Beaumaris Castle is in Wales, and you can tell you’ve reached Wales because the alphabet explodes (not pictured here).

An important thing to know about Beaumaris is that Brits often pronounce the name so that it sounds very much like “bum-arse,” which is pretty well the funniest thing that has ever happened in life.

Some kind of electric box that is not only right next to standing water but actually has PLANTS GROWING OUT OF IT. So safety.

You may be able to see the rectangle on the wall of the tower in the above picture. We saw those on all the towers, and wondered for a while what they were before I think the guidebook provided the answer. I guess they were windows at some point before someone decided that freaking huge windows were a bit of a safety hazard and had them all bricked up.

I took the above shot because I felt like this view of the countryside was unlikely to be much different from what they would have seen from the castle walls in the thirteenth century, and that was a cool thought.

Not sure what’s going on with my hair in the above picture. It was a windy day, but, thankfully, not as cold as it could have been.

How picturesque is this?? A huge perfect spiderweb in the corner of a doorway in an ancient ruined castle?? Well done, that spider!!

One thing I was a bit sad about was that they hadn’t restored the wooden floors in almost any of the rooms. So in every tower, you could see from ground floor to sky, and every one of the larger rooms was inaccessible except on the lowest level. This prevented visitors from getting a feeling for what the larger rooms would have been like. Which didn’t stop the place from being TOTALLY BADASS.

I found this pigeon nesting in a shaft. It’s hard to see there above, but I had to get a picture of it.

The chapel in the above pictures was difficult to get good shots of because of the limited light, but it was pretty cool-looking: the only place that had any decoration and therefore didn’t feel totally barbaric XD

I loved getting these shots from the ramparts with the Welsh coast in the background. Also from the ramparts I got a cute shot of a distant Zombie Girl resting on a bench with her boyfriend:

But even more awesome than that was when I presently descended into the passages again and found a sort of peephole (deliberate or not I don’t know) that looked out PRECISELY on the same distant scene across the courtyard:

Of course the dark inside and the light outside and the distance to the subject make that a very imperfect picture indeed, but it was just so surprising and charming to bend down and look through and see them so perfectly there. I kinda felt like the bench must have been placed deliberately in that spot.

The feeling of walking through the narrow passages in this castle was wonderful, and I adored the whole place. When we were done wandering around its entirety, we headed over to Caernarfon Castle. This castle is less dilapidated, less overgrown, and a lot more cardiac. I didn’t take a single picture there because I was too busy climbing an endless succession of very tall spiral staircases. I liked it not as much as Bum-Arse, but I did like it quite a bit. BTW, the British are really wanky about their royalty.

We stopped briefly into Llanfair­pwllgwyngyll­gogery­chwyrn­drobwll­llan­tysilio­gogo­goch so I could take a picture:

So freaking tired after all those stairs, I fell asleep in the car on the way to Liverpool, but woke up to eat delicious pizza at a restaurant there and then take a train back to Stockport.

For the rest of the week, ZG had to work half days, so on Tuesday I slept in and then took a train into Manchester where she works so as to wander around for a bit before meeting her for lunch. I saw this sign:

So Manchester uses a stylized bee as its city symbol, and I saw many of those all over the place as I was wandering. Then, just outside of Manchester Cathedral, I saw this poignant scene:

How sadly appropriate for Manchester in January! Anyway, then I wandered around Manchester Cathedral.

I’m pretty sure the religious sites outnumbered the literary sites on this vacation XD Anyway, I liked this sign, because I got to invoke a semi-literary idiom in response:

“No shit, Sherlock!”

So when ZG and I met, we headed to the Richmond Tea Rooms to have a proper British tea, which I felt it would be almost criminal to leave England without.

The above picture was taken only after I’d inhaled all of the finger sandwiches and at least one of the desserts. I took some Benadryl so as to be able to partake of all the allergens (though I still stuck to the decaffeinated tea option since I didn’t want to be up all night), and I ate EVERYTHING. It was amazing. So freaking amazing.

I have to take this moment to say that scones with clotted cream are THE BEST FUCKING THING I HAVE EVER EATEN. Hands down THE MOST DELICIOUS FOOD IN THE WORLD. Tear-inducingly, profanely good. I could have eaten twelve hundred and twelve of them.

The Richmond Tea Rooms are in the Gay Village, by the way. GAY VILLAGE. We don’t have a gay village around here, that’s for sure.

OK, so we also saw this…


That evening, we watched Rurouni Kenshin, which ZG enjoyed, so that was good times. On Wednesday we went to the Manchester Art Gallery and saw some gorgeous Wedgewood stuff and the most smoldering-gazed Sappho evar. I might have taken a picture with Sappho, but my mood looking at her was soured by the plaque that made no mention whatsoever of her possible bisexuality or her significance to lesbians.

Wednesday evening we watched Kyoto Taika Hen, which ZG also enjoyed. As that day had been the end of what my poor feet could take, on Thursday I did not join her in Manchester at all, only sat around her house playing video games all day. It was the perfect day not to be out and about, as Stockport and Manchester got an unusual amount of snow.

That evening, ZG further playtested SBA for me, but wans’t able to get through as much as I would have liked. Such are the restrictions of time. We also didn’t have a chance to play Dominion at all, though I’d brought her an expansion. Ah, well.

We also watched The Cabin in the Woods, which was good, and I looked away during the most goriest scenes. We wanted to watch Densetsu no Saigo Hen, but obviously I hadn’t been able to bring that since its release on DVD happened while I was in England. We tried to find it online somewhere, but failed. So ZG will remain cliffhung for an indefinite period, while I will get to watch it any day now when my copy arrives in the mail.

Thursday night my insomnia struck as it sometimes does, and I slept for perhaps five minutes. Early Friday morning I took a train back to London and got on an airplane at 1230. The flight was approximately nine hours long and landed at 1530 in Denver.

This time I was able to see the ocean out the window, since it was light the entire time, and that was super cool for about five minutes. I spent the time playing The Bard’s Tale, listening to The Battle of the Labyrinth, and watching The Skeleton Key. Not all at once, of course.

Mom drove me home from DIA, and some sort of bad accident (an RV rollover, apparently) had I-25 shut down so that we had to sit there for, like, two hours just north of Monument. By the time I got home and took a shower, I was pushing 24 hours from the time I’d gotten up, and I don’t even know how many hours awake XD I’m still a bit tired even after two nights’ sleep, heh.

I feel like there should have been a lot more used Underground tickets in there, but whatevs. Overall this was the Best Vacation Evar. I got to see Zombie Girl, Stonehenge, Bum-Arse, and all the things. I picked up some cool souvenirs (mostly books), and some gifts for my co-workers, and saw all sorts of artistic stuff. I probably spent between $1500 and $2000 on the trip as a whole, and it was worth every penny.

And at the same time I am, of course, super glad to be back. I’ve missed my cat like MAD, and I was struck all over again, upon seeing her on Friday night, just what a beautiful little cat she is. I am a very happy person indeed.

Now that all these vacations are over, I can get back to normal life. Productivity (and logs thereof) can resume, which should lead to some actual artistic posts around this place, and possibly a standard personal entry now and then as well.