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December 17, 2011   •   Filed in April's Life

My United Kingdom Summer Adventure: London Part I, Birmingham, & Cardiff

fter just 3 days in Ireland it was time to move on to London where we would be meeting up with the rest of my roller derby team and do what we came there to do.  On Thursday we found out that our hostel in Birmingham that we were planning to stay at was flooded so we had to make arrangements for an alternative place for the team to stay.  I basically spent that day sitting around in the lobby on the computer trying to answer last minute bootcamp questions and waiting for all of my teammates to arrive so I could greet them and get everyone checked in and settled.  The next day was the big bout day against the London Rollergirls.  That morning Chelsey and I took a walk over to Kensington Palace after swinging by the Victoria and Albert Museum first which I adore. Kensington was having a special princess-themed exhibit which was pretty cool because they had a bunch of different artists collaborate on creating installation-style art rooms throughout the palace.  Late that afternoon we were able to walk over to Earls Court as it was nice and close to our hotel.  I accidentally led my team on a detour through a beautiful cemetary, but we eventually made it:)  I have to say that the London Rollergirls were lovely hostesses and their fans were awesome.  They were going crazy during the bout and I loved it.  I also somehow managed to pick up an "award" for being a penalty queen along with Raw Heidi of the London Rollergirls.  Ooops!  We went to the afterparty that night, but we had to get up crazy early to catch a train out to Birmingham where we were going to be running our bootcamp for the weekend.  I hope one day we get to go again and this time get to stay at the after party for longer because it looked like a blast.  I also got talked into trying a Guinness with Black Cherry Liquerer which I was told how some ladies prefer to drink it in England.  It turned a perfectly good tasting beer into cough syrup.  I do not recommend it.  Juicy Lucy who is on Team England for the World Cup then told me that no one actually drinks it like that.  Phew, I was thinking there was something seriously wrong with those British gals.  
We eventually made it out to Birmingham after a 2 hour train ride and I am not ashamed to say that I am pretty proud of how well it went considering I was planning it from thousands of miles away.  My biggest fear was that we wouldn't be able to fit two tracks in, but my friend Bee Sting who lives in the Midlands did not steer me wrong.  I am hoping that one day I'll plan some more derby bootcamps.  And I will say that most of the girls who came to the camp were very modest about their skills because I was totally expecting them to be more fresh on their skates, but many were much more advanced than they had let on.  I think we all have to thank for making video streaming of derby games available worldwide.  Those girls in the UK and Europe (and beyond) are quite savvy and it's just amazing how much faster derby girls can learn the sport compared to when I started back in 2004.  
The bootcamp lasted from mid-day Saturday through the evening on Sunday.  Afterwards, Chelsey and I hopped in a car with Jenny and Sian from Cardiff's Roller Derby league The Tiger Bay Brawlers.  Those girls really treated us to a great time.  Chelsey still wears her Tiger Bay shirt constantly:)  In no particular order we got to enjoy the following: private karaoke room at Tiger Tiger, an all nighter at Jen Clawed Van Slamme's house (which also included a quick liquor and chips dash while our taxi waited), a comfy bed and laundry time at Sian of the Dead's house, a comfy bed that I stole from Jen when I couldn't possibly keep my eyes open for another minute, practice with the Tiger Bay girls where Chelsey wore skates for 5 min, Black Dragon Welsh Cider, Pork Pie (ummm....this probably shouldn't go under the "enjoy" list unless you like cat food paste stuffed into a crust, but I can now say I have officially tried it), an official tour of the Cardiff Castle, & shopping at Primark.  There really is a lot more but I don't want to brag too much about all of the good times with those lovely gals:)  Just thinking about those two days with them is making my heart sick.  I really hope we get to meet up again.  
With much sadness, we left them to go on to Glasgow where I am ashamed to admit that we pretty much laid low and kind of wasted our time recovering from the good times in Cardiff.  We did manage to get out and see a small part of the Glasgow Crypts which were beautiful and creepy all at once.  I would have loved to explore them more, but darkness was coming and we were hungry.  We were also hoping to catch a glimpse of Brad Pitt since they were filming World War Z.  But no dice.  
And that's all folks.  (At least for this leg of the trip)  
The V&A, one of the coolest art museums in the world.
Victoria & Albert Musum London UK  
Stopped for a quick look at the Prince Albert Memorial
Memorial for Prince Albert in Kensington Gardens London  
The last time I was in London I didn't check out Kensington Palace, so this time I thought I would with Chels.
Kensington Palace in Kensington Gardens London England  
Tourist standing in garden at Kensington Palace in London  
Chelsey's turn
Gardens at Kensington Palace  
Better look at the gardens
The Gardens at Kensington Palace in London England  
Part of the Enchanted Palace exhibit outdoors
Garden Exhibit at Kensington Gardens  
Christmas in August?
Kensington Palace Outdoor Enchanted Palace Exhibit  
Each ornament had someone's secret written inside of it.
Red Ornament at Enchanted Palace exhibit at Kensington Palace  
Then we went inside and saw the installations
Kensington Palace Enchanted Garden Exhibit  
Beautifully lit perfume bottles
Kensington Palace Enchanted  
This was Vivienne Westwood's contribution
Kensington Palace Vivienne Westwood Installation  
Chelsey being weird.
Enchanted Kensington Palace  
Each room was decorated differently. I loved it. Most of the time the rooms in the palaces that I've seen are actually kind of bare.
Gold Chandelier at Kensington Palace  
The "Gallery of War & Play" room was one of the best ones.
Kensington Palace Enchanted Palace Exhibit  
Details from the Gallery of War and Play
Gallery of War and Play at Kensington Palace  
War & Play Gallery at Kensington Palace  
Some princessy items
Kensington Palace Princess Exhibit  
This was the Princess Diana and Princess Margaret room
Kensington Palace Enchanted Palace Exhibit  
Enchanted Palace Kensington Gardens  
Enchanted Kensington Palace  
My favorite photo of Chelsey from the trip;) I saved it for last from Kensington Palace.
Enchanted Kensington Palace  
Penalty Queens
Winona Fighter and Raw Heidi Penalty Queens  
Skaters from all over the UK and Europe came to the Rocky Mountain Rollergirls' Bootcamp. It was awesome:)
Winona Fighter Rocky Mountain Rollergirls Bootcamp  
A government building in Cardiff. I can't remember which one. Maybe Sian will chime in and remind me?
Cardiff Wales  
Cardiff Wales Government Building  
I liked this statue.
Greek looking seahorse statue in Cardiff Wales  
The Fabulous Tiger Bay Brawlers
Tiger Bay Brawlers Roller Derby League  
Karaoke Scenes
Karaoke in a private room at Tiger Tiger  in Cardiff  
The next afternoon we visited the Cardiff Castle together
Lions outside on the Cardiff Castle wall  
Stone lion at Cardiff Castle  
Stone lion outside of Cardiff Castle  
We went on a tour of the inside
Indoors at the Cardiff Castle  
This cool chandelier was hanging inside the children's nursery
Nursery Chandelier at Cardiff Castle  
What pretty windows this castle has
Window detail at Cardiff Castle  
Detail from that same window
A window in Cardiff Castle  
I could use a bathroom like this;)
Pretty Bathroom in Cardiff Castle  
The ceiling in one of the rooms was outrageous
A beautiful ceiling inside Cardiff Castle  
Tour of the inside of Cardiff Castle  
These little critters decorated the walls in the library
Monkeys inside the Cardiff Castle  
There was an awesome open air patio on the roof.
Rat fountain on the roof of Cardiff Castle  
On that same patio
Virgin Mary Statue at Cardiff Castle  
My attempt to get a good peek of the view from the roof patio
Looking out from Cardiff Castle  
Hi Chels!
Roof Patio on tour at Cardiff Castle  
Stained Glass Window at Cardiff Castle  
Winona Fighter & Sian of the Dead (one of the best derby names ever btw)
Library on tour at Cardiff Castle  
Lamp post on the outside after the tour
Lamp post at Cardiff Castle  
Rocky Mountain Rollergirls go international!
Cardiff Castle Wales  
What a fun group of people:)
Castle Cardiff in Wales  
Another view
Wide view of Cardiff Castle  
Of course, we had to go climb this thing;)
View of the tower at Cardiff Castle  
Cardiff Castle Wales  
Wales' Cardiff Castle  
Stone wall at Cardiff Castle  
Looking through keyhole at Cardiff Castle  
Last one for this leg of the trip....
View from top of Castle in Cardiff Wales  
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