Friday, August 28, 2015

The Grouch's take the British Isles by land and by sea! Part 1

The Grouch clan headed to the UK and Ireland for a 11 day whirlwind tour recently.  We flew to London, stayed for a couple of days and then boarded the Princess cruise ship the MS Ocean Princess.

Our flight in both directions was on Air New Zealand, a very nice airline that provided two meals during the close to 10 hour flight plus had seat back video monitors that held endless entertainment options.  The flight was on time and everything went well except the cabin was overly warm and there were no fresh air vents available to the passengers,  Don't dress warmly on ANZ expecting the typical freezing airliner experience.  Dressing for the beach would have been a better idea.

Older Son and his girlfriend joined us at the ship.

London was hyper crowded!  The sidewalks were jammed and jumping from early in the morning until late at night - at least where we were staying within walking distance of Buckingham palace, Big Ben and Hyde park.   Along with the summer tourists were the young professionals hurrying to and from their places of employment.  Add to that the aggressive motorists and swarms of bicyclists and moving from place to place could be an adventure.   All of that said we had a great time and eveyone we encountered was very friendly.   A clerk in a convenience store quizzed the Missus about the U.S.  He was originally from Pakistan and felt that London was way too crowded.  He asked how many hours it would take to drive from L.A. to New York city.  When we told him about three days, stopping for the evening, he didn't believe us.  We wished him luck and hoped that someday he would visit the U.S.

We checked in to our hotel and then set off to see the town.

The L.A. Grouch contingent patiently waiting at LAX for our 10 hour flight to London.  Everyone looks rested and fresh!

Our luxury  room at the Grosvenor hotel.  It was pretty small but in comparison to the Grouch children's room it was quite spacious!

We couldn't figure out how to turn on the lights in the room and finally the Missus called the front desk to ask.  You had to dock your room card in this slot to get the room lights to come on.  Guess the hotel was tired of patrons leaving their lights on all day in an empty room.

The outside of the hotel.  Victoria station was right behind us and the sidewalk was busy day and night with people dragging their suitcases past our place on the way to their destinations.  The entrance to the hotel wasn't street level so the suitcases had to be dragged up the stairs to the entrance.  I don't know what someone in a wheelchair or on crutches did to cope with this.

We visited the Buckingham Palace mews - essentially the transportation center for the palace.  The horses for the carriages, the carraiges themselves, and motor vehicles are stored here.   The queen and her horses were on vacation when we visited.  This is the riding area for the horses.

We had a tour guide for our visit who was very knowledgeable and entertaining.  That is the Missus.

And Young Daughter

The royal family doesn't usually travel by horse coach.  One of the motor vehicles used by the Queen.

Now that is a coach!

Our tour guide

The newer coaches have heating and air conditioning, lights, power windows, metal bodies...We encountered more coaches at Windsor and in the Queen's residence at Holyroodhouse in Endinburgh

Lunch at the Bucket of Nails pub with some hard cider for the Grouch young adults.  Both brought their Lego mascots with them.

Young Son stretches for a better photo
The battle of Waterloo memorial.  Wellington's house was across the street.  It was the 200th anniversary of the battle of Waterloo and reminders of  the battle were everywhere.  I read a book about the battle during the trip and was ready to see everything related to it.

A future Wellington?

War memorials are everywhere in London, to every military formation and for multiple wars.  Many started as great war memorials and then had WW2 added to it.  This is the Imperial cavalry memorial in Hyde park.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Where's Citizen Grouch?

Where has Citizen Grouch been recently?   

Well, the family went to:

and traveled around on one of these:

And went to many places that lead up to here:

To see this amazing event:

600 photos and 7 videos later we were back home.  Stay tuned for a location by location display!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The new family

Oldest daughter and incidentally the first Grouch child was recently married in a lovely ceremony in her home town in North Carolina.  The groom is a very nice person and they will make a wonderful family.

The Missus took many photos of the event, however this blog didn't seem to like some of the photos and wouldn't allow them to be placed properly, but here are some for you to view.

The ceremony was held in a former Episcopal chapel from the mid 1800s, re purposed as a wedding venue.  It was just the right size for the event.

The new family!
Oldest daughter and the Missus

The Grouch family minus Oldest Son who was out of the country

The bride and I
The Grouch daughters

The traditional cake cutting and serving, done in a civilized manner

New adventures for Young Son

Young son is now an official Police Cadet for the same city that I work for.  He got the job completely on his own, no undue influence from his old man on the hiring process.  He's on his third day on the job and so far so good.  This is more like an intern position than a police officer in training but should be a good introduction to Young Son about the life of a police officer.  I asked him what his career plans are and he stated that he aspires to be a police chief!  Way to go Young Son!

Last weekend he worked as an extra for an internet feature.  He supplied his own costume and had fun doing it.  Unfortunately for this blog, he signed a non-disclosure agreement while participating so he couldn't tell us anything about what went on.  Seems that the urge to perform still runs in his veins.