All work and no play?

*Warning, its a long and picture heavy post, but I hope you enjoy!*

Not around here (as you already know)!  Thankfully I’ve been able to get long-ish stretches of work off each of the last couple months which have allowed for some great trips.  That being said, long stretches off without actually taking days off means long stretches of work.  My setup is fifteen 12-hour shifts each month and I have not taken any PTO (paid time off).  Usually I work stretches of 3-4 shifts in a row with a day or two off in between, then every 3 weeks or so I end up with 5-7 days off consecutively.  A few weeks ago I worked 7 of 9 days (remember these are 12 hour shifts, friends)….it was brutal.  By the end of it I was sooo ready for a couple days off.  Over the last month I have had a few sets of 2 or 3 days off in a row.  When looking at our travel plans, schedules and budget, we decided not to travel far during these periods.  Rather, we stuck fairly close to home and did some fun stuff within a close drive.

First, before we took off for Paris & Brussels, we spent a day and evening in London.  We had tickets for a show with plans for it ending late at night so we booked a B&B at the edge of the city so we could sleep before driving home.  By the time we arrived and checked in we were ready for lunch!  On the advice of co-workers, I dragged C along to Camden Town for excellent people watching, window shopping and ethnic foods.  Seriously, this place was amazing: packed with people, funky shops galore, excellent people watching and any food you could imagine.  With full bellies and minds blown we went to the National Gallery and spent the rest of the afternoon admiring various paintings.  Eventually C’s eyes were glazed over so we left for another fun activity – window shopping at Harrods!  Thankfully my husband loves me, right?

Finally, it was time for our show, The Bodyguard.  We had heard great things and C was really excited about it (don’t tell him I told you, but he picked the show).  Thankfully we were not disappointed.  It goes along the lines of the movie with Whitney Houston.  And believe it or not, the lead actress was amazing.  Her voice was powerful yet beautiful and gave me chills!  I’m really glad we had the opportunity to watch her, because apparently she’s done with the show very soon.  To cap the night we ate a late dinner at an okay Italian joint near the theater then walked down to the Thames to admire the London Eye, Westminster Abbey and Golden Jubilee Footbridge all lit up.  It was a fabulous day in the city!

Just one view of the Camden Stables Market in Camden Town

Just one view of the Camden Stables Market in Camden Town

Street performer outside of the National Gallery

Street performer outside of the National Gallery

National Gallery

National Gallery

It's a blue-ish/purple-ish chicken in Trafalgar Square...no clue but I had to take a photo

It’s a blue-ish/purple-ish chicken in Trafalgar Square…no clue but I had to take a photo

The Bodyguard!

The Bodyguard!

The Thames at night

The Thames at night

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Lights along the Golden Jubilee Footbridge

Lights along the Golden Jubilee Footbridge

Other fun activities over the last few days off have included a trip to the shore.  We took Lacey with us and she enjoyed playing fetch with her tennis ball, but did not love the water as much as our first trip.  It was a great afternoon out and we loved getting some sun and relaxation in.  That set of days off we also caught up on not-so-fun stuff like laundry, cleaning house and clearing weeds/overgrown vines.  But we also had the chance to see a free screening of a new movie called About Time.  Its a fantastic movie and I cannot recommend it enough!  I laughed, I cried and we couldn’t stop talking about it that night.  Sadly the days flew by and before I knew it I was back to work.

Butterflies in our plants

Butterflies in our plants

I LOVE the beach! And the sand, and the sun, and the water (kinda)!!

I LOVE the beach! And the sand, and the sun, and the water (kinda)!!

Exhausted after playing fetch by the water

Exhausted after playing fetch by the water

Profiles in the sun

Profiles in the sun

She loves falling asleep in the sun, probably one of her favorite pastimes back home

She loves falling asleep in the sun, probably one of her favorite pastimes back home

I love this girl

I love this girl

Beautiful blue skies in England, its been a great summer for weather

Beautiful blue skies in England, its been a great summer for weather

I’m currently on a short break of 3 days off and so far its been great.  Yesterday we visited St. Albans Cathedral, one of the oldest cathedrals in the UK, before hitting up the Warner Bros Studio Tour just outside of London.  The cathedral was interesting because it had been built, added on an remodeled over several centuries meaning there were several styles showcased.  As far as the Harry Potter tour?  Awesome!  It was a great tour through 2 sound stages and a backlot filled with props, sets, costumes and so much more used in the filming of all 7 Harry Potter films.  I’m a pretty big fan of the books and movies, but nothing compared to some of the other tour participants!  Nevertheless we saw so much cool stuff and learned a lot about the people behind the movies.  If you ever find yourself in London, make your way to the Warner Bros Studios, you won’t regret it!  Now I feel the need to go watch the movies all over again.

Paintings on the walls of St. Albans Cathedral, dating back to the 13th Century

Paintings on the walls of St. Albans Cathedral, dating back to the 13th Century

More old paintings

More old paintings

The quire

The quire

The beautiful Lady Chapel

The beautiful Lady Chapel

Rose window

Rose window

The bell tower of St. Alban dates back to the 11th century!!

The bell tower of St. Alban dates back to the 11th century!!

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Harry Potter!!!!

Excited doesn't even begin to describe it!

Excited doesn’t even begin to describe it!

Anyone recognize the flying car?

Anyone recognize the flying car?

Harry's room under the stairs

Harry’s room under the stairs

Hogwarts great hall (with some costumes, to boot)

Hogwarts great hall (with some costumes, to boot)

Costumes of some of Hogwarts most memorable faculty

Costumes of some of Hogwarts most memorable faculty

Table full of (fake) chocolate from one of the movies (sadly, can't remember which)

Table full of (fake) chocolate from one of the movies (sadly, can’t remember which)

The gate to Hogwarts

The gate to Hogwarts

The boys' room in Gryffindor - Harry's and Ron's beds

The boys’ room in Gryffindor – Harry’s and Ron’s beds

Circle o'Wands

Circle o’Wands

Potions classroom

Potions classroom

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Hogwarts bridge

Hogwarts bridge

In front of the Hogwarts castle model used in the films for the outside shots

In front of the Hogwarts castle model used in the films for the outside shots

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It was amazing!

It was amazing!

That's a whole lotta wands

That’s a whole lotta wands

Today we spent the day running errands including a trip to the farmer’s market picking up delicious looking local blackberries, “sweetcorn” (our version of corn on the cob), tomatoes, sweet potatoes and fresh bread.  Tonight we are off to see a British movie about a somewhat local comedian – pretty excited about it!  Tomorrow will be a lazy day around the house because I’ll be working another 4 days over the weekend before another big trip!

Cheers!