rowanf: (pink hair)
We have had a couple of really fun days. Sunday we had been going to go to Dennis Seivers House together but Russell went without me because the buses were diverted from our area entirely for a marathon event of the Paralympics. I spent some time watching and cheering on the cyclists. And was able to take the time to upload my various photos to flickr.

Russell got back and wandered down to the water to catch our City Cruise down the Thames. Except we went to the wrong pier. And everything was still blocked off for the evening's parade so we had to power walk from Westminster to Blackfriars in order to be on time. Not my best thing! But we got to Blackfriars in time and the cruise was fine, the first part was very colourful with lots of lights on the shore (and the parade going by) but then it got down into a more residential area and we went inside to be warmer for awhile. The boat docked back at Blackfriars but we stayed on the upper deck for the fireworks on the water. The first fireworks went off down by the Houses of Parliament, and then some went off on the other side of Blackfriars Bridge... and then the barge parked not 200 yards from us set off its load. WOWOWOWOWOWOW!!!! The fireworks were in the air right above our heads (and casings were raining down on us). It was really wonderful and went on for like 15 minutes.

We stopped at Cleopatra's Needle on the walk back and found the cache there. (There has been way too many muggles and we were in way to much of a hurry on the way.)

We got to bed about 12:30am... which was way late as we had to be out of our room and on our way to Watford Junction by 8am. We got to Euston Station on time but the clerk told us the wrong track so we were on the local rather than the express which made us worried about time. But we got to Leavesden Studios for the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter. I wasn't really sure what to expect and the start was a lot of queueing and a cheesy video so I feared the worst. But actually it was a lot of fun as it was mostly a self-paced tour of sets and props from the films. As you can tell by my flickrstream, I was fascinated!

Then we got home... which took hours because there was yet another parade. This one along the Strand totally cutting us off from our hotel. But eventually we rested up and then went to dinner with Simon & Mary at Boyd's across the street.

Today I am mostly working on pictures and resting up. Tomorrow we are off to the West Country.

Flickr still isn't posting, bah.
rowanf: (Default)
This morning we got up and ate and then walked out to the Elfin Oak. I always loved the Oak but they have put it in a cage and put a playground next to it. I find this very sad really. One used to come upon the oak, at a cross roads in Kensington Park as a lovely surprise. It was carved in 1911 by Ivor Innes when he got back from the War. I think it was his way to reconnecting with the magic of the world. When I lived here in 1972 I used to go by the oak and reconnect myself. Now it is a monument rather than a place of magic. [I found a news release says it was carved between 1928 and 1930 but that isn't how I remember it. It doesn't change that it is now caged.]

Then we took the bus downtown and went to Fortnum & Mason's food hall. We bought presents for people and Russell got some lunch but I wanted to eat at a sit-down restaurant. Then we separated and he went off to Camden Lock and I went to Charing Cross to look for books for my Father. I didn't have much luck (though I bought a couple to read on the plane home since I had run out) and I would up at Tottenham Court Road where I had seen a Cornish Bakery featuring "award winning pasties". I was disappointed to find it was take-away only as I *really* wanted to sit inside and eat. Luckily there was a Starbucks a block away so I got a steamed milk and sat and enjoyed a small traditional pastie and a steak & stilton. Oh my. I wish steak & stilton pasties were something I could find in the normal course of things. Just as well for my waistline they aren't, I suppose.

I tried to call Russell to see if he wanted to do something together but got his voice mail. I headed back to the flat to drop off my packages (books and F&M stuff). He called and we agreed to meet at the Albert Memorial. It was one of those days with a blue sky with occasional bursts of rain. It was too pretty to spend inside but there was a cold wind and you kept getting cloudbursts. Schizophrenic weather. We wandered around the memorial looking at the Goddesses of the continents (Europe, Asia, Africa & America) and of human industry (Agriculture, Manufacturing, Commerce & Engineering). And the great men of history. *sigh* And Albert, of course. It has been refurbished since last I visited it (Russell went on our last trip but I didn't). It looks very gaudy and fine. I really like the Continental Goddesses. I hope he got a good picture of the American ones.

I went back to the flat whilst Russell stopped in at the Goat for a pint. I washed my hair this morning so I didn't want to get it smoky again joining him for a diet coke. I ate more cheese and jubugo ham for dinner with a pot of tea and the last of the biscuits. Yum. We're packed and ready to get up and go in the morning. I'm looking forward to my own bed and reliable wifi.
rowanf: (Default)
After a nap of about 1-1/2 hours, Russell came home with Indian take away. He had bought a bag of potatoes at the beginning of the week and and we're running out of time to eat them. So we had koorma over potato. Yum!

Russell had picked up tickets to "What the Butler Saw" at the Criterion as he passed through Leicester Square on his way to Neal's Yard for his massage. Off we went to Piccadilly Circus in the drizzle. The Criterion is underground, down lots of stairs. It is an attractive theatre but I could do without the stairs! The play was a farce and quite funny. The playbill says "A psychiatric clinic becomes a world of carnivalesque chaos when rampant libidos, mistaken identities, undressing and cross dressing add layer upon layer of mischievous confusion to Orton's farcical masterpiece." At the interval I wondered to Russell if we'd actually have a butler and he explained the phrase just means something scandalous. He said we saw a mechanical peep show of the same name in the York museum. I hadn't remembered or been familiar with the phrase. The play had no butler. *grin*

On the way home we stopped off at the Goat Tavern near our flat (the oldeset tavern in Kensington, there having been one by that name on the spot for 300 years) and I had my 1/2 pint of Strongbow. It was good but I found my stomach hurt afterward. I have convinced my subconscious that drinking is bad evidently. That should make continuing not to drink for the next couple of months easier. *laugh*
rowanf: (metamorphosis)
This morning we ate breakfast and lay around reading the newspaper (Russell went out and got a latte for him and a copy of the Guardian). Since we were going to museums there wasn't a need for an early start. We both wished we were able to sleep in. At 9:30 we headed off in the grey and misty morning to the Victoria & Albert Museum. My sister Martha had some questions about the Tristan Quilt and I asked the fellow at the desk if there was someone I could talk to regarding textiles. I got just the right person and got what information was available. And her email so Mot can talk to her directly. Martha does wonderful medieval recreations and is working on a period quilt. I also looked for pictures of a particular woodburned medieval chest for her but without success.

Russell and I went to some of the 20th century gallery as he wanted to see the exhibit on hearing aids. It was very strange. It wasn't so much about hearing or current hearing aids as designing hearing devices between 2007-2012. One I liked was called TableTalk that used ear buds and a band around a table (say in a noisy bar) to allow the people at the table to hear each other. The exhibit was very strangely constructed, a lot of the signage was at about knee level and not tilted so I had to sit on the floor to read about things over my head. What were they thinking?

About lunchtime we wandered down Brompton Road and ate at a pastry/restaurant. I had a lovely goat cheese with red pepper, tomato and arugula salad and Russell had croque monsieur. When we got out it had changed from misty rain to downpour and I grudgingly went next door and bought an umbrella. *sigh* I would have been soaked to the skin by the time we got back to the Science Museum without it, but still! Bah!

We tried unsuccessfully to find an exhibit on the materials science of agriculture and wandered through various galleries together. Then I watched WWII video whilst he went through the spitfire exhibit. And then the history of computing. They are building another difference engine, this one for an American museum (though they didn't say which one) I realized I was just bearly tracking and decided to head home to bed. Instead I am sitting here writing this. Now I am going to nap!
rowanf: (Default)
We got up and I had cheese and jubugo ham with crackers for breakfast. I love having our own flat! Then off we went to the London Eye where we had a 10:30 booking. They call it a "flight" which seems really silly for me. A flight on the world's biggest ferris wheel. Whee. The views were nice enough but the weather was back to grey again. There were seven people in our car, another couple and a trio of guys (my gaydar went off). One of the guys was nice enough to take our picture with the Houses of Parliament behind us.

After that we walked across the Waterloo Bridge and went to see the Gilbert collection at Somerset House. There are some really wonderful micromosaics and snuff boxes in the permanent collection. (They used to be at the Los Angeles Museum.) I particularly liked the Castelliani jewelry collection from the mid-1800s. The Castelliani jewelers were doing wonderful gold work inspired by classical pieces that were being dug up then. There were some I'd've worn in a heartbeat (except my neck is too big for a 19th c. necklace). The visiting collection was decorative items from the Electors of Saxony called "Princely Slendour: The Dresden Court 1580-1620". I love the way everyday object are beautifully decorated. I still want a toaster with embossed rural scenes on it. I don't see why Bauhaus won, I want beauty and functionality.

Then we walked over to Simpsons in the Strand for our lunch. We came to England together for the first time in 1984 for our first wedding anniversary. Here we are at our 22nd. The food hasn't changed but the dress code has relaxed (no coat & tie required at lunch) and there are women servers which there certainly weren't back then. We talked to Guiseppe who has worked there for 46 years (though he's really retired he says). We had the lamb off the carving rack and I had the lobster soup for starters. The food was very good. For desert I had a treacle sponge with custard and I realized that it was the same as the South African national desert "malwa" that I ate so much of in Cape Town. This was slightly orange flavoured and a perfect sponge texture. This desert was my peak dining experience in England this time. I know I've had it before, but somehow this was just perfect.

We caught the No. 9 bus back to Kensington, riding on the 2nd floor so that we can see the interesting architectural features of the upper stories instead of looking at the sidewalk. Now I'm writing this journal entry whilst my computer tops up from 97% so I can walk over to Caffe Nero and post it. The day has gotten hot and bright after all. I'm just not used to the humidity!
rowanf: (Default)
This morning we got up and went to the London Tourist Info office on Regents Street and got info on various things. Then we walked over to Soho and checked out various shops. The window of Agent Provocateur (may not be worksafe) is on a prestidigitation theme. The exchange rate really makes lingerie seem outrageous. Of course the prices at AP are always high anyway.

Then we took the tube to Hampstead Heath and walked around under the trees. We had meant to look at historic houses too but we decided we'd hiked enough. Russell grabbed a sandwich and we headed back to the flat to rest a bit before our anniversary tea. Russell took me to The Savoy Hotel for our 22nd Anniversary tea. It was yummy, and outrageously priced. We had a pot of Assam and scones with jam & clotted cream, various small cakes and tea sandwiches (salmon, cucumber & egg, ham & pickle, and shrimp salad). When they asked if we wanted more sandwiches I said, "Sure, can we have just the ham & pickle and shrimp salad?" Evidently this threw the kitchen into a tizzy. They are used to doing five kinds per plate. *laugh* Silly Americans with their outrageous demands. I was just tryig to save them giving us things we wouldn't eat. They brought a plate half and half the two I'd asked for. Or about two whole sandwiches apiece. *shrug* We thought we weren't hungry enough but we ate them! As we left we stopped in at Simpson's to make lunch reservations for tomorrow. Our Anniversary luncheon. *laugh* One does see a theme emerging... food! Our actual 22nd anniversary is Saturday whilst we're flying transatlantic. We have been thinking up fun mile-high things we might do to celebrate. *crazy grin*

I shopped at Marks & Sparks for groceries and Russell kindly brought me my laptop. I'm in the Caffe Nero using their Surf & Sip wifi connection. Soon I should go back to the flat and get some rest. We have a lot of things planned for tomorrow.
rowanf: (Default)
9/12 - 9:10pm UT

This morning I took the bus to Bournmouth and the train to London arriving about 1:30 at the flat. Russell arrived sometime thereafter being stuck on the Tube somewhere. The flat is quite spacious and the bed is comfortable. Bliss! He proposed that we head out to Kew to see the Chihuly glass sculptures since it was a sunny day and the sky was blue. It is true that people may not believe the skies in some of his pictures... blue with fluffy cumulus is not how we think of English weather.

We eventually got out there and first went to the Palm House which mostly had outside glass at its entrance and in the pond. There was supposed to be a "star" inside but we did not find it. We went on to the Temperate House where the main exhibit is and it was really quite fun. The organic shapes of the glass echoes and highlights the shapes of the planets they "grow" amongst. I am fonder of art that is symbolic and meaningful, but this installation did bring on expressions of "oh, pretty!" and "how cool is that?". It is on a scale that needs something like a Victorian conservatory to hold it. Viewing it as we did in the late afternoon meant we got some really beautiful slanting light illuminating different bits quite beautifully. On the other hand they started closing things down at 5:30 so we were a bit rushed in getting through everything. I am really glad we went for the light through. If it gets all grey again it won't be anything as nice.

We got home and ate and I did laundry. There is no dryer so I don't actually know if I'll have dry clothes tomorrow. I can wear my new gypsy skirt and dance tshirt if I have to. I shall try *very* hard not to let it be an excuse to wander High St. Kensington looking in all the clothes shops. Really. This has been a very expensive vacation. *grumble* In fact, in addition to the exchange rate and extra hotel rooms and jet jewelry, the latest is that I left my brand new umbrella that I bought in Toronto in June that hasn't even been opened up for rain in the wardrobe of the B&B in Swanage. I asked her to check for me to see how much it would cost to put it in a mailing tube and post it home. I am very picky with umbrellas (they have to sling across the back) and this one is brand new! But I'm kicking myself for leaving things in closets. I never did get any help from UNLV about the ritual gear I left at NAIN. The beautiful Plant Print dress that was made for me with plants for wisdom and eloquence will be particularly missed. I'll need to get new Interfaith ritual garb at some point. Maybe I should buy a lottery ticket. *grin*

May 2015



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