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.

Saturday, September 20, 2014


"If you came to me in company with a purple lion, a green elephant, and a scarlet unicorn astride which was the King of England in his Royal Robes, I do believe that it is at you and you alone that I would stare, dismissing the others as minor irrelevancies."

--A [slightly adjusted] quotation by Neil Gaiman

Friday, September 5, 2014

London Calling

Here are some London pictures, guys.

I successfully turned 40 there!  Better than the alternative.

Once a day, I tweeted some pictures for a few family members and friends who wanted to know that I was still in the land of the living.  On a few days, I would post just one cheesy collage like this to save time.

It's hard to see the number in the mirror, but this is a significant address in my life--221B Baker Street.

Poppies!  A grim display at the Tower of London.  One ceramic poppy for each English soldier killed in WWI.

Affectionately known as Big Ben, but really the clock tower that holds the bell named Big Ben.

A big blue...rooster.

The back of Buckingham Palace, where I spent my birthday.  I hadn't really planned that, but it worked out that way.

My first glimpses of London were from atop one of those open double-decker tour buses.  I got the lay of the land, and a few raindrops on my glasses.

Most nights, I tried to get in by rape-thirty, but after Richard III, I was up for a lot of the night.

At Buckingham on a milestone birthday.

Looks doctored, but this is how Nike really appears.  She's so shiny even on a gray day!  I have a picture of her in the sun, too--I'll try to find and post another day, because she's pretty stunning.

Regent's Park on my last day.  Bye, London!

I thought it was wild to see a street musician who was a piper, until the next week in Scotland, where they were a dime a dozen (but very talented).

I took this picture of the Richard III marquee on my first day from the top of a bus, not knowing that I would see it six days later.  Martin Freeman and Gina McKee were fab, and it was one of my favorite experiences in the theater in my lifetime.

Nice ride--250+ years old and still in use on occasion.

You look up and see that, and think, "I'm a happy chick."

Using the underground was not rocket science at all.  Don't know what all the fuss is about!

Old London and New London.

Always a few of these before you get a winner.

You may remember that I had the same issue in St. Louis.  I could make a coffee table book of windy selfies.

Yep, it's filtered.  Sue me!

I'll post some more pictures, probably, and tell a little about the trip.  Soon!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Walking Backwards--Edinburgh

Hi, guys!

I'm going to go backwards a little bit on the trip and post some photos from my time in Edinburgh, Scotland first.  I'll probably throw out a few posts of mostly pictures with captions, then maybe a post that's mostly written.  So, for example, if you see something like "Fringe Festival" and don't know what that's about, I'll explain more in depth later.  Twitter followers, you've already seen these.  I'll try to pick out some more that you haven't and post later.  I apologize in advance for the obnoxious selfies that I took throughout the trip.  Traveling by me onesies required it if I wanted to put myself in the action, so there you go.  And, in no particular order (i.e.--in whatever order Blogger loads them), here WE go...

The trip to Edinburgh quickly became all about Fringe Festival on the days that it was still going on.

Alnwick (pronounced "Ann-ick") Castle.  Lots of fascinating history, but they very much embrace their connection to Harry Potter.

Alnwick entrance.  This is over the border into Northern England, by the way.

Hiking day--Edinburgh from halfway up Arthur's Seat.  No snickering!

Down the steps of my hotel, turn a corner, and there is Edinburgh Castle.  When you cross this intersection and forget to look up, it's probably time to go home.

From the other side and closer.  Edinburgh means "fortress on a hill."

Closer, no tree.

If you forget you're in Scotland, you're bound to see something like this and remember.

The University in silhouette.

From the Mound--close to the uni.

The castle again.

The Ferris wheel is usually only up for Christmas, but this year they put it up for Fringe.  To the right is a memorial to Sir Walter Scott.

My walk back to the hotel almost every day.  This picture feels like home.

Yet another angle on Edinburgh Castle.  It's really a beauty--difficult not to take a thousand photos!

Grounds at Alnwick.

The Harry connection--broom flying lessons are held daily.  The instructor takes off!  Notice I took a still and not video.  Ahem.

Hiking and vamping.

Lindisfarne Castle in the distance.

Honest, this one was accidental, but I caught myself grinning like a goon.  I really loved life on this trip.

Walking up Arthur's Seat again.  Oh, shush.

Alnwick grounds.

Last night in Edinburgh--had a pint at the Rose & Crown.

Saw these and more shows at Fringe Festival.  Wonderful!

The End.

I'll continue walking backwards through the trip.  Next stop, London!