Day 1 & 2 in Southend

I’ve felt so free on this trip. It’s just great being here in England. London’s a great city. I think that since I don’t have a cell phone or even a watch… It just makes everything feel so carefree to me. I’ve just been mostly laid back. It’s so great to be on vacation. I don’t have any worries.

Ivan and I took a train to Southend-on-Sea, Essex on June 27th. We were staying at Ivan’s parents house for the weekend.  Ivan’s Dad picked us up at the station. They have a great two-story house.

I like the Conservatory. It’s a nice place to relax. We sat in the Conservatory and had food and drinks. There was lots of food like scones with strawberry jam, muffins, crackers with cream cheese, wheat bagels and chocolate chip cookies. Everything was very good. I had a glass of orange juice. The food was all very delicious. Ivan bought his parents a Wii. He set everything up. We played the Wii Sports. We played tennis, bowling and golf. Ivan also got the QuickShot Mega Pack. It comes with pink and blue skin. Also, there’s a thing where you put the Wii remote and then attach different things to eat like a tennis racket, wheel, golf club and a bat. I think it’s pretty kewl. That night, Ivan, Neal and I went to the pub to have a drink. There’s a big field we walked in and shortly after we arrived at The Parson Barn.

We each had a Kronenbourg. The kitchen had just closed. So, after the beer we walked to another pub. They had stopped serving food as well. We got lucky and found a cab driving by. Ivan flagged it down. We got in and weren’t really sure where to eat. We figured that we would find something in the central part of Southend. I didn’t mind what we ate. We asked the cab if there was a good Indian restaurant. But, he wasn’t sure. Ivan mentioned that it was lucky that we caught the cab. The cab driver said that he thought he was a cab fare he was supposed to pick up in that area. We saw an Indian restaurant and Ivan told the cab driver to stop. He checked it out and thought it looked good. We went inside Sonali Tandoori. We shared three different curries. Ivan and I both ordered a Cobra beer. I can’t remember what kind of curries we got. But, they were all good. It was a bit spicy. One was a great tomato sauce. We stopped by ASDA (British Wal-Mart). Neal wanted to make some passion fruit mojitos. We arrived back at the house. Neal made some good mojitos and we talked a bit. I saw a photography book that Neal made with his work. He’s a talented photographer.

So, I’ve been writing down more backwards things.  I think that England is backwards.  Or maybe America is backwards.  Who’s to say really?  I was in ASDA and I noticed that the 2 Liter Coke bottles were shaped differently than in the U.S.  I thought it was rather weird so I took a picture of it.

Coke Bottles in England

Different Shaped 2 Liter Bottles

The guy who worked there probably thought I was mental.  He said she’s taking a picture of the Coke bottles.  He said something to me.  But, I didn’t have a clue to what he said.  Sometimes it’s hard with the accents.  I think he said that I should have waited until they stocked it fully before taking my picture.  In England time is in military time.  So, I actually have to think when I want to know the time.  Ok, it’s not that hard.  But, it’s just something to get used to.  Also, how the dates are written are a bit backwards.  We put 07/03/08 for July 3rd, 2008 and in England it would be 03/07/08.  I’ve seen this before.. but it kind of throws you off when you’re used to seeing it one way.  Another thing I noticed is the sinks.  The faucets in most public bathrooms seem to have a double-spout tap.  So, there will be a tap for hot on the left side and cold on the other side.  It’s weird since the hot side is usually boiling and the cold is way too cold.  I turn on both taps and try to combine the water together with my hands.
Ivan told me about the great cheddar cheese that is made in England. Cheddar cheese was originally made in a village called Cheddar in Somerset, England. The cheese is so much better than the American version. It’s so nutty and just tastes delicious. It’s better to be eaten alone to appreciate the distinct flavor.

On Saturday, June 28th Ivan’s family and I headed to the Leigh Folk Festival. The festival had different activities going on throughout the day. Ivan’s parents wanted me to see the Morris dancers. It’s a traditional English folk dance.

Here’s a video of the dancing. My video kept blurring up though.  I’m not sure why though.  Hope my video isn’t crappy on this new digital camera.

Morris dancers

The Morris dancers were definitely something very English that I’ve never seen before.  I like when they use the sticks and they hit their friends’ stick.
Everybody was really hungry at this point. We had a reservation set for 1 pm at The Boatyard.

Cool bar in The Boatyard

It’s weird that the tide of the sea can recede over a mile. I’ve never seen that before. It makes the boats seems so sad and lonely. I didn’t actually get to see the sea at full tide. Ivan’s mum told me it can come in really fast.

Boats at Low Tide

Boats at Low Tide

The restaurant is very nice inside. At lunchtime, there’s a set menu for a 2 or 3 course meal.

I picked the roasted chicken and cream cheese tart with a chili sauce for a starter. It was really tasty.  I got the Crunchy Confit of Duck Leg for my main course.  The duck had a crispy skin and it was placed on some baked beans.

I thought it was rather weird combination.  But, it actually quite good.  The duck was excellent.  I had a great meal with Ivan’s family.  The view was fabulous from our table.  We were thinking of getting dessert.  Unfortunately, the service was a bit slow.  We said we’d probably just grab some ice cream while walking around.  We went back to the house not long after lunch.
Ivan, Neal and I went to The Parson Barn again for some beer. We were playing the card game Cheat. A band came on to play. We decided to go outside to drink and continue playing our game. There were so many mosquitoes flying around. The pesky bugs were trying to suck our blood. I got bit in the butt. I guess my jeans were riding a bit low that night. It certainly hurt. As I found out later.. I got bit twice. It was definitely fun playing Cheat. Neal is a fun and funny guy. He has a sense of humor similar to Ivan’s. We headed back to the house. We watched some of the performers from the Glastonbury Festival. We saw Jay-Z and Amy Winehouse perform. Ivan performed some hypnosis to show his mum. He hypnotized me. I thought Ivan was Jay-Z. I told him to do an improv rap like the did at Glastonbury. He tried but it wasn’t very good. I also thought that Ivan’s mum Denise was actually my dad. It’s easy for me to get hypnotized since it’s been done so many times by Ivan. I don’t know if Denise actually believed it or not.

I don’t know when I’ll get a chance to put up another blog post.  It might not be until I get back to Las Vegas.  We just have so much planned since we’re back in London.  I will update next time with my last day in Southend. We then went to Scotland.  We did a nice 2 Day Tour of Loch Ness and Inverness.

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