Friday, December 5, 2014

Sweet Rides

These photos are of the Gold State Coach (built in 1762) and the Diamond Jubilee State Coach (meant to be finished for Elizabeth II's 80th birthday, but not completed until March of this year).  The Gold State Coach has been used in every English coronation ceremony since George IV's in 1820.

Looking at these kinds of objects inevitably gets me thinking about things like wealth, poverty and the accident of birth.  I think about my comfortable place between the two extremes, and the accident of my own birth.  Why somebody gets a life that's a sweet ride, and somebody else gets a nightmare, and I'm one of the (lucky) ones in between...I don't know.  (And of course, even the extreme of luxury can turn nightmarish in a second).

I don't know the answers to the questions of poverty and inequality, but when I visited Buckingham Palace, I saw these things.  They were very pretty, and I took pictures to show you, because I like you a lot...and here they are.  They are a couple of sweet rides, I'm telling you.

Original paintings, incredibly well-preserved.

The details here are poppies, thistles, shamrocks and palm trees--England,
Scotland, Northern Ireland, and India.  Symbols of strength, a painful history...
symbols of The Empire.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

More London Stuff and Things

Took a tour at the Tower of London and
a Beefeater tweeted our group...

...and pointed markedly.  He was terrific.  :)

This guy again...
...and again...

...with angelic host...

...between thingies.

Your trip to London is incomplete unless you've gotten
photo bombed by at least 5 or so of these red guys. 

The Bridge, but not the one that's falling down, falling down.

...falling down, falling down...Chinatown!

Beautiful couple and a photo bomber!
And creepy strangers taking their photo!!!
Creepy stranger typing a caption under
their photo!!!

The National Gallery gift shop would like
to make you aware that The NG houses
Van Gogh's "Sunflowers."  Very, fully aware.

Up on an open double-decker.  Weeeeeeee!

Whatever.  You start taking pictures of everything.

This guy was piping down the bridge from Parliament toward the London Eye.
A YouTuber I watch occasionally, Karen Kavett, was in London a few
weeks after I was, and she posted footage of THIS guy piping in THIS spot
from THIS perspective.  It was rather surreal and fun to see someone
else experience another moment just like this one.  

Something was always going on at Trafalgar Square.  People hang out there
to eat lunch, chat and people watch.  This day, these guys ran/biked onto
the scene in their tightie-pinkies to raise money for Carers Trust,
and to cause general meyhem. 

Unplanned hilarity!  Pretty cute.  :)

They did some calisthenics while their MC plead for donations over a bull horn.
The law showed up, and the gentleman with the bull horn lamented, "Law
enforcement has arrived, and I'm afraid we're going to have to love you and
leave you!"  I do have video of the calisthenics.  I'll save it for a rainy day to post.

Richard the Lionheart again, a better shot I think than the one I posted previously.
He might've been wearing tight pink underwear, but I couldn't tell.  I just
noticed the floating head at the bottom left.  Oh, well.  Hi, lady!

Lots of statues up on pedestals and pillars all over the city.  I thought
these were especially life-like.  :)

Benny always peeking through.  Watching...waiting...

Loads of humanity at Trafalgar Square.

Not a great panoramic view of buildings, but this shows how busy the place is.
As with any of these, click to 'embiggen'.  :)

I never once heard any Brit refer to the Underground as "the tube."  Interesting!

My home station every, every day.

Sunday, November 16, 2014


Remembering back to three months ago, when friends were mates.  More posts to come.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Eye Heart Halloween

This is neither my eye nor my handiwork, but isn't it so cool?!  As usual, I wish I knew who to credit.  That's what I call giving good eyebrow.

I've had six trick-or-treaters so far, and I'm not sure how many more I'll get since it's sleeting out there.  (!!??!).  Call me an old fogie, but I think I'll stay in and read something satisfyingly creep-tastic.  

I hope your Halloween is fun and happy, and and if you're into that kind of thing--spooky!


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Overheard UK

Guys, there are probably some more trip posts ahead, so apologies if you've had "Enough, already!"  Not much else is going on, honestly.  However, the new job is fantastic, and a great move forward in a number of ways.  I was bored and needing a change, and so far I'm happy with it.  Other than that, it's still TRIP.  Nothing exciting.

Here's some quick business before the crux of this post.  I shared a picture with you in a previous post of the statue of Winston Churchill near Parliament.  I thought it was a killer shot, but alas (and OF COURSE), zillions of others have taken the same photo (only better), and I even spotted it in the recent movie Hector and the Search for Happiness (okay, but nothing to write home about, and I usually love Simon Pegg movies).  I can't find a screen shot, but there's a scene where Simon Pegg and Rosamund Pike (the now uber-famous Gone Girl) are hanging in their apartment, and in the background you see their his-and-hers laptops, both having said photo as their wallpaper.  The one that I think is hers has the usual shot, and his is the same but in the negative, like so...

Now I'm second guessing myself and wondering if it was actually in Gone Girl.  I think it was Hector (which was plastered all over the buses and Underground while I was in London).  Anyway, a recent picture starring Rosamund Pike had that damn shot of Winston Churchill in it, and was a blow to my false sense of originality.  So, there you go.

Finally, we come to the things that I overheard in the UK.  I overheard a ton of stuff, actually--I think at one point I counted the number of languages that I'd heard spoken by fellow travelers...visitors...okay, annoying tourists infesting the cities like rodents--I own what I am.  I think I had it up to ten at one point.  Other than English, obviously, there was--French, Spanish, German, Russian, Hindi (?), Swedish, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic (?), Unknown African language (?).  That brings the list to a dozen including English, and I put a question mark where I can recognize where a language comes from, but not distinguish between languages and dialects.  I could have heard multiple languages within a group, but I don't have enough of an aptitude to spot the differences.  So, I heard at least twelve languages spoken by other visitors to London, and also maybe half of those same languages in Edinburgh.  That's a really fun and transforming experience.

More to the point, though, I wanted to share a few things that I overheard while traveling in the Underground and strolling through museums.  I'll save the best for last.

August 20th...the tube...old lady talking to a man my age about his elderly aunt living in Hounslow.  She would NEVER live there, and told him in her thick South London accent, "She doesn't have anythin' goin' for her."  He tried to tell her about his aunt's nice little set up, but she wouldn't have it.  It got worse when he said that his aunt lived in a very nice old folks' home.  The lady said, "Before I'd go live in a home, I'd throw a big party, and at the end I'd walk to Westminster Bridge and jump off.  HAHAHAHAHA!"  I don't know if she was kidding, but she was a hoot, and she said that she'd already told her family and friends about this party with a grim end.

August 17th...British Museum...awesome dad with two little children looking at the Rosetta Stone.  One of the most profound moments of my trip was getting to see it, even though it's behind glass (hard to get a good photo, but here was the best I could get).  As I turned away to give others a turn, I heard this great guy explaining to his little ones, "You know how all of your stories have 'Once upon a time'?  Well, this stone makes all of those languages the same story...and we can know what happened once upon a time..."  Holy shit, that's brilliant.

August 16th (we're walking backwards again)...on the tube...nice, awesome dad syndrome strikes again...a man with his wife, a little boy, a little girl, and the little girl looking all like me at age four, same curly brown hair and brown eyes, and she's leaning over on me on the train.  The mom looks at me and smiles a "thanks" for not being annoyed.  The little girl ends up falling on the floor, and I pick her up, this time a pat on the knee from mom, and a verbal thank you ("Tanks"--they're Irish).  During the ride, the dad reads the paper, and I could mistake him for disinterested, but then he wows me with this advice to his tiny girl, "Look all around you.  See everything you can see.  If you have a question, ask me."  I just thought that was the best advice in the world, and have taken it on as a sort of motto.  I'm going to look all around me.  See everything I can see, and if I have a question, I'm going to ask.

Thanks, strangers I'll never see again!  I mean...tanks!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Literary London

I love this literary map of London!  It's fun to spot the obvious usual suspects and also the more obscure ones who you thought might be left out.  Also, there are loads of references that I don't know, and that just gets me excited about all of the reading I need to do.

I wish that I knew who to credit.  Well done, well done, whomever you are!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

For Anything

"I know there's no heaven.  I know it all turns to nothingness.  But I fear there will be some remnant of me left within that void.  Left conscious by some random fluke.  Something that will scream out for this.  That one speck of my soul will still exist and be left trapped and wanting.  For you.  For the light.  For anything."

"My heart made a fist."

--Both from The Postmortal,  by Drew Magary

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Poppy and Thistle

It was interesting to be in the UK during a time when the "U" was going to be put to the test by vote within weeks.  Not surprisingly, the impending vote was a hot topic among the natives, and on the chance that Scotland would have bent toward independence, I was glad to be there for the last few weeks when passports, money exchange and customs would not be an issue at another border.  I even got to walk across the border back from England into Scotland on a little castle tour in Northumberland--a picturesque trek across a little bridge, rather than a building and border patrol hassle.  It was not to be, anyway.  Poppy and thistle remain together, and the conversation continues.

Doorway detail at The Queen's Gallery, Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh.  Poppy and thistle.

Stunner of a memorial at the Tower of London.  One ceramic poppy for each English soldier who died in WWI.  When they are all purchased (with proceeds going to various charities, of course) and installed by volunteers, there will be 888,246 of them.  Jesus.  Beautiful and awful.
Tough old bastard Winston Churchill with his gaze toward Elizabeth Tower, Parliament.

River Thames.

I adore the Lewis Chessmen, made around 1150 probably in Norway.  Found on Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, Scotland.  Today, some of them live in the British Museum in London, and some in The National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.  I told the ones in Edinburgh "cheers" from their mates in London.

Sitting on his tiny throne for six hundred years before the U.S. was a nation.  He will sit there after I'm gone.  Seeing things like this moves me very much, and gives me perspective.  For a minute, anyway.

I toured Buckingham Palace on my 40th birthday--the Queen's Gallery, the mews, and the state rooms, which the royals had vacated for the month (so I got to see more of them than if the old bird had been there).  There's a cafe in the garden, and I picked out a piece of birthday cake, which was really tasty.  I loved the strawberries and the regal chocolate button on top.

This was a special stop.  A friend of mine in my art club lived in England off and on.  She told me how to find their old apartment, above a high end shoe store and across from a great little restaurant where she recommended that I have lunch.  I think she thought that I really wouldn't go due to time constraints and it being out of the normal thoroughfare of central London.  I did make it in fact, and took a selfie with her apartment in the background.  She was sort of touched by it when I emailed her the picture.

So many different shots of this, you have no idea.

Thistle ring from a shop on the Royal Mile, Edinburgh.
Some old lady modelling my rings (me).

Come on, Edinburgh!  A rainbow on my first evening there.  Smooth, Scotland.  Very smooth.

Promised Nike picture, shining in the sun.

Westminster Abbey. You can't take photos inside, but in this corridor it seemed ok to do so.  I hadn't been inside a church building in awhile, but the walls didn't bleed while I was in there.  Good to know. 
Parliament behind a super-chuffed Richard the Lionheart.