Wednesday, October 28, 2009


The long-awaited trip to the UK finally happened. And we have been pumping it up for a good two months. Like true Miller and Steve fashion, the trip initially was just going to be a flight to London and check it out for a few days. Then it got amped up. Miller got in touch with a few people he knew were staying the the UK and we talked to Taylor. So we were going to train it to Durham to see Taylor and maybe go one other place. Then it got amped again. We talked about renting a car, followed by a unanimous yes. Then the locations for pit stops just kept coming in.

We arrived in London Stansted at around 16:00 on Thursday after working a half day at good ol' Alstom. We got the car, which was supposed to be a Voxhaull Corsa. It took about 3 days to realize we definitely weren't driving a Voxhaull Corsa. I think we ended up in a Seat Ibuza or something, but this is unconfirmed. Regardless, it was an upgrade. Which was awesome.

Miller got his licence stolen when he first arrived in Switzerland in June, and I'm not old enough to drive a rental car. So Chan was our very important driver for the long weekend. Oh, I should mention than our car was a manual, and Chan didn't know how to drive stick very well. Miller and I taught him while driving on the backwards British road system. In the end, he was pretty solid with stick.

The GPS Pat let us borrow saved our asses significantly while causing the most irritation any road trip has ever seen. It was first set to shortest distance so instead of just taking the M1 north we ended up going through 3 little English towns before we realized it (including Cambridge, which isn't what you'd call car friendly). We eventually figured it out and made it to Durham where we managed to get a parking spot right in from of Taylor's residence. We partied in a club that was once named Western Europe's second worst clubs. Then the worst one burnt down and it inevitably became Western Europe's worst club. It was renovated a couple of years ago and lost the title, but it was still pretty awful. The rugby team froshing was happening that week, so there were a couple of head turner moments. The quaddies there were really good. 4 shots of vodka and a mix of OJ and cranberry juice. Only 4 quid.

After partying the night away and closing down the club, we went back to the dorms and had a couple more before crashing on some vacant couches in a TV room. There were some incoherent explanations in the morning as to why we were there before we stumbled back to Taylor's actual room and crashed on his floor for some time.

The following day, we headed up to Edinburgh, Scotland. We stopped at the border for a photo op.

We also stopped at a small town on the coast called Dunbar. The tide was coming in and the salt air was rather refreshing.

After arriving in Edinburgh, we headed to a pub for a beer and then went to Chip's place. We got groceries and made burritos. They were absolutely phenomenal. We then played flipcup for some time then headed to a houseparty. There is nothing like getting a feel for a city by hanging out and partying with locals.

The following morning, we got up early to check out the Edinburgh castle before we headed north to check out a little more of Scotland. Then we were to head way south to Birmingham to another university residence where Chan knew someone.

Heading north, we went to a town called Aberfoyle. It was arbitrarily chosen because it was in the middle of a large national park. I was expecting to see absolutely nothing there but it was pretty cool. They had a bunch of foresty stuff going on that weekend and Chan and I went for a walk to a place where fairies supposedly live. We couldn't find any. We went through Glasgow on the way south to Birmingham but we couldn't find anything super cool to see or find parking, so we just went straight through. I'm sure there's lots to see there, we just couldn't find it.

Birmingham was a long way south and Chan was tired from a morning of driving. So I may or may not have driven for a few hours. This won't be verified because if I had driven, that would have been slightly illegal. The speeding that may have occured would also have been slightly illegal, but the roads are VERY well kept and the English do enjoy driving quickly regardless of the fact that the speed limit is only 70mph. In the event that I did do some driving, I'm sure it was very enjoyable to get behind a wheel again.

Arriving in Birmingham, we learnt of the existence of Mr. Brains Pork Faggots. "For faggot-loving families. YOU asked for it! Now with MORE sauce". So funny. We then played flipcup and went to a club. Andy spontaneously started a dance-off with a girl and won! Also, snakebites are pretty damn good. After leaving the club, we went and got chicken steaks. They were ridiculously amazing. I got two.

Before we headed out to Wales in the morning, we stopped in Chinatown for some Dim Sum. In a parking lot, we were trying to figure out how to make the back windshield wiper move. While figuring this out, we learnt that the washer fluid in the back wasn't directed at the window. It was directed away from the car, with the stream landing 3meters behind the car. We had an anti-tailgating mechanism!

Wales is awesome, and full of people who speak Welsh. That language is SO weird... The landscape was amazing, and Cardiff was a pretty cool place. The hostel we stayed at was pro. We went to a pub for sum Welsh food. I had Cawl (a sheep tripe soup) and a steak and ale pie. Fantastic. The beer was also really food (as expected). The sleep was short again that night, because we had to leave early to make it to Stonehenge before ripping to London.

Running very low on GPS battery, we decided to attempt to get to Stonehenge without our GPS. Just like we travelled through Wales with nothing more than a crappy googlemaps printout. We ended up messing up the instructions, but we got there eventually. And it was pretty cool. You cannot touch the stones, but you get relatively close. And you can make amusing pictures like pushing the stones over. Classic tourist photos. Also, I'm pretty sure I got some solid photo-bombing in while we were there.

We got to London pretty early, and found our hostel using the GPS until it died. Luckily, Miller knew where we were and we actually made it there. I'm not actually sure how... but kudos to him.

We went to an Irish pub in London (yah... I know...) and had ribs and chicken. I miss proper beef sooooooo much. I will eat nothing but beef for the first week I come back to Canada. And I will drink nothing but Timmy's double doubles and slurpies.

Wandering around town, we came across Buckingham palace. There were no amusing guys in red with giant hats to mock. Tragically. We did the general touristy stuff like seeing Big Ben and the Westminster church and the London eye.

I actually got invited by a pleasant chap to watch the British House of Commons at work. I pleasantly declined. I could do that in Ottawa and I'd actually understand what they are saying. Damn I should have gone. Not knowing what they were saying would probably been really amusing. I'd have to assume they were all being cheeky bawstards. But we were pressed for time.

Miller wound up in a phone booth.

Going back to the hostel, we wound up at the hostel bar and played Foosball with an Irish guy who kept giving us the English version of the finger. We aren't English, so we just thought it was funny and he looked like a goof trying to be gangsta.

The following morning, after charging the GPS overnight, we headed back to Stansted. The GPS hadn't charged. And it was completely dead. We only got lost once, and some friendly civil servants (is that the proper term?) spilled off some instructions for us. We made it to the airport with lots of time to spare. I must say,in the 5 days we had the car, we sure did accumulate a large quantity of garbage...