Landing in Scotland (via the ferry-with-video-games, which I didn't want to leave :-( ), we set our sights on Edinburgh. Our first obstacle: Glasgow. Their best defence against marauders (aka me) is traffic. Our only stop in Glasgow? The Esso station. Get in, get out. Guerrilla tactics.
Edinburgh, too, puts on an excellent traffic show of defence. When we FINALLY reached our flat, we were stunned to see that we had the best view in the entire city - we were RIGHT BESIDE Arthur's Seat (the highest point, and a bit of mountain, smack dab in the middle of the city, just like the Acropolis - one of my previous conquests).
After this, we set off for Edinburgh Castle:
We took the walls, then took a moment to survey our newest kingdom.
After exploring our new digs, we thought it behooved us to invite the rest of the city to join us in our new kingdom. Here is how we sent the invitations:
We feel confident the RSVPs will say "Yes".
Our next destination: Camera Obscura. If you're not familiar with it, a camera obscure is a mirror, attached to a really long stick, that reflects an image and sends it down through a series of three lenses, into a small room with a white, round table. The result? An image of whatever is being reflected from above. Think periscope. The happy result? Spying!
After learning about this exciting new technique for observing our minions, BearBoy and I practised using mind tricks in order to prepare for the final siege of Edinburgh:
As you can, the conquest of Edinburgh is well in hand. With giant Intrepid DaddyMan, and headless BearBoy, Edinburgh is toast. Tomorrow, we take the Highlands!
After taking over Ireland, we headed NORTH (all the signs say just that – NORTH, not just North). First, we stopped by Belfast to check out Titanic Belfast.
Did you know that the Titanic was built there? Not in this posh new interpretive centre, but in the actual shipyard right behind it. I believe that I should build my flagship, the HMS Turtle, in a different shipyard, what with this one being a bit off. Not only did they build the Titanic, but they also built the Brittannia. Plus, my second book, “Do it Yourself Empire Building” clearly states (p. 47), “DO NOT build in Belfast”. Sorry Belfast.
Onward! Our base camp: Castlerock.
We got there, and I tried to convince the troops that this could be our new HQ. Just send for our belongings, and rename it Turtle City. The cruel mumster and BearBoy were in, but the Intrepid Daddyman was all like “but my job!”
Why have a job, I thought, when you can have an EMPIRE?
My thoughts were expressed exactly by the contrast between our car (the black) and the local car (your guess). And no, this is NOT simply "the wonders of perspective" (one of BearBoy's favourite phrase :-/).
Alas, no luck. Our consolation prize was the beach! Notice, there’s no one there?
That’s because the locals AND the tourists think it’s too cold. Except for the Crazy Canucks. Notice, that would be us?
We spent as long as the cruel mumster would permit (which was NOT SUFFICIENT) building a sand empire. We then faced the inevitability of nature, or as the cruel mumster said, “The waves will eat your castles. FACE IT.”
From there, we headed to the Giant’s Causeway. If you‘ve never of the legend of Fionn MacCool, check it out. Beautiful, intimidating, and probably dangerous.
It was a hard-fought battle. But, like every other challenge I have faced, I was victorious.
See? Photographic proof. Look at this last picture while playing “We are the Champions” (by Queen….or should it be KING?!?). That will give you the right idea.
Next: Scotland. Bye-bye bagpipes.
We approached our target by boat. A little known fact: turtles may be good swimmers, but ferries are faster. Ferries also make us want to throw up (not to worry, his Royal Turtleness did stoop quite that low).
When we landed, it was a brief jaunt to our flat, which (upon entering) I deemed “Swede-land”, in consequent of it’s Ikea décor. But, it had a sweet view of the Ha’penny Bridge.
Did you know, Dubliners party til 4 am EVERY NIGHT OF THE WEEK? Shiver.
Waking, we decided to scout the landscape from the top of a double decker tour bus.
The cruel mumster fell prey to obstacles Dubliners put in to dissuade would-be conquerors: curbs.
Sadly, I can’t give you the full photo work-up of it, but I can give you the verbal slow-mo version. Picture it: Mumster was talking to a random tourist while walking alongside us. Suddenly, she starts to fall. She grabs at a stubby concrete pole, but misses! Next, she curls up and rolls over and over again, sliding to a stop in front of one of those concrete poles. Back to normal speed now. A circle of surprised Dubliners saying: Are you okay??? I was silently thinking: Who is that lady? I’m sure I don’t know her.
Back on the bus, the cruel mumster took hoardes of recon photos, despite her now horrifically-swelling ankles. I will not show them all (or the ankles). You’re welcome.
The king has a proclamation: I will now change my postings to “Leg-Posting” – no, not posting my legs (though you should be so lucky!), but more the “on our days in…..”
So, we begin with “Our Capture of Wales” (notice, there is no ‘H’, it is not ‘Whales’). We left Stratford-Upon-Spiders, and headed west, towards Wales. We skipped the cities and went straight for our goal – Conwy Castle. But first we had to pass through the forbidden lands of Snowdonia. And yes, it was as cool as it sounds. BearBoy was lured by the many exotic temptations of the land:
A mountainous, foggy, misty, lush green paradise. We almost didn’t get the cruel mumster out. At one point, we had to forcibly drag her into the car, while she shouted, “No! Leave me! I’m wounded!! I will only slow you down!!!” It was embarrassing. BearBoy and I celebrated our capture of the cruel mumster with a juice.
We finally reached Conwy, on the northern tip of Wales, and saw our goal: Conwy Castle.
Mumster had strategically placed us at the entrance to the city and castle walls. Observe: The blue trim flat? Ours. Awesome.
First we had to scope out the lay of the land. Looked easy. But looks can be deceptive. Once inside, we saw the devastation wrought by previous forces. The cruel mumster thought we needed a new decorator. After all, you cannot run an empire without quality interior design (p. 17, “Running An Empire: The Handbook”, by me).
At one point, we attempted to get a nice photo for our Conquest Webpage – this is what we got instead:
Yup. I’m pretty sure BearBoy has gone over the wall - he's really embracing his berserker role.
After two days in Wales, we set out sights on new land: Ireland. We’re coming for ya.
After the Royal Sleep-In (part two), we woke to the cruel mumster doing laundry - bwahahaha. She said my times a-comin'. My answer was: NEVER!
We set off on a random advance - well, BearBoy and I *thought* we were being dragged to tea - only to find out we were, in fact, besieging Mary Arden's Farm (Shakespeare's own cruel mumster). It's a real, working medieval farm, and it supplies fresh organic foods to 5 Shakespearean Heritage Site Cafes. I got to see loads of cute animals (little known fact about us kingly types - we love small, fuzzy creatures - UNLESS THEY'RE SPIDERS - more on that in a minute :-( ).
Soon after sighting an adorable fuzzy duckling, we ate a delicious lunch and continued the siege. Some vicious hand-to-hand combat with goats ensued, but we prevailed. Finally, in the last charge, the Intrepid DaddyMan defeated many geese, the cruel mumster stormed the main living area in the complex, and me and BearBoy subdued the pigs. In a sandwich.
Then came our motorized offensive takeover of the Cotswolds. It was a very scenic drive with many sandstone buildings. I was deceived by the name 'Upper Slaughter', thinking it meant the slaughter that was higher than lower the slaughter. Alas no, it was just a village name. I think the cruel mumster's head almost exploded from too much beauty.
I saved my crisps (chips) for our Monopoly game, bragging that only I was wealthy enough to afford them (actually, I saved them from lunch). After I mopped up my chip-less family, I walk into my throne room, and found what looked like a piece of string. Curious, I nudged it. IT WAS NOT STRING: IT WAS A MASSIVE SPIDER!!!! Aarrrrggggghh! I dashed out and said to the Intrepid DaddyMan: "KILL IT. Please." Then, in a very un-kingly fashion, leapt onto the couch and broke into hysterics. I wailed "It crawled over my TOE! MY TOE! AAAHH!!!!!"
The rest is not for public ears or eyes. In other words, censored.
After a goods nights sleep we packed up and headed for our next destination, my personal favourite:
After 'Night of the Spiders' (shiver), it dawned on the river Avon, and this is what I saw:
I forgive you, nasty-spider-filled-Avon river.
Next, the cruel mumster MADE us go to a workshop she'd planned through the Royal Shakespeare Company. BearBoy and I were *forced* to attend this professionally run private workshop with the actor who played Edgar in the RSC's production of 'King Lear'. Sigh. The worst part? IT WAS SO MUCH FUN. Drat. I never thought that working with 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', and yelling at storm clouds could be so much fun.
Then we ate at MY choice for a restaurant - 'The Giggling Squid'. SO DELICIOUS. Everything was sublime. Even BearBoy conceded the superiority of my food choices. We stopped just short of licking the plates. There were many plates.
That night, we attended 'King Lear' at the RSC. IT WAS SO AWESOME. Even the Intrepid Daddyman enjoyed it. This, I assure you, is a major breakthrough.
So, another day, another conquest. RSC, you're mine.
Tomorrow - Stratford, Part Two!
For those of you who don't get my reference, butterbeer is the drink of choice for young wizards....like me....
This day started bright and early at the 'Mandalay Guest House With Tasty Hot Chocolate' (if that doesn't make sense, see my previous work). Did you know you could fry bread? Not like aboriginal fry bread (but kind of), you slap a piece of bread in hot olive olive, flip, and voilá! Tastiness! Well, that's what the cruel mumster said, as she evilly ate it all. Truthfully, though, I was distracted by sausages. Cumberland sausages, tasty bits of meaty heaven. Sorry to my vegetarian fans.
As we were driving to Stonehenge, we come over a hill and BAM! there it is. Just sitting there. In some field. We start screaming, "STONEHENGE! STONEHENGE!!!!", and then we turn. So we think: "Maybe that wasn't Stonehenge. It sure looked like Stonehenge...." But! it was. I couldn't believe the size and age - it's Pre-Roman, people! But sadly, no Druids in sight. Sigh.
Then, we backtracked to Oxford. The cruel mumster's Mecca. In another life, I think my mumster might have been British. We went to Trinity College at Oxford, because the mumster had to pay homage.
Back into the Volvo Valk and onto MY Mecca - I call it 'HARRY POTTER LAND'. The cruel mumster insists it's called "Warner Brothers Studios: The Making of Harry Potter." Oh. My. Goodness. It's the original sets, costumes, props, animatronics, plus movie clips, models of Hogwarts' and an EPIC giftshop. I am now the proud owner of the Elder Wand, plus a nifty set of Ravenclaw woolies to wear to my next Quidditch-watching match. BearBoy went with his instincts, and was sorted into Slytherin, but has Harry Potter's wand....hmmmmm, interesting. Then, I drank butterbeer. Tasty.
Finally - FINALLY - we ended up in Salisbury at the Mandalay Guest House with tasty hot chocolate. That should be its name "The Mandalay Guest House With Tasty Hot Chocolate". I like that. The Intrepid DaddyMan and I had a 'boys night' in one suite, and the cruel mumster had to endure the vicious (overtired!) BearBoy.
Next post - world domination through Stonehenge, Oxford University, and Harry Potter.
This second posting may seem sudden - after all, I posted 'yesterday's' mere minutes ago. It turns out, however, that this conquering business takes a reliable high speed internet connection. Alas, medieval England doesn't possess such a thing (well, at least our flat doesn't). So I type this with the wind, connected most graciously to The Intrepid Daddyman's personal hotspot. My mum laughed as she typed that last bit, but I don't know why.
After the Royal Sleep-in (11 am, the cruel mumster kicked the king from bed), we ventured off to Canterbury. When we saw the Cathedral, my reaction was not very kingly. Mostly I went with, "Uhhhhhhhhhhhh" I think my royal head may have been blown.
Upon entering the Cathedral, I gave a slightly more site-appropriate 'Uhhhhhhh.' Then we walked into the crypt. A most creepy experience, that. Thank heavens for my Turtle shell/mumster. My brave minion was most unaffected by the experience. I am humbled.
After my successful siege of Canterbury, I needed a burger. And a milkshake. And some fries. And maybe an onion ring. As did BearBoy.
Much refreshed, I retired to my flat to read and walk the Promenade, plotting tomorrow's takeover - Bath.
ttfn! turtleman (and bearboy)
After a terrible night of (not) sleep, my eleventh birthday dawned. It was also D-Day.
Here you see me, and BearBoy (my minion) gorging on cake, pre-flight.
Then came our darkest hour: the flight. Actually, the first five hours were pretty good. But then BearBoy fell apart. Refusing to sleep, my mum says he turned into a Gremlin. She broke the rules - she put him in water, and fed him after midnight.
We survived, and were much revived by the sight of our rental vehicle - see how happy The Intrepid DaddyMan is??
And then, as you can see from above, BearBoy hit the wall. Hard. After the longest drive in the world (at least, it felt like it), we got to our flat. And I, TurtleMan, crawled into my shell, and bid the world adieu. Mum found me on the couch, dead to the world. But when she offered me fish and chips, I pepped up. Off we went to Folkestone's High Street, where I had a shocking experience. DID YOU KNOW THAT SOME PLACES LEAVE THE SCALES ON THE FISH?!? #ahhhhhhhhhh! Mum managed to get me to eat ½ the fish......but the chips were good! And every shoppe has malt vinegar! I am in the cradle of civilisation! I knew there was a reason I was taking over the British Isles.
This was the sunset from our balcony on the promenade at our flat that night - we are looking out of the Strait of Dover, on the English Channel.
Night fell, we fell. Mum says I didn't even make a dent in my bed. Mum also says that, at 3 am, when you are on the balcony, you can see the lights of Calais (France! my next conquest :-)
Next morning was 'Dover Day'! Dover was the main obstacle of my conquest of Britain. I have read books about it, watched movies about it, looked at pictures of it - but when I actually saw it, I wasn't quite sure if I could conquer it:
I started my offensive action by touching the castle. I then sent in my minion, BearBoy, to establish that it was safe for my entry:
Once safety was established, we were free to take the Tower.
Tomorrow, we take Canterbury!