Thursday, May 29, 2008

Pound Cakes and Tickets

Today was a day of baking for me. I had some buttermilk in the fridge that I wanted to use before it went out of date, so I decided to make a buttermilk pound cake. This is the first time that I have made one of these from scratch, but from time to time I have a taste for foods that we ate back in Georgia. Brit Boy is a big fan of any kind of cake, so let’s just say that it won’t go to waste between the two of us. (laugh)

Pound cake is pretty popular back home. It gets its name from the original basic recipe that was made from a pound of flour, a pound of butter, eggs and sugar. However, some more up to date recipes like the one I did can be a bit lighter. The southern version that I did, calls for buttermilk. And buttermilk always seems to have this way of spiking up the flavor in cakes.

In writing this post about my pound cake, I had a thought. I wondered if pound cakes differed or were eaten around the world. So I did a bit of research. The pound cake that I made is basically a Southern US version of pound cake that is rich yellow cake. According to what I read in my research, a British pound cake is from the same origins which call for a pound of each ingredient and then dried fruit is added to this version. And there are many, many other varieties in other parts of the world. It is quite amazing and wonderful I think, that many of us share the same name for a cake, but our individual twists on the recipe in our regions of the world can make it uniquely ours.

So after reading this, I decided that I needed to tell a bit about how it is served where I come from. We usually serve our pound cake with no icing and just enjoy it like that. But you can also drizzle it with a glaze of your choosing or serve it with whipped cream and strawberries or whatever you have a hankering for. There are also chocolate and lemon pound is kind of just whatever flavor you desire. One of the basic ways to bake pound cake is to bake it in a fluted pan, which makes a hole in the middle. Well I don’t have one of those pans, so I used a deep spring form pan and it turned out fine. It just made bigger pieces than is usually customary, but hey, that isn’t a bad thing sometimes. More to enjoy. (smile)

In other news, Brit Boy and I received something good in the mail yesterday. We got our Wimbledon tickets so we are all set. (smile) We found out that we had been chosen to receive tickets, months ago, but they don’t mail them out until close to the event. So now we just have a few short weeks to wait. We are so excited. I have watched it over the years on television as I grew up, so it is so great to now be able to go. Brit Boy and I are both thrilled.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Notes From My Sickbed

I have been sick for the last few days. I have spent most of my time in bed. Thankfully though, I picked the best weekend to be sick because the weather has been awful. It has rained heavily and the wind has been wild!!! On my first night of being sick, I couldn’t sleep well, so I tossed and turned. Outside I heard the wind blowing fiercely and I wondered if our house’s roof would last the night. (smile) Today the wind has calmed a lot though. And amazingly enough, as the weather has calmed, so has my sickness.

I had a bad sore throat and congestion and it was making me feverish and I just felt awful. So I retired to my comfy little bed that I share with Brit Boy and waited it out whilst I pumped myself full of medication and got some rest. Here is a photo of my cocoon for the last few days.

Still, even though I was stuck in bed, I still kept myself occupied whilst I got better. On Saturday, I read some magazines until I got a bit dizzy and had to put them away. I really felt horrible that day and was forced to just kind of really relax and do nothing but try to sleep. I ended up not sleeping much at all Saturday night.

On Sunday, I spent the day in bed again. I watch a few movies, one after another on this one channel. I watched one called “These Old Broads” with Shirley MacLaine and Elizabeth Taylor. Then I watched “Marooned” which was a space exploration film and I rounded it off with “Sinbad” which was a great bit of fantasy for a Sunday. After that, cricket started, but by this time I was nodding off to sleep. The match was between England and New Zealand, I do remember. I only slept for a bit. Then I woke up to see this updated and re-imagined version of “The Wizard of Oz” called “Tin Man”. Brit Boy came upstairs and joined me and we watched this together. We had watched the other parts of the story the past two Sundays and this was the final one. It was really beautifully imaginative. After “Tin Man” was over, I read some. Then it was lights out. I needed to get some real sleep after not sleeping well the night before.

Monday was the Bank Holiday here and it was Memorial Day back home, both days off from work for many people, and a day of remembrance back home. Both days are also unofficial beginnings of summer. However, I was still not feeling good, so I gave a pass to both days from the comfort of bed. (smile) And anyway, it was grey and dreary outside, so there was no point in going anywhere to do anything. Like I told Brit Boy, it was a perfect day to be stuck in bed and to be sick.

By the way, Brit Boy spent the weekend studying and chilling out on the sofa. And when I called on him, he was a wonderful nurse, just like I am for him when he is sick. (smile) Brit Boy took a trip up to the High Street to get me a few remedies and to get us a few things to eat. There wasn’t much open, but the grocery store was all we needed and it was open. He said that no one was around when he was up there. He enjoyed having the store mostly to himself. (smile) I had asked him to see if they had any sorbet at the grocery store and thankfully they had some. I figured that it would soothe my throat.

So later in the afternoon, we watched “The Manchurian Candidate” starring Denzel Washington and Meryl Streep on DVD and I had a bit of mango sorbet to cool down my throat. It was a great sick day...complete with mango sorbet, a great movie and my Brit Boy. Oh, by the way, today I am feeling much better and we ventured into town. (smile)Brit Boy had the day off and has tomorrow off too, so we are going to enjoy some days together without anyone being sick.

One additional note, I have added a couple of new tickers to the bottom of the page to chart how long Brit Boy and I have to wait until we go to the Nelson Mandela birthday concert and the Madonna concert. So those tickers now join the one for Wimbledon. Brit Boy and I are so honored that we will be seeing the great Nelson Mandela. We can't quite believe that. (smile)I will certainly share all of my experiences and photos from all three events here, in the weeks to come.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Garden Life

Today Brit Boy and I got up early to get the grass cut and to trim back some bushes. We are expecting some rain here this weekend, so we figured that it might be our best day to get it done. We had cut the grass not that long ago, but with all of the rain, it has grown again like a jungle. (smile) So we figured that before the wildlife decides to take over, that we would get out there. It wasn't such a hard job this time though, since it has been done recently. Brit Boy mowed the grass whilst I cut back the bushes and pulled weeds. We only have a small patch of grass out front and a larger patch out back, but it can get kind of crazy sometimes. (smile) I cut back the bushes extra close, away from our shared walkway with our neighbor, Mrs. Doodah. We find that it makes for a calmer life.

In the back yard, we did like we did out front. Brit Boy mowed, while I trimmed bushes and pulled weeds. In the back yard, or garden as they call it here, we have wooden fences on either side. The one on the left is the one that we share with Mrs. Doodah and it is hers. The one on the right we share with the other neighbors, and this one is ours. So we keep our patch of Wiltshire tidy as we can and relish our little corner of the world. (smile)

My lovely tulips that I planted last December, bloomed this past month and they were glorious and now they have faded. So I am really hankering for some more color out there. Hopefully I can find something else to stick in the pot out there when we go into town. The rose bushes are all budding out now too. So that will be beautiful. I love roses! The first yellow rose has opened and it is gorgeous. I have a soft spot in my heart for yellow roses. They were my mom's favorite. They make me think of her. (smile) When she passed away, I remembered that and I made sure that we had them for her at the funeral.

As I mentioned the other day, I have been in the process of moving files from my old laptop to this one. I have moved all of my music and I am now going through my photos. I was looking through to see what I have and I found photos of my mom walking around the yard back home, and she was explaining to me what was what. She loved to walk around and show what she had growing and I loved to snap pictures, especially of her. She was a good sport about it. As I have written before, she could grow something out of a twig. (smile) She was a fabulous Southern lady who loved her plants. I also have lots of photos of her various flowers and plants, so it is like having her legacy right here with me, even though I am not in Georgia now. Plants and the outdoors always make me feel in touch with life and it gives me a wonderful reminder of my mom. (smile)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Salisbury and Madonna

Today it is cool and breezy here again, but sometimes I really enjoy days like this. It’s a perfect day for a bit of movie watching when I am supposed to be working on my work. (wink) Today is a work day and yesterday was a day for an outing with Brit Boy. Well, I was accompanying Brit Boy to Salisbury. He had to see a client. Before he went to his meeting, we got sandwiches and had lunch on a bench along the lawn of Salisbury Cathedral. I love the cathedral. Back in December, Brit Boy and I went to a carol service there. It was magical. The voices of the choir echoed around the sanctuary. Here is our wonderful view as we had lunch with the cathedral as our majestic scenery.

After that, Brit Boy left me for a while while he had his meeting, so I walked around Salisbury and window shopped. I love all of the shops there...a nice mix of department stores and many independent shops. I did purchase a couple of things. I walked around a discounted book shop and found a couple of books that I wanted to re-read. I got “Great Expectations” and “Dracula”. I read them when I was in school, but I must admit that I only halfway read them back then. So now I hope to give them my fuller attention this time around. After I walked around a while, I found myself drawn back to the serenity of the space surrounding the cathedral. So I went and sat down again on a bench there. This time, even though Brit Boy was not there, I still had company. Three feathered friends walked right up to me to say hello.

Soon Brit Boy was texting me and we met up again. We drove home through the lovely Wiltshire countryside. It is gorgeous. There are miles of hills and fields that look like great swathes of green and yellow. The green is everywhere and the yellow is made by a plant that is grown in abundance out here. It is called rapeseed and has a variety of uses. It is so golden in the distance. Here is a photo.

Later, back home, Brit Boy and I were sitting on the sofa. I was watching television and he was on his laptop. I leaned over and he was looking at upcoming concerts and things. We looked at the list and we both said the same thing. “Ooh, I sure wish we could go and see that and that and that.” We are so turning into ‘gig-a-holics’. (laugh) We are trying to break our habit, but we couldn’t resist an opportunity to go see Madonna since neither one of us have seen her and she is on our list of people to see at some point. I have always liked her. Plus, she is also an expat girl like me, with a home here in Wiltshire, so it is the neighborly thing to do in going to see her in concert. (smile) So our poor overworked credit card came out and we got tickets to see Madonna in Cardiff, Wales in August. We are both so excited! I have wanted to go to Wales, so here is a great opportunity. Brit Boy has been there once for football. Brit Boy and I don’t have a lot of money, just like a lot of other people, but we figure that life is to be lived while you can. Carpe diem and all of that. (smile) So on to the next adventure!

Monday, May 19, 2008

My Weekend Again

This past weekend was one where we didn’t venture out much, which was a nice change. I like weekends that find Brit Boy and I just hanging around the house...the “Yellow House in England”. (smile) So Saturday Brit Boy and I did venture out for a couple of hours, but only a few streets over to his mother’s house. She was cleaning out her garage and had hired a skip(dumpster) to pile it all into and then it is getting picked up today. Anyway, we went up there for a couple of hours to help her load stuff in. Near the end of the cleanup, I spotted a shelf that had some things still piled on it and saw a skateboard. I asked Brit Boy whose it was since he has a sister and brother also. He perked up when he saw it and said that it was his skateboard. He wiped the dust off and smiled with glee. I almost thought that he was gonna go at it right there and skate down the street. (smile) Awww, my Brit Boy, the skater-boy. (smile) He was so cute. So he brought it home and he says he is gonna shine it up. What a sweet reminder of the joys of when we were kids. (smile)

I didn’t have acupuncture this past Saturday. I am trying to save money and also I am doing pretty well right now. Knock on wood.

After our morning of cleaning and skating down memory lane, we came back home and did our own things. I went upstairs and read, while Brit Boy perched himself on the sofa to watch TV and enjoyed some footie...that's soccer to my American brethren...(smile). He was watching the FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium. It was a huge matchup in the football world...Portsmouth vs Cardiff City. Portsmouth won in the end 1-0. Brit Boy and I went to Wembley in 2007 twice, once to see the England national team and then to attend the Concert for Diana. Both were fun times, even though I am not a big football fan, but I can watch it okay. It was just great to have the experience and to share it with my Brit Boy. The concert was amazing!!! Loved it. We saw some great musical performances and we saw both princes, William and Harry.

Speaking of Royals, while I was upstairs reading, I was leafing through the paper. I read a blurb in the paper about Princess Beatrice getting a position as a personal shopper for VIP clients at a major London retail store. I visited that store among many when we were in London in April....loved it! (smile) A fun and fabulous job for anyone’s gap year I think. Also Princess Anne’s son, Peter Phillips got married to Canadian Autumn Kelly on Saturday at St George’s Chapel at Windsor. Brit Boy and I have been to Windsor Castle and the surrounding town of Windsor a while back. It was a great day out when we went. Anyway, that was my tiny bit of royal watching. (smile)

On Sunday, we had breakfast together and then Brit Boy studied. I went upstairs again and worked on transferring my music and photos to my new green computer. As you may remember from an earlier post, I got a new laptop. Incidentally, this was not because I am a lover of the latest in technology, but simply due to my five year old laptop packing up on me. My old laptop will still turn on and stuff, but it will freeze up on a whim and after a while it just becomes futile to try and use it. So we reluctantly took the plunge and got me another laptop, which I am typing on right now. Anyway, I spent a while sifting through my music and ended up having my very own little dance party. (laugh) I LOVE dance music, so I was dancing around upstairs with my headphones on as I went through all the music I had saved on the old laptop. I also love mostly every other type of music, but I love my dance music.

After a while I came downstairs and made some lunch/dinner. It was good. It was sort of a “clear out the fridge spicy pasta dish” and it turned out to hit just the right spot on both of our palates. For dessert, we had the last two red velvet cupcakes. Why are the last bits of something always the best? (laugh)

So we ended up the day on the sofa together watching a movie, with the sweet aftertaste of cupcakes on our breath.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

London and Cupcakes

My sinusitis or whatever it was, has nearly calmed down all the way. I had a bit of a sore throat also and that made me feel awful for those couple of days, but now I am doing much better. So I wanted to get back here and get caught up on what is going on. Here is my mini rewind back to Saturday.

Well on Saturday, I went to see Karen and Ta again, to have my acupuncture. It went fine. Then Sunday, Brit Boy and I just hung out around home and enjoyed the nice weather. The weather had been spring-like at that point for a few days, although today it is kind of windy and there has been some rain. The temperature also cooled off too, so I have been putting on my cardigan and taking it off because I can’t decide if I am warm or cold. (smile) Back to Sunday though, I spoke on the phone with my niece who lives in California. She was doing great and we had a good talk about all things retro. (smile) She is only about nine years younger than me. She says that my pop culture tastes from back in the day gave her lots of good memories since she followed some of what I followed. We discussed the upcoming return of New Kids on the Block and a lot of other musical acts from back in the day. It was a wide-ranging discussion and we talked about current artists. This conversation was peppered with me singing lyrics from everyone at random. It was hilarious. It was kinda cool that she said that she enjoyed following some of my tastes from back then and that she has good memories because of that. Awww. (smile) That was good to hear. It was a good talk, filled with good nostalgia.

Then on Tuesday, the 13th, I was in a baking mood, so I baked some red velvet cupcakes again. Brit Boy and I love them. They are SO not low-fat, but we eat them in semi-moderation. (wink)(smile) I won’t make anymore for a while though in order to save the specialness of them and to save our waistlines.

I have to backtrack a bit. I wanted to save this bit of news for last. Brit Boy and I are adding another event to our next London adventure. Back on Wednesday, May 7th, we got a chance to buy some tickets to a concert during a presale that we had registered for. We were able to purchase two tickets to the 90th birthday celebration concert for Nelson Mandela that will be held in Hyde Park on June 27th. We are so excited. It is amazing to think that Brit Boy and I will be seeing a truly great person of our times. We are really humbled by this opportunity. To see Nelson Mandela will certainly be a great highpoint in our lives. I will most certainly share this experience here on my blog. The timing of all of this works out great, because this will be the same week that we go to Wimbledon. So I will definitely share some of the experiences of that week here, along with some photos. It will be a fun week and we just can’t wait. So London, here we come again. Oh and this time, those blister-causing boots will be left at home. (laugh)

Monday, May 12, 2008

In Bed

I was planning on blogging today about my weekend, but I am feeling crappy today. I think it is a bad attack of sinusitis or something since things have finally started to bloom here in England. I'm just very congested, and I get this way sometimes in the spring. No big thing. And I am not complaining about the blooming or the fabulous sunny weather that we have been having these past few days. Brit Boy and I were thinking that we were just not going to have spring in England this year. (smile) Thankfully, oh so thankfully, the sun has been shining, the weather has been brilliant and the flowers and trees are coming to life. So I ain't complaining. (smile) I just wish that I felt better today, so that I could go outside to enjoy it. I will be back here in a day or so to blog again. Until then....

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Monday in London - Part Two

Today is my entry that brings to a close, my story of our time in London at the end of April. When I ended yesterday, I had just received my visa and Brit Boy and I were absolutely thrilled that a few years of hard work had finally yielded such a great result. I now have my visa!!!!! (smile) What a relief. Now I don’t have to go around with this monkey on my back anymore. I am free to think of other things and not think about gathering this or that to add to my evidence for my visa. That is behind me. Now Brit Boy and I can have a summer that we can enjoy, without this in the back of our minds. I don’t feel self-conscious anymore…I have completed this task and it has taught me a lot about tenacity. And it has also made me feel stronger about me and Brit Boy. No one can ever say to me that our bond isn’t strong or true, because we have really WORKED to be together and for us, it just makes it sweeter. We have had some doubters in the past who thought that we were nuts to have a long distance relationship and to try to build this transatlantic life. They questioned the validity of our relationship or were condescending or whispered about us. Well I have learned that it doesn’t matter what they think. We know us. Brit Boy and I knew when we met over five years ago, nearly six years ago now, that this was it. It was like “hello…I see you” when we saw each other. And we have been working towards this point ultimately for years. We have completed this circle and now it is on to the next thing…together. (smile)

So Brit Boy and I walked away from the immigration office and headed back to Kensington. As we rode back into the more central bits of London, I had time to think. I just wanted to have a few moments to be with the fact that I finally had my visa. Sometimes it is good to just be with your thoughts. A lot of times in life, I think a lot of us rush past the moments in our lives and don’t just stay in the moment for a bit. I have been trying to do better with this. As I followed through, a calm came over me. It was a good feeling.

We got back to Kensington and went to our hotel room to unload my big folder full of documentation and to take a breath. We then headed out to celebrate. It was still only about midday so we had London at our feet and plenty of time to play. We decided to go out and soak it all in.

We were hungry since we had left early for the immigration office. So we headed to one of our favorite places to eat. We were kind of broke after paying for the visa, but we figured what the heck, we may as well throw a few more pounds onto the plastic to round things off. (laugh) So we went to have a steak lunch at a place around in the Piccadilly Circus area. The streets were full of locals and tourists and loud and it was glorious!! Usually we are not big fans of crowded places, but we just really wanted to be a part of the wildness of the throngs of people right in the middle of everything. We had gone to this place before back in 2007 for my birthday and the food is superb every time. Brit Boy had soup and I had calamari rings for a starter. Then we both had steak for the main meal. For dessert or pudding as they say here, Brit Boy had the most divine cheesecake and I had lemon sorbet. We also tasted each other’s dessert. We both chose well. Our waitress was so wonderful. She noticed my American accent and asked where I was from and I told her and she said that she was from Romania. I felt this surreal kinship with her, like two people away from home, but enlarging the idea of home for ourselves to include more than one place at this time in our lives. That was a great moment.

After we left the restaurant, we walked around Piccadilly Circus with all the others in this sea of humanity. I have been there before, but I always enjoy it. It is great. Piccadilly Circus reminds me of Times Square in New York…life and activity everywhere. Here is a photo of the Greek god of love, Eros, in Piccadilly Circus.

And also, here is another street scene in Piccadilly Circus. I love the architecture.

Brit Boy and I love going into the huge music store there in Piccadilly Circus. I always find myself moving back and forth to the music as I flip through the Cds on display. It is hilarious. (laugh) I told Brit Boy that they should have a dance floor in there. While we were in there I picked up some collectables. I got a small set of Jimi Hendrix and Linkin Park badge buttons. My musical tastes are all over the place and cover many genres and decades. The badges reminded me of ones I had back in the 80s with my fave idols on them. A bit of nostalgia is always good.

Then we spent the rest of the afternoon walking along two of the most fabulous thoroughfares in London….Oxford Street and Regent Street. Wow…shops, shops, and more shops of every variety. It is retail heaven. (smile) Here is a photo of a bit of Regent Street. I didn’t photograph any storefronts, but here is a photo from that day.

After our extended browsing down Oxford Street, we found our way to the edge of Hyde Park. So we walked over to enjoy a bit of nature. It had been misting rain off and on, but it was fine. We enjoyed a nice long walk along the great park.

Then we headed back to our hotel since it was going towards evening at this point. We took a breather and then headed down to the grocery store to pick up some snacks and food to eat. We went back to the hotel and ate in our room and watched television. It was a great night in.

The next day we headed home. We went back to Paddington Station to wait for our train. We sat for a bit and watched the world go by. I love people watching at Paddington. Then we boarded our train back home. It was a lovely time that Brit Boy and I spent together.

So this draws to a close my experiences over our weekend in London. I can’t wait until we go back again. And that will be happening next month. As I mentioned before, we are going to Wimbledon. I have the ticker at the bottom of this page to remind me everyday how long we have to wait. (smile) Brit Boy and I are psyched about going. I used to watch Wimbledon on television when I was growing up, so it will be a thrill to actually go. I will certainly share that experience here too.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Monday in London - Part One

Well today is my third entry about our time in London from April 26-29. When I last left this story, Brit Boy and I were calling it a day on Sunday night and heading back to the hotel. We watched a bit of television. We watched a good film about Jane Austen. It was an account of her looking back on her life and a marriage proposal that she turned down, etc. It was a nice Sunday thing to watch. After the film, we turned in for the night. We had to get up really early the next day to get to my visa appointment.

So the next morning we got up, got dressed, and headed for the tube station. We had a little while to wait, as we left early to make sure that we made it to my appointment on time. We figured, better to be early, than miss the appointment due to some delay. The weather had been pretty mild the other days, but turned quite cold on Monday morning. We stood around for a while and were frozen and then I suggested that we go huddle together in a phone booth. It was cozy and only our feet were chilly which was an improvement. So we walked over to the town centre and went to have a cup of coffee and to get in out of the cold.

Then we walked back over to the immigration office. They let you in every thirty minutes according to your appointment time. You have to go through security and a metal detector. Then you join the queue and wait to be called to the window to present your documents. So Brit Boy and I waited and then we were called. The lady looked through my documents and stamped my forms and we were then sent to the other floor and paid. Then we went to the waiting area and waited again to be called for my interview.

Now, as I said in a previous entry, I wasn’t really nervous anymore, I just wanted it to be all over with at this point. I had been working towards this point for two years and passed a test and everything, so Brit Boy and I were ready to have this completed. We had one of the first appointments of the day, which was nice and gave us the rest of the day to do what we wanted. There weren’t a lot of people there this time like there were two years before.

So we waited a while and we were eventually called to our interview window. We sat down and I passed all of my documentation into the glass drawer and through to the interviewer. He was a man of few words. He congratulated me on doing so well on my test that I took months ago and that was about all that he said. He didn’t ask me any questions at all and I was fully expecting some questions since last time I had to answer a lot of them. I had to present documents to show that we have been living here as husband and wife and then I had to split them into year one and year two. So my interviewer sorted through the documents and picked out things here and there and then typed into his computer. He was cool and looked like he had come into work after playing a gig the night before. (smile) I loved it that he was so laid back, but the best thing was his appearance. He was wearing khaki pants, and a basic shirt, but his accessories were fab. He wore about eight various friendship-like and beaded bracelets, and a skull ring on each hand. And he had long hair that was sectioned off into three braids that he had tied back. So he was a great surprise and a great person to deal with. (smile) He finished his tapping into the computer and said that he would go and get it approved and he walked to the back. Brit Boy and I were thrilled. So he comes back and says that my application is approved and that we would have to wait a while for them to get my visa ready. He congratulated me and I thanked him. He was wonderful.

Brit Boy and I went to sit back down and we waited for about two hours. Then they called me to retrieve my passport with my new visa inside. Woo Hoo!! I was now all visa-ed up!!

When we got outside, me and Brit Boy hugged and he said, “Now you can stay!!!” It was a great moment. I will never forget the smile on Brit Boy’s face.

Well, I will end it here for today. Tomorrow I will finish up my story of our trip to London. I have a few more photos to share. Until tomorrow…

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Sunday in London

Now back to my story of our time in London over the weekend of April 26-29th. As I said yesterday, we got around quite a bit and it was a fun time. However, on the Saturday night when we got back from the theatre, I limped into the hotel. Once we were upstairs, I sat in a chair and had to get Brit Boy to help me take off my boots. If I had been a cartoon character, when my feet came out of those boots, they would have been steaming. (laugh) When I was a kid, my dad used to call the feet , “dogs”, so let’s just say, my dogs were yelping. For our night out, I had worn a blazer and a nice top, with a flippy skirt and my boots. It was cool out, but not cold, so it was the right thing to wear. And my boots were flats, but I hadn’t worn them in a while. So with the bit of walking that we had to do, the boots rubbed my feet the wrong way and made blisters on my little toes on both feet. Ouch! (smile) The funny thing is that my toes didn’t hurt until we got back to the hotel. So it was all good…I looked good while we were out. (laugh)

Anyway, Sunday morning when I got up, needless to say, my feet were sore. I limped around and got dressed for our day ahead. Brit Boy and I were planning to meet up with a new acquaintance of mine that lives in London. Now, walking was something that sounded incredibly painful at the time, but I always love being in London, so I figured I would grin and bear the discomfort. I wrapped my toes in tissue and put on socks and then my shoes. I was ready.

We met up with my new acquaintance at a place called Maggie Jones. I looked it up ahead of time and apparently it is named this after Princess Margaret. She used to frequent the place when she was being courted by Antony Armstrong-Jones, so this name is a nod to her according to what I read. It is a tiny little pub-like restaurant with traditional British food. It was quite intimate and lit mostly by candlelight. They have lots of traditional British paraphernalia hanging from the walls and overhead. It gives the place a very nice feel of stepping back in time. We had a nice lunch with my acquaintance and her guy friend.

After Brit Boy and I had lunch, we decided to have a good walk around. My toes had hurt when we walked into the restaurant, but after our lunch, and a couple of glasses of wine, I was feeling less pain. (laugh) We took a walk over to Kensington Palace and Kensington Gardens. It is lovely over there. It was quite moving to see the gates at Kensington Palace for the first time, as this was where all of the flowers were placed in honor of Princess Diana at the time of her death. It is a lovely area, very green and beautiful. Here is a photo of the palace.

Then we walked along and saw the statue of Queen Victoria which also sits in Kensington Gardens. Here is a photo of that.

Next we walked along to the Albert Memorial which sits along the edge of Kensington Gardens. Across the street from the memorial is the Royal Albert Hall. Brit Boy and I will have to find a chance to attend something there some time. (smile) Here are photos of both.

Then we walked along to Hyde Park which is right next to Kensington Gardens. Here’s a lovely photo of the flowering trees in one corner of the park.

Lastly, we walked over to see the Princess Diana memorial. I must say, I had heard before about all of the controversy in the past on how it should be done, and in my humble opinion, it isn’t nearly good enough for her. I guess that a worse thing would be having no memorial at all, but Brit Boy and I both thought that it looked like a half-hearted attempt. She seemed to be a good person and after all she is the future king’s mother, so it just seemed half done. However, as I said, it is better than no memorial at all. The lake across from her memorial is called the Serpentine. It is apparently a man-made lake, but it’s a beautiful place, just right for a princess. (smile) It was very peaceful there. Here are photos of the memorial and the lake.

After all of this walking, we sat down and enjoyed the end of the day. By this time, my feet were a bit sore again, but I was happy. Brit Boy and I were spending time together, so all was right with the world. (smile) So we stopped by a store and got some proper bandages for my toes. I was ready for the next day.

Tomorrow, I will tell about our next day at the immigration office and the cool guy that did my interview. He rocked! (smile) Also, I will tell about our hanging out in Piccadilly Circus. It was a fun day.

London is exciting and is one of the great destinations in the world. There is so much to see and it's an amazing city! If you get the chance to visit, please do, because you never know what's on in London !

Finished "A New Earth"

Last night, or rather early this morning at about 4am UK time, I finished taking part in the webcasts that Oprah Winfrey and Eckhart Tolle were doing in studying the book, "A New Earth". It has been truly an amazing experience. I have learned a lot and this has all come along at a time in my life when I needed this. I am going to miss the webcasts, but I can always go back and read the book again and see what else I discover. This book has opened my eyes a lot and it has helped me gain more peace, especially in dealing with the loss of my mother a couple of years ago. I have had a bit of a bumpy road in my life these last few years, and now I see those situations in a new light. I know that it is a tall order for one book to change your life, and that is certainly not what I am saying, however, tiny bits of clarity come in many ways. So this book has just been a nice nudge in my life and it has definitely opened me up like I haven't been since my mother died. I thought that I would never be open like this ever again. When the webcast ended, before I went upstairs to bed, I looked outside and the sun was already coming up here. The sun comes up ridiculously early here. (smile) It was just a bit of pink in the sky at that point, but I knew it was going to be a glorious day. And today, it is the sunniest day we have had in a long time. A new day.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Saturday in London

Today is Bank Holiday here. It is a day off, sort of like Labor Day is back home. I like days like this. Mondays are usually days that we associate with getting back to the daily grind, so these holidays are a great gift. They give you a longer weekend and then they help you ease into the new week.

Brit Boy and I have been chilling out for the past week and today is our last day of chilling out together for a while. After our trip into London the prior weekend and with my visa stuff and everything, we were quite wiped out. So we have been taking it easy. My quest to get my indefinite visa has taken me three years of hard work, so we figured that we were long overdue for a breather. (smile) So it has been fun to just kick back for once. So thank heaven for bank holidays…an extra day to relax.

We were in London for about three days, give or take a few hours. So I have decided to break the days up into three different posts, so the entry won’t go on and on.

We headed out on our journey, on Saturday morning, the 26th of April. I was a tiny bit nervous that morning, because I knew that I had a big hoop to jump through at the immigration office on the following Monday. But quite miraculously the mail arrived earlier than usual and I got a happy anniversary card from a friend from back home. I have known her since I was eight years old. She is my oldest friend. I was so touched that she had sent me this card and she wrote a note inside. She is always so sweet in the things that she says and she always calms me. The funny thing is that she didn’t say anything about my slight worry over my visa, but she said the right thing to me. The thing that touched me, was her simply saying…“I miss you…and we are friends for life.“ That simple connection with my life back home, coupled with the fact that she cared enough to send me and Brit Boy an anniversary card, just instantly made me calm. I guess that her card helped me remember that who I was back home is that same girl that I am now. So no matter what happened with my visa, things would be fine. I remembered that I had been through much tougher times and made it, so an immigration interview was just another thing. (smile) I was ready. The butterflies left my stomach and didn’t return. I placed her card on the table so I could see it first thing when we walked into the house and we headed out.

We took a taxi into town to catch the train. I love taking the train and so does Brit Boy. He likes it because that means he doesn’t have to drive and I am always glad when he gets a break from that. I don’t drive here yet. That is more red tape for later. (smile) When we go back home to visit though, I always drive…so it works out for us. Anyway, I like the train because you can watch the countryside go by the window and you don’t have to worry about traffic. It is probably my favorite way to travel. I think that it is romantic and you have time to think on the train. To me, it doesn’t feel claustrophobic like a plane, but that is just my take on it.

So we took the train into Paddington Station in London. I love that station. It is a great place for people watching. Everyone is going this way and that, on their way to somewhere. From Paddington, we hopped on The Tube and rode out to where we were staying in Kensington. Kensington is quite lively and it’s a nice place to walk around. There’s lots to do. Here’s a picture of the view out of our hotel room. I liked the church across the rooftops.

After we checked into our hotel, we took a walk around the area and just hung out. Then we went into a shop and bought a few things to eat. We went back to our hotel room and ate and watched a bit of tv. Time flew very quickly and so we got ready for our night out at the theatre. We took The Tube again and went to the Old Vic theatre. The Old Vic is a jewel. It sort of stands there on its own in this neighborhood and is not part of a collection of theatres like you get in the West End. I love that it is an individual. (smile)

When we got inside, we bought a program. We have quite a collection of programs now. Then we walked upstairs and hung out in the bar for a few minutes. It was a warm day, so we stood near an open window. Then we went inside close to showtime. The Old Vic is a medium-ish theatre and I loved that. It felt very intimate. It is not a tiny place, but it was just close enough to really feel connected to what was going on onstage. We went to see the final performance of the run of "Speed-The-Plow" with Kevin Spacey and Jeff Goldblum. It was FABULOUS!!! They were fabulous!!!! Kevin Spacey was like energy on legs and you can see why he is an Oscar winner. And Jeff Goldblum is a tall, lean presence with movements like a cat. He glided around the stage like a schoolboy. I want to be "ageless" as I mature, in the way that I carry myself, just like Jeff does. There is definitely something about doing what you love in life. You can tell they both love what they are doing. They both were amazing and they are just fabulous actors. I like each of these actors separately and together they were like fireworks. The way that they both moved around the stage and used every inch of it, was amazing. The dialogue was rapid-fire and you could tell that they were pros at this. At the end, Kevin Spacey thanked the audience for supporting the play and thanked his co-stars. It was the cool thing about seeing the final performance. It was a great night.

After the show, we took this picture of the theatre to remember it all. What a night.

Then we hopped back onto The Tube and headed back to Kensington. We walked around for a bit and then headed back to the hotel. We were beat after a long day.

Tomorrow, I will share what we saw and did on the Sunday. We covered a lot of ground and I did it all on rather sore feet. (smile)

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Back From London

Well Brit Boy and I are back home from our trip to London. It was great and even though it was only three and a half days, it seemed like about a week, in a good way. We were constantly on the go and we squeezed a lot in, so it seemed to go on and on and it was great. (smile) I have lots of news to share in the next few days. I have some pictures too. My few days in London with Brit Boy went from one extreme to another...from seeing two of my favorite actors on stage to the formality of the immigration office. And I have a bit of a tidbit to tell about the immigration office experience that wasn't so formal...namely the guy that interviewed me. He was cool.

So I will leave it here for now. I have to go through my photos and find some to share. And also Brit Boy and I are exhausted, so we are chilling out for a few days. I just wanted to check in, because I really appreciate anyone out there who is taking the time to read my blog.