This is my journal on documenting love, finding joy, and living life to the fullest. I'm so glad you're here, and hope you enjoy your stay!

This is my journal on documenting love,
finding joy, and living life to the fullest. I'm so glad you're here, and hope you enjoy your stay!

HELLO, I'm JENNIFER! welcome to MY blog!








Cantrell Adventures: British Isles, Part 1

Filed in: Personal

Last November, as I was scrolling through Facebook, I came across a link that was about super low airfares to Europe. Bradley and I had not taken a vacation alone in three years and since the timing worked out with my wedding schedule, we decided to jump on this opportunity. We chose to start our trip by flying into London for a few days, then taking the train up to Edinburgh, and lastly taking a short flight over to Dublin before heading back home. It was a LOT to fit into one week, but we felt like we had enough experience with traveling abroad after our 20 day trip several years ago.

Not only were the flights cheap (I’m talking under $400 a piece!), but we were actually able to get them for free by using my credit card points. Bradley is also a gold member with Marriott and had enough points to get two of our three hotels for free, at 5-star locations! So, we just had to buy the local transportation, one hotel, food, and souvenirs. We were able to eat at nicer restaurants and upgrade to First Class train tickets because we saved money elsewhere, and we still came out spending well under $2000 for the whole trip! Bradley and I are both planners, so we spent weeks preparing our trip itinerary. Every day was packed full starting with early mornings and no breaks until dinner. We had a lot that we wanted to do, which you’ll see in the abundance of photos!

This was the longest we have been away from Evy. She was napping when we had to leave for the airport, so we snuck in her room, whispered some “I love you”s and I shed a few tears as we closed the door. The past three years have been a blur for Bradley and I with getting married, having a baby, working full time jobs, keeping up with family, friends, and household responsibilities. There has hardly been any time for just the two of us, and this trip was just what we needed. Being away from her was really hard, but we are so grateful to have both our parents able to help out with watching her so we can refocus on us.

Bradley has learned that taking photos on our trips is what brings me joy, so he has become very patient with me and my constant shutter snapping. You’ll see mostly photos from my “big” camera in here, but some are snapshots too. These photos not only help me remember what we saw, but it helps me get refine my creativity and get ready for weddings to come! I hope you enjoy seeing our trip through my eyes!
First stop in London was St. Paul’s cathedral. We climbed hundreds of stairs to the very top of the dome and saw the best 360 degree views of the city.We went across Millennium Bridge, saw Shakespeare’s Globe, and took our time walking hand in hand along the Thames River. I had never been on a Ferris Wheel, and it was on my bucket list, so we HAD to take a ride on the London Eye…while enjoying a glass of champagne!
Our second day started bright and early going out to the Making of Harry Potter. If you think I was going to go to London, and not include this, you’re crazy! We both agreed that this was one of the highlights of the entire trip. Seeing the sets, the real props, the actual costumes: it’s amazing to see all the detail and work that went into making these incredible movies. All the photos here are from my point-and-shoot.You’ll see the “real” platform 9 3/4 that we saw at King’s Cross station later on in the post…glad I got my photo here without the line!
After a walk down the real Diagon Alley set, the grand finale was the massive model of Hogwarts. It was used for taping the wide, sweeping shots of the school for the movies. So you can understand the scale, you may be able to see a guy standing about halfway down on the left of the photo below. This thing was HUGE and literally took my breath away (ok, now I’m really sounding like a nerd, but it was just that big!)
After a large coffee (jet lag was hitting hard), we made our way back to London and over to Kensington Palace. Can you believe women actually wore dresses like this?! There was also a new exhibit featuring the fashion of Princess Diana. I remember seeing photos of her in some of these dresses when I was little and thinking how beautiful she was. It was surreal seeing them in person.
The restrooms at the Palace all had crowns on the figures. :)After the palace, we walked through Hyde Park to get to our reservation for afternoon tea at the Oscar Wilde Bar. I snuck a few iPhone photos of our tea time, but I figured it was in poor taste to pull out any other cameras! Then, as if our day wasn’t full enough, we stopped by Trafalgar Square and then went to Twinings Tearoom.We started our third day by visiting the ruins of St. Dustan in the East. Bradley and I did some genealogy research before our trip and he found that his 12th great grandfather was baptized here. It’s amazing that it still stands, covered in ferns and ivy, amidst modern buildings and skyscrapers.Then, we headed over to see London Bridge, Tower of London (the Crown Jewels were amazing, but unfortunately you can’t take photos), and over to Buckingham Palace for changing of the guards.The grounds around Buckingham are pristine, and everything was in bloom! Our last tour was at Westminster Abbey (again, no photos inside) before leaving for the train station.Before we departed on our train to Edinburgh, I wanted to see Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross. I moved past this huge crowd as I was looking for it, and then realized that this was the LINE to see it! So glad I got my photo at Harry Potter studios, and I didn’t have to pay for it either!

Part Two coming soon!

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