were we going to do? I think I recall watching A Muppet Christmas Carol on the laptop in the living room, and maybe one other Christmas movie. We also played my first game of Cards Against Humanity... oh, the fun we had! It is an awful game for awful people with horrible senses of humor... so let it suffice to say that I won by a long shot (I'm a horrible person with my dad's sense of humor and keen desire to apply the shock-value to my companions... haha!). I'm pretty sure we laughed so hard that there were tears involved. Terrible, terrible game - but so much fun!



I'm not sure whether I should be proud or ashamed of how many rounds I won...

Gifts from loved ones near and far, and a few little things for our guests. Like our teeny tree? ;)

My sweet friend Jen sent me those Christmas banners - aren't they darling?!










The next day was Christmas Day, obviously, and we did nothing but laze around and enjoy each other's company all day long. It was a day of much needed rest and relaxation after so much travel! That's actually what we ended up doing most of the day on Boxing Day as well, although I did go out with Patrick and Kathryn to just walk around Birmingham for a little while. Walking and fresh air (I use the term "fresh" loosely) does you a world of good, even in small doses. Boxing Day is as dead as Christmas Day in England, meaning that we couldn't get public transit anywhere to do any exploring, so we used it as our final resting day before our last major trek the following day. The 27th of December would take us to London once more!

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