Saturday, December 18, 2004

A Farewell to Arms

I am writing this entry on my last night in the United Kingdom.

I have just returned from a visit to the Hampton Court Palace. A friend of mine from The King’s Arms pub works there and graciously offered to give me the guided tour. Wow! What a great day! I have thoroughly enjoyed my visit here and it is because of people like this who have gone out of their ways to make me feel welcome. I’ve brewed myself a cup of herbal tea and am writing my lat blog entry from the United Kingdom.

The King's Arms Try the Festive Pheasant Ale!

The morning started with a bit of a shaky start. I mean that quite literally! Last night, as has become my Friday night norm, I went to the King’s Arms. The group of people that I have been hanging out with there threw me an impromptu going away party. It was great fun! I bought a couple rounds to celebrate the friendships I have made here; I was bought a few rounds by my friends who wanted to toast my speedy return to their fair country; I lost a round to tequila shots because I could not eat three cream crackers in a minute.

Apparently, this is a bar bet that is directed primarily at foreigners. Cream crackers are about two-and-a-half inches square and look very similar to a saltine. That is where the similarity ends. The problem with eating three in a minute is that the bet usually depends upon the restriction that you cannot drink anything while doing it. Cream crackers seem to be dimensionally transcendental. They are made of more completely dry flour than can possibly fit into a cracker that size. It is amazing! They taste something like matzoh. You bight into it and your mouth (from the smallest nibble) is filled with flour. The more you chew, the more there seems to be in your mouth. I got through two of them but could not get the third one into my mouth before the time elapsed. I had to buy the round. Unfortunately, the bet was "nothing to drink" I realized that it may have broken the spirit but not the letter of the bet to cover them in the chopped tomato & olive oil from my bruschetta. Oh well! Live and learn...

I am not quite sure if it was the all those pints of bitter or the four shots of tequila, but for some reason I was slightly more unsteady than usual when it came time to leave. I accepted Brian’s offer to call me a taxi. (Yes, Brian, I know: "Okay, you're a taxi.") I probably could have walked, but it was nice to not have to.

This morning, as I said, I went to the Hampton Court Palace and met one of my friends from the pub. He gave me the better part of his afternoon. I highly recommend getting a guided tour from someone who knows as much as my guide for the day did and one who is a guide. Especially one with a vast knowledge of his subject who so obviously loves talking about the history of the place.

After touring the castle for nearly five hours, we popped over to the pub for a quick ale before going back to the hotel to pack. I leave tomorrow morning. I guess that now that I am all packed I should close-down the computer, pack it up, and head down to the restaurant for a quick dinner. I'll post this when I return to the States tomorrow.

Have a great day!

Don Bergquist - Thames Ditton, United Kingdom - 18, December, 2004

* Editor's Note:

My entries from the UK seem to have been well received. I plan to continue this journal after I have returned to the States. I hope you are enjoying it and that you will continue to write me with your ideas and input.

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