29 May 2017

London trip, day 2, continued again

We left the London Tower in search of lunch. Walking north (not across the bridge), we found ourselves in a maze of construction and traffic. A temporary wall around the construction advertised restaurants, but we couldn't find a way to get to them. So we continued north. The area did not look promising for restaurants. John talked to a construction worker, and the guy didn't know of any restaurants, but he thought there were some back by the river. So back we went. Along the way, I saw a door in a big building, and thinking that that building might house a bar or restaurant, I went in. I smelled food! Turns out all I smelled was a small vending machine area, but . . . I looked ahead through the next door, and we passed through, and lo and behold, a wharf area with lots of eateries!

"The Slug and the Lettuce" was the first one we came to. I liked the catchy name and we liked the menu. But, we continued on past about ten restaurants and reading more menus. We ended up back at the Slug and Lettuce.

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This eatery is big, airy, and has some areas with comfy couches. The menu was contempory, much as we'd find in Boulder. But one big difference that I rarely see in the US – it offered "sharing boards". We often share meals, to keep the amount of food down. Well, the Slug and Lettuce was all set up for people like us! We decided on a board with a selection of Asian small plates, like egg rolls, shrimp on a stick, and a couple other tasty treats that I forget. But it was delicious. And we had wine. And then we ordered a "board" of mini desserts. So good. Our waitress was quirky and seemed to be on her first work of week there, as the other waitress seemed to be at odds with her now and then.

When we got back to the US, I looked up "Slug and Lettuce" to try to find the menu and exactly what we had to eat. I found out that the Slug and Lettuce is a "chain of bars" throughout the UK. It even has a wikipedia entry. This chain is "contemporary" and aimed at youthful clientele and women as well as men. This is the one we were at, "St. Mary Axe.

We next walked across the Tower Bridge.

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Here is the view from the bridge:

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Across the bridge we find a lot of new buildings all with glass walls and of all sort of shapes. I'll show more in another post, but here is one:

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We walked past a children's play area:

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We walked to Westminster, and gazed on the Parliament building, Westminster Abbey, and Big Ben.

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We Tubed back to our room. An oasis after all the noise and walking crowded streets! For a light dinner, we went next door to the Plough and Harrow. (Love the gin and tonics, especially the tonic, but have to keep fighting for more ice.) Ordered a "sharing plate" again, but this one was all fried and we decide not to do that again.

What a fun day.

27 May 2017

London trip, day 2, continued

We left the London Tower in search of lunch. Walking north (not across the bridge), we found ourself in a maze of construction and traffic. A construction wall advertised restaurants, but we couldn't find a way to get to them. So we continued north. The area did not look promising for restaurants. John talked to a construction worker, and the guy didn't know of any restaurants except back by the river. So back we went. I saw a door in a big building, and thinking that building might house a bar or restaurant, I went in. I smelled food! Turned out all I smelled was a small vending machine area, but . . . I looked ahead through the next door, and we passed throught, and lo and behold, a wharf area with lots of eateries!

"The Slug and the Lettuce" was the first one we came to. I liked the catchy name and we liked the menu. But, we continued on past about ten restaurants and reading more menus. We ended up back at the Slug and Lettuce.

photo

talk about the restaurant and the meal

26 May 2017

London trip, day 2

Thursday, May 4

Early risers, these two travellers! By 6:30 am we were at the Holiday Inn breakfast buffet. British sausage (bangers), baked beans, good scrambled eggs, sliced hot ham, yogurt, fruit compote, bread for toast, muffins, fruits like tangerines and apples, US style cereals, Postum, Wheatabix, and last but not least, buttery croissants. And very good coffee.

Time to hit the Tube! Our destination today is the Tower of London. We hit the Tube early, as the Tower opens at 9 am. Mistake! Standing room only on the train, and that's scrunched-like-sardines standing room.

Our first view of the Tower. But how exactly to walk to it? (This is a resounding theme throughout our walks through London.)

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And what is this crazy thing off in the distance?

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Later, we find out that this is "The Shard". A modern London building. I turn my head and focus back to the building I prefer to look at, the ancient walls and stories of the London Tower. A structure that has stood since about 1097 holds so much more interest for me.

This catapult sits near the entrance to the Tower, where the moat used to be.

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Just past the entrance. Off to the left is the Coins & Kings section, "The story of the Royal Mint at the Tower." Onward and to the right are the tower structures.

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We will go up those stairs for a long walk around the outer wall, but first, we turn left to see the mint. Here is the area in front of the mint:

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A zoom in of the archer on top of the tower. Note also the crosses in the walls.

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The Mint's many displays illustrated how the kings developed coins over the centuries. Many of the displays were interactive. Some displayed the British dry sense of humor: you'd walk into an alcove and a man's voice started talking about how he was locked up for counterfeiting, pleeing "please help me!".

Leaving the Mint, we walked up the stairs I described earlier. Here is a great view of the Tower Bridge:

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This is a view of The White Tower, built by William the Conqueror more than 900 years ago.

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Ravens perch and fly throughout the towers (it's part of the towers tradition). These two were quite tame, posing for me and a group of school kids:

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These mesh baboons reside on the walls of the courtyard. We later learn that the royalty kept many exotic animals in the tower. A sign: "Lions were the most important royal beasts at the Tower and were kept here for 600 years. The enclosure where all the animals lived was called the Lion Tower. Kings and queens always wanted to have lions at the Tower. They were epecially proud of any cubs that were born here. British lions have become an important symbol representing pride and power – from the sculptures in Trafalgar Square, to the shirts worn by the England footbal team."

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A close-up of one of the towers:

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A tour group in the courtyard:

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The Crown Jewels is a popular attaction at the London Tower.

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Two guards walk the area beside the entrance:

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This museum within the Towers hosts the many treasures of the British Royalty. Gaudy gold plates, ceramic dinner ware, serving containers that are simply huge and gaudy, silverware, much more. We were not allowed to take photos. At the end of the tour are the crown jewels, including those of the current queen, Queen Elizabeth II. We had to step on a moving walkway to get past the Crown Jewels, so that no one could linger and stop the flow of people.

Next we walked through the White Tower (see photo above). William the Conqueror began building this "great keep" in the 1070s. From the London Tower, we looked down on the scene below. The wall was bombed during World War II. Wow, this brings history home. I think the cages have something to do with the ravens.

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About this time, I (ahem) began thinking of the "call of nature". I asked John, where did they poop and pee? Lo and behold, a couple giggling women were posing for phone-photos in this little room, and when they left I looked in anc found:

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We sat for awhile in this chapel.

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Next we cam to the Arsenal. Suits of armor, armored men on wooden horses - amazing how heavy and clumsy but ornate the suits were, and how strong the horses must have been. And then we come to this:

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What the heck? We read the signs: "A tradition of displaying British military strength by creating trophies from masses of weapons has long existed at the Tower." "Building on the tradition of trophies, this new dragon has been constructed using objects and materials that represent nine institutions which were housed in the Tower - and in some cases still are."

It's mid-day and were are tired (in a good way). It's time to find a place for rest and refreshment. But finding those seemingly simple pleasures in downtown London, amidst just oodles of construction, proved to be a chore. More walking. And on to my next post.



09 April 2017

How to turn an obsession into a quilt.

I admit it. I have trouble throwing things away. I am sort of a hoarder, and officially OCD.

I have always loved to sew. That means I've made hundreds of shirts, dresses, shorts, kids' clothes, and costumes. And I've saved the leftover fabric from each project. About 30 years ago, I decided to cut the leftover fabric into 4x4-inch squares, so that I could make a quilt "someday". When I retired, I spent several months going through more of my old material and cutting it into squares.

But dang! I ended up with a big bin of these squares! Now I am making quilts, and used the Hawaiian prints to make one. Still, I have tons of squares left, but now I prefer to buy new fabric to make quilts.

What to do?

Well, I bought a serger a couple weeks ago. An online video showed me how to make a quilt from scraps. The technique produces a quilt that is already reversible and does not need to be "quiltes". I decided it was a good way to practice using the serger and using more of those 4x4-inch squares. Here is the project in progress:

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Crazy, huh? Oh well. That's me.

28 June 2016

Little boy with cow.

Dzo in raft

My toddler grandson, asleep in the raft in the pool.

12 April 2016

film shot

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This was shot 1n 1994 on a film camera. I found it while organizing the negatives that I scanned in years ago.

I like it. But I am a sucker for sunrises and sunsets – I have a rotating set of such photos on my cooking blog header. I thought about adding this one in there, but I would have had to crop off all the good stuff, like the rays coming up out of the clouds. I didn't touch the color settings. Maybe film caught and reproduced light differently from my digital DSLR. Maybe there is more to explore in that old medium: film.

06 October 2015

Dzo and the Pumpkin Patch

I couldn't resist slinging my good camera over my shoulder as we headed out the door to go to the Pumpkin Patch in Longmont, Colorado. After all, this is my first grandchild's first visit to a bit of Americana.

Dzo (pronounced "Jo") has been living with his mom, my daughter, in Colorado since late July. He will be two mid-December. Born in Togo, West Africa, cold weather is a bit of a new thing to him.

I lifted Dzo onto a haystack amidst multicolored gourds and pumpkins.

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A bit of longing in his eyes for his dad, my son-in-law, who is still in Africa?

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And who is Dzo reaching for?

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Ah, a smooch from Mom. "Look at all the fun we are going to have!"

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Wagons! Look at the pile of wagons! One of his favorite things.

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And what do you do with an American Flyer wagon? Climb in, of course.

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He went by wagon to the petting zoo, but the pile of goats was a bit much for him.

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He put a pumpkin in the wagon (but I didn't get a photo). Then on to ringing a bell:

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Mom and son have fun in the train.

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Dzo loves anything with wheels, like cars. So his mom puts him in a little car on a track. He plays happily with the steering wheel.

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But what's this? The car begins to move:

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A bit disconcerted the first time around:

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Last lap.

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Guess that's not his favorite passtime. How about a nice stationary old farm truck to sit in?

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Now that's one happy little boy! Time to leave the pumpkin patch, with plans to bring Daddy back in a couple weeks to show him the sights!

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15 July 2015

Aging and acceptance.

Finally. I will accept something of my brain: I will never really understand the theory of relativity and space time physics. I started trying in sophomore college physics. Now I will "let it go".

But I know the answer to this question of time: "If I saw myself across a river, like a river of time, would I look myself in the eye, blink, or wave?"

Today I would look myself in the eye and smile and wave. Maybe jump up and down a bit.

This moment. I have met my dreams. They fill my days.

I love being retired.

This refers back to a previous post.

Guanacaste Costa Rica
photo from our spring trip to Costa Rica

15 March 2014

mysteries

5:45 am. I close my audiobook and my eyes and roll my head sideways on the pillow. Should get up soon. Slowly my eyes open. Nearly-full moonlight fills my room. Sideways I look to the moon. I see a skeleton facing me in the sky, stretched lengthwise on top of the hills, elongated head reaching south, two legs reaching north, hands to the sides . . . the big moon sits in the pelvic bones, in the womb of the skeleton.

Sleepily I hold my gaze on the apparition. It slowly moves and metamorphoses into a bright moon shining above a silver-lined cloud. Innocent, normal, beautiful.

If I sort of unfocus my mind and stare through closed lids as I am about to fall asleep, I can see dream images form. If I don’t think too much about it, I can watch them move around. Soon I am actually asleep and in their world. I have often pulled myself awake in the wee hours of the morning, shaking off images that leave me a bit shaky and unhappy. It all goes away when I fully wake.

That skeleton I saw in the sky this morning looked just like one of my lucid dream images.

Full moon tomorrow. I feel connected with mysteries.

12 August 2013

Peaches.

6 a.m. Sunday. August 4. Home in Colorado. The kitchen . . . that smell in the kitchen . . . I lean in close . . . peaches! It's that wonderful time of the year.

peaches