Posts Tagged ‘Kyle and the Babes’


Nottingham: Mischief Managed

   Posted by: MB    in Daily

Wednesday, 23 December 2015


Kyle and the Babes 2015. Day Seven.

The first thing on today’s agenda actually began last night:  get some sleep!  We’d been running a pretty fast pace, with fairly early mornings and (at least for me) crazy late nights since we arrived.  This morning, I think we all actually started the day out fully recharged and ready for running amok.

We had knocked three pubs off the ten-pub list, last night.  So, today, the goal was to see and experience as much of Nottingham as we could, by finding each of the other highly recommended places on the list.  We sallied forth with enthusiasm, and were successful in our task.  And, we even fit in a Christmas Market and some good shopping, as well as a delightful lunch. Along the way, I took a few photos of architecture and Christmas lights and such.  This beautiful building above most effectively stole my heart.  All my people out there who know or have read about my obsession with the Galveston News building, will understand and not be surprised.  This one is much bigger, of course, and has the added appeal of the Tudor half-timbering on top … but it *feels* similar to me.

Tomorrow we once again travel north, and by sundown we’ll be in the country of our hearts: Scotland.


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Winchester for the Win

   Posted by: MB    in Daily

Saturday, 19 December 2015

High Street Silly

Kyle and the Babes. Day Three. Happy Birthday, Roxy!

Driving in England is practically second nature to Kyle, so it was his pleasure to go out fairly early this morning and retrieve the hired car in which we will spend the next couple of weeks touring.  We checked out of our hotel and pointed the car south toward the one bit of southern England we’re going to see on this trip.  The city of Winchester was our destination, but along the way Kyle had determined that we had just enough time to locate one of CAMRA’s top-rated pubs.  Our internet provision is still not quite perfect, so MaritaBeth got to use her navigation skills and a paper map to navigate the first part of the trip.  Seems those skills are in good working order and all were rather impressed enough that a virtual badge was awarded.

Lunch, then, was at this darling little (like maybe seven tables) pub called The Plough Inn in a tiny town called Little London.  We enjoyed some very real ale (and a real first press cider) and wonderful pub sandwiches on baguettes.  A perfectly delightful travel stop, if not a bit out of our way, and worth every extra kilometer.  We were soon back on our way south toward Winchester, and easily found our lovely accommodation upon arrival in town.  We had pre-booked rooms at the beautiful Victorian Giffard House, a 13-room hotel which holds the distinction of being the number one rated place to stay according to Trip Advisor. We unloaded the car, donned our comfy shoes and began the fifteen minute walk to the Cathedral.  We weren’t headed to church, though…we were headed to what is touted as England’s largest Christmas Market!  The walk was lovely, the weather still unseasonably warm, and our goal was reached quickly.  Daylight was fading, and thousands of tiny lights were beckoning.  First things first, of course–we each got ourselves a cup of hot mulled wine–then into the marketplace we went. We left surprisingly unscathed, but there might have been a jolly holiday present or two procured. 😉  Kyle and MaritaBeth also made a great contact with a small game manufacturer that should come in quite handy for East Wind Games.

We thoroughly enjoyed the event, shopping our way around it for a couple of hours, until Kyle finally got confirmation that our friends Andy and Tony had in fact made it to town and were waiting for us in a pub on the High Street.  A short walk (and a quick stop for some Thai street food) and we were at the apparently popular Alfie’s.  It was wonderful to see these two again (and to meet Andy’s lovely lady Kate) and the evening flew by.  We shared pints, stories, jokes, and memories and sincerely deepened our friendship with and our love for these friends.  We look forward to the day when they can come visit us in the states!

All good things must eventually come to an end, and this visit was no exception, of course.  We said our goodbyes, and soon after they headed home, we took to the High Street on our way back to the hotel.  Along the way we took some photos, saw some sights (many of the buildings on the High Street date from the twelfth and thirteenth century) and even found one more pub in which to elongate our fun and wish Roxy a very happy birthday! Finally, we arrived back at our elegant lodgings and said goodnight with the promise of a proper English breakfast at nine in the morning.


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From British Museum to Giant Mistletoe

   Posted by: MB    in Daily

Friday, 18 December 2015 Kyle and the Babes Kyle and the Babes 2015.

Day Two They’re here! Way back in 1997, Kyle and I and two dear girlfriends made the trip to the U.K. for the Yule holiday.  Kyle’s parents were living in England at the time, and Ginger and Lisa were up for an adventure, so away we went!  Among other things, we experienced sunrise in a stone circle on Yule, enjoyed a marvelous Christmas visit with the folks, were honored with seats at the head table at a castle feast, visited one of our favorite castle ruins, froze our butts off at the White Horse of Uffington and even managed to take in a show in the West End. The Kyle and the Babes Trip was a huge success and Ginger and Lisa were forever accepted into the Clan MacRalph.

This trip is not an attempt to recreate that amazing time.  It is an exciting, all new adventure with two different dear girlfriends, Roxy and Mandalyn.  But, the label “Kyle and the Babes” deserved reviving!

Knowing the girls were arriving today, Kyle and I planned a meeting time and place with them, and filled the first part of our day with the journey into the city, time in a couple of lovely little pubs (the Princess Louise is one of the most beautiful pubs I’ve ever been in), and a visit to the British Museum.  Why we’d never before visited this amazing museum remains a mystery and the place deserves much more of our attention on a future visit.  But, today was all about a specific exhibit I was determined to see entitled, “Celts: Art and Identity.”  The exhibit set out to expose its patrons to the depth and variety of what we have come to understand as “celtic” and “celtic art.”  It presents hundreds of objects from all over the European continent–knives, brooches, torcs, helmets and shields, chariot fittings, flagons, sculptures, bowls, books and more. The star of the show, at least for me, is what is known as The Gundestrup Cauldron–an ornate, silver, ceremonial cauldron dating from c. 150 B.C.E. The entire exhibit is beautifully presented, and except for the bizarrely high temperature within the exhibit hall, it was a wonderful experience I wouldn’t have wanted to miss.

By the time we finished there, and popped into the pub on the corner (it would have been rude not to!), it was time to head to the Covent Garden area to meet Roxy and Mandi.  We found them, exactly as planned, at the busy but charming Nag’s Head Pub, where we had a pint to fortify us for shopping.  The next planned stop was my Bravissimo store!  Roxy joined me, and Mandi opted to accompany Kyle to the next pub to wait for us.  Bravissimo is known for catering to the well-endowed woman, so Roxy and I are their perfect type of customer.  We set up fittings, shopped for a few moments, then were each given a dressing room and a fitting expert.  One beautiful bra after another was brought to me, based on the preferences I’d established–I’m sure Roxy would say the same thing–and finally both Roxy and I left with lighter wallets, but much improved wardrobes!

By this time, it was well past time for food, and the nearest restaurant won the lottery.  Sophie’s Steakhouse was the place, and although the breaded haddock was better than the steak, it was an excellent dinner in a very classy and popular spot.  The one bummer of the day: by the time we finished our meal and got back to Covent Garden, the marketplace was closed!  So, perhaps we’ll do that shopping on the tail end of this trip if there’s time.  But, for tonight (after taking some fun photos like the one above) we finished our night in town with a pint at the Punch and Judy, and then made our way back to the Covent Garden underground station, where I don’t advise taking the stairs down to the rails! Kyle and I did that while the girls rode the lift down–we walked down the equivalent of fifteen flights of stairs! The tube ride was interesting as we were on a train which was pulled from service only partway home … so that was fun. But, a short wait and we were on our way again.  We topped off the evening with a nightcap in the hotel lounge just before last call, and now, it’s time for some more sleep so we can have more fun tomorrow.


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Good Times in London

   Posted by: MB    in Daily

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Kyle at The Globe pub - Day One

Kyle and the Babes 2015.  Day One.

Day One is done! In what seems like the longest day ever (but was actually two days), we left Texas, came to the United Kingdom and spent a wonderful evening walking around the Marylebone area of London.

The time change and a long layover can really mess with your sense of time.  It seriously feels like we just left home this morning and it’s been a really long day, but the calendar is doing its best to dissuade me of that idea. On Wednesday morning we boarded an airplane at DFW, and took the short hop to Houston International where we had a multiple-hour layover in one of the most boring airports I’ve ever experienced.  Seriously, we had only one restaurant to choose from (a mediocre burger joint) and only two bars.  I believe there was a Starbucks for the non-alcohol-drinking set, and I specifically noticed a Hershey “store” that seemed to have bags of Reece’s Piecs as it’s only offering. The most elegant beer available to us anywhere was Goose Island IPA. We had to hunt pretty hard for electrical outlets and Flight Notification boards.  The facility felt new and modern, and there were signs indicating other things are coming, but right now it sure needs a lot of work.

We flew British Airways from Houston to London–an eight-hour exercise in discomfort.  I know, I know!  We’re spoiled by our years of flight benefits with American Airlines and our good fortune to fly first class so often.  After this trip I understand better why people who can, spend the big bucks to do that.  But, all the leg cramping and neck stiffening in the world cannot squelch our excitement about this trip!

We landed at Heathrow right around noon, and had a very simple customs and baggage claim experience.  From there, we caught a bus to our hotel nearby, settled in a little bit, and took the crucial nap that cures the jet lag.  About two hours later, even before the alarm we’d set went off, we were awake with enthusiasm and prepared for our London date night.  We caught a free city bus the short distance back to the airport where we bought Oyster passes for the Underground and boarded the tube on the Picadilly Line. And, I’m pretty sure it was the party-bound train, judging by the number of Santa hats and ugly sweaters that boarded it!  About forty-five minutes, one line change, and two stops later, we were walking up Baker Street toward our destination.  We had hoped for some pub grub for dinner, but it being Christmas Party week, every pub we encountered was full to overflowing, many with private parties. So, we opted for a healthy meal at a Pret a Manger instead.  The weather is beautiful — cool but not cold; a little bit misty — and there are of course, holiday lights everywhere. We even happened on a game store and gave it a pretty good looking over!  Our wonderful walk led us at last to the spot where we had a reservation at half past eight o’clock.  We were a tad early, so we grabbed a pint in the pub just across the street until it was time for us to take our booked table at Purl London.  This amazing little cocktail bar is a place we’d been wanting to visit since our last trip, I think!  On their wonderful menu it says: “The aim of the bar was to bring classic cocktails back to the forefront of London’s drinking scene, whilst adding new flare and creativity to forgotten libations from the prohibition era.”  Does that sound like our kind of place, or what?! Kyle had tried to contact them about reservations to no avail, and just the day before we left home, Terrill (who has also been there and loved it) heard us talking about it, got online, and made the booking on the spot for us! We are grateful for his magic, for we watched other folks with no prior booking be turned away. It’s a hot little spot!

We drank drink with names like Mr. Hyde, Il Ferroviario, Loggerhead N2, and Rock ‘N’ Cream (which, incidentally, was a concoction involving a white tequila infused with clay, Suze & Amaro Averna and their in-house-made tonic water, and was served with my own small vial of juniper scented handcream!) Another drink we saw served came with a ginger-filled balloon which was popped by flame at the time of serving to add flair.  Each and every beautiful cocktail came with a story– a theatrical presentation, if you will–and everything we tasted was unique and delightful.

Two on the Tube


One more pub stop on the way back to the Baker Street station, a ride on a much more empty train that it had been earlier in the festive evening, and a short bus ride and we were once again at our hotel.  As I sit here writing my first Daily Krumb post in way too long, I am practically vibrating with excitement about the coming days, despite the extreme lack of sleep.  It’s gonna be epic!


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